Operator of tour bus involved in deadly Flushing bus crash has a terrible safety history

A police officer stands near the site of a deadly bus accident in Flushing on Sept. 18.
Photo by Robert Stridiron/ RHS NEWS

The Flushing-based charter company that operated a bus involved in a deadly neighborhood crash on Monday scored poorly on federal safety ratings, two city lawmakers said on Tuesday.

Dahlia Travel and Tour Bus, located at 127-27 34th Ave. in Willets Point, owned the charter bus which smashed into a Q20 bus at the corner of Northern Boulevard and Main Street on the morning of Sept. 18. The violent crash claimed the lives of the tour bus driver, Raymond Mong, as well as a passenger on the Q20 bus and a pedestrian who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

As the investigation into the crash continues, two City Council members — Ydanis Rodriguez, who chairs the Council’s Transportation Committee, and Peter Koo, who represents Flushing — called on the city to further regulate the private bus industry. They pointed out that Dahlia Travel and Tour Bus has a prior history of deadly accidents and scored poorly on Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration ratings, ranking it worse than 81 percent of other charter bus operators nationwide.

The New York Times also reported on Tuesday that Mong previously worked as an MTA bus driver but was fired in 2015 after being personally involved in a three-car collision in Connecticut. He was subsequently convicted on charges of driving under the influence and evading arrest, and wound up serving 18 months’ probation.

Koo pointed out that many private buses compete with city buses on the streets of Flushing, and often the charter buses block traffic and commit other infractions. He also indicated that many of the drivers work long hours which may affect how they perform behind the wheel.

“As with any city-sanctioned transportation vehicle, private bus companies must be held to high standards of safety and accountability when they put the lives of others in their hands,” Koo said. “While there is a place for these businesses, yesterday’s devastation demands a closer look at how this industry can be better regulated.”

Rodriguez and Koo called on the City Council to work with the city Department of Transportation and the NYPD on an effort “to crack down on bad private bus companies and take them out of operation.”

“The behavior of drivers should have strong consequences for charter companies,” Rodriguez said. “In the coming months, we will hold an oversight hearing on charter bus regulation at City Council and continue to work with the [de Blasio] administration to prevent the loss of lives due to negligent and irresponsible private bus operators.”

QNS reached out to Dahlia’s office by phone and received a repeated busy signal.