PRESS RLEASE from American Bus Association

ABA Calls on FTA to Expand Rules for Fair Competition by Transit Operators

Washington, DC – The American Bus Association (ABA) – the industry leader advancing the North American motorcoach, travel and tour industry – urges the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to address issues over displaced operators of private scheduled bus service.

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Recently, an unsubsidized private bus operator that held a contract with the University of Southern Maine to provide on-campus shuttle service for more than 20 years, lost its contract to the publicly funded Greater Portland Transit District. Unlike charter operations with the FTA’s Charter Bus rules, private scheduled service operators do not have any protection from or recourse for unfair competition by federally subsidized transit operators. Despite a statutory provision currently in place that should protect all private operators from unjust competition, federal courts have generally held there is no private right of action to bring a lawsuit, and the FTA has never established any complaint mechanism, any process for administrative relief or any restrictions on unfair competition with private operators as part of its grant criteria for recipients of federal funds.

While there are requirements for coordination and a review of existing transportation services before establishing new services to ensure the most efficient uses of taxpayer dollars, there is no requirement to consider alternatives to the displacement or replacement of existing services, particularly those operating over fixed routes.

“The FTA should act to address this loop hole as it conflicts with other statutory/regulatory provisions intended to protect private operators from unfair competition from public transit providers,” said Peter Pantuso, president & CEO of the American Bus Association. “This is bad public policy to use taxpayer dollars to compete with private sector employers, discourage private investment, harm local businesses, and artificially inflate the cost of providing a service that may adequately be offered elsewhere in the marketplace.”

ABA calls on the FTA to review these activities, establish a complaint mechanism, and alter their grant requirements to include just compensation for displaced services as well as administrative relief. With these changes, we hope to see additional protections provided under the FTA’s rules from subsidized transit operators and enable fair and equitable competition for all private bus operators.