Despite having some of their parts recalled, thousands of small school buses still carry precious cargo everyday.
Among the items listed in the recalls:
- Seat backs on some buses do not meet strength requirements
- Some seat belt anchors anchors aren't strong enough
- Wheelchair lifts in some buses are defective
Records posted at NHTSA's recall site, safercar.gov, however, list 135 vehicles that were supposed to be recalled in 2005 because body panel joints were not strong enough, the Chicago Tribune reported. That means the panels could separate in a crash and someone could be seriously injured if they hit the edge, according to documents submitted by U.S. Bus.
"We not talking about an abstract remote risk, we're talking about a real danger to children in school buses," Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety in Washington D.C., told Boston's WHDH-TV last month.
The 15 separate recalls date back to 2001. Normally, recalls take about a year and a half to complete, but government officials allege the company tried to shift responsibility for the recalls by changing its name.
Transportation Collaborative Inc., or TCI, says a separate company, U.S. Bus Inc., is to blame for manufacturing the faulty bus parts. But National Highway Traffic Safety Administration officials say TCI and U.S. Bus are the same company operating different names. TCI currently conducts business under the name Trans Tech Bus.
The agency found the two companies have the same shareholders and show "continuity of ownership, management, personnel, assets and general business operations," the Chicago Tribune reported.
TCI has until Nov. 23 to alert companies that bought the buses about the recalls, and until September 2010 to complete the repairs. TCI also must pay a $20,000 fine.