NTSB Calls For Tougher Bus Standards
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.