Plenty of bus passengers bring tablets and smartphones with them to stay entertained on a long trip — but what happens when the bus driver has one of those devices, too?
The problem was one faced by customers of the America Bus & Limousine Service back in July, as 50 families took a bus trip to Kings Dominion in Doswell, Va. On the trip, one passenger filmed the driver scrolling and swiping the screen of an iPad as he drove down the road.
Further investigation into the company’s history revealed its frightening safety records. Although the company claims to have a perfect record and Better Business Bureau accreditation, they have had two fatal crashes and have scored an “F” rating with the BBB.
America Bus & Limousine also failed to randomly test employees for drug and alcohol use.
The federal government knows about the problems and has America Bus & Limousine — known to them as America Transportation Services — flagged for intervention for these issues, along with other unsafe driving problems.
Yet despite the feds’ knowledge of America Transportation Services’ record, they still hold a five-year contract with them through the General Services Administration. The government uses America Transportation Services to shuttle people around for as much as $150 per hour.
When a local ABC News team investigated the company’s official address — located in Brentwood, Md. — they didn’t find anyone from America Bus & Limousine, just a few individuals who claimed they did not work for the company.
The reporters also tracked down the owner’s home in McLean, Va., but he wasn’t home on that day. Later, they reached the owner by phone; he cursed at the reporters and told the station “not to stick its nose where it doesn’t belong.”
The government has promised to investigate America Transportation Services’ record even though they allege that the service has a 95 percent approval rating among federal agencies in the government-wide past performance database.
Meanwhile, the passengers of that particular bus trip wish they’d known about the service’s problems before agreeing to travel with the company. Many were also unaware of the negative reviews America Bus & Limousine had received on Yelp.
Victor Parra, president and CEO of the United Motorcoach Association, recommends that passengers call a company if they see an alert on their safety records and ask what the company plans to do about it. UMA also recommends asking about a transportation company’s insurance and authority to operate if any concerns are present.