WASHINGTON, D.C. — In an effort to defend private over-the-road bus companies, the American Bus Association has filed a federal objection to the Charlotte Area Transit System’s request for an exemption from the Federal Transit Agency’s charter bus regulation. The charter bus regulation prohibits public transit agencies from doing work normally provided by private bus and motorcoach operators.
In its letter to the Department of Transportation, ABA argues that Charlotte, N.C. officials have no exhausted all efforts to find privately operated motorcoaches to provide charter service to meet the demands of the upcoming Democratic National Convention from September 1 to September 6. The charter bus regulation is clear that exemptions to the preference for private operators to perform work are to be granted rarely and only after the public transit agency has met its burden of proof.
The Charlotte Area Transit System’s petition fails on several key points:
- It concludes that it has exhausted all efforts to find private operators with whom to contract for charter service for the DNC, but does not provide a list of the private operators it contacted, nor does it provide a list of those private operators who have executed contracts for service.
- It does not provide any indication of the terms of contracts offered or executed for the charter service. Without seeing the contracts, neither the ABA nor the FTA can evaluate the services offered or the fees agreed to be paid to the private operators.
- It did not follow the recommended procedure to enter into an agreement with all registered charter providers in its geographic service area. The procedure recommended in the FTA’s Q&A of the charter bus regulation calls for the transit agency to send an email notice to all registered charter providers of its intent to provide charter service. A registered charter provider must respond to the email notice either affirmatively or negatively. Nowhere its June 1, 2012 petition or August 7, 2012 follow-up letter has the transit agency demonstrated that it followed this procedure.
- An event such as the Democratic National Convention is not available for an exemption since it is not a “time-sensitive event” for which the transit agency does not have time to consult with all private operators in its area. While the FTA’s Q&A of the charter bus regulation illustrates this prohibition with reference to a “Presidential Inauguration,” it is clear that the DNC is exactly the same type of function. Therefore, the agency should not be granted the requested exemption.
“The law is clearly on the side of the private motorcoach companies, and the American Bus Association continues to defend the rights of small, medium and larger owner/operators to operate their businesses and compete on a level playing field with publicly subsidized operators,” said Peter Pantuso, president and CEO of the ABA.
“Private over-the-road bus and motorcoach companies and public transit agencies each have important, but very different, roles to play in our overall transportation network. Charlotte Area Transit System officials are attempting to do the work that the federal government clearly says should be done by the private sector. We strongly urge the Federal Transit Administration to deny this request.”
Source: American Bus Association