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FMCSA shuts down two more bus companies

Rimrock Stages and Heartland Charters & Tour are two more companies the FMCSA has shut down in its stated campaign to get unsafe bus operators off the nation's highways.

The Trucker News Services

3/26/2013

WASHINGTON — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has suttered two more motorcoach companies in its ongoing efforts to drive unsafe bus companies off the nation’s highway.

Monday, the agency ordered Rimrock Stages Inc., doing business as Rimrock Trailways and Rimrock Stages, a passenger carrier based in Billings, Mont., to immediately cease operations and declared the carrier to be an imminent hazard to public safety.

Friday, the FMCSA ordered Oklahoma City-based Heartland Charters & Tours to cease all operations for failing to adhere to operating conditions the company agreed to follow in July 2012 in order to return to passenger service following an imminent hazard out-of-service order issued in April 2012.

The agency said it initiated an investigation of Rimrock Stages and determined the company does not have adequate safety management practices to ensure that its commercial motor vehicles are systematically and properly inspected, repaired and maintained.

The FMCSA said it also found that Rimrock Stages failed to repair its commercial motor vehicles in a competent manner, failed to ensure that its mechanics are knowledgeable and qualified, failed to ensure that its commercial motor vehicles meet minimum safety standards and knowingly dispatched vehicles with safety defects. These patterns of violation substantially increase the likelihood of serious crashes, which endanger Rimrock Stages' drivers, passengers and the motoring public.

The FMCSA inspected eight commercial motor vehicles operated by Rimrock Stages last week and discovered serious noncompliance and safety defects during every vehicle inspection.

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During the inspections, FMCSA discovered 79 violations of federal safety requirements, including 33 violations that individually required the vehicles to be placed out of service. Each of the eight vehicles inspected was ordered out of service.

The April 2012 out-of-service order against Heartland Charters & Tours was based on an extensive review of the company's operations that found multiple Hours of Service, vehicle maintenance, controlled-substance and alcohol-testing violations. Safety investigators discovered that the company did not conduct pre-employment drug screenings of its drivers and failed to use properly qualified drivers, putting the public at risk.

In July 2012, FMCSA and Heartland reached a consent agreement allowing the resumption of passenger operations provided that the carrier remained compliant with federal safety regulations.

A follow-up compliance review conducted by FMCSA investigators this month found multiple violations of the consent agreement that included repeat violations of specific safety regulations that resulted in the April 2012 shutdown.

“We are going after every carrier that refuses to follow the safety rules,” said FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro. “Safety is our mission, and the safety of every passenger should be every bus company’s top priority as well.”

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

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