Last year, both New York and New Jersey were the sites of two horrible commercial bus accidents. The accidents occurred within two days of each other, and both involved loss of life. 15 people died in the Bronx accident and two were killed in the New Jersey Turnpike incident.
These are just two in a long string of mass transit accidents that have sparked concerns about the safety records of low-cost bus lines. In the case of the Bronx incident, it was determined that the driver was driving more than 20 miles an hour over the speed limit. The cause of the New Jersey Turnpike accident is still unknown, but the company had been operating under a grace period to come into compliance with federal transportation laws.
The Northeast corridor has seen a proliferation of budget commercial bus lines spring up in the past few years. In order to turn a profit, many have cut corners on safety.
Accident records reveal that many companies push their drivers beyond their physical abilities to drive competently, ignore the requirements for keeping driver logs and fail to perform driver background checks. Some utilize drivers who do not speak any English, a clear violation of licensing laws. Companies are also lax with maintenance on their fleets. Many times, issues are overlooked or pushed out to the breaking point in an effort to save money. The federal government has stepped up enforcement, but some operators do what they can to avoid inspections.
There are still many good bus companies out there, but consumers need to be careful when deciding which carrier to use. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has developed a smartphone app that allows potential passengers to investigate bus companies’ safety record before purchasing a ticket. Consumers would be wise to use this app, or something similar, before embarking on a trip.