FMCSA issues shutdown order for South Carolina bus company

By Greg Grisolano, Land Line staff writer | 8/19/2013

Federal regulators have ordered a South Carolina-based passenger bus service out of service after an investigation determined that the company’s vehicles and drivers posed an imminent hazard to public safety.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration ordered Hardeeville, S.C.-based passenger carrier The People’s Choice to “immediately cease all operations,” according to a press release issued by the agency on Aug. 16. The People’s Choice operates a small fleet of motor coaches providing charter services primarily in the southeastern United States.

An investigation was launched into the carrier on Aug. 7. It had been cited for three violations during a prior review in September of 2010. Those violations included failing to implement a drug and alcohol testing program, failing to require drivers to make record of duty statuses, and failing to preserve those records of duty documents for six months.

Among the violations investigators found in the August review of the carrier was evidence that The People’s Choice falsified its most recent annual inspections on its two motor coaches and operated one such vehicle after it was placed out of service for defective brakes by the Georgia State Patrol. The investigation also found instances in which the company failed to routinely and systematically inspect, repair and maintain its vehicles to meet minimum safety standards. The company has also failed to implement a drug and alcohol testing program.

A copy of the imminent hazard out-of-service order can be viewed here.

This is the 18th out-of-service order issued by FMCSA since the deployment in April 2013 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, according to figures from the agency. Since the beginning of 2013, FMCSA has issued out-of-service orders to a total of 25 bus companies and nine trucking companies, and has also declared seven commercial driver's license holders as imminent hazards.

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