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San Gabriel bans casino tour buses from making pick-ups on city streets



This unmarked bus is typical of the ones that would pick up passengers in San Gabriel and other nearby communities to take them to area casinos.
This unmarked bus is typical of the ones that would pick up passengers in San Gabriel and other nearby communities to take them to area casinos.
Mae Ryan/KPCC

The San Gabriel City Council voted Tuesday night to ban casino tour buses from picking up customers on city streets starting May 1.

The ordinance, modeled after a similar law in Monterey Park, would restrict companies to parking in private lots, and subjecting violators to fines to be set by the city.

City Engineer Daren Grilley said notices have gone out to the 73 bus companies known to make runs through the city, ferrying a largely-immigrant customer base to area casinos.

"We heard only negative things about the buses, and really no positives," Grilley said. 

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Casino tour bus companies came under heavy scrutiny last winter when three accidents over five days left one person dead and 73 injured.

Grilley said residents had also grown upset about the buses traveling along narrow neighborhood streets, already clogged by the cars left by people taking day trips to the casino.

There were also problems along the busy thoroughfares where the bus companies would load their passengers.

"Since they're not real bus stops, and we don't provide benches and trash facilities, (casino-goers) would use the area to dispose of trash, and that got a lot outrage from the community," Grilley said.

There were also incidents of motorists parking at the unofficial pick-up locations, and getting harassed by other people, presumably casino-goers, Grilley said.

Grilley said the city tried to see if the buses brought any positive economic impact, but after interviewing local business owners, it was concluded that casino-goers were just coming to the area to get on a bus.