How HR 2120 would roll back onerous bus regulations

The following information provides more detail about how HR 2120 would affect Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Federal Transit Administration rules and regulations:

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

Amend mission statement

The bill would ammend the FMCSA mission to include not only a priority on safety but on fostering an environment for a thriving passenger carrier industry. This is consistent with the FAA mission statement.

The agency’s mission would 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.”


New entrants

The bill would require the Secretary of Transportation to implement an improved and speedier process for new entrant motor carriers of passengers to apply for operating authority.

An application for motor carriers of passengers’ interstate operating authority shall be approved no later than 14 days after submission, unless a specific valid reason is provided in writing. Upon receipt from new entrant applicant, or by other means, of information that satisfies reason(s) for delay, the secretary shall approve and grant interstate operating authority without delay, and not later than five days after receipt of the submission.

Upon receipt of a new entrant application for passenger carrier authority or upon request, the secretary shall issue written guidance that sufficiently instructs all new entrants in compliance with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations and ensure that each new entrant receives the guidance.

Compliance with guidance shall serve as the criteria for conducting a safety audit of an approved new entrant motor carrier of passengers. The secretary may not increase new entrant registration fees in excess of $350.


Safety Fitness Determination

The secretary may not propose a rulemaking related to Carrier Safety Fitness Determination until all CSA reforms, as mandated by the FAST Act, are completed.

Current Carrier Safety Fitness Determinations may not be used for motor carriers of passengers to instruct a cessation of operations or revocation. Motor carriers of passengers may only be determined “unfit” to operate upon completion of a Compliance Review or Comprehensive Safety Investigation and consideration(s) of corrective action plan(s), if submitted.

The secretary shall continue to assign “satisfactory” and “conditional” ratings as appropriate. All assigned ratings shall be inclusive of the date said rating was assigned.


CSA/SMS scores

The FAST Act mandated comprehensive reform of the CSA/SMS methodology and system for rating carriers. FAST Act directed that during the review, property carrier scores be removed from public view. However, motorcoach operator scores, by statute, and private school bus carrier scores, by interpretation, were left up for public view.

CSA/SMS scores are based on faulty and inconsistent data and methodologies. Until all CSA reforms are completed, all scores should be removed from public view within one day of enactment.

The enforcement community would continue to have access to all data and information.


Rules exemptions and rescissions

  • Obstructive sleep apnea: Finding the condition adequately addressed under the current medical standards for commercial motor vehicle drivers, the secretary shall exempt motor carriers of passengers from any regulatory requirements flowing from the proposed rulemaking regarding obstructive sleep apnea.
  • Financial responsibility: After studies mandated under the FAST Act are completed and submitted to Congress, the secretary shall not promulgate rulemaking that increases motor carriers of passengers’ minimum financial responsibility limits without consent from Congress. This provision clarifies that any increase in minimum insurance limits would have to be accomplished legislatively and not by regulation. The secretary shall exempt motor carriers of passengers from any regulatory requirements flowing from the proposed rulemaking relating to “Financial Responsibility for Motor Carriers, Freight Forwarders and Brokers.”
  • Speed limiters: Finding that Congress favors collecting and disseminating statistical information to the industry in lieu of imposing requirements relating to installation of speed limiting devices, the secretary shall exempt motor carriers of passengers from any regulatory requirements flowing from the NHTSA and FMCSA proposed rulemaking relating to “speed limiting devices.”
  • Lease and interchange of vehicles: The secretary shall rescind the Lease and Interchange of Vehicles rule for motor carriers of passengers. If determined to be necessary, the secretary shall promulgate rulemaking specifically for motor carriers of passengers who voluntarily choose to enter lease agreements with one or more motor carriers of passengers.
  • Beyond compliance: The secretary shall exempt private passenger carriers from any regulatory action on its “Beyond Compliance” proposal.


Corrective action plans

Upon receipt of a motor carrier corrective action plan regarding a motor carrier of passengers determined to be “unsatisfactory, “conditional” or “unfit,” the secretary shall accept or deny a submitted corrective action within 30 days.

If the corrective action plan submitted is determined to be not sufficient, the secretary shall advise the motor carrier specifically of the deficiencies contained in the plan and allow up to 14 days for the carrier to submit a revised plan. When the plan is submitted, the secretary shall accept or deny the corrective action plan within 30 days.

A passenger motor carrier’s authorization to conduct operations may not be suspended or revoked during this period unless it has been determined to be an “imminent hazard” to public safety.

Satisfactory corrective action taken during a compliance review or safety audit must be considered before a safety fitness determination action is concluded.


Civil penalties

The secretary shall be required to additionally consider the scope of severity and willfulness, ability to pay and size of fleet when imposing a civil penalty. Motor carriers of passengers appealing fines shall not waive any rights to installment plans while contesting a violation or an appeal is under consideration.


Modernization of regulations

The secretary shall assemble a negotiated rulemaking advisory committee for purposes of developing a comprehensive regulatory proposal aimed at reducing, simplifying, streamlining and modernizing the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations applicable to motor carriers of passengers’ operations.

The negotiated rulemaking advisory committee shall consist of representatives from motor carriers of passengers, motor carriers of passengers trade association representatives, industry safety experts and insurance company representatives.

The negotiated rulemaking committee shall establish a scale for determining the effectiveness of each regulation as it relates to reducing fatalities and bodily injury; identify in original or modified form those regulations that possess the highest propensity for reducing fatalities and bodily injuries; identify statutory provisions that impede elimination of burdensome, ineffective and duplicative federal regulations; consider identifying improved record retention requirements through electronic media; and identify conflicting definitions relating to motor carriers of passengers in statute and regulations.

The negotiated rulemaking committee shall prepare and submit a report to Congress within one year from date of enactment, recommending statutory changes to achieve the goals of this initiative, including identification of statutory provisions that impede the elimination of burdensome, ineffective or duplicative federal regulations and recommendations.

After submission of the report, the secretary shall initiate regulatory actions to implement the recommendations of the committee that do not require statutory revisions.


Rules for trucks and buses

In all rulemakings impacting both commercial motor carriers of passengers and commercial property carriers, the secretary shall provide a separate and distinct analysis, including a cost-benefit analysis, specific to the impact of the proposed rulemaking on motor carriers of passengers.


GAO study

The Government Accountability Office shall conduct a comprehensive study that includes the following:

  • An audit of all regulations finalized by FMCSA and NHTSA affecting motor carriers of passengers in the previous 10 years to determine if projected goals are being realized (i.e. reductions in fatalities, cost, etc.).
  • A study of the negative effects of suspension, revocation and out-of-service orders on motor carriers of passengers, drivers, driver families, communities (including schools, religious organizations, social organizations, etc.) and financial institutions.
  • The identification of the disparate effects of regulations finalized in the last 10 years on small fleet motor carriers of passengers consisting of 10 or fewer vehicles, and of exemptions and implementation strategies that mitigate the disparate effects.

The GAO shall report to the Congress within one year the results of the study.


Pilot program on inspections

The secretary shall 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.

The goal of the program shall be to determine which inspection method results in higher levels of compliance with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations and reductions in crashes and fatalities.

The secretary shall report the results of the pilot program to Congress within two years.


National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

New Vehicle Requirements

The secretary shall not promulgate new regulatory mandates for motorcoaches or school buses that are not based solely on sound data and science that will directly reduce crashes or the effects thereof.

All proposed modifications to design or accessory requirements shall be pursued through the formal regulatory process based on a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis and sound scientific research.


Autonomous vehicle policy

The secretary shall include and consult with the motorcoach and school bus industries through its representatives, including motorcoach and school bus manufacturers, companies operating motorcoaches and school buses, and motorcoach and school bus industry associations, in all phases of development of autonomous vehicle policy and proposed regulations.


Federal Transit Administration

Private-sector exclusion

The secretary shall prepare a convenient reporting method to receive information identifying charter and scheduled-service work and opportunities where the private sector was displaced by federally funded public-transit service.

The secretary shall mandate that recipients of federal funds report this activity as a condition of receiving those funds. The secretary shall also create a reporting method to receive voluntary reports of displacement from private-sector motor carriers of passengers.

The secretary shall prepare and submit a report to Congress annually that lists the specific locations and estimated economic losses to private-sector motor carriers of  passengers when the private sector was displaced.


Public meeting website

The secretary shall develop and place into operation an electronic media website requiring posting of public meetings of all grantees. Compliance with posting requirements shall be a condition of receiving federal funds.


Combine agency reports

The secretary shall integrate the FTA charter registration website with the FMCSA biennial update, thereby requiring a single registration update.


Private-sector engagement

The secretary shall devise a system and require grantees to file an expanded certification of specific private-sector considerations and engagements to meet the statutory requirement to encourage participation of the private sector to the maximum extent feasible as a condition of receiving federal funds.

The certifications shall appear on a public website administered by the secretary. Currently, grantees are only required to check a box that they have considered the private-sector participation.


Education on contracting costs

The secretary shall educate grantees on utilization of “capital cost of contracting” methods of partnering with private-sector motor carriers of passengers through a series of publicly held state and/or regional sessions that include participation by private-sector motor carriers of passengers and grantees.


Recipient incentives

The secretary shall incentivize public-transit agencies to seek participation of the private sector in provision of public-transportation service.

The secretary shall afford incentives for competitively contracted transportation service for public-transit agencies by providing a 90 percent federal share for the capital costs of buses and bus-related facilities and equipment if they competitively contract at least 20 percent of their fixed-route bus service to private-sector motor carriers of passengers.

The secretary shall submit a report to Congress within one year of date of enactment, addressing private-sector participation, impediments and strategies taken to reduce or eliminate impediments. The report to Congress shall include summaries and observations from the various trade associations representing private-sector motor carriers of passengers.

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