Rules reviewed at transportation hearing

Buses may soon require seat belts, emergency exits
Bus and taxi cab owners who attended the Public Transportation hearing yesterday morning led by the DOC Commerce Commission and Motor Carrier Safety Assistant Program. The hearing was held at the Fagatogo Market Place, on the ‘Adoption of New Administrative Rules' for public transportation vehicles. [photo: Jeff Hayner]

The Department of Commerce (DOC) Commerce Commission and the Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program (MCSAP) held a Public Transportation Hearing yesterday morning at the Fagatogo Market Place, to get feedback from bus and taxi cab owners and the public on the DOC's proposed ‘Adoption of New Administrative Rules’.

The Commerce Commission invited the public to comment on the proposed rules and will take all public comments into consideration, when making a final decision whether to adopt them.

One of the main issues discussed at the hearing yesterday was that of seat belts on buses, and the enforcement of the seat belt law on buses. Some bus owners asked about a specific time frame for installing the seat belts, with one owner suggesting that the bus fare rate should be raised due to the cost of installing the seat belts and other things, such as emergency exits in the rear of their buses.

The bus and taxi owners who attended the hearing showed no disagreement on the proposed rules or enforcement of the rules that were already in place, such as the seat belt rule and the ‘no smoking on buses’ rule.

They did, however, make a point of asking for enough time to install and change certain things on their buses, such as the requirement for buses to have emergency exits, with five years suggested by one of the bus owners, but he was told that was too long — instead 6 months was proposed by the CC.

Another issue discussed was the rule prohibiting the use of buses less than 3/4-ton from commercial operation outside of the area between the canneries in Atu’u and the LBJ Hospital in Faga’alu. It was noted that this rule is a compromise to the complete ban of 4-wheel or less than 3/4 ton vehicles from being used as public buses as discussed in previous meetings. Instead, a limit of where they can be used is now proposed.

According to Clara Reid, the smoking rule and the seat belt rule have been written into law, while the other points are rules put into place by the Commerce Commission under Title 19; Transportation — which may be enacted at some point. They are rules that will bring the territory into federal compliance in matters of public and commercial transportation.

The list of New Administration Rules discussed during the Public Transportation meeting yesterday are as follows:

1)            A rule amending the definition of ‘commercial vehicle’  to include pickup trucks carrying placable amounts of hazardous materials;

2)            A rule setting the application fee for the Certificate of Convenience at $20;

3)            A rule prohibiting tint on commercial vehicles;

4)            A rule requiring drivers of commercial passenger vehicles to post photo identification of the driver;

5)            A rule prohibiting smoking in commercial passenger vehicles;

6)            A rule setting forth requirements for signage and roof signs for taxis;

7)            A rule requiring emergency exits in the rear of buses;

8)            A rule prohibiting the use of buses less than 3/4 tons from commercial operation outside of the area between the canneries in Atu’u and the LBJ Hospital in Faga’alu;

9)            A rule to adopt the rules found in the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 49 Part 107, Subparts F and G, concerning the regulation of cargo tank and cargo tank vehicle manufacturers and the registration of persons who transport hazardous materials; and

10)            General rewording, renumbering and reorganization of the rules (without substantive changes).

Copies of the specific language of the draft rules may be obtained from Clara Reid at the DOC and from Sinatoga Moliga at the MSCAP at the Department of Public Safety.

 The draft may also be found at www.doc.as.

Interested persons may submit comments, orally or in writing, to Ms. Reid on or before April 18, 2012.


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