Thu, Aug 24, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Tour bus operators protest against weight restrictions

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Tour bus operators gather outside the Ministry of Transportation and Communications yesterday morning to protest weight restrictions on their vehicles and to demand the government give them special fuel discounts that other forms of public transportation, such as public buses and taxis, are entitled to receive.

PHOTO: FANG PIN-CHAO, TAIPEI TIMES

Dozens of tour bus operators rallied in front of the Ministry of Transportation and Communica-tions yesterday morning to protest the government's policy on "overweight" tour buses.

They said the policy is too harsh and the government has been inflexible about it, which they said was unacceptable.

Cheng Chin-yun (程青雲), the organizer, said that the tour buses in use now have been used for an average of eight to 10 years and weigh between 18 and 19 tonnes. Since the government has set a weight limit of 17 tonnes, they have not been able to get the vehicles certified, he said.

"If we are forced to modify the buses to fit the government's requirement, they will become unsafe to drive," Cheng said.

In addition, since the buses have to be recertified every two years, this means the owners would have to strip down the vehicles every two years to meet the certification requirements, which is unreasonable, Cheng added.

The operators also demanded the government offer special discounts for fuel as it does for other forms of public transport such as public buses and taxis.

When asked how many tour bus operators are affected by the regulation, Cheng said there were too many to count.

Protesters began their demonstration yesterday morning with a parade that took them from the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial to the Legislative Yuan to present their petitions to the lawmakers. They then drove to the ministry.

The ministry has set different weight limits for motor vehicles according to size and the model. For tour buses, the weight limit is 17 tonnes.

Following the suggestion of some lawmakers, the ministry amended its regulations by allowing vehicles that exceed weight limits by no more 800kg to be certified. In return, drivers of these overweight vehicles must drive below 90kph on freeways.

Officials from both the Department of Highways and Railways and the Directorate General of Highways said overweight tour buses are not a big problem.

They said that 90 percent of the nation's tour buses have been the certification requirements.

There are about 1,000 buses that could be categorized as "overweight," of which about 700 exceed the weight limit by 800kg or less, they said.

The ministry is unlikely to compromise on passenger safety by relaxing the regulation, they said.

This story has been viewed 2555 times.
TOP top