After Crashes in New York, Cuomo Suspends Licenses of Eight Charter Bus and Tour Lines

After Crashes in New York, Cuomo Suspends Licenses of Eight Charter Bus and Tour Lines The Wall Street Journal recently reported on the suspension of the licenses of eight tour bus and charter companies along with their fleet of 100 buses. Repeated failures of safety inspections, along with a recent rash of tour bus accidents, prompted Governor Andrew Cuomo to announce the suspension of operating licenses on Monday, July 25.

Over the past six months, each of the eight companies, including Best Trails and Travel Corp., Party Ride, A&W Tours, Silver Star Limo Co., Long Island Limousine Service Corp. and Zoladz Limousine Service, has failed three or more inspections of drivers and buses. The Federal Out-of-Service order will keep the organizations’ buses off of the road until the fleets are thoroughly inspected by state officials.

Charles Schumer, Democratic Senator from New York, noted that more tour bus crashes have taken place this year than in all of 2010, which has prompted a clear call for action. Last week, two bus crashes killed three individuals, the Journal reports.

Earlier this year, on March 12, a bus crash in the Bronx killed 15 passengers while heading from Connecticut to New York’s Chinatown, partly prompting the state’s move to action, Reuters reports.

Andrew Cuomo said, “The frequent and at times flagrant violations of state and federal safety regulations by charter bus companies has gone on for too long and put too many lives at risk,” according to the Journal.

None of the companies listed in Cuomo’s order was involved in a fatal car crash, prompting the owners of a few to protest. Perry Stuart, the owner of Long Island Limousine said all his buses have clean records and felt his company has “the best safety record of any bus company on Long Island.”

New York’s state Department of Transportation (DOT) is adding 20 more inspectors to its crew, hoping to complete approximately 2,000 safety audits and 11,000 safety performance inspections each year, according to the press release from the Cuomo administration. DOT inspections of the suspended lines will review company finances, drivers’ records and vehicle fleets. Their goal is to locate the sub-standard operators – and if their New York licenses are lost, to ensure the companies cannot continue to function under federal licenses.

The ordered buses are to halt their operations early next week. They also must pay for the DOT review of their businesses at risk of permanently losing their licenses, according to the Reuters report.

The same day as Cuomo’s announcement, a crash in the north Bronx highlighted how pervasive bus crashes have been in the state. The Journal News reports that nine people were injured in a Westchester County Bee-Line bus crash right after 11 a.m Monday, while driving from Yonkers to the Bedford Park subway station.

Richard Stiller, the Westchester County director of surface transportation, said that the driver of the bus (who remains unidentified) was injured. As of Monday afternoon, she was in the hospital, and will likely undergo drugs and alcohol testing according to federal regulations for drivers involved in crashes, according to the news source.

Her bus reportedly sideswiped a pillar for the elevated train. The bus then crashed head-on into a second pillar, according to the news source. Of the bus passengers, two were not injured. The injuries of the nine weren’t life-threatening.

Stiller said, “The good news is we didn’t have a whole heck of a lot of passengers on the bus because it was the end of the route.”