An open-air tour bus involved in a major crash two weeks ago is being investigated by authorities from the state of California, as the bus may never have been properly registered nor inspected by state officials before being put on the roadways. At least 20 people were injured in the mid-November crash, including two pedestrians who ended up pinned by the bus, with five people sustaining serious injuries. The bus driver reportedly lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a construction site after smashing into multiple other vehicles in San Francisco’s Union Square. The bus was owned and operated by City Sightseeing, a local company that provides tours of landmark areas of the San Francisco Bay Area.
The make and model of the bus involved in the accident has a prior history of unreliability on the roads. The open, double-decker bus makes for an ideal view for tourists interested in seeing local sights, but the design of the bus gives it the potential to create disaster when involved in a crash. Twice the number of people can board a double-decker bus as can a standard city bus, and the make and model of the bus in question—the Orion VI—has a history of issues, ranging from unprovoked vehicular fires to loss of stability and overturning during a collision.
The bus involved in the San Francisco accident had once been owned by a Washington, D.C. company that sold off its Orion VI buses after their poor performance and lack of reliability and safety was noted. It is not clear how the D.C. bus managed to reach the hands of City Sightseeing in San Francisco, but the company may be in hot water over lack of registration and inspection by California officials. Officials from City Sightseeing have stated that the company’s buses are inspected once every month and a half, but records from the California Public Utilities Commission indicate that the bus was never registered with them and thus, never underwent a CHP inspection as required by law.
The driver of the bus reported that the brakes on the bus failed, causing him to lose control of the vehicle and leading to the multiple collisions that took place back on November 16. The Orion VI model was notorious for braking issues, but although the specific bus in question had been involved in at least two accidents before being sold to City Sightseeing, neither of these incidents were reported to be the result of brake failure.