December 26, 2013
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has ordered Los Angeles-based passenger carrier John Andrew Ciego, which does business as "Its Good Promotion," USDOT No. 1518915, to immediately cease operations after finding that the company was endangering the traveling public by failing to ensure the safety of its vehicles and drivers.
Investigators also found that the carrier improperly allowed at least four other unsafe bus companies, previously shut down by FMCSA, to continue doing business using vehicles with the registration markings of "Its Good Promotion."
"Safety is our top priority, and we are working hard to thoroughly investigate and shut down bus companies that put people in harm's way," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "Deliberately evading federal safety regulations that protect travelers on our highways and roads has serious consequences and will not be tolerated."
On Dec. 1, 2013, a bus with the markings of "Its Good Promotion" was stopped for an inspection while crossing into the United States at the Otay Mesa, Calif., Port of Entry. The vehicle was found to be the subject of an FMCSA out-of-service order issued Nov. 15, 2013. Furthermore, inspectors discovered 17 serious safety defects, 14 of which individually required the vehicle to be immediately placed out-of-service as an imminent hazard to the public. It was also revealed that the vehicle had attempted to cross the border earlier the same day in El Paso, Texas, but was refused entry by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents because of the previously issued FMCSA out-of-service order.
Employing innovative investigative techniques developed under the recent Operation Quick Strike crackdown, FMCSA investigators on Dec. 2, 2013, launched an intensified investigation of "Its Good Promotion" and found that the company name and its USDOT number were being used by multiple motor carriers and commercial motor vehicle owners as a "shell cover name" to transport passengers between Mexico and the U.S. The four motor carriers that were attempting to appear as part of "Its Good Promotion" had been previously ordered by FMCSA to cease operations because of serious safety violations.
"Rogue bus operations that compromise public safety are being shut down in California and nationwide," said Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator Anne S. Ferro. "We encourage anyone with a complaint, information or evidence that a bus company is endangering passengers or breaking the law to contact FMCSA by calling 1-888-DOT-SAFT [1-888-368-7238] or making a report with our National Consumer Complaint Database at http://nccdb.fmcsa.dot.gov."
In addition to knowingly allowing other companies to improperly operate using "Its Good Promotion's" federal authority, investigators found serious and widespread violations of multiple federal safety regulations, including:
- Failure to monitor and ensure that drivers comply with controlled substances and alcohol use testing regulations;
- Allowing a driver who tested positive for illegal drugs to continue transporting passengers;
- Using drivers that did not possess valid U.S. commercial driver's licenses or were not medically qualified to operate buses;
- Not requiring drivers to turn in hours-of-service records and other required documentation such as driving itineraries or fuel receipts; and
- Failure to ensure vehicles were properly and regularly inspected, repaired and maintained.
The company subsequently failed to provide FMCSA safety investigators access to its commercial motor vehicles as required by an earlier federal order. Because of this, in combination with all evidentiary findings of the investigation, the operation of "It's Good Promotion," including all of its vehicles, was declared an imminent hazard and ordered immediately shut down by FMCSA.
As part of FMCSA's work to make safety data readily available to the traveling public, the SaferBus mobile app gives bus riders a quick and free way to review a bus company's safety record before buying a ticket or booking group travel. The SaferBus app, available for iPhone, iPad and Android phone users, can be downloaded for free by visiting FMCSA's "Look Before You Book" webpage at www.fmcsa.dot.gov/saferbus.
Travelers planning a bus trip are also encouraged to think safety first before buying a ticket or chartering a bus by using FMCSA's multilingual passenger carrier safety checklist at: http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/lookbeforeyoubook.
FMCSA urges consumers and whistleblowers to report any unsafe bus company, vehicle or driver to the agency through a toll free hotline 1-888-DOT-SAFT (1-888-368-7238) or FMCSA's consumer complaint web site: http://nccdb.fmcsa.dot.gov/HomePage.asp.
Consumers who bought a ticket on a bus company that FMCSA has recently placed out-of-service may be entitled to a credit from their credit card company under the Fair Credit Billing Act if they paid for the ticket by credit card. For more information visit: http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety-security/pcs/bus-credit-refund.aspx.