DOT Shuts Down More Bus Companies
June 12, 2011
The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has shut down three more bus companies for unsafe operations.
Two of the orders came over the weekend. On Saturday, June 11, FMCSA ordered Michigan bus operator Roger Haines, who does business as Haines Tours, to immediately cease all intrastate and interstate passenger service, declaring the carrier an "imminent hazard" to public safety for its practice of transporting passengers in the motorcoach's cargo compartment.
On May 27, a Haines Tour motorcoach driven by Roger Haines, traveling from Roscommon, Mich., to Clyde, Ohio, was inspected by the Ohio State Highway Patrol in Lake Township, Ohio. The officer discovered that six of the 62 passengers were riding in the luggage compartment of the motorcoach, which also contained unsecured baggage. In August 2010, Haines Tours was cited for a similar illegal practice - using the motorcoach's luggage compartment as an unauthorized sleeper berth for drivers.
"Despite being warned in August 2010 that it cannot transport people in the luggage compartment of its buses in violation of federal regulations, it [Haines Tours] continues to place people in the luggage compartment," the Out-of-Service order states. Continuing, it states, "[t]his Imminent Hazard Order is necessary to put an immediate stop to this highly dangerous practice."
Also on Saturday, FMCSA ordered North Carolina-based United Tours Inc. to immediately cease all intrastate and interstate passenger service. The carrier was determined to be an "imminent hazard" to public safety for its use of nonqualified drivers and its failure to comply with federal records-of-duty reporting requirements.
The "Imminent Hazard - Out-of-Service Order" followed a comprehensive review of United Tours' compliance with federal safety regulations. FMCSA investigators found United Tours business practices to be "reckless" and "so widespread as to demonstrate a continuing and flagrant general disregard" for federal safety regulations.
According to the order, "United Tours is using nonqualified drivers who do not possess a passenger carrier CDL (commercial driver's license) and/or who are not medically examined and qualified." The agency says the company used "multi-employer drivers, whose records of duty status omit the carrier's name and hours on-duty, thereby concealing these drivers' and United Tours' non-compliance" with federal safety regulations. "These actions result in drivers transporting passengers at a time when they may be fatigued. … Such occurrences establish an imminently hazardous and potentially deadly situation for the driver, United Tours' passengers, and the motoring public."
On June 9, JCT Motor Coach Inc. and its affiliated company, JT's Travel & Charter Inc. of Atlanta, were ordered to stop operating passenger service for attempting to evade a previous out-of-service order by operating under a different name.
FMCSA's original out-of-service order issued to JCT Motor Coach was the result of a comprehensive compliance review that found numerous significant safety violations by the company. These included intentionally falsifying vehicle maintenance records, failing to ensure its vehicles were regularly inspected, repaired and maintained, using drivers with positive drug and alcohol testing results, using medically unqualified drivers and failing to comply with federal hours-of-service requirements for drivers.
On June 3, FMCSA issued a cease and desist order against Sky Express of Charlotte, N.C.,
after finding that the company was attempting to operate and sell tickets under a different company name, including 108 Tours and 108 Bus. FMCSA had on May 31 issued an unsatisfactory safety rating and placed North Carolina-based bus company Sky Express out-of-service for violating multiple federal safety regulations. Under the out-of-service order, Sky Express is prohibited from operating interstate and intrastate commerce. Sky Express was involved in a fatal crash on I-95 near Fredericksburg, Va., that killed four people.