Following a yearlong investigation into curbside bus companies that operate out of Chinatowns in US cities, the US Transportation Dept. shut down 26 bus operators for safety violations today, Bloomberg News reported.
It’s the largest single government safety crackdown on the motor-coach industry, according to Bloomberg News.
Last year, Chinatown bus crashes in New York and New Jersey killed 17 people, Reuters reported. The National Transportation Safety Board found that curbside bus operators had a fatal crash rate seven times higher than bus companies based at terminals, Bloomberg News reported.
More from GlobalPost: Jeremy Wuitschick, 13, saves school bus from crashing (VIDEO)
The main targets of the crackdown were three Chinatown companies in New York and Philadelphia that serve routes up and down the East Coast – Apex Bus Inc., I-95 Coach Inc. and New Century Travel Inc. – and their affiliates, Reuters reported. Thirteen of the companies ordered to close had previously been told to shut down but had continued operating anyway, Bloomberg News reported.
Transportation officials said the companies had flouted the rules by hiring drivers without valid commercial licenses and not regularly inspecting or repairing their buses, Reuters reported.
"By ignoring safety rules, these operators put passengers and other motorists at risk," US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood told reporters, according to Bloomberg News. "This is a notice to every bus company out there. Follow the rules and keep people safe, or we will shut you down."