Bus company owner speaks for first time about investigation - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

Bus company stays open pending safety review, owner speaks on investigation

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Last month, a FOX 32 investigation revealed that safety problems could put an Illinois bus company out of business, just as the holiday travel season arrived.

Now, the owner of that company is talking to FOX 32 News for the first time, with an update on the company's future.

Lex Express buses carry passengers all over Illinois, especially college students to and from their home towns.

FOX 32 News reported exclusively three weeks ago that federal safety officials had given the company until this Friday to get its act together.

So, will the buses be running?

"I guess we've now got a 30 day reprieve," says Lex Express President Robert Frazier.

Robert Frazier runs Lex Express, whose buses carry thousands of students between stops like Champaign, Bloomington Charleston and Chicago.

In October, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration alleged that his buses were unsafe and his drivers had falsified their logs.

He recently sent a 600 page response to the feds, which they lost, so he sent it again.

"I feel we have been getting wronged in all of the accusations that are going on," Frazier says.

The agency now has up to 30 days to decide whether the company should be ordered off the road. Frazier says it's merely a paperwork problem.

For example, the feds says his driver's falsified their logs, raising concerns about fatigue. He says they merely forgot to report that they were drinking coffee before their trips.

"Our drivers are never, ever falling asleep at the wheel," Frazier explains. "They run a regular schedule just like when you wake up and go to work. They wake up and go to work."

His buses, he says, are mechanically sound, although they're old.

"Yes, I run more of a vintage fleet. The buses are not brand new, because brand new buses are half a million dollars each," Frazier says.

It was an October inspection that led the feds to crack down, but our review of Lex Express's history shows repeated problems passing safety inspections. Frazier believes he's been unfairly targeted by safety agencies, but won't say why.

"It's time for me to come in front of the cameras and tell you, I am not the bad guy, I'm the good guy," Frazier says.

Lex Express is still up and running, while the federal agency takes up to 30 days to review the company's safety plan.

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