Surprise Tour Bus Inspections at Yosemite Yield Disturbing Results
A surprise inspection of tour buses at Yosemite National Park the other day turned up a high number of buses with safety issues, and two were immediately taken out of service, according to park officials.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, in conjunction with the California Highway Patrol, and the National Park Service held the surprise inspection Wednesday for all commercial for hire multiple passenger tour buses in the park. The purpose of these unannounced inspections is to ensure visitor safety through safe operation of tour buses. Specifically, officials hope to reduce the chances of crashes, injuries, and fatalities involving tour buses bringing passengers to Yosemite.
According to a park release, roadside inspections adhere to the guidelines of the North American Standard for bus safety. There are five levels of inspections, including a vehicle component, a driver component, or a combination of both. Inspections are designed to determine if buses are in compliance with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. Violations may result in fines or taking a bus out of service immediately.
Yosemite receives approximately 3.5 million visitors per year, with approximately 250,000 arriving on a tour bus. The large majority of tour bus passengers are international visitors from countries such as Japan, Korea, Germany, and England. Many of these visitors come to Yosemite in conjunction with visiting other parts of California.
It is a primary concern of the NPS in Yosemite that these visitors are safe during their travels in the park.
There were 24 buses inspected in the park Wednesday. Of those 24 inspections, nine buses were found to be safe and were released with no citation. Fifteen buses were cited for unsafe operation and two were taken out of service.
The inspections were to continue Thursday.