Bus companies with forged licenses may face shutdown

Updated: 2012-08-27 08:00

By Zhi Yun (China Daily)

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Tourist bus companies that operate with blank charter licenses are at risk of being charged heavy fines and shut down, senior transport officials have warned.

Zhao Ruihua, deputy director of road traffic safety for the State Administration of Work Safety, said the Ministry of Transport issues charter licenses only after subjecting a company's qualifications to scrutiny, looking, for instance, at its safety records and the drivers it employs.

Some companies, though, run their businesses using blank or forged licenses, which impedes efforts to make the roads safer, he said.

Zhan Yulin, division chief of passenger traffic at the ministry, said tour bus companies that use a fake charter license, or try to use a legitimate one in a region other than where it was intended for, can lose their business licenses and be subject to fines that cost double to 10 times the value of any illegal gains they have made. And those whose transgressions constitute crimes will be prosecuted, Zhan said.

He said some blank charter licenses are the result of carelessness on the part of transport administrations.

Companies can also fill in the documents' blanks with information about whatever route they want and without first undergoing a safety examination. He said that can lead to further dangers.

An irregular or a faulty use of charter licenses has been found to be a cause in many road accidents involving tourist buses, Zhao said. In some cases, drivers have been found to be unfamiliar with the routes they were taking.

In accidents that occurred in Hunan province on Jan 3 and Guizhou province on Jan 4, two chartered buses were discovered to be traveling routes that were not the ones they were permitted to go on, he said.

The accident in Guizhou, which occurred in the province's Guiding county, killed 18 people and injured 37 others. The accident in Hunan's Zhongfang county caused 13 deaths and 41 injuries.

Both occurred around the peak in the Spring Festival travel season, when many people were heading home for family reunions.

From the start of the year to Aug 26, 18 major road accidents, including the latest one in Shaanxi province on Sunday, occurred in China, claiming 277 lives, according to the State Administration of Work Safety. That's six more accidents, leading to 68 more deaths, than happened in the same period in 2011.

In China, "major road accidents" are considered to be those that kill more than 10 people.

Fifteen of those sorts of accidents this year involved passenger buses, causing 235 deaths. That was four more of those sorts of accidents, and 36 more deaths, than occurred in the same period last year.

Zhao said more measures will be taken to protect tourists' safety on the road.

He said a new regulation will soon make guides on tourist buses responsible for the safety of passengers.

Also, starting on July 1, everyone riding such buses was required to wear seatbelts before they would be allowed to leave checkpoints established on various expressways.

A female employee at the legal affairs department of China Comfort Travel, who declined to provide her full name, said that most licensed travel agencies are careful about selecting tourist bus companies, saying they usually try to pick those that have legitimate licenses.

She also said tour guides at the company have served as safety supervisors for a long time.

She said the guides won't force passengers to wear seatbelts, only remind them.


(China Daily 08/27/2012 page3)