FMCSA crackdown on passenger carrier companies continues

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Updated Jun 13, 2011

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on Saturday, June 11, announced that it had ordered two passenger carrier companies to cease all intrastate and interstate passenger service.

FMCSA declared Michigan bus operator Roger Haines, who does business as Haines Tours, an “imminent hazard” to public safety for its practice of transporting passengers in the motorcoach’s cargo compartment. “People’s lives were needlessly placed at risk,” says U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Safety is everyone’s responsibility, and it begins with practicing common sense. That means not putting human beings in cargo holds.”

FMCSA says on May 27, a Haines Tour motorcoach driven by Roger Haines, traveling from Roscommon, Mich., to Clyde, Ohio, was inspected by the Ohio State Highway Patrol in Lake Township, Ohio. The officer discovered that six of the 62 passengers were riding in the luggage compartment of the motorcoach, which also contained unsecured baggage. In August 2010, Haines Tours was cited for a similar illegal practice – using the motorcoach’s luggage compartment as an unauthorized sleeper berth for drivers.

North Carolina-based United Tours Inc. was determined to be an “imminent hazard” to public safety for its use of nonqualified drivers and its failure to comply with federal records-of-duty reporting requirements. FMCSA says its “Imminent Hazard – Out-of-Service Order” follows a review of United Tours’ compliance with federal safety regulations. The order states that FMCSA investigators found United Tours business practices to be “reckless” and “so widespread as to demonstrate a continuing and flagrant general disregard” for federal safety regulations.

According to the order, “United Tours is using nonqualified drivers who do not possess a passenger carrier CDL (commercial driver’s license) and/or who are not medically examined and qualified.” The order also states that the company utilized “multi-employer drivers, whose records of duty status omit the carrier’s name and hours on-duty, thereby concealing these drivers’ and United Tours’ non-compliance” with federal safety regulations. “These actions result in drivers transporting passengers at a time when they may be fatigued. … Such occurrences establish an imminently hazardous and potentially deadly situation for the driver, United Tours’ passengers, and the motoring public.”

“If you are planning on taking an interstate bus trip, your first step should always be to check the company’s online safety records,” says FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro, pointing out that the public can look up bus companies on the agency’s Website at www.fmcsa.dot.gov. “There are resources and other safety information to help ensure your journey is as safe as possible.”

On June 9, JCT Motor Coach Inc. and its affiliated company, JT’s Travel & Charter Inc., of Atlanta were ordered to stop operating passenger service for attempting to evade a previous out-of-service order by operating under a different name.

On June 3, FMCSA issued a cease and desist order against Sky Express Inc. of Charlotte, N.C., after finding that the company was attempting to operate and sell tickets under a different company name, including 108 Tours and 108 Bus.