Federal Update
‘Karma chameleon... you come and go, you come and go...’
FMCSA goes to work cracking down on chameleon carriers, bus companies who close up shop and reopen under new names quickly after new reg kicks in

By Clarissa Kell-Holland, staff writer

For motor carriers, brokers or freight forwarders who close up operations and reopen under a new name to skirt enforcement action, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is putting reincarnated carriers on notice that they are coming for them.

The regulatory agency was given new authority to go after reincarnated carriers in late May.

A day after being granted the authority under §386.73, Candice T. Burns, communications director for FMCSA, said the agency issued its first out-of-service order and record consolidation order for Himanchal Prasad Verma, doing business as Rite Way Trans and/or Two Way Trans, Inc., all listed at the same address in Fresno, CA.

In early June, the FMCSA issued the same orders against WTSA US Express LLC, TJA Express Transportation and Wolf Trucking Company LLC, all listed at the same address in Racine, WI.

Under the new regulation, companies who have been served with the orders have 21 days to petition for an administrative review before a final order is issued.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has been urging the FMCSA to step up its efforts to track these types of reincarnated carriers, who shut down because of multiple safety violations, court orders or fines, then reopen under a new name – and, in the past, were given a clean slate.

Under the new regulation, the records of reincarnated carriers maintained by the FMCSA – including safety, performance, compliance and enforcement records – will be permanently consolidated.

“Whatever their reasons, carriers should not be reincarnating themselves nor hiding their affiliations with other trucking-related companies,” said Todd Spencer, OOIDA’s executive vice president. “We are pleased the agency is addressing this problem and hopeful that they are consistent in their enforcement for all carriers – be they big or small, U.S.-based or domiciled in Mexico.”

Vicious cycle
According to the FMCSA order issued in June, WTSA US Express was closed down and deactivated by its owner, Tadeusz Wrzesniewski, and his son Adrian Wrzesniewski to allegedly avoid submitting to a mandatory safety review, then started up operations under a new name, TJA Express.

“WTSA US Express LLC was ‘reactivated’ in order to avoid a new entrant out-of-service order and order to cease all interstate transportation that was served on TJA Express,” according to the FMCSA order. WTSA was deactivated in January 2012 and reactivated in March 2012.

A third company, Wolf Trucking Co., was created in February 2012 “to serve as a hedge against FMCSA enforcement actions against WTSA US Express and TJA Express.”

In June, the FMCSA also issued an imminent hazard order against Tadeusz Wrzesniewski and Adrian Wrzesniewski, along with WTSA, TJA Express Transportation and Wolf Trucking Company LLC, for failing to “monitor drivers’ hours of service requirements, drivers’ qualification requirements, commercial drivers’ licensing requirements and the controlled substance and alcohol testing requirements.”

FMCSA shuts down 26 bus companies in agency’s largest safety sweep
Three of the primary companies that were shut down were Apex Bus Inc. and I-95 Coach Inc., both from New York, and New Century Travel Inc. of Pennsylvania. The FMCSA investigation found that these three companies “oversaw a broad network of other bus companies” that were shut down as well.

The 26 bus operations that were shut down transported more than 1,800 passengers per day from New York to Florida along the I-95 corridor, citing the FMCSA’s reincarnated carriers’ rule, which expands the agency’s authority to “take action against unsafe motor carriers that attempt to evade enforcement by ‘reincarnating’ into other forms or by illegally continuing their operations through affiliate companies.

“Follow the rules and keep people safe or we will shut you down,” said Ray LaHood, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation. LL