• Kyodo

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The driver of an intercity bus drove in reverse on an expressway in Shizuoka Prefecture after missing a stop, police said Thursday.

The incident occurred at around 4:15 p.m. Wednesday near the Yoshida Interchange on the Tomei Expressway, police said.

The 29-year-old driver for JR Tokai Bus Co. backed up because he feared being reprimanded for missing the stop and because he was already behind schedule, according to the bus firm, a Nagoya-based affiliate of Central Japan Railway Co. (JR Tokai).

Noticing he had missed the stop at the interchange, the driver backed up about 300 meters on the expressway and an on-ramp.

Some 20 vehicles that were entering the expressway via the ramp honked their horns when they noticed the bus backing up toward them, investigators said.

The driver then stopped the bus and walked about 220 meters to the bus stop with a passenger who had wanted to get off at Yoshida, before picking up another passenger who had been waiting at the stop, the company said.

The bus, bound for Tokyo, was carrying some 20 passengers at the time.

The driver was questioned by police Thursday on suspicion of violating the Road Traffic Law.

In July last year, police arrested a JR Tokai Bus diver for causing a fender bender on the Chuo Expressway in Yamanashi Prefecture after drinking. He was given a suspended six-month prison sentence.

On Thursday, JR Tokai Bus officials apologized for the latest mishap.

Hiroyuki Matsuura, head of the firm’s general affairs management section, said that under internal rules, drivers were to report to headquarters for instructions if and when they happened to miss a stop.

Regional transport officials said they would soon inspect JR Tokai Bus’ Nagoya branch, as they suspect there are problems with the carrier’s safety training.

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