BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ó




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                                UNFINISHED BUSINESS 


          Bill No:  SB 812
          Author:   Hill (D), et al.
          Amended:  8/18/16   
          Vote:     21 

           SENATE TRANS. & HOUSING COMMITTEE:  10-0, 4/5/16
           AYES:  Beall, Cannella, Allen, Bates, Galgiani, Leyva, McGuire,  
            Mendoza, Roth, Wieckowski
           NO VOTE RECORDED:  Gaines

           SENATE ENERGY, U. & C. COMMITTEE:  11-0, 4/19/16
           AYES:  Hueso, Morrell, Cannella, Gaines, Hertzberg, Hill, Lara,  
            Leyva, McGuire, Pavley, Wolk

           SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE:  7-0, 5/27/16
           AYES:  Lara, Bates, Beall, Hill, McGuire, Mendoza, Nielsen

           SENATE FLOOR:  39-0, 6/1/16
           AYES:  Allen, Anderson, Bates, Beall, Berryhill, Block,  
            Cannella, De León, Fuller, Gaines, Galgiani, Glazer, Hall,  
            Hancock, Hernandez, Hertzberg, Hill, Hueso, Huff, Jackson,  
            Lara, Leno, Leyva, Liu, McGuire, Mendoza, Mitchell, Monning,  
            Moorlach, Morrell, Nguyen, Nielsen, Pan, Pavley, Roth, Stone,  
            Vidak, Wieckowski, Wolk
           NO VOTE RECORDED:  Runner

           ASSEMBLY FLOOR:  80-0, 8/30/16 - See last page for vote
           
           SUBJECT:   Modified limousines and tour buses:  standards and  
                     inspections


          SOURCE:    Author










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          DIGEST:   This bill makes changes to the California Highway  
          Patrols (CHP) authority to inspect charter-bus terminals and  
          order vehicles out of service, with the goal of increasing  
          regulatory scrutiny of operators with poor safety records.  


          Assembly Amendments remove most of the provisions in the bill as  
          passed out of the Senate, including language changing the  
          frequency of inspection for operators based on their past  
          performance record; language requiring the development, by  
          regulation, of a new inspection fee structure and a  
          performance-based inspection program; language requiring that  
          10% of terminal inspections be unscheduled; and language  
          establishing that two consecutive unsatisfactory ratings on  
          terminal inspections trigger the loss of an operator's license.   
          Additionally, the amendments extend the compliance deadline for  
          prior legislation related to modified limousine safety by one  
          year.


          ANALYSIS:   


          Existing law: 

          1)Requires that charter-party carriers of passengers and  
            passenger stage corporations:

             a)   Obtain a permit from the California Public Utilities  
               Commission (CPUC).

             b)   Register all individual buses with the CPUC.

             c)   Conduct safety inspections on each of their buses at  
               least every 45 days.

             d)   Correct any defects that are found during an inspection  
               before transporting passengers.

             e)   Keep detailed records of inspections and repairs  
               performed.









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          2)Requires the CHP to: 

             a)   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  
               carriers with more than 100 buses, inspections are not  
               scheduled in advance.

             b)   Collect a fee of $15 per bus (not to exceed $6,500  
               total) to offset the cost of terminal inspections of  
               charter-party carriers.  These fees are deposited in the  
               state Motor Vehicle Account. 

             c)   Reinspect, within 120 days, any terminal that receives  
               an "unsatisfactory" rating in an inspection. 

          3)Authorizes the CHP to recommend that the CPUC suspend a  
            carrier's operating authority when the CHP finds violations at  
            a terminal that constitute an imminent threat to public safety  
            or a consistent failure to comply with regulations.

          4)Requires the CPUC to follow the CHP's recommendation, pending  
            a hearing.

          5)Requires operators of modified limousines to ensure that  
            sufficient door and window exits, as specified, are installed  
            on certain vehicles by January 1, 2017.

          6)Requires the CHP to establish standards for operability of  
            window exits on modified limousines by January 1, 2017.

          This bill:

          1)Encourages the CHP to conduct surprise inspections of tour bus  
            operations to the extent that it is possible to do so.

          2)Clarifies that the CHP is not prohibited from conducting  
            surprise inspections of tour bus operations with fewer than  
            100 buses.

          3)Requires the CHP to conduct a follow-up inspection 30 to 90  
            days after a terminal receives an unsatisfactory rating in a  








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            regular inspection.

          4)Requires the CHP to order a bus out of service if it finds,  
            either during a terminal inspection or at some other time,  
            multiple safety violations that could constitute an imminent  
            danger to public safety. 

          5)Forbids the operator of a bus that has been ordered out of  
            service from transporting passengers until the CHP has  
            verified that the safety violations have been corrected.

          6)Extends the deadline for operators to comply with modified  
            limousine emergency exit requirements, and for CHP to develop  
            standards for window exits, to January 1, 2018.

          Comments

          1)Purpose.  According to the author, SB 812 puts forward common  
            sense policies to improve the safety of tour buses driven in  
            California.  Since 1986, the CHP has had a program in place to  
            inspect the safety of tour buses in the state.  Since the  
            inception of the program, the CHP has inspected thousands of  
            buses and caught many mechanical problems.  However, the  
            author states that there are components of the inspection  
            program that need to be updated and strengthened, and the  
            purpose of SB 812 is to do that.  The bill encourages the CHP  
            to conduct surprise, unannounced tour bus inspections and  
            requires the CHP to order a bus out of service if it finds  
            safety violations that endanger the public.  It also shortens  
            the amount of time a bus operator has to fix safety problems.   


          2)What's covered?  This bill deals with bus transportation by  
            charter-party carriers and passenger stage corporations.  It  
            does not affect school buses or public transit buses.  A bus  
            is defined as a vehicle designed to carry more than 10 people,  
            including the driver.  Charter-party carriers transport  
            passengers traveling under a single contract for a fixed fee.   
            Passenger stage corporations transport passengers over a fixed  
            route between regular termini. 

          3)San Francisco tour bus accident.  On November 13, 2015, 19  








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            people were injured when a City Sightseeing bus crashed into  
            construction scaffolding in San Francisco's Union Square.  The  
            bus was originally a transit vehicle and had been retrofitted  
            as a double-decker open-air tour bus before it was sold to  
            City Sightseeing.  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. 

          4)Related legislation: AB 1574 (Chiu, 2016).  The San Francisco  
            bus crash has drawn attention to the problem of unregistered  
            "ghost buses" and to the possibility of improving the CHP's  
            bus inspection program.  The former issue is the target of AB  
            1574, a companion bill which compels the CPUC and the DMV to  
            ensure that the former has a record of all commercial buses  
            registered with the latter.  AB 1574 imposes additional  
            triggers for bus inspections and broadens the authority of the  
            CHP and the CPUC to impound vehicles. 

          5)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  
            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. 

          6)Tour bus safety: What's right and what's wrong.  Tour buses  








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            are quite safe relative to other forms of ground  
            transportation.  In the year 2013, for example, only 43 of  
            32,719 U.S. traffic fatalities (0.13%) occurred in accidents  
            involving a tour bus.  In California, only 6.5% of traffic  
            fatalities and serious injuries occur in accidents involving  
            commercial vehicles - a category that includes trucks as well  
            as several different types of buses.  It is also worth noting  
            that the CHP's terminal inspection program is more  
            comprehensive than its counterparts in other states.  

            However, some of the bus companies that have been involved in  
            recent accidents in California have been found to be out of  
            compliance with state safety regulations.  In some cases,  
            violations were not detected prior to the accident; in other  
            cases, they appear not to have been adequately addressed after  
            detection.  For example, City Sightseeing had a record of  
            satisfactory ratings on terminal inspections prior to the  
            November 2015 accident, but in a surprise inspection following  
            the crash, the CHP found multiple serious violations in the  
            terminal.  A 2013 bus crash near Pala, California, involved a  
            company that had received multiple "unsatisfactory" ratings in  
            terminal inspections in the three years leading up to the  
            crash.  

          7)Fixes: Surprise inspections, inspection follow-up, and  
            out-of-service orders.  The above examples suggest that public  
            safety may be improved by the changes to the existing tour bus  
            terminal inspection proposed in this bill. Clarifying the  
            CHP's authority to conduct surprise inspections of smaller  
            operators may increase the likelihood that safety violations  
            will be detected before accidents occur.  For terminals that  
            receive an unsatisfactory rating in an annual inspection, this  
            bill shortens the follow-up inspection window from 120 days to  
            30-90 days.  The bill also requires the CHP to order  
            individual buses out of service when serious violations that  
            threaten public safety are found, and forbids operators from  
            transporting passengers in vehicles that have been ordered out  
            of service until the CHP certifies that the violations have  
            been corrected.

          8)More time for the limousine industry.  On May 4, 2013, a  
            limousine fire on the San Mateo-Hayward bridge killed five  








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            passengers who were unable to get out of the vehicle.  Several  
            other occupants escaped by climbing through the partition  
            window separating the passengers from the driver.   
            Approximately one month later, on June 9, 2013, nine  
            passengers successfully exited a limousine in Walnut Creek  
            prior to the vehicle catching fire while idling.  In response  
            to these incidents, several bills were introduced to provide  
            additional safeguards to the limousine industry, including a  
            terminal inspection program (SB 611, Hill, Chapter 860,  
            Statutes of 2014) and requirements relating to emergency exits  
            in modified (also known as "stretch") vehicles (SB 109,  
            Corbett, Chapter 752, Statutes of 2013). 

            In the interest of efficiency, the CHP attempted to adopt the  
            new regulations required by these bills in a single rule  
            package, but the complexity of the inspection component (which  
            has been subject to subsequent, clarifying legislation) has  
            delayed the implementation of other limousine safety measures.  
             Under existing law, operators must install pop-out emergency  
            windows on certain vehicles by January 1, 2017, but the CHP  
            has yet to issue standards for window exits.  In order to give  
            operators more time to comply with the pending rules, this  
            bill was amended in the Assembly to extend the compliance  
            deadline by one year.

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


          According to the Assembly Appropriations Committee, any costs to  
          CHP should be minor and absorbable.


          SUPPORT:    (Verified  8/30/16)


          California Association of Highway Patrolmen
          California Bus Association

          OPPOSITION:  (Verified  8/30/16)










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          None received

           ASSEMBLY FLOOR:  80-0, 8/30/16
           AYES:  Achadjian, Alejo, Travis Allen, Arambula, Atkins, Baker,  
            Bigelow, Bloom, Bonilla, Bonta, Brough, Brown, Burke,  
            Calderon, Campos, Chang, Chau, Chávez, Chiu, Chu, Cooley,  
            Cooper, Dababneh, Dahle, Daly, Dodd, Eggman, Frazier, Beth  
            Gaines, Gallagher, Cristina Garcia, Eduardo Garcia, Gatto,  
            Gipson, Gomez, Gonzalez, Gordon, Gray, Grove, Hadley, Harper,  
            Roger Hernández, Holden, Irwin, Jones, Jones-Sawyer, Kim,  
            Lackey, Levine, Linder, Lopez, Low, Maienschein, Mathis,  
            Mayes, McCarty, Medina, Melendez, Mullin, Nazarian, Obernolte,  
            O'Donnell, Olsen, Patterson, Quirk, Ridley-Thomas, Rodriguez,  
            Salas, Santiago, Steinorth, Mark Stone, Thurmond, Ting,  
            Wagner, Waldron, Weber, Wilk, Williams, Wood, Rendon


          Prepared by:Sarah Carvill / T. & H. / (916) 651-41218/30/16  
            20:09:26
                                   ****  END  ****