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Handi Van Inc. got two dramatically different inspection reports from Salt Lake City’s commercial ground transportation department on the same vehicle, on November 29, 2010, and December 8, 2010. How many days apart is that? Nov. 30, Dec. 1,2,3,4,5,6, 7,8? A couple days over a week. The vehicle was rejected on November 29, over one thing only: a rear turn/brake lens had a hole in it. A page was given instructing us to correct that and come back. Those are the first two inspection documents.
In our experience, the van should have been good to go as soon as we proved we did the repair, unless something changed. That is why we did not take it from the shop until we were going straight back to the inspectors. We have been through picking up a ding or rock to the windshield just before inspection.
Up to that point, it was all pretty normal. Salt Lake City inspects vehicles every six months, and we have gotten used to the system. But when we went back with the new red plastic piece in place, the van was not signed off. A whole new inspection produced a list of complaints that started out with the information that the vehicle was 19,000 miles over the limit in the taxi law passed in the week between the inspections. And went on to bury the vehicle in up to $10,000 or more in cosmetic repairs. See estimate. Nothing changed in the week but the taxi law law on age and mileage. The computer chip was removed from the windshield and there was not a page given instructing to fix and return it. A big red sticker declaring it out of service was slapped on the windshield, which legally only the City can remove if we ever want to run it in the City again.
The van is legal in the County, and the rest of the State. But it will affect our business to limit this van’s range. We are also going to take a hit because the new taxi law requires taxi’s to run wheelchair vans, at taxi rates, in Salt Lake City limits. And at this rate they could fail our other vans at inspection in the next couple of months, forcing Handi Van Inc. to buy all new vehicles or go out of business. There is a recession on and we are already struggling. We would love to have 4 new vehicles, but whose monster house do we pledge to the banks? A basic ADA van cost over $40,000, and our bus $100,000 the last time we went shopping.
Salt Lake City has separate statutes regulating taxis and special transportation vehicles. We are licensed under the Special Transportation Ordinance. For about 10 years the City Council talked about reforming the Taxi Ordinance, but in December, 2010, finally passed a reform completely changing the world for taxis–and also sweeping all other ground transportation, including us, shuttles, and limos, into some restrictions on years and mileage. So rules, themselves controversial, which were made for sedan cars run as taxis, got applied to wheelchair vans, which are custom built on truck chassis made for more years and miles than a passenger car. There was a provision in the law for wheelchair vans to appeal the mileage limit “if there were no other problems.” Did the van get so much worse on paper to close off that avenue of appeal?.
We think it is a good thing to inspect the vehicles, verify insurance to 1.5 million, and background check the drivers. The City ordinances have always required compliance with federal rules since the airport is in the Salt Lake City limits. Homeland Security rules are included in both old and new city rules for ground transportation.