Boosting Driver Pay Would Help Bolster Bus Safety, Says Union Chief

One way to improve safety on budget buses is to give drivers better pay, said one union president.

In the wake of three tour bus accidents in the Northeast this month that left dozens injured and 17 dead, Amalgamated Transit Union president Bruce Hamilton said boosting driver pay would encourage drivers to stick to the rules.

"Drivers are paid so low that they end up breaking the rules and they far exceed the maximum number of hours that drivers are allowed to operate," he said. "They become fatigued and they crash the buses."

Hamilton's call for a minimum wage for drivers has drawn opposition from a national bus owner trade association that says the industry is thriving because the competitive market has set rates and not the government.

Hamilton said large bus companies like Peter Pan, Greyhound, Bonanza and others have the best safety records because drivers are paid higher wages – and that low pay on the discount lines cause some drivers to cut corners.

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