More than half of commuter vans towed after inspections
by Michaelangelo Conte/The Jersey Journal Tuesday September 23, 2008, 3:02 PM
The Hudson County Prosecutor's Office towed 15 of 27 jitneys pulled over today in West New York, part of a continuing campaign to enforce safety laws that officials concede is having little impact.
"It still seems that there is a lack of compliance here and as far as our office is concerned, we are going to move forward and protect the citizens of Hudson County by conducting more of these stops to enforce the law," said Hudson County Assistant Prosecutor Michael Zevits.
Surprise inspections began at about 7 a.m. at 59th Street off Bergenline Avenue.
About 151 safety violation were cited during the inspections, by the state Motor Vehicle Commission Commercial Bus Unit, West New York police, the Hudson County Prosecutor's Office and the Hudson County Sheriff's Office, Zevits said. Police also issued 35 motor vehicle tickets, Zevits said.
Safety violations included bad brakes, cracked frames, fuel leaks and safety equipment violations including bad windows and missing fire extinguishers, Zevits said. Motor vehicle summonses were issued for uninsured vehicles, expired drivers licenses and failure to produce medical cards, Zevits said.
West New York resident Santos Mercedes said he doesn't understand why police pulled him over and inspect his van when he had a good inspection sticker and his paperwork is in order.
"I was just driving on Bergenline around 7:50 a.m. and I was stopped by a policeman and I gave him my license and registration and everything was up to date," Mercedes said. "I had in my bus like 25 passengers and he made me take out all my passengers in the middle of street. They have to go to work. Maybe some of them will lose their jobs."
Mercedes said that in the end, he was allowed to drive away with no citations, adding that last month his van was towed at a cost of $850.
The Prosecutor's Office's Insurance Fraud Unit has conducted more than a dozen surprise inspections of commuter vans in Hudson County over the past two years.