In an unprecedented sweep, the Department of Transportation shut down 26 bus operators for numerous safety violations after a year-long federal investigation.
The motor coach crackdown, announced at a press conference Thursday, follows hard on the closure of several unsafe trucking companies by the FMCSA.
FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro said the agency is stepping up efforts to pursue and shut down unsafe trucking companies as well as motor coach operators.
“We will use every little bit of our authority to get bad actors off the road,” Ferro said.
She said the FMCSA used a new final rule released April 26 that helps the agency target “reincarnated” companies to shut down a network of bus operators. The rule took effect May 29.
“We now have a rule in place that allows us to connect the dots and to shut down any entity that is affiliated with” a carrier ordered out of service, she said.
The FMCSA investigation targeted three primary companies — Apex Bus, I-95 Coach and New Century Travel — that oversaw a broad network of other bus companies.
Out of the 26 companies, 13 had already been ordered out of service and were still operating, and three others were attempting to apply for operating authority.
The FMCSA uncovered a “continuous pattern” of safety violations centered on driver qualifications and licensing, excessive work hours and drug and alcohol testing.
The bus operators carried 1,800 passengers a day on I-95, said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Shutting them down could save lives,” he said.
The bus operators shut down were based in Georgia, Indiana, Maryland, New York, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, the FMCSA said in a statement.
The FMCSA launched its investigation after a series of fatal accidents along I-95 last year, Ferro said. Several of the carriers first were ordered out of service last summer.
“This is a notice to every bus company out there,” said LaHood. “Follow the rules and keep people safe or we will shut you down.”