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ConsumerWatch: Prom Ruined By Party Bus Problems

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Brentwood teens wait to board a party bus for prom. (CBS)

Brentwood teens wait to board a party bus for prom. (CBS)

BRENTWOOD (KPIX 5) – It was a ride to prom the CHP told KPIX 5 never should have happened. Brentwood high school senior Derrick Bella and nearly fifty of his friends rented a party bus from Starlight Party Bus Rentals to shuttle them to senior prom in San Francisco. Since Bella is a minor, his mother signed the rental contract. When the bus showed up over an hour late Bella said it was dirty and cramped.

“There was holes in the seats,’ said Bella. “It smelled like urine.”

Without enough seats for all the prom goers, Bella said some parents pulled their kids off the bus and drove them into San Francisco themselves. Bella told KPIX 5 other kids, including himself, road in the bus all the way to the City with out a proper seat to sit in.

But Bella said the scariest part of the ride was when the driver talked on his cell phone without a hands free device across the Bay Bridge.

“The bus driver was talking on the phone while driving,” said Bella. “I have video of it on the Bay Bridge in traffic.”

Bella said when he got to the dance and complained to Starlight directly, a new bus with a different driver was sent to pick the prom-goers up. When that bus arrived Bella said it had alcohol left on the bus by a previous renter.

“Beer, hard liquor, like everything,” said Bella.

The CHP’s Monica Christopher said, while overloading the bus and allowing minors’ access to alcohol is a concern, the Starlight Party Bus was not authorized to transport the teens to begin with.

“If children are being transported to or from a school related activity, the law indicates that if a parent contracts with the motor carrier, that service can only be done in a vehicle up to a 25 passenger capacity,” said Christopher.

Christopher is citing a provision in California Assembly Bill AB 830 which specifies that “a parent may contract with a charter-party carrier that operates a vehicle carrying between 11 and 25 persons to or from school-related activities.”

But the bill also requires that “The driver must have in his or her immediate possession a certificate to drive a school bus or SPAB {School Pupil Activity Bus}.” And, “the vehicle used to transport pupils {must undergo} an annual safety inspection conducted by the CHP.”

The CHP confirmed to KPIX 5 that Starlight Party Bus Rentals has no SPAB certification on file. The CHP suggests that parents do their research and ask any charter bus company they are considering to produce a SPAB certification. Any concerned party may also call their CHP’s local Motor Carrier Safety Unit.

As for the alcohol on board the second bus, a Starlight Party rentals company representative told KPIX 5 it was an oversight and employees must have missed the alcohol when cleaning after the previous renters.

Starlight Party Bus Rentals also told KPIX5 there were enough seats on the buses.

For more information about SPAB requirements, click on the links below:

http://legix.info/us-ca/measures;2007-08;ab0830/analysis@2008-06-23;committee

http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d01/vc546.htm

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

 

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