The U.S. Transportation Department shut down Boston’s Lucky Star bus company after finding wide-ranging safety violations, including a motorcoach carrying passengers with a 8-square-foot hole in its floor.
That bus was operating with “significant frame damage,” the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said in a order declaring Lucky Star an imminent hazard. Regulators found 69 mechanical problems during two inspections and said company executives didn’t adequately monitor drivers.
“We cannot allow unsafe bus and truck companies and commercial drivers on our highways and roads to endanger innocent lives,” agency Administrator Anne Ferro said in a statement. A person answering a call to Lucky Star’s Boston office said no manager was available to comment.
Lucky Star, which operates between Boston and New York’s Chinatown, was the 13th bus company put out of business since the regulator started a crackdown April 1. It began after an accident involving Scapadas Magicas LLC, a Mexican carrier returning from a California sightseeing trip, killed eight people.
The agency said Lucky Star, whose corporate name is the Lucky River Transportation Corp., ran buses around the clock, making regular maintenance difficult. The company’s head mechanic told investigators he couldn’t keep up with repairs because of the schedule and the age of the vehicles.
Federal inspectors found 10 of 21 Lucky Star buses had broken down during the past year, including three coaches on a single day in December. Passengers were forced to get off on the sides of roads.
Two-thirds of Lucky Star’s drivers falsified their logs tracking how long they’d been on duty, the regulator said. Five out of six drivers examined exceeded federal drive-time limits. Logbooks showed shifts longer than the 10 hours allowed and managers didn’t check them, the agency said.
Global-positioning satellite reports indicated all Lucky Star drivers were speeding, according to the order. Two drivers ordered off the road because they didn’t speak English were permitted to drive days later without any evidence of language training, the agency said. U.S. rules require that drivers be able to communicate in English.
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