Feds close Champaign bus company
CHAMPAIGN — Local charter bus company Illini Tours has been ordered by the U.S. Department of Transportation to shut down.
The federal agency ordered the Champaign-based passenger carrier company "to immediately cease all operations, declaring that its drivers and vehicles pose an imminent hazard to public safety," according to a release issued Thursday by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Illini Tours operates five motorcoaches providing tours and charter services within Illinois and neighboring states, according to the department.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's imminent hazard, out-of-service order cited the Illini Tours owner's history of operating motor carriers in an unsafe manner.
Robert Frazier, the owner of Illini Tours, is also the owner of LEX Express, Inc./Lincolnland Express, another Champaign bus company the agency ordered to be shut down last December for several violations, including making false entries on vehicle maintenance records and failing to correct identified safety defects in drivers' inspection reports. Frazier was not immediately available for comment.
Investigators found that Illini Tours did not have a systematic inspection, repair and maintenance program for its vehicles, according to the release. Inspections of four of Illini Tours' buses resulted in every vehicle being immediately placed out-of-service for critical safety violations. Illini Tours allowed one vehicle to remain in service for several days despite the fact that multiple drivers had repeatedly listed in their vehicle inspection reports that the anti-lock braking system warning indicator light remained illuminated, according to the agency.
"Safety is our highest priority," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in a written statement. "Companies that don't abide by safety regulations and put the public at risk will not be allowed to operate."
Consumers who paid for their ticket by credit card may be entitled to a credit from their credit card company under the Fair Credit Billing Act. More information is available at http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety-security/pcs/bus-credit-refund.aspx
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said people can report any unsafe bus company, vehicle or driver to the agency through the toll free hotline (888) DOT-SAFT, or (888) 368-7238 or its consumer complaint web site: http://nccdb.fmcsa.dot.gov/HomePage.asp.