Curbside buses much less safe than regular coaches: NTSB

WASHINGTON Mon Oct 31, 2011 5:17pm EDT

Los Angeles International Airport departure level is photographed on December 24, 2004. REUTERS/Jim Ruymen

Los Angeles International Airport departure level is photographed on December 24, 2004.

Credit: Reuters/Jim Ruymen

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Curbside buses are far more dangerous than regular carriers and have higher rates of driver violations, the National Transportation Safety Board said on Monday.

Curbside carriers have no regulatory definition. The investigation centered on interstate motorcoach carriers who conduct scheduled trips that start and end at a site other than a normal bus terminal, the study said.

An investigation into the increasingly popular sector showed curbside buses had 1.4 fatal accidents per 100 vehicles from January 2005 to March 2011, seven times the rate of conventional carriers.

Curbside buses also had an out-of-service rate for drivers of 13.8 per 100 vehicles, compared with just under five for regular carriers, the study showed. Violations are for fatigued driving and driver fitness, it showed.

Despite the higher number of fatalities on curbside carriers, "in general, curbside, conventional and nonscheduled motorcoach carriers all provide a safe mode of travel," the study said.

Curbside bus services started as cheap means of travel between New York and Boston, mainly for Chinese workers, it said.

One-way fares can be as low as $1 to $5 for tickets bought weeks in advance. They usually do not top $30 and conventional carriers have lowered prices to compete.

Seventy-one of the 4,172 active interstate bus carriers in the United States are identified as providing curbside service.

Federal and state bus inspectors are "overburdened" by the number of reviews and inspections that need to be done, the study said. Many carriers also are failing to comply with reporting requirements.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Jerry Norton)

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