CPUC gets failing grade in troubling audit

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A troubling audit is giving the CPUC a failing grade when it comes to passenger safety inside limousines and airport shuttles.

A troubling audit out Tuesday night is giving the California Public Utilities Commission a failing grade when it comes to passenger safety inside limousines and airport shuttles. It comes a year after five women died inside a limo on the San Mateo Bridge.

The audit is simply scathing. It says the CPUC isn't doing enough to keep passengers safe out on the road. One survivor of a limo fire we spoke with on Tuesday wants things to change.

"I started walking out and said, 'ladies we need to get out now!'" said Mary Chapman.

Chapman won't forget the day last summer when she and 10 friends escaped a limo which was catching fire near Rossmoor. Everyone got out safely but the limo burned. Electrical wiring may have been to blame.

A month before that a limo caught fire on the San Mateo Bridge, killing a bride and four friends. The fire was blamed on a mechanical issue.

The two incidents prompted a state audit of the CPUC, which regulates limo and shuttle companies. It's blamed for lax oversight in dealing with safety violations.

Chapman says it seems safety has been overlooked.

"I just was not an advocate of using limos at all because of that experience," she said. "And maybe one day I'll feel differently but they should be held to a higher standard than what they're being held to now. Because what I could see now and back then, nothing! I didn't see any standards at all."

Key findings from the audit say complaints take too long to resolve, sometimes it took 200 days or longer, no site visit or records examination, and five months to penalize offending carriers

East Bay Senator Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, said in a statement, "Sadly, the State Auditor confirmed my worst fears: that the commission has not resolve complaints in a timely fashion."

Shuttle drivers at the Oakland Airport say not every driver or owner plays by the rules and are rarely caught.

"A lot of companies they don't have no TCP, no insurance, and they just drive customers for cheap prices," said airport shuttle driver Alaa Almussti.

The audit could bring more accountability. The CPUC says it will comply and make changes.

Chapman hopes the future will mean a safer ride for all passengers.

Barnard: "Will you get in a limousine any time soon?"
Chapman: "No, no, no, no. Not at all."
Related Topics:
california public utilities commissionfatal limo firetransportationfirefire deathSan MateoVallejo
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