Imagine reading about the tour bus that flipped on I-95 near Cottman Ave, 14 people were killed and 39 hurt when a tour bus and mini van collided. The bus had no brakes. That kind of story happens across the country more times than you can imagine. While most tour bus companies operate safely, there are a handful that do not. For that minority, Anne S.. Ferro, Administrator for the Federal Motor Carrier safety Administration was in Philadelphia today, Aug 26, 2013 to announce a two week blitz of tour bus inspections.
"Unsafe operators are everywhere. tour buses carry about a quarter of a billion people each year to their destinations. ", Ferro said during a press conference. Unscrupulous tour operators can fudge on insurance documents or safety records. "A Motor carrier should have at least $5 million dollars in insurance coverage", she said.
So today across from the National Constitution Center in center city, there was an area set aside for bus inspections. Philadelphia, State and local authorities were there, pulling buses over . One bus from Marco Polo Tours was put out of service due to balding tires. There were also fog lights out on the bus and other minor problems. The bus sat while it's passengers enjoyed the tourist traps in the city. It was taken out of service until repairs can be made. "We set these inspections at a destination as opposed to a roadside inspection", Ferro said. The tour bus operator must make arrangements to fix the defect or rent another bus to carry on with the trip.
This type of action will happen throughout the United States. brand new bus companies will be inspected and that information will be entered into the data base at saferbus/saferbus..
On that site ,consumers can determine for themselves if they want to spend $8.00 for a trip to NYC, from a questionable carrier, or maybe spend a few more dollars. Increased,preventative maintenance is costly, no doubt about it. Tires that are balding but may be good for another thousand miles or so . That means less money paid out by the tour bus company. Even a $25.00 light bulb can be expensive, when multiplied by a few dozen times by different buses. It adds up.
During an inspection, all paperwork is checked to insure the vehicle is registered properly and the insurance is current. Then, brakes,under carriage and other things are checked to insure they are in working order. Some companies put out of service will try to operate. The state can then take the license plates from vehicles ." There is a computer check to insure that unsafe operators are not reincarnated with a different name", Ferro said.
Most of the bus companies are reputable and do not skimp on safety. However a few do and have accident that generate headlines and cost lives. It is that small minority that inspectors hope to get off the road.
THIS ARTICLE AND ALL PHOTOS ARE COPYRIGHT BY ALEX LLOYD GROSS AND MAY NOT BE REPUBLISHED OR RE POSTED WITHOUT PRIOR PERMISSION.