Tourist buses targeted in Te Anau checks

NEIL RATLEY
Last updated 05:00 25/01/2013
Richard Bates
BARRY HARCOURT/Fairfax NZ
INSPECTION TIME: Senior Constable Richard Bates stops a bus heading out of Te Anau for Milford Sound while Warwick Andrews, of the NZ Transport Agency prepares to complete an inspection.

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Tourist buses were put under the microscope in a joint NZ Transport Agency and police operation in Te Anau yesterday.

The agency's access and use team and police commercial vehicle investigation unit inspected the buses to ensure they were mechanically sound and in good repair.

Bus drivers' credentials were also checked, to ensure they had appropriate licenses and operated within the relevant legal requirements of work time and logbooks.

The agency's Otago-Southland access and use spokesman, Dermot Harris, said the mechanical inspections included an emphasis on the cleanliness of bus engine bays and identifying any potential fire hazards.

In the past, buses had caught fire at the entrance of the western side of the Homer Tunnel, he said.

"We have been working closely with the Bus and Coach Association to ensure their members are aware of a recent rule change that is designed to reduce the risk of bus engine bay fires," he said.

The long climb up the hill out of Milford Sound posed a fire risk for buses.

The standard of the buses inspected yesterday was high. No vehicles were ticketed, Mr Harris said.

The results showed the benefits of an overall improvement in the mechanical compliance standards of tour buses after working with the coach industry for several years.

Meanwhile, agency spokesman Bob Nettleton said work had begun on the portal extension at the Homer Tunnel.

The work would be done after the section of road was closed to traffic each night.

The purpose of the temporary portal extension is to deflect away from the road scatter rock from the eroding rock above the western tunnel entrance.

neil.ratley@stl.co.nz

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