Reporting Kai Jackson
BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Tour buses brought to a halt. The Feds shut down dozens of commercial buses operating illegally from Baltimore to New York. It’s the result of a year-long investigation along the I-95 corridor.
Kai Jackson explains how Maryland authorities are fighting to keep unsafe buses off the Interstate.
Discount buses are a popular way to travel. But a government crackdown has put many out of business.
After a series of fatal accidents, the Department of Transportation has shut down 26 tour bus operations.
Government leaders call them imminent hazards to public safety.
“By ignoring safety rules, these operators put both passengers and other motorists at serious risk. And shutting them down will save lives,” Ray LaHood, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation, said.
One of the services operated in Bowie, Prince George’s County.
“The problem is, they’re operating vehicles that are unsafe. They’re being driven by drivers who aren’t commercial vehicle drivers or aren’t complying with federal and state regulations,” Greg Shipley of the Maryland State Police said.
The bus services shut down are based in six states. Many use the highly traveled I-95 corridor to New York.
And I-95 has been the scene of numerous fatal bus accidents in recent years.
WJZ talked with a man who supports the crackdown.
“You’ve got to manage safety on the roads. And I think a compliance program is the right thing to do,” David Luth of Minneapolis, Minn. said.
Several of the companies promote cheap round trip fares. But authorities accuse some of violating federal safety laws.
WJZ is told that discount bus companies pick people up from Southeast Baltimore which used to be the Baltimore Travel Plaza. But the scrutiny on all of these companies– much of it from the federal government– has just gotten tighter.
“Unfortunately, these companies change their names and keep going again. It’s very hard to track them down,” Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York, said.
A Washington, D.C. safety advocacy group says that last year, there were 24 motor coach crashes that resulted in 34 fatalities and 467 injuries.
Click here to find out which companies have safety violations.