Personal Injury

Three bus crashes prompt NTSB to investigate commercial bus industry

NJ bus crash 100x100 Three bus crashes prompt NTSB to investigate commercial bus industryThe tragic bus crash that killed 15 people and injured 18 others on I-95 in the Bronx last month received such widespread media coverage that it largely eclipsed news of two other commercial bus crashes that occurred last month in the same region. One crash on the New Jersey Turnpike killed two people just two days after the New York Crash, while another on I-93 in New Hampshire injured 23 passengers on March 23.

The bus that crashed in Pennsylvania was operated by Super Luxury Tours of Wilkes-Barre, Pa., and was traveling south from New York City’s Chinatown to Philadelphia. Around 9 p.m., as the bus was passing through East Brunswick, NJ, it swerved into the highway median, struck part of an overpass, and sped off the road where it crashed into an embankment. The force of the crash threw the bus driver through the windshield. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Forty of the 44 passengers aboard were taken to area hospitals with injuries, one of whom died shortly afterward. The cause of the crash remains under investigation.

The bus that crashed in New Hampshire was carrying about two dozen Korean tourists from Quebec to Boston when it lost control in Littleton, near the Vermont border. Authorities reported that a light snow had been falling and that there was intermittent fog in the area when the bus driver lost control of the vehicle. The bus rolled over onto its side and slid some distance before coming to a stop. All but one of the passengers were injured in the crash, five of them seriously. The bus is owned and operated by Big Boy Coach of Flushing, NY. Although the crash remains under investigation, authorities said they have not ruled out criminal charges against the bus’s driver.

These additional crashes have not received as much press coverage as the deadly New York crash, but they did not escape the attention of federal regulators, who launched a sweeping investigation of the discount bus industry that is so popular in Northeastern cities. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) said in a statement that these investigations, led by the National Transportation Safety Board, could potentially reshape the bus industry for hundreds of thousands of riders.

The investigation will encompass the buses, drivers, routes, and schedules and is expected to last about six months. Mr. Schumer said that the NTSB will develop a series of recommendations to improve motorcoach safety that will be implemented through changes in current regulations or new legislation.