MAP-21 Impacts Motorcoach Safety, Planning Role

Posted on September 24, 2012 by Alex Roman, Managing Editor

Page 3 of 3

Public-private partnerships
MAP-21 does not change the Charter Service rule or school bus protections. What it does do is require public and private entities to work together to solve transportation issues around the nation in numerous ways.

The bill directs the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to provide technical assistance to public transit, upon their request, on practices and methods to best utilize private providers of public transportation and educate public transit on laws and regulations that impact private providers of public transportation.

“From our vantage point, it opens up some great opportunities for us to work closely with the public sector to address some of these transportation challenges around the country,” says Parra. “It really gets the private sector much more engaged.”

After one year of enhancement, the Government Accountability Office is directed to prepare a comprehensive report on the effect of contracting out public transportation operations and administrative functions on cost, availability and level of service; efficiency and quality of service; and other considerations.

The bill also dictates that public transits cannot deny reasonable access for a private intercity or charter transportation operator to federally funded public transportation facilities, including intermodal facilities, park-and-ride lots, and bus-only highway lanes. Transits may consider capacity requirements and the extent to which access would be detrimental to existing public transportation services, however.

“For the first time, the motorcoach industry has a seat at the table in regard to transportation planning, which is one of the things we’ve pushed for,” says ABA’s Hart. “Basically, when transportation facilities, depots and passenger facilities were being discussed or built, the motorcoach industry was never part of the mix. At best we’d get called after the facility was built. MAP-21 changes that.”

Both the folks at UMA and ABA believe these changes to the transit title of MAP-21 will have huge implications on the industry, with the ball now being in operators’ court to take action.

“We are telling [our members] that they, as business owners, have to be more aware of what’s going on in transportation, both at the federal level and the state and local level,” says Hart. “If you are now given a seat at the table in the building of transportation facilities, you have to take advantage of that opportunity.”

Parra adds that beginning to build those relationships now will pay huge dividends in the future.

“It would be much better if everyone agreed this is the way to go and started working together, as opposed to having it forced down the throats of those in the transit [industry],” he says. “[The motorcoach industry] has to begin building that relationship now with the transits, so that when the rulemaking is completed, [working together] will just be an extension of an existing relationship.”

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