(Sacramento, CA) Today, the Tour Bus Safety Act (AB 25) passed Assembly Communications and Conveyance Committee by a vote of 13-0. The bill now goes to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
AB 25 creates safety guidelines for the tour bus companies that have made extensive modifications to their tour buses, such as the removal of the roof, seat belts, and frame rails. These modifications could severely undermine the structural integrity of the vans, placing passengers’ lives at risk.
“Chop-shop tour bus roof removal is a clear danger to tourists,” stated Assemblymember Nazarian. “”These structurally weakened tour buses are recklessly rampaging through our hillside communities, and our excellent police and highway patrol have their hands tied.”
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) submitted letters to operators of these modified tour buses stating, “[NHTSA is] concerned that you are putting the safety of your passengers and employees at risk and we urge you to discontinue use of these vehicles.”
AB 25 has four key components:
- Defines a ‘tour bus,’ as either a bus operated by a charter party carrier or a passenger stage corporation that has had its roof modified or removed, or has had other major structural modifications not performed by the manufacturer.
- Requires the CHP, by July 1, 2018, to develop and implement an inspection and certification program for tour buses. Any modified tour bus without inspection by the CHP and not certified as safe can be impounded.
- The bill authorizes local jurisdictions to restrict the routes or streets used by modified tour buses if deemed unsafe.
- This bill would extend to the Attorney General, district attorney, and city attorney the same ability granted to CHP to recommend to the PUC that a carrier’s operating authority be suspended, denied, or revoked for consistent incompliance with vehicle codes and regulations.
Existing law requires that charter-party carriers of passengers obtain a permit from the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and register all individual buses with the PUC. Additionally, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) is required to annually inspect the carrier’s fleet to verify that the buses are being properly maintained.
Some businesses, particularly in Los Angeles, are operating vehicles that have undergone significant structural modifications. For example, buses with the roofs completely chopped off transporting tourists are commonplace throughout the city. Often times, these modifications to the roof have meant adjustments or removal to other vital components as well: the anchorages of seat belts, frame rails, etc.
Unfortunately, the CHP is unable to determine engineered structural integrity of these vehicles, despite the concern for which comes from removing the original roof.