Tour bus bill would allow cities to conduct extra safety inspections

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Responding to several recent tour bus collisions and crashes in San Francisco, San Francisco Assemblyman Phil Ting today announced legislation that would allow the city to conduct its own safety inspections.

The bill, co-authored with his fellow San Francisco Assemblyman David Chiu, would give cities with large tourism industries the option to develop their own inspection programs as a supplement to state inspections conducted by the California Highway Patrol and overseen by the California Public Utilities Commission.

Currently, only around 30 percent of tour buses are inspected, Ting said today.

"The state's inadequate inspection system cannot be our only option to ensure public safety," said Ting, D-San Francisco. "Dangerous buses fall through the cracks, causing preventable tragedies in our streets."

The bill, which has the backing of local bicycle and pedestrian advocates, is part of a package of legislation introduced this month inspired by a tour bus crash in Union Square in November that injured 20 people. The
bus in that crash was a "ghost bus," meaning it was not properly registered with the CPUC or inspected by the CHP, and while the company had passed an inspection shortly before the crash, a surprise inspection conducted shortly afterward found multiple violations.

One bill, authored by Chiu and co-authored by Ting and state Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, would require the CPUC and DMV to work together to identify tour buses that have registered with the DMV but have not been
registered with the CPUC.

Another bill authored by Hill and co-authored by Chiu and Ting would require buses purchased out of state to be inspected before they go into service. It would also require the CHP to conduct more frequent inspections and make sure at least 25 percent of those inspections are conducted without prior notice.

Supervisors Jane Kim and Aaron Peskin today said they would introduce legislation in San Francisco to develop a city inspection program if Ting's legislation passes. The state legislation does not provide funding
for a city program, and allows the city to develop its own inspection protocol in cooperation with the CHP.

"Unsafe operators aren't just dangerous, they're also bad for business," Kim said today.

Kim said she is also working with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to identify routes commonly used by the tour buses and examine ways to make them safer.

In addition to the Union Square crash, tour buses have also been involved in the deaths of two pedestrians in recent years. Pieter Roell, 82, was struck and killed Saturday on Divisadero at Post Street, and city employee Priscila "Precy" Moreto was struck and killed at Polk and McAllister streets in October of 2014.