Ford Owned SF Chariot Bus Service Using Drivers Without Proper Training-IBT Supporting Privatization of Transportation in SF With Chariot To Get New Members

Ford Owned SF Chariot Bus Service Using Drivers Without Proper Training-IBT Supporting Privatization of Transportation in SF With Chariot To Get New Members
Chariot, an app-enabled private bus service owned by Ford Motor Company

CHP inspections revealed some Chariot drivers drove without proper licenses

http://www.sfexaminer.com/chp-inspections-revealed-chariot-drivers-drove...

Regulators ordered private bus service Chariot to cease operations in California last Wednesday. Now, records obtained by the San Francisco Examiner reveal why.

On three separate California Highway Patrol inspections, at least seven Chariot drivers were found to be driving without Class B licenses, which certify them to drive buses, according to inspection documents obtained by the Examiner in a public records request.

CHP inspectors traditionally review a sample of all vehicles, leaving open the possibility of more drivers without proper licenses. Chariot did not respond to requests for comment.

CHP spokesperson Sgt. Rob Nacke said those inspections revealed some of Chariot’s drivers were driving with Class C licenses instead of Commercial Class B licenses — a violation of California law.

“We trust you are aware of the seriousness of this situation and will take immediate action to correct the deficiencies,” CHP Capt. L. M. Bishop wrote to Chariot CEO Ali Vahabzadeh in an Aug. 27 letter obtained by the Examiner.

The letter outlines meetings between the CHP and Chariot where they were warned non-compliance would result in the California Public Utilities Commission suspending Chariot’s authority to operate.

Though the distinction in licenses may seem minor, the Teamsters union, which recently organized Chariot’s 215 Bay Area drivers, said the expertise is important.

“We are deadly serious about those laws,” said Doug Bloch, political director with Teamsters Joint Council 7, which represents thousands of Teamsters statewide.

Chariot, a jitney service that’s accessible by smartphone app, falls under regulatory oversight by the CPUC and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. The SFMTA passed new regulations for Chariot last Tuesday, which requires wheelchair accessibility and data reporting for its 14-passenger vans.

“Our board voted to establish new local requirements to ensure that current and future private transit services operate in a way that is safe,” SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose said.

Those new regulations take effect in November.

Last Thursday, however, Chariot abruptly ceased operations, leaving its 3,000 to 4,000 customers in San Francisco stranded — all for want of licenses.

Commercial Class B licenses show training has been attained in driving vehicles more than 26,000 pounds, or a three-axle vehicle weighing over 6,000 pounds, farm labor vehicles, or — crucially in this case — buses.

A Class C license is the one most everyday commuters carry in their wallets, allowing drivers behind the wheels of sedans and similar sized vehicles.

The CHP inspections of Chariot’s vehicles on the road in Napa in October 2016, as well as inspections of Chariot’s 95 Minna St. bus yard in March and August 2017, all found violations, according to inspection records obtained by the Examiner.

CHP inspected 20 vehicles and found one violation in 2016, according to an inspection document, and gave Chariot an “unsatisfactory rating.”

In the March inspection, the CHP found two violations out of 20 inspections.

In August, however, the CHP found its most drivers without licenses to date, as five of the drivers inspected were without Class B licenses, according to inspection documents.

Chariot did not ask for reviews of the CHP inspections.

When the Teamsters organized Chariot’s drivers in May, “this is something we found out,” Bloch said, of the need for Chariot’s drivers to attain Class B licenses. The Teamsters organized a license training program in San Francisco that operates Monday through Thursdays.

“The very first order of business for the union after we organized the workers was to educate them with Class B licenses,” Bloch said. “We did that before we organized the contract.”

Chariot paid for the training courses, Bloch said.

Ford Pushing Transit Privatization In San Francisco With Chariot
“This company is another one of these companies based on ‘We’re going to break the law, and go to city government to ask for forgiveness,’” said Sue Vaughan, who sits on the SFMTA’s citizen advisory council and has been a staunch critic of private transit services.
Vaughan has catalogued Chariot vehicles double parking to let out passengers, blocking Muni buses and engaging in other “scofflaw” behavior in dozens of photographs.
http://www.sfexaminer.com/new-sf-jitney-rules-ban-chariot-competing-dire...
New SF jitney rules ban Chariot from competing directly with Muni
Chariot, an app-enabled private bus service owned by Ford Motor Company, is the only company of its kind operating in The City. (Daniel Kim/Special to S.F. Examiner)
By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez on September 14, 2017 1:00 am
San Francisco jitney vans are set to see historically new regulations.Proposed rules to govern private transit vehicles — essentially buses run by companies — will go before the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors for a vote at their next meeting Tuesday.
The new rules, if approved, will be instated 30 days after the meeting and apply to any private transit service working explicitly within San Francisco. Only one such company exists right now — the app-enabled bus service, Chariot.
Among this new legal framework is a clause addressing a chief public concern: Private transit will be banned from replicating Muni routes.
“These regulations would require any new route does not duplicate Muni service,” said Alex Jonlin, an SFMTA transportation analyst, at a media briefing on the rules Wednesday.
Much of Chariot’s existing network replicates Muni Express and Rapid bus routes aimed at downtown workers. Those routes will be “grandfathered in,” Jonlin said.
New private transit routes that match Muni routes “75 percent” or more will not be allowed, Jonlin said, along with other requirements.
Exceptions would be made for routes that mimic Muni lines outside of its service hours, or connect to regional transit (except on Market Street), or serve substantially different stops.
The move to essentially cut off direct competition between private and public buses is one among many concerns the SFMTA will address with the new regulatory framework. Additionally, private transit companies will be required to share GPS data of its vehicles, ridership numbers, register for California Highway Patrol vehicle inspections, bolster safety training and provide equal access for people with disabilities.
The program will cost $250,000 annually to administer, according to the SFMTA, which will be recovered nearly entirely through administrative fees to Chariot. State law requires SFMTA only recoup the costs of such a program.
Chariot would not comment directly on the regulations, and said it would continue working with the SFMTA. Ford Motor Company bought Chariot, a startup, late last year. The sale price was not disclosed, but Business Insider cited sources who pinned the sale at “more than” $65 million.
Private jitney buses have operated on San Francisco streets for as long as automobiles have existed. Jitneys ferried San Franciscans to the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in 1915, and many Muni lines today run on former private bus lines.
However, private jitney service declined in the 1970s. At the time, jitneys were loosely regulated through a patchwork of laws at the San Francisco Police Department and elsewhere.
“Our big concern is public safety,” Kate Toran, head of SFMTA taxi services, said of creating new rules for jitneys in San Francisco.
The rules come after neighbors have complained of Chariot vehicles double parking, stopping in Muni bus stops and blocking driveways, according to the SFMTA.
The public made 62 complaints through email or 311 about Chariot and other private transit services, which are now defunct, since September 2015, according to the SFMTA. There have been 28 complaints in 2017 alone.
“This company is another one of these companies based on ‘We’re going to break the law, and go to city government to ask for forgiveness,’” said Sue Vaughan, who sits on the SFMTA’s citizen advisory council and has been a staunch critic of private transit services.
Vaughan has catalogued Chariot vehicles double parking to let out passengers, blocking Muni buses and engaging in other “scofflaw” behavior in dozens of photographs.
San Francisco State University geography professor Jason Henderson, who focuses on urban transportation, said even if Chariot is not allowed to compete with Muni, the regulations don’t go far enough.
“The City needs to be asking a soul searching question — is private transit really the right way to do things?” he said.
Though Henderson admits some San Franciscans simply don’t want to use Muni, either because they complain it’s too dirty, too crowded, or not as comfortable as hopping on a Chariot van, he said that’s beside the point.
Henderson added that two different modes of transit, a luxury option for those who can afford it, and a public option that faces possible disinvestment, doesn’t reflect San Francisco values.
“I think the solution is for those kinds of people to get over themselves,” he said.