According to a recent report from the Independent Florida Alligator, some concerns are being raised by students and other in Florida who consistently use curbside bus services. A report by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has found that popular, low fare curbside buses have a significantly higher fatal accident rate in Florida and elsewhere than conventional bus carriers. The federal report released last Monday showed that curbside buses have a fatal Florida bus accident rate seven times higher than that of other types of interstate bus operators. These curbside bus companies in Florida and other states also had higher roadside inspection violation rates.
“Curbside buses pick up passengers from street corners, parking lots and in front of retail stores rather than using traditional bus terminals. More than half of the companies have been in business for 10 years or less, and 44 percent have 10 or fewer buses,” noted the report by the National Transportation Safety Board. Reuters reports that these travel options are popular, because fares on curbside buses can be as low as $1 and rarely exceed $30. New York City is a popular destination for curbside buses from Canada and states such as Connecticut, Virginia, Maryland, Massachusetts and North Carolina.
The difference in Florida bus crash rates between the varieties of bus services is not insubstantial. The fatal accident rate for curbside buses between 2005 and 2011 was 1.4 per 100 vehicles. That is compared with 0.2 percent for conventional buses. According to a report by the Advocates for Auto and Highway Safety, “This year, there have been 23 interstate bus accidents in which 33 people have been killed and 452 others injured.”
The NTSB compiled the report at the request of U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) and U.S. Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) after a March 2011 curbside bus accident in New York’s Bronx left fifteen passengers dead and eighteen more injured. Since that time, the NTSB has investigated or reviewed five curbside bus accidents in which 22 people died and 159 sustained injury.
Some policymakers have been clear that they blame lax oversight of the industry on the problem, while others disagree. Senator Schumer argued, “It’s abundantly clear that the oversight of this industry has not kept pace with its growth and the consequences have been deadly. The NTSB report is a wake-up call that we need a more rigorous regulatory regime and it provides a blueprint for how to fill the gaps.”
Because consumers buy tickets for curbside buses online through third party ticket brokers, it is difficult for them to check the safety record of the bus carrier, reports The Associated Press.
“When travelers board a bus, they should feel safe, whether the trip starts in a terminal or at a Chinatown sidewalk,” said Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY). “The NTSB study has revealed important information about curbside motorcoach travel and, in the coming weeks, we’ll need to continue working to improve the safety regulations that govern this growing industry.”
The report claimed that the FMCSA is may be overburdened, making it difficult to keep up with inspections, with a ratio of just 1.15 investigators per 1,000 motor carriers. Curbside carriers shut down for safety violations often reopen under a different name, called reincarnated carriers, repainting buses, moving to different states and placing company ownership in another relative’s name. The lack of curbside carrier’s fixed terminal and incorrect contact information provided to regulatory authorities by carriers made scheduling and conducting inspections difficult.
“Business and safety practices within the growing curbside bus industry create challenges for enforcement authorities and consumers alike when it comes to separating the safe operators from the unsafe operators,” Chairman Hersman said during a press conference. Of course, not all bus accidents are the fault of the bus driver or bus company. The legal rules surrounding bus crashes hinge on the specific facts in specific cases. Our Florida bus accident attorney recommend that all those involved in these accidents seek out proper legal representatives who are experienced in these matters and can explain the legal principles that are likely to guide the final outcome. Florida injury attorneys are capable of looking into the details of an individual case and helping involved parties better understand whether or not liability will likely attach and what options are best for those involved.
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