Bus Association Calls For Motorcoach Security Bill
American Bus Association President and CEO Peter J. Pantuso is calling for Congress to pass motorcoach security legislation introduced last year that will assist the intercity bus industry with security funding. The renewed request follows on the heels of a tragic attack in California on a bus driver that resulted in fatalities.
The intercity bus industry transports more than 774 million people each year — more than the airlines and Amtrak combined. Yet, motorcoaches have received only a fraction of what the other passenger modes received in security funding this year.
To date, the airlines have received nearly $4 billion in Federal assistance for security and Amtrak has received $55 million. In the same period, the motorcoach industry has received just $15 million.
“Congress has provided 2-5 dollars for security per passenger for airlines and Amtrak and just 2 cents for security per passenger on a motorcoach,” said Pantuso. y Senator Max Cleland (D-Ga.)agreed on the need for pass motorcoach security legislation. “With intercity buses serving nearly 800 million passengers annually in over 4000 communities,” said Senator Cleland, we must act to protect our travelers from terror and safety concerns.”
Last year, Congress passed the Patriot Act which expanded the scope of violations subject to Federal criminal penalties and provided for up-to-life imprisonment for crimes against mass transportation that result in death.
Pantuso said that this represented an important first step in restoring the public confidence in mass transportation but that the next step is to pass motorcoach security legislation. Both House and Senate lawmakers have the opportunity this year to pass a transportation appropriations bill that would provide additional funding for motorcoach security.
Additionally, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee cleared H.R. 3924, a bill sponsored by Reps. Don Young (R-Alaska) and James Obestar (D-Minn.) that would provide $200 million a year for bus security for up to three years. The Senate Commerce Committee also cleared a similar bill sponsored by Sen. Cleland, S. 1738, that would provide $200 million for two years.
ABA itself has taken an industry lead by coordinating with Administration officials from the Department of Transportation, the Transportation Security Administration, the White House Office of Homeland Security and security experts to develop an industry security assessment and plan for ABA operator members, but Federal resources are needed.
“Our plan focuses on deterrence and mitigation, while considering the diverse needs of the industry, tailoring methods for fixed route and charter and tour service. While this begins to address the necessary tools needed to enhance security in our industry — it is just that — a first step,” Pantuso said. The association is urging immediate passage of H.R. 3924 and S. 1739 to ensure a continued Federal commitment toward motorcoach security.