Friday, March 22, 2019

Washington, D.C. — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced its intent to start a new rulemaking to revise its Lease and Interchange of Vehicles: Motor Carriers of Passengers rule issued in May 2015.

ABA President and CEO Peter Pantuso UMA President and CEO Vic Parra This is a major victory for the passenger motorcoach industry, as it confirms FMCSA’s recognition that the final rule was overly burdensome and had an unnecessary negative impact on the motorcoach, tour and travel industry, and would not advance safety. The American Bus Association (ABA) and United Motorcoach Association (UMA) have both petitioned and led lobbying efforts to encourage the FMCSA to reconsider the ruling, with both associations prioritizing its reexamination during their respective flyover days in Washington, D.C.

FMCSA published a final rule on May 27, 2015, on the lease and interchange of passenger vehicles, with the goal of stopping chameleon carriers from continuing to operate. This left the motorcoach industry with an unduly burdensome rule that took longstanding business practices of the both the charter and scheduled service motorcoach operators and turned them on their head. Further, it did not address FMCSA’s objective of stopping “bad actors.” In fact, by definition these offenders would be excluded from the rule, leading to further “masking” opportunities for bad carriers, as well as driving compliant operators to consider converting their business models to brokerage services (an industry FMCSA has no jurisdiction to regulate).

Faced with mounting pressure, the FMCSA postponed the original compliance date of the rule last March; however, this was not enough, and the bus and motorcoach industries continued their efforts to ensure that the Lease and Interchange ruling would not be enforced. FMCSA’s announcement that it will revise the mandate is the action that the industry had sought to stop the final rule. The administration can now address the concerns of the motorcoach, tour, and travel industries raised through their petitions, paving the way for key changes to be made to the rule.

In brief, the FMCSA’s announcement ensures:

—The agency is taking action in response to the numerous petitions it received;
—It determined amendments to the rule are in order;
—That to advance the new rulemaking effort, the agency will hold a public roundtable discussion; and
—The agency will be considering four specific changes to the rule:

1. excluding “chartering” or “subcontracting” from the leasing definition;
2. changing CMV marking requirements to locate temporary markings;
3. changing the requirement that carriers notify customers within 24 hours to when they subcontract; and
4. expanding the 48-hour delay for preparing a lease to include emergencies when passengers are not aboard a bus.

FMCSA clearly listened to the concerns of industry and is taking action. Now it is our turn to step up and work with the agency to ensure these areas of concern are properly addressed in the new rulemaking effort.

Visit fmcsa.dot.gov for more information about FMCSA, buses.org for more information about ABA, and uma.org for more information about UMA.

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