WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has ordered Hardeeville, S.C.-based passenger carrier The People’s Choice, USDOT No. 1298771, to immediately cease all operations, declaring that its vehicles and drivers pose an imminent hazard to public safety. The People’s Choice operates a small fleet of motorcoaches providing charter services primarily in the southeastern United States.
“Safety is our highest priority,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Bus companies that disregard federal safety regulations and endanger the lives of their passengers and those on the road will not be allowed to operate on our highways and roads.”
Federal investigators found that The People’s Choice failed to properly inspect, repair or maintain its vehicles and allowed vehicles that had failed safety inspections to transport passengers. Investigators also found that company owners failed to monitor and ensure that drivers complied with hours-of-service requirements, dispatched unqualified drivers to transport passengers and failed to ensure drivers complied with controlled substances and alcohol use testing regulations. A copy of the imminent hazard out-of-service order can be viewed here.
“Everyone boarding a commercial bus, van or shuttle is entitled to reach his or her destination safely,” said FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro. “It all comes together with a safety-focused operator, a mechanically sound vehicle and a well-qualified driver. If safety is seriously compromised in any of those three areas, we will take immediate action. No one should be put at risk.”
This is the 18th 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.
In the past three months, FMCSA has also revoked the operating authority of ten additional bus companies following compliance review investigations that resulted in an “unsatisfactory” safety rating.
Since the beginning of 2013, FMCSA has issued out-of-service orders to a total of 25 bus companies and nine trucking companies. The agency has also declared seven 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.