FMCSA shuts down Salt Lake City charter bus service

By Greg Grisolano, Land Line staff writer | 5/6/2013

A Salt Lake City passenger shuttle has been ordered out of service after an FMCSA investigation found evidence of falsified driving records and unsafe equipment.

Salt Lake Shuttles has been ordered to cease and desist all operations, because of being an imminent hazard, according to a release issued by the FMCSA on May 3. The stop order affects both the bus company and its president, Jesus Leal Martinez. The company primarily operates a shuttle from Salt Lake City to Las Vegas.

The order states that investigators found evidence that Salt Lake Shuttles:

  • Falsifies its drivers record of duty status by completely rewriting driver status after drivers complete interstate trips.
  • Indicates second drivers on trips when no second driver was actually present.
  • Directs/allows drivers to be on duty beyond the maximum time allowed under federal regulations.
  • Fails to repair its vehicles or ensure the vehicles meet minimum safety standards.

The ruling comes on the heels of a compliance review that began on April 8. During the review, FMCSA inspectors inspected all three commercial vehicles in the company’s fleet. A total of 25 separate out-of-service violations were discovered on the three vehicles, including inoperable or defective emergency exits on each bus. Some of those violations included defective brakes, leaking wheel hubs and excessive leaking from power steering pumps.

With regard to interstate trips, investigators found drivers were routinely dispatched from Kearns, UT, to Las Vegas and back without allowing for adequate rest, in violation of hours-of-service guidelines. The trip from Kearns to Las Vegas is over 420 miles one way. The company was also cited for falsifying driver records in 2010 and 2012.

The report also states that the company “placed plastic grocery bags on one emergency exit as well as glue and/or tape on another, rendering the emergency exits inoperable.” Salt Lake Shuttles was previously cited for failing to inspect emergency exits during an Aug. 23, 2012, compliance review.

According to FMCSA, Friday’s action marks the fifth shutdown of a passenger carrier following the deployment earlier this month of more than 50 specially trained safety investigators targeting high-risk passenger carriers. In the past two weeks, FMCSA investigators have shut down bus companies in the District of Columbia, Georgia, Ohio and New York.  Since the beginning of 2013, the agency has also issued stop orders to a total of 12 bus companies and seven trucking companies. The agency has also declared three commercial driver’s license holders as imminent hazards.

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