Charles Schumer, a Democrat from New York, has stated that a legislation he sponsored has passed in Congress. The legislation requires the Federal Department of Transportation to create a grading system for discount tour bus companies and is required to publish those grades to the public as a means of judging the companies’ safety. Schumer wants the bus’ grade to be readily visible on the bus just like restaurant grades are posted.

Bus companies can no longer hide their unsatisfactory safety records from the public. The public will be able to see the companies’ safety rating before buying a ticket on a bus line. The grading system will be easy to understand and will be re-evaluated annually in urban areas that transport may passengers.

This law will also prevent bus companies from hiring drivers who have broken any drug or alcohol rules in the preceding three years.   It will also require the Department of Transportation to conduct studies on driver fatigue and the maximum time drivers can work before succumbing to fatigue. A national database of the results of a driver’s alcohol and drug tests will also be established.

This piece of legislature was prompted by the March 2011 bus crash in the Bronx. The crash killed 15 people and injured 7 and was carrying 32 passengers. The bus was speeding when it hit a guardrail and then rolled over. Passengers on the bus state that the driver had fallen asleep at the wheel. The accident was among three fatal accidents that plagued the East Coast in less than three months. As a result, 26 low-cost bus companies were closed due to their unsafe practices.

While the Department of Transportation is doing all it can to ensure the safety of bus passengers, it has been reported that unqualified drivers are still operating buses and the limits on driving time are being brushed aside. The new rating system will make sure that all bus companies are serious about safety or they could potentially lose customers.

Other safety requirements included in this piece of legislation will require all buses to have an on-board logging system which will allow each driver’s hours to be recorded. This logging system will help cut down on driving fatigue. Bus safety standards are also trying to get improved by adding seat belts, better rollover prevention and tire pressure monitoring.

The legislation is currently awaiting the President’s signature.


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