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Bus Leases – Owner/Operators

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In New Jersey, we have a great many minibus or jitney van operators who operate a fleet of vehicles, some of which are owned by the company, and some of which are owned by independent owner operators.  The owner operators lease their buses to the company which maintains the operating certificates or bus routes, usually issued by the FMCSA, and the liability insurance. 

The owner operator pays a flat fee per day or week to operate, usually in the area of $135-$185/day.  The owner operator selects the route that he wishes to operate from among several authorized to the company, and sets his own hours, depending on how ambitious or hungry he is.  The owner operator keeps all passenger revenues, pays the tolls and parking fees, and his own fuel costs.

Here’s the catch. The State Regulatory Agency (in NJ, it is the NJ MVC, formerly the NJ DOT) has Regulations on what must be included in the Lease Agreement.  The Lease must have a fixed term, a beginning and an end, and it requires the owner operator to turn in his plates along with a Release from the company when he chooses to leave the company and this lease arrangement.  Some company operators are not as honest as you might think, and they draft Lease Agreements that do not allow the owner operator to terminate and voluntarily withdraw from the company.  This violates State law and may require the intervention of an attorney and the Courts, unless the State Agency chooses to monitor the arrangement as set forth in its own Regulations.

I am an attorney who has considerable experience in this area and can assist the owner operators who have become the unwitting pawns of the company owners.

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

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