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DOT Seeks To Prevent Bus Accidents With License Revocations

A discount bus service between Boston and New York's Chinatown was ordered to shut down recently after the US Department of Transportation found that the Lucky Star bus company's 21 buses did not meet federal safety standards.

In addition to serious maintenance problems that included large holes in the floors of vehicles, drivers were not screened for drug and alcohol use. Moreover, the company did not check drivers' time logs. The company's buses broke down more than 80 times in the past twelve months.

Another discount Chinatown bus service, Fung Wah, was shut down in March of this year.

In 2011, a Chinatown-bound bus crashed on I-95 in the Bronx, killing 15 people. The NTSB released a report showing that so-called Chinatown buses were more likely to experience accidents and injuries, and 26 bus companies were closed. Although critics have charged that the methodology of the study was flawed, no one appears to deny the basic findings of increased risk.

All these buses are known as curbside bus companies because they do not have terminals. Instead, they pick up and discharge passengers on city streets.

Another curbside bus company is MegaBus, which offers discount bus service between major cities. One of its vehicles, a bus from Philadelphia to Toronto, was involved in an accident in upstate New York. The driver crashed into a railroad bridge despite warning signs and lights announcing the height limitations of the overpass. Four passengers died in that incident.

Source: Bloomberg, "NTSB Defends Study Preceding Chinatown Bus Safety Sweep," May 19, 2013.

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