Business

Los Angeles-based bus company among those shutdown by regulators

Highway and Road DisastersDisasters and AccidentsTransportation Disasters

Salcido Tours, a Los Angeles-based bus company that operates in Southern California and Mexico, was among those shut down by federal regulators in a nationwide safety crackdown. 

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration shuttered 52 bus companies after an eight-month investigation partly prompted by a February bus crash near San Bernardino that killed eight people and injured 30 others.

The agency said it pulled 340 unsafe vehicles from the road after investigators found several safety problems among the bus companies it investigated. 

Of the more than four dozen companies shut down, only one, Salcido Tours, was based in California.  

Salcido Tours' permit to operate was revoked Nov. 19, federal records show, after the company failed to make repairs after violations were found with three of the four coach buses the firm operates.

Federal inspectors over three reviews in August and September found that one bus had several maintenance violations, including an inadequate brake system, balding tires and a non-functional turn signal. Among other violations were an improper aisle seat on the bus and electrical wiring problems. 

Another coach bus had defective emergency exits and a third had a single minor violation -- a tail lamp that was not working, records show. The company has not had a crash reported in the last two years.

Records also show that one bus driver, during a Sept. 6 inspection, did not have a commercial drivers license. And yet another citation was issued because one driver did not speak English. "Driver must be able to understand highway traffic signs and signals in the English language," the violation reads. 

Carlos Martinez Barrera, the bus company owner, said in a telephone interview that he was fined $4,000 and was late to respond to inspection reports, which is why his permit to operate was revoked.

He said he is working to address the violations and hopes his company, which has about 20 employees, will resume operations soon.

Barrera, 50, said his company primarily operates between California and Mexico. He touted the company's safety record and said the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's recent crackdown is overkill.

"It's good that they're doing inspections," he said in Spanish. "But I think they're exaggerating."  

Salcido Tours has operated for 10 years, Barrera said. 

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Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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