Maria Payne checks out the workings of her tour bus. Entrusted with dozens of lives, tour bus drivers have a large responsibilty.
The overwhelming majority of tour bus rides are safe. But a crash on the 215 this past weekend injured 25 people. This comes shortly after five people died when a tour bus crashed near Monterey in Northern California. A 2005 tour bus crash killed one passenger on its way to Fantasy Springs Casino. There is a lot of pressure on these drivers to get it right.
“[Prospective drivers] got to have at least two years experience to be accepted into our program. Then, we take them out on some tests on each different type of bus. We havethree different types of busses,” said Maria Payne, owner of Tram View Transportation.
Federal records show most local tour bus companies have near perfect safety records.
“You’ve got to have regular maintenance, every 45 days or 3,000 miles,” explained Payne.
We found one local bus company with federal safety scores three times worse than national averages. It’s the Mex-America Entertainment Company in Indio. It scored an 84 out of 100 on safety management. High scores mean a bus company like Mex-America is worse than 84 percent of all bus companies nationwide, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
When asked if he thought it was fair, bus company owner Eduardo Sanchez replied, “I don’t think it’s fair because I wasn’t informed. According to us, we’re pretty much new and according to us, we meet all the standards. We have our letter from the Department of Transportation and all the audits they give us. They pass really good. I don’t know why they would say 84 percent.”
The owner adds it is an exclusive bus company for bands and performers, and they do not serve the general public as a charter company.
Tour bus crashes are rare. But, when they happen, passengers are seriously injured or killed. The U.S. Department of Transportation is considering demanding more safety measures inside busses, including seat belts which is controversial in the bus industry.
“Even if they use seatbelts in there, you you can’t force a customer to use them, especially the kids.”
To find out how the bus company you’re using grades, click HERE.