(Alexandria, VA) November 15, 2021 — The Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act (IIJA) signed this afternoon by President Joe Biden represents a monumental win for the private motorcoach industry as it includes reauthorizations of critical highway funding and safety programs, avoids needless mandates, and preserves the industry’s fuel tax exemption as well as the critically important charter service rule protecting private companies from unfair competition from government-subsidized public transit operators. This legislative victory marks the culmination of years of advocacy by the United Motorcoach Association and allied industry organizations, working to protect the interests of the nation’s motorcoach operators and the traveling public they serve.
“The legislation is a sweeping victory for all motorcoach operators,” said UMA president and CEO Scott Michael. “The law includes a 5-year reauthorization of federal highway, transit, motor carrier and vehicle safety programs. The IIJA contains common-sense safety and regulatory provisions, preserves the motorcoach fuel tax exemption, and includes a new provision to enforce better toll equity with public transit vehicles on toll facilities. Most importantly, the bill avoids expensive and unnecessary mandates on an industry still in recovery mode from the effects of the pandemic.”
The IIJA also preserves motorcoach companies’ right to operate without unfair competition from government subsidized transit providers by leaving the Charter Service Rule unchanged. Prior legislation, the House INVEST in America Act, would have liberalized opportunities for local subsidized transit authorities to perform charter service. “If that provision had remained in the legislation, it would have devasted the bus and motorcoach industry”, said Ken Presley, vice president of legislative, regulatory and industry affairs and COO of UMA. “The provision was a significant departure from over 50 years of protection for private operators from unfair competition from subsidized public transit operators. UMA is relieved that Congress saw fit to continue those critical protections in the legislation signed by President Biden today.”
The landmark legislation, which passed both chambers of Congress with bipartisan support, is intended to modernize and upgrade the nation’s aging infrastructure and includes $550 billion in new federal spending over five years. It invests $110 billion in roads, bridges, and major projects, $66 billion in passenger and freight rail, $65 billion to rebuild the electric grid, $39 billion to modernize and expand transit systems and $7.5 billion to build a national network of charging infrastructure for electric vehicles.
This positive legislative outcome is the result of years of advocacy by the UMA legislative team, UMA members and state and regional association partners, working to achieve reasonable safety and regulatory provisions while avoiding burdensome new mandates. UMA’s CEO credits the win to the organization’s strong member participation in UMA’s legislative fly-Ins, grassroots letter-writing campaigns and calls to their Representatives and Senators. “Everyone’s arduous work over many years really paid off for every bus and motorcoach company,” said Michael. “UMA extends its sincere thanks to Congress for sending this important legislation to the President’s desk.”