LOS ANGELES (AP) — Federal bus safety regulators have shut down 52 companies in what they described as a major nationwide crackdown on unsafe outfits, including lines whose drivers had suspended licenses or worked routes of more than 800 miles without rest.
The companies aren’t just low-cost, fly-by-night carriers — some have transported school bands, Boy Scouts or senior citizens, according to Anne Ferro, administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
Overall, the motor coach industry carries about 700 million passengers a year in the United States, roughly the same number as domestic airlines.
In April, the agency began scrutinizing 250 motor coach companies with poor safety records out of the approximately 4,000 interstate bus lines it regulates. “Operation Quick Strike” came partly in response to major crashes of buses run by carriers that, despite dismal safety records, the agency had let continue operating.
The agency said it trained more than 50 inspectors to look more closely at motor coach companies and, as a result, investigations that in the past might have been done in a few days in some cases took a few weeks.
The 52 companies that were shut down — none in Nebraska or Iowa — “put safety by the wayside in order to compete in a very tight market,” Ferro said Thursday. Three companies have been allowed to reopen after making improvements.