Double-deck buses must pass slope test

All double-deck buses in Thailand have until 2018 to pass a "slope test", or they will not be able to have their annual licence registration renewed.

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The Department of Land Transport has issued a regulation requiring public buses of more than 3.60m high to pass a 30-degree slope test. The regulation applies to buses registered after Jan 1, 2013 and older ones, director-general Asdsathai Rattanadilok Na Phuket said on Thursday.

The department said a total of 17,588 buses needed to pass the test, of which 5,741 are double-deck buses. 

Public concern over the safety of double-deck buses has been increasing, especially after the latest accident in which one plunged into a ravine in Tak, killing 29 passengers and leaving 23 others injured on Sunday night.

Mr Asdsathai said the department tested a total of 842 double-deck buses in 2013, 481 of which (57.1%)  passed inspection, while 361 did not. It also tested 408 others, and 224 of them (54.9%) passed but the other 184 did not.

Bus owners would be allowed to improve bus conditions and get the test again within one month. If the buses still do not pass the test, another three months will be given. If the buses still do not pass the third test, another six months will be allowed for improvement. 

If the buses still do not pass the final test, owners will not be able to renew the annual licence registration. If buses which have failed the slope test are caught being used, owners will face up to five years in jail and a fine of 40,000 baht. 

The department also required all buses to install safety belts for all seats by April 1. Buses which do not have the safety belts will not get their annual licence registration renewed and the owners will face a fine of up to 50,000 baht.

Mr Asdsathai said the department was in the process of issuing a new regulation, expected to be announced by June, to set the standard on the strength of the seats and the vehicle's body.

The department was also considering requiring efficient ABS brake systems for large public vehicles while inter-provincial buses will be required to have a system to improve efficiency in slowing down.

Photo and video by Apichit Jinakul

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