The B.C. government has suspended the operations of a company whose tour bus crashed in Oregon last month, killing nine people, because of gaps in the company’s records.
A safety and enforcement director in the provincial Transportation Ministry linked the order against Mi Joo Tour & Travel to the company’s failure to provide records confirming the drivers are working no longer than they are supposed to.
Perry Dennis said in an interview that the records were not available when ministry staff visited the company, which is based in both Vancouver and Coquitlam, as part of an audit of its services.
“We have asked them to provide safety files so we have confidence their drivers are adhering to regulations,” said Mr. Dennis, the deputy director of commercial safety and enforcement for the ministry.
Mi Joo had already voluntarily shut down operations in Canada, and was ordered by the the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to shut down its operations in the United States in light of what the administration called a “continuing and flagrant disregard” for U.S. federal transportation regulations.
The B.C. ministry noted that prior to the accident, Mi Joo had not been involved in any major road accidents and had a “satisfactory” road safety rating for the last three years.
The administration said that driver Haeng Kyu Hwang, 54, had been on the road “far in excess” of the federally mandated 70 hours of service over eight consecutive days.
The accident occurred on the morning of Dec. 30 when a Vancouver-bound bus operated by the company ran off Interstate 84 in Oregon, killing nine passengers and injuring 38. At the time, the bus was returning from a trip to Las Vegas.
A lawyer for Mi Joo has blamed the accident on black ice on the highway, suggesting the road conditions caused a series of other accidents. However, the accident remains under investigation by U.S. authorities including the Oregon State Police and the National Transportation Safety Board.
Mr. Dennis said the ministry, which administers national safety codes on bus operations, will not allow Mi Joo the option of operating again in B.C. or the rest of Canada until it can provide the required safety records.
Mark Scheer, Mi Joo’s lawyer, has already said Mi Joo had questions about the accuracy of U.S. complaints that led to the ban on the company’s operations. In an e-mail exchange on Friday, he said he had no comment on the latest developments.
The B.C. ministry said it was looking for a response, by Feb. 28, to its concerns about the company’s operations.