March 2011: The aftermath of a bus crash on I-95 in New York.
Washington, DC (written by Larry Copeland/USA Today) -- Federal transportation officials have shut down 26 curbside bus operations that ferried more than 1,800 passengers a day along Interstate 95 between New York and Florida.
The action followed what Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on Thursday called "an unprecedented, year-long investigation" that was "the single-largest motor-safety crackdown the (department) has ever undertaken."
The probe by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration was prompted by the May 31, 2011, crash of a North Carolina-based Sky Express bus in Bowling Green, Va., 30 miles north of Richmond, that killed four people and injured 50 others, said Anne Ferro, the agency's administrator.
Ferro said the 26 operations shut down this week were part of "three networks of enterprises deliberately started to dodge safety laws."
The networks were run by three primary companies, Apex Bus, I-95 Coach and New Century Travel. The companies could not be reached for comment.
Curbside buses are a fast-growing segment of the interstate bus industry that don't operate from stations but pick up and drop off passengers at designated locations. They offer cheap fares and free wireless Internet.
Most of the shuttered companies' routes began or ended in New York City's Chinatown.
"We think this is a real solid step in the right direction," said Dan Ronan, spokesman for the American Bus Association, which represents about 900 motor coach companies, or 60% of all buses.
Ronan said there are clear distinctions between "reincarnated" companies such as those shut down and reputable ones such as BoltBus, a joint venture between Greyhound Lines and Peter Pan Bus.
"The good companies follow the rules," he said. "They maintain their buses. They do the proper maintenance. They keep the buses clean. The bad ones do just the opposite."
Ronan said nearly as many people travel by bus as fly domestically: Each year, 750 million passengers board 3,200 buses in the USA and Canada.
List of bus companies shut down
The federal government has shut down 26 bus businesses operating for three main companies along the East Coast:
Apex Bus Inc.
• Apex Bus N.Y. Inc., New York
• New Egg Bus Inc., State College, Pa.
• Asia Tours Inc., State College, Pa.
• Universe Bus Inc., Philadelphia
• A One Bus Inc., Rochester, N.Y.
• All State Travel Bus Inc., Windgap, Pa.
I-95 Coach Inc.
• I-95 Coach Inc., New York
• Go To Travel Inc., Rocky Mount, N.C.
• Twins Jiang Corp., East Meadow, N.Y.
• United Tours Inc., Greensboro, N.C.
• Hu Mei Express Inc., Chamblee, Ga.
• Tony Bus Line Inc., Chamblee, Ga.
• Tony Bus Express Line Inc., Chamblee, Ga.
• Coach 88 Inc., Rocky Mount, N.C.
• Tony Bus Express Line Inc., Bowie, Md.
• RA Transportation Inc., Lancaster, Pa.
New Century Travel Inc.
• Antai Tours Inc., Wilkes Barre, Pa.
• Super Luxury Tours Inc., Wilkes Barre, Pa.
• Red Eagle Tours Inc., Mishawaka, Ind.
• 2003 Coach Inc., Wilkes Barre, Pa.
• Eagle Bus Inc., Indianapolis
• Fujian Tourism Company Ltd., Springfield, Pa.
• Sammy's Tours Inc., Indianapolis
• Black Leopard Travel Inc., Brooklyn, N.Y.
• New Century Travel Inc., Philadelphia
• Wahoo Tour and Charter Inc., Philadelphia
Source: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration