Last March, a tragic accident opened New Yorkers’ eyes to the problems that can occur with lax oversight of discount bus companies.
The New York bus accident occurred in the Bronx and took the lives of 13 people. An investigation revealed that the driver had been going 78 mph at the time of the crash, 23 mph over the speed limit, and may have even been asleep in the moments before the accident. The investigation also revealed that the driver’s license was fraudulent and that he had previously served prison time for both manslaughter and larceny.
Sadly, this accident is just one in a long string of fatal crashes involving low-cost bus carriers.
Many attribute the spate of fatal accidents to insufficient oversight of a relatively new industry. Indeed, budget limitations meant that the New York Department of Transportation was only able to inspect bus companies twice per year.
In an attempt to remedy this problem, state legislators have directed an additional $12 million to the DOT for the purposes of increasing inspections and enforcement of state and national safety regulations. Now, officials will be able to conduct spot-checks of buses while they are on the road. They hope this will help uncover problems with driver qualifications or vehicle safety that could otherwise be hidden during the regular biannual safety inspections.
Interestingly, The Bus Association of New York State actually requested the increased oversight. According to the New York Daily News, its spokesman told legislators that “more oversight is a matter of life and death and our members welcome the scrutiny.”
Hopefully, the new funding will be a step in the right direction.