Federal authorities tell curbside buses to put passengers down
June 4, 2012
Curbside bus companies have become popular modes of travel for passengers on the east coast. They carry passengers through New Jersey at a low cost. With transportation costs increasing, these bus companies with discount rates seemed like the answer. They seemed like a great choice; that is until the bus accident rates involving these companies began increasing.
In 2009 alone, there were 221 people killed and another 10,000 injured in bus accidents, many of them involving the curbside bus companies. Traffic safety agencies — like the National Transportation Board — began looking at the increased rates in an attempt to determine the cause of the problem. The agency’s data showed that drowsy driving contributed to a large percentage of these crashes.
Drowsy driving is a common problem amongst bus companies whose drivers are paid in correlation with mileage. The drivers often push themselves to the limits to make on-time deadlines and increase the numbers of drivers on the road. One curbside company operating a bus involved in a crash that killed four people and injured 54 others had been cited 46 times for driver fatigue in only two years.
So why not simply shut down the companies that cannot seem to keep their drivers alert and awake? According to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, they have been shutting them down. The problem is that they shut down operations under the original name and re-open under a new name. Nothing changes, they simply “[slap] another name on the side of the bus and [start] driving again,” said LaHood.
LaHood promised that the “new-name” operation scheme would not slow down federal authorities. This past week they shut down 30 buses, ordering them off the roads. “We’re going to focus like a laser beam in making sure they don’t get back on the road,” promised LaHood.
Source: The Washington Post, “Several curbside bus companies shut down by federal authorities,” Ashley Halsey III, May 31, 2012