BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                    AB 1677


                                                                    Page  1





          Date of Hearing:  April 11, 2016


                        ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORTATION


                                 Jim Frazier, Chair


          AB 1677  
          (Ting) - As Introduced January 19, 2016


          SUBJECT:  Vehicles:  tour buses:  safety inspections


          SUMMARY:  Requires the California Highway Patrol (CHP) to  
          develop protocols for the inspection of tour buses by local  
          agencies.  Specifically, this bill:  


          1)Requires CHP to develop protocols, in consultation with  
            representatives of local government, to allow for the  
            inspection of tour buses by a local agency of a jurisdiction  
            in which the tour bus operates.


          2)Requires that the protocols include a requirement that the  
            local agency report its findings to the Public Utilities  
            Commission (CPUC).


          3)Requires that any inspection conducted by a local agency  
            pursuant to CHP's protocols be in addition to, and not in lieu  
            of, any existing inspection requirements imposed by state law.


          EXISTING LAW:  









                                                                    AB 1677


                                                                    Page  2






          1)Defines "charter-party carrier of passengers" (CPC) as a  
            person engaged in the transportation of persons by motor  
            vehicle for compensation over any public highway.


          2)Defines "passenger stage corporation" (PSC) as a corporation  
            or person engaged as a common carrier, for compensation, in  
            the ownership, control, operation, or management of any  
            passenger stage over any public highway in the state between a  
            fixed termini or over a regular route, as specified.


          3)Establishes the "Passenger Charter-Party Carriers Act," which  
            directs the CPUC to issue permits or certificates to  
            charter-party carriers, investigate complaints against  
            carriers, and cancel, revoke, or suspend permits and  
            certificates for specific violations.


          4)Defines a "bus" as a vehicle designed, used, or maintained for  
            carrying more than 10 persons, including the driver, which is  
            used to transport persons for compensation or profit, or is  
            used by any non-profit organization or group.  


          5)Defines a "tour bus" as a bus operated by or for a CPC or PSC.


          6)Requires CHP to regulate the equipment, maintenance, and safe  
            operation of tour buses.


          7)Requires CHP to inspect every maintenance facility or terminal  
            of any person who operates any bus and prohibits a person from  
            operating a bus without this inspection having been conducted.


          8)Additionally requires all tour buses to be inspected every 45  








                                                                    AB 1677


                                                                    Page  3





            days by the tour bus operator, or more often if necessary to  
            ensure safe operation.


          FISCAL EFFECT:  Unknown


          COMMENTS:  Existing law generally vests CPUC with the  
          responsibility to regulate CPCs and PSCs.  Tour buses operated  
          by CPCs and PSCs are required to be inspected every 13 months by  
          CHP and additionally every 45 days by the tour bus operator.   
          The findings of the inspections carried out by CHP are reported  
          to CPUC, and tour buses may not legally operate unless the bus  
          operator's terminal and maintenance facilities have been  
          inspected.  Terminal inspections typically include inspections  
          of a vehicle's registration, the driver's licensure, and the  
          condition of the vehicle itself.


          Due to the size of tour bus fleets, CHP only inspects a  
          representative sample of each carrier's fleet in the annual  
          inspection.  According to some estimates, CHP inspects less than  
          1/3 of all buses, leaving some buses uninspected.  Data from CHP  
          and CPUC indicating the true proportion of vehicles inspected is  
          not readily available. 


          This bill would require CHP to develop protocols for a state  
          standard of tour bus inspections that could be performed by  
          local agencies of a jurisdiction in which a tour bus operates.   
          The author cites a number of incidents occurring in San  
          Francisco that resulted in fatalities and injuries in recent  
          years as demonstrative of the need to fully inspect tour buses  
          operating in California.  The author believes that if CHP is  
          unable to adequately inspect the state's tour bus fleet with its  
          current resources, local agencies should be empowered to perform  
          those inspections under a standard set by CHP, leaving a smaller  
          proportion of buses uninspected, and potentially, a smaller  
          proportion of unsafe vehicles on the road.  According to the  








                                                                    AB 1677


                                                                    Page  4





          author, this bill would ensure that local communities in which  
          tour buses operate have the authority to flag and inspect  
          problem buses and companies.


          Committee concerns:  Although the author does not intend to  
          completely duplicate CHP inspections or create local inspections  
          with differing standards in different jurisdictions, it is  
          unclear if this bill will restrict the authority of CHP to  
          conduct its operations and cause a detrimental patchwork of  
          local regulations to emerge.  By authorizing local agencies to  
          perform some CHP functions, this bill may erode the statewide  
          consistency of enforcement brought by CHP inspections.  The  
          author should continue to work with CHP, CPUC and organizations  
          in opposition to this bill to ensure that the functions  
          performed by local agencies supplement the efforts of CHP, but  
          do not add a burdensome additional level of local regulation  
          that subjects a carrier to multiple, differing enforcement  
          schemes in each jurisdiction in which it operates.  This could  
          potentially be accomplished by requiring local agencies contract  
          with CHP to augment the department's resources in local  
          jurisdictions and increase the inspection rate of tour buses or  
          by specifying under what conditions and what types of  
          inspections a local agency may perform.


          Related legislation:  AB 1574 (Chiu), requires CPUC to verify  
          with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) that the buses,  
          limousines, and modified limousines used by a PSC or CPC have  
          been reported and meet safety requirements.  AB 1574 passed out  
          of the Assembly Utilities and Commerce on March 30, 2016, with a  
          13-0 vote and is scheduled to be heard by this committee on  
          April 18, 2016.


          SB 812 (Hill), requires CHP to develop inspection fees for CPCs  
          and requires CPCs or PSCs to schedule CHP inspections, as  
          specified.  SB 812 is awaiting a hearing in the Senate  
          Transportation and Housing Committee.








                                                                    AB 1677


                                                                    Page  5







          Previous legislation:  SB 541 (Hill), Chapter 718, Statutes of  
          2015, codified the State Auditor report's recommendation on  
          strengthening CPUC's oversight of transportation-related  
          activities of household good carrier and CPCs.


          SB 611 (Hill), Chapter 860, Statutes of 2014, required all  
          modified limousines, as defined, to be equipped with two fire  
          extinguishers and required the CHP to develop and implement an  
          inspection program for modified limousines, as specified.


          REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION:




          Support


          City and County of San Francisco


          Consumer Attorneys of California


          Honorable Norman Yee, San Francisco Board of Supervisors,  
          District 7




          Opposition


          California Association of Highway Patrolmen









                                                                    AB 1677


                                                                    Page  6






          California Bus Association




          Analysis Prepared by:Justin Behrens / TRANS. / (916) 319-2093