Last November, a double-decker tourist bus crashed in Union Square. The bus accident seriously injured a bicyclist, multiple pedestrians and a number of people on the bus. It knocked down power lines and left San Francisco emergency workers scrambling to save the lives of six critically injured people.
The driver of the bus, City Sightseeing operator Kenneth Malvar, was found to be responsible for the accident. The driver maintained that the brake system on the bus failed at the same time the bus accelerated out of control. Whether the accident was the result of operator error or mechanical failure, one result has been an increase in the attention paid to the tour bus industry.
The California State Legislature, KQED reports, is currently considering three measures that would alter the current inspection practices of tour buses. San Francisco Assemblyman Phil Ting is the author of one of the bills. He pointed out that current annual inspection rate for the buses on the road is around 30 percent. His goal is to increase inspections to cover most, if not all tour buses on a yearly basis. Another measure passed through committee would help identify which buses need to be inspected. The bills moved forward despite some controversy over exactly who would be authorized to conduct the safety inspections. In the end, the bills would see inspections conducted solely by the California Highway Patrol.
The November crash was not the first time that privately operated buses drew negative headlines. There is clearly a gap in safety enforcement that is allowing a number of unsafe operators to endanger the public. Whether this latest legislation will help close that gap remains to be seen.