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When to Apply for FMCSA Certificate

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Timing is the most important part of applying for your first FMCSA Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity. The Application process is quick, especially if you file online, since you get an MC Number and a USDOT Number immediately. However, you are then required to file your proof of insurance within 20 days. If not, a Decision is issued granting you an additional 60 days within which to comply or have your Application dismissed. As stated in the preceding article on the new “vetting” procedure, this may take 4-6 weeks to gain approval. All the while you are paying for insurance and the financing on the new bus, but unable to operate same. Here is what I suggest. About 60 days prior to the date upon which you wish to operate, file the Application with the FMCSA and USDOT, arrange for the bus to be held for you for 60 days, arrange for insurance to be filed 40 days after your Application is submitted, and hopefully, everything will coincide at the 60 day mark, i.e. your Certificate is received, and the bus is ready to be picked up for inspection by your State DOT.

Jerry A. Casser, Esq. (Fairfield NJ Transportation attorney)  www.jcasser.com


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FMCSA Vetting Procedures

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Applicants for operating authority from the FMCSA are now finding that the application process can no longer be completed in 24 days, but may take 2 months or more. Since August 2008, the FMCSA has determined that new entrants have to be vetted to determine whether they are legitimately new carriers, or formerly approved carriers who have simply gone out of business and changed their names, only to apply for new authority. The FMCSA will examine new applicants to determine who the principals are and whether there are any affiliations with disqualified or unsafe operators. Once satisfied, the Certificate will be issued. However, a number of applicants have been denied authority. Bottom line for new applicants – be prepared to wait awhile for approval.

Follow up on 5/14/09:

The FMCSA had estimated to me that the additional time needed to investigate the applicant would be 6-8 weeks.  It has actually been 7 weeks, meaning that the total amount of time needed to obtain the Certificate is 10 weeks.  Be forewarned.  You must have your insurance in effect to avoid dismissal.  Therefore, only put one bus on the policy until approval is granted in order to minimize the insurance cost. Then add the additional buses to the policy.

Follow up on 6/16/09:

The FMCSA seems to be finally getting their act together.  Based on this week’s mail, it appears that my latest Application will make it through in exactly 2 months.  All in all, this is not terrible, as long as you can depend on this being done in a consistent pattern. My worst case is 5 1/2 months amid numerous requests for additional information.

 

Jerry A. Casser, Esq. (Fairfield NJ Transportation attorney)  www.jcasser.com


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Pending – Discontinuance of Commuter Service

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The NJ State Legislature has proposed legislation that will require any bus company providing commuter bus service to provide all communities served with 45 days notice of the “intention” to file a Petition with the NJMVC to discontinue service. Present Regulations simply require the communities to be served with a copy of the “filed” Petition, giving 30 days notice of the request to discontinue service. Basically, the proposed legislation gives each community a minimum of 75 days notice, with a better opportunity to mobilize opposition, or possibly to negotiate a reduced level of service with the bus company. While the added notice period may be considered a hindrance to a proposed discontinuance, in actuality the NJMVC is not particularly receptive to any discontinuance of commuter service and does not usually act on the Petitions within the standard 30 day period. [Note: This Article was recently published by me in the GNJMA NEWSGRAM]

Jerry A. Casser, Esq. (Fairfield NJ Transportation attorney)  www.jcasser.com


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NJ MVC Annual Reports

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It seems as if many NJ Bus Companies, possibly the newer ones, have either forgotten about or are unaware of the requirement of filing an Annual Report with the NJ MVC. The Annual Reports are due no later than March 31st covering the preceding calendar year. It had been by experience that the forms were mailed to the bus carriers during January, leaving sufficient time to complete and file same. However, during the past week, the MVC has mailed a number of the forms to me as attorney for the newer companies advising that the deadline had been missed and establishing a new deadline of August 1st.

There are serious penalties for non-compliance, i.e. revocation of operating authority in addition to a daily penalty for the late filing. No one can afford to lose their operating authority, so it behooves each and every bus company to do the requisite filing. In most cases, the filing will be done by the accountant or controller for the company, as the key information is financial (income statement and balance sheet). Fees are based upon revenues for the year. If anyone has a particular question about preparation or filing, please direct it to me at jerry@jcasser.com and I will try to help.

Jerry A. Casser, Esq. (Fairfield NJ Transportation attorney)  www.jcasser.com


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