U.S. Department of Transportation
Office of Public Affairs
1200 New Jersey Ave., S.E.
Washington, DC 20590
Friday, June 3, 2011
Contact: Candice Tolliver
FMCSA Issues Cease and Desist Order Against Sky Express, Inc. Prohibiting the Illegal Bus Company From Attempting
to Sell Bus Tickets to Consumers
Agency also Subpoenas Records of Three Internet Bus Ticketing Websites Affiliated with Sky Express
WASHINGTON, DC - The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) today issued a cease and desist order against Sky Express, Inc. after finding that this unsafe, illegal bus company is attempting to operate and sell tickets under a different company name, including 108 Tours and 108 Bus. The order is effective immediately.
Additionally, as part of FMCSA's investigation of Sky Express and its commitment to pursue enforcement action against unsafe "reincarnated" bus companies, the agency has subpoenaed the records of three Internet websites that have sold tickets for Sky Express and several other bus companies. Those websites are www.gotobus.com, www.taketours.com and www.2001bus.com.
"We are relentlessly targeting unsafe and illegal bus companies," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "This action sends a strong message that the U.S. Department of Transportation will utilize every legal and enforcement tool available to shut down unsafe bus companies and protect passengers and motorists."
On Tuesday, May 31, 2011, FMCSA issued an unsatisfactory safety rating and placed North Carolina-based bus company Sky Express out of service for violating multiple federal safety regulations. Under the out-of-service order, Sky Express is prohibited from operating interstate and intrastate commerce. Sky Express was involved in a fatal crash on I-95 near Fredericksburg, Va. that killed four people on Tuesday, May 31, 2011.
"Every day, across the country, we are focused on getting bad actors off the road," said FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro. "Our goal is to create a tight net of enforcement so that when consumers select a bus company and purchase a ticket, they can be confident their bus trip will be a safe one."
Last month, FMCSA and its state and local law enforcement partners conducted more than 3,000 surprise passenger carrier safety inspections over a two-week period that resulted in 442 unsafe buses or drivers being removed from the nation's roadways. The strike force issued out-of-service citations to 127 drivers and 315 vehicles during the unannounced inspections that took place from May 1 - 15, 2011.
Additionally, over the past five years, FMCSA has doubled the number of bus inspections and comprehensive safety reviews of the nation's estimated 4,000 passenger bus companies. Roadside inspections of motorcoaches jumped from 12,991 in 2005 to 25,703 in 2010, while compliance reviews rose from 457 in 2005 to 1,042 in 2010.
On May 5, the Department of Transportation issued a new final rule that requires anyone applying for a commercial driver's license (CDL) to first obtain a commercial driver's learner's permit, and requires all state licensing agencies to use a standardized CDL testing system. It also prohibits the use of foreign language interpreters to reduce the potential for testing fraud.
U.S. DOT has also put forth several new policy proposals designed to raise the bar for passenger carrier safety, including a provision that would give the Department greater authority to pursue unsafe "reincarnated" passenger carriers by establishing a federal standard to help determine whether a new carrier is a reincarnation of an old, unsafe carrier.
Other U.S. DOT policy proposals include a new procedure that would allow for bus inspections to occur in places such as rest stops, requiring new motorcoach companies to undergo a full safety audit before receiving operating authority, revising current law to ensure that a driver's CDL can be suspended or revoked for drug- and alcohol-related offenses committed in non-commercial vehicles, and raising the penalty from $2,000 a day to $25,000 for passenger carriers that attempt to operate without U.S. DOT authority.
The U.S. DOT also unveiled a "Think Safety: Every Trip, Every Time" pre-trip safety checklist that helps consumers review a bus company's safety record, safety rating and U.S. DOT operating authority before buying a ticket or hiring a bus company for group travel. The checklist is available online at FMCSA's Passenger Bus Safety Web site: http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety-security/pcs/Index.aspx. FMCSA encourages consumers to report any unsafe bus company, vehicle or driver to the agency through a toll free hotline 1-888-DOT-SAFT (1-888-368-7238) or FMCSA's consumer complaint Web site: http://nccdb.fmcsa.dot.gov/HomePage.asp.
Other steps the Department has taken to improve passenger safety include a new rule to ban commercial drivers from texting behind the wheel, and a proposed rule to prohibit hand-held mobile phone use. Further, in a wide-ranging Motorcoach Safety Action plan, the Department has proposed rules that will require buses to have seat belts and electronic on-board recorders to replace easily falsified paper records of driver hours. Finally, the Department launched a new safety measurement system titled Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) that provides detailed safety data to identify bus companies for safety interventions.
For more information on U.S. DOT's range of passenger bus safety initiatives, please visit the FMCSA Web site at http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov.
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