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Federal Bus Safety Crackdown Affects 52 Companies

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By JUSTIN PRITCHARD, Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Drivers at one bus passenger company routinely worked more than 800 miles without rest. Maintenance at another company was so shoddy that one bus drove despite glaring evidence of brake problems.

Federal bus safety regulators said Thursday they shut down those two and 50 other motor coach companies in a major nationwide crackdown on unsafe outfits.

The 52 companies aren’t just low-cost, fly-by-night carriers– some have transported school bands, Boy Scouts or senior citizens, according to Anne S. Ferro , administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Overall, the motor coach industry carries about 700 million passengers a year in the U.S., roughly the same as domestic airlines.

In April, the agency began scrutinizing 250 companies with poor safety records out of the approximately 4,000 interstate bus lines it regulates. “Operation Quick Strike” came partly in response to major crashes of carriers that, despite dismal safety records, the agency allowed to continue operating.

The agency said that for the campaign, it trained more than 50 inspectors to look more closely at motor coach companies. As a result, investigations that in the past might have been done in a few days in some cases took a few weeks.

The 52 companies that were shut down “put safety by the wayside in order to compete in a very tight market,” Ferro said. Three companies have been allowed to reopen after making improvements.

The agency said that of more than 1,300 buses inspected, 340 were taken off the road at least temporarily.

Just one of the companies– Kansas-based Midnight Express, LLC– was shut down following a death. The others were closed for safety problems, including companywide failures of maintenance and violations of “hours-of-service” rules that limit how long a driver can work without a break.

Drivers for Salt Lake Shuttles of Utah, for example, routinely worked the more than 800-mile round trip between Salt Lake City and Las Vegas without required rest, the agency said; Illini Tours of Illinois kept running one bus for several days while a warning light indicated problems with the anti-lock braking system.

The largest motor coach industry association said it supported the crackdown.

“A disproportionate number of companies that run illegally are the real problem,” said Dan Ronan, spokesman for the American Bus Association. None of the shuttered companies was an association member, he said.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration released the inspection results about a month after another agency within the U.S. Department of Transportation faulted it for failing to crack down on tour bus and truck companies whose vehicles later crashed, killing 25 people. Inspectors had flagged the companies for serious safety violations before the crashes but allowed them to stay in business.

Ferro acknowledged that crashes in the mountains east of Los Angeles and in Oregon cited by the National Transportation Safety Board amounted to a wakeup call for her agency. “We might not have been catching all the elements” that a more in-depth inspection could, she said.

___
Contact Justin Pritchard at http://www.twitter.com/lalanewsman
(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Federal bus safety regulators announced they have shut down 52 companies in what they describe as a major nationwide crackdown on unsafe carriers.

Below is a state-by-state list of 49 companies that were shut down by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and have not reopened. The state reflects the company’s location, not the only state in which the bus line operates.

All the bus lines operate in multiple states.

That is followed by a list of three companies the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration shut down but have reopened after taking corrective action, according to the agency.

Arizona:
_Autobuses Rayon Inc.
_River City Shuttle
British Columbia, Canada:
_FTS Forest Transport Services LTD
California:
_Salcido Tours
Connecticut:  
_New Haven Bus Service
_People to Places Inc.
Florida:
_Ricardo Transportation
_McRea Transportation, Inc.
_Fabulous Coach Lines
Georgia:
_All Pro Motor Coach
_Best Limo Service
Illinois:
_Across USA Tour & Travel
_Nealson Coach Inc.
_Acrosstown Charter
_Irma J Tours, Inc.
_Illini Tours
Indiana:
_Rotel North American Tours LLC
Kansas:
_Midnight Express LLC
Kentucky:
_M H B S Inc
Massachusetts:
_Furtado Bus Lines
_Lynette’s Limousine
_MTZ Tours
_Sovereign Transportation
Mississippi:
_Carbo Limo Of Oxford, LLC
_CC Rider Coach
New Jersey:
_Pocono Progressive
New York:
_Coach USA Tour Inc., not affiliated with Coach USA Inc. of Paramus, N.J., which still operates.
_Horizon Coach Inc.
_Gotham Coach Service Inc.
_Uniworld Tours, Inc.
North Carolina:
_Charter Bus
_Southeastern Tours, Inc.
_Executive Charters Lines, Inc.
_Spaulding Charters and Tours, Inc.
Ohio:
_Destiny Tours
Pennsylvania:
_Bus Go Bus, Inc.
_Travel Time Transportation, LLC
_S & V Tours Inc.
_Wilcar Tours, Inc.
South Carolina:
_Destiny Tours
_The People’s Choice
_South Carolina VIP Tours, LLC
Tennessee:
_GWC Enterprises Inc.
Texas:
_Autobuses Zacatecanos LLC
_Hotel Mexicano
_Agape Tours Inc.
Utah:
_Salt Lake Shuttles LLC
Vermont:
_Advanced Ventures, LLC
Washington, D.C.:
_Onboard DC Tours LLC
Companies that were shut down but have reopened:
Georgia:
_Transsouth Motorcoach, LLC
Massachusetts:
_Lucky Star
North Carolina:
_DAPTCO Motor Coach Services
Source: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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