Earlier this week, a Chicago truck accident lawyer at our firm read a news report detailing a shut-down operation that has been enforced by the federal government on over twenty-six bus operations between New York and Florida for safety violations. BusinessWeek.com reports that this crackdown is the government’s largest single safety shut-down of the motor coach industry in at least a decade. Officials from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration obtained legal orders against the busing companies and declared the operations an “imminent hazard” to public safety. The companies involved in the crackdown were based in six states: Georgia, Indiana, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania.
In addition to shutting down bus operations, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration ordered 10 people – including company owners, managers and employees – to stop all involvement in passenger transportation operations, which includes selling bus tickets. Our Chicago truck accident attorney learned that the shutdown of the bus companies was a culmination of a yearlong investigation by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration that included three main bus companies – or those companies that were affiliated with the three main companies.
It is reported that officials at the FMCSA have faced serious roadblocks in their attempt to put unsafe bus operators out of business. Often times, these bus companies are “reincarnated” after they have been shut down and have been reopened for business under a different name or in a different location. Our Chicago trucking accident attorney learned that these types of companies are often referred to in the industry as “ghost” buses because they are frequently painted white with relatively little decoration to make it easier to repaint them with a new company name.
Overall, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s shut down applied to nine active bus companies, 13 bus companies that had lost permission to operate but were continuing operation anyway, 3 companies that were in the process of applying to the government for operating authority, as well as, a bus ticket seller. The safety investigators disclosed that all of the bus companies maintained multiple safety violations, including a pattern of using drivers who did not have valid commercial driver’s licenses, in addition to, failing to administer alcohol and drug tests to drivers. These companies also operated buses that had: not been regularly inspected and repaired, drivers violating work schedule and rest requirements, as well as, drivers with improper qualifications.