Multiple violations on records for several Connecticut casino-bound buses

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UNCASVILLE -- After a casino-bound bus crash Monday sent 30 people to the hospital, FOX 61 looked into the company, Dahlia Group Inc.'s safety history. The U.S. Department of Transportation shows 35 violations levied against Dahlia by various state agencies. Most citations are related to maintenance for buses registered to Dahlia's New York and Massachusetts locations.

FOX 61 looked into other bus companies that travel to and from Connecticut casinos and found similar track records.

According to federal data, buses operating in the Tri-state area are often pulled over for speeding more than 10 miles over the limit, sometimes 15-plus miles over -- which means some buses are traveling at least 80 mph on Interstates 395 and 95.

Multiple companies traveling Connecticut roads also get in trouble for not keeping up with maintenance requirements.

On Thursday, a JTR Transportation bus was parked at Mohegan Sun. Inspectors have cited that company more than 20 times in the past two years for violations, such as a cracked or loose frame and faulty brakes.

A bus labeled the Coach Company, waiting for passengers at Foxwoods, has been nabbed 22 times, according to records. Police have also knocked Peter Pan, seen at both casinos, with 124 violations. Peter Pan buses have been involved in five crashes in 2 years, most recently in Connecticut.

Data for 25 out of 26 bus companies recommended on the websites of Mohegan Sun and/or Foxwoods have several violations and/or crashes on their records between 2013 and 2016.

Several of the citations come from Connecticut State Police.

"Buses carry 55 human beings, 55 people. They're the largest capacity vehicles on our highways in Connecticut and certainly we don't want to let anything slip through the cracks," said Lt. Paul Vance, who heads the Traffic Services Unit.

Vance dispatches special bus-certified troopers to Connecticut's casino parking lots to inspect carriers, who often pick up on maintenance problems.

"If we were to cite someone, say, for a bad tire, a tire that's below acceptable standards, you might say, 'Well, you can probably get a few hundred more miles on that.' We don't want to do that," Vance said, adding that any one violation can contribute to a crash.

Connecticut troopers cited the same casino bus involved in Monday's accident in May 2015 for four failed maintenance requirements, including air suspension pressure loss and improperly used emergency equipment.

Vance couldn't say if the May problems played a factor in Monday's accident.

FOX 61 asked officials from Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun to comment on this report.

In an email, Ashley Polo of Foxwoods wrote, "Foxwoods Resort Casino follows the high industry standards for bus charters to our property."

A statement from Ray Pineault, president and general manager of Mohegan Sun said:

Mohegan Sun consistently monitors the safety status of all bus operators that carry passengers to and from our property. Working with CT DOT and sourcing the US DOT, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) driver and safety rankings, we regularly evaluate each company and take corrective action if any concerns are identified. Independently we solicit passenger feedback, conduct random safety checks and site visits to ensure the safety and quality of service.

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