ALBANY, NY (CBSNewYork/AP) – New York Sen. Charles Schumer is asking the federal government to post letter grades for discount tour bus companies so consumers will be able to easily see the companies’ safety records.
The measure is prompted by a string of deadly bus crashes since a March. Since then, the state has sidelined hundreds of buses and bus drivers in a stepped-up safety inspection program. Many drivers were found to have had multiple driver’s licenses with histories of violations.
In March, 15 people were killed when a bus scraped along a guard rail, tipped on its side and slammed into a pole along Interstate 95 on the Bronx-Westchester line.
That bus was operated by the Brooklyn-based charter company World Wide Tours and was headed to Chinatown, returning from the Mohegan Sun casino in Connecticut at the time of the crash.
North Carolina-based Sky Express Inc. was shut down nationwide, including their New York City office in Chinatown, after four people were killed when a one of their buses lost control and crashed on I-95 in Virginia on its way to New York in May.
The driver of that bus, 37-year-old Kin Yiu Cheung, has been charged with reckless driving and four counts of involuntary manslaughter.
Sky Express drivers have been cited for 17 unsafe-driving violations, including eight for speeding, since 2009. That gives it worse marks than nearly 63 percent of comparable transportation companies in the agency’s unsafe-driving category, which is separate from driver fatigue.
The company also ranked worse than 99.7 percent of similar companies in driver fitness, with 24 violations, 14 of which were for using drivers who lack English-language skills.
Bus safety information is already public record. But Schumer says a simple letter grade is needed to clarify the record, and it must be posted so customers can see it before they buy tickets.
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