Crews work to remove from a ravine on I-84 in Orange...

Crews work to remove from a ravine on I-84 in Orange County the bus that crashed while transporting band members from Farmingdale High School on Thursday. Credit: Howard Simmons

ALBANY — State and federal inspection records show differing views of the safety record of the bus company involved in last week’s fatal crash that left two dead and several Farmingdale High School band members injured.

The state Department of Transportation includes the bus company, Regency Transportation Ltd. based in Nesconset, on a list of “unacceptable” companies this year. Federal inspectors, however, list the bus company’s safety record as “satisfactory” with better-than-average performance compared with national averages.

State records show that five service inspections out of 15 had enough concerns to put buses out of service during the 2022-23 fiscal year. Buses are put out of service until repairs or maintenance are completed and the bus passes inspection. The state Department of Transportation listed Regency Transportation Ltd. with a 33.3% out-of-service rate and placed it on the list with 47 other bus companies.

Bus companies are considered “unacceptable operators” when they have an out-of-service rate of 25% or higher.

“Over the last two years, buses operated by Regency Transportation incurred seven failed inspections during routine, semiannual inspections by the Department of Transportation,” said Joseph Morrissey, the state Department of Transportation spokesman. “The majority of issues identified by NYSDOT investigators had to do with the braking systems on a few buses. Buses with this issue were immediately taken out of service until rectified by the operator and verified by our inspectors. Recordkeeping and rear-axle issues were also identified.”

As for the bus involved in the crash, state records show the 9-year-old bus had no crashes while owned by Regency, according to the DOT. As of the August semiannual state inspection, which the bus passed, the bus had traveled 443,133 miles. The bus also passed four “random roadside inspections” since 2021 — three in other states and one in New York State since the August inspection, Morrissey said.

Regency bought the used bus in August after it had been operated in other states.

The federal inspection rate, however, was listed as “satisfactory” as of the date of Thursday’s crash, records show.

Federal records state that the company had 46 federal inspections for the 24 months prior to Sept. 21, and had just one inspection that required a vehicle be put out of service until repairs were made. That was a 2.2% out-of-service rate compared with the national average of 22.2%. Federal records show the company had a previous crash on Sept. 21, 2021. That accident resulted in injury, but no fatalities.

In the 24 months before the accident, 49 Regency drivers were evaluated and none were put out of service, according to the federal records. The national average for driver evaluations that put a driver out of service is 6.67%.

State and federal officials stand by their reviews and wouldn’t comment on why the state and federal safety evaluations differ.

The Bus Association of New York State, which lobbies for the motor coach industry, didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

A Regency Transportation spokesman also didn’t respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

National Transportation Safety Board investigators said Friday that they are looking at several factors that could have led to the crash, including a faulty left front tire, mechanical issues and driver error.

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