Over the weekend, the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) ordered North Carolina-based United Tours Inc., for its use of nonqualified drivers and its failure to comply with federal records-of-duty reporting requirements, and Michigan bus operator Roger Haines of Haines Tours, for transporting passengers in the motorcoach's cargo compartment, to immediately cease all intrastate and interstate passenger service, declaring both carriers an "imminent hazard."
The "Imminent Hazard - Out-of-Service Order" issued, follows a comprehensive review of United Tours' compliance with federal safety regulations. The Order states that FMCSA investigators found United Tours' business practices to be "reckless" and "so widespread as to demonstrate a continuing and flagrant general disregard" for federal safety regulations.
According to the order, "United Tours is using nonqualified drivers who do not possess a passenger carrier CDL (commercial driver's license) and/or who are not medically examined and qualified." The order also states that the company utilized "multi-employer drivers, whose records of duty status omit the carrier's name and hours on-duty, thereby concealing these drivers' and United Tours' non-compliance" with federal safety regulations.
Meanwhile, on May 27, 2011, a Haines Tour motorcoach driven by Roger Haines, traveling from Roscommon, Mich., to Clyde, Ohio, was inspected by the Ohio State Highway Patrol in Lake Township, Ohio. The officer discovered that six of the 62 passengers were riding in the luggage compartment of the motorcoach, which also contained unsecured baggage. In August 2010, Haines Tours was cited for a similar illegal practice — utilizing the motorcoach's luggage compartment as an unauthorized sleeper berth for drivers.
"Despite being warned in August 2010 that it cannot transport people in the luggage compartment of its buses in violation of federal regulations, it [Haines Tours] continues to place people in the luggage compartment," the Out-of-Service order states. Continuing, it states, "[t]his Imminent Hazard Order is necessary to put an immediate stop to this highly dangerous practice."
On June 9, JCT Motor Coach, Inc., and its affiliated company, JT's Travel & Charter Inc., of Atlanta, were ordered to stop operating passenger service for attempting to evade a previous out-of-service order by operating under a different name
Meanwhile, on June 3, FMCSA issued a cease and desist order against Sky Express Inc., of Charlotte, N.C., after finding that the company was attempting to operate and sell tickets under a different company name, including 108 Tours and 108 Bus.