Megabus meets with White House over seatbelt rule

There are about 30 different companies within Coach USA umbrella in North America, all of which are already outfitted with seat belts.

“It is our position that any new coaches we purchase will have to have seat belts,” said Don Carmichael, the executive vice president and senior vice president of safety for Coach USA.

The company introduced the policy “several years ago,” he told The Hill. Carmichael declined to comment about the meeting.

John Oakman, the senior vice president of fleet maintenance at Coach USA, represented the company at the meeting, along with Christopher Falcone and David Coburn from the global lobbying firm Steptoe & Johnson.

Various White House officials were also present, including James Williamson, a public finance specialist in the president’s Council of Economic Advisors. No one from the DOT or National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) attended the meeting.

In its proposed rule, DOT weighed whether or not to require companies to retrofit busses and motor coaches – which include school busses – with seatbelts. The lifespan of a typical bus can be up to 20 years, the department noted, and the cost could be too high, especially for smaller independent fleets.

Until the rule leaves the White House, it is unclear what changes the administration made to the 2010 proposal.

NHTSA says 19 passengers are killed each year in motor coach accidents and the seatbelt rule would reduce the risk of death in a rollover crash by 77 percent.