Lawmaker Pushes For Stricter Penalties Against Illegal Charter Bus Operators

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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, March 13, 2009

A deadly bus crash in northern California last year has a state lawmaker promoting a bill to crack down on illegal charter buses in an unusual fashion.  State Assemblyman Dave Jones held a news briefing in a Sacramento parking lot today (Friday, 3.13) as authorities stopped and questioned a suspected illegal bus operator.   

(sound of bus)
Just as this charter bus for a local casino picked up passengers, it was pulled over by the California Highway Patrol.
Democratic Assemblymember Dave Jones watched as officers questioned the driver and explained that his office tipped the CHP that the bus could be operating illegally… 
“We took the license number and basically ran it through the united states department of transportation online data base to ascertain whether this bus could be operated here.  And what we discovered is that it is not in that data base…”

Turns out this bus operator did not break the law.  Still Jones says there are many so-called “fly by night” operators who do.  
He’s introduced a bill that would make it easier for the state to shut down charter bus companies that hire unlicensed drivers.  It also would permit the CHP to impound buses that are not safe or properly licensed.  Jones says the bill is a reaction to a charter bus that crashed while on its way to a Colusa County casino last October.  It flipped killing ten people aboard.  The driver survived.  He was not fully licensed.