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June 20, 2012

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Agency, bus firm in crash face legal action

A LOCAL travel agency involved in Sunday's head-on bus crash, which injured more than 10 university students, has been ordered to suspend operations, while a local bus company that provided illegal bus service in the accident may face a fine of up to 100,000 yuan (US$16,129).

The Shanghai Tourism Bureau said it had asked tourism authorities at the district or county level to step up efforts to check the bus rental service contracts of travel agencies. The certificates of bus rental companies will also be under stricter scrutiny.

The 21-seat bus crashed head-on with a tractor on a village road in Anji County in Zhejiang Province, injuring more than 10 passengers, most of them students from East China Normal University's School of Communication.

Shanghai Qianjing Travel Agency in Xuhui District has suspended operations for improper practices such as not signing service contracts with bus rental companies and using guides without certificates.

Yu Ming, a temporary staff member of Qianjing Travel Agency, operates "You Are You Travel," an illegal tour service website that organized the graduation tour. Yu subcontracted the tour to the Qianjing agency. The agency then subcontracted the bus service to Shanghai Tengmai Bus Rental Co, which later proved to be an illegal company.

Bus company unlicensed

The Tengmai company is a middleman and has no vehicles, nor legal certificates to operate tour buses, investigators said. It found a bus randomly after receiving the order from the Qianjing Travel Agency. No bus rental contract was signed. The "guide" was a friend of Yu and has no guide certificate.

The bus wasn't displaying license plates when the accident happened and the temporary plate later found on the bus belongs to a local car, investigators said. The bus driver was still in a coma. If violations are verified, the bus company will be fined between 30,000 yuan and 100,000 yuan.

Visitors should pay close attention to the business licenses of tour service websites and travel agencies, and ask for an invoice and contract, Shanghai Tourism Bureau officials said.


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