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Bus Safety Crackdown Yields 14 Closures in Two Years, U.S. Says

The U.S. Transportation Department, taking a more aggressive enforcement stance after a number of fatal bus crashes, has shut down 14 motor carriers this year and in 2010, as many as in the previous decade.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has used “imminent hazard orders” to close the companies, matching the total for 2000-09, the agency said today in a statement. Regulators have issued eight out-of-service orders in the past four months, the agency said.

“We have seen the tragic consequences of unsafe practices,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in the statement. The department hopes Congress will “provide us with the necessary authority to expand our safety oversight.”

Fatal crashes in New York, New Jersey and Virginia this year have renewed focus on bus companies, especially low-cost curbside operators popular in cities like New York and Washington. Greyhound Lines Inc., the largest U.S. carrier, announced July 14 that it would back a Senate measure to require seat belts and stronger roofs for new buses.

That bill, approved May 5 by the Senate Commerce Committee, is expected to be incorporated into broader multiyear surface-transportation legislation. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica, a Florida Republican, said in a July 14 interview that bus-safety provisions would be part of the six-year bill he’s drafting.

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