BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



          SENATE COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORTATION AND HOUSING
                              Senator Jim Beall, Chair
                                2015 - 2016  Regular 

          Bill No:          AB 1677           Hearing Date:    6/28/2016
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          |Author:   |Ting                                                  |
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          |Version:  |5/31/2016                                             |
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          |Urgency:  |No                     |Fiscal:      |Yes             |
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          |Consultant|Sarah Carvill                                         |
          |:         |                                                      |
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          SUBJECT:  Vehicles:  tour buses:  safety inspections


          DIGEST:  This bill requires the California Highway Patrol (CHP)  
          to develop protocols for collaborating with representatives of  
          local government to increase the number of tour bus inspections  
          within their jurisdictions.

          ANALYSIS:
          
          Existing law:
          
          1)Defines "charter-party carriers of passengers" (CPCs) as  
            persons engaged in the transportation of persons by motor  
            vehicle for compensation over any public highway.

          2)Defines "passenger stage corporations" (PSCs) as corporations  
            or persons 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  
            fixed termini or over a regular route, as specified. 

          3)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. 

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









          AB 1677 (Ting)                                      Page 2 of ?
          
          
          5)Requires that CPCs and PSCs obtain a permit from and register  
            all individual buses with the California Public Utilities  
            Commission (CPUC).

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

          7)Requires all tour buses to be inspected every 45 days by the  
            tour bus operator, or more often if necessary to ensure safe  
            operation, to correct any defects that are found during an  
            inspection before transporting passengers, and to keep  
            detailed records of inspections and repairs performed. 

          8)Requires the CHP to conduct annual terminal inspections on a  
            representative subset of each carrier's buses and records to  
            verify that buses are being maintained in accordance with the  
            law.  For companies with fewer than 100 buses, inspections are  
            scheduled in advance. 

          9)Requires that a terminal that receives an "unsatisfactory"  
            rating in an inspection must be inspected again within 120  
            days. 

          This bill:

          1)Requires the CHP to develop protocols for entering into  
            memoranda of understanding (MoUs) with local governments, upon  
            the request of and in consultation with those entities, to  
            allow the CHP to increase the number of inspections of  
            locally-operating tour buses.

          2)Provides that any such MoU must contain a provision requiring  
            the local government entity to reimburse the CHP for all costs  
            associated with the additional inspections.

          3)Requires that any additional inspections conducted by the CHP  
            pursuant to such an agreement not be duplicative of the  
            inspections the CHP must conduct under existing law.

          COMMENTS:

          1)Purpose.  According to the author, dangerous vehicles fall  
            through the cracks of the existing tour bus regulatory system,  
            causing preventable tragedies on our streets.  In a 2013  
            report, the California State Auditor concluded that CPUC's  








          AB 1677 (Ting)                                      Page 3 of ?
          
          
            oversight of passenger carriers is insufficient to ensure  
            consumer and public safety.  The CHP inspects tour bus  
            terminals for the CPUC, but inspections cover only a sample of  
            each bus company's fleet each year.  This results in the  
            inspection of a fraction of all buses, about 30 %.  The author  
            argues that, as the entities most closely impacted by the tour  
            bus industry, local governments would benefit from uniform  
            guidelines and statutory authority to collaborate with CHP to  
            inspect tour buses that directly affect their communities and  
            visitors.  This bill requires the CHP to develop protocols for  
            entering into memoranda of understanding (MOUs) with local  
            governments in order to increase the number of tour buses  
            being inspected. 

          2)Background: San Francisco tour bus accidents.  On November 13,  
            2015, 19 people were injured when a City Sightseeing bus  
            crashed into construction scaffolding in San Francisco's Union  
            Square.  Despite early speculation that the vehicle's brakes  
            may have failed, on March 23, 2016, the CHP announced that the  
            cause of the crash was driver error.  Post-crash  
            investigations revealed that City Sightseeing had not notified  
            the CPUC when it added the bus to its fleet, as required by  
            law, and the CHP identified other safety violations at the  
            company in a December 2015 terminal inspection.  Tour buses  
            have caused two pedestrian fatalities in the last two years,  
            most recently in January, when an 82-year-old man was struck  
            and killed as he attempted to cross a busy street in the  
            Western Addition neighborhood.  The other incident occurred in  
            the crosswalk in front of City Hall, and prompted San  
            Francisco to pass an ordinance preventing tour bus drivers  
            from narrating their tours while driving.  A tour bus burst  
            into flames on Haight Street in May of 2015.  Summer of 2013  
            saw a similar tour bus fire, as well as an incident in which a  
            tour bus struck a power line in the Richmond District.  

          3)Terminal inspections: What they do and what they don't do.   
            Buses must undergo frequent maintenance, which is why existing  
            law requires operators to perform their own safety checks and  
            routine repairs on every vehicle at least once every 45 days -  
            far more often than regulators could be called in for  
            inspections.  There are also tradeoffs between the number of  
            buses that are checked in an inspection and the amount of  
            notice given to operators, on the one hand, and the impact to  
            an operator's service on the other.  While the ideal  
            inspection program might involve surprise terminal visits in  








          AB 1677 (Ting)                                      Page 4 of ?
          
          
            which all buses are physically examined, this approach would  
            severely compromise an operator's ability to deliver reliable  
            service to paying customers.  The current terminal inspection  
            program balances these tradeoffs by checking a subset of  
            vehicles and examining terminal records to determine whether  
            operators have established systems that ensure that all of  
            their vehicles are safely maintained.  One assumption  
            underlying this approach is that it would be extraordinarily  
            difficult for operators to persuasively "fake" correspondence  
            between maintenance records and actual under-the-hood  
            conditions.  Importantly, terminal inspections also include  
            examination of records related to driver safety, so these  
            inspections are relevant to accidents caused by driver error  
            as well as those caused by mechanical failures.

          4)Uniformity versus vigilance.  This bill provides a pathway for  
            local governments to increase oversight of tour buses  
            operating within their jurisdictions if they perceive a need  
            for additional scrutiny.  As originally written, the bill  
            would have granted local governments the authority to conduct  
            supplemental inspections themselves.  This provision prompted  
            concerns that the bill would erode the statewide consistency  
            conveyed by the CHP inspection system and subject carriers to  
            multiple, differing enforcement schemes in each jurisdiction  
            in which they operate.  Amendments taken in the Assembly  
            require additional inspections to be conducted by the CHP at  
            the expense of local entities, and specify that additional  
            inspections may not be duplicative of those conducted under  
            the existing program.  The current version of the bill does  
            disrupt the uniformity of the current system, but to a much  
            lesser degree than the original proposal.

          Related Legislation:
          
          AB 1574 (Chiu, 2016)  - requires the CPUC to verify with the  
          Department of Motor Vehicles that the buses, limousines, and  
          modified limousines used by PSCs and CPCs have been reported and  
          meet safety requirements.  This bill is also being heard in this  
          committee today. 

          SB 812 (Hill, 2016) - changes existing terminal inspection  
          program administered by the CHP to make it more  
          performance-based.  This bill is pending hearing in the Assembly  
          Transportation Committee.









          AB 1677 (Ting)                                      Page 5 of ?
          
          
          Assembly Votes:

            Floor:       52-26
            Appr:        14-6
            Trans:       10-4

          FISCAL EFFECT:  Appropriation:  No    Fiscal Com.:  Yes     
          Local:  No


            POSITIONS:  (Communicated to the committee before noon on  
          Wednesday,
                          June 22, 2016.)
          
            SUPPORT:  

          Consumer Attorneys of California
          San Francisco, City and County of
          San Francisco Bicycle Coalition
          Walk San Francisco


          OPPOSITION:

          None received


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