Bus line shut by feds back on road with new name

By Mike Hixenbaugh
The Virginian-Pilot
June 25, 2011

Jeanette Wilkins bought a $25 bus ticket for passage from Washington to Virginia Beach last week stamped with the name “Sky Express.”

She noticed that the word “Sky” had been crossed out with black marker, and that the tour bus she rode in was marked with a different name altogether.

Wilkins, like other passengers on the bus, said she had no idea that Sky Express was at the center of a federal crackdown on the booming discount bus industry after a deadly wreck on Interstate 95 in May, or that other bus companies offering low-fare trips out of South Hampton Roads have similarly poor safety records.

“I wouldn’t even know where to go to get that information,” Wilkins said.

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Navy SEAL was a tough act to follow at school career day

I MIGHT NOT HAVE agreed to speak at the Creeds Elementary career day had I known school organizers were going to have me follow the active-duty Navy SEAL.

The thought struck me Monday as I was explaining to a group of fourth-graders the indelible role journalism plays in maintaining a free society.

The special-operations sailor – the father of, no doubt, the most respected kid in school – had just finished telling the students about the state-of-the-art weapons he and his cohorts use to obliterate bad guys. I was standing in front of them holding a blank note pad, encouraging the students to study hard in reading and writing so they, too, could someday report on Standards of Learning test results and school budget workshops.

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Discount bus lines have poor records, little oversight

By Mike Hixenbaugh
The Virginian-Pilot
June 5, 2011

Dileep Batel, a recent graduate of Old Dominion University, arrived at the dimly lit Norfolk parking lot around 11:30 p.m. to catch a $25 bus ride to New York City. The 26-year-old man needed to be in New Jersey the next morning, and the Blue Sky overnight bus service was the only way he could afford to make it there on time, he said.

The discount bus company’s safety record didn’t concern him, he said. Nor did a recent string of accidents linked to the booming low-fare bus industry, including a wreck last week that killed four and injured 50 others in Northern Virginia.

“It’s faster than a Greyhound, and much more affordable,” Batel said before boarding the bus to New York’s Chinatown. “I would rather go with the economical option.”

Continue reading “Discount bus lines have poor records, little oversight”