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Multiple bus companies deemed dangerous, shut down by feds

Seattle residents may have heard that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration shut down more than 27 commercial bus operations on the East Coast this week--in the largest federal shutdown on the industry. The federal agency shut the curbside bus companies down for safety violations, alleging that they posed hazards to public safety.

The curbside bus industry mainly sells tickets online and picks up and drops off passengers on corners instead of at bus terminals. The industry's fatal accident rate is seven times higher than the other kinds of interstate bus companies, according to the Associated Press. The crackdown affected 233 bus routes, which together reportedly transport 1,800 passengers on a daily basis.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has been investigating the industry for years, narrowing its focus on three large companies, two based in New York and one in Philadelphia. The agency has said the companies--which all oversee other bus companies--routinely ignore safety regulations, putting passengers and others on the road at serious risk.

The investigation stemmed from seven fatal bus accidents that took place last year.

The shutdowns this week affected 13 companies that did not have permission to operate, but were operating anyway; nine active companies; three companies that were in the midst of the application process to become an operator; and one bus ticket seller.

Among specific safety issues cited by federal investigators are: using drivers who did not have valid commercial driver's licenses; not regularly inspecting or repairing buses; drivers violating schedule and rest regulations; and failing to give drug and alcohol tests to drivers.

It is vital that players in the bus industry take their responsibility as transportation carriers very seriously. Those who are injured on a bus or in a bus accident are wise to work with an experienced bus accident attorney as bringing a claim for injuries sustained in a bus accident is much more complex than bringing a claim for a motor vehicle accident against a private insurance company.

Source: Associated Press, "Gov't cracking down on curbside bus companies," Joan Lowly, May 31, 2012

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