The news outlets are abuzz about President Trump, along with Senate and House leadership, agreeing to a $2 trillion infrastructure bill. That’s the easy part. Everyone, including operators of buses and motorcoaches, wants our nation to have the infrastructure we need to build a prosperous future. However, the real question is where is the $2 trillion going to come from in a nation with a $22 trillion national debt? The solution generally rests with some spending cuts in other areas, re-prioritization of projects, and (gulp) fuel tax increases.
Leaders on Capitol Hill have been pretty clear that the fuel tax exemption for motorcoaches could be scaled back or even eliminated to pay for this plan. As the infrastructure bill conversation progresses, the bus and motorcoach industry must watch for: 1) the potential of losing our partial fuel tax exemption; 2) more regulatory mandates; and 3) increased opportunities for private sector bus and motorcoach companies to participate in commuter transportation projects.
It is worth noting that groups ranging from the American Trucking Associations to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are insisting on raising fuel taxes. The former House Transportation and Infrastructure chairman, retired Congressman Bill Shuster has suggested eliminating the partial fuel tax exemption the bus and motorcoach industry enjoys – approximately $50 million annually.
Along with how much to spend and where to find the money, Congress will need to decide if they will include next year’s highway reauthorization bill into a larger infrastructure bill.
Our industry cares about infrastructure because we need adequate roads and highways in a good state of good repair to operate our businesses. Also, these types of bills are wrought with “safety” legislation that generally leads to more regulations.
The United Motorcoach Association government affairs team is monitoring discussions and keeping UMA members apprised. Watch for special alerts and more information in the Bus & Motorcoach News.