Curbside buses - so named because they pick up and drop off passengers on the roadside instead of in a terminal - have been in the news a lot lately because they have been involved in several serious accidents. A 2011 bus crash killed 15 people in New York, and a driver and passenger were killed in another bus accident in New Jersey two days later. In May, 2012, numerous curbside bus companies were shut down, including three that operated out of Indiana, because of safety concerns.
On August 2, 2012, another curbside bus crashed into a bridge support in Illinois, killing one passenger and injuring several others. It is possible the crash was caused by a blown tire, but the investigation is still ongoing. The bus was run by megabus.com and was traveling from Chicago to Kansas City, Missouri with a couple stops along the way.
Why are these buses so dangerous? In some cases, the fault lies with the bus drivers. Many of the companies hire drivers that do not have valid commercial driver's licenses, which means they lack the proper training to safely operate a large vehicle like a bus. Some hire drivers that have been fired by other companies because of safety violations. Oftentimes the drivers operate the buses longer than they federal laws allow, causing them to become too fatigued to drive the bus safely.
The buses themselves can also contribute to accidents if they are not properly maintained and operated. Investigators in the August 2, 2012 bus crash are most likely checking the maintenance records of the bus to verify that the blown tire did not occur because of improper maintenance. In Georgia, Megabus has stopped using their double-decker buses until they are all thoroughly inspected. Bus companies, including Megabus, received warnings from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regarding the importance of the load on the bus and its relation to tire pressure. Companies need to properly load passengers and cargo, being careful not to exceed the weight limit. They also need to increase tire pressure if the bus is at capacity. These commercial buses are now being randomly selected to be weighed at weigh stations to make sure they are not over the limit.