The California Public Utilities Commission has suspended Chariot, Ford’s commuter van service, from operating in the state, after the company failed three successive vehicle inspections, the commission said on Thursday.
Chariot, which operates in three U.S. cities and the Bay Area, said in an email to customers Thursday that it was “temporarily pausing our commuter service beginning this afternoon,” the San Francisco Business Times reported.
“We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience and will alert you immediately once we reopen service, as we expect to resolve this disruption quickly,” Chariot said.
A spokesperson for the California public utilities commission, Christopher Chow, confirmed that Chariot had been suspended from operating in the state on Wednesday.
“Yesterday we suspended Chariot’s [charter-party carrier] operating permit because Chariot did not pass three successive California Highway Patrol inspections,” Chow told Jalopnik. “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.”
“That’s all I have for now,” he added. It’s unclear what the safety violations entailed.
The utilities commission requires for-hire passenger carriers like Chariot to obtain a license in order to operate in California. Chariot, specifically, operates under what’s called a “charter-party carrier” (TCP) permit. The commission defines a TCP as:
A TCP charters a vehicle, on a prearranged basis, for the exclusive use of an individual or group. Charges are based on mileage or time of use, or a combination of both. Also falling under the TCP category are round-trip sightseeing services, and certain specialized services not offered to the general public, such as transportation incidental to another business and transportation under contract to a governmental agency, an industrial or business firm, or a private school.
For vehicles carrying more than 10 people, including the driver, the utilities commission requests the California Highway Patrol to conduct a safety inspection for the vehicles. Chariot’s vans seat 14 passengers, but it’s unclear how many the company operates in the state.
Ford acquired Chariot last fall as part of the automaker’s push into the ambiguous world of “mobility.” At the time, Ford said it planned to expand Chariot to at least five markets outside of San Francisco within 18 months.
The shuttle service hasn’t been entirely welcomed in California. Last month, the San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency, proposed banning the vans from running along routes similar to public buses and light rails, according to theSan Francisco Business Times. The transit agency received more than 60 complaints about Chariot, the Business Times reported, for a litany of bad driving practices—double parking, blocking bus stops, idling in the middle of streets.
In a statement to Jalopnik, Chariot said it’s “committed to providing our customers with safe and reliable service.”
“We also are committed to complying with government orders even when we disagree and using appropriate legal processes to resolve them as expeditiously as possible,” the company said. “Therefore, even though Chariot service is in full compliance with all regulations and we disagree with this order, we have complied with the order to suspend service.”
The company said it’s working to resolve the issue “as quickly as possible” and an update will be provided when it’s given the green-light to hit the streets again.