NTSB Calls For Tougher Bus Standards

The National Transportation Safety Board warned that illegally imported passenger buses from Mexico pose a threat on U.S. Highways. One such bus was involved in an accident in Southeast Texas that killed one person and injured 46 others.

Copyright © 2009 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

The National Transportation Safety Board has warned that illegally imported passenger buses from Mexico pose a threat on American highways. One such bus was involved in an accident in Southeast Texas that killed one person and injured 46, many of them seriously.

From Dallas, NPR's Wade Goodwyn reports.

WADE GOODWYN: On January 2nd of last year, a Volvo Motor Coach operated by Capricorn Bus Lines overturned on Highway 59 near Victoria, Texas. The bus driver, who'd fallen asleep at the wheel, woke up after the bus drifted into the median. He slammed on the breaks, overcorrected his now out of control bus, and flipped it on to it side.

But like some "CSI" episode, what was interesting to federal investigators was not the negligent bus driver but the bus itself. Among other things, it turned out it had been illegally driven in from Mexico.

Ms. DEBBIE HERSMAN (Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board): What our investigators found is that there were some loopholes in the regulatory procedures that were big enough to drive a bus through, and that's exactly what they did.

GOODWYN: Debbie Hersman is chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board. The more the NTSB investigated, the more dismayed it became. Dozens of buses were being registered in California illegally, full of passengers as they crossed the border as a disguise, but only going one way. Once they got into California, they were registered and sold to bus charter companies.

The NTSB knows they're out there but Hersman says it will take a broader based federal effort to find them, get them off the road, and plug the bus smuggling pipeline.

Wade Goodwyn, NPR News, Dallas.

Copyright © 2009 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.