Charter company that owned bus involved in deadly Flushing crash is among city’s most dangerous operators

Photos by Robert Stridiron/RHS NEWS

Two Flushing charter bus companies, including the one involved in the deadly September bus crash, ranked among the worst in the city in a recent report.

The Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) has released an analysis of the city’s most dangerous bus companies. The inquiry follows the tragic rush-hour crash at Main Street and Northern Boulevard that left three people dead and more than a dozen individuals hospitalized on Sept. 18.

Sagbus, Inc. ranked No. 1 on the list. Dahlia Group Inc., the charter bus company involved in the September crash, ranked No. 7. Both are Flushing-based companies and operate in the area.

Sagbus Inc., the top offender, was found to have received 18 total violations in the last two years — despite only having one recorded bus and driver. Two of those violations were for failing to obey traffic control devices and two were for speeding.

Dahlia Group was found to have 11 total violations in the last two years. A probe into the Sept. 18 crash also revealed that the tour bus driver Raymond Mong — who investigators believe was traveling significantly above the speed limit — worked as an MTA bus driver until being fired in 2015 after being involved in a three-car collision. Mong was convicted of driving under the influence and evading arrest and served 18 months of probation.

In response, the IDC, a breakaway group of eight Democratic senators working in a coalition with Senate Republicans, proposed a number of legislative reforms.

The group suggests increasing fines for companies that fail to provide mandated information to the state Department of Motor Vehicles. The penalty for a company failing to disclose the hire of a driver with a drunk driving conviction should double, the IDC said, and penalties for failing to disclose a hire to the DMV and that driver subsequently being involved in an accident that kills or injures a person should triple.

The group also proposes that bus company safety records be made more accessible to the public, making it harder for unsafe operators to function.

Queens lawmaker and IDC member state Senator Tony Avella said there is “no question” bus operators should be held to the highest safety standards.

“When people board a bus, they do so assuming that their safety is a priority and that they will get to their destination safely,” Avella said. “Companies that fail to disclose safety information, especially that of a driver who has a history of unsafe driving, are purposely putting their customers, and everyone who they share the road with, in serious danger.”

The report examined 249 companies with inspection data operating in New York. The 10 companies with the worst inspection results were also found to be in the bottom 30 percent of companies nationwide.