US shuts down bus line after Va. crash kills 4

 


RICHMOND, Va. — Federal regulators have shut down East Coast discount bus service Sky Express after a crash in Virginia that killed four people and sent more than 50 others to hospitals.

The U.S. Department of Transportation issued an unsatisfactory safety rating and prohibited Charlotte, N.C.-based Sky Express from operating interstate transportation. It said in a statement Tuesday the bus company violated multiple federal safety regulations.

AP Photo/Richmond Times-Dispatch, Dean Hoffmeyer

The Virginia State Police Accident Reconstruction Team and Motor Carrier Safety Team inspect a bus that was involved in a single-vehicle accident Tuesday in Bowling Green, Va. The commercial tour bus went off Interstate 95 in Virginia and flipped on its roof before dawn Tuesday, killing four people and injuring many more, state police said.


A Sky Express bus headed to New York City swerved off northbound Interstate 95 early Tuesday, hit an embankment and overturned about 30 miles north of Richmond.

The driver, Kin Yiu Cheung, was charged with reckless driving and police say his fatigue was a factor in the crash. Federal documents show the company has a particularly poor safety record.

Gail Parenteau, a spokeswoman for Sky Express, confirmed the so-called out-of-service order issued by the Transportation Department's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration but said the company had suspended service on almost all of its buses as soon as it learned of the accident.


Transportation Department spokeswoman Candice Tolliver said the ban is indefinite.

Over the last two years, the company, incorporated in North Carolina in 2004, has been involved in several accidents, according to federal records. It also has been cited for 46 violations of drivers being fatigued over that same time.

Sky Express offers $30 bus trips between New York and 15 cities in North Carolina, Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. It also goes to Washington, D.C.

The carrier is part of an industry of inexpensive buses on the highways of the East Coast that offer cheap fares, convenient routes and in some cases free wireless Internet. The industry is in the fifth year of a boom, but a string of fatal accidents also has prompted calls for tougher federal regulation.

 

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