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FHWA Seeks Comment on Equal Access for Over-the-Road Buses

On April 28, 2017, FHWA published a Federal Register Notice seeking review and comment on definitions and applicable facilities related to requirements contained in Section 1411(a) and (b) of the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. Those Sections of the FAST Act amended 23 U.S.C. 129 and 23 U.S.C. 166 to address equal treatment of over-the-road buses (OTRBs) that access toll highways and high occupancy vehicle (HOV) facilities. As a result:

  • HOV authorities may allow all public transportation vehicles to use HOV lanes, whether they meet the minimum occupancy requirements or not, as long as they provide equal access to OTRBs serving the public, under the same rates, terms, and conditions as all other public transportation vehicles. (23 U.S.C. 166)
  • HOV authorities that toll vehicles not meeting the minimum occupancy requirements in HOV lanes are required to provide access to OTRBs that serve the public under the same rates, terms, and conditions as public transportation buses. (23 U.S.C. 166)
  • On toll facilities subject to 23 U.S.C. 129, OTRBs that serve the public must be provided access to the toll facility under the same rates, terms, and conditions as public transportation buses. (23 U.S.C. 129)

FHWA is seeking public comment on the following:

  • Applicable definitions for implementing Section 1411 of the FAST Act. Where FHWA found no existing definition, such as for the term "public transportation bus" and "serve/serving the public," FHWA developed a definition based on similar or related terms found elsewhere in Federal statute and regulations.
  • Covered facilities subject to OTRB equal access:
    • Section 166 HOV facilities: Under 23 U.S.C. 166, there are no exclusions or exceptions under this definition based on Federal-aid participation in the construction or operation of the HOV facility. Therefore, FHWA believes amendments made by Section 1411 of the FAST Act are applicable to all Section 166 HOV facilities, regardless of Federal-aid participation in the project.
    • Section 129 Facilities: Section 1411 of the FAST Act is applicable to Federal-aid toll facilities where construction of the facility occurred under 23 U.S.C. Section 129 authority. This would include a facility that either uses Federal-aid funds on an existing toll facility in accordance with 23 U.S.C Section 129, or imposes tolls on a facility constructed with Federal-aid funds pursuant to section 129(a).

The link to the public docket, FHWA-2017-0006, contains the Federal Register Notice and the list of Section 129 Covered Facilities. Upon collection and assessment of all comments received, the Office of Innovative Program Delivery will publish final guidance in late 2017.

The public comment period for this Federal Register Notice closes on May 30, 2017.

For further program information or any questions, please contact Cynthia Essenmacher, Federal Tolling Program, Center for Innovative Finance Support, Office of Innovative Program Delivery at (202) 780-6178.

 

Read and Comment on the Federal Register Notice (April 28, 2017)

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