The CHP issues a stinging report three weeks after a surprise inspection at the offices of a local bus company. CHP officials say one carrier must make a lot of changes, or face possible shutdown. Joel Grover reports for the NBC4 News Monday Jan. 6, 2014.
The California Highway Patrol has given a major Los Angeles area bus company an “unsatisfactory” safety rating, following a state investigation prompted by an NBC4 I-Team report.
Double Hi Express, which runs 16 buses to local casinos, has been given 120 days by the CHP to fix safety problems or face possible closure.
Last month, the CHP raided the offices of Double Hi, in San Gabriel and Pomona, just hours before the NBC4 aired a report showing the company’s drivers worked more hours than allowed by law, leading to dangerous “driver fatigue.”
“The records that were presented (in the I-Team report), gave us a good road map to work with,” said Mike Kelley, head of the CHP’s Motor Carrier Safety Unit for LA County. During the raid, CHP investigators examined the company’s buses and seized maintenance records and logs of drivers hours.
Today, the I-Team obtained a copy of the CHP’s investigation resulting from that raid. It says the company was violating numerous laws and safety regulations.
“They’ve been told what the regulations are in the past, and we now find that they’re not complying,” said the CHP’s Kelley about Double Hi. The CHP’s investigation found “violations generally spread over all inspected driver’s records.”
That means the company was not keeping accurate and legal records of its drivers shifts. In the NBC4 investigation, the I-Team documented some Double Hi drivers working 21 hours, which is against the law.
The CHP says that many hours on the road results in driver fatigue, a common cause of bus crashes. CHP inspectors also found maintenance problems with the company’s buses, including bald tires, leaking radiators, and brake problems.
The CHP report says Double Hi “does not repair” maintenance problems with its buses even when it knows about them. The CHP will re-inspect Double Hi in 120 days. If the company hasn’t fixed safety problems, the CHP says it could recommend the revocation of Double Hi’s operating permits.
Both the state and federal governments issue permits for Double Hi to operate. ”It’s ultimately about the safety, and ensuring the motoring public is safe, their drivers are safe,” the CHP’s Mike Kelley told NBC4.
Haijie Wong, the president of Double Hi, said in an email that company officials are “doing their best to ensure that all operations are 100 percent within the law and that we will continue to offer our customers a safe and reliable transportation.”
The CHP says it investigates all complaints it receives about unsafe buses. If you have information about an unsafe bus company, you can call the CHP at 323-644-9557.