The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has ordered Tucker, Ga.-based passenger carrier Best Limo Service to immediately cease all operations, declaring that its drivers and vehicles pose an imminent hazard to public safety.
This is the second shutdown of a passenger carrier following the deployment earlier this month of more than 50 specially trained safety investigators targeting high-risk passenger carriers.
"The traveling public deserves the highest level of safety, whether they board a plane, take a train or travel by commercial bus or van," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "Passenger carriers that fail to comply with federal safety regulations and put people's lives at risk will not be allowed to operate."
Best Limo Service operates both motorcoaches and passenger vans providing tours and charter services throughout the southeastern United States.
An investigation by FMCSA investigators launched earlier this month uncovered serious regulatory violations demonstrating Best Limo Service's disregard for motor coach passenger safety.
Drivers who had previously tested positive for a controlled substance, or who had a suspended commercial driver's license, were allowed by the company to transport passengers.
In addition, FMCSA investigators found that Best Limo Service's lack of oversight of its drivers' compliance with federal hours-of-service requirements resulted in overly fatigued drivers being allowed to transport passengers.
Best Limo Service's vehicle maintenance program was found to be inadequate and found to pose an imminent hazard. On-site inspections of three of Best Limo Service's buses resulted in all three placed out-of-serve for critical safety violations.
"Our FMCSA staff is working diligently as a team to move as quickly as possible in shutting down unsafe passenger carriers from coast to coast," said FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro. "We recognize the imperative of getting these operators off the road; the safety of everyone who travels on our highways and roads is on the line."
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.
As to bus companies that FMCSA has recently placed out of service, consumers who paid for their ticket by credit card may be entitled to a credit from their credit card company under the Fair Credit Billing Act. For more information visit: http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety-security/pcs/bus-credit-refund.aspx.
A copy of today's imminent hazard out-of-service order can be viewed at www.fmcsa.dot.gov/documents/about/news/2013/BestLimoService.pdf.