The California Air Resource Board yesterday announced that the agency has fined a Texas-based carrier Vallejo Citizens Transit Co., a subsidiary of MV Transportation, Inc, of Dallas, Texas, $387,750 for “serious air quality violations that occurred when it was under contract for bus services to the City of Vallejo.”
CARB began investigating the company in 2010 after an informant reported the company for allegedly tampering with diesel particulate filters.
CARB authorities conducted two inspections of the company and found that “the filters and back pressure sensors were tampered with on multiple diesel-powered buses owned by the City of Vallejo but serviced and operated under contract by Vallejo Citizens Transit Co. (VCTC). Investigators also discovered that VCTC’s maintenance personnel were using a power washer to clean the filters. This practice damages the filters by causing the accumulated soot and ash to harden and plug the filters leading to cracking and premature failure,” CARB said in a press release.
According to CARB, VCTC violations included failing to:
- Properly maintain diesel particulate filters;
- Regularly self-inspect its diesel vehicles as required by state law;
- Comply with emission control label regulations, and
- Comply with urban bus emission reduction requirements.
CARB says the agency initially tried settling the case. CARB staff met with representatives from VCTC on numerous occasions, but the parties failed to reach an agreement, so the case was referred to the Attorney General’s Office for litigation.
On April 29, 2014, the case was settled though mediation.
Since the case began in 2010, the cities of Benicia and Vallejo merged transit agencies and are now doing business under a Joint Powers Authority called Sol-Trans.
In an effort to bring the fleet into compliance, the City of Vallejo purchased and installed new diesel particulate filters and replaced some of its fleet.
In 2013, the contract ended with VCTC and the company dissolved, however, MV Transportation Inc. is still in operation in 29 states.
VCTC has paid $290,000 to the CARB Pollution Control Fund and $97,750 to the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District School Bus Supplemental Environmental Project.
“This private business served the public and must be held accountable for its violation of the public’s trust,” said ARB Enforcement Chief Jim Ryden. “Unfortunately, Vallejo Citizens Transit Co. and its parent company, MV Transportation, Inc., had to learn the hard way that it never pays to circumvent the law. Their blatant disregard for basic pollution prevention resulted in a significant penalty.”