Profit takes back seat to safety
Sep 19, 2017 | 5653 views | 1 1 comments | 389 389 recommendations | email to a friend | print
With all of the private bus companies racing to get their passengers to area casinos and outlet malls clogging the already crowded Flushing streets, it's almost inconceivable that a deadly accident like the one that occurred Monday morning hasn't happened before.

Although, it's hard to conceive of the horrific accident that took place at the intersection of Main Street and Northern Boulevard this week. A speeding private bus slamming into an MTA bus, spinning the 15-ton Q20 around like it was nothing.

The man behind the wheel of the Dahlia Group bus that appears – an investigation is still underway - to have caused the accident was killed instantly. But why was Raymond Mong allowed behind the wheel in the first place?

Mong was fired from his job with the MTA after he was convicted of drunk driving in Connecticut, causing an accident that he also fled. That apparently didn't matter to Dahlia.

But it should have. A state law forbids bus drivers from hitting the streets if they flee the scene of an accident that causes an injury within the previous five years.

Anyone who has been in Downtown Flushing over the past decade or so has seen the proliferation of these private bus companies. They park their vehicles on the neighborhood's crowded side streets, advertising cheap rides to Mohegan Sun, Foxwoods and Woodbury Commons outlet mall.

Competition is fierce, profit margins are slim. Safety takes a back seat.

Which is probably why Dahlia didn't properly vet Mong and find the drunk driving conviction from two years ago. Or maybe they did and didn't care because they needed a driver. Or maybe they didn't even check.

Any of those scenarios are possible, given Dahlia's spotty record as a company. According to federal records, Dahlia has been found responsible for three other deaths in the past, and recently one of its buses rolled over on a highway en route to a Connecticut casino.

Thankfully, nobody was killed in the incident, although a couple of dozen passengers were injured.

The agencies tasked with overseeing these private bus companies need to do a better job of ensuring they are following all of the laws and guidelines to keep passengers safe.

And it's not just Flushing. We have all seen the explosion of bus companies offering cheaper and cheaper rides, not just to cultural attractions but from city to city across the Northeast.

Cheaper fares, but at what cost to the safety of the riders?
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September 22, 2017
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