New York Suspends 8 Charter Bus Lines

By MICHAEL GORMLEY | July 27, 2011

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, following a recent rash of tour bus crashes, on Monday said he will suspend the operating licenses of eight charter and tour bus companies and their 100 buses after repeated failures in safety inspections.

“The frequent and at times flagrant violations of state and federal safety regulations by charter bus companies has gone on for too long and put too many lives at risk,” Cuomo said.

The Cuomo administration said the companies each failed three or more roadside inspections of buses or drivers in the last six months.

The order, which for the first time suspends companies’ licenses, will sideline about 100 buses within five days until state officials can thoroughly inspect the buses and approve them for the road. The stepped-up enforcement comes after several fatal bus crashes this year. Two crashes involving buses last week killed three people.

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., is seeking a nationwide remedy.

“There have already been more tour bus crashes this year than in all of 2010,” Schumer said. “If that isn’t a call to action, I’m not sure what is.”

The Cuomo administration said it is targeting Best Trails and Travel Corp. of Brooklyn, Party Ride of Brentwood, A&W Tours of Bellport, Touch of Class & Coach of Wyandanch, Silver Star Limo Co. of Yonkers, Zoladz Limousine Service of Depew, Long Island Limousine Service Corp. of Hauppauge and Big Apple Bus Charter of Brooklyn.

Long Island Limousine owner Perry Stuart said that he hadn’t been contacted and that his buses have clean records. He said being named to this list was “absurd.”

“We have the best safety record of any bus company on Long Island,” he said.

Silver Star Limo Co. LLC owner Mario Da Rocha said Monday that he hadn’t been contacted by state officials, that his buses passed the last two inspections with no problems and that some drivers have been with him since he started in 1983.

“I don’t see a reason why this is happening,” he said.

Da Rocha said his buses are mostly used for weddings on the weekends, several scheduled this coming weekend. He planned to call the Department of Transportation supervisor in his area Tuesday to try to sort it out.

An official at Party Ride said he had no idea what the order was about and didn’t think it involved his company.

Other companies didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment or workers couldn’t be reached after the Cuomo administration’s late announcement.

The state Department of Transportation also is bolstering its crew of inspectors to conduct thousands more inspections targeting the companies with poor safety check records.

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