The operator of a chartered bus that crashed in Nagano Prefecture early on Friday, killing 14 people, provided the service far more cheaply than the state-stipulated minimum, as proposed by a travel company, transport ministry sources said Sunday.

Tokyo-based ESP operated the bus for a ski tour organized by the travel company, Keyth Tour, for ¥190,000, or ¥80,000 lower than the minimum standard price set by the transport ministry to prevent price competition from undermining safety.

The ministry is considering punishing ESP for violating the Road Transportation Law.