Schumer Demands NTSB Investigation Into Discount Tour Bus Industry

April 3, 2011 Updated Apr 3, 2011 at 3:33 PM EDT

By WKBW News

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Schumer Demands NTSB Investigation Into Discount Tour Bus Industry

April 3, 2011 Updated Apr 3, 2011 at 3:33 PM EDT

( release ) U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer and Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez today announced that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has agreed to their demand to launch a broad investigation into the entire safety regime that governs the low-cost tour bus industry. In the aftermath of the deadly March 12th World Wide Tours bus crash on I-95, Schumer and Velázquez called on NTSB to utilize its investigative authority to examine the overall effectiveness of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) safety regime for the discount tour bus industry. Today, Schumer and Velázquez announced that the NTSB, at their urging, will launch an investigation into the safety regime of the discount-tour bus industry.

“A broad based investigation into the discount tour bus industry will send a wake-up call that the status quo is simply not acceptable,” said Schumer. “March’s bus crash was a tragedy for New York, but these passengers did not have to die in vain. A full and comprehensive review of this industry and the safety regulations governing it will no doubt lead to greater safety standards for the thousands of passengers who use these buses every week.”

“The recent tragic accidents have underscored the need to improve motor coach safety, especially among discount carriers. By ensuring NTSB thoroughly reviews how this industry is regulated, we can keep passengers safe, while restoring consumers’ confidence in this type of travel,” said Congresswoman Velázquez.

Responding to Schumer and Velázquez’ request, NTSB Chairwoman Deborah Hersman committed to having the NTSB conduct a review of the low-cost discount bus industry using information and data obtained from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as well as other resources. The review will examine both regulatory and operational factors involved in the safe operation of this subdivision of the motorcoach industry and will specifically look at the role of the FMCSA as an effective regulator of the industry. The NTSB expects the review to be completed in six months with findings that are likely to spur a range of potential legislative changes that would enhance safety in the industry.

A similar review was conducted by the NTSB that led to major improvements in airline safety, and Schumer and Velázquez intend for this review to have similar results for the discount tour bus industry. After the tragic crash of Colgan Air flight 3407 in Buffalo in 2009, Schumer pressed for an NTSB investigation that upon its conclusion led to a series of recommendations for the overhaul of flight safety regulations for the airline industry, including stronger rules on pilot fatigue and increased safety training for crew members. Schumer and Velazquez intend to use the results of this review to pursue better safety standards for the industry.

Two weeks ago, Schumer and Velázquez wrote a letter to the NTSB requesting they launch an investigation into safety regime for the entire discount tour bus industry in light of the March 12th crash and a series of other deadly accidents. They noted that the World Wide Tour’s crash was not an isolated incident, but the latest in a series of crashes and near crashes that have occurred in the industry over the last several years. Schumer and Velázquez also pointed out the proliferation of these carriers and their rising popularity compared to traditional terminal pick-up.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has the responsibility of evaluating the effectiveness of other government agencies’ safety programs for preventing transportation accidents. Schumer and Velázquez requested that the Board use its authority to begin a broad examination of current safety regulations employed by the FMCSA for this industry and their overall effectiveness.