• A New Age of Enforcement: Adjusting to Remote and Offsite Investigations & How to Prepare By:

    Presented as part of ABA’s BISC & BusMARC 2021 Virtual Safety & Maintenance Series The American Bus Association’s Bus Industry Safety Council (BISC) and Bus Maintenance Repair Council’s (BusMARC) 2021 Virtual Safety & Maintenance Series offered a sequence of educational webinars early this year, covering a variety of industry-related topics. As part of its ongoing webinar series, the ABA hosted a virtual meeting with presenters Catterson Oh and Danielle Smith, transportation specialists with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Compliance Division. Oh and Smith focused on COVID-19 national emergency investigative process updates including changes to the FMCSA investigative procedures due to COVID-19, recordkeeping and documentation as the result of COVID-19, and providing accurate documentation for FMCSA investigations. Changes to Investigative Procedures as a Result of the COVID-19 Health Emergency In May 2020, the FMCSA released guidance allowing investigators to conduct remote onsite investigations. These remote onsite investigations are intended to follow the same general process as offsite investigations with the exception that most of the investigation is now completed remotely. According to Oh, May 2020 resulted in a significant expansion to the FMCSA’s remote functionality. While motorcoach operators may not have seen any investigations in the last year, Oh noted that due to this expanded functionality, companies should expect a considerable increase in the number of investigations moving forward. “In terms of the offsite investigations with this pandemic, the policy with this particular type of investigation has not changed,” Oh said. “The offsite investigation will still be recommended for carriers that meet the appropriate criteria for this population of carriers.” Although carriers will not receive a rating from an offsite investigation, offsite investigations may be converted to onsite remote investigations under certain circumstances. Carriers with investigations that are converted onsite may be issued a Safety Fitness Rating. Overview of Investigation Process   Safety Investigator (SI) will conduct an initial phone call with the carrier to introduce themselves, and review the reason for the investigation and next steps.  2. SI will email the carrier an Initial Contact Letter that will go over initial documents being requested.  3. Carrier will upload the initial documents to the Safety Measurement System (SMS).  4. After SI receives the initial documents, they may request additional documents via a Document Request Letter.  5. SI may contact the carrier via phone and email throughout the investigation.  6. Once SI has completed the investigation, they will request a closeout meeting with the carrier, which can be done via phone, Microsoft Teams, Skype, or other platform.  7. Carrier may receive a Safety Rating upon completion of the Remote Onsite Investigation. According to Oh, carriers subject to investigation will receive a phone call, followed by an initial contact letter, from an FMSCA Safety Investigator (SI) introducing themselves, the reason for investigation and next steps. Once a carrier has received this letter, that carrier’s information will need to be uploaded into the FMCSA Safety Measurement System (SMS). After receiving the initial documents, an SI will review the content to determine if additional documentation is required. If additional documentation is needed the SI will issue a “document request letter.” “This is where things start kind of diverting from the normal way of doing things,” Oh explained. “Especially when you have performed onsite investigations.” An SI will start contacting the carrier via phone and e-mail throughout the investigation. In a normal onsite investigation, the SI would be with the carrier in person to answer questions and provide additional guidance.  Once the SI has completed their investigation, they will request a close out meeting with the carrier. This can be done over the phone or, more likely, in a video conferencing setting. At this point, the carrier may receive a safety rating upon completion of the remote onsite investigation.  Once the SMS has processed the information, the carrier will be able to access their dashboard, track investigation progress, check due dates and required documents, view call-to-action reminders, upload documentation, and learn to use data to increase safety performance. After the SI has reviewed all of the required documents, they will send the carrier a request for a meeting to close out the investigation. Typically, this is done onsite, face-to-face however, since the onset of the pandemic, closeouts are now performed virtually. Reinstatement After Voluntary Revocation of Operating Authority In March 2020, the FMCSA issued multiple exemptions in response to the national health emergency. One of those exemptions included waiving the $80 reinstatement fee for carriers who opted to voluntarily revoke their Passenger Operating Authority.  Carriers with a USDOT pin can login into their profile, update their registration information, and complete an MCSA-5889 form, a Motor Carrier Records Change.  Carriers without a USDOT pin, can register and request a pin number through the FMCSA website. Before submitting a request, carriers will need to file a BOC-3 (Designation of Process Agent), confirm insurance filings are up to date, and make sure that their USDOT number is reinstated and activated. Once these items are completed, the reinstatement request is going to be put on hold until the carrier has everything submitted properly. “If all is submitted and you do have to pay that fee, then you’ll get it reinstated no later than the fourth business day after the payment is processed,” Smith explained. “You can request that the fee is waived, you’re just going to submit it through EMC’s e-mail address rather than doing it through the normal process online.”  FMCSA Ratings The FMCSA issues three types of ratings. Satisfactory, conditional, or unsatisfactory. Satisfactory means that there are safety systems in place and they all appear to be working. Conditional means that there are safety systems in place, but there are breakdowns within some of those systems. While carriers are still able to operate with a conditional rating, some choose not to do so and would rather upgrade their score. Unsatisfactory ratings mean a carrier is considered unfit and are not allowed to operate after that time.  “All of the critical violations are listed within the Read More >

  • MotorVision By:

    BUSRide is pleased to announce the return of MotorVision. The popular contest last appeared in 2011, and annually spotlighted the best and brightest bus wraps and graphics in the industry. MotorVision has become known as the industry standard for showing off the best rolling billboards, moving murals, and free-wheeling creativity on wheels.  With its return to the pages of BUSRide, the new MotorVision serves as a showcase for top graphic designers and outfitters that specialize in bus graphics. This month, our MotorVision spotlight is on BusGraphix, based in Tempe, Arizona. BusGraphix is a premier provider of commercial graphics in the USA, been providing clients with exceptional graphic services since 1994. Building relationships and servicing clients is what Jay Lieske and his BusGraphix team love and they will stop at nothing to make sure that every project stands out in its own unique way. BusGraphix is proud of its mind-blowing designs, meticulous production process using the highest quality materials in the market, and its highly skilled and award-winning installation team with over a century of combined experience. BusGraphix is located in Tempe, Arizona, providing high-end commercial bus graphics for the USA since 1994. Visit for more information. BusGraphix has wrapped over 90 buses for Genentech, the American biotechnology corporation, over the past five years under contract. The pictured bus is a zero-emissions double-decker. BusGraphix and Transportation Charter Services have shared a business partnership for more than two decades, resulting in hundreds of buses branded with BusGraphix’s signature wraps. This wrap was created as part of an advertising partnership between ASU and Coca-Cola. BusGraphix has wrapped over 60 coaches for its Tempe neighborArizona State University (ASU)over the past four years. The team at BusGraphix have developed a strategic partnership with ASU and the university’s transportation provider Arrow Stage Lines.

  • Palm Tran Elevates Fare Payments with Genfare By:

    With three facilities and approximately 7 million boardings annually across Florida’s expansive Palm Beach County, Palm Tran Public Transportation was looking for a way to elevate customer experience while advancing equitable mobility for its riders. “We are always searching for ways to grow our ridership” said Clinton Forbes, Executive Director of Palm Tran. “And we know that technology is a major part of that. Partnering with a company like Genfare, who are experts in this area has helped us find those new customers through technology.” Several years ago, Palm Tran began working with Genfare as a way to help increase functionality and provide their riders with an opportunity for open payments.  Utilizing Genfare’s Fast Fare farebox, an all-in-one, customizable farebox that accepts, validates, and processes whatever form of payment is in the rider’s pocket, Palm Tran users are able to digitize their cash with multiple on and off the bus options, whether it’s cash, coin, open payment, mobile or smart card. “In terms of providing better payment options for our riders, I definitely wanted our riders to be able to approach our vehicle without having to think about how they pay the fair,” Forbes said. “Genfare helped design and deliver that technology for us.”  According to Forbes, implementing the new system was a complex process but with Genfare’s hands on assistance, the agency was able to make a smooth transition. After receiving approval on their proposed RFP, Genfare assigned a program manager to Palm Tran’s project. A solution architects team then created a Scope of Work (SOW), which defined the technical deliverables and identified expectations for both parties. The SOW was then shared with the customer and once approved, the program manager began working directly with Palm Tran to kick off the project. “Once all of that was completed, our program management team conducted demo and discovery sessions where we worked in one-to-two-day workshop sessions with the transit agency team members,” said Vandana Sudini, Genfare senior program manager. “Once they were comfortable and all the training and testing was completed, we then launched a pilot phase to make sure everything in production was working as expected.” Once the pilot was deemed successful, the product was then launched into production. After the go live, Sudini remained on site to ensure the rollout was a success. “I was there for 10 days, from the installation all the way to going live just to make sure they had enough support and that their campaign went amazing,” Sudini said. “They ran a very good promotion, which brought 5,000 rider registrations within the month. I had never seen that before.” After the launch, Genfare continued to provide follow-up training on a demand basis for Palm Tran employees. They were also provided with access to Genfare’s customer portal which offers a variety of videos and training materials for both operations staff as well as customers. “It is important to work with a vendor that is really going to be there for you during this implementation and post implementation,” Forbes said. “That you can pick up the phone and make a call and they will have someone assist you through the entire process. I have to say that Genfare has been there for us, from the president to the technician, we have had support from Genfare.”