Legislative testimony U-Pass

This week, MTAC President Joe Sculley submitted testimony regarding a proposal to expand the U-Pass proposal to private colleges and universities. The current U-Pass system provides free public transportation to eligible public college students, in exchange for a $20 per semester student fee.

In his testimony, Sculley questioned the revenue impact on Connecticut’s Special Transportation Fund (STF) if this proposal were to pass. His testimony said, in part:

“Administration officials have claimed that the U-Pass program is a revenue gain for the state. This is an interesting claim, which I struggle to believe. To know whether or not this is true, we would have to know a couple of things. 1.) How much U-Pass fee revenue was collected by the state? 2.) How much fare revenue WOULD the state have collected IF the students paid for every ride they took?

If U-Pass truly is a revenue gain for the state, that would mean U-Pass fee revenue exceeds fares that would have been paid by the students. If that is true, then not enough students are using the program. However, if proponents of this want to claim that U-Pass is a success and has tons of riders, that would mean that fare revenue that WOULD have been paid far exceeds the U-Pass fee revenue collected by the state. Thus, U-Pass would be a net revenue loss. We need verifiable numbers to know which scenario is happening right now.”

See a copy of the complete testimony as a PDF.

Legislative testimony on non-consensual tows

This week, MTAC President Joe Sculley testified in opposition to a bill that would authorize a $10 surcharge on non-consensual tows. The surcharge is being pitched as a way to compensate towers for when vehicles are abandoned after non-consensual tows. Sculley pointed out that towers are not being forced to perform the non-consensual tows. They can decline the business if they feel they are not being compensated properly. However, the vehicle owner cannot decline a non-consensual tow.

In his testimony, Sculley said, in part, “at least some towers appear to not be following the regulated rates, either directly or indirectly.

I have also submitted as testimony several non-consensual tow invoices which total tens of thousands of dollars per invoice.

  • East Coast Auto Body: $44,180.66
  • Lombard Motors: $22,109.94
  • Lombard Motors: $42,337.40
  • Central Auto Transport: $88,179.55

The Owner-Operator Independent Driver’s Association (OOIDA) told MTAC that a quick analysis of six (6) recent invoices issued to their members for non-consensual tows, which appear to adhere to the regulated rates, show that the average price charged was about $5,866.”

Sculley urged rejection of the $10 surcharge and called on DMV to ensure that they are enforcing the regulated rates.

A copy of the complete testimony is available as a PDF.

Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse detects nearly 8,000 violations since Jan. 6

From Transport Topics.

Nearly 8,000 substance abuse violations have been detected and identified by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse since it went live Jan. 6, the agency announced Feb. 21.

The Clearinghouse, a database containing information on commercial driver license holders’ drug and alcohol violations, first went live last month but displayed error messages and experienced sluggish loading times. Although minor glitches remain on the website, users say it’s performing its primary objectives.

The Clearinghouse so far has more than 650,000 registrants, the agency said.

The drug and alcohol violations recorded in the database include pre-employment tests, random tests, reasonable suspicion tests, post-crash tests and refusals to submit to a test.

Carriers and their third-party administrators, state driver licensing agencies, law enforcement officials, medical review officers, and substance abuse professionals are authorized to use the Clearinghouse to check for a CDL holder’s violations.

See the complete article from Transport Topics online.

With CT tolls debate on ice, fiscal issues loom large

From CT Mirror.

Connecticut’s tolls debate may be over for now, but that lull only means Gov. Ned Lamont and legislators now must resolve a daunting list of fiscal challenges left in its wake.

Absent toll receipts from large trucks, what other measures will be needed to keep the transportation program solvent for the rest of the decade?

Will Lamont, who eased his proposed debt diet to win support for tolls, again try to tighten the purse strings?

And will lawmakers respond by again attempting to seize control of Connecticut’s credit card?

“I’ve lost patience,” the governor said last week as he announced the tolls bill had fallen into political limbo. “We’re going to fix our transportation plan, and we’re ready to work with anybody who has a constructive alternative.”

See the complete article from CT Mirror online.

MTAC submits testimony on penalties for commercial trucks on parkways

MTAC President Joe Sculley submitted testimony in response to a bill that proposes to issue fines for commercial trucks that enter the Merritt Parkway. The fines would be one hundred fifty dollars ($150) for the first violation and five hundred dollars ($500) for each subsequent violation. Sculley’s testimony said, in part:

“MTAC is aware that, from time to time, a truck will end up on the Merritt Parkway, even though trucks are restricted from the Merritt Parkway. The trucks in question are not owned or operated by MTAC members. They are out-of-state trucks, which are very likely being driven by owner-operators, who are using Google GPS directions, rather than a service which is tailored to the trucking industry. Google GPS directions do not currently notify drivers of a truck restriction. However, ideally, that can change.

While this proposal may end up raising some revenue due to an increased fine, it most likely will not solve the problem. It, unfortunately, won’t prevent the out-of-state owner-operator who is following a Google GPS from getting on the Merritt if the directions tell him to do so.”

Sculley’s testimony went on to suggest that a more productive alternative would be to work with tech companies such as Google to urge them to incorporate truck restrictions into their systems.

A copy of the testimony is available for download as a PDF.

MTAC submits testimony on anti-age discrimination bill

MTAC President Joe Sculley submitted testimony in response to legislation that would prohibit an employer from inquiring about the date of birth, or date of graduation, on a job application. Last year’s version of the bill did not contain a strong enough exception for where this inquiry is required by federal law. However, this year’s legislation does contain a very clear exception.

Sculley’s testimony said, in part: “MTAC appreciates the inclusion of Section 12, regarding an exemption from inquiring about date of birth or date of graduation on an employment application, which states “(12) For an employer, by the employer or the employer’s agent, to request or require a prospective employee’s age, date of birth, dates of  attendance at or date of graduation from an educational institution on an initial employment application, provided the provisions of this subdivision shall not apply to any employer requesting or requiring such information (A) based on a bona fide occupational qualification or need, or (B) when such information is required to comply with any provision of state or federal law.”

Because of this provision, particularly sentence (B), we have no objection to this bill.”

A copy of the complete testimony is available as a downloadable PDF.

Some Connecticut highways still ranked some of the worst in America

From Fox 61.

MTAC President Joe Sculley is featured in this report by Fox 61, which discusses the news of reduced traffic on some Connecticut highway locations.

An archived version of the February 19 story can be seen online.

Lamont abandons hope for truck-only tolls

From CT News Junkie.

Gov. Ned Lamont has given up hope that the Democrat-controlled General Assembly has the guts to vote on a truck-only tolling plan.

After meeting with legislative leaders for 45-minutes Wednesday, Lamont invited reporters into his office to explain that he’s decided to borrow the $200 million that he previously planned to get in truck-only toll revenue.

It’s unclear if the administration can use that borrowing to access the low-interest federal loans, but he’s exploring it.

“I hate to do it this way,” Lamont said. “It’s bonding in place of other things that are priorities but right now there’s no other option on the table.”

Frustrated that his Democratic colleagues were unable to call a vote Lamont said he has a “legislature that doesn’t want to make a choice.”

He said he would solve the problem if the legislature was unwilling.

See the complete article from CT News Junkie online.

FMCSA final rule calls for reduced commercial vehicle registration fees

From Transport Topics.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has issued a final rule that continues to reduce commercial vehicle registration fees in 2020 and 2021, the agency announced Feb. 12.

FMCSA said it is reducing the 2020 annual registration fees collected by states for motor carriers, private motor carriers of property, brokers, freight forwarders and leasing companies by 14.45% below the 2018 registration level. The fees will remain at the same level for 2021 and subsequent years unless revised in the future.

Reduction of the 2019 registration year fees ranges from approximately $3 to $2,712 per entity, depending on the number of vehicles owned or operated by the affected entities.

The rates are graduated based on the number of trucks a carrier has in its fleet. For instance, carriers with up to two trucks paid $69 in 2018 and $62 in 2019, but will pay $59 in 2020.

For a carrier with a fleet of 1,001 or more trucks, the proposed fee would be $56,977 in 2020, down from $59,689 in 2019.

See the complete article from Transport Topics online.

Waterbury business owner vents frustrations over proposed tolls to governor

From Waterbury Republican-American.

Truck-only bridge tolls will cost a Waterbury-based scrap metal recycling company an extra $150,000 a year, its president told Gov. Ned Lamont Wednesday, giving voice to the frustrations of members of the Waterbury Regional Chamber at the business group’s annual legislative breakfast about the latest tolling plan.

Albert Bros. Inc. President Eric Albert protested to Lamont that the number of proposed Waterbury truck-only bridge tolls – one-quarter of the total number proposed – is unfair to area businesses.

“Fair is fair, and I don’t think Waterbury is getting fair shot on that,” he said.

Lamont is supporting a plan to establish 12 toll bridges across Connecticut, including two on the approaches to the Mixmaster interchange on Interstate 84 and Route 8 in Waterbury and a third nearby on the Rochambeau Bridge over the Housatonic River on I-84 in Southbury and Newtown.

Albert told Lamont that the every one of his family-owned company’s fleet of 15 heavy trucks will hit those three tolls, and other businesses located in Waterbury and surrounding communities will be in the same position.

See the complete article from the Waterbury Republican-American online.