“Unacceptable Operator” Regency Transportation Involved in Deadly School Bus Crash

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The firm responsible for the bus involved in a deadly accident in New York earlier this week, ferrying a contingent of high school band students to camp, was designated as an “unacceptable operator” by the state, citing repeated safety inspection failures since 2022.

Transport Department records revealed that Regency Transportation Ltd. failed five out of 15 safety inspections in the state’s 2023 fiscal year, according to Department Spokesman Joseph Morrissey. The Department conducts upwards of 150,000 safety inspections yearly as part of their bus safety initiative.

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The bus, carrying roughly 40 students of Farmingdale High School’s marching band en route from Long Island to a band camp in Pennsylvania, careened off Interstate 84, went through a wire guardrail, and rolled multiple times down a ravine in Wawayanda, 70 miles outside New York City, as per State Trooper Jason Lewis.

Gina Pellettiere and Beatrice Ferrari, venerated educators, perished in the crash, while several students sustained injuries.

New to Regency Transportation’s fleet, the bus underwent its first inspection under the New York transportation department in August 2023, passing it and four additional random roadside inspections thereafter.

Bus operators with more than a 25% out-of-service rate due to inspection failures are dubbed “unacceptable.” In 2023, Regency’s rate stood at 33%. Operators in this category must pass at least two comprehensive annual safety inspections and could face penalties such as violation notices, fines, and potential suspension or revocation of interstate operating authority.

Over the previous two years, other buses in the company’s fleet failed seven safety inspections, predominantly due to braking system problems, which resulted in the immediate sidelining of those buses. Upon verification by inspectors, the buses could be re-operationalized.

Regency Transportation Ltd. has not yet provided a statement. A preliminary probe into the accident suggests a malfunctioning front tire could be a factor. However, the inquiry continues, with National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigators on site.

By Friday, the NTSB hadn’t had the opportunity to speak with the driver, but they plan to do this depending on her injury situation. An NTSB team will continue to investigate the crash site, focusing on factors that may have led to the unfortunate incident.

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