Stakeholders in the trucking industry weighed in Tuesday after a Congress announced a five-year unified highway bill, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act.
Below are some comments from industry organizations and associations. This post will be updated as more comments come in.
American Trucking Associations: ATA praised conferees for reaching a long-term highway funding solution.
“[Tuesday]’s announcement that House and Senate leaders had reached an agreement on a long-term highway bill is welcome news to those of us in the transportation world,” said ATA President and CEO Bill Graves. “While we all, of course, wish there was more money to be had, this bill takes important steps to re-focus the program on important national projects and takes critical steps to improve trucking safety and efficiency.”
ATA also said it is pleased with the steps the bill takes in reforming the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s CSA system, allowing hair testing for drug tests and making it easier for military veterans to enter the industry.
Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association: OOIDA thanked members of Congress for reaching the agreement and said they see the FAST Act as a positive compromise between the House and Senate.
“We greatly appreciate the efforts of lawmakers to recognize the value of owner-operators, small businesses and professional truckers and what they mean to the economy and to highway safety,” said Todd Spencer, OOIDA’s Executive Vice President. “We would like to especially thank Senators Barbara Boxer, Jim Inhofe, Bill Nelson and John Thune, as well as U.S. Representatives Bill Shuster, Peter DeFazio, Sam Graves and Eleanor Holmes Norton.”
OOIDA specifically says it supports the CSA improvements, reforms to the regulatory process and programs for veterans entering trucking.
Alliance for Toll-Free Interstates: ATFI said it’s pleased the conference committee didn’t expand the number of states eligible to impose new tolls on existing interstates.
“The bill language regarding tolling draws heavily from the House’s STRR Act, favored by ATFI, and requires that states demonstrate authority to enact the pilot [project to toll an existing road] before a slot is granted,” ATFI said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the FAST Act adds a 3-year expiration period to the three tolling pilot program slots, with the possibility of a 1-year extension, and gives current applicants 1 year to complete their applications. This will likely open the door to additional applications in the future.”
Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association: MEMA, which advocates for the development and adoption of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems, said it is “gratified to see Congress recognize these important, life-saving technologies in the final bill.”
Truck Renting and Leasing Association: TRALA said the FAST Act includes several provisions the group supports including a report on minimum insurance levels for motor carriers, rental recall guidelines and not expanding tolling of existing interstates. TRALA added, however, that it was disappointed that the conferees didn’t “correct the meal and rest break requirements for interstate carriers operating in California.