Montana remains passenger bus-less after Rimrock shutdown

2013-03-27T17:40:00Z 2013-07-01T16:41:31Z Montana remains passenger bus-less after Rimrock shutdownBy TOM LUTEY tlutey@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

Greyhound and Trailways are still deciding how to respond to the abrupt federal shutdown of Billings-based Rimrock Stages, which shuttled passengers across Montana for both companies.

For now, Montana is without passenger bus service.

“I spoke to our Greyhound team, and they are aware of the situation and evaluating the next steps. At this point, unfortunately, that's all I have,” said Maureen Richmond, spokesman for Greyhound.

Greyhound ended its cross-Montana service last decade, relying on Rimrock Stages to deliver passengers across Montana to Missoula, where riders could continue to Seattle on a Greyhound bus.

Last Friday, the Department of Transportation ordered Rimrock Stages’ bus fleet off the road after inspectors ruled the business an imminent hazard. U.S. DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration called Rimrock’s condition an "imminently hazardous and potentially deadly risk.”

Monday, Rimrock President Thorm Forseth said the company is doing everything it can to comply with changes demanded by U.S. DOT, after which it will re-apply to serve Montana and North Dakota. The company has been in business 38 years.

Rimrock was among the independent, privately owned motorcoach companies doing business under the Trailways banner through an affiliated brand license.

Trailways is now without a partner to service Montana and parts of North Dakota as a result of the shutdown, Trailways President Gale C. Ellsworth said Tuesday in a statement to The Gazette.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Operations Out-of-Service Order, issued on March 22, 2013, ordered Rimrock Stages to take various corrective measures and fully comply with the newest DOT safety initiative before its operations will be reinstated. Given the challenges that face any motorcoach or transportation company whose entire operational service has been federally suspended, Rimrock Stages and Trailways cannot, at this time, predict when, or if, Rimrock Stages will restore motorcoach services in Montana and parts of North Dakota.

Trailways supports Rimrock’s efforts to meet the DOT’s safety demands and become reinstated.

Forseth said Monday that any discussion to provide Montana service cannot include Rimrock as a result of the shutdown. He had heard there was some discussion by other companies to provide “stopgap service.”

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