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OXNARD : Farm Worker Bus Line Sued for Safety

WEST VENTURA COUNTY FOCUS

June 21, 1994|DWAYNE BRAY

A bus line catering to farm workers going to Tijuana and Fresno operates unsafe coaches, the Ventura County district attorney's office charged Monday in a lawsuit against Transportes Intercalifornias Inc.

The lawsuit is the prosecutors' office latest attempt to get the Los Angeles-based company to comply with state safety regulations, Deputy Dist. Atty. Michael D. Schwartz said.

The company has a local office in Oxnard, at 102 E. 5th St.

Filed in Superior Court, the lawsuit asks that Transportes be required to fix its unsafe buses and pay $2,500 for each of several dozen alleged violations.

A defense lawyer said the company will file a denial to the charges in court.

"We're certainly concerned with having safe buses," attorney Frederick H. Bysshe Jr. said. "In terms of what the bottom line is, these buses have traveled millions of miles without any major accidents."

A news release from Bysshe's office said Transportes is a Latino-owned company that is popular because all of its drivers speak Spanish.

Transportes carries about 300,000 passengers annually, including about 40,000 from its Oxnard office, Bysshe said.

It has a fleet of 13 buses, which travel between Tijuana, Los Angeles, Oxnard and Fresno, Bysshe said.

"If Transportes is forced out of business by an overzealous district attorney's office, this segment of the public transportation market will revert back to unlicensed, underground, and fly-by-night operators," the statement said.

In 1991 and last year, Transportes was put on probation for operating unsafe buses, Schwartz said.

Monday's lawsuit claims that its buses have faulty brakes, holes in floorboards and inoperable emergency doors. Drivers' complaints about defects have been ignored, it says.

Transportes' buses have received unsatisfactory marks on eight inspections by the Highway Patrol since 1991, Schwartz said.

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