The U.S. Department of Transportation Thursday shut down a Boston-based tour bus company for a long laundry list of safety violations, not the least of which was operating a coach that had a 4-by-2-foot hole in its floor.
DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a press release saying it had ordered Lucky River Transportation Corp., which does business as Lucky Star, to immediately cease all operations, declaring that its vehicles and drivers pose an imminent hazard to public safety. The company transports passengers from Boston to New York City.
“There is no higher priority than safety,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement. “Bus and truck companies must comply with federal safety regulations, which protect every traveler on our highways and roads. Companies that disregard the safety rules will not be allowed to operate.”
The move is part of FMCSA’s so-called “Operation Quick Strike,” an intensified investigation of high-risk passenger carriers that began last April. Federal investigators found that Lucky Star’s fleet of 21 motor coaches did not meet minimum safety standards because the company failed to systematically and properly inspect, repair or maintain the vehicles.
The probe also found that the owners of Lucky Star failed to monitor and ensure that its drivers complied with controlled substances and alcohol use and testing regulations: Drivers were employed before receiving negative pre-employment drug and alcohol test results as required by federal law.
In addition, drivers were not required by the company to turn in hours-of-service records or other required documentation such as driving itineraries and fuel receipts.
“Federal and state commercial vehicle inspectors and safety investigators, including the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities, are focused every day on protecting the traveling public,” FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro said in a statement. “We cannot allow unsafe bus and truck companies and commercial drivers on our highways and roads to endanger innocent lives.”
This action represents the 13th cease-operations order issued by FMCSA since the April 1 deployment of more than 50 specially trained “Operation Quick Strike” safety investigators targeting high-risk passenger carriers. In the past seven weeks, FMCSA investigators have issued out-of-service orders to bus companies in the District of Columbia, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Ohio, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New York, South Carolina and Utah.
Since the beginning of 2013, FMCSA has issued out-of-service orders to a total of 20 bus companies and eight trucking companies. The agency has also declared six commercial driver’s license holders as imminent hazards, blocking them from operating in interstate commerce.
The imminent hazard out-of-service order for Lucky Star lists so many egregious violations, it’s almost comical. Besides the hole in the floor and other safety issues, the company’s buses were constantly breaking down. Last December, three of its buses broke down on the same day, while two broke done on a single day in February.
As a result, passengers were forced to disembark on the side of the highway, where they risked being struck by traffic.