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Former employees say Serv-A-Bus has history of safety violations


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A driver with a busload of children hit a light pole yesterday in Salt Lake and was arrested for driving under the influence of something. Tonight we've learned the bus operator has had other problems as well.

Serv-A-Bus is in the business of driving children to private schools and summer camps, and two former workers claim it has been operating unsafely. The company says there were problems in the past, but it never operated unsafely and have improved operations dramatically.

We talked to both sides and Utah transportation officials tonight. They say they've done more inspections of Serv-A-Bus than what's typical because of repeated problems over the past two years.

Tuesday, we watched Serv-A-Bus driver Jon Hoffman take a field sobriety test at the scene of a bus accident. According to a former co-worker, Sue Jones, his arrest is just one of many problems the bus company is dealing with. "They're getting through by the skin of their teeth," she said.

Jones was fired by Serv-A-Bus two weeks ago. She says it was a relief after seeing what she describes as safety and maintenance violations concerning the buses. "One time there was a gas line leak in the gas line. They used a garden hose to fix it," she said.

Another former employee, Paul Cranney, said, "I know of two buses that were going to expire in May. None of those buses ever got licensed for this year, and they were used to go to girls' camp."

Since 2006, the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) has conducted three reviews of Serv-A-Bus, including one that's happening right now. At one point in 2007, UDOT officials ordered bus service to be stopped until an inspection could be completed.

Nile Easton, with UDOT, told KSL, "We've had issues with their hours of service. Their log books have not been in compliance. We've had a lot of issues with their maintenance and their plans for maintenance."

The company, whose representative declined to talk to us on camera, admits there have been problems in the past. That's why it brought on an new chief operating officer last year who has turned things around.

The log book problem of drivers working too many hours was a miscommunication, according to the company.

And although the results of this new inspection won't be ready until next week, Serv-A-Bus is confident it'll pass with flying colors. It's something former employees say they'll believe when they see. "I would not want my child on one of their buses," Jones said.

UDOT says there have also been problems with the company complying with drug and alcohol testing guidelines. Serv-A-Bus says that was also a miscommunication and the new report next week will reflect that.

E-mail: sdallof@ksl.com

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Sarah Dallof

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