China Cracking Down on Unlicensed Charter Bus Companies
Chinese transportation safety officials recently announced that they are cracking down on unlicensed charter bus companies after a series of tragic bus accidents involving illegal bus services. Zhao Ruihua, deputy director of road traffic safety for the State Administration of Work Safety, told reporters assembled at a press conference that the Ministry of Transport will issue or renew charter licenses only after a careful screening process that will ensure that a bus charter company screens its drivers properly and has a good safety record. He said that bus companies that operate with forged or blank licenses and bribe officials to look the other way during inspections impede his agency’s efforts to make China’s roadways safer for everyone.
Many tour bus charter companies in China use fake charter licenses or illegally operate in provinces where they have not received licenses. Officials now say that with stepped-up enforcement, illegal charter companies will be subject to steep fines of up to ten times the value of any revenues they obtained illegally. Senior government officials forced the transportation agency to get tough on illegal operators after receiving stern criticism from the public and some media outlets after recent high-profile bus accidents.
So far this year, there have been at least 15 major bus accidents involving illegal bus charter companies that have killed more than 235 people and injured hundreds more. Many of the accident victims are tourists from other countries bringing much-needed revenue to many of China’s impoverished provinces. One transportation official said that new regulations would make it mandatory for official guides to ride on each bus. The guides would be responsible for ensuring that the bus operator was properly licensed and that all safety protocols would be observed.
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