Yesterday, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration ordered 26 bus operators to stop transporting passengers. The bus companies carry passengers on Interstate 95 between New York and Florida.
The federal agency closed the bus companies for what it termed an "imminent hazard" due to continuous safety violations. The violations that were discovered included using bus drivers who did not have commercial driver's licenses and who had failed drug and alcohol tests.
Federal Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood described the action as the largest single shutdown in the agency's history.
In a prepared statement, Secretary LaHood said, "these aggressive enforcement actions against unsafe bus companies send a clear signal: If you put passengers' safety at risk, we will shut you down."
The FMCSA does not take nearly as aggressive action against trucking operations it finds to be in violation of the rules. Most instances of serious safety problems with truck companies are quietly handled with small fines and other penalties.
So far this year, the federal agency has only ordered six truck companies to stop hauling freight in interstate commerce. There are literally more than 500,000 truck companies in the United States operating more than 10 Million commercial trucks. Truck crashes kill and maim thousands each year, yet little if any action is taken against the truck companies that force unsafe drivers to operate when they are fatigued.
The bus shutdown primarily affect three companies: Apex Bus, I-95 Coach and New Century Travel. These three companies oversee a complex network of other carriers.
The federal agency said it has been investigating these bus companies for at least a year, following several bus crashes last year that killed dozens.