How to operate an unsafe bus business
Start with an eight-square-foot hole in floor of bus
The Boston-based Lucky Star bus company ran out of luck last week when it was given an “imminent hazard out-of-service order” by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). The feds say any further movement of Lucky Star’s vehicles must be accomplished by towing.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) said its investigation “uncovered egregious regulatory violations demonstrating Lucky Star’s flagrant disregard for motor coach passenger safety.”
The company, which offered transportation along the Boston-New York corridor, wracked up an average of 13 violations per bus during the past three years, making it the biggest violator among passenger transportation companies along that route. Its six buses broke down more than 80 times during the course of a year, forcing passengers to disembark along the highway and at unscheduled stop areas. The company had one crash in two years.
A hole in the floor, defective brakes
Federal regulators found 69 violations in the company’s fleet, including defective emergency exits, brakes and windshields and rotted floors. The company dispatched a bus with a four-by-two-foot hole in the bottom and significant frame damage.
Thirteen is also the number of companies put out of business since the government began a crackdown on April 1.
The federal order states that Lucky Star has an ineffective inspection repair and maintenance program because the company is unable to keep up with the inspection, repair and maintenance with the near around-the-clock dispatch-schedule it maintains. (The head mechanic admitted to the investigator that he is unable to keep up with the demands of the schedule of buses and the age of the fleet.)
Drivers not monitored
The company is also charged with failing to monitor and ensure that its drivers comply with drivers’ hours of service requirements, drivers’ records of duty requirements, and drivers’ controlled substances and alcohol use and testing requirements.
“Lucky Star’s continued and blatant disregard for the FMCSRs substantially increases the likelihood of serious injury or death and is an imminently hazardous and potentially deadly risk for its drivers and passengers and for the motoring public,” according to the order.
A statement on the company’s website reads: “Per the order of USDOT, Lucky Star Bus has temporary ceased operations. All affected e-ticket customers will be receiving a refund automatically. Thanks!”