BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                     SB 812


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          Date of Hearing:  June 27, 2016


                        ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORTATION


                                 Jim Frazier, Chair


          SB  
          812 (Hill) - As Amended June 21, 2016


          SENATE VOTE:  39-0


          SUBJECT:  Charter-party carriers of passengers:  passenger stage  
          corporations:  private carriers of passengers


          SUMMARY:  Imposes additional, performance-based requirements on  
          the inspection of tour buses.  Specifically, this bill:  


          1)Requires the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC),  
            upon the recommendation of the Department of the California  
            Highway Patrol (CHP) and pending an administrative hearing, to  
            suspend the permit or certificate of a passenger state  
            corporation (PSC) or charter party carrier (CPC) for receiving  
            an unsatisfactory compliance rating in three consecutive CHP  
            terminal inspections, as specified.


          2)Prohibits the fees collected by CHP to offset the costs of  
            inspections from being used to supplement other sources of  
            funding or to support any other inspection program conducted  
            by CHP.










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          3)Provides that a maintenance facility or terminal of a tour bus  
            operator that receives two or more consecutive satisfactory  
            CHP inspection ratings shall be inspected at least once every  
            26 months instead of at least once every 13 months.


          4)Provides that a maintenance facility or terminal of a tour bus  
            operator that receives an unsatisfactory CHP inspection rating  
            shall be inspected every 6 months until the operator achieves  
            a satisfactory rating during a regular terminal inspection.


          5)Requires a tour bus that is older than two years that is newly  
            acquired by a CPC or PSC that has received an unsatisfactory  
            rating and is being inspected every 6 months to be inspected  
            by CHP prior to being operated.


          6)Requires CHP to recommend to CPUC or the United States  
            Department of Transportation that a tour bus or modified  
            limousine carrier's operating authority be suspended, denied,  
            or revoked upon three consecutive unsatisfactory inspection  
            ratings, and requires CHP to retain records of each  
            recommendation by carrier.


          7)Requires CHP to order a tour bus out of service upon the  
            determination that the tour bus has multiple safety violations  
            that could constitute an imminent danger to public safety and  
            prohibits the tour bus from being operated until corrections  
            to the violations are verified by a subsequent CHP inspection  
            within 5 business days.


          8)Requires CHP to conduct unannounced surprise inspections,  
            prioritizing companies that are non-compliant, have a history  
            of non-compliance with safety laws or regulations, or have  
            received unsatisfactory ratings, and requires that at least  
            10% of the inspections it conducts each year be surprise  








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            inspections.


          9)Requires CHP, by January 1, 2018, to adopt regulations  
            modifying its existing tour bus terminal inspection program to  
            ensure that the performance-based program targets companies  
            that are non-compliant, have a history of non-compliance with  
            safety laws or regulations, or that have received  
            unsatisfactory ratings, and requires CHP to conduct a  
            follow-up inspection to an unsatisfactory rating between 30 to  
            90 days after the initial inspection.


          EXISTING LAW:


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


          2)Defines "passenger stage corporation" 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)Requires the CPUC, upon the recommendation of CHP and pending  
            an administrative hearing, to suspend the permit or  
            certificate of a PSC or CPC for failure to maintain any  
            vehicle used in transportation for compensation in a safe  








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            operating condition if that failure is either a consistent  
            failure or presents an imminent danger to public safety.


          5)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.


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


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


          8)Requires CHP to inspect every maintenance facility or terminal  
            of any person who operates any bus, including any vehicle in  
            that terminal, at least once every 13 months, with inspections  
            of terminals housing more than 100 buses occurring without  
            prior notice, and prohibits a person from operating a bus  
            without this inspection having been conducted.


          9)Requires each CPC operating tour buses in California to pay an  
            annual fee of $15 per tour bus, or a maximum of $6,500, to  
            offset the cost of the CHP inspections.


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








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          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.  As not every vehicle is  
          inspected in a terminal inspection, and an inspection can still  
          result in a satisfactory rating even if some vehicles present  
          exhibit minor safety violations, recent events suggest the  
          current inspection program may not subject certain carriers to  
          sufficient scrutiny.


          The author cites a tour bus crash in downtown San Francisco in  
          November 2015, as the impetus for this bill.  While the crash  
          was found to be the result of driver error, according to the  
          author, the vehicle had never been inspected by CHP and was not  
          properly registered with CPUC.  A subsequent surprise inspection  
          of the carrier's fleet resulted in the discovery of numerous  
          safety violations that had not been discovered in previous,  
          scheduled inspections.


          This bill would restructure CHP's tour bus inspection program as  
          a performance-based program, with additional inspections  
          targeting carriers with repeated violations and less frequent  
          inspections for carriers who consistently demonstrate  
          compliance.  Carriers with multiple unsatisfactory inspection  
          results for their tour buses or modified limousines would be  
          subject to enhanced sanctions, including revocation of the  
          carrier's operating authority.  CHP would be required to conduct  
          additional surprise inspections in order to better determine if  
          carriers are complying with all applicable requirements.


          The author believes that restructuring CHP's terminal inspection  








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          program will improve the safety and oversight of tour buses and  
          modified limousines operating in California.


          Precedent for a shift to a performance-based inspection system  
          exists in the form of the Basic Inspection of Terminals (BIT)  
          program, in which motor carriers of property are inspected based  
          upon their safety record, with non-compliant carriers facing  
          greater scrutiny and more frequent inspections and compliant  
          carriers enjoying longer periods of time between inspections.


          Proposed author's amendment:  While the BIT program is bolstered  
          through more frequent inputs of data from the carriers in the  
          form of roadside inspection facilities (scales) in addition to  
          terminal inspections, tour buses are often only regularly  
          inspected in their respective terminal inspection.  A motor  
          carrier who enjoys longer periods between terminal inspections  
          due to multiple satisfactory ratings is still subject to regular  
          verification of compliance with safety standards when they drive  
          through roadside scales, while tour buses have no equivalent  
          system for regular verification.  Currently CHP conducts  
          'destination inspections' where tour buses are inspected at one  
          terminus of their route, but the department cannot inspect those  
          vehicles mid-trip and these inspections have no real regularity.  
           However, a citing officer in a destination inspection or in any  
          other kind of roadside inspection may order a tour bus out of  
          service if found to be non-compliant.


          In order to ensure that a tour bus's continued safety  
          performance is reasonably linked to the amount of time between  
          terminal inspections, the author intends to amend this bill to  
          require CHP to additionally inspect a carrier's terminal within  
          90 days if a tour bus belonging to that terminal is ordered out  
          of service in a roadside or destination inspection due to safety  
          violations.  This amendment further links the performance of an  
          operator in the field to the scrutiny it receives under the  
          terminal inspection program.








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          Related legislation:  AB 1574 (Chiu) would require 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 met safety requirements.  AB 1574 is  
          scheduled to be heard by the Senate Transportation & Housing  
          Committee on June 28, 2016.


          AB 1677 (Ting) requires the CHP to develop protocols for the  
          inspection of tour buses by local agencies.  AB 1677 is  
          scheduled to be heard by the Senate Transportation & Housing  
          Committee on June 28, 2016.


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


          AB 529 (Lowenthal), Chapter 500, Statutes of 2013, revised the  
          BIT program to include additional vehicles and establish a  
          performance-based model for inspections.


          SB 338 (Hill) of 2013, would have required all limousines, as  
          defined, to be equipped with two fire extinguishers and would  
          have required CHP to administer an inspection program for  
          certain limousines, as specified.  SB 338 was vetoed by the  
          Governor.  In his veto message, the Governor stated that the fee  
          authorized by SB 338 was not sufficient to cover CHP's costs of  
          conducting the inspections, and requested the Legislature to  
          pass a bill with the same provisions except authorizing the CHP  
          to charge a fee for the actual cost to perform the inspections.










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          REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION:




          Support


          California Association of Highway Patrolmen


          City and County of San Francisco




          Opposition


          None on file




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