Prague’s ongoing effort to clean up the tourism sector has led to inspections of faux-historical vehicles, sightseeing buses, and street trains. The results were not favorable.
“During the summer, there were 11 inspection days of pseudo-historical vehicles and sightseeing coaches, which every Prague citizen certainly noticed. We’ve found a lot of crazy things,” Deputy Mayor Adam Scheinherr (Praha sobě) said on Facebook.
The inspections took place from June 25 to August 23. They focused primarily on ensuring compliance with the conditions for road transport, technical condition of vehicles, and compliance with all legal regulations related to motor transport business in the center of Prague. In addition, mobile emission measurements and mobile weighing were carried out on inspected vehicles.
“We wanted to ensure safety and compliance with all regulations related to the nature of the business that buses and pseudo-historical vehicles operate under. The same rules apply to all, which everyone must adhere to without exception, and the same applies to compliance with emission standards,” Scheinherr said.
While the classic cars offering tours look like vehicles from the 1940s or earlier, they are actually modern cars that have been retrofitted with new retro-style body over the chassis.
Out of 58 mock historical cars that were inspected, 55 had problems. Ten had to be towed immediately and 22 were given a 30-day notice to fix defects or lose road certification. One car was missing its vehicle identification number (VIN), which is a criminal offense.
“Concerning pseudo-historical vehicles, their alarming technical condition and how they were registered was the most striking. They also often lacked the necessary documents to operate a taxi service, transport service or concession,” Scheinherr said.
He recounted some of the technical flaws. “We saw a whell attached with a single-bolt, a homemade welded vehicle frame, sharp protruding edges … rear-view mirrors from motorcycles, and broken headlights and wipers. Just hell!” he said.
Aside from that, there was a mess with basic paperwork. “Vehicles are registered as unspecified forestry and agricultural machinery such as a tractor or snowmobile. Or a six-seat LPG motorcycle. One car had no registration at all,” he added.
Sightseeing buses, where tourists get off and back on, often lacked the necessary documents and had missing records of driver breaks and driving times. Drivers often had a foreign license. “The buses run as they wish, outside the approved stops and routes,” Scheinherr said.
For street trains, linked trailers pulled by a choo choo train–shaped car in the front, had the largest measured emission values seen so far in Prague. “At the start up, the values exceeded the limit by 200 times and afterward only ‘only’ four times,” Scheinherr said.They also had mismanaged or non-existent records.
The problems were found largely in the Prague 1 district. “We do not support tourist excesses in Prague 1, it is one of the biggest problems we have in the city district. Transport associated with tourism is burdening Prague’s conservation area, and I appreciate the effort to comply with the applicable rules and limit these undesirable phenomena,” David Skála, Councilor for Transport of Prague 1, said on the City Hall website.
The inspections will continue, and in October a summary of the results of the administrative proceedings and suggestions will be filed with the Transport Ministry.
Earlier in the year, the city limited the routes and parking areas for pseudo-historical vehicles as they were taking up spaces meant for residents. The city is also trying to eliminate beer bikes in the city center. Prague has been a victim of overtourism, which has been putting a burden on the city center in particular.