Following last month’s fatal Flushing bus crash, Schumer is calling for the implementation of a bus safety rating system and the development of letter grades comparable to the one NYC restaurants follow.
By Forum Staff
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer on Sunday called on the U.S. Department of Transportation, in concert with the Federal Motor Carriers Administration, to fully implement currently on-the-books bus safety rating protocol and develop a letter-grades system comparable to the one by which New York City restaurants are regulated.
Last month, a Dahlia Group Inc. charter bus crashed into a Metropolitan Transportation Authority bus in downtown Flushing, killing three people and injuring 17 others.
“On the heels of the terrible Dahlia crash and new information that shows there are other bad actors out on the streets, some worse than Dahlia, your gut reaction is to ask what more can be done to prevent these kinds of crashes and improve the culture of safety,” said Schumer, who has sent a letter to U.S. DOT Secretary Elaine Chao urging her to adopt letter-grade regulations. “But in this case, we have a law I passed in 2012 that can not only help solve this problem, but can better inform the public, too. That is why I am asking the federal Department of Transportation to hit the gas on a federal letter-grade system for private bus companies. The companies that spend money to ensure a culture of safety will rise to the top, and the bad actors who disregard the value of safety and human life will fail to survive unless they improve. We need a federal letter grade system for bus safety that mirrors the one we have for New York City restaurants because the public is in the dark on just who is violating the law and how dangerous their charter may be.”
Schumer said that in many cases, the bus safety warning signs are there, but the public is in the dark about the violations; and in some cases, people are boarding potential disasters waiting to happen. In 2012, Congress passed legislation requiring bus operators to post their safety records on buses and at ticket counters. New York’s senior senator said this legislation gives the USDOT all the authority it needs to develop and implement a letter-grade system for all private buses.
Schumer noted that, despite accumulating 11 unsafe violations, the Dahlia company was allowed to continue its operation.
The senator also cited a New York State Senate report released this past week showing that nearly half of the private bus charter companies in NYC had unsafe driving violations. The report, titled, “Violations by the Busload,” found that 121 out of 249 private bus companies incurred federal violations. The analysis showed that there are companies worse than the Dahlia Group on the streets of the five boroughs right now.
“New York City has instituted a system that assigns restaurants a letter grade based on their sanitation scores and requires that these scores be posted at the restaurant,” Schumer wrote in his missive to Chao. “This simple grading system provides customers with the information they need when choosing where to eat and a similar scheme could be used to bring more transparency to the charter and intercity bus industry.”