LAX Springs Surprise Inspections on Ground Transportation Suppliers

Posted on March 17, 2005 by LCT Staff - Also by this author - About the author

LOS ANGELES – A multi-agency law enforcement operation conducted at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) resulted in 14 commercial ground transportation vehicles being pulled from service and 19 drivers cited for violations, with potential fines averaging $400. The unannounced inspections of commercial ground transportation vehicles included both mechanical and administrative processes. Nearly 120 limousines, door-to-door shuttle vans, taxis, long-distance vans and buses, and hotel and private parking lot courtesy shuttles were pulled over for inspection during the five-hour operation.

The goal of the operation was to enhance the personal safety of the general public who use commercial ground transportation services. Travelers at airports, such as LAX, are significant audiences for commercial ground transportation providers. Nearly 40 representatives from the Los Angeles Airport Police, the California Highway Patrol (CHP), the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) conducted operations in front of Terminal 7 and in the airport's commercial ground transportation holding lot.

CHP officers and inspectors concentrated on mechanical equipment, including braking systems, passenger restraints and other safety systems that are required to be in good working order. Airport Police Ground Transportation Unit officers, PUC investigators and LAWA analysts focused on proper licensing, PUC and airport operating permits, valid driver’s licenses and other law enforcement-related issues.

Of the total 118 vehicles inspected during the multi-agency operation, five were towed/impounded for operating with suspended, expired or revoked PUC permits, and one for being too unsafe to drive on Los Angeles City streets. Four additional vehicles were pulled from service for serious mechanical problems with steering, brakes and vehicle suspension. Five vehicles were prohibited from further operation at LAX until violations of the airport's ground transportation operating permit program are corrected. Transponders were confiscated from these vehicles.

In addition, LAWA announced that the airport operating permit for CLS Limousine Services has been suspended after airport officials were notified by the PUC that CLS no longer has PUC authority to operate for-hire vehicles. CLS Limousine Services was recently acquired by Empire International, but Empire's licensing authority has not yet been transferred to include CLS. More than 100 vehicles formerly operated by CLS Limousine Services were barred from continued operation at LAX until this administrative matter is resolved.

Nineteen drivers were issued Personal Service Citations for misdemeanor violations including serious mechanical problems, improper insurance, driving with an out-of-class license and invalid or no PUC permits. Fines for these citations average approximately $400 each, and the drivers must show proof of correction before they can resume for-hire operation.

Verbal warnings also were logged and issued to 32 drivers for minor infractions.

Some serious safety violations discovered included a for-hire vehicle with a gasoline-soaked paper towel being used as a gas cap, a hotel courtesy shuttle bus with its emergency escape window and door wired shut and another hotel courtesy shuttle bus with failing brakes.

The multi-agency action culminated "Operation: Terminal Sweep," a series of ground transportation law enforcement actions that began last November as a single-agency operation conducted by the Airport Police and LAWA administrative units. During another recent operation, the Airport Police impounded nearly 20 commercial ground transportation vehicles for various violations and issued dozens of citations.

In 2004, the Airport Police arrested several "bandit" drivers operating illegally at LAX and impounded 73 vehicles. One arrest involved a "bandit" taxi driver, who was turned over to U.S. Customs & Border Protection after that agency identified him as an "undesirable" in the U.S.

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