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April 27, 2012

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Lax supervision seen for chartered buses

INTER-PROVINCE and chartered bus drivers, who spend a lot of time behind the wheel, are operating under lax management and supervision of their heavy workload, say drivers and others in the industry.

The problems are under scrutiny after the fatal tour bus collision last Sunday in neighboring Changshu which killed 14 people. The driver was detained after he tested positive for methamphetamine, and police blamed him for the accident. He had worked on the job for two months but lacked a work contract.

"The chartered bus drivers usually drive faster," said Wang Chuanhe, an inter-province bus driver, based on his observations on the road.

Wang, 47, who has spent more than 10 years in the transport industry, said the vehicle companies' management is relatively loose and they "care little about drivers."

"I am not sure which sides to turn to if there are problems," said Wang, who pays insurance himself.

The practice is popular among inter-province traffic and was the case in the Changshu accident.

Shanghai Yiliu Vehicle Renting Service Co, which rented the bus to the travel agency that ran the tour, has been suspended from further operation.

Yiliu hires many drivers, said a manager with the company, and "they know little about the drivers' physical or mental condition."

The company also failed to get the vehicle inspected in time and its operational license was illegal, police have said.

Traffic insiders said reckless driving is common among some inter-province transport operators and illegal "black buses."

Zhang Yongbin, head of the Shanghai Long-Distance Bus Station, said the buses there are usually subjected to large-scale checks every three months.

"Some small companies skip the checks to save cost," according to Zhang.

Most long-distance buses are required to have surveillance cameras and GPS systems to transmit information to the companies, so they're aware of problems such as driver fatigue or speeding.

"Once we receive the reports that a driver is engaging in bad conduct, like playing poker all night or drunk driving, we will notify the vehicle companies to replace the driver with a new one," said Wang Zhiwei, the deputy general manager of the China Youth Travel Service.


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