Federal regulators have shut down two passenger bus companies after separate incidents last month left passengers stranded in Virginia.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration ordered Hialeah, Fla.-based McRea Transportation, Inc., and Staten Island, N.Y.-based All Nations Coach Inc. to cease all operations, declaring both carriers to be an imminent hazard to public safety.
Both bus companies suffered unrelated breakdowns in Virginia last month, stranding passengers bound for New York City.
McRea Transportation broke down at 2:30 a.m. on July 11 in Northampton County, N.C., along Interstate 85. Fifty passengers were later transported by state law enforcement officers to a welcome center in Virginia, where they waited approximately 10 hours for a replacement bus to arrive.
FMCSA investigators launched a safety investigation of McRea Transportation on July 15, and found that the company owners “failed to monitor and ensure that its drivers complied with federal hours-of-service requirements and controlled substances and alcohol use testing regulations,” according to a news release from the agency. Other violations found by investigators include falsified duty status books and failure to repair vehicle deficiencies.
A copy of the McRea Imminent Hazard Out-of-Service Order can be viewed here.
FMCSA began investigating All Nations Coach Inc. this past June. The company operates 16 passenger motor coaches in the Eastern U.S. The agency ordered the company to provide evidence that it was not a reincarnation of Tichy Express Inc., which had been placed out of service in 2012 for multiple violations of federal safety regulations and for failure to pay $5,400 assessed in civil penalties. All Nations Coach was given 21 days to petition for an administrative review of FMCSA’s order.
On July 16, an All Nations Coach vehicle broke down along Interstate 95 in Caroline County, Va., en route from Charlotte, N.C., to New York City. State and local authorities shuttled 53 passengers to a nearby truck stop where they waited approximately 24 hours for a replacement bus to arrive.
According to the FMCSA investigation, the president of Tichy Express, Isa Nebi, had his wife, Aryana Dilla, purchase All Nations in April 2012. That was two months after Nebi stopped making civil penalty payments he had agreed to under the settlement reached with the agency following Tichy Express being cited for safety violations.
Nebi is listed as manager of All Nations, according to the investigation, and those duties included “managerial activities” such as payroll and employee concerns. Both companies operate out of the same address in the 300 block of Cortelyou Ave., in Staten Island, an address that is also listed as the primary residence of Nebi and Dilla. Investigators also found commonality of both drivers and commercial motor vehicles between the two businesses.
A copy of the investigative report on All Nations can be viewed here.
These actions are the 16th and 17th out-of-service order issued by FMCSA since the April deployment of more than 50 “Operation Quick Strike” safety investigators targeting high-risk passenger carriers.
In the past three months, FMCSA has also revoked the operating authority of 10 additional bus companies following compliance review investigations that resulted in an “unsatisfactory” safety rating. Since the beginning of 2013, FMCSA has issued out-of-service orders to a total of 24 bus companies and nine trucking companies. The agency has also declared seven commercial driver's license holders as imminent hazards, blocking them from operating in interstate commerce.
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