This blog recently reported on two tour bus accidents, including a two-bus collision in Times Square last week. Interestingly, there is no agency charged with tracking the seemingly growing The bus companies have no obligation to report incidents to the city licensing agencies.
The use of the word “agencies” rather than “agency” may be part of the problem. There are at least five entities that oversee the operation of tour buses in New York City. A recent article in Insurance Journal described the situation.
The city’s Consumer Affairs Department, one of the agencies involved in regulating tour buses, revealed the gap in an interview with a spokesperson following the two-bus crash last week. The NYPD classifies all bus accidents as being the same, making it impossible to distinguish between regular city buses and tour buses.
The Department of Transportation does post safety reports on its website, but these are only individual inspection reports, making it difficult to develop an understanding of the overall safety record of an individual tour company.
Gray Line, one of whose buses was involved in the crash last week, has 11 percent of its buses awaiting repairs and not operating. This is apparently of little concern to the Transportation Department. A spokesperson from the DOT said that an out-of-service rate of 20 to 25 percent would be more serious.
There are now more than 260 buses and 15 different tour companies operating on the streets of New York, primarily in Manhattan. This is a significant increase over 10 years ago, according to the article.
Another addition to the complexity of tour bus regulation is that problems with an out-of-state driver’s license are not necessarily reported to New York State, and regulators have no way of knowing about a driver’s record. For example, the driver of one of the buses involved in last week’s crash had a New Jersey license and problems with that license were not required to be reported to New York State.
The bottom line is this: Because the city does not require that bus companies report accidents, the Department of Consumer Affairs cannot consider accidents to be a factor when evaluating a tour company’s license to operate in New York City.