On July 30, the FTA notified the Rochester-Genesee Regional Transportation Authority (RGRTA) that the agency must cease its routes that serve the Rochester City School District before the beginning of the coming school year.
The notification reaffirms the FTA’s original decision — made in January 2007 — that the RGRTA was illegally engaged in school bus operations, which stemmed from a complaint against the RGRTA last year.
In June 2006, the United Food & Commercial Workers District Local One alleged that the agency’s provision of service pursuant to a subsidy agreement with the Rochester City School District was a violation of the FTA’s school bus regulations, which seek to prevent federally funded transit bus operations from competing with private school bus operations.
In April 2007, the FTA reopened the case. The National School Transportation Association brought the matter to the attention of several congressmen, who wrote to FTA Administrator James Simpson expressing their concern with the agency’s action.
In addition to the cease-and-desist order, the FTA notified the RGRTA that as a penalty it would withhold federal funding in an amount related to the subsidies that RGRTA received from the school district.
In response to the order, RGRTA CEO Mark Aesch said, “For twelve years, RGRTA, guided by FTA regulations and with the consistent approval of FTA officials, has provided safe, reliable transportation for students attending Rochester City Schools. Since 1995, the FTA has repeatedly approved this service in Rochester, which is similarly provided by federally-funded transportation systems all across the country. This sudden reversal of their long-standing approval is puzzling and disconcerting, particularly coming just one month before the start of school.”