U.S. DOT Shuts Down Illini Tours Bus Company
By Jeff Bossert
Champaign-based bus company Illini Tours has been ordered to shut down by the U.S. Department of Transportation, citing safety concerns.
In a press release, the agency’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration ordered Illini to ‘immediately cease all operations, declaring that its drivers and vehicles pose an imminent hazard to public safety.’
“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.”
Robert Frazier, the owner of Illini Tours, is also owner of Champaign-based LEX Express, which was shut down by the federal government last December over reports of safety violations.
Frazier compared the reports to a ‘witch hunt,’ saying LEX served as the scapegoat for companies like Megabus, which saw two fatal accidents in 2012. Frazier was not immediately available for comment on Thursday.
Federal investigators learned Illini Tours didn’t have a systematic inspection, repair, and maintenance program for its vehicles, and said inspections of four of the company’s buses resulted in every vehicle being immediately placed out-of-service for critical safety violations.
The agency said the company 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.