Monday, January 6, 2014

Getting Safe and Reliable Casino Buses onto the Inland Empire's Freeways

The Transit Coalition has long explored ways to improve longer distance inter-regional mobility transit options throughout the Inland Empire. The expansion of private sector coaches and intercity bus competition can certainly address this. One sector that is performing well in terms of ridership are casino buses which ferry patrons from pick up points all over Southern California to the gaming resorts.

However, with the ridership growth came the unexpected uprising in bus collisions. During the 2013 Christmas holiday season alone, four separate reported casino bus wrecks occurred on Inland Empire highways which included fatalities. In addition, Riverside Transit Agency bus Route 27 crashed in December along State Highway 74 through Romoland.

Because of this serious situation, regulators and lawmakers at the state and federal level will need to explore safety policy to stop preventable operator-at-fault collisions from occurring. Regulators need to better enforce existing law. Operators must be held accountable to ensure its bus drivers are properly trained and safety protocol is followed. Officials also need to be careful not to drive out the industry by over-regulating the market. Drawing a sound solution will require productive debate between the affected parties.

The long term solution of balancing bus safety regulations and sustaining a profitable bus market economy needs to be debated publicly between the governments, industry experts, the casinos, and contracted bus operators. We want the marketplace to grow and expand the bus industry and have its buses serve existing transit hubs. It provides the improved transit options to corridors where public bus travel is not financially feasible. Competition provides incentives to improve service and lower fares. At the same point, lives positively cannot be put into jeopardy through lax safety rules. We look forward to seeing some good robust debate on real solutions to this problem.

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