Wednesday, March 30, 2011
This just in. The Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is taking out of service one of the two so-called Chinatown bus companies involved in deadly crashes earlier this month.
Here's the statement from DOT:
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Places Super Luxury Tours Bus Company Out-of-Service for Violating Federal Safety Regulations
FMCSA’s Investigation of Bus Company’s Involvement in Fatal New Jersey Crash Ongoing
WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) today placed Pennsylvania-based passenger bus company Super Luxury Tours out-of-service and suspended the company’s U.S. Department of Transportation operating authority for violating insurance requirements for commercial motor carriers. Under the out-of-service order, Super Luxury Tours is prohibited from operating in interstate transportation services.
“Safety is our number one priority,” said FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro. “FMCSA will use every available resource to pursue and shut down passenger bus companies that evade federal safety regulations and put motorists at risk.”
On March 14, 2011, Super Luxury Tours was involved in a fatal New Jersey Turnpike crash that killed two people. FMCSA’s investigation of the bus company’s involvement in the crash is ongoing.
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Tuesday, March 22, 2011
By Jim O'Grady
(New York, NY - Jim O'Grady, WNYC) A review of federal data shows inspectors issued a safety alert for about a third of all inter-city bus companies in New York State in the past month. The alerts are applied when a company rates in the bottom half nationwide of a safety category.
Among those cited were two of three companies whose buses have crashed in the Northeast in the last month. The third company also had a problematic record.
World Wide Travel, the operator whose bus skidded into a pole in the Bronx and killed fifteen people, has an safety alert for Fatigued Driving. The company, which runs buses labeled "World Wide Tours," also rated in the bottom half of all bus operators for vehicle maintenance.
Super Luxury Tours had a crash in New Jersey last week that killed two. It has three alerts: for Fatigued Driving, Driver Fitness and Unsafe Driving--where it scores in the bottom one percent nationwide.
Queens-based Big Boy Coach saw 23 of its passengers injured on Monday when one of its buses tipped over on a New Hampshire highway. Inspectors found its drivers to be unfit at nearly three times the national average. It has no alerts as of now because it's a small company and hasn't been inspected enough to determine whether it warrants them.
Large carriers like Greyhound, Peter Pan, Bolt Bus and Megabus have no alerts and show relatively high safety ratings. Popular Boston-based carrier Fung Wah, on the other hand, has three alerts for Fatigued Driving, Driver Fitness and Vehicle Maintenance.
The U.S. Department of Transportation rates carriers in seven safety categories based on roadside inspections of drivers and vehicles, infractions like speeding and crash data.
U.S. Senator Charles Schumer is asking the New York state commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles to conduct a full audit of all drivers licenses of tour bus drivers, saying that an earlier audit would've prevented the fatal crash in the Bronx.
Sixteen out of 26 coach buses stopped in Manhattan by Governor Cuomo's stepped-up enforcement effort were pulled out of service last weekend for vehicle or driver violations or both. At checkpoints outside the city, violations were found in 25 of 138 coach buses stopped. The unannounced inspections by state Department of Transportation investigators and local police were made Friday night through Sunday.
Mayor Bloomberg said that though scores of inter-city buses operate out of New York, local government is not charged with overseeing them. "It' federal and state regulations that deal with them," he said. "Clearly somebody should have stopped--if we were able to predict the future--the bus driver in the terrible accident that killed fifteen people. Whether any regulation would've stopped it, I just don't know. It's not something the city does."
Thursday, March 17, 2011
By Jim O'Grady
The driver of the long distance bus involved in a deadly crash last weekend lied on applications for his driver's license, according to the governor's office.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) A second fatal bus crash in as many days has sparked renewed calls for increased regulation and safety oversight on so-called Chinatown buses. There just isn't that much oversight to begin with now.
The Super Luxury Tours charter bus flipped on its side while headed to Philadelphia from New York City's Chinatown. The driver was killed, along with one passenger. About 40 people were sent to area hospitals, according to police.The cause of the crash remains unknown.
Listen to a radio report on WNYC about bus regulations and these two crashes.
The second crash comes as National Transportation Safety Board investigators are set to interview the driver of the World Wide Tours bus that crashed on Saturday, killing 15. The driver of that bus, Ophadell Williams, has not been charged with anything at this time, but he has come under public scrutiny after his initial story was contradicted by passengers and witnesses. His driving record is also under review because, investigators say, he gave a false name several times when stopped for traffic violations in the past. Federal and state investigators want to know if that should have resulted in a suspension of his driving privileges and why the violations weren't linked to his commercial driving record.
New York Governor Cuomo said he's "asking the NTSB do a top to bottom review of this industry."
Right now there isn't all that much regulation of intercity bus companies, Chinatown or otherwise, says DePaul University transportation professor Joseph Schwieterman.
Friday, February 04, 2011
(New York City--Alva French and Alex Goldmark, WNYC/Transportation Nation) The cheap intercity curbside pick-up buses--also known as Chinatown buses--may get regulated in New York City. That's if one politician gets his way.
State Senator Daniel Squadron is introducing a bill that would allow New York City to issue permits and designate official pick-up and drop-off points. Currently the buses use just about any open curb space. There is also a law allowing any bus to pick up or discharge passengers at any bus stop.
Speaking on a corner in New York's Chinatown where the buses often stop, Squadron said he wants lawmakers, the community, and bus companies to address the chaos and congestion on busy streets.