The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced that 52 bus companies and 340 vehicles were put out of business and removed from the road as a result of an in-depth, months-long investigation called Operation Quick Strike.
“Bus travel is increasingly popular because it is a convenient, inexpensive option for students, groups and families,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx on Thursday. “But it must also be safe. Through Operation Quick Strike and our regular enforcement efforts, we’re shutting down companies that put passengers at risk and educating the public on safe motorcoach travel.”
According to FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro, these companies are not low-cost, fly-by-night carriers — some are charged with transporting school bands and Boy Scouts.
One of the targeted companies, People to Places of Bridgeport, Conn., operated as usual this morning, said General Manager Brian Williams. People to Places provides bus service to numerous school districts including Bridgeport, Fairfield, Milford, Stratford, Trumbull and those in the Naugatuck Valley.
Williams noted that his company drew the attention of federal inspectors after two drivers used vehicles with mechanical problems to take a state proficiency test. A few of the company’s drivers were also involved in accidents, including a serious one in Westport a few years ago.
The FMCSA lists People to Places as “not authorized: Carrier does not have any operating authority and is not authorized to operate.” New Haven Bus Service is the second Connecticut bus company to be shut down.
The eight-month effort was part of FMCSA's three-phase Motorcoach Safety Initiative to raise the bar for safety in the industry and to strengthen the agency's oversight. Reasons for company shutdowns included the failure to adequately maintain their buses, inadequate drug and alcohol driver testing programs and widespread hours-of-service violations.
More than 50 specially trained investigators have conducted in-depth reviews since April, examining the procedures and practices of the 250 most at-risk motorcoach companies, identified using roadside inspection and safety data.
“This year we evaluated and enhanced our investigation methods to dig deeper than ever before and uncover dangerous patterns of unsafe behavior and business practices,” said Ferro. “Now we are training all investigators to utilize the new tactics we employed during Operation Quick Strike, and encourage everyone who travels by bus to 'Look Before You Book' using the safety information on our website.”
Student trip planners are encouraged to visit www.fmcsa.dot.gov/LookBeforeYouBook for tips and resources before chartering a bus for a field trip or other extracurricular activity. The FMCSA provides the free SaferBus mobile app for a quick and free way to review a bus company's safety record, find multi-language checklists and report any safety violations. Resources can also be found on FMCSA's new "Look Before You Book" bus safety hub on Facebook.com/FMCSA.