WASHINGTON, D.C. — Transportation across the U.S. has felt the sting of the partial government shutdown, the main impact being investigations into accidents — including a recent school bus crash — being placed on hold.
As the shutdown stretches beyond 30 days, CNN reported on Wednesday that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has been unable to investigate 87 accidents. Among them is a crash between a school bus and a tractor-trailer in New Jersey that injured 14 students on Jan. 7.
Dolline Hatchett, a spokeswoman for the NTSB, told CNN that the agency is “missing prevention opportunities,” and that important evidence that would normally be examined after an accident and used to support safety recommendations to prevent future accidents is being lost.
As of Jan. 16, CNN reported, the NTSB has 397 total employees, and 365 people are furloughed.
In addition, other federal agencies are operating at limited capacity that impact school transportation are the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Transportation Security Administration.
The shutdown has also impacted motorcoach operators, many of which provide student transportation. On Thursday, Peter Pantuso, the president and CEO of the American Bus Association (ABA), which represents more than 1,000 motorcoach and tour company operators, released a statement on the continuation of the government shutdown following Congress’ failure to pass legislation that would reopen the federal government.
“Another opportunity was missed today when Congress failed to pass legislation through both chambers to reopen the federal government and bring an end to the longest and costliest shutdown in our nation’s history,” Pantuso said in the statement. “ABA is currently hosting the largest gathering of domestic group tour and travel professionals at its annual trade show in Louisville, Ky. One unexpected theme of this year’s show is surviving the hardships caused by this continued government shutdown.”
“The American Bus Association again calls on Congress and the Administration to come together and end this needless shutdown immediately,” Pantuso added. “With each passing day, this situation grows more dire.”
Read the full statement in Metro Magazine, School Bus Fleet’s sister publication.