Bus company shut down

Published 05/16 2013 08:39PM

Updated 05/20 2013 05:18PM

CHAMPAIGN -- The federal government has ordered Illini Tours, Inc., to immediately shut down all operations. The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration says that its drivers and vehicles pose an imminent hazard to public safety. 

The owner of Illini Tours, Robert Frazier, is also the owner of LEX Express. That bus company was also ordered to shut down by FMCSA in December 2012, but Frazier says he's not ready to give up.

"I have a passion for transportation. I enjoy taking people back and forth to Chicago, to the airports. I enjoy taking them on trips, wherever they want to go," said Frazier.

But those trips are stuck at a red light until he can make his charter buses safer.

"It's a shame that we have to go through this and I really feel bad for the customers that I have, that they're hearing about these kinds of problems that I'm having," said Frazier.

Problems the FMCSA are calling a "blatant disregard for motor coach passenger safety." It investigated Illini Tours' operations in March. Four of five buses were immediately taken out of service.

"They found numerous problems that I would say were not life-threatening problems, but needed to be corrected," said Frazier.

Many of those were maintenance problems. The FMCSA cited brake deficiencies, air suspension pressure losses and a wiring problem that caused a two-foot spark when the motor coach was started during the inspection. 

The department also stated, "Illini Tours does not have a systematic vehicle inspection, repair and maintenance program in place to prevent the operation of unsafe motor coaches."

Frazier says he used to with LEX Express.

"All the documents have to be changed over to Illini Tours everything, and we were doing that, just unfortunately not fast enough," said Frazier.

Until he does, his buses aren't going anywhere.

"I'm very disheartened that this happened again. I feel like, in a sense, I'm being picked on but obviously if there are problems, I need to solve those problems," said Frazier.
He plans to send his corrective action plan to the FMCSA within the next few weeks and hopes to be back on the road as soon as possible.

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