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A Better Way to Regulate Buses--Washington Post
2006-03-22

A Better Way to Regulate Buses
Letter to the Editor
Wednesday, March 22, 2006; Page A20

Regarding Bill Brubaker's March 2 Business story "Bus Lines Cited in Federal Probe; 11 Firms Accused of Violating ADA":

I attended the March 2 House subcommittee hearing on regulation of "curbside" (read: Chinatown) bus operators. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) representative testifying at the hearing, the bus carriers in question are registered with the necessary federal and state authorities and are beholden to the same regulatory processes as other carriers. The article quoted the FMCSA's enforcement and compliance director as saying the curbside carriers performed "no worse or better" than other bus companies in recent inspections.

Yet a special task force has stepped up inspections of the curbside operators since 2004. During that time these carriers have had only three accidents, none fatal. On the other hand, last year two charter bus companies had fatal accidents in Louisiana and Texas, and a Greyhound bus also had a fatal crash. If a congressional hearing was necessary, why is it not directed toward the bus operators that have had fatal accidents?

The Northeast corridor is one of the busiest in the transportation industry. Consumers benefit greatly from competition on these routes. On routes where curbside carriers offer service, traditional carriers offer lower fares.

I am not suggesting that the industry does not need regulation or that buses shouldn't be accessible to the disabled. However, if the concern is with bus safety, regulations should be applied fairly to all bus carriers -- traditional, charter, tour and "curbside." Otherwise, I must ask if this call to action stems from a true concern for safety or is a result of lobbying by powerful companies.

Jamaica Plain, Mass.