The American Bus Association (ABA) – the industry leader advancing the North American motorcoach, travel and tour industry – in a letter to Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman John Boozman (R-Ark.) and Ranking Member Jon Tester (D-Mont.), called for funding of the Intercity Bus Security Grant Program (IBSGP) in the Senate’s FY 2018 Homeland Security Appropriations bill. The FY 2018 bill approved by the House did not include funding for this program.
“Since the establishment of the IBSGP, including funding provided through the annual appropriations process prior to the establishment of the program, 325 motorcoach operators around the country have benefited from grant assistance. Yet, there remain significant unmet needs – in 2016 alone, a total of $22 million in grant requests were made for a pot of only $3 million. The intercity bus industry is primarily comprised of small businesses, with 94% of the companies operating less than 25 motorcoaches - yet, these operators provided 42.3% of the 604 million passenger trips in 2104. The grant assistance provided by the IBSGP is critical to their operations, particularly when balancing operational business needs with the costs of mitigating risks posed by the current threat environment.”
Given the security threats currently facing our nation’s transportation infrastructure from vehicle ramming attacks, the House Committee on Appropriation’ decision to zero out the program is misguided and could lead to tragic consequences. Motorcoach operators play a critical role in the safety and security of the traveling public and serve as a valuable resource in terms of emergency planning.
As security threats are ever-changing and ever-present, the intercity bus industry would rather be prepared than face a tragedy. For this reason, ABA urges Congress to fund the IBSGP in the FY 2018 Homeland Security Appropriations bill, in an amount at least equivalent to Amtrak funding at $10 million.