With Congress passing and President Barack Obama signing the new FAST Act surface transportation bill, the motorcoach industry is claiming significant wins.
Both the United Motorcoach Association and the American Bus Association thanked its members as well as staff who work on governmental affairs and legislation.
Major highlights of the new FAST Act include:
- The passage of the FAST Act ends the immediate threat of raising Minimum Financial Responsibility Limits anytime soon and provides directives requiring the Department of Transportation conduct a comprehensive analysis of current limits.
- The current charter service rule and protections for the private bus and motorcoach industry remain intact.
- The creation of a National Advisory Committee on Travel and Tourism Infrastructure to assist the Department of Transportation with facilitating travel and tourism mobility.
- The FMCSA Comprehensive, Safety, Accountability program was recognized as flawed, and will be reviewed to identify and provide for implementation of improvements.
- The U.S. Department of Transportation will first need to conduct a study, specific to the passenger carrier industry, before FMCSA can proceed with a rule to increase insurance minimums.
- Partial Fuel Tax Exemption - Despite a number of threats and budget considerations, Congress will continue the partial fuel-tax exemption afforded over-the-road buses.
- Changes were made to FMCSA’s rulemaking process and guidance issuance to ensure proper consideration and input by interested parties.
- The bill provides that except in the case of an imminent or obvious safety hazard, an inspection of a vehicle transporting passengers be conducted at a bus station, terminal, border crossing, maintenance facility, destination or other location where a motor carrier may make a planned stop (excluding a weigh station).
- The bill directs DOT to submit a state-by-state analysis and status of CDL skills testing, including average wait times, number of examiners, number of test sites, and submit to Congress within 18 months.
- The bill directs FMCSA to conduct a study on safety effects of motor carrier driver commutes exceeding 150 minutes.