• Kyodo

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The Chubu Regional Transport Bureau on Thursday ordered Nagoya Railroad Co. to suspend operations of five of its buses for 48 days as a penalty for violating the Road Trucking Law.

The move comes after recent revelations that the carrier, commonly known as Meitetsu, attempted to cover up the fact that one of its drivers had been operating with an expired license when his bus was slightly rear-ended in February.

The company had another driver say he was behind the wheel.

The suspension order, handed to Meitetsu President Misao Kimura, takes effect Friday.

The firm was also ordered to compile a report of specific measures it will take to prevent a recurrence. It is due to be submitted by Aug. 19.

The buses affected by the suspension are at the railway’s vehicle office in the city of Okazaki, Aichi Prefecture, where the first driver was working.

The driver, who left the company in March, is one of five people who have since been arrested in connection with the incident.

The proxy driver was also arrested.

Meitetsu also said it found that to avoid traffic congestion, buses on four of its routes have been using a different expressway interchange than the one they were authorized to use.

Yoshiaki Hirayama, head of the regional transport bureau, said it was deeply regrettable that Meitetsu lacked awareness of the need to follow rules. He said he expects the company to provide safer and better services in the future.

Kimura said the punitive measures were only natural, and the worst penalty was that the carrier had betrayed the trust of its passengers.

According to the transport bureau, the Meitetsu penalty, which amounts to 240 days in total, was the most severe since the 350-day accumulative operating ban imposed on certain buses run by the Kobe municipal transport bureau last October for a fatal drunk-driving accident.