Megabus: Troubled past; gearing up safety

Tampa, Florida – With dirt-cheap prices, Megabus is sure to be a draw for those looking to travel between Tampa, Orlando, and Miami.

But the transport company, which will launch service from downtown Tampa on May 15, has a long history of problems.

A short sample includes at least four incidents in the Illinois area within two weeks back in 2012; one resulted in the death of a passenger when a Megabus blew a tire and careened into a concrete pillar.

There have also been incidents where drivers were pulled over with passengers and charged with driving under the influence.

"I think the problem for consumers is that a lot of times they're boarding buses blindfolded and they don't really know the safety of that company or the safety of that driver," said Jackie Gillan with Advocates for Highway and Safety in Washington, D.C.

The organization is pushing for better regulation and more access to inspection reports to better inform customers.

It took some digging, but 10 News found the inspection reports from Megabus through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Megabus operates under various names in different parts of the country.

While the numbers show major improvements with the company, two Megabus operations stood out. The New Jersey operation listed four accidents in the last 24 months. In addition, during impromptu inspections 4.9 percent of buses (12) were pulled from operation because of safety issues. But, to put that in perspective, the number is well below the national average of nearly 21 percent.

During that same period, nine drivers were pulled from operating a bus because of safety reasons, which is also well below the national average.

In the Illinois area, we found similarly good numbers in the Midwest where six Megabuses were pulled, or 11.5 percent. Five drivers were pulled for safety reasons during that time, but that too was below the 5-and-a-half percent national average.

Overall, the FMCSA gave Megabus a "satisfactory," which is the top rating it can receive.

Reached in New Jersey, the senior vice president for safety at Megabus said serious changes were made to ensure customer safety.

Among them, technology was installed that allows for remote monitoring of the buses, which allows two pairs of eyes to monitor tire presser to prevent a blowout.

There were also changes to how Megabus hires drivers.

"We give them a sophisticated physiological test to really see if this is the type of individual that not only can drive the vehicle safely but also had the type of customer service skills that we want for a driver," said Don Carmichael.

Megabus also added, all their carriers are Transportation Safety Exchange (TSX) approved. TSX is an independent safety rating organization that provides safety ratings.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration


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