Bill would increase tour bus inspections

A bill introduced to the state Senate Monday would step up state inspections of tour bus operators in response to a crash in San Francisco’s Union Square that injured 20 people.

Senate Bill 812, introduced by state Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, and co-authored by San Francisco Assembly members David Chiu and Phil Ting, would require buses purchased out of state like the one involved in the Nov.

13 bus crash to be inspected before they go into service.

In addition, it would require state officials to increase the frequency of inspections and make at least 25 percent of them surprise inspections. According to Hill, the CHP currently inspects only a small sample of each bus company’s fleet once a year, and the inspections are usually prescheduled.

The double-decker City Sightseeing tour bus involved in the November crash was a “ghost bus,” meaning it had not been registered with the California Public Utilities Commission or inspected by the California Highway Patrol, according to state officials.

The bus was transporting passengers around the city when it started picking up speed in the 500 block of Post Street, then hit at least four vehicles, a bicyclist and a construction site’s scaffolding near Post and Stockton streets, according to San Francisco police.

While the company had passed an inspection a few months before the crash, a California Highway Patrol inspection of the company’s fleet after the crash found numerous violations, including drivers employed without valid licenses and several vehicles in service that should have been out due to unresolved safety issues.