A special eight-month initiative focusing on the safety of motorcoach operations resulted in placing 52 bus companies and 340 vehicles out of service, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said. Called Operation Quick Strike, the program involved more than 50 specially trained investigators conducting in-depth reviews into the safety practices of the 250 most at-risk motorcoach companies as reflected in roadside inspection and safety data.

Investigators completed 214 full compliance investigations. More than 30 of the companies FMCSA initially identified had either transitioned to intrastate-only service, which FMCSA does not regulate, or gone out of business. The agency shut down 20 motorcoach companies immediately for violations that it said posed an imminent hazard to the public. Another 32 companies received unsatisfactory safety ratings and were shut down after failing to remedy critical and acute violations. Common reasons for the shutdowns were inadequate maintenance and drug and alcohol driver testing programs and widespread hours-of-service violations, FMCSA said.

FMCSA said 28 companies took corrective action to fix the safety violations investigators uncovered to avoid being shut down. Of the more than 1,300 vehicles inspected during the investigation, 340 were placed out of service for safety and maintenance violations.

As part of the special effort, inspectors assessed the levels of safety for more than 1,300 carriers that had minimal inspection history or FMCSA safety data. More than 240 have been targeted for follow-up investigations, the agency said.

“This year we evaluated and enhanced our investigation methods to dig deeper than ever before and uncover dangerous patterns of unsafe behavior and business practices,” said FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro. “Now we are training all investigators to utilize the new tactics we employed during Operation Quick Strike, and encourage everyone who travels by bus to ‘Look Before You Book’ using the safety information on our website.”

FMCSA’s announcement comes a little over a month after the National Transportation Safety Board slammed FMCSA’s safety oversight of motorcoach and trucking operations and called for audits of the agency’s compliance review process as well as the effectiveness of focused compliance reviews. NTSB’s recommendations were based on its assessment of four highway crashes, two of which were motorcoach accidents that together resulted in 16 deaths and 71 injuries.