The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has ordered Boston-based passenger carrier Lucky River Transportation Corporation, which does business as Lucky Star, USDOT No. 1216817, to immediately cease all operations, declaring that its vehicles and drivers pose an imminent hazard to public safety.
"There is no higher priority than safety," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "Bus and truck companies must comply with federal safety regulations, which protect every traveler on our highways and roads. Companies that disregard the safety rules will not be allowed to operate."
Today's action is part of FMCSA's "Operation Quick Strike," an intensified investigation of high-risk passenger carriers that began last April. Federal investigators found that Lucky Star's fleet of 21 motor coaches did not meet minimum safety standards as the company failed to systematically and properly inspect, repair or maintain the vehicles. Investigators also found that the owners of Lucky Star failed to monitor and ensure that its drivers complied with controlled substances and alcohol use and testing regulations. Drivers were employed before receiving negative pre-employment drug and alcohol test results as required by federal law. Drivers were not required by the company to turn in hours-of-service records or other required documentation such as driving itineraries and fuel receipts.
"Federal and state commercial vehicle inspectors and safety investigators, including the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities, are focused every day on protecting the traveling public," said FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro. "We cannot allow unsafe bus and truck companies and commercial drivers on our highways and roads to endanger innocent lives."
This action represents the 13th out-of-service order issued by FMCSA since the deployment on April 1, 2013, of more than 50 specially trained "Operation Quick Strike" safety investigators targeting high-risk passenger carriers. In the past seven weeks, FMCSA investigators have issued out-of-service orders to bus companies in the District of Columbia, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Ohio, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New York, South Carolina and Utah. Since the beginning of 2013, FMCSA has issued out-of-service orders to a total of 20 bus companies and eight trucking companies. The agency has also declared six commercial driver's license holders as imminent hazards, blocking them from operating in interstate commerce.
A copy of the imminent hazard out-of-service order can be viewed at www.fmcsa.dot.gov/documents/about/news/2013/LuckyStar.pdf.
As part of FMCSA's work to make safety data readily available to the traveling public, the SaferBus mobile app gives bus riders a quick and free way to review a bus company's safety record before buying a ticket or booking group travel. The SaferBus app, available for iPhone, iPad and Android phone users, can be downloaded for free by visiting FMCSA's "Look Before You Book" webpage at www.fmcsa.dot.gov/saferbus.
Travelers planning a bus trip are also encouraged to think safety first before buying a ticket or chartering a bus by using FMCSA's multilingual passenger carrier safety checklist at: http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety-security/pcs/Index.aspx.
FMCSA urges consumers and whistleblowers to report any unsafe bus company, vehicle or driver to the agency through a toll free hotline 1-888-DOT-SAFT (1-888-368-7238) or FMCSA's consumer complaint web site: http://nccdb.fmcsa.dot.gov/HomePage.asp.
Consumers who bought a ticket on a bus company that FMCSA has recently placed out-of-service may be entitled to a credit from their credit card company under the Fair Credit Billing Act if they paid for the ticket by credit card. For more information visit: http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety-security/pcs/bus-credit-refund.aspx.