SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) – Three days after a tour bus crashed near San Francisco’s Union Square, officials told KPIX 5 that the company that operated the bus has had numerous issues over the years.
San Francisco police sources told KPIX 5 that police are conducting physical inspections of the bus that crashed, as well as other buses from City Sightseeing.
A police official told reporter Joe Vazquez that it’s early in the investigation, but police are leaning toward the possibility of a mechanical problem on the bus that crashed and injured 20 people.
“It was going so fast. And then I saw people were terrified in the middle of the road,” said Pantea Vesa, an eyewitness. “By the time he got down the street, he had to stop the bus somehow so he hit the construction.”
Witnesses said it appeared the bus driver was trying his best to crash into something to stop the bus.
“I basically believe that he was trying to save lives because I don’t think he was out to kill or hurt anybody,” said Greg Santee, another eyewitness. “I think he was stuck in the seat and it wouldn’t stop or slow down.”
The company had problems in the past, according to the California Public Utilities Commission. Officials said they had a series of violations beginning in 2007. They were fined, but never paid the fine.
In 2013, the state suspended their license. They opened back up in an employee’s name in April of this year.
Perhaps the most unusual problem cited: CPUC said the license plate of the bus involved in Friday’s crash does not match the list of vehicles on file with the state. In other words, City Sightseeing did not notify the CPUC that this bus was in its fleet, which it is legally required to do. It is a ghost bus.
“It’s extremely troubling,” said Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco).
Chiu said he is looking into whether legislation is needed to keep better track of tour buses.
“We need to make sure that our rules our followed. We need to make sure that the regulating agencies have done everything they can to make sure ghost buses are not traveling on the streets of San Francisco and around the state of California,” Chiu said.