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In safety probe, U.S. agency closes 52 bus companies

The action, cited as a nationwide crackdown on unsafe operators, involves four in Pa. and one in N.J.

Federal bus-safety regulators have shut down 52 companies in what they describe as a major nationwide crackdown on unsafe outfits, including lines whose drivers had suspended licenses or worked routes of more than 800 miles without rest.

The companies aren't just low-cost, fly-by-night carriers - some have transported school bands, Boy Scouts or senior citizens, Anne S. Ferro, administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, said, according to the Associated Press.

Overall, the motor coach industry carries about 700 million passengers a year in the United States, roughly the same as domestic airlines.

The agency's list included four companies based in Pennsylvania and one in North Jersey. Delaware did not have a company on the list.

Philadelphia-based Bus Go Bus Inc., on North Ninth Street, was ordered in October by the agency to "immediately cease all commercial operations" because "its vehicles and drivers pose an imminent hazard to public safety." A voice mail message left on the phone listed on the federal notice was not returned.

Travel Time Transportation L.L.C., in Danville, Pa., was ordered to halt operations, but its status was since upgraded to "conditional." "It was all paperwork," manager Joe Schoppy said by phone.

The other two Pennsylvania companies shut down - S & V Tours Inc. and Wilcar Tours Inc. - both list the same street address in Tobyhanna as the physical location of buses, but have different mailing addresses and phone numbers for owners or managers. The Wilcar owner was unavailable, according to a person answering the phone. The manager of S & V Tours would only give his first name, Dan, and also said paperwork was the problem.

Pocono Progressive L.L.C., was the lone New Jersey bus company cited. The federal report lists Irvington as the location. A man answering the phone said he only cleaned the buses and did not know anything.

In April, the agency, part of the Department of Transportation, began scrutinizing 250 motor coach companies with poor safety records out of the approximately 4,000 interstate bus lines it regulates. "Operation Quick Strike" came partly in response to major crashes of carriers that, despite dismal safety records, the agency had let continue operating.