Sky Express Bus Info
- Driver Fatigue:
- Cited 13 times in April and May; 46 citations in last two years
- Worse than 86% of bus and truck companies for driver fatigue; Worse than 99.7% for driver fitness
- 14 times for non-English speaking drivers
- US DOT Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Transportation Department officials say they were about to shut down a Charlotte bus company involved in a deadly crash in Virginia but then gave the company extra time to appeal an unsatisfactory safety rating.
A timeline released Wednesday by the department indicates that without the extension, Sky Express of Charlotte would have been shut down before the crash that killed four passengers and injured dozens in Virginia.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says he is directing the department to end its practice of extending appeals periods for operators found to be unsafe.
LaHood released this statement, "Following Tuesday's horrific bus crash in Virginia, I have directed the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to end its practice of extending the appeals period for unsafe motorcoach companies. There is no excuse for delay when a bus operator should be put out of service for safety's sake. On my watch, there will never be another extension granted to a carrier we believe is unsafe. I'm extremely disappointed that this carrier was allowed to continue operating unsafely when it should have been placed out of service for the benefit of its passengers and other motorists."
According to the timeline, Sky Express' authority to operate would have been revoked last Saturday. The department gave the company an extra 10 days to appeal. The bus crashed early Tuesday.
Chronology of events from DOT:
Based on Sky Express, Inc.'s safety performance data from roadside inspections, FMCSA identified the bus company for a full onsite safety compliance review to reevaluate its safety rating. FMCSA conducted the compliance review on April 7 and on April 12 officially issued the bus company a proposed unsatisfactory safety rating.
Federal statute requires that FMCSA give carriers a due process period of 45 days from the date a proposed safety rating is issued to appeal the agency's decision. The 45-day period began April 13 and would have expired on May 28. On May 11, Sky Express submitted an appeal to FMCSA's proposed unsatisfactory rating.
On May 13, FMCSA issued an initial denial of the Sky Express appeal. Additionally, FMCSA found in their review drug and alcohol and hours-of-service concerns with the carrier. To ensure the agency had all the evidence to execute an unsatisfactory rating and place the carrier out-of-service, the agency extended its review by 10 days beyond the May 28 statutory deadline.
Due to Tuesday's crash, FMCSA immediately placed Sky Express, Inc. out-of-service.