Pennsylvania City Buses Violating the Law

Pittsburgh city busI ran across two articles in the Pittsburgh newspaper pertaining to city buses. One is from January 26, 2013, and the other is from March 4, 2013. Transit buses are not regulated by the FMCSA. Since they are a “governmental” agency, they are exempt from FMCSA oversight. Apparently, in Pennsylvania, PENNDOT, and the Pennsylvania State Police are supposed to be regulating the Transit buses, such as the Port Authority of Allegheny County (Pittsburgh), and the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority (SEPTA), from Philadelphia.

According to these articles, it doesn’t seem as if anyone is regulating the city buses. At least not in Pittsburgh or Philadelphia. According to the Tribune, the city bus drivers are routinely operating 14-16 hour shifts. They should be limited to no more than 10 hours driving, and 15 hour on-duty before the drivers must get an 8 hour off-duty break. The State Police expressed concern over the issue, but apparently, have not seen the need to crack down on this issue. The city transit authorities, thought they were exempt from the rules.

After the first article in the Pittsburgh Tribune, the Pennsylvania DOT studied the issue. They now believe the city transit agencies would need to spend $10 million to comply with the hours of service rules. They don’t have it. PENNDOT doesn’t have it. I, the taxpayer of Pennsylvania, certainly do not have it. So, PENNDOT’s solution is to grant waivers to the city buses, exempting them from the hours of service rules.

This is outrageous. Motor carriers in Pennsylvania are subjected repeatedly to government DOT checks, where the police scrutinize every last bolt and screw, and every T and I of the logbook, yet the government buses are exempt?? In fact, according to the articles, the people running the city buses, and for that matter, the State Police and PENNDOT, know the government buses are operating too many hours, and they all say “Meh”. If a for-hire bus company violated the hours of service limits like the city buses admit to doing, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration would seize their buses.

If fatigue is not a public safety issue for the government buses, then it is not an issue for anybody. If PENNDOT exempts government buses from the hours of service, they must exempt all motor carriers over which they have jurisdiction, which would be all carriers operating wholly within Pennsylvania.

For that matter, if the State Police and PENNDOT continue to ignore the government bus drivers violating the hours of service rules, then every ticket written to a motor carrier for hours of service in Pennsylvania should be voided. They have no moral authority to write those tickets, while ignoring the government buses.

In fairness to the State Police officials quoted in the articles, I have no doubt they want to see the city buses operating legally. However, I am sure if they bring the topic up to their bosses, they will be told, “just leave it alone”. After all, if the police start stopping the buses, people riding the buses might be late, get angry, and complain to their legislators. We can’t have that, can we?

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