Congress Unveils the FAST Act
The U.S. House of Representatives and Senate members negotiating a final surface transportation reauthorization bill reached agreement today and publicly released the conference report. The bill, entitled “Fixing America’s Surface Transportation” Act or FAST Act, provides funds and authorizes various federal surface transportation programs for five years, at a total cost of about $300 billion. Click here to see the full report. There were a number of very positive policy provisions for the travel, tourism and motorcoach industry included in the bill, as highlighted below:
- Inclusion of language to clarify current law prohibiting enroute inspections of motorcoaches, explicitly excluding weigh stations as acceptable locations.
- A requirement for the U.S. Department of Transportation conduct a study, specific to the passenger motor coach industry, before FMCSA may proceed with a rulemaking to increase insurance minimums.
- The establishment of a National Advisory Committee on Travel & Tourism Infrastructure, tasked to develop a national strategic plan.
- Inclusion of language to ensure travel, tourism and intercity buses are considered in the surface transportation planning process at both the state and local levels.
- Inclusion of language to improve and promote interconnectivity with intercity passenger rail transportation, through a study and proposed grant program.
The bill must still be voted upon by both the House and Senate, and signed by the President before it becomes law. The deadline for the current authorization expires on December 4, but it remains uncertain whether the bill will be enacted into law by the deadline or whether another extension will be necessary. However, the House plans to vote on it this week.
The agreement now sets the stage for the bill to move through the House and Senate as soon as this week. Stay up to date and watch for ABA Member Alerts as always at buses.org