I have an article up at The Daily Beast looking at how the government's forced shut down of two Chinatown bus companies was based on fabricated evidence. Here's how it begins:
On May 20, 2013, a passenger motor coach run by a Chinatown bus company called Lucky Star departed New York City for Boston's SouthStation. Shortly after hitting the road, the driver heard a strange bang come from under the bus. The bus seemed to be functioningnormally, so he kept going.
Upon arriving in Boston, the driver was shocked to find a New York City manhole cover lodged in the vehicle's luggage compartment. Apparently, the bus struck the loose cover in the streets of Manhattan, sending it darting up into the vehicle's undercarriage. Lucky Star immediately took the bus out of service and sent it to the garage for repairs.
The following month, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) ordered Lucky Star to cease operating on the grounds that its buses and drivers posed "an imminent hazard to public safety." One of the primary reasons the FMCSA gave for the shutdown was the manhole cover incident. But the out-of-service order, which is the official document revoking the company's operating license, incorrectly states that after discovering the damage, Lucky Star's dispatcher kept the vehicle out of the garage and continued sending it on passenger trips in an act of willful negligence.
The false account of the manhole cover incident is just one of many distortions and inaccuracies that appear in the out-of-service order, according to multiple sources familiar with the investigation. (FMCSA spokesperson Duane DeBruyne declined to comment for this article.) The case of Lucky Star, a well-run company with a nearly spotless accident record, is the latest example of how the government's stepped-up safety regime is destroying small bus companies to the benefit of large, politically-connected corporate carriers, and in the process making American travelers less safe.
And watch my recent Reason TV collaboration with Naomi Brockwell, The Feds vs. The Chinatown Bus: