(Updates with NTSB findings, recommendations starting in first paragraph. )
July 31 (Bloomberg) — U.S. regulators’ failure to shut down discount bus operator Sky Express Inc. after finding extensive safety violations was a contributing cause of a fatal 2011 crash, the National Transportation Safety Board ruled.
Sky Express, which was based in Charlotte, North Carolina, and operated from Manhattan’s Chinatown neighborhood, was closed days after the early morning May 31, 2011, crash outside Doswell, Virginia that killed four. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration missed multiple opportunities before the accident to shut down a carrier that didn’t follow basic safety procedures, the board said.
“It wasn’t just the bus driver asleep at the wheel,” the safety board’s chairman, Deborah Hersman, said today as the board met to vote on what caused the accident. “If you can’t get the worse of the worst off the road, that is a harsh judgment against the agency.”
The safety board’s findings come as the FMCSA, part of the U.S. Transportation Department, is trying to crack down on unsafe bus operators. The department got expanded legal authority to go after bus lines with extensive safety problems, including stiffer fines, in a transportation policy bill Congress