April 09, 2012 | Issue #120

Congress Passes Three-Month Highway Bill Extension

Congress passed a three-month extension of the highway bill on March 29th – a mere 48 hours before the current law was set to expire.

The extension, which President Obama signed into law on March 31st, will keep highway aid dollars flowing to the states for another 90 days, and prevent the furlough of roughly 3,500 federaal government employees.

What's Next?

Now Congress has until the end of June to either pass a long-term highway bill, the last long-term highway bill first expired in 2009 and has been extended nine times since then, or pass another stop-gap measure.

Republicans and Democrats agree that passing long-term legislation would be preferable to another extension, but they disagree on what that final bill should look like.

The Senate, House Democrats and the White House have all come out in support of a S. 1813, which passed the Senate in March, that would fund highway projects for two years at current spending levels.

"The Senate bill isn't perfect, but it is vastly superior to their House alternative," said senior House Democrat Peter DeFazio (OR). "House leaders must stop with the pointless short term political posturing, pass the bipartisan Senate transportation bill, put millions of Americans back to work, rebuild the crumbling infrastructure in this country, and improve our nation's economic competitiveness."

Unlike the Senate, the House has yet to pass a long-term highway bill. But House Speaker John Boehner and other Republican leaders in the House support a five or six year plan that would fund highway projects at much lower levels than the Senate bill. They would also fund their bill using tax revenue from expanded oil drilling, which is anathema to many Democrats.

If the House is able to pass their version of a long-term highway bill it will go to a "conference committee" negotiators from the Senate and the House will try to resolve the differences between their two bills so that one piece of legislation can be sent to the President for his signature. 

DC Adds New 80-Bus Lot To Motorcoach Parking Inventory

Since the release of its Motorcoach Action Plan in the Fall of 2011, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) has been working diligently to increase the amount of available motorcoach parking in Washington, DC. In conjunction with the opening of the busy tour season and the 100th celebration of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, DDOT is pleased to announce that an agreement has been reached to make an off-street motorcoach parking lot available on a first-come, first-served basis at Buzzard's Point with a total capacity for parking 80 motorcoaches. The Buzzard's Point parking lot is located at 1880 2nd St., SW and is approximately 1.9 miles or 8 minutes south of the attractions on the National Mall and is 5 blocks from the Washington Nationals Stadium, near S. Capitol Street.

Parking is available Monday through Friday between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. at a cost of $20 for up to 3 hours or $50 to park all day. There are no in and out privileges. You can contact the lot operator and Parking Manager Nelson Castro, with MarcParc, at (202) 464-2900 or via email ncastro@marcparc.com with any questions. For more information on other identified motorcoach parking locations in DC, please visit http://www.buses.org/Government-Affairs/Operator-Trip-Planning or http://godcgo.com/home/get-my-group-there/motorcoach-operators.aspx 

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FMCSA Announces Proposed Changes To Safety Evaluation And Scoring

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced in the Federal Register last month that it plans to improve to Carrier Safety Measurement System (SMS.) which is the keystone of the Agency’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) initiative.

 

The changes are intended to more effectively identify and prioritize high-risk and other unsafe motor carriers for enforcement interventions.

 

Starting on March 27, the FMCSA is providing motor carriers the opportunity to preview how the improvements impact their individual SMS safety scores. The proposed improvements include: (1) Changes to the SMS methodology that identify higher risk carriers while addressing industry biases; (2) better applications of SMS results for Agency interventions by more accurately identifying safety sensitive carriers, such as passenger carriers and carriers of hazardous materials, so those companies can be selected for CSA interventions at more stringent levels; and, (3) more specific fact-based displays of SMS results on the SMS Web site.

 

In the notice the Agency discusses its on-going research and evaluation of crash data evaluation in SMS scoring. This is a matter that is currently of great concern to motor carriers. The Agency is looking at various options to identify carriers that pose the greatest risk of future crashes. Research efforts are focusing on how to determine crash preventability and accountability, and how crashes should be weighted in SMS. It’s expected that increased weight values will identify carriers that are causing crashes, and prioritize them for rapid intervention. FMCSA has identified several areas where additional data and further study are needed before it can move forward with a proposal. These areas include evaluating the uniformity and consistency of police accident reports; determining a process for assessing crashes in a uniform and consistent manner; creating a process for accepting public input into the process; and determining the actual effect on SMS's ability to identify carriers that have a high risk of crashes.

 

Comments must be received on or before May 29, 2012.For further information contact Mr. Bryan Price at the FMCSA at 412-395-4816 or by e-mail at bryan.price@dot.gov, or Norm Littler at ABA at 202-218-7246 or by e-mail at nlittler@buses.org.

 

Marketplace 2013 Registration Now Open

Delegates from across the United States and Canada have already begun to register for ABA’s 2013 Marketplace, which will be held in Charlotte, North Carolina on January 5th -9th, 2013. 

Registration officially opened on April 3rd, and ABA is encouraging anyone interested in attending the 2013 show to register soon in order to take advantage of the discounted early-bird rate. (Payment for early bird registrants is not due until mid-August.)  Delegates to Marketplace 2012 in Grapevine, Texas will also receive an additional discount on their 2013 registration.

Click here to register today!

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FMCSA Issues Warning On Fradulent USDOT Letters

Someone is sending out fraudulent letters on U.S. Department of Transportation letter head seeking to obtain sensitive financial information from motor carriers according to an alert released by the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA) last month.

According to FMCSA, the letters appear to come from "U.S. Department of Transportation Procurement Office" and are signed by a fictitious name of "Julie Weynel – Senior Procurement Officer." FMCSA advises all carriers not to respond to the letter. If you have already responded to the letter, please notify your financial institution and the US DOT Office of Inspector General at (800) 424-9071.

Click here to view a copy of the fraudulent letter.

Click here for more information from U.S. DOT Office of Inspector General

Maine’s Gov. Signs Bill To Promote Job Creation In Motor Coach Industry

Governor Paul LePage (R) signed LD 1735 "An Act to Promote Jobs in the Motor Coach Industry by Providing a Sales Tax Exemption for Certain Buses," last month. Governor LePage was joined by Senate President Kevin Raye, Legislators and members of Maine's motor coach industry.

LD 1735 will make it easier for Maine operators to qualify for sales and use tax exemptions when purchasing new motorcoaches.

"This bill is another step toward reducing red tape in Maine, giving our job creators the flexibility they need to expand," said Governor LePage. "Maine businesses want a stable, and predictable regulatory environment, and clarifying a tax exemption will help Maine's motor coach industry leaders create jobs. I thank Senator Raye for his continued efforts in making Maine business friendly," continued the Governor.

Currently under Maine law, in order to qualify for the sales and use tax exemption for a vehicle used in interstate commerce, the owner of a new bus has to prove the bus is used in interstate commerce more than 80% of the time in the two years following its purchase.

The new law will allow new buses of at least 47 passengers to qualify for the exemption, provided that other requirements of the statute are met, and then can be used to improve the experience for visitors in Maine.

"As a result of my bill, Maine businesses operating motor coaches will now be able to better determine how to use their equipment without fear of paying penalties to the state," said Senator Raye, who sponsored the bill. "This also will help protect Maine jobs as it removes any incentives for visiting cruise lines to hire outside companies to provide the service offered by Maine companies. I am pleased that the Legislature was able to unanimously approve this important clarification, and that Governor LePage has signed it into law," continued Raye.

The Governor was joined by industry leaders, including Scott Riccio, President and Owner of Northeast Tour & Charter Bus Co. in Auburn, Maine.

"Today, we start a new chapter that benefits these companies and the passengers who hire our equipment right here at home. We can start using our newly purchased motor coaches for cruise ship visits, senior citizen tours, and convention visitors," said Scott Riccio. "We would like to thank the Maine Legislature for their unanimous vote, Senator Raye for his staunch support, and Governor LePage for his signature of LD 1735," continued Riccio. 

ABA Partners With Sage Processing Solutions To Benefit Members

ABA has partnered with Sage Payment Solutions to offer its members a suite of easy and affordable electronic payment processing products.

Sage Payment Solutions has been providing businesses and organizations with electronic payment systems for more than 20 years. The company allows more than 165,000 merchants to accept multiple forms of payment, including credit and debit cards, electronic checks, Check21, gift and loyalty cards, and automatic recurring payment.

Sage Payment Solutions provides a wide range of secure standalone and integrated payment processing solutions, including Sage Exchange, Sage Virtual Terminal, Sage Mobile Payments, and Sage Patient Payments. Based in McLean, Va., Sage Payment Solutions is a division of Sage North America which is a part of The Sage Group plc, a leading global supplier of business management software and related products and services, principally for small to medium-sized businesses.

For more information, please visit http://www.sagepayments.com/Partners/Association-Partner-Program/ABA or call 866-646-3360 

2012 ASCAP and BMI Deadline Is April 15!

ABA operators until April 15th to purchase discounted music licenses through ASCAP and BMI.

ABA negotiated a discount for association members with the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) and with Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI) in 2002. ASCAP and BMI protect 98 percent of the music industry from copyright fraud or infringement.

Every business is required to obtain ASCAP and BMI licenses in order to play music as part of a performance, for customer entertainment, or as part of the music rights on movies. Bowling alleys, restaurants, department stores, hotels, and even funeral parlors have ASCAP and BMI licenses.

The rates are $25.67 per coach per year for ASCAP and $25.55 per coach per year for BMI for current ABA members. The regular rate for ASCAP and BMI licenses is $60 per coach per year. While we know this is an added cost to your company, we also know that these are the lowest possible fees available. If you choose not to play music or videos on your coaches, you do not need ASCAP or BMI licenses. For those who are currently part of the agreement or who wish to participate, please remit payment by April 15, 2012 accompanied by BOTH the ASCAP and BMI forms.

If you have any questions, please call ASCAP (800) 505-4052 or BMI (800) 925-8451 directly or call ABA's offices toll free at (800) 283-2877.

Click here to access the 2012 ASCAP and BMI Benefit Information and forms. 

GroupTravelConnect Celebrates One Year Anniversary

GroupTravelConnect celebrates its one year anniversary this month and wants to include you in the celebration!

If you purchase an enhanced listing during the month of April your company will be entered into a draw to win a $200 Visa Gift Card. All you have to do is contact GroupConnect at info@groupconnect.com, request a registration form, complete and return by April 30, 2012. The enhanced listing will provide your company with the opportunity to advertise your products and services to the over 10,000 monthly visitors to GroupTravelConnect.com. For more information, please contact GroupConnect at 866-644-1664. 

Motorcoach Marketing Council Board Elects Four New Members

The Motorcoach Marketing Council added four new members to its 2012 Board of Directors last month. Newly appointed Directors to serve a 2012-2014 term include Lisa Albus Peterson of Northfield Lines; Peter Shelbo of Tour West America; and Steve Haddad of Bieber Transportation Group. Both Haddad and Gillis served the Council's Founding Board of Directors from 2008-2010.

The Council's Board elected Autumn Dipert-Brown of Dan Dipert Coaches to serve a 2012-2014 term as President/Chair of the global initiative. Other Directors of the Motorcoach Marketing Council's Board include: Ron Bast of Go Riteway Transportation; Elaine Fickett of H&L Charters; Mike Costa of A Yankee Line; Shannon Kaser of Royal Excursion; Peter Pantuso, of the American Bus Association; Victor Parra of the United Motorcoach Association; and Bronwyn Wilson of International Motorcoach Group. Brian Annett, of Annett Bus Lines (the Council's immediate past President) will serve as a non-voting, ex-officio member of the Board 

New ABA Members To Add To Your 2012 Motorcoach Marketer

TRAVEL INDUSTRY

Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum
Elizabeth Carey, Sales & Mktg. Mgr.
306 Congress St.
Boston, MA 02210
PH: (617) 596-7046
Museum

Euro/American Event Travel Ltd.
Gene Garro, Oprs.
One Mall Dr., Ste. 800
Cherry Hill, NJ 08002
PH: (800) 678-8499 Fax: (856) 354-9226
Festival/Event

Florida 595
John Tanella, V.P. Oprs.
2705 Burris Rd.
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33314
PH: (954) 357-1480 Fax: (954) 284-3088
Travel Plaza/Truck Stop

Hillbilly Junction Investments LLC
Robert Butler, G.M.
P.O. Box 68
Willow Springs, MO 65793
PH: (417) 469-3776 Fax: (417) 469-3776
Food Service

Huddletrip LLC
James Ross, CEO
1092 Smithfield Ct.
Gurnee, IL 60031
PH: (847) 363-3971 Fax: (662) 638-3039
Tour Planner

Jackson County Tourism
John Parsons, V.P. Destination Mktg.
407 E. Willow St.
Scottsboro, AL 35768
PH: (256) 259-5500 Fax: (256) 259-4447
DMO - Convention & Visitors Bureaus

K Bar S Lodge
Nicole Haltiner
434 Old Hill City Rd.
Ketystone, SD 57751
PH: (605) 716-7971
Lodging

Old Talbott Tavern
Jim Kelley, Owner
P.O. Box 365
Bardstown, KY 40004
PH: (502) 348-3494 Fax: (502) 348-3404
Food Service, Historic Attraction

Pixie Travel Unlimited
Pixie Weatherspoon, Owner
11917 S. Normal / P.O. Box 288557
Chicago, IL 60628
PH: (773) 660-9200 Fax: (773) 995-8214
Tour Planner

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
Emily Johnson, Mgr., Gp. Sales
1071 Fifth Ave.
New York, NY 10128
PH: (212) 423-3636 Fax: (212) 423-3634
Attraction - Other, Museum

Swinomish Casino & Lodge
Juan Romani, Lodge Sales Mgr.
12885 Casino Dr.
Anacortes, WA 98221
PH: (360) 588-3705 Fax: (360) 293-1273
Casino, Lodging

Transportation Partners of America
Anthony Vaccarello, CEO
3920 N. Christiana Ave.
Chicago, IL 60618
PH: (312) 399-2543 Fax: (312) 377-2498
Consultant

U.S. Space & Rocket Center
Tom White, Dir. of Sales
1 Tranquility Base
Huntsville, AL 35807
PH: (256) 721-7124
Attraction - Other 

QUALIFIED OPERATORS

The following Motorcoach & Tour Operators have submitted application(s) for membership between February 19, 2012 through March 1, 2012 and have met all membership requirements. They are currently in the mandatory 30 Day period for member comments.  Should members have comments regarding these applications, please contact abamembership@buses.org.

A & A Motorcoach Inc.
(DOT #: 397369)
Randy Ammerman, Pres.
Yakima, WA

Harlow's Trailways
(DOT #: 321336)
Neal Prichard, Oprs. Mgr.
Bismarck, ND

Kincaid Coach Lines Inc.
(DOT #: 179943)
Denise Souza
Edwardsville, KS

Sue Sinclair Travel Center
Sue Sinclair, Owner
Mesa, AZ

Youngblood Services Inc.
(DOT #: 2150212)
Anthony Youngblood, Owner
Tampa, FL