Today Philadelphia Police conducted surprise bus safety inspections in Center City while U.S. Department of Transportation officials announced $8 million in grants to improve commercial truck and bus safety across the Pennsylvania.  

A white motorcoach sat along Fifth Street waiting.  The driver stood nearby looking nervous while Police inspect the bus.  Office Chester Hampton said this bus has some problems,

"Right now we have the rear right side brake lights are inoperable," said Hampton.

Hampton said it's hard for passengers to know whether it's safe to ride.

"The average passenger just gets on the motorcoach, gives them their ticket or pays their fee and then goes and has a seat," said Hampton.  "So to the average passenger, they wouldn't know what we're looking for.  We check the vehicle and the drivers as well as the driver's paperwork."

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's Bill Bronrott says it's important for local and federal law enforcement and government to work together to fund and complete inspections.  He said more and more Americans are traveling by bus.

"It's becoming more affordable and more convenient as more and more of these bus companies are springing up all over the region, all over the Eastern Seaboard, the I-95 Corridor in particular," said Bronrott.  "So it's really important that everybody is keenly aware of knowing which companies are safe and which don't have the best safety record."  

Bronrott said many major accidents on the country's roadways are preventable and he encouraged riders to check on bus safety records by visiting the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's website.

The $8 million in federal grants includes $175,000 for the Philadelphia Police Department's full-time commercial motor vehicle inspection unit.