Charter operators scored another big victory over public transit agencies trying to infringe on their business when the FTA ordered the Westchester County Department of Transportation (WCDOT) to stop providing impermissible charter services.
The decision stems from a complaint filed in June 2006 by Service Tours Inc. of Yonkers, N.Y., accusing the WCDOT of violating conditions placed on recipients of federal transit assistance by providing shuttle service to the Buick Classic golf tournament in Harrison, N.Y.
In its claim, Service Tours alleged that the contract it had in place with tournament organizers to provide services during the tournament was canceled when the WCDOT agreed to provide services with its federally funded buses, which Service Tours said was a direct violation of the FTA’s charter regulations. It also alleged that the agency did not determine if there were any willing and able charter operators available to perform the service.
In its final decision, the FTA ruled WCDOT was in violation of the law because it did not demonstrate a broad outreach and attempt to make the service known to the general public; the tournament’s organizers, and not the WCDOT, were in control of the financial agreement reached; the tournament bus stop was not part of its regular services; and the demand-responsive service it provided was not designed to benefit the public at large.
“I’m pleased that the FTA saw that they clearly competed with private enterprise,” said Sal DiPaolo, president of Service Tours.
As of press time, the WCDOT, which had 10 days to do so, did not file an appeal.