FMCSA shuts down Mexican carrier

By Charlie Morasch, Land Line contributing writer | Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A Mexican-based motor carrier that offers bus service from Mexico to Los Angeles has been ordered to stop its operations on the U.S. side of the border.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced Wednesday that Autobuses Zacatecanos has been deemed an imminent safety hazard and ordered to stop operating in the United States. Besides Los Angeles, the company had occasional trips from Mexico to Denver, Phoenix and Chicago.

FMCSA said Wednesday that during a surprise inspection, investigators found so many safety and maintenance issues with Autobuses Zacatecanos’ fleet that all four of its buses were immediately placed out of service. According to the agency’s out-of-service order, investigators found 34 safety violations, including 15 that required the buses to immediately be placed out of service.

Autobuses Zacatecanos did not perform vehicle inspections or maintenance repairs, and its mechanics had no knowledge of federal safety regulations, the order says.

The company also allegedly failed to require its drivers to stay within federally mandated hours-of service.

“This condition of operations is an imminently hazardous and potentially deadly risk for Autobuses Zacatecanos’ drivers and passengers, and for the motoring public,” FMCSA’s order reads.

The entire out-of-service order can be read here.

“Our safety investigators and inspectors are working diligently to keep the traveling public safe,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said, according to the release. “Bus and truck companies that fail to adhere to our safety regulations will not be allowed on our highways and roads. We demand that safety come first.”

Beginning in early April, FMCSA deployed a team of 50 specially trained “Quick Strike” safety investigators to target high-risk passenger carriers. In the past three weeks, FMCSA’s release said, investigators have shut down bus companies in Washington D.C., Georgia, Ohio, New York and Utah.

So far this year, FMCSA has shut down 13 bus companies and seven trucking companies. FMCSA has declared three individual CDL-holders as imminent hazards, keeping them from legally hauling interstate commerce.

“Every bus company that operates in the U.S. must comply with the same safety regulations, and if they do not, we will take immediate action,” FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro said, according to the release. ‘We have zero tolerance for putting the lives of passengers and drivers at risk. All travelers on our roadways are entitled to reach their destination safely.”

To help educate the public, FMCSA has made its SaferBus mobile app available potential travel customers. The app allows bus riders to quickly review a bus company’s safety record before they buy a ticket or book group travel. It is available for iPhone, iPad and Android phone users, and can be downloaded for free here. FMCSA’s multilingual passenger carrier safety checklist is available here.

Travel patrons who paid for a ticket to 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, FMCSA said in the release. More information is available here.

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