Chariot riders will need to find another source of transportation in the near future after regulators suspended the private shuttle's service this week. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)

Regulators order Chariot to halt service in California due to safety concerns

Private bus service Chariot has been ordered to halt its service in California by the California Public Utilities Commission for failing to meet safety requirements, according to a letter obtained by the San Francisco Examiner.

“We’ll be back in service as soon as possible!” Chariot wrote on Twitter to its customers Thursday, after it halted service in the afternoon.

Chariot was ordered to suspend its service Wednesday, according to the notice sent by the CPUC, which said Chariot failed to meet three California Highway Patrol safety inspections. It was not immediately clear what safety requirements were unmet.

SEE RELATED: New SF jitney rules ban Chariot from competing directly with Muni

“The CPUC has a responsibility to suspend a carrier’s operating permit for failure to maintain a vehicle in safe operating mode, other violations related to transportation safety, and/or failure to comply with the DMV’s employee Pull Notice Program,” CPUC spokesperson Christopher Chow told the Examiner.

Chariot, which is owned by Ford Motor Company, was also tasked with a re-inspection fee of $1,000, according to the letter, which was signed by the enforcement branch of the CPUC.

“We comply with regulatory orders even when we disagree with them,” Chariot wrote in a statement to customers, though the company didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which also regulates Chariot, declined to comment, citing a need for more information. On Tuesday, SFMTA passed its first comprehensive regulations for private transit systems, which include Chariot.

Those regulations require Chariot to submit GPS and other data to The City so it can assess the system’s safety and contribution to traffic congestion.

The halt in service was first reported by the San Francisco Business Times after obtaining a notification to Chariot users.

“Since we organized the drivers in May, the Teamsters have been working very hard with Chariot to bring the company into compliance with the law,” Doug Bloch, political director of the Teamsters Joint Council 7, a statewide group representing thousands of Teamsters, told the San Francisco Examiner.

Bloch said drivers didn’t “make these problems,” and “we don’t want our members to suffer. We hope they can get back to work as quick as possible.”

The Teamsters represent 215 drivers at Chariot, and has hopes the company will expand beyond the Bay Area, New York and Seattle, the only regions in which they currently operate.

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