The motorcoach owners and operators in the Pennsylvania Bus Association have in common a commitment to offer the highest level of safety in their operations, quality in their services, and consumer protection for their customers. The dedicated men and women of our Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration share those important goals.
As FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro told PBA members at their annual meeting yesterday in Erie, "FMCSA is eager to work with all of you to make Pennsylvania as safe as possible."
And the FMCSA has been doing exactly that. A recent one-year investigation into dangerous and illegal bus companies operating in violation of our basic safety standards resulted in an unprecedented shutdown of 26 companies that posed imminent hazards to the traveling public.
These cases came about through extensive information collected by FMCSA safety investigators and inspection data collected by state law enforcement partners--including Pennsylvania--during multiple bus safety strike forces and inspections over recent years.
Through the course of the investigations, our enforcement teams found multiple patterns of serious safety violations by three networks of enterprises that deliberately structured their operations to dodge federal laws. Each time we shut them down in the past, the three networks used loopholes to re-create themselves, or reincarnate.
Eleven of these bus companies were based in Pennsylvania. We consider this shutdown to be a watershed for America’s bus passengers, many of whom begin or end their travels in the Keystone State. It's a victory for everyone who joins us in considering safety as the highest priority in transportation.
We think bus travel is important. It's about affordable mobility and connectivity for millions of Americans of all ages. It’s also about helping to meet our enormous energy and environmental challenges by taking many cars off our roadways and reducing congestion. And today's motorcoach operators offer the comfort of modern amenities and the convenience of downtown-to-downtown service.
As Administrator Ferro said yesterday, "If Transportation Secretary LaHood were here, I’m sure he would want you to know of our Department’s belief that motorcoach travel – whether inter-city or chartered – is a major part of a vibrant transportation network."
And she is absolutely right. Every year, motorcoaches carry more than 750 million passengers around the country. That's three quarters of a billion people. It is one of the safest forms of travel.
Motorcoach passengers expect--and deserve--to arrive safely at their destination every trip and every time, and the FMCSA is working hard with organizations like the Pennsylvania Bus Association to make sure they do.