Tuesday, August 31, 2010

CHP harass outlet tour buses in Barstow

The economy is terrible. It’s very hard to get tourists and consumers into a center. Now once they are there the California Highway Patrol is harassing the tour bus operators and upsetting our customers.

If I'm a tour bus operator, I just won't stop in Barstow anymore.

Wait until you read this.

Officers, mechanics, make sure buses are road-safe

August 30, 2010 2:08 PM By AARON DOME, staff writer

BARSTOW • A team of California Highway Patrol Officers were on patrol near Tanger Outlet Mall on Saturday, but they weren’t looking for drunk drivers or speeding motorists — they were pulling over tour buses.

The CHP set up patrols near every possible entrance to the outlet mall and directed every bus to stop at an inspection area once the buses had unloaded their passengers.

Charles, a tour bus driver who gave only his first name, sat in his Odyssey Tours bus on Saturday waiting for the arrival of a replacement bus after inspectors found a cracked brake rotor on one of the wheels of his bus.

“There isn’t any road service today and a replacement bus will take two or three hours,” said Charles. “This won’t bode well with the tourists.”

Shortly after grounding Charles’ bus, another bus pulled into the inspection area and was quickly deemed un-roadworthy due to small cracks in one of the buses’ wheels.

Nine buses were inspected on Saturday and four were taken off of the road for mechanical problems. CHP Sgt. Raul Duran said that the inspections are crucial to keeping passengers safe.

“This is for the safety of the motoring public,” said Duran. “A while back we put a bus out of service that didn’t have any front brake shoes, it was just metal on metal. I think that shows how important these inspections are. That was just an accident waiting to happen.”

CHP mechanics check out the mechanical condition of each bus that pulls in, visually inspecting the engine, brakes, tires, and even the sewage system of the bus. The driver’s logbook, license, and certification are also inspected.

Duran said that most of the citations issued at bus inspections are “fix-it” tickets that allowed bus operators a certain amount of time to fix violations on a bus before facing a fine.

Once CHP mechanics find a mechanical flaw that can take the bus off the road, a mobile repair service must be called to fix the bus, or a replacement brought out.

Duran said that Saturday’s inspection in Barstow was the third this year and that two more were planned. Duran estimated that each inspection event costs about $15,000, and said they are funded by grants.


  1. What should be alarming is that 4 of 9 buses inspected after carrying passengers were taken out of service for mechanical problems.

    I'm sure outlet tenants would love pictures of their shopping bags spread over the roadside after a tour bus crashes on the way home from the outlet center.

    The concern should not be CHP's enforecement efforts; the concern should be charter companies operating unsafe buses.

  2. I certainly don't condone unsafe buses. But lets look at this objectively.

    Barstow is on the highway between LA and Vegas. Tour buses taking people to Vegas stop at the Barstow outlet centers. This benefits the center, the retailers, the local economy, and all the people employed there and at the local restaurants and gas stations.

    The CHP are targeting a very small and specific portion of the traffic coming down that very busy highway.

    By their own admission they have done this at the Tanger outlet 3 times already and plan on doing it 2 more times.

    If I am the tour bus operator I will just stop going to this center. I will stop further up the highway at the Primm outlet center just over the Nevada border where the CHP cant touch me.

    Who does that help? Did it solve a public safety issue? No. Did it help the local economy or the people that work at that center? No.

    All it will do is drive business into another state. In these difficult economic times our government needs to be smarter and utilize its assets better.