FMCSA clears Lucky Star bus company to begin operating again
Lucky Star invested nearly $1 million to revamp its deteriorating fleet of buses and retrain its bus drivers to comply with federal safety regulations
This past June, a bus company called Lucky Star Buses was shut down by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) for a slew of safety violations of the federal regulations .
Specifically, Lucky Star was found to be in violation of an astonishing 69 Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) governing bus companies. The 69 violations spanned two separate investigations.
Lucky Star operated between New York and Boston. It was shut down shortly after another dangerous bus company operating in the same area, Fung Wah Bus Company.
Now after investing nearly $1 million to train bus drivers and repair buses, Lucky Star buses are back on the road transporting passengers between Boston and New York City for the first time in five months. In order to be allowed to operate again, the bus company renovated or replaced much of its fleet of commercial buses, and had to implement stricter requirements for driver training and sobriety to meet federal regulations.
Sheldon Yong, the operations manager for Lucky Star, says the bus company is doing better than ever. “A lot of customers have been calling,” he said. “From Boston to New York and New York to Boston, it gets busier and busier every day.” Yong went on to comment that “safety for our passengers is the most important thing.” He further commented that all employees (bus drivers included) had been trained to comply with the FMCSRs.
Mr. Yong’s comments strike me as odd.
First the rather obvious disclose: I am a bus accident lawyer, as anyone reading this legal blog that focuses on commercial vehicle law well knows. I find it hard to believe that this bus company, especially one that was cited with 69 violations of the FMCSRs and placed out of service by the FMCSA, now suddenly cares about safety.
I’ve litigated serious and sadly even fatal bus accidents, and I’ve seen what happens when bus companies (like the old Lucky Star with 69 safety violations?) operate.
More importantly, there’s a story here that is missed, but that underscores a critical point on how to prevent these types of unsafe bus companies before they kill or injure people. It was not the concern for safety that caused Lucky Star to invest in repairing its dangerous fleet and to re-train its bus drivers. Lucky Star did not do anything, even after the safety violations kept piling up, until it was shut down by the FMCSA. It was not a sudden concern for safety or care for passengers that caused them to change — it was the pursuit of profit!
The pursuit of profit over safety is what led to them being shut down, and then it was the pursuit of profit that led to their taking action to become more safe.
This is a shining example of how the FMCSA is supposed to work, and the good that the FMCSA can bring about. The FMCSA detected a dangerous bus company and put it out of service before Lucky Star could seriously hurt or kill somebody in a bus accident. I truly believe that this is a regulatory success story. Our roads and our families are now that much safer.
Even though Lucky Star has been cleared to operate, and has indeed begun operating again, it will be monitored and held to the same standards and scrutinized more by the FMCSA. My sincere hope as a lawyer and as a safety advocate is that Lucky Star truly has truly learned its lesson, and will keep safety as a priority moving forward.