January 25, 2010

UMA: Sen. Murray amendment hurts coach operators

The United Motorcoach Association (UMA) spoke out against an amendment Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash) placed in the recent Department of Transportation appropriations bill that exempts King County Metro Transit from the charter rule issued by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA).

The UMA believes Sen. Murray's amendment exempting King County Metro Transit from the charter rule is harmful public policy as it precludes the desires of the community, something the existing Federal rule provides for, and hurts small businesses that results in the devastating loss of much needed jobs.

Under the charter rule, public transit agencies that are supported by taxpayer dollars are not allowed to operate charters if a private carrier is available and capable of performing the work.

"Private bus companies do not receive public assistance and cannot compete with public transits that do. It is just that simple," said Ken Presley, UMA's vice president, industry relations. "While the exemption may mean subsidized shuttle rides for sports fans, what it really represents is a devastating loss of jobs, lost capital investment potential, lost tax revenue for the Seattle community, and the abuse of taxpayers' dollars. All in a day's work for Senator Murray."

Federal taxpayers provide up to 90 percent of capital cost for transit buses and, in exchange for these funds, King County Metro agreed not to use its federally subsidized equipment to compete with private bus companies. The rule protects taxpayers from transit management unilaterally using taxpayer equipment for unauthorized purposes and protects private bus companies and their employees from unfair competition.

"It is difficult to believe Senator Murray has any credibility with the unemployment problem when she has single-handedly demonstrated disregard for the drivers," Presley said. "The City of Seattle and Washington State voters deserve better and should tell Senator Murray to reverse this harmful amendment; let team owners pay their own way and put these bus drivers back to work."

The UMA has also reached out to its more than 900 operator members, urging them to contact Sen. Murray's office directly to tell the Senator to reverse the amendment.

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