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News Digest DOT 30-16

FMCSA Extends Compliance Date of Bus Leasing and Interchange Final Rule Until January 1, 2018.   On May 27, 2015, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published in the Federal Register a Final Rule to identify motor carriers transporting passengers in interstate commerce and correctly assign responsibility to these entities for regulatory violations during inspections, compliance investigations, and crash investigations.  This Final Rule will also provide the general public with the means to identify the responsible motor carrier at the time transportation services are provided.  The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommended that FMCSA regulate the leasing of passenger carriers in much the same way as it regulates the leasing of for-hire property carriers.  The original compliance date as set forth in the Final Rule was January 1, 2017.  The one-year extension of the compliance date announced today will allow FMCSA a sufficient opportunity to review and, where appropriate, make adjustments to the rule in response to a number of petitions for reconsideration.  For further information, see today’s Federal Register announcement here.  Contact:  Duane DeBruyne:  (202) 366-9999.

DOT Fines Dynamic Airways for Violating Consumer Protection and Disability Regulations Protecting Public Charter Operators.  The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) fined Dynamic Airways $200,000 for violating federal consumer protection and disability rights regulations protecting public charter passengers.  Dynamic has agreed to pay the civil penalty pursuant to a consent order issued by DOT.  An on-site regulatory compliance inspection in 2015 conducted by DOT’s Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings revealed that Dynamic failed to comply with DOT regulations that prohibit public charter flight cancellations within 10 days of the scheduled departure unless it is physically impossible for the carrier to operate the flight.   Dynamic cancelled a number of flights fewer than 10 days before the scheduled dates of departure and the carrier was unable to demonstrate that these cancellations were based on circumstances that made it physically impossible to operate the flights.  In addition, Dynamic failed to notify DOT of these cancellations and failed to notify consumers of their rights to obtain refunds in such situations as required.  In 2014 and 2015, Dynamic also failed to adequately protect consumer funds by ensuring that funds received from consumers by travel agents were deposited into an escrow account in a timely manner.  The investigation also found that, for a significant period of time, Dynamic did not have trained personnel available at the airport to address any real-time issues related to air travel accessibility encountered by passengers with disabilities.  Dynamic further failed to file with the Department an annual report of its disability-related complaints.  DOT also found that in 2014, Dynamic excluded over two dozen categories of items from the carrier’s liability for mishandled baggage, contrary to the Montreal Convention.  This effectively limited consumers’ ability to obtain money for such items if lost or damaged while carried in checked baggage.  The consent order is available at www.regulations.gov, docket DOT-OST-2016-0002.  Contact:  Caitlin Harvey:  (202) 366-4570.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2016
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