Legislation was introduced in the Senate that proposes and funds a system for using private intercity buses as a core building block for a more accessible transportation system.
Called "essential bus service," the proposal is modeled after the nation's decades-old essential air service program, which ensures the continued inclusion of rural communities in transportation networks.
The legislation, introduced by Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), proposes $30 million in annual funding. It also frames the motorcoach industry as a key player and a more efficient, national feeder system for connecting millions of rural passengers to airports, rail systems and other intermediate points.
Formally called the Maximum Economic Growth for America Through Rural, Elderly and Disabled Transit Investment Act, the proposal supports the following activites:
Planning and marketing for private intercity bus transportation.
Capital grants for private intercity bus shelters, park-and-ride facilities and joint-use facilities.
Operating grants for direct assistance, the purchase of service agreements, user-side subsidies and demonstration projects.
Enhancement of connections between bus service, commercial air passenger service and intercity passenger rail service.
The essential bus service concept is being proposed as part of the reauthorization of TEA 21.