With nearly three months on the books for 2013, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) continues to intensify its focus on cleaning up the motorcoach industry.
At the end of February, the FMCSA declared the notorious Fung Wah Bus Transportation Inc. to be an imminent hazard and sent the company an out-of-service order, which ordered Fung Wah to immediately provide its entire fleet of 28 motorcoaches for thorough and detailed safety inspections by qualified inspectors. The company was then shut down by the FMCSA after not cooperating with FMCSA safety investigators and blocked further access to company safety records.
What helped finally take Fung Wah, a company with a well-detailed history of accidents and safety hazards, off the road were new provisions contained in the MAP-21 surface transportation legislation signed into law by President Obama in July 2012.
Under the new provisions, the FMCSA may revoke the operating authority registration of a motor carrier that fails to comply with an administrative subpoena or a letter demanding release of company safety records. Fung Wah turned out to be the first case of FMCSA exercising this new provision to revoke a motor carrier’s federal operating authority.
“Bus companies that jeopardize public safety and refuse to cooperate with our investigators have no place on the road, and now, thanks to our additional authority, we can take them off,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood earlier this month. “Safety is our highest priority, and we will continue to do all we can to ensure that unsafe bus companies are not on our roads.”
While the closure of Fung Wah has been mourned in a tongue-and-cheek sort of way by The New Yorker — it was an incredibly cheap way to commute from Boston to New York City — the industry has to be thankful that such a high-profile offender of motorcoach safety rules and regulations is finally off the road.
More importantly, the message has now clearly been sent to the rest of the oft-called “rogue operators” throughout the nation that it is a priority of the U.S. Department of Transportation and its various agencies to get them off the road once and for all, so the public at-large will begin to view the motorcoach industry with an even higher regard.
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