Official: New system weeding out `rogue' operators

DALLAS (AP) - The federal official in charge of bus safety said today that closer government scrutiny may have stopped more than 30 companies from returning to the road under a new name despite past safety violations -- a tactic used by the company whose charter crash killed 17 in North Texas.

John Hill, outgoing administrator for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, says 32 companies seeking licensing have failed to provide additional information sought by the agency as part of a crackdown on so-called "rogue" operators following August's crash in Sherman.

Hill says he can't be sure whether the 32 have links to other companies cited for safety irregularities, but says he finds it interesting that they declined the agency's requests for details.

The number represents about 10 percent of all those who have applied for licenses since the crash.

The FMCSA instituted the more elaborate vetting system to find operators like Iguala BusMex, the Houston company whose bus was involved in the Sherman crash. Iguala BusMex was an offshoot of Angel Tours, a company that had been placed out of service less than two months earlier for unsafe practices.

At the time of the accident, Iguala BusMex had yet to be approved for operation, but it had received a U.S. Department of Transportation number. Iguala BusMex and Angel Tours had the same owner and operated out of the same location.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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