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Fatal accidents lead to examination of curbside bus industry (one)

In March, 17 people were killed and several more injured in two bus accidents in New Jersey and New York. Those fatal accidents began a serious of accidents involving tour buses and cheap curbside bus companies, many of which were operating despite numerous safety violations and a lack of inspection and approval from federal transportation authorities.

According to a recent report from the National Transportation Safety Board, curbside buses have a fatal bus accident rate that is seven times higher than other interstate bus companies. Between 2005 and March 2011, there were 1.4 deaths per 100 curbside bus vehicles, compared to a 0.2 percent fatality rate for traditional bus companies.

Curbside bus companies have increased in popularity in recent years as an inexpensive way for commuters and vacationers to travel between cities, primarily in the Northeast and Midwest. Fares are typically less than $30, and passengers are picked up in parking lots and on street terminals rather than at bus terminals, which keeps the costs down.

However, the cheap travel may actually come at a higher price. More than half of the curbside bus companies in operation in the U.S. have been in business for less than 10 years, and over 40 percent of the companies have 10 or fewer buses. Generally, newer companies with fewer buses are more likely to have higher bus accident rates and more roadside inspection violations, the report states.

We will continue to discuss bus crashes in a blog post later this week with a look at what some federal officials are doing to increase the oversight on curbside bus companies.

Source: Associated Press, "Curbside buses have higher fatal accident rate," Joan Lowy, Oct. 31, 2011

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