Businesses offering limo bus and charter tour bus services must follow the FMCSA’s vehicle regulations to maximize safety. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates private interstate bus transportation by setting safety standards to reduce crashes, injuries and fatalities. Private carriers must follow specific rules regarding licensing, driver qualifications, hours of service and maintenance.
Depending on the use of your limo, charter or other bus type, it will fall into one of two types—a business or non-business PMCP. A carrier considered a “private motor carrier of passengers” operates vehicles across state lines or transports 16 or more passengers. Business PMCPs provide transportation for commercial purposes, such as transportation for employees or professional musicians on concert tours. The public does not have access to their services. Non-business PMCPs provide services for non-commercial organizations, such as churches, private schools, scout groups or charity groups.
Private carriers must follow FMSCA rules regarding licensing and driver qualifications. Charter tour bus carriers need to obtain a license from FMSCA to operate across state lines, and the amount of insurance bus carriers need depends on the seating capacity of their vehicles. Buses that seat over 15 passengers must have a minimum of $5 million public liability insurance. Bus carriers must maintain files for every driver they hire stating qualifications, and they must retain accident-related files for three years after any incident.
In order to operate a limo, charter or other bus, a driver may not have a criminal history, suspended or rescinded license, or a history of violating out-of-service orders. The FMCSA also sets limits for the amount of time drivers may operate a bus—generally no more than 10 hours at a time, followed by 8 hours off duty. Non-business PMCP drivers are subject to these regulations, but they are not required to maintain records of duty status. Their hours are evaluated during terminal, en route, and destination inspections.
Charter and limo bus carriers must systematically inspect, repair and maintain all their vehicles through mandated inspection programs. A qualified inspector should replace or repair parts, check the engines, transmissions, brakes, exhaust and electrical systems. After inspection, the bus carrier must keep records documenting bus maintenance. The brakes, oil and tire pressure should be checked on a monthly basis. After trips, drivers must deliver roadside reports to their employer and complete a post-trip inspection. Bus carriers should also have safety procedures in case of emergencies requiring repair or replacement of the limo, charter or other vehicle type.
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