Taipei, Feb. 16 (CNA) Premier Lin Chuan (林全) on Thursday ordered transport officials to immediately investigate low-cost tours in Taiwan, after a tour bus crash in Taipei on Monday that killed 33 people and injured 11.
Lin issued the directive in a weekly Cabinet meeting, during which a moment of silence was observed for the victims, Cabinet spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) said after the meeting.
During the meeting, Lin said there have been many tour bus accidents in Taiwan in recent years, which have seriously hurt the image of Taiwan's tourism sector, according to Hsu.
Monday's accident showed the need for a comprehensive review and improvement of tour bus safety in the country, Hsu cited Lin as saying.
Lin said that the current system for evaluating tour buses does not effectively eliminate high-risk buses or prevent low-priced competition, according to Hsu, adding that the premier instructed the Ministry of Transportation and Communications to step up its inspections and suspend the operations or revoke the licenses of tour bus companies that fail to improve their safety within a deadline.
Lin also asked relevant agencies to look into problems relating to overworked drivers and poor vehicle maintenance, according to Hsu.
The tour bus involved in Monday's accident crashed off a ramp connecting Freeway No. 5 and Freeway No. 3 in eastern Taipei at about 9 p.m. The bus driver and tour guide were among the 33 dead.
A 65-year-old male passenger who was injured was still in critical condition on Thursday, but most of the 11 injured passengers were in stable condition, with some awaiting surgery, according to the hospitals where they are being treated.
The crash was the worst national freeway accident in Taiwan's history. It is also Taiwan's deadliest road accident since Oct. 8, 1986, when a tour bus plunged into a ravine in central Taiwan, killing 42 people.
Meanwhile, a plan to develop an intelligent transportation system was passed in Thursday's Cabinet meeting.
Transport Minister Ho Chen Tan (賀陳旦) said the four-year project will invest in improving road safety, such as subsidizing the installation of GPS devices in tour buses and driver assistance systems in large vehicles.
(By Ku Chuan and Christie Chen)