On Monday, reports of yet another motorcoach accident appeared in the press. A tour bus, operated by Brooklyn, N.Y.-based New Oriental Tours, was traveling from Kentucky to New Jersey when it rear-ended a tractor trailer on the Pennsylvania Turnpike east of Pittsburgh. The driver was killed, and dozens of passengers were hospitalized.
This accident follows a disturbing pattern. There was the New York City tour bus accident in March, which killed 14 people and hospitalized the driver. Coming right on the heels of that was the coach collision on the New Jersey Turnpike, in which two people were killed and dozens injured.
Then, of course, in late May, there was the Sky Express crash, with four fatalities. The FMCSA promptly shut down the carrier — after finding that it was attempting to operate and sell tickets under a different company name — but that trivial little detail didn’t faze them.
Not even one day passed before this rogue operator, which violated multiple federal safety regulations, went back to its regular unapproved stop in Charlotte, N.C., preparing to take passengers up to New York City. Thankfully, a surprise inspection put the kibosh on that, but how long will it be before it happens again?
Meanwhile, there is the issue of driver fatigue caused by overwork. Even though it may not have been a primary cause of all of these accidents, it definitely played a significant role in the Sky Express crash. The driver, Kin Yiu Cheung, had completed a trip from New York to North Carolina only hours before being asked to drive the same route again. He was asked to make the drive alone.
Cheung’s wife told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that he at first told his supervisors that he was tired and couldn’t do it. However, feeling under pressure because no other drivers were available, and being afraid of losing his job, he agreed to the second shift. Cheung told a Virginia State Police trooper after the accident that he dozed off and fell asleep while driving.
Clearly, that extra money they would have gained from that job wasn’t worth it to them: they’re in trouble with the law, and have a driver in jail, facing four counts of involuntary manslaughter. Yet, these issues are apparently not stopping the “chameleons” behind Sky Express from trying to reincarnate. Greater enforcement isn’t getting to them. So, what will?
Agencies that use Twitter to respond to users’ complaints or answer questions get more positive Twitter reaction and more civil discourse online, according to Lisa Schweitzer the author of a recent study analyzing tweets of public transit agencies. “It’s about the marketing potential of social media — a lot of public transit agencies are simply tweeting their problems to the world by blasting out late service announcements. That’s not a good use of Twitter,” she says. “Transit agencies can influence the tone of the discussion by interacting with patrons online,” Schweitzer explains. “It gives people something to respond to, and it reminds people that somebody is listening.”
Usually by early January, I will hopefully have taken down the last of our holiday decorations and eaten or given away the remaining sweets that have become a part of my regular diet during the month of December. Then, of course like most people, I’ll think about ways I want to improve myself for the coming year. Whether it be exercising more (walking from the parking lot to my office doesn’t count), eating less ice cream or managing my email better. The latter practice alone would help improve my efficiency at work immensely. I’m sure you probably feel the same way.
A new National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) study solidifies what the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) Transit Savings Report has been telling us for years now: riding public transportation can save users money.
June 20 will mark the 8th annual National Dump the Pump Day sponsored by the American Public Transportation Association, in partnership with the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Driving a bus never looked easy. Living in California and being stuck in my car as much as I am, I’ve always had tremendous respect for the men and women who operate buses on a daily basis. So, when the call came that I would get my shot to drive in Sunday’s APTA Bus Roadeo, I was both excited and nervous.