The new Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has a year to promulgate rulemaking to govern vans with eight to 15 passengers. Observers are split on whether it will cause a shift to buses, since vans’ exemption to federal safety rules (e.g., requiring drivers to have a CDL and being subject to drug/alcohol testing) is why many operators have turned to vans in the first place. Others say it will have no effect, because buses tend to have higher capital cost and have lower fuel economy.
The agency, which opens for business Jan. 1, is under the Department of Transportation, with "modal administration," or sub-cabinet-level status like that of the Federal Aviation Administration, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and others. It succeeds the Office of Motor Carrier Safety, but there are no extra funds to run it.
Motorcoach operators still hope for a special office in the new agency to deal with passenger carrier safety.
For more information visit the DOT Website at www.dot.gov.