Richmond-area "China buses" closed in national safety crackdown | News
RICHMOND, VA (WWBT)- A major investigation into discount bus lines leads to 26 being shut down, including two that operate in the Richmond area.
The 26 discount bus operations ran along Interstate 95 from New York City to Florida. Now, 1,800 passengers a day will have to find new ways to get where they want to go.
The bus storefronts looked empty Thursday, with signs saying "closed" that may never come down. At New Century Travel on W. Broad St., for example, there were no more passengers. There was, however, a long list of alleged safety violations, including "negligent oversight" and poor record keeping.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood declared the bus operation an "imminent hazard" to public safety.
"By ignoring safety rules the operators put both passengers and other motorists at serious risk and shutting them down will save lives," said LaHood.
New Century Travel, in Richmond, was not alone. Apex Bus, on E. Parham Rd. in Henrico, was similarly shut down for alleged violations that put the public at risk.
The closures will be considered permanent unless they and 24 other bus lines get new permission to re-open. That would mean they'd have to correct all of the violations that also include improper alcohol testing and inadequate training for drivers.
The announcement comes one year to the day after a different bus line crashed in Caroline County, killing four people and injuring 50 others. The Sky Express crash on May 31, 2011, re-ignited an already heated effort to rein in so-called "China buses" which offer cheap rates up and down Interstate 95.
An industry group said the bargains come at a high price.
"The good companies rest their drivers, they perform the proper maintenance on their equipment they do all of the right things. The bad companies cut corners and unfortunately sometimes they kill people," said Dan Ronan of the American Bus Association.
The driver and dispatcher accused in last year's Caroline County crash will be tried later this year.
As for the bus lines shut down Wednesday, they didn't return calls asking for comment.
The orders handed down from the federal government also prohibit the companies from re-starting with new names.
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