Windstar’s Jeff Greteman testifies before House Subcommittee

Washington – UMA Member Jeff Greteman, President and CEO of Windstar Lines in Carroll, Iowa, testified before the House Subcommittee of Highways and Transits last week, speaking on the importance of private bus operations in meeting the public transportation needs of rural communities. 

Addressing the panel chaired by Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Ark., and Ranking Member Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., Greteman also spoke about the bus driver shortage and difficulty in meeting staffing needs. He told the committee of the difficulties in attracting drivers in the Midwest due to the lack of Commercial Driver License (CDL) testing facilities and training facilities for bus operators.

Additionally, he noted that federal CDL requirements require lengthy waits between testing and obtaining a license, creating a disincentive to pursuing a CDL.

Funding for 5311(f)

Greteman also testified that the popular subsidy program 5311(f) is underfunded. “The funding formula for use of 5311(f) funds is insufficient for subsidizing rural route operations,” he said. “Increased requirements, like the Buy America requirement, and supply chain issues have increased costs for equipment significantly.

Windstar Lines
Jeff Greteman testifies before the House Subcommittee of Highways and Transits.

“Currently, there is only one manufacturer who can supply compliant equipment, and costs for equipment have increased by over 30%. These cost increases, in turn, cut into funds otherwise relied on to cover operating loss costs.”

In another matter of interest to bus and motorcoach companies, Greteman noted that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is considering waiver requests to set aside its preemption determination of state ordinances that differ from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations regarding drivers’ hours of service. 

“The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations work, and they work because operators can cross state lines without the risk of running afoul of differing individual state rules and regulations,” observed Greteman. 

In closing comments, Greteman pointed out: “If rural bus operators are to survive, there needs to be greater recognition of the critical role we play in the national transportation network and the very real challenges we are facing.”

See the full testimony here.

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