LOS ANGELES -- Federal bus safety regulators have shut down 52 companies in what they describe 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 S. Ferro , administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
Overall, the motor coach industry carries about 700 million passengers a year in the U.S., roughly the same 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 carriers that, despite dismal safety records, the agency had let continue operating.
The agency said that for the campaign, it trained more than 50 inspectors to look more closely at motor coach companies, and as a result, investigations which 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 "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.
The agency said that of the more than 1,300 buses inspected, 340 were taken off the road at least temporarily.
Just one of the companies - Kansas-based Midnight Express, LLC - was shut down following a death. The others were closed for safety problems, including companywide failures of maintenance and violations of "hours-of-service" rules that limit how long a driver can work without a break.
Drivers for Salt Lake Shuttles of Utah, for example, routinely worked the more-than 800 mile round-trip between Salt Lake City and Las Vegas without required rest, the agency said; Illini Tours of Illinois kept running one bus for several days while a warning light indicated problems with the anti-lock braking system.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration released the inspection results about a month after another agency within the U.S. Department of Transportation faulted it for failing to crack down on tour bus and truck companies whose vehicles later crashed, killing 25 people. Inspectors had flagged the companies for serious safety violations before the crashes but allowed them to stay in business.
Ferro acknowledged that crashes in the mountains east of Los Angeles and in Oregon cited by the National Transportation Safety Board amounted to a wake-up call for her agency. "We might not have been catching all the elements" that a more in-depth inspection could, she said.
Below is a state-by-state list of 49 companies that were shut down by the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and have not reopened. The state reflects the company's location, not the only state in which the bus line operates. All the bus lines operate in multiple states.
That is followed by a list of three companies the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration shut down but have reopened after taking corrective action, according to the agency.
--Autobuses Rayon Inc.
--River City Shuttle
British Columbia, Canada:
--FTS Forest Transport Services LTD
--New Haven Bus Service
--People to Places Inc.
--McRea Transportation, Inc.
--Fabulous Coach Lines
--All Pro Motor Coach
--Best Limo Service
--Across USA Tour & Travel
--Nealson Coach Inc.
--Irma J Tours, Inc.
--Rotel North American Tours LLC
--Midnight Express LLC
--M H B S Inc
--Furtado Bus Lines
--Carbo Limo Of Oxford, LLC
--CC Rider Coach
--Coach USA Tour Inc., not affiliated with Coach USA Inc. of Paramus, N.J., which still operates.
--Horizon Coach Inc.
--Gotham Coach Service Inc.
--Uniworld Tours, Inc.
--Southeastern Tours, Inc.
--Executive Charters Lines, Inc.
--Spaulding Charters and Tours, Inc.
--Bus Go Bus, Inc.
--Travel Time Transportation, LLC
--S & V Tours Inc.
--Wilcar Tours, Inc.
--The People's Choice
--South Carolina VIP Tours, LLC
--GWC Enterprises Inc.
--Autobuses Zacatecanos LLC
--Agape Tours Inc.
--Salt Lake Shuttles LLC
--Advanced Ventures, LLC
--Onboard DC Tours LLC
Companies that were shut down but have reopened:
--Transsouth Motorcoach, LLC
--DAPTCO Motor Coach Services
Source: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration