By Gina Martinez
After the deadly Flushing bus crash that killed three people and injured 16 Monday morning, City Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) and Council Transportation Chairman Ydanis Rodriguez (D-Washington Heights) called for stronger regulations for private bus companies.
According to the elected officials, the Northern Boulevard collision involving a Dahlia Travel bus slamming into a MTA Q20 bus exposed the need to take a closer look at regulations governing the operation of private bus companies in the city.
Rodriguez and Koo said further collaboration between the Council, the city Department of Transportation, and the NYPD was necessary in order to crack down on bad private bus companies and take them out of operation.
Koo said private bus companies compete for space with more than 20 bus lines at the second busiest pedestrian intersection in the city in Flushing so they should be held to high standards of safety and accountability when they put the lives of others in their hands
“Too often we see these buses blocking traffic by drivers working long hours,” he said at a news conference Tuesday. “While there is a place for these businesses, yesterday’s devastation demands a closer look at how this industry can be better regulated. At the end of the day, we must ensure the safety of our streets and the security of passengers in both public and private transportation. I look forward to working with my colleague Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez on this effort.”
Dahlia Travel and Tour Bus has a history of deadly accidents and currently has a low Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration safety rating. According to the elected officials, the Flushing bus company’s current on-road performance is worse than 81 percent of other companies in the same federal Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category .
Rodriguez announced he plans on holding a hearing on regulations for charter buses operating in New York City in the coming months and will also call on the DOT to revise its intercity bus permit rules.
According to Rodriguez, it is important to better understand how crashes such as the one on Monday can be prevented in order to improve traffic and pedestrian safety in keeping with the city’s Vision Zero goals.
“One crash is one too many, especially when they take the lives of innocent, hardworking New Yorkers,” he said. “We all deserve to move safely from Point A to Point B, no matter how we choose to do so. The behavior of drivers should have strong consequences for charter companies. In the coming months, we will hold an oversight hearing on charter bus regulation at City Council and continue to work with the administration to prevent the loss of lives due to negligent and irresponsible private bus operators.”
Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing) said she is awaiting the results of the NTSB investigation to see what can be done on a federal level to regulate charter busses.
“NTSB’s accident report will help determine the cause of the crash and how to prevent tragedies like this from occurring in the future,” she said. “My thoughts and prayers are with all those impacted by the deadly accident, and I will be in close contact with the NTSB as it develops its report and safety recommendations.”
Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmart