Six passenger buses and two drivers were put out of service for violations last week during an unannounced bus inspection in Yosemite National Park.
The National Park Service in conjunction with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, California Public Utilities Commission, San Francisco Police Department and Modesto Police Department conducted the operation on Sept. 7 and 8 in the Yosemite Lodge parking lot in Yosemite Valley.
A total of 56 buses were inspected over the two-day period, with 22 passing with no violations, 18 cited for driver violations, such as logbook inconsistencies, and 51 were found with mechanical issues that required maintenance. Officials issued a total of 32 citations and seven written warnings for the violations.
“We have thousands of visitors who come to the park through tour companies, so these bus inspections are one way we can ensure visitor safety,” said Yosemite spokeswoman Kari Cobb.
Out of the six buses removed from service were for violations, two were removed for cracked brake rotors, one for a leaking braking seal, one for a damaged brake air hose and two others for corroded battery parts.
The two drivers were put out of service because one was driving out of his license class and the other had logbook violations. According to Cobb, the names of the drivers and bus companies were not released because the violations could still be contested in court.
“The roads coming into the park can be windy and steep, so it’s important that buses are in top shape when they come here,” Cobb said.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has been increasing the number of announced bus inspections it conducts with local and state law enforcement agencies as part of an effort in recent years to crackdown on passenger bus companies out of compliance with federal regulations.
Nationwide, about 56,000 bus crashes were reported to the U.S. Department of Transportation in 2009, according to the most recent statistics. In those crashes, 254 passengers were killed and about 20,000 were injured.