Tolling Parity for Motorcoaches | American Bus Association

Tolling Parity for Motorcoaches


ABA Tolling Refund Options Memo

Draft Letter Requesting Toll Refunds

The traveling public expects continued investment in the transportation infrastructure in order to maintain and expand our mobility. Highway Trust Fund (HTF) revenues composed largely by fuel taxes but with greater engine efficiency and a move towards alternative fuels comes fewer tax receipts. Highway officials warn that in the future the country cannot depend on fossil-based fuel taxes to fund its surface transportation system.

Tolling has been proposed as one approach to address the HTF funding shortfall; as it not only creates revenue and can potentially help to manage congestion.  31 out of 50 states currently have or are planning tolling projects.  However, tolls also raise the possibility of creating inequities among transportation users and providers.

Tolls should not favor already heavily subsidized public mass transportation over privately operated mass transportation. Today, many public transit buses are exempt from tolls.  Like motorcoaches, transit buses take cars off the road, improving air quality, minimizing pavement wear and, help to mitigate congestion.  However, privately operated motorcoaches are largely not exempt from tolls.

On April 28, 2017, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) published a notice asking for comments on its guidance related to the implementation of the tolling provisions of the FAST Act, providing equitable treatment of over-the-road buses when compared to transit vehicles. In a notice that was published February 22, 2018 in the Federal Register, FHWA said that changes to federal requirements related to high-occupancy vehicle facilities and the tolling of highways that were included in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act passed by Congress in 2015 must be enforced by tolling agencies that receive federal aid for construction or operation of their facilities immediately. All tolling facilities within the covered programs outlined by the FAST Act must charge public transits and privately operated over-the-road buses the same amounts. If transits are exempt from tolls, then private motorcoach providers must also be exempt from the same tolls.

Click here for the final Tolling Guidance

Covered Facilities Subject to OTRB Equal Access:

Section 166 HOV facilities: The Section 166 HOV/HOT program allows toll-paying vehicles not meeting the minimum occupancy standards to use high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes. Under 23 U.S.C. 166, there are no exclusions or exceptions under this definition based on Federal-aid participation in the construction or operation of the HOV facility. Therefore, FHWA believes amendments made by Section 1411 of the FAST Act are applicable to all Section 166 HOV facilities, regardless of Federal-aid participation in the project.

Click here for a partial list of Sec. 166 Facilities

Section 129 Facilities: The Section 129 General Tolling Program allows tolling on new highways and new lanes added to existing highways, and on the reconstruction or replacement of bridges, tunnels and existing toll facilities. Section 1411 of the FAST Act is applicable to Federal-aid toll facilities where construction of the facility occurred under 23 U.S.C. Section 129 authority. This would include a facility that either uses Federal-aid funds on an existing toll facility in accordance with 23 U.S.C Section 129, or imposes tolls on a facility constructed with Federal-aid funds pursuant to section 129(a).

Click here for a list of Sec. 129 Facilities

Frequently Asked Questions from FHWA:

What did the law change?

The law gives over-the-road buses (OTRBs) (e.g., Greyhound) equal status with public transportation vehicles in terms of access to toll and HOV facilities.

When did the change take effect?

These requirements went into effect the day the FAST Act became law: December 4, 2015.

If it became law in December, 2015 why did it take till now to publish guidance?

There were some language and definitional issues in the law that needed clarification before FHWA could publish final guidance. Working though that clarification involved a Federal Register Notice to gain public comment (Docket No. FHWA-2017-0006.)

What does the guidance in the Federal Register do?

The guidance provides:

(1) definitions applicable to implementing the statute, and

(2) the inventory of facilities covered under section 129.

What should organizations that own/operate toll facilities or HOV lanes do?

They should read the law and the guidance and determine how they intend to comply with the law.

What should OTRB entities or public transportation organizations do?

They should read the law and guidance. If either of these entities believe equal access was not provided by a covered facility at any time after December 4, 2015, that entity should contact the owner/operator of the facility to request a refund.

Who will enforce this guidance? What can a FHWA Division Office do?

A Division Office’s role is to answer what questions they can and direct further inquiries to the program office. The FHWA will maintain the database of affected facilities, but will not be monitoring how the toll or HOV facilities comply with the law. The FHWA does not own, operate, or control the toll or HOV facilities subject to these new requirements.

Click here for a list of Division Offices

If you have any additional questions, please contact Cindy Essenmacher at

You can also contact ABA’s Government Affairs staff with any questions regarding specific facilities or the provision of law:

Suzanne Rohde
(202) 218-7224

Brandon Buchanan
(202) 218-7227

The American Bus Association serves a thriving industry that provides nearly 600 million passenger trips annually on charters, tours, scheduled service, and shuttles. Membership in ABA includes motorcoach operators, tour operators, tourism-related organizations, and products and service suppliers.

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