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Surprise tour bus inspection in Flushing

New York State Department of Transportation (DOT) inspectors, officers from the 109th Precinct and Assemblymember Grace Meng surprised tour bus drivers on Friday, March 25, with safety inspections in light of recent deadly crashes.

The group corralled tour buses around Flushing and brought them to College Point Boulevard and Blossom Avenue.

One vehicle had 20 violations, the most serious being an air leak that compromised the brake system. As it sat on boulevard, the stench from its shoddily repaired waste tank filled the air before it was towed away.

That bus was headed to a casino in Delaware that same day.

“Thanks to the efforts of the New York State Department of Transportation and the NYPD’s 109th Precinct, potential lives were saved today,” said Assemblymember Grace Meng. “It is a life-saving measure to ensure that the bus drivers have valid licenses and the vehicles are in safe conditions to carry the hundreds of passengers they carry daily.”

Included among the violations were a cracked windshield, drivers with expired or no medical certificates for drivers and unsanitary lavatories.

A total of 16 vehicles were inspected. Two others had to be pulled off the road for servicing. Three drivers were taken off-duty.

Out of the vehicles stopped, there were a total of 57 violations among them.

“By doing the inspections, it lets all these bus company owners know that we’re out here,” said Kevin O’Donnell, community affairs officer for the 109th Precinct. “It’s all about keeping the community safe.”

The bus used a Pennsylvania license plate. O’Donnell noted that these buses usually register outside of New York to avoid its more stringent inspection regulations.

O’Donnell was unable to divulge if and when other inspections would take place, to prevent jeopardizing future operations.

These inspections are part of a city and statewide crackdown on dangerous buses and unqualified drivers.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo recently announced 11 arrests made in connection with bus drivers illegally acquiring driver’s licenses, including commercial driver licenses using aliases.

Both Metropolitan Transportation Authority employees and commercial operators were taken in.

“New York will use every tool at its disposal, including the latest facial recognition technology, to end fraudulent practices in obtaining driver licenses,” Cuomo said.

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