CA San Francisco Airport Inspections

California San Francisco Airport Inspections

Act Now!!! Support ABA/UMA/CBA Efforts to Pre-Empt the Airport Safety Inspection Requirement for Operators Working at SFO.

ABA Petition and Request for Comments

ABA and the UMA jointly filed a petition asking FMCSA to preempt San Francisco International Airport’s (SFO) inspection requirement, as part of the application process to access the airport.  The petition request was published for comment on May 9, and ABA urges motorcoach operators nationwide to file comments in support.  Although this petition is specific to SFO, we are trying to stop similar schemes across the country. Comments are due June 10.

Click here to file comments


San Francisco Airport implemented decal and inspection requirements over the past few years. ABA had tried to negotiate with the general counsel for the aiport for the past several years to little success. ABA believes that these unnecessary requirements are subject to administrative preemption by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) under 49 USC § 31141.

"If the Secretary decides a State law or regulation is additional to or more stringent than a regulation prescribed by the Secretary" under Section 31136, that "State law or regulation" may not be enforced if the Secretary determines that "the State law or regulation has no safety benefit"; "the State law or regulation is incompatible with the regulation prescribed by the Secretary"; or "enforcement of the State law or regulation would cause an unreasonable burden on interstate commerce." 49 U.S.C. § 31141(c)(4).  To review a State law or regulation on commercial motor vehicle safety under this section, the Secretary may initiate a regulatory proceeding on the Secretary's own initiative or on petition of an interested person (including a State).  49 U.S.C. 31141(g); see 49 C.F.R. § 389.31.

For purposes of Section 31141, the term "State" is defined to include "a political subdivision of a State."  The terms "State law" and "State regulation" are likewise defined to include a law or regulation enacted or prescribed "by a political subdivision of a State."  As the San Francisco International Airport is a department of the City and County of San Francisco, it is a political subdivision of the State of California and therefore subject to the § 31141 restrictions. The SFO inspection requirements are in addition to the FMCSA daily and periodic vehicle inspection requirements in 49 C.F.R. Part 396.  Thus, we believe the SFO requirements would be preempted because they have no safety benefit, as no standards are published for carriers to follow, and they impose an unreasonable burden on interstate commerce.

In considering whether a regulation imposes an unreasonable burden, the statute allows the FMCSA to consider the effect on interstate commerce of implementation of that law or regulation with the implementation of all similar laws and regulations of other States.  49 U.S.C. § 31141(c)(5).  If every major airport in the country imposed its own set of ground transportation vehicle inspection requirements, with varying standards and fees, bus operators would be forced to comply with a patchwork of non-uniform mandates just to pick up and drop off passengers at the airports.