SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) — An ABC40 investigation reveals a Springfield bus company ignoring federal orders.
Santana Busline, Inc. was shut down by the Department of Transportation last month for imminent safety concerns.
The mandate, dated March 13, alleges Santana Busline drivers were a threat to cause injury or death. Drivers were caught speeding and operating without a license by investigators.
The mandate also claims that Santana’s 15 passenger vans weren’t inspected nor repaired.
The feds demanded Santana stop operating, but clearly that order was ignored.
It took just one call for us to make a reservation.
Santana told us their 10 a.m. trip to Hartford on April 1 was sold out, so we settled for a 2 p.m. trip.
A minivan, clearly different from the 15 passenger vans cited by investigators, picked ABC40′s Brendan Monahan up for $25.
Our destination: the Hartford train station.
We quickly encountered the same issues with the van that feds detailed in their report.
At speeds at times over 90 miles per hour, our driver recklessly made illegal lane changes. ABC40 cameras struggled to keep up as they followed behind.
Our driver repeatedly used his cell phone while we crossed into Connecticut, where hand-held use of a phone is illegal.
To top it off, the van was dirty and a field day for flies.
When we arrived in Hartford, the same door I used to get in the unmarked, make-shift van wouldn’t open. The driver, who never gave us his name, had to open another door just to let me out.
[We got a question for you. Do you have a license to be transporting people?]
“I know you, no,” the driver admitted with a laugh.
[You realize that you are breaking the federal law right now? You're breaking federal regulations. You were told not to be transporting passengers. We're from Channel 40.]
“I know, I know, you go to the base. You go to the base,” the driver said.
The driver quickly took off as the van squeaked and creaked, so we followed his instructions and called “the base” – Santana’s office.
A man who took the call told us the company was no longer operating.
Back in Springfield, that office is registered to 181 Laconia Street.
Their 15 passenger vans are nowhere to be found, but van chairs and tires are all over the back yard. However, nobody would come outside to speak with us.
The federal mandate from last month says that violators of the order can face civil and criminal penalties.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration says they do not comment on the status of ongoing investigations.
In a statement, spokesperson Duane DeBruyne says, “As a general matter, the Office of Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Transportation investigates allegations of that a carrier has violated a Federal Imminent Hazard Out-of-Service Order, and the Department of Justice may seek to enforce FMCSA orders in federal court.”
Santana Buslines stopped answering their phone the day after our trip.
Fung Wah, a popular bus line that transported passengers between New York and Boston, was also shut down last month.