House Passes Transportation Bill – One Step Closer to Becoming Law
Several Key Items Supported by ABA are Included in Legislation passed by the House Today
For Immediate Release November 5, 2015
The U.S. House of Representatives today passed by a vote of 363 Yes and 64 No, a six-year, $325 billion dollar surface transportation bill. ABA believes the House bill well positions the industry for the anticipated negotiations with the Senate, to produce a final bill for passage later this month, as a number of ABA priorities were included in the bill.
Key items ABA fought for inclusion in the House bill include:
- Before a motorcoach leaves a company’s facility at the beginning of the day, it should be in good working order and enroute inspections, while passengers are onboard, should only be conducted by law enforcement officials if they see an obvious mechanical defect. The House bill clarifies current law explicitly stating weigh stations are not permissible inspection points.
- For several years, motorcoach operators have expressed concerns about the accuracy of the data used to calculate their company’s CSA scores. The Department of Transportation’s own Inspector General Report found flaws with the CSA scoring system. ABA, along with a coalition of other transportation groups, pushed to have the CSA scoring system overhauled and the scores removed from FMCSA’s website until the DOT provides a comprehensive report outlining ways to improve the scores. The House bill directs DOT to evaluate the program for its use of data both in terms of accuracy and effectiveness and to remove the CSA scores until this is completed.
- The motorcoach industry provides more than 600 million passenger trips a year with little or no government subsidies. However, the industry has often been excluded from regional, state and local transportation plans. The House bill requires private-sector intercity bus transportation to be fully integrated into the transportation planning and facility development process to the same extent as intercity rail, and public transit is now part of the discussion.
- An amendment that’s important to the travel and tourism industry also was approved. It establishes a National Advisory Committee on Travel and Tourism Infrastructure. ABA and other travel groups, such as the U.S. Travel Association supported this amendment. It creates a direct channel to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) for the travel and tourism industry, demonstrating the important roles these industries should play in transportation infrastructure planning and decisions.
- ABA is also pleased the House bill includes a requirement that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration conduct a comprehensive study of the motorcoach industries’ insurance and accident claims histories before FMCSA can consider raising minimum insurance rates.
“As a longtime motorcoach owner/operator with 19 buses, this bill will help our industry grow,” said Tom Giddens, the President of the California Bus Association and President of Pacific Coachways in Garden Grove, California. “It gives the industry the necessary tools we need to do our jobs, which is providing safe, reliable service, whether you’re a small, medium or large operator. ABA’s Government Affairs and Policy team worked very hard to educate Members of Congress about our industry and what we do, and the result is a good bill.”
“ABA thanks the hard work of House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster and ranking member Peter DeFazio. They and other members of the committee have worked countless hours, listening and working with ABA’s Government Affairs and Policy team,” said ABA President/CEO Peter J. Pantuso. “However, there is work still to be done. The measure must now be negotiated with the Senate to produce a final bill, and Congress is facing a November 20th deadline to complete this work and keep the federal programs operating. Today’s vote in the House is a huge victory, bringing us another step closer to the finish line.”
As the legislative process continues to move forward, please keep an eye out for legislative action alerts from ABA and monitor buses.org. Your voices are our most powerful tool in protecting the changes we have achieved and the opportunities we have created.