WASHINGTON – A sweeping bill designed to roll back burdensome federal regulations on the bus and motorcoach industry hasn’t gotten a formal hearing in Congress, but it still has had a positive impact since it was introduced last spring.
HR 2120, “Buses United for Safety, Regulatory Reform and Enhanced Growth for the 21st Century” (BUSREGS-21), was introduced in the 115th Congress by Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., just in time for the UMA Capitol Hill Days “fly-in” in April. (The 2018 Capitol Hill Days will be held April 10-11.)
Participants spent time during fly-in introducing the bill and discussing the need for its passage with their congressional delegation. UMA members from across the nation also wrote to their congressional representatives in record numbers asking them to support the bill.
Since that time, the UMA legislative and regulatory team has been busy on Capitol Hill making the rounds, meeting with key congressional committee staff and elected representatives.
“We have been more than pleased how well the tenets of the bill have been received,” said Ken Presley, UMA vice president of industry relations and chief operating officer. “There is a real sense today in Congress that the regulatory burdens of the past decade were excessive and that it is time to turn the dial back just a bit. “The rate of new regulations and focus on finite enforcement is stifling entrepreneurship and expansion in the industry.”
Presley said the bill is already having a positive effect, with some of its provisions being enacted separately.
“The pending Safety Fitness Determination, financial responsibility and obstructive sleep apnea rules have been withdrawn for now and the Lease and Interchange of Vehicles rule is slated for major revisions by the end of the year,” he said.
A former business owner himself, Congressman Perry introduced an amendment to another bill that will stop the speed-limiter rule from going forward for passenger carriers, Presley said.
“The bill, HR 3354, the “Make America Secure and Prosperous Appropriations Act,” with the amendment plucked from HR 2120, has passed the House and now awaits Senate passage,” he said.
HR 2120 calls for:
- Amending the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s mission statement to include, “fostering new and expanding passenger service through industry collaboration, encouraging new entrant applicants by expediting operating authorizations, and identifying passenger carrier drivers as a profession.”
- Prohibiting FMCSA from including passenger carriers in any Safety Fitness Determination future proposed rule until all CSA/SMS reforms have been made; restricting its use, and continuing to assign “Satisfactory” or “Conditional” ratings as appropriate.
- Removing commercial motor carriers of passengers’ CSA/SMS scores from public view until all reforms are completed as they are based on faulty and inconsistent data and methodologies.
- Exempting motor carriers of passengers from any regulatory requirements flowing from the proposed rule regarding obstructive sleep apnea.
- Clarifying that only Congress could increase minimum financial responsibility (insurance) limits for passenger carriers.
- Exempting motor carriers of passengers from any regulatory requirements flowing from the NHTSA and FMCSA rulemaking relating to speed-limiting devices.
- Mandating a recession of the Lease and Interchange of Vehicles rule for motor carriers of passengers and an expedited review of corrective action plans submitted by a passenger carrier.
- Expediting the process for reviewing corrective action plans submitted by operators.
- Mandating expedited treatment of new-entrant applications, full disclosure for delays and limiting registration fees to a maximum of $350.
- Directing that motor carriers of passengers appealing fines shall not waive any rights to installment plans.
- Requiring a full review and modernization of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations and directing a separate analysis for passenger carriers in all rulemakings that impact both commercial motor carriers of passengers and commercial property carriers.
- Directing FMCSA to initiate a pilot program to compare the effectiveness of prescheduled garage, terminal or place-of-business vehicle and driver inspections with random destination inspections on motor carriers of passengers.
- Prohibiting new regulatory mandates for motorcoaches or school buses that are not based solely on sound data and science that is directly associated with reducing crashes.
- Requiring that public transit agencies that receive funds from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) disclose displacement of private-sector contract work. They also would have to post schedules for local public-transit meetings, combine FMCSA/FTA biennial reports, create business opportunities by requiring certification of private sector engagement, and educate grantees on utilization of “capital cost of contracting” methods of partnering with private-sector motor carriers of passengers.
“While we may be in a moment of regulatory respite, it is important to remember the environment that brought about HR 2120 to begin with,” Presley said. “The industry watched basic compliance reviews turn into comprehensive safety investigations that often lasted weeks instead of a few days.
“Destination inspections went from simple safety inspections to ‘we have to find something’ witch-hunts, with everything from the tiniest spot of oil from unknown origins to a motorcoach restroom being fair game,” he said. “Most agree that we need to return to managing our companies in a safe and efficient manner without fear of losing our businesses through zealous and often misapplied enforcement.”
Presley encouraged every owner, manager and staff member, including drivers, to go to http://p2a.co/Vxlhj9r, type in their name and address and hit send. A letter will go directly to their House representatives and staff members asking for their support of HR 2120.
Like most successful legislation that passes, HR 2120 was designed to attach to a larger House bill, he said.
“We believe the upcoming infrastructure bill is consistent with our goals and we envision inclusion of HR 2120 in that bill,” Presley said. “This is a unique opportunity for the industry to reclaim rational rules and business opportunities.
“UMA Capitol Hill Days is April 10-11. We have a lot of work to do.”