Indiana Curbside Bus Companies Shut Down by Federal Government
In response to higher gas prices, increased airline fees and the downturn of the economy, many have turned to public buses for transportation. This increase in bus riding has led to the creation of multiple curbside bus companies. These companies are called “curbside” because they pick up and drop off passengers right on the street instead of at a terminal. They offer very inexpensive fares, and tend to follow limited routes. Most of them traveled up and down the east coast along I-95.
Three Indiana bus companies were included in those that were shut down: Red Eagle Tours of Mishawaka and Eagle Bus Inc. and Sammy’s Tour Inc., both of Indianapolis. All three companies were part of a larger company called New Century Travel, Inc. in Philadelphia. None of the companies appear to have working websites to confirm where the Indiana companies’ bus routes were. The other companies involved were located in Georgia, Maryland, New York, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.
The federal government had been investigating the companies for a year before forcing them to close. They are considered unsafe for both the passengers and the drivers around them. A 2011 government report stated these companies were seven times more likely to have a fatal bus accident than a traditional bus company. According to Ray LaHood, the U.S. Transportation Secretary, "By ignoring safety rules, these operators put both passengers and other motorists at serious safety risk, and shutting them down could save lives." What were these companies doing that was so dangerous?
Many of the companies employed drivers that did not have valid commercial driver’s licenses, or they hired drivers that had been cited numerous times and even fired from other companies for poor driving records. Drivers were driving more than the number of hours allowed by the federal government. This restriction applies to all commercial drivers and requires them to take breaks and have time to sleep to avoid falling asleep at the wheel. The buses themselves were subpar, lacking in maintenance and inspections.
This trend has been growing for the last ten years. Some may wonder why no one has intervened before. Safety officials have tried to put these types of companies out of business, but they often just reopen under a new name or move the buses to another curbside company that has the same owner. Curbside buses are often referred to as “ghost” buses because they are left mostly white to avoid costly paint jobs if the company has to be renamed or the bus has to be shifted elsewhere. Hopefully this process will be curtailed by Congressional ruling that will make it illegal to simply recreate the same company under a different name.
Public transportation can be a less expensive, convenient way to travel, especially if you do not have a car or do not like to drive. But accidents do happen, and filing claims or lawsuits for injuries or wrongful death can be more challenging when a commercial company is involved. Indiana and Kentucky personal injury law firms such as Clay, Frederick & Adams can help you if you are involved in a car, bus or truck accident.
Curbside bus companies shut down by government; Associated Press; May 31, 2012
Government cracking down on curbside bus companies; wthr.com; Joan Lowy, May 31, 3012