ABA Salutes Passage of Five-Year Transportation Bill Now Sent to President Obama
Lawmakers in the House and Senate sent to President Obama late Thursday night for his signature a five-year, bi-partisan transportation bill called the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. The White House says the President will sign the bill into law, ending years of funding uncertainty for transportation projects by way of numerous short-term extensions.
There are several positive changes this bill provides for the motorcoach, travel and tourism industry, demonstrating the work ABA’s Government Affairs and Policy team did to educate lawmakers and their staffs on the issues important to our industry. Below are some highlights from the Act.
- Changes were made to the highway and transit state and local planning laws ensuring both tourism and intercity bus operations become part of the planning process.
- Over-the-road-buses were appropriately recognized as High Occupancy Vehicles and designated to be treated the same as transit buses, in terms of tolling.
- The creation of a National Advisory Committee on Travel and Tourism Infrastructure to assist the Department of Transportation with facilitating travel and tourism mobility.
- The FMCSA Comprehensive, Safety, Accountability program was recognized as flawed, and will be reviewed to identify and provide for implementation of improvements.
- The Department of Transportation will first need to conduct a study, specific to the passenger carrier industry, before FMCSA can proceed with a rule to increase insurance minimums.
- Current law limiting enroute inspections was clarified to exclude weigh stations and ensure inspections occur at planned stops, as intended.
- Options to improve intermodal connections, including intercity bus connections, are to be included in an Amtrak report; and as an eligible project under a passenger rail grant program.
- The Federal Transit Administration’s rural grants program was clarified to ensure the costs of capital or operating service be eligible for grant matching purposes.
- Changes were made to FMCSA’s rulemaking process and guidance issuance to ensure proper consideration and input by interested parties.
“ABA wishes to thank our many friends and colleagues who have helped bring the FAST Act to this point where it is now on the President’s desk. There are many items in this legislation that ABA is very pleased with, as Members of the House and Senate, from both political parties recognized the importance of the motorcoach, travel and tourism industry and the contribution we make to the economy,” said ABA President and CEO Peter Pantuso.
As ABA members you’ll be hearing a lot more about the legislation and what it means to the motorcoach, travel and tourism industry and your business.