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Bus Association executives meet with FMCSA, DOT over motorcoach safety

The American Bus Association (ABA) vigorously supports FMCSA's efforts to shut down illegally operating companies or those FMCSA has found to be an imminent threat to the public safety, says the ABA.

The Trucker News Services

2/14/2013

After a series of high profile accidents involving illegally or unsafe motorcoach companies, the President and CEO of the American Bus Association Peter Pantuso and ABA’s Senior Vice President of Government Affairs and Policy, Clyde Hart met today with Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Anne Ferro, the Administrator of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration as well as other DOT staff and stakeholders to discuss ways to improve motorcoach safety.

The American Bus Association (ABA) vigorously supports FMCSA's efforts to shut down illegally operating companies or those FMCSA has found to be an imminent threat to the public safety. The companies involved in these two most recent accidents were not members of the ABA.

At today’s meeting, Mr. Pantuso also voiced the ABA’s support for a DOT plan to establish a “Quick Strike Group” that is specially trained in bus inspections and would conduct safety sweeps of companies that investigators believe are high-risk. Over the next two months that will also include reviewing a company’s operating schedules, their equipment storage and driver qualifications.

In addition, the DOT says it needs the help of the motorcoach and travel industry, which includes owner/operators, tour operators, charter companies and others to help target those companies. The ABA is pledging its full support for that effort.

Seven months after it was signed into law by President Obama, the DOT says it is beginning to implement parts of the new MAP-21 highway law that will substantially improve motorcoach safety by tightening enforcement and making it harder to get into the business.

The ABA’s motorcoach company members are almost two-thirds of the entire motorcoach fleet on our nation's highways and our members must maintain the highest level of safe operations.

“The ABA is very pleased that Clyde Hart and I had the opportunity to meet with Secretary LaHood, Administrator Ferro and others to discuss the critical issue of motorcoach safety. The safety of the 700 million passengers who ride on motorcoaches each year depends on government, motorcoach companies, manufacturers, our association and others to do our job,” said ABA President and CEO Peter Pantuso. “We cannot compromise on this issue. Like the DOT, the ABA believes that tough, consistent enforcement of safety regulations and targeting those illegal or unsafe companies is critical. I am proud to say that our ABA member companies and our association are taking a strong stand on a daily basis by operating the right way, by insisting on a culture of safety,” added Mr. Pantuso. 

The ABA is doing its part to encourage a culture of safety by policing its own membership and holding those companies to the highest standards.

• Each 90 days the ABA reviews its entire motorcoach membership. Companies that receive a Conditional rating from FMCSA are immediately put on probation within ABA and have 180 days to raise their scores to Satisfactory. During that time the ABA will help them develop a safety action plan or find a safety expert who can assist them. Companies that are Unsatisfactory are immediately removed from the ABA's membership.

• The ABA also sponsors the Bus Industry Safety Council, the leading organization of motorcoach owner/operators, safety directors, the manufacturers and others that work year round on safety related issues.

• The ABA recently created a new safety brochure that is available in print and on line called “Before You Hire a Motorcoach Company, What You Need to Know.”  http://www.buses.org/For-Travelers/How-to-Charter-a-Bus.

The American Bus Association (ABA) is the trade organization of the intercity bus industry with more than 1,000 motorcoach and tour company members in the United States and Canada. Its members operate charter, tour, regular route, airport express, special operations and contract services. Another 2,800 members are travel and tourism organizations and suppliers of bus products and services who work in partnership with the North American motorcoach industry.

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

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