Federal government orders LEX to shut down its operation

Lincolnland Express, more commonly known as LEX, bus company was ordered to temporarily shut down operations Friday by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

The company is currently awaiting approval of a safety management plan that it created to correct violations that led the company to receive an unsatisfactory safety rating Oct. 22.

The shutdown deliberation came a week after the company submitted the 600-page plan. The safety administration will have up to 30 days to decide whether the plan meets its criteria, according to a news release from FMCSA.

The violations include false reporting of records, use of buses that were not periodically inspected and failure to properly maintain vehicle parts and accessories.

Robert Frazier, owner of LEX, said the violations came as a result of a misunderstanding and said he feels confident that the company has followed all safety regulations.

“That’s what the Department of Transportation is supposed to do — to come in, identify problems that need to be corrected and have you correct those problems,” Frazier said. “That is what you call government regulation. But this is what you call government destruction, not regulation.”

Frazier also owns the bus company Illini Tours, and he said that the company has not received any unsatisfactory ratings from the safety administration. He said he was confused by the results of the inspection.

“It has the same drivers, the same mechanics — we can take any one of my LEX buses and use it for the Illini Tours,” he said. “But if I put the word LEX on it, I made it illegal.”

Frazier said he expects to hear back from the agency by the end of the week.

“It’s terribly frustrating,” he said. “They are acting like I’m some murderer out there taking students and just crashing buses into buildings.”

According to data from the Department of Transportation, 47 percent of inspections of LEX vehicles over the last two years have revealed violations that must be corrected before being allowed back on the road.

Students have been affected by the shutdown already. For students like Alexa Loufman, a student at DePaul University, who had expected to take a LEX bus this weekend, the temporary closure became an obstacle.

Loufman, who visited the University over the weekend, said she received a phone call from LEX telling her the company was halting business because of federal code. LEX told her they would refund the ride, but Loufman was still disappointed and had to arrange for her own transportation.

“I wished they would have told me sooner about their business, so I could have bought another ticket from another company.”

Carina can be reached at lee713@dailyillini.com.