The new transit regulations generally focus on safety standards, fare collection enforcement, and access to services.
HB 423 grants rural or urban transit district governing boards the authority to establish rules for safe and efficient operations and maintenance of their systems, except as it relates to police enforcement.
SB 650 implements recommendations for Austin’s Capital Metro from the Sunset Commission. It requires an annual five-year capital plan, annual strategic plan evaluations, and annual reports on progress to each member of the Texas Legislature. A public involvement policy is also required. Capital Metro must adopt a comprehensive rail safety plan. It can issue bonds only as related to pension benefit obligations and it must maintain reserve accounts. Capital Metro must also provide services to the disabled even in areas that withdraw from the authority area.
SB 888 permits Dallas Area Rapid Transit and the Fort Worth Transportation Authority to create a local government corporation as a tool to enable non-member cities to pay for and receive certain transit services as well as use public-private partnerships to develop projects.
SB 1422 allows for the enforced collection of public transportation fares, creating a misdemeanor offense. Transportation authorities may employ fare enforcement officers. It also provides for the tax increment financing of public transportation financing areas, as applies to county transportation authorities.
HB 2325 establishes the requirement for competitive bidding for contracts over $50,000. This raises the amount from the previous $25,000 requirement.
HB 2651 sets up a uniform procedure for visitors to a different city to gain access to public transportation services for people with disabilities. If an individual who resides outside of the provider’s service area seeks to use the provider’s services, the individual must be notified of eligibility to use the services not later than two business days after the date the individual gives the provider the appropriate notice and submits any required documentation.
Kari Banta, Transportation Associate.