Bus companies placed OOS used frequently by schools

| 8/20/2008

Charter bus companies recently involved in a wreck with many fatalities were used extensively by school districts in the Houston area. One school district had even designated the company as “a recommended vendor.”

Angel Tours, which recently changed its name to Iguala Busmex, had a bus leave the road Aug. 8, killing 17 members of a church group on U.S. 75 near Sherman, TX.

The company had multiple safety violations and was placed out of service several times in recent years. Recent news reports showed that Angel Tours and another bus company frequently leased buses to one another when their buses were placed out of service.

A recent press release from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said Liberty Charter & Tours poses an “imminent hazard” to public safety. Liberty, like Iguala Busmex and Angel Tours, is controlled by businessman Angel de la Torre.

According to the Houston Chronicle, the Houston Independent School District paid Angel Tours at least $112,000 during the past two years to take children and students on “dozens of trips since 2006,” the Chronicle reported.

The Pasadena Independent School District reportedly paid Angel Tours about $23,000 since October 2006, and even designated the company “a recommended vendor.”

Several other school districts and universities also used the company for chartered trips.

One school official told the newspaper that the districts have few resources by which to vet potential charter companies. FMCSA’s SafeStat catalog of carriers’ histories offers limited information.

“This is an opportunity to review our practices,” Greg Myers, a school Board Member for the Houston Independent School District, told the Chronicle.