WOODS CROSS, Utah — A local bus company that primarily transported children has been halted for repeatedly operating unsafe vehicles and for failing to comply with a 2014 federal consent order, federal officials announced recently.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) ordered Deseret Bus Service to cease all intrastate and interstate operations as of July 20.
Deseret had undergone a compliance review by FMCSA investigators in late 2013 that resulted in an unsatisfactory safety rating, prohibiting the company from conducting commercial operations.
In June 2014, following a thorough review by FMCSA of the company’s safety management plan, and upon entering into a federal consent order, Deseret’s safety rating was upgraded to conditional as long as the company implemented its safety management plan and complied with the terms of the order.
The federal consent order detailed the corrective actions the company had taken and outlined the steps it had agreed were necessary to ensure compliance with federal safety regulations. These corrective actions included ensuring that Deseret’s leased and company-owned vehicles were systematically inspected, repaired and maintained.
Deseret Bus Service further agreed to submit quarterly reports to FMCSA’s Utah division and to provide updated lists of drivers, records of duty status summaries, driver vehicle inspections reports, and all annual and roadside/terminal inspections.
Between January and May 2015, Deseret was subject to 15 vehicle inspections. FMCSA officials said that on seven occasions, safety inspectors found “serious violations that posed a risk to public safety and required vehicles to be placed out of service.” Safety violations included defective brakes and brake warning systems, insufficient tire tread, broken leaf springs and exhaust leaks.
In its federal consent order, Deseret had also agreed to immediately terminate any driver who knowingly operated a vehicle that had been placed out of service before it was repaired. According to FMCSA, on multiple occasions, a single driver was found to repeatedly operate a Deseret vehicle that had been placed out of service, but the driver was still employed by the company.
FMCSA’s action places Deseret Bus Service’s operations out of service based on its unsatisfactory safety rating and suspends its USDOT number. Deseret’s federal operating authority registration is revoked.
Operating in violation of an out-of-service order without federal operating authority and a USDOT number can result in civil penalties up to $60,000 for each transportation operation, as well as criminal penalties that can include fines up to $25,000 and imprisonment up to a year.
While Deseret may request an administrative review of FMCSA’s denial of its request for a change in its unsatisfactory safety rating, the prohibition from conducting all commercial passenger transportation operations would remain in place during the period of any review.