Congressman Bill Shuster (R-PA), along with Reps. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) and Tim Holden (D-PA) introduced the "Bus Uniform Standards and Enhanced Safety (BUSES) Act of 2011" to increase safety and strengthen the U.S. Department of Transportation's (U.S. DOT) oversight and ability to set uniform safety standards on new and existing buses and motorcoaches.
"One of the first things my legislation does is require the U.S. DOT to root out bad actors and unsafe and illegal motorcoach operators," Shuster said. "Ophadell Williams, the driver in the Bronx bus crash, should have never been on the road. He fraudulently obtained his driver's license and had multiple felony convictions. We now know of at least two other bus drivers who have been arrested for license fraud in New York alone. My legislation would focus on taking these bad actors off the road, making sure the person behind the wheel of a bus is professional, well-trained and legally able to drive."
To ensure only the best, most well-trained and able drivers should be allowed to transport passengers. The BUSES Act of 2011:
- Establishes minimum training requirements for drivers seeking a commercial driver's license (CDL) with a passenger endorsement.
- Encourages U.S. DOT to review States' current requirements for earning a CDL with a passenger endorsement.
- Improves oversight of the heath of CDL drivers and CDL medical certificates.
- Seeks to root out bad actors by requiring U.S. DOT to register only those operators willing and able to comply with all federal regulations, eliminating so-called "reincarnated" carriers that have gone out of business and begun operations again to avoid enforcement.
"My legislation also recognizes that the best safety improvements come from sound science and empirical study, not from bureaucratic government mandate," Shuster added.
The BUSES Act improves safety standards for motorcoaches based on sounds scientific research, testing, and analysis as a key element of reform. The BUSES Act of 2011:
- Requires U.S. DOT to complete research and testing on key safety issues, including occupant protection; collisions; roof strength; window glazing; fire prevention, detection, and migration; and emergency evacuation, and to promulgate new motorcoach safety rules based on this research and testing.
- Ensures U.S. DOT's research and testing is done within time frames that will allow it to view any changes in one safety area in conjunction with changes in other safety areas to prevent compromising safety in any area.
Finally, the BUSES Act takes into consideration that America's motorcoach industry is largely a small business, family owned industry. To improve safety and keep this critical industry operating in a weak economy, the BUSES Act of 2011:
- Authorizes tax credits and loans to help defray the costs of safety improvements.
- Provides grants to the smallest operators who show a demonstrated need for aid.