July 5, 2011

Charters spared from buying apportioned license plates

Charter bus operators in the U.S. and Canada have been spared from having to purchase apportioned license plates after a proposal requiring the action failed to pass.

The United Motorcoach Association (UMA), along with the National Tour Association (NTA) and Motor Coach Canada (MCC), partnered in a campaign to speak out against the International Registration Plan (IRP) proposal to eliminate the exemption granted to charter bus operators and force most of them to buy apportioned license plates. 

In a pre-ballot survey, 50 of the U.S. states and Canadian provinces that are members of IRP — the organization governing vehicle registration of out-of-jurisdiction buses and trucks — approved the change to the exemption, thus prompting an official vote. The elimination proposal needed the support of 75 percent of IRP members to be approved; however, the vote failed to reach the support benchmark and was not passed. 

Collaborative letters were sent out to voting members from Victor Parra, UMA president/CEO and Lisa Simon, NTA president, urging members to vote against the proposal citing the negative impact to travel and tourism and the higher costs that would have to be endured by motorcoach operators to obtain apportioned license plates. 

A second letter was also sent by Parra outlining safety statistics of the motorcoach industry and asking members to put their confidence in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's CSA program to monitor and enforce motorcoach safety and vote "no" to IRP's proposal.

"Based on the pre-ballot survey, this proposal was expected to pass easily, but for the past month, we've lobbied hard on this issue with our partners from the MCC and NTA," said Parra. "IRP was hoping to get states searching for new sources of revenue to support the elimination of the exemption without thinking about the overall consequences of their decision."

The partners reacted quickly and sent communications to state/provincial directors of tourism, governors and directly to the voting IRP members, according to Parra. "Both NTA and MCC helped greatly in this effort. Thankfully we were able to turn this around and the result was enough "no" votes to kill the proposal," he said.

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