Leap Transit halts luxury buses after cease-and-desist order 

click to enlarge Leap Transit runs a luxury bus service that takes riders from the Marina to the Financial District and back for $6 each way. - JEFF CHIU/AP PHOTO
  • Jeff Chiu/AP Photo
  • Leap Transit runs a luxury bus service that takes riders from the Marina to the Financial District and back for $6 each way.

Leap Transit, a luxury bus service, was issued a cease-and-desist letter by regulators, the startup announced Wednesday.

The California Public Utilities Commission regulates Leap, along with mobile ride-hail apps like Uber and Lyft. The cease-and-desist issued a litany of safety violations and came as Leap attempted to finalize its permitting process to operate its buses with the regulator.

“Leap will be offline at least through the end of this week as we work through a regulatory issue,” the transit company wrote on its Facebook page.

Leap runs a private bus service for $6 a ride that goes from the Marina to Financial District. The company has long held that its service was in response to complaints that the city-run 30-Stockton Muni bus was simply too crowded for some Marina riders.

The company gained nationwide attention earlier this year when it relaunched the bus service from beta testing with soft-purple lighting, plush seats and reclaimed-wood coffee tables. That same stylish presentation was made possible by the removal of wheelchair access devices in the buses.

In its letter, the CPUC said Leap started operating prior to “issue of their authority,” which is punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 or a year in jail, or both. “Each day of continued violations is a separate and distinct offense,” Brian Kahrs, the CPUC supervising investigator, wrote to Leap.

The CPUC said Leap failed to provide public liability insurance, evidence of workers’ compensation insurance, evidence of compliance with alcohol and substance testing requirements for drivers, paying tariffs and providing “letters of acceptance,” all of which are violations of various public utilities codes.

Leap was required to meet the criteria following the CPUC’s March approval for it to operate buses between San Francisco and San Mateo County. Leap was denied its request to operate between San Francisco and Marin County in the same March decision.

Leap also failed to list its drivers in the DMV’s “pull notice program,” essentially a database allowing government to check driver records to ensure safety, according to the cease-and-desist letter from the CPUC.

This litany of violations culminated in a stern warning by the CPUC: “Failure to immediately cease all operations until all licensing requirements are met will result in the Commission initiating enforcement actions to ensure compliance with applicable laws.”

Leap responded quickly, offering a rebuttal to the allegations.

“While we believe that our service is in full compliance with all state and local laws, we have decided to halt operations until we clear this final hurdle,” Leap wrote. “We know that this is extremely frustrating for you and — believe us — it kills us to do so.”

Leap is offering refunds for those who purchased its recent “ride pack” discount tickets. The refund can be obtained by writing to support@leaptransit.com.

“We hope to be back on the road in no time,” Leap wrote. “Thank you for your incredible support.”

About The Author

Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez

Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez

Born and raised in San Francisco, Fitzgerald Rodriguez was a staff writer at the San Francisco Bay Guardian, and now writes the S.F. Examiner's political column On Guard. He is also a transportation beat reporter covering pedestrians, Muni, BART, bikes, and anything with wheels.
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