Today, Congressman Bill Shuster hailed the passage of landmark bipartisan legislation to improve passenger safety on America's buses and motorcoaches. In April, Shuster introduced the "Bus Uniform Standards and Enhances Safety (BUSES) Act," to increase safety on America's roads and highways and strengthen the Department of Transportation's oversight and ability to set uniform safety standards on new and existing buses. Shuster's legislation was merged with the Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act of 2012, companion legislation offered by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX), and was included as part of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) Act, a comprehensive bipartisan, bicameral surface transportation bill that was passed today by the House of Representatives and the United States Senate. The measure now heads to the White House for the President's signature to become law.
"Buses and motorocoaches remain a popular and cost-effective way for millions of Americans to travel every day for work and for pleasure. While the intercity motorcoach industry, including scheduled service and charter tour operations, is an extremely safe mode of transportation, recent accidents suggest there continues to be room for improvement. It is essential that the travelling public is protected with safety requirements that are based on the best available science and strong oversight," Shuster said.
"I am also proud to have worked closely with Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX), the Ranking Member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, a long time champion for improvements to bus and motorcoach safety. Working together we have made improvements that will make our roads safer for all Americans," said Shuster.
Shuster's legislation improves the safety of the nation's approximately 35,000 motorcoaches, which provide 750 million passenger trips annually. The measure implements tough new rules to catch reincarnated carriers, bus companies that shut down and quickly begin operating under a new name, and ensures only the best, most well trained drivers transport passengers.
"We must root out bad actors and unsafe, illegal motorcoach operators," Shuster said. "Focusing on taking bad actors off the road and making sure the person behind the wheel of a bus is a professional, well trained, and legally able to drive are critical to improving safety."
The legislation also requires research and testing that may lead to equipment improvements for this safe, flexible, cost effective, and heavily used mode of transportation. Both safety advocates and representatives from industry expressed support for the legislation.
Jackie Gillan, President of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety said, "Consumers need to be protected before they board the bus and after they take their seat. We appreciate the leadership of Representative Shuster and his strong commitment to safety by including these provisions in the surface transportation bill. Millions of riders every year will benefit from the motorcoach safety provisions passed today."
"The American Bus Association appreciates the strong leadership of Chairman Shuster on motorcoach safety issues," said ABA President and CEO Peter Pantuso. "We think the bill provisions address the need for better enforcement and increased training for current and prospective bus operators and drivers. We especially appreciate Chairman Shuster's proactive engagement with our industry over many months in crafting the final bill."
United Motorcoach Association President and CEO Victor S. Parra said "We appreciate the strong leadership of Congressman Bill Shuster in taking the lead in Congress for reasonable bus safety legislation and working so hard in the conference to protect the interests of both the travelling public and the motorcoach industry."
The landmark bus safety legislation is the most recent in a long line of transportation safety laws championed by Congressman Shuster, who was a lead author of the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 and the sponsor of the Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation Act of 2011.