The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently ordered a Utah-based bus company to cease all operations after repeatedly operating unsafe vehicles and for failing to comply with a 2014 federal consent order, FMCSA officials stated.
FMCSA officials stated that Deseret had undergone a compliance review by investigators in late 2013 which ultimately resulted in an unsatisfactory safety rating, prohibiting the company from conducting commercial operations.
According to the company’s website, Deseret Bus Leasing, Inc. had been locally owned, serving the state of Utah since 1977 with “thousands of happy customers.” As of August 2nd, the site’s url no longer loads. The bus company primarily transported children.
The company issued a statement to KSL-TV on Saturday. Although a spokesperson for Deseret Bus confirmed it had, in fact, been issued a cease operations order, the company was “in the process of submitting an administrative review request for the change in safety rating in accordance with DOT rules and regulations.” They also claim initial information was inaccurate but did not elaborate.
In June 2014, following an in depth review by FMCSA of the company’s safety management plan, and upon entering into a federal consent order, Deseret’s safety rating was upgraded to conditional as long as Deseret implemented its safety management plan and complied with the terms of the order.
According to officials, the federal consent order detailed not only the corrective actions the company had taken, but outlined the steps it had agreed were necessary to ensure compliance with federal safety regulations. These corrective actions included, among others, ensuring that Deseret’s leased and company-owned vehicles were systematically inspected, repaired, and maintained.
Deseret Bus Service further agreed to submit quarterly reports to FMCSA’s Utah Division and provide updated lists of drivers, records of duty status summaries, driver vehicle inspections reports, and all annual and roadside/terminal inspections.
Between January and May 2015, Deseret was subject to 15 vehicle inspections. On seven occasions, safety inspectors found serious violations that posed a risk to public safety and required vehicles to be placed out-of-service. Safety violations included defective brakes and brake warning systems, insufficient tire-tread, broken leaf springs, and exhaust leaks.
In its federal consent order, Deseret had also agreed to immediately terminate any driver who knowingly operated a vehicle that had been placed out-of-service before it was repaired. On multiple occasions, a single driver was found to repeatedly operate a Deseret vehicle that had been placed out-of-service; the driver is still employed by the company.
Operating in violation of an out-of-service order without federal operating authority and a USDOT number may result in civil penalties up to $60,000 for each transportation operation, as well as criminal penalties that may include fines up to $25,000 and imprisonment not to exceed one year.