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Senate Passes Bill Requiring Bus Companies to Display Safety Ratings

By Mathew Katz | March 15, 2012 12:35pm
A BoltBus parked on West 33rd Street at Seventh Avenue.
A BoltBus parked on West 33rd Street at Seventh Avenue.
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Flickr/Frank Gruber

MANHATTAN — Bus companies could soon be issued letter grades for safety rankings — the same way restaurants are forced to display their health grades — if Congress passes a new round of legislation.

Senator Chuck Schumer has sponsored a bill — which cleared the Senate Wednesday — that would require bus companies to disclose their federal safety ratings to passengers in a clear and understandable way.

Schumer wants the Federal Motor Carriage Safety Administration to create a safety rating plan using a letter grade system, just like the Health Department's rating system as displayed in the windows of restaurants around the city.

The goal of the legislation, aimed largely at low-cost carriers, is to better inform passengers about the safety of buses and companies before they purchase their tickets.

"Today, the Senate gets an ‘A’ for passing this crucial bill that will finally alert passengers about bus companies' safety records before they buy a ticket, and I urge the House to make the grade and pass the legislation immediately,” said Schumer.

The legislation would also require any ticket sellers to clearly display the company's full legal name and Department of Transportation identification numbers both where tickets are sold and online. Currently, customers can have a difficult time tracking down that information on their own.

It also would make bus companies provide a link to a Department of Transportation website containing each company's safety record.

Schumer first sponsored the legislation, which passed as part of the Surface Transportation Bill, last year when a low-cost World Wide Tours bus on its way to Manhattan from Connecticut crashed between the Bronx and Westchester, killing 15 people, as well as a 2010 incident in near Syracuse where a Megabus double-decker hit an overhead bridge, killing four.