Federal regulators have ordered Hermes Luxury Coach LTD, a passenger bus company linked to a Raleigh address, to halt operations because of safety violations.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said it revoked the operating authority for Hermes and bus operators in three other states because they intentionally provided false addresses as their places of business. Federal records show that Hermes has a recent history of crashes and safety violations.
“The practical effect of this is that it takes unsafe bus carriers off our roads and highways, resulting in safer highways for all of us,” Duane DeBruyne, a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration spokesman, said Wednesday. If Hermes operates after its authority has been revoked, it could face federal civil fines of $25,000 per violation.
The four revocations were linked to federal indictments issued Tuesday in Pennsylvania charging 14 people with fraud and conspiracy involving commercial bus insurance and federal bus safety enforcement, DeBruyne said. He said he didn’t know whether the defendants were directly tied to Hermes.
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The indictments stemmed from enforcement action by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in 2012, shutting down 26 bus companies that operated in six states including North Carolina.
Federal authorities have expressed frustration in their efforts to combat hazards posed by companies, often based in New York’s Chinatown, that use unsafe buses and untrained drivers to shuttle passengers up and down the East Coast.
“When the defendants’ buses and corporations were shut down by state and federal authorities for repeated safety violations, the defendants would immediately create another shell corporation and would fraudulently use the same defective and dangerous buses to transport passengers in interstate commerce,” according to a news release from U.S. Attorney Peter Smith of Pennsylvania’s Middle District.
The case was connected to the transportation and housing of restaurant workers who were “unauthorized aliens,” Smith said.
The safety agency’s public database describes Hermes, listed at a residential address on Kissimmee Lane in North Raleigh, as having 7 vehicles and 16 drivers.
Hermes buses were involved in three crashes in Ohio and Pennsylvania in 2014 and 2015, with a total of 10 people injured. In 71 federal safety inspections since 2014, Hermes has been cited for five unsafe driving violations, 60 vehicle maintenance violations and other violations.
It wasn’t clear Wednesday what connection Hermes actually has to Raleigh. A number of bus service websites also give addresses for the company, all tied to the same federal identification number, in Brooklyn, N.Y., and Durham.
Calls to the Hermes phone number were not returned.