British Columbia will begin a safety review of their motorcoach industry after two serious bus crashes within the past year. The review will be completed by the provincial transportation ministry, announced Transportation Minister Todd Stone on July 16.
Last summer, a bus crash injured several dozen passengers when a motorcoach carrying 56 people on the Coquihalla Highway hit a median, skidded across traffic lanes, and landed in a ditch. Another crash happened just last month on that same highway. The most recent accident left dozens injured after the coach hit a tow truck and car parked on the shoulder of the highway.
“Thankfully no one was killed,” Stone said at a news conference. ” We already have a comprehensive bus safety program in British Columbia but like anything else, we believe there is always room to do better.”
The review will consider the industry’s safety statistics and performance compared to other North American areas. Also considered in the review will be British Columbia’s regulations on the industry, and how that affects company and driver licensing, hours of service, driver training, and vehicle inspections and standards.
Officials will speak with various groups within the industry, along with officials from the tourism industry, safety organizations, and government agencies with ties to the motorcoach industry. It will review B.C.’s 500 bus companies, whose fleets have a total of 1,700 coaches. They expect to have the report finished by early 2016.
Stone says that the review is necessary even though crashes are “very rare” in British Columbia. He added that crashes commercial vehicles overall are down by 24% over the last 10 years.
“We truly believe that the industry is safe today but we are going to do everything we can to further build public confidence in the safety of the motorcoach industry,” Stone said.
This review comes as other North American cities are introducing initiatives to encourage residents to use bus transportation. Reports find that motorcoaches are three times more effective at reducing CO2 emissions than commuter rail; compared to transit buses, coaches are six times more effective.
Part of the review will focus on the practices of other cities and provinces with a good reputation, and will begin implementation of more regulations according to the findings of the review.