WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) in mid-May proposed to revise its policy on the extent to which transit agencies can provide service for schoolchildren.
The move came after a federal judge in January struck down an earlier FTA decision and paved the way for the Rochester-Genesee (N.Y.) Regional Transportation Authority to create new bus routes to shuttle students.
The FTA said that the judge’s decision set aside the agency’s interpretation of its own regulations on school bus operations. This led the agency to issue a Notice of Proposed Policy Statement to clarify its interpretation of the regulations, which were designed to prevent federally funded public transportation systems from unfairly competing with private school bus operators.
The FTA said that it intends to construe the term “tripper service” (which is permissible transit service for students) to include “only existing routes with modified fare collection or subsidy systems, frequency of service and de minimis route deviations from existing route paths in the immediate vicinity of schools to stops located at or in close proximity to the schools.”
With that definition, the FTA would interpret “school bus operations” to include “service that a reasonable person would conclude primarily was designed to accommodate students and school personnel and only incidentally to serve the non-student general public,” which would not be permissible for transit agencies.
To view the full proposal, go to http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2008/E8-11151.htm.
The FTA said that it expects to also issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to provide clearer definitions of “tripper service” and “school bus operations” as well as to generally update its existing school bus regulations.