Urgent Action Items

Want to preserve school bus transportation protections?  Contact your Senator!


On Wednesday, November 9, the United States’ Senate Environment and Public Works Committee marked up the highway title of a two year surface transportation reauthorization bill.  This is the first step in a long process to complete this complex legislation.  As this legislation moves forward, it is extremely important you ask your Senator to support continued statutory protections for private school bus companies from subsidized competition by transit agencies in the provision of school bus transportation as well as charter service.  Any weakening of these provisions that have been in the law for over forty years, will threaten availability of dedicated yellow school bus transportation, the safest form of transportation.       

Before this bill reaches the Senate floor for approval, it will have to be taken up by several other Committees, including the  Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee with jurisdiction over federal transit programs.  We ask that you take a moment to identify whether or not your Senator serves on this Committee.  If you are a constituent of one of the members listed below, we ask that you fax a letter to your Senator encouraging the preservation of school bus transportation and charter protections.  Even if your Senator does not serve on the Banking Committee, it would be helpful to write your Senators about this issue.  NSTA is expecting the markup of the remaining titles to occur possibly as soon as  the end of this month, making immediate action from YOU vital within the next two weeks. 

You will find the letter NSTA sent on November 10 to the Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, as well as all sitting members, here.  You may use this as a guide to help you write your Senators,  making sure to include why your state and business benefit from these transportation protections.  Once you have completed the letter, please send an additional copy to rmccleeery@yellowbuses.org or via fax at (703) 684-3212.
Because this bill  directly affects you and your business, NSTA strongly encourages you voice your opinion and take action during this process.

Members of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee: 

Tim Johnson (SD), Chair, Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee
Richard Shelby (AL), Ranking Member, Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee
Bob Menendez (NJ), Chairman, Housing, Transportation and Community Development Subcommittee
Jim DeMint (SC), Ranking Member, Housing, Transportation and Community Development Subcommittee
  • Michael Bennet (CO)
  • Daniel Akaka (HI)
  • Michael Crapo (ID)
  • Mark Kirk (IL)
  • Jerry Moran (KS)
  • David Vitter (LA)
  • Roger Wicker (MS)
  • Jon Tester (MT)
  • Kay Hagan (NC)
  •  Mike Johanns (NE)
  • Chuck Schumer (NY)
  • Sherrod Brown (OH)
  • Jeff Merkley (OR)
  • Patrick Toomey (PA)
  • Jack Reed (RI)
  • Bob Corker (TN)
  • Mark Warner (VA)
  • Herb Kohl (WI)
Urge your Senators to Reauthorize DERA  11/18/2010

As you know, NSTA has been very active on behalf of school bus contractors in going after funding for new diesel vehicles and diesel retrofits in order to reduce emission or improve fuel economy.  We are currently trying to get the underlying Federal program that provides funding, DERA, reauthorized during the lame duck session of Congress.  Sen. Voinovich is poised to introduce a bill this week that includes many of our suggested improvements and would reauthorize the program at current authorized levels for an additional five years.  The bill also contains language NSTA asked for, including:

·         allowing contractors to apply directly for funding,
·         urging EPA to streamline the application process especially for small businesses, and
·         giving a higher priority for projects that affect air quality near schools. 
Our coalition is working hard to get this done now rather than waiting until next year.  Please call or write to your Senators this week or next to ask that they support efforts to reauthorize the program.  You can reach them through the Senate switchboard (202-224-3121) or through this link to the Senate office:  http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm  which will allow you to click on to your Senator’s office web address.  Most Senators have contact info and fax numbers on their web site and/or a link to allow you to contact them by email.  Here is language you can use in an email or letter or as talking points with your Senator’s staff.
“As a provider of school bus transportation in our state, I call/write to ask for your help in getting the Diesel Emission Reduction Program (DERA) reauthorized in the lame duck session of Congress.  The buses we operate in the state are the cleanest we can make them but we know that the newer vehicles are cleaner than the older ones and even the older ones can be made cleaner through retrofits that can greatly cut emissions.  I want what’s best for the kids that ride our buses and for the communities we serve, but in this economic climate, my ability to buy new equipment or to add technology to older ones is severely limited.  The DERA program has been hugely successful in cleaning up the air through a voluntary program that helps fund effective and efficient technologies that make diesel vehicles much cleaner.  The program is rated as one of the most cost effective of all Federal EPA programs, returning up to $28 for every dollar invested.  This bill would reauthorize the program at the same level as Congress authorized overwhelmingly in 2005.  Our industry is united behind the effort lead by Senators Voinovich and Carper and we are joined by folks in the construction industry, other end users, manufacturers of diesel vehicles and equipment, and public health advocates in pushing for reauthorization.  Please reach out to staff for Sen. Voinovich (Todd Johnston) or Sen. Carper (Lara Haynes) to cosponsor or otherwise indicate your support for the effort.”
Grassroots campaigns are announced through the NSTA Newsletter and via email to the NSTA membership.