WASHINGTON, Nov. 22, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Safety investigators for the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) have ordered Phoenix-based Autobuses Rayon, Inc., USDOT No. 2011920, to immediately cease all passenger transportation operations after finding that the company was endangering the traveling public by failing to ensure the safety of its vehicles and drivers. Investigators also found that the carrier improperly allowed at least three other unsafe bus companies, previously shut down by FMCSA, to continue passenger services using vehicles with the registration markings of Autobuses Rayon. The federal shut-down order includes all interstate and intrastate operations.
"Every traveler on our highways and roads is entitled to reach his or her destination safely," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "Bus companies that ignore vital safety rules will not be allowed to operate."
In late October, a team of specially trained FMCSA safety investigators conducted an investigation of Autobuses Rayon as part of the agency's passenger carrier safety initiative "Operation Quick Strike."
In addition to knowingly allowing other companies to improperly operate with buses falsely marked as Autobuses Rayon, investigators found serious and widespread violations of multiple federal safety regulations, including:
* Lack of management controls to ensure proper inspection, repair and maintenance of vehicles. Of the five vehicles examined by FMCSA inspectors, a total of 36 separate out-of-service violations were discovered.
* Failure to conduct required random tests for alcohol and illegal drug use by drivers. On at least two occasions, drivers known to have tested positive for an illegal drug were still dispatched. On another occasion, a driver was found with alcohol in his possession while transporting passengers.
* Failure to ensure drivers were qualified and properly licensed. At least three Autobuses Rayon drivers' did not possess a valid commercial driver's license.
* Failure to ensure drivers' adhere to federal hours-of-service limitations to prevent fatigued driving. Drivers were not required to complete duty status records, vehicle inspection reports and other safety documentation.
"Safety is our number-one priority, and FMCSA investigators are working across the country to shut down bus companies that put their passengers and the public at risk," said Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator Anne S. Ferro. "In the past three years, we have more than tripled the number of dangerous companies and drivers we have taken off the road and we will continue taking aggressive action against carriers that disregard our safety standards."
A copy of the imminent hazard out-of-service order can be viewed at www.fmcsa.dot.gov/documents/about/news/2013/AutobusesRayon.pdf
The action announced today becomes the 20th 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, and the 27th out-of-service order against a bus company this year. In the past five months, FMCSA has also revoked the operating authority of 30 additional bus companies following compliance review investigations that resulted in an "unsatisfactory" safety rating.
Since the beginning of 2013, FMCSA also has issued out-of-service orders to a total of 11 trucking companies, and has declared 10 commercial driver's license holders as imminent hazards, blocking them from operating in interstate commerce.
As part of FMCSA's work to make safety data readily available to the traveling public, the SaferBus mobile app gives bus riders a quick and free way to review a bus company's safety record before buying a ticket or booking group travel. The SaferBus app, available for iPhone, iPad and Android phone users, can be downloaded for free by visiting FMCSA's "Look Before You Book" webpage at www.fmcsa.dot.gov/saferbus.
Travelers planning a bus trip are also encouraged to think safety first before buying a ticket or chartering a bus by using FMCSA's multilingual passenger carrier safety checklist at: http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety-security/pcs/Index.aspx.
FMCSA urges consumers and whistleblowers to report any unsafe bus company, vehicle or driver to the agency through a toll free hotline 1-888-DOT-SAFT (1-888-368-7238) or FMCSA's consumer complaint web site: http://nccdb.fmcsa.dot.gov/HomePage.asp.
Consumers who bought a ticket on a bus company that FMCSA has recently placed out-of-service may be entitled to a credit from their credit card company under the Fair Credit Billing Act if they paid for the ticket by credit card. For more information visit: http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety-security/pcs/bus-credit-refund.aspx.
SOURCE Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration