Deadly Taiwan Bus Crash Leads to Soul-Searching

Deadly Taiwan Bus Crash Leads to Soul-Searching
Photo Credit: Reuters / 達志影像

What you need to know

While the direct cause of the July 19 accident in Taoyuan is still under investigation, some say that end-to-end services might be to blame.

Bus safety issues have been widely discussed since a July 19 bus crash in Taiwan killed 24 Chinese tourists and two Taiwanese in a terrible blaze.

According to the investigation, there was a glass cover outside the security door of the bus, but no sign that it was taken down, leading police to speculate that nobody attempted to open the security door. Although there is a built-in lock on the security door, police says the thick smoke rather than the lock may have prevented the victims from opening the door.

The direct cause is still under investigation.

Minister of Transportation and Communication Hochen Tan (賀陳旦) says that while there should not be built-in locks on security doors, there are currently no regulation to punish violators. The Consumers’ Foundation has also said this is a loophole in the law.

Some people suspect that the driver's fatigue and overwork led to the accident, while others question whether the age of the bus was an issue. Authorities have said that both factors do not seem to have caused the accident.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Yeh Yi-jin (葉宜津) says that since taxes are lower for importing bus chassis than a complete bus, local companies import chassis and then assemble the vehicles with other parts.

There are currently about 15,000 assembled buses in Taiwan.

Criticism of end-to-end services

Wu Shuan-yen (吳濬彥), the son of a bus driver, published an article on July 21 discussing the incident. Wu says that Taiwanese should boycott the “end-to-end service” system created by businesspeople in China.

“Only a normal industrial environment can lead to a normal [tourism industry] in Taiwan,” Wu argues.

According to Wu, since 2008 Chinese capital has poured into Taiwan and has gradually dominated Taiwan’s tourism industry, leading to the establishment of an end-to-end service system. Stores, hotels and transportation businesses have become dependent on Chinese businesspeople.

He says Chinese businesspeople have tried to lower costs by paying bus drivers and tour guides less, which has undermined the quality of accommodation and transportation services.

However, Hsu Kao-ching (許高慶), former secretary-general of the Taiwan Agent Association of ROC, says he does not think that such a service model is bad for Taiwan, adding that many Taiwanese companies also provide end-to-end services and that it is a reasonable way to stabilize operations.

First Editor: Olivia Yang
Second Editor: J. Michael Cole