School Bus Operations; Amendment of Tripper Service Definition, 4081-4083 [05-1644]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 70, No. 18 / Friday, January 28, 2005 / Proposed Rules Management and Budget (OMB) approval under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, as amended (44 U.S.C. chapter 35). Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance The Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance numbered program affected by the proposed regulation is: 93.865. List of Subjects in 42 CFR Part 63a Grant programs—health, Healthmedical research. Dated: May 27, 2004. Elias A. Zerhouni, Director, National Institutes of Health. Approved: January 14, 2005. Tommy G. Thompson, Secretary. For the reasons set forth in the preamble, we propose to amend chapter 1 of title 42 of the Code of Federal Regulations as set forth below. PART 63a—NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH TRAINING GRANTS 1. The authority citation of part 63a would be revised to read as follows: Authority: 42 U.S.C. 216, 242l(b)(3), 284(b)(1)(C), 285g–10, 287c(b), 300cc– 15(a)(1), 300cc–41(a)(3)(C), 7403(h)(2). the Extramural Outreach and Information Resources Office (EOIRO), Office of Extramural Research, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 6208, MSC 7910, Bethesda, Maryland 20892–7910, telephone 301–435–0714 (not a toll-free number), to obtain references to the current version and any amendments. Information may also be obtained by contacting the EOIRO via e-mail address (nih@odrockm1.od.nih.gov) and browsing the NIH Home Page site on the World Wide Web (http://www.nih.gov).) ‘‘Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals,’’ Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (Amended August, 2002). (NOTE: This policy is subject to change, and interested persons should contact the Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare, 6705 Rockledge Drive, Suite 360, MSC 7982, Bethesda, Maryland 20892–7982, telephone 301–594–2382 (not a toll-free number), to obtain references to the current version and any amendments. Information may also be obtained by browsing the Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare Home Page site on the World Wide Web (http:// www.grants.nih.gov/grants/olaw/ olaw.htm).) [FR Doc. 05–1621 Filed 1–27–05; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4140–01–P 2. Section 63a.1 would be amended by revising paragraph (a)(2) to read as follows: DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Transit Administration * 49 CFR Part 605 § 63a.11 Other HHS regulations and policies that apply. * * * * * ‘‘NIH Grants Policy Statement,’’ NIH Publication No. 99–8 (October 1998). (NOTE: this policy is subject to change, and interested persons should contact VerDate jul<14>2003 16:11 Jan 27, 2005 Jkt 205001 Electronic Access An electronic copy of this document may be downloaded using a modem and suitable communication software from the Government Printing Office’s Electronic Bulletin Board Service at (202) 512–1661. Internet users may reach the Federal Register’s home page at: http://www.archives.gov and the Government Printing Office’s database at: http://www.access.gpo.gov/nar. Background On May 3, 1999, the Federal Transit Administration published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking proposing to amend its tripper service definition to clarify that buses used in tripper service may not carry destination signs such as ‘‘student’’ or any other marking indicating that they are carrying school children. Further, the rule would have clarified that, as consistent with the current regulation, these buses may only stop at stops that are accessible to the public and that are clearly marked as available to the public. 64 FR 23590, May 3, 1999. Discussion of Comments on the NPRM FTA received sixty comments on its proposal to amend the definition of tripper service. Comments Supporting the Proposed Changes § 63a.1 To what programs do these regulations apply? * * * * (a) * * * (1) * * * (2) Grants awarded by NIH for research training with respect to the human diseases, disorders, or other aspects of human health or biomedical research for which the institute or other awarding component was established, for which fellowship support is not provided under section 487 of the Act and which is not residency training of physicians or other health professionals, as authorized by sections 405(b)(1)(C), 452G, 485B(b), 2315(a)(1), and 2354(a)(3)(C) of the Act; and * * * * * 3. Section 63a.11 would be amended by revising the 17th and 18th undesignated paragraphs to read as follows: 4081 [Docket No. FTA–99–5082] RIN 2131–AA67 School Bus Operations; Amendment of Tripper Service Definition Federal Transit Administration (FTA), DOT. ACTION: Withdrawal of rulemaking. AGENCY: SUMMARY: This document withdraws the rulemaking in which the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) proposed to amend its tripper service definition to clarify which student transportation operations are inconsistent with FTA requirements. The rulemaking is being withdrawn because after consideration of the comments, FTA has concluded that no regulatory clarification is necessary. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Elizabeth S. Martineau, Office of Chief Counsel, Federal Transit Administration, (202) 366–1936 or (202) 366–3809 (fax). SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: PO 00000 Frm 00041 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Three commenters expressed support for FTA’s proposed amendment to the tripper service definition. One commenter suggested that destination signs be permitted to inform the rider where the bus route goes. Another commenter was concerned that those who opposed the changes were confusing the issue of safety of school children with the tripper service definition. The commenter stated that the issue of safety of school children on public transportation is an important one that merits its own separate rulemaking. One other commenter recommended that if FTA is not going to eliminate tripper service, it should ensure timely and aggressive enforcement of the regulations. Comments Opposing the Proposed Changes Stopping at Marked Public Stops Twenty-three commenters objected to the proposed amendment to the tripper service definition that would clarify that buses may stop only at stops that are accessible to the public and that are clearly marked as available to the public. Although the law currently prohibits stops on property that is not accessible to the general public, E:\FR\FM\28JAP1.SGM 28JAP1 4082 Federal Register / Vol. 70, No. 18 / Friday, January 28, 2005 / Proposed Rules nineteen commenters cited the risk to student safety from not being picked up and discharged on school property as a reason for objecting to the proposed amendment. Commenters also raised non-safetyrelated objections to the requirement that buses providing tripper service may only stop at marked public stops. Eight commenters objected to the requirement because buses in suburban and rural areas often stop at unmarked flag stops that are known to the public. Seven commenters stated that loading and unloading students on school property prevents impediments to traffic flow on public streets. Seven commenters noted that in other situations buses are allowed to drop-off and pickup passengers at stops to which the general public may not have access, such as secured work sites, private business parks, and college campuses. Two commenters opposed the requirement that buses providing tripper service may only stop at clearly marked stops because they thought it would impose a higher standard than that generally required of fixed route transit services. Six commenters asserted that the proposed changes would require cities to purchase new signs to mark each stop, which would be a significant cost. The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) commented that the marked bus stop requirement would impose an undue financial burden on numerous transit authorities. Signage and Markings on Buses The proposal to clarify that tripper buses may not carry any signs or markings indicating the presence of school children onboard raised objections from eleven commenters, all of whom cited safety as their primary concern. Two commenters noted that without signs and markings, drivers would not be alerted to the presence of school children who may be crossing the road. One commenter also noted that without signs and markings, there would be increased public ridership, which could pose additional safety risks to children onboard. One commenter added that there was no objective evidence that existing signage regarding school children caused the public to believe that buses used for tripper service were not open to the general public. Two commenters who did not support FTA’s proposed amendment did support the prohibition on signs and markings on transit buses that indicate the presence of school children. One of these commenters stated that the public becomes confused when equipment VerDate jul<14>2003 16:11 Jan 27, 2005 Jkt 205001 from yellow school buses is placed on transit buses. adding to the time it takes the student to reach the school. Enlarge Scope To Address Safety Generally Eleven commenters suggested that, rather than focus on one aspect of the tripper service definition, FTA should work with the school transportation and public transit communities to address the safety needs of school students on public transit vehicles. Nine of the commenters opposed the proposed amendment entirely, arguing that it is shortsighted. The National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS) argued that while ensuring that tripper buses remain open to the public is an important objective of the tripper rule, providing for student safety is an equally important objective. Consequently, they argued, amending only one element of the rule at the expense of the other is ‘‘inappropriate.’’ NASDPTS suggested that FTA ‘‘with the assistance of the school transportation community and the public transit community, develop a list of acceptable safety practices to accommodate the needs of school students.’’ Six other commenters concurred in NASDPTS’s suggestion. One commenter, a private citizen from Altoona, Pennsylvania, noticed that tripper buses lack many of the safety features found in traditional school buses, such as forward facing seats and additional emergency exits. This difference in the level of passenger safety prompted the National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT) to suggest temporarily suspending tripper service altogether. NAPT suggested that tripper service be disallowed until ‘‘it is clear that children who ride a transit bus to school receive the equivalent level of operational safety as children who ride a school bus to school.’’ Agency Response Given the comments on the proposed rulemaking, FTA has decided to withdraw this rulemaking as unnecessary. FTA believes that the proposed amendments to the regulation were merely clarifying in nature, and not necessary to the enforcement of current law and regulation. The comments received generally indicated objections to the underlying law and current regulations, rather than to the clarifying amendments, indicating that confusion about the intent of the current regulation was not the primary issue. The proposed amendment to the destination sign language was intended only to give additional information about language that is inappropriate on a tripper service bus by specifically prohibiting use of the word ‘‘student’’ and adding the language ‘‘or any other marking indicating that they are carrying school children.’’ FTA proposed this added language because it believed that grantees were interpreting the term ‘‘such as’’ in the existing regulation as an exclusive listing of prohibited signs, rather than a representative listing of prohibited signs that could also include other signs. However, based on the comments received, it appears that there is no general misunderstanding of the existing regulation. Indeed, commenters objected to the underlying prohibition on signs or markings that indicate the presence of school children on board, arguing that such a prohibition is unsafe. However, under the current regulation, tripper service cannot be operated in a way that would call into question its availability to the public. Moreover, FTA believes that allowing transit buses to carry such signs actually poses a greater threat to safety because the widespread use of these signs on transit buses could engender a false belief by parents or guardians that transit buses are the equivalent of school buses in terms of safety. In FTA’s view, the comments opposing the prohibition on signage based on safety concerns failed to account for the fact that tripper service is intended to make ordinary transit bus service available to school children; it is not intended to substitute for school bus transportation. Grantees that honor flag stops in suburban and rural areas expressed concern regarding the requirement that tripper buses stop only at clearly marked public bus stops. The proposed rulemaking was not intended to eliminate the use of flag stops for tripper service when such stops are generally Forced Elimination or Reduction of Tripper Service Ten commenters asserted that the proposed amendment would cost cities significant amounts of money, because to the extent that the proposed change eliminates or reduces tripper service, cities would be required to purchase and maintain a yellow bus fleet or to contract for those services. Four commenters opposed the proposed amendments because they would either reduce or eliminate tripper service, which would increase the time that it takes students to get to and from school. Without tripper service, they asserted, some students would have to transfer buses one or more times, thus PO 00000 Frm 00042 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\28JAP1.SGM 28JAP1 Federal Register / Vol. 70, No. 18 / Friday, January 28, 2005 / Proposed Rules used for public transportation service. Commenters who opposed this clarification generally expressed concerns about student safety if buses were not allowed to stop on school property. This comment seemed to reflect a lack of clarity or misunderstanding of the proposed amendment; consistent with the current regulation, the proposed amendment would not have prohibited stops on school property, as long as those stops were clearly marked, accessible to the VerDate jul<14>2003 16:11 Jan 27, 2005 Jkt 205001 general public, and included in published bus schedules. APTA also opposed the public bus stop amendment based on the fact that FTA allows grantees to make stops on private work sites, which are generally inaccessible to the public. However, the statute singles out school bus service for special attention and the current implementing regulation requires that tripper buses stop only at clearly marked stops that are open to the public. PO 00000 Frm 00043 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 4083 List of Subjects in 49 CFR Part 605 Mass transit, Grants, School bus. For the reasons set forth above, FTA is withdrawing its proposed amendments to title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations, part 605. * * * * * I Issued on: January 4, 2005. Jennifer L. Dorn, Administrator. [FR Doc. 05–1644 Filed 1–27–05; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910–57–U E:\FR\FM\28JAP1.SGM 28JAP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 70, Number 18 (Friday, January 28, 2005)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 4081-4083]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 05-1644]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Transit Administration

49 CFR Part 605

[Docket No. FTA-99-5082]
RIN 2131-AA67


School Bus Operations; Amendment of Tripper Service Definition

AGENCY: Federal Transit Administration (FTA), DOT.

ACTION: Withdrawal of rulemaking.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: This document withdraws the rulemaking in which the Federal 
Transit Administration (FTA) proposed to amend its tripper service 
definition to clarify which student transportation operations are 
inconsistent with FTA requirements. The rulemaking is being withdrawn 
because after consideration of the comments, FTA has concluded that no 
regulatory clarification is necessary.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Elizabeth S. Martineau, Office of 
Chief Counsel, Federal Transit Administration, (202) 366-1936 or (202) 
366-3809 (fax).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Electronic Access

    An electronic copy of this document may be downloaded using a modem 
and suitable communication software from the Government Printing 
Office's Electronic Bulletin Board Service at (202) 512-1661. Internet 
users may reach the Federal Register's home page at: http://
www.archives.gov and the Government Printing Office's database at: 
http://www.access.gpo.gov/nar.

Background

    On May 3, 1999, the Federal Transit Administration published a 
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking proposing to amend its tripper service 
definition to clarify that buses used in tripper service may not carry 
destination signs such as ``student'' or any other marking indicating 
that they are carrying school children. Further, the rule would have 
clarified that, as consistent with the current regulation, these buses 
may only stop at stops that are accessible to the public and that are 
clearly marked as available to the public. 64 FR 23590, May 3, 1999.

Discussion of Comments on the NPRM

    FTA received sixty comments on its proposal to amend the definition 
of tripper service.

Comments Supporting the Proposed Changes

    Three commenters expressed support for FTA's proposed amendment to 
the tripper service definition. One commenter suggested that 
destination signs be permitted to inform the rider where the bus route 
goes. Another commenter was concerned that those who opposed the 
changes were confusing the issue of safety of school children with the 
tripper service definition. The commenter stated that the issue of 
safety of school children on public transportation is an important one 
that merits its own separate rulemaking. One other commenter 
recommended that if FTA is not going to eliminate tripper service, it 
should ensure timely and aggressive enforcement of the regulations.

Comments Opposing the Proposed Changes

Stopping at Marked Public Stops

    Twenty-three commenters objected to the proposed amendment to the 
tripper service definition that would clarify that buses may stop only 
at stops that are accessible to the public and that are clearly marked 
as available to the public. Although the law currently prohibits stops 
on property that is not accessible to the general public,

[[Page 4082]]

nineteen commenters cited the risk to student safety from not being 
picked up and discharged on school property as a reason for objecting 
to the proposed amendment.
    Commenters also raised non-safety-related objections to the 
requirement that buses providing tripper service may only stop at 
marked public stops. Eight commenters objected to the requirement 
because buses in suburban and rural areas often stop at unmarked flag 
stops that are known to the public. Seven commenters stated that 
loading and unloading students on school property prevents impediments 
to traffic flow on public streets. Seven commenters noted that in other 
situations buses are allowed to drop-off and pickup passengers at stops 
to which the general public may not have access, such as secured work 
sites, private business parks, and college campuses. Two commenters 
opposed the requirement that buses providing tripper service may only 
stop at clearly marked stops because they thought it would impose a 
higher standard than that generally required of fixed route transit 
services.
    Six commenters asserted that the proposed changes would require 
cities to purchase new signs to mark each stop, which would be a 
significant cost. The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) 
commented that the marked bus stop requirement would impose an undue 
financial burden on numerous transit authorities.

Signage and Markings on Buses

    The proposal to clarify that tripper buses may not carry any signs 
or markings indicating the presence of school children onboard raised 
objections from eleven commenters, all of whom cited safety as their 
primary concern. Two commenters noted that without signs and markings, 
drivers would not be alerted to the presence of school children who may 
be crossing the road. One commenter also noted that without signs and 
markings, there would be increased public ridership, which could pose 
additional safety risks to children onboard. One commenter added that 
there was no objective evidence that existing signage regarding school 
children caused the public to believe that buses used for tripper 
service were not open to the general public.
    Two commenters who did not support FTA's proposed amendment did 
support the prohibition on signs and markings on transit buses that 
indicate the presence of school children. One of these commenters 
stated that the public becomes confused when equipment from yellow 
school buses is placed on transit buses.

Enlarge Scope To Address Safety Generally

    Eleven commenters suggested that, rather than focus on one aspect 
of the tripper service definition, FTA should work with the school 
transportation and public transit communities to address the safety 
needs of school students on public transit vehicles. Nine of the 
commenters opposed the proposed amendment entirely, arguing that it is 
shortsighted. The National Association of State Directors of Pupil 
Transportation Services (NASDPTS) argued that while ensuring that 
tripper buses remain open to the public is an important objective of 
the tripper rule, providing for student safety is an equally important 
objective. Consequently, they argued, amending only one element of the 
rule at the expense of the other is ``inappropriate.'' NASDPTS 
suggested that FTA ``with the assistance of the school transportation 
community and the public transit community, develop a list of 
acceptable safety practices to accommodate the needs of school 
students.'' Six other commenters concurred in NASDPTS's suggestion.
    One commenter, a private citizen from Altoona, Pennsylvania, 
noticed that tripper buses lack many of the safety features found in 
traditional school buses, such as forward facing seats and additional 
emergency exits. This difference in the level of passenger safety 
prompted the National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT) to 
suggest temporarily suspending tripper service altogether. NAPT 
suggested that tripper service be disallowed until ``it is clear that 
children who ride a transit bus to school receive the equivalent level 
of operational safety as children who ride a school bus to school.''

Forced Elimination or Reduction of Tripper Service

    Ten commenters asserted that the proposed amendment would cost 
cities significant amounts of money, because to the extent that the 
proposed change eliminates or reduces tripper service, cities would be 
required to purchase and maintain a yellow bus fleet or to contract for 
those services.
    Four commenters opposed the proposed amendments because they would 
either reduce or eliminate tripper service, which would increase the 
time that it takes students to get to and from school. Without tripper 
service, they asserted, some students would have to transfer buses one 
or more times, thus adding to the time it takes the student to reach 
the school.

Agency Response

    Given the comments on the proposed rulemaking, FTA has decided to 
withdraw this rulemaking as unnecessary. FTA believes that the proposed 
amendments to the regulation were merely clarifying in nature, and not 
necessary to the enforcement of current law and regulation. The 
comments received generally indicated objections to the underlying law 
and current regulations, rather than to the clarifying amendments, 
indicating that confusion about the intent of the current regulation 
was not the primary issue.
    The proposed amendment to the destination sign language was 
intended only to give additional information about language that is 
inappropriate on a tripper service bus by specifically prohibiting use 
of the word ``student'' and adding the language ``or any other marking 
indicating that they are carrying school children.'' FTA proposed this 
added language because it believed that grantees were interpreting the 
term ``such as'' in the existing regulation as an exclusive listing of 
prohibited signs, rather than a representative listing of prohibited 
signs that could also include other signs. However, based on the 
comments received, it appears that there is no general misunderstanding 
of the existing regulation. Indeed, commenters objected to the 
underlying prohibition on signs or markings that indicate the presence 
of school children on board, arguing that such a prohibition is unsafe. 
However, under the current regulation, tripper service cannot be 
operated in a way that would call into question its availability to the 
public. Moreover, FTA believes that allowing transit buses to carry 
such signs actually poses a greater threat to safety because the 
widespread use of these signs on transit buses could engender a false 
belief by parents or guardians that transit buses are the equivalent of 
school buses in terms of safety. In FTA's view, the comments opposing 
the prohibition on signage based on safety concerns failed to account 
for the fact that tripper service is intended to make ordinary transit 
bus service available to school children; it is not intended to 
substitute for school bus transportation.
    Grantees that honor flag stops in suburban and rural areas 
expressed concern regarding the requirement that tripper buses stop 
only at clearly marked public bus stops. The proposed rulemaking was 
not intended to eliminate the use of flag stops for tripper service 
when such stops are generally

[[Page 4083]]

used for public transportation service. Commenters who opposed this 
clarification generally expressed concerns about student safety if 
buses were not allowed to stop on school property. This comment seemed 
to reflect a lack of clarity or misunderstanding of the proposed 
amendment; consistent with the current regulation, the proposed 
amendment would not have prohibited stops on school property, as long 
as those stops were clearly marked, accessible to the general public, 
and included in published bus schedules.
    APTA also opposed the public bus stop amendment based on the fact 
that FTA allows grantees to make stops on private work sites, which are 
generally inaccessible to the public. However, the statute singles out 
school bus service for special attention and the current implementing 
regulation requires that tripper buses stop only at clearly marked 
stops that are open to the public.

List of Subjects in 49 CFR Part 605

    Mass transit, Grants, School bus.


0
For the reasons set forth above, FTA is withdrawing its proposed 
amendments to title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations, part 605.
* * * * *

    Issued on: January 4, 2005.
Jennifer L. Dorn,
Administrator.
[FR Doc. 05-1644 Filed 1-27-05; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-57-U