Charter Bus Service Negotiated Rulemaking
Lack of clarity in the charter bus service regulations, which are enforced by Federal Transit Administration (FTA), resulted in a deluge of private charter company complaints about unauthorized competition from public transit companies, which receive Federal financial assistance. Congress directed FTA to conduct a negotiated rulemaking process to negotiate revisions to the existing standards pursuant to the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU).
Podziba Policy Mediation mediated the negotiations of the Charter Bus Negotiation Rulemaking Advisory Committee (CBNRAC). Its members addressed the key issues Congress raised in its Joint Explanatory Statement of the Committee of Conference on the conditions on Charter Bus Transportation Service. These included limited conditions for which public transit agencies could provide community-based charter services directly to local governments and private non-profit agencies, improved enforcement of charter bus regulation violations, and a process for the administrative adjudication of complaints and appeals. The negotiations spanned seven months and included six multi-day meetings.
CBNRAC was composed of 22 members, including representatives of the federal government, state government, municipal government, large private charter operators, small private charter operators, trade associations, large, medium, small, and rural public transit operators, and labor unions.
After difficult negotiations, CBNRAC reached a final consensus agreement on revised regulatory text for proposed revisions that resolved most but not all issues. The PPM final report documented in great detail the series of final proposals offered by negotiators on the outstanding issues.
FTA published a final charter bus service rule that reflected the consensus CBNRAC document and selected from among the final proposals for the outstanding issues. These federal regulations successfully clarified allowable activities for public transit companies and defined activities to be performed by private charter bus companies.