A spate of high-profile bus crashes this year along with renewed momentum for a new surface transportation bill has given champions of bus safety a window of opportunity to get long-stalled legislation passed.
Bills in both chambers seek to increase oversight of bus operators as well as to standardize safety measures like seat belts and reinforced roofs.
House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) expects to wrap bus safety into an impending long-term surface transportation bill.
“I know we’ve agreed to put provisions in relating to bus safety. I can’t tell you the specifics, but there is an agreement,” Mica told POLITICO.
But the Senate’s a different story as sponsors have run into Oklahoma Republican Tom Coburn — so-called Dr. No — as well as the usual partisan gridlock that could prevent any long-term transportation measure from passing.
The safety push stems from a 2007 charter bus crash in Atlanta that killed seven people traveling from Bluffton University in Ohio to Florida.
The Bluffton crash spurred Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) to introduce legislation that mandates safety measures for intercity bus travel. Those bills haven’t reached the floor, nor has a subsequent measure from Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.).