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SOUTHLAND BUSINESS

Bus Buys Rival

June 14, 1987|DENISE GELLENE

The three-year battle of the airport buses has ended with Fun Bus Systems acquiring nearly all of the assets of rival Airport Service Co.

Fun Bus paid more than $5 million for Airport Service, a unit of St. Louis-based Chromalloy American Corp. Michael L. Valen, president and chief executive of Fun Bus, said the sale was completed April 20.

Fun Bus got 42 buses, Airport Service's Anaheim bus terminal and its certificate to operate as an intrastate carrier within California.

The acquisition makes Fun Bus one of the largest private bus firms in the region, with 62 buses.

The acquisition also ends a longstanding legal feud between the two Anaheim-based firms. In 1984, Airport Service challenged Fun Bus System's right to transport passengers between Anaheim and Los Angeles International Airport.

Airport Service argued that Fun Bus, as an interstate carrier licensed by the Interstate Commerce Commission, couldn't operate a route located solely within California.

Fun Bus--which also transports passengers to Las Vegas--disagreed with Airport Service, an intrastate carrier licensed by the California Public Utilities Commission.

Terrence Lyons, a lawyer for Airport Service, said a federal appeals court in San Francisco sent the case back to the ICC last September, but the ICC hasn't yet taken any action. But now that Fun Bus has acquired most of Airport Service's assets, "the issue is moot," Valen said.

Founded in 1951, Airport Service, the company that operated the Airport Bus, was the biggest privately held bus firm serving Los Angeles International Airport. Despite its size, it had lost 48% of its business between 1982 and 1986 due to competition from bus and van operators.

Valen said he is taking steps to increase ridership on Airport Service. He has increased the frequency of service along some routes and is repainting the silver buses light blue with a splash of red and green to give them a "more California look."

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