WASHINGTON, D.C. — A provision to stop the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) from raising insurance minimums for bus operators has survived several challenges in the House.
The provision is Section 134 of the fiscal year 2016 appropriations bill for Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD).
An amendment from Rep. Matt Cartwright sought to strike the insurance protection provision from the THUD bill. On Thursday, the House defeated that amendment by a vote of 247-176, keeping the provision intact. The provision has also survived strike amendments in the House Appropriations Committee.
Members of the National School Transportation Association (NSTA) have been contacting their congressional representatives to ask that they support the insurance protection provision.
The school bus contractors association said that the Section 134 provision has been included and defended by House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers and THUD Subcommittee Chairman Mario Diaz-Balart.
NSTA President Tim Flood said that the association is “grateful to the leadership shown by Chairman Rogers, Subcommittee Chairman Diaz-Balart and the 247 members of the House of Representatives who supported this provision today on the House floor.”
Flood added that NSTA will continue to support the bill to final passage in the House. Then the association will work to have the same insurance protection provision included in the Senate.
Currently, school bus contractors are federally required to have $1.5 million in insurance on each vehicle with 15 passengers or fewer and $5 million on each vehicle with more than 15 passengers for trips other than home-to-school service.
In November, FMCSA gave notice of a proposed rulemaking that explores an increase in insurance requirements for passenger motor carriers. The agency has reportedly suggested that the minimums should be raised to upwards of $21 million for a large school bus.
“School buses are the safest form of transportation available, and any increase in federal minimum insurance requirements without data showing such an increase to be necessary would be harmful to all children who rely on school bus transportation and to our industry," NSTA Executive Director Ronna Weber said.
NSTA is also supporting a separate effort in the House, Rep. Scott Perry’s H.R. 2077, that would block FMCSA from raising insurance minimums on the school transportation and motorcoach industries.