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Yosemite National Park, in conjunction with the California Highway Patrol (CHP), held a surprise inspection for all commercial for hire multiple passenger tour buses in Yosemite National Park last Friday, September 24, 2010. The purpose of this unannounced inspection was to ensure visitor safety through safe operation of tour buses. The goal of these unannounced inspections is to reduce chances of crashes, injuries, and fatalities involving tour buses bringing passengers into the park.
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 National Park receives approximately 4 million visitors per year, with approximately 300,000 of these people arriving on tour buses. 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 National Park Service (NPS) in Yosemite that these visitors are safe during their travels in the park. Further, the extensive travels of international visitors throughout the state affords the opportunity for cooperating agencies to work together to promote bus safety. Yosemite National Park and the CHP strive to ensure visitor safety and appreciate the mutual support of the other agencies involved in these surprise bus inspections.
On the day of inspection, Yosemite Park Rangers and CHP Officers examined 30 commercial buses. Out of the 30 inspections conducted, 18 buses were found to be safe, with no violations, and were released without citation. A total of 12 minor “fix-it” tickets were written. Of those 12, three were for logbook failures. Additionally, two buses were taken temporarily out of service for logbook violations. No buses were taken out of service for mechanical deficiencies.
Surprise bus inspections have been occurring on a regular basis throughout the State of California. These inspections help to keep commercial bus passengers safe, as well as other travelers on the road.