NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Reforming Transportation Policy

February 26, 2015

Every day, Americans depend on high-quality, safe and reliable transportation. Not only does it enhance mobility, it is good for the nation's economic wellbeing. Yet when it comes to improving surface transportation, many policies cater to special interests thereby disregarding consumer preferences and needs.

The Transportation Act (TEA) proposes separating federal needs from state needs. Under this legislation, the federal government would be limited to issues such as the federally subsidized passenger rail service known as Amtrak, the Interstate Highway System or the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers efforts to build schools and beaches, thus allowing states to decide which priorities they should manage.

The TEA would also reduce the federal fuel tax over five years. For gasoline, the tax rate will drop from 18.3 cents per gallon to 3.7 cents per gallon. Diesel would drop from 24.5 centers per gallon to 5.0 cents per gallon. Additionally, the federal government would no longer run subway and bus systems as that authority would shift to the states.

Two significant transportation reforms include:

  • Commercializing or privatizing Amtrak could reduce operating costs and dismantle its rail service monopoly, thus allowing private companies to compete in the passenger transportation market.
  • Refocusing the Army Corps of Engineers' priorities and de-authorizing new projects could save $60 million from their current project backlog.

Congress could improve transportation by limiting federal oversight to issues of national importance rather than interfering with states concerns.

Source: Emily Goff, "What Congress and States Can Do to Reform Transportation Policy," Heritage Foundation, February 20, 2015. 


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