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Schumer: Discount buses should have safety letter grades

Discount Bus

Discount Bus Photo Credit: Getty Images

Discount buses should receive restaurant-style letter grades following the rash of accidents that left scores of passengers dead or injured, Sen. Charles Schumer said Sunday.

Schumer (D-NY) wants the Department of Transportation and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to convert bus operators’ safety scores to a grade of “A,” “B,” or “C,” and to have the marks posted wherever they sell tickets and on buses.

“It seems like every week we hear of another crash involving the discount tour bus industry,” Schumer said in a statement. “It is crucial that passengers are clearly and unambiguously alerted to a company’s safety record before they ever board a bus.”

Four people died in May when a bus driver fell asleep at the wheel on his Chinatown-bound bus, and two other crashes earlier this year in New Jersey and the Bronx left 17 dead.

Pete Pantuso, president of the American Bus Association, agreed that the motor carrier administration should make its online database more “consumer friendly,” but questioned the effectiveness of a letter-grading system.

“A grade seems like a simplistic approach to a problem which is rooted in government's lack of enforcement,” Pantuso said. “If the company is not fit to operate, the bus shouldn't be picking up passengers.”

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