W.Va. PSC inspecting buses for safety
CHARLESTON — West Virginia regulators are conducting a bus inspection blitz to see whether companies and drivers are complying with safety regulations.
The Public Service Commission said Wednesday that its Transportation Enforcement Division has conducted 45 inspections so far.
Passenger buses are being checked for maintenance, including brakes, tires and exhaust systems.
State investigators also are checking driver qualifications and compliance with hours-of-service-requirements. Bus companies will be visited to assess their levels of safety.
The two-week inspection blitz is part of a national initiative with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to remove unsafe buses and drivers from roads.
W.Va. hospital declares Chapter 11 bankruptcy
WHEELING, W.Va. — Fairmont General Hospital lists roughly equal amounts of debt and assets in its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing as it enters a reorganization process expected to take about a year.
The hospital announced last week it must restructure labor contracts and long-term debt to become more attractive to a potential business partner.
Health benefits and pensions with its two unions are key concerns.
Service Employees International Union District 1199 represents about 300 workers while Local 550 represents about 170. Talks with the union are set to begin Sept. 10.
The 94-page filing late Tuesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wheeling shows that Fairmont General has $10 million to $50 million in both assets and liabilities.
West Virginia gasoline prices jump by 9 cents
CHARLESTON — Gasoline prices have risen an average of 9 cents per gallon in West Virginia over the past week.
AAA East Central says the price for a gallon of regular unleaded gas is $3.64 in the state. That’s 25 cents cheaper than one year ago.
Prices range from $3.55 in Clarksburg to $3.88 in Martinsburg.
Nationally, gas prices average $3.59 a gallon, up 5 cents from a week ago.
Automakers say sales up double digits in August
DETROIT — The major U.S. and Japanese automakers all posted double-digit U.S. sales gains last month as car buyers snapped up pickup trucks and small cars to lead the industry toward its best month in six years.
Honda reported the biggest gain with sales up almost 27 percent over August of last year. Toyota sales rose nearly 23 percent, while Nissan was up 22 percent. At General Motors, sales were up almost 15 percent for the company’s best month since September of 2008. Chrysler and Ford each reported 12 percent gains.
Sales in August ran at an annual rate of 16.1 million cars and trucks, a pace not seen since November of 2007, a month before the start of the Great Recession.
Mustafa Mohatarem, GM’s chief economist, predicted that rate of sales is here to stay. History, he said, shows that auto sales follow a trend, and that trend is now back above pre-recession levels.
“With the underlying economy fairly solid and with the still very high average age of the fleet, I have full expectations that we will continue to see a fairly steady industry,” Mohatarem said.
The average age of a vehicle on U.S. roads today is a record 11.4 years according to the Polk research firm. That means more people have to replace cars and trucks that they kept through the recession.
While GM didn’t officially raise its sales forecast for the year from 15.5 million, Mohatarem said he expects the year to end with sales closer to 15.8 million vehicles.
Also, the industry is on better footing than it was in 2007. Prices are high and automakers aren’t resorting to huge discounts to pull customers into showrooms, Mohatarem said.
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