Surprise sting targets passenger vehicles at SFO

May 22, 2013 6:57:54 PM PDT
A surprise sting operation at San Francisco International Airport early Wednesday morning took drivers by surprise. The multi-agency strike force targeted limos, vans, and buses. Some of the agencies involved include the CHP, San Francisco police, the California Public Utilities Commission, and even the Air Resources Board.

The sting lasted about seven hours. During that time hundreds of limos, buses, and vans passed through the checkpoint. They checked everything from licenses to insurance records to maintenance records.

San Francisco police motorcycle units stopped limousines, shuttle vans and buses after they dropped their passengers off at the terminals. They lined up the vehicles and escorted them to a lot next to the airport.

The sting started at 8 a.m. By noon, limos, vans, and buses filled the makeshift inspection site.

In just four hours, 14 vehicles were found to have mechanical violations. Police also detained and cited a Super Shuttle van driver. They say he was driving with a suspended license.

"He has 20 minutes to find somebody to come up and pick up the vehicle," SFPD Sgt. Bobby Cheung said. "If not, then the van will get towed."

Many drivers thought the strike force operation was in response to the limousine fire earlier this month on the San Mateo Bridge that killed five passengers. But the CHP said it was not.

"You know there's always an importance as it relates to passenger transportation, so this isn't anything unusual that we do," CHP Sgt. Diana McDermott said. "But being close to that incident, I can understand where it might have that perception. But this is something that we do on a consistent basis throughout the year."

Most of the drivers we spoke with didn't mind the inconvenience.

"I think it's good for everybody," limo driver Vic Ignacio said. "For the public, the riding public, you know for safety purposes, I think it's good."

"It's a good thing," driver Nubia Costa said. "I mean, they're making sure everything is right."

When asked if he keeps his car up with no problems, Major Singh with Major Limousines answered, "Yeah, up and running, maintenance, everything. No problems."

The only complaints we heard were from drivers who grumbled that the inspections were costing them money.

"I'm pissed off because I'm over here, stopped, and I have another pick up in the city and now I'm stuck over here," said Julio DeLeon with Manuel Limo Company. "They should stop the people who are illegal not the people who are legal."

The CHP has yet to give us the final results of the sting. Those statistics may be released on Thursday.

We did talk to the management of Super Shuttle and they say they do track the status of their driver's licenses and they don't know why this one fell through the cracks. They've launched their own investigation.


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