Boston Tour Bus Line Shut Down For Safety Violations

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Posted on 6th June 2013 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

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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.

http://www.dot.gov/briefing-room/boston-based-bus-company-lucky-star-declared-imminent-hazard-public-ordered-usdot

“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.

www.fmcsa.dot.gov/documents/about/news/2013/LuckyStar.pdf

 

 

Discount Bus Company Shut Down By Federal Officials

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Posted on 1st March 2013 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

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After a year that was filled with fatal accidents involving discount buses, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Friday shut down Boston-based Fung Wah Bus Transportation, which runs discount buses from Boston to New York.

http://www.dot.gov/briefing-room/fmcsa-shuts-down-fung-wah-bus-transportation

The action was taken by DOT’s  Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) using new authorities given to it under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), transportation officials said in a press release .

“Bus companies that jeopardize public safety and refuse to cooperate with our investigators have no place on the road, and now, thanks to our additional authority, we can take them off,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement.  “Safety is our highest priority, and we will continue to do all we can to ensure that unsafe bus companies are not on our roads.”

Earlier Friday, Fung Wah stopped cooperating with FMCSA safety investigators and blocked further access to company safety records.

Under provisions contained in MAP-21, signed into law by President Obama last July, FMCSA may revoke the operating authority registration of a motor carrier that fails to comply with an administrative subpoena or a letter demanding release of company safety records.  This is the first case of FMCSA exercising this new provision to revoke a motor carrier’s federal operating authority.

“We will not hesitate to immediately shut down a bus or truck company that ignores safety regulations and puts innocent lives at risk,” FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro said in a statement.  “We will employ every tool we have to take unsafe commercial drivers, vehicles and entire companies off the road anywhere in the county at any time.”

On Tuesday, FMCSA ordered Fung Wah to immediately provide its entire fleet of 28 motor coaches for thorough and detailed safety inspections by qualified inspectors, DOT said in its press release.  FMCSA’s safety investigators had continued their examination of Fung Wah’s operations through the rest of the week in order to consider further action against the company as a whole in addition to ordering its buses out of service.

Fung Wah has a history safety violations and fines, according to the Associated Press.

http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/2013/03/01/feds-revoke-license-for-fung-wah-bus-service/UP9Tes7YEbwhLlGaVxvamL/story.html

The bus company posted a message about DOT’s actions on its website.

http://www.fungwahbus.com/default.html

“Fung Wah Bus is suspending all buses service to compliances a requested by US Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for inspections and repair services,” the post said.

“Fung Wah bus will resume buses service soon after an inspection and repair service is complete by inspectors. Please call us at 212-925-8889 or email us at eticket@fungwahbus.com if you have any questions. All e-ticket will be refund.”



Curbside Bus Carriers Have Seven Times More Fatal Accidents Than Traditional Buses, Study Finds

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Posted on 5th November 2011 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

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It appears that you’re putting your life at risk if you use a city-to-city curbside bus service, according to a study just released by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).  

http://www.ntsb.gov/news/2011/111031.html

The study found that the rapid growth of curbside carriers poses challenges for effective safety oversight, and that such cheapie, sometimes fly-by-night bus operators have a fatal accident rate that is seven times that of buses that run out of bus terminals. 

The study’s results were released during a Halloween press conference that incuded NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer and U.S. Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez.  The six-month study on curbside motorcoach safety was initiated — at the request of Schumer and Velazquez — following a series of accidents in this rapidly growing industry.

“It’s abundantly clear that the oversight of this industry has not kept pace with its growth and the consequences have been deadly,” Schumer said in a statement. “The NTSB report is a wake-up call that we need a more rigorous regulatory regime and it provides a blueprint for how to fill the gaps. I want to thank Chairman Hersman for so quickly and efficiently responding to our goal and I look forward to working with her as we now begin the process of working to overhaul how this industry is regulated and monitored.”

The deadliest accident to date  happened March 12 in the Bronx, when a bus crash killed 15 people and injured 18 more. That accident ” highlights key safety issues related to this fast-growing segment of the transportation industry,” the NTSA said in a press release.

“Business and safety practices within the growing curbside bus industry create challenges for enforcement authorities and consumers alike when it comes to separating the safe operators from the unsafe operators,” Hersman said at the press conference.

The report is the first comprehensive evaluation of the motorcoach industry, with an emphasis on what are commonly known as curbside carriers. Curbside motorcoach operations consist of scheduled trips that begin or end at locations other than traditional bus terminals; most of these operations pick up or discharge passengers at one or more curbside locations.

The study analyzed the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) data and conducted field work, which included interviews, focus groups, and observations of compliance reviews and inspections.

The key study findings include:

1. In general, motorcoach travel is safe. However, curbside carriers with 10 or fewer buses and carriers who have been in business for 10 years or less, have higher accident rates and higher roadside inspection violation rates.

2. The fatal accident rate for curbside carriers from January 2005 to March 2011 was seven times that of conventional bus operations: 1.4 fatal accidents per 100 vehicles for curbside carriers compared with 0.2 fatal accidents per 100 vehicles for conventional scheduled carriers.

3. The exclusion of buses from routine enroute inspections — especially of curbside carriers that don’t operate from terminals — reduces opportunities to discover safety violations.

4. The FMCSA is overburdened. For example, 878 FMCSA and state personnel are responsible for compliance reviews for more than 765,000 U.S. motor carriers, a ratio of 1.15 investigators per 1,000 motor carriers.

5. Bus driver fatigue, a contributing factor in many accidents, is a continuing safety concern.

6. There is a lack of transparency in ticket sales. More than conventional carriers, curbside operators use online bus brokers. FMCSA has no authority to regulate these brokers.

“Motorcoach safety is on the NTSB’s Most Wanted List because of the potential for high-consequence accidents like we saw in the Bronx,” Hersman said. “It’s time to recognize that traditional transportation services have morphed into new business models that challenge existing regulatory constructs. I want to thank Senator Schumer and Congresswoman Velazquez for their leadership on this important safety issue.”

Since March, the NTSB has initiated investigations into two curbside bus crashes and has been assessing safety issues in three others. These five accidents resulted in 22 fatalities and 159 injuries.

“When travelers board a bus, they should feel safe, whether the trip starts in a terminal or at a Chinatown sidewalk,” Velazquez said in a statement. “”The NTSB study has revealed important information about curbside motorcoach travel and, in the coming weeks, we’ll need to continue working to improve the safety regulations that govern this growing industry.”