Safety concerns over tour buses that have been in service for more than 10 years were once again brought to the fore this week after a tour bus crash on Sunday killed three people and injured 26 on Alishan Highway.
The bus, which was carrying a group of emergency rescue volunteers and their families from Puzih City (朴子), Chiayi County, skidded off the road on its way to Alishan and crashed into an electricity pole.
Department of Highways and Railways Director-General Chen Yen-po (陳彥伯) said that following a series of deadly accidents in recent years, it had sought to bar large tour buses that had been in service for more than 12 years from driving on certain mountain roads or other routes classified as dangerous, through amendments to the Highway Act (公路法) and related regulations.
“However, we had difficulty securing public consensus on the amendments because many believe that an older tour bus does not necessarily mean it is in bad condition,” Chen said. “They think such large tour buses can still be used as long as they are well maintained.”
As a result, the amendment failed to pass the legislature.
Under current regulations, tour buses that have been in service for more than 10 years must be inspected every four months.
Lawmakers told a Transportation Committee meeting at the legislature that in light of the latest accident, the ministry should conduct a thorough review of its regulations.
The Vehicle Registration Department in Chiayi County said the bus driver, Lu Min-nan (盧敏男), obtained his driver’s license for tour buses in 1998 and had no record of major violations while operating such vehicles.
The tour bus, which had been in service for 15 years, passed an inspection in September.