Curbside buses may offer cheap rides for residents, but they also offer higher risks of busing accidents in West Palm Beach and elsewhere.
According to The Palm Beach Post, curbside buses are seven times more likely to be involved in an accident than conventional buses. The rates are much higher on these curbside buses because they’re harder to regulate by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), states a newly released report.
Curbside buses are buses that navigate their way through the city, picking up and dropping off passengers in front of retail stores and at street corners. The more conventional buses use busing terminals to gather passengers. Half of the curbside busing companies have been in business for more than 10 years and nearly 45 percent of them have fewer than 10 buses. Newer companies had higher accident rates than these veteran companies.
Our West Palm Beach bus accident attorneys understand that these buses are difficult to regulate because they don’t operate out of a typical terminal. It’s more difficult for inspectors to track down these buses for en route inspections. To make matters worse, there are only about 900 FMCSA inspectors who are in charge of looking over 760,000 U.S. motor carriers. These inspections typically take about two weeks to complete. There’s just not enough manpower.
Even worse, companies that are shut down for numerous violations can and do reopen under another operating name. The same buses are used, just with a new coat of paint. Officials call these vehicles “ghost buses.”
FMCSA officials aren’t able to keep tabs on ticket sales for these curbside buses either. Sales are made through online brokers, which don’t fall under the Administration’s jurisdiction. Most times, these brokers don’t reveal the name of the busing company to a consumer who purchases a ticket, meaning that there’s no way for you to check out a company’s safety record beforehand.
“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,” said NTSB chairman Deborah Hersman.
The report was summoned by Rep. Nydia Velazquez, D-N.Y. and Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. back in March after our country witnessed the brutal bus accident in the Bronx that took the lives of 15 people and injured another 18. The owners company of that bus, World Wide Travel, was shut down after receiving a number of safety violations.
Later in May, a bus heading to Chinatown in New York from North Carolina got into a serious accident that ended up killing four and injuring another 50. Reports indicate that the bus driver fell asleep at the wheel. Sky Express Inc., the bus’ operator, had received nearly 50 safety violations regarding driver fatigue within the last two years. That company was also shut down.
So far in 2011, there have been nearly 25 interstate busing accidents that killed about 35 people and injured more than 450.
The problem with these companies is that they’re growing and sprouting up quicker than the NTSB and the FMCSA can keep track. For this reason, passengers are urged to look thoroughly into a busing company for potential safety warnings before purchasing a ticket.
“When travelers board a bus, they should feel safe, whether the trip starts in a terminal or at a Chinatown sidewalk,” said Velázquez.
Contact Freeman, Mallard, Sharp & Gonzalez to speak with experienced and dedicated personal injury lawyers who fight for the rights of victims and their families in Port St. Lucie, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Miami and Margate. Call 1-800-529-2368 to make a free and confidential appointment if you have suffered a serious injury in a bus accident in South Florida.
Curbside buses have higher fatal accident rate, by Joan Lowy, The Palm Beach Post
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Miami-Dade Transit and Metrorail Recruits Bus During Protest — Increasing Risks of Bus Accidents in Miami, South Florida Injury Lawyers Blog, August 25, 2011
Tour Bus Accidents a Common Danger in Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, South Florida Injury Lawyers Blog, April 24, 2011