Eighteen buses belonging to the Superbus Company were ordered sidelined, and their drivers were questioned by police Thursday afternoon. The drivers were released after several hours of questioning. Several company officials, including its CEO, were summoned for questioning as well.
Superbus serves, among other places, Beit Shemesh, where it operates most of the local bus lines. Transport Ministry officials said Thursday that they had repeatedly warned the company about safety violations on buses that required repair, but that nothing had been done about them.
In an early morning operation, officials located 24 Superbus vehicles and waited until their drivers showed up. When they did, the officials conducted a safety inspection, with 18 of the 24 failing, most of them for “serious safety violations,” among them problems with the braking system, steering issues, and electrical problems. As a result, buses did not show up on their routes, stranding hundreds of passengers.
Last week, Yediot Acharonot reported that drivers, fed up with the safety issues, had themselves informed the Ministry on the major violations in vehicles that the company refused to fix. Drivers declared a work dispute, a required step before going on strike. The Yediot report included testimonies from numerous drivers, who photographed and submitted to their superiors photos and footage of worn tires, broken safety gages, and engine problems. In several cases, drivers said that safety supervisors had told them to shut the bus down and remove the passengers, and await a replacement bus – but that the same bus returned to the road several days later, with the problems unrepaired.
In a statement, Superbus said last week that “the safety of passengers and drivers is our utmost concern, and any and all complaints and issues are dealt with immediately by safety officers of the firm.” The company had no comment regarding Thursday’s events.