Management & Operations

10 laws that have shaped public transport

Posted on February 1, 2004

Public transportation has been shaped repeatedly by public acts. Many of these were laws enacted by Congress with the intent of fostering the industry. But many also inhibited it, some by fulfilling the law of unintended consequences. 1. Federal Highway Act of 1921. The Roaring Twenties brought unprecedented prosperity, which, with Henry Ford’s breakthroughs, also brought about rapid increases in private car ownership. This put pressure on Congress to do something about the lack of good roads. While people began to get their kicks on Route 66 and other new highways as a result, the nation’s first federal road-building program since the Jefferson administration’s National Road also began a widening gap between public transport and road subsidies. 2. Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935. While this law was created to break up the concentration of monopoly power over electricity and gas delivery, its unintended consequences forced utilities to divest their cross-subsidized electric streetcar services. By 1950, virtually all street railways left were on their own — and struggling. 3. Urban Mass Transportation Act of 1964. For nearly 30 years, New Deal and progressive legislation doled out federal assistance to the industry in the form of bailouts and loans. This law took the help to another level, by establishing the Urban Mass Transportation Administration within the Department of Housing and Urban Development (now the Federal Transit Administration within the U.S. Department of Transportation). Considered the industry’s seminal federal assistance and oversight legislation, it authorized $375 million in matching funds (a 50:50 match considered too much by some). 4. National Environmental Policy Act of 1970. This landmark legislation required environmental impact review for all major public works, including highways and transit. 5. Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1973. In this energy crisis year, Congress authorized trade-in of controversial urban interstate highway segments to fund substitute transit projects (expanded to include highway projects in 1976). The act also for the first time allowed urban highway funds to be used for mass transit, and increased eligibility of bicycle and pedestrian facilities in the program, ideas which paved the way (excuse the pun) for today’s flexible-funding concept. In 1973, gasoline was in short supply for the first time since World War II; Americans began to rethink transportation priorities. 6. National Mass Transportation Assistance Act of 1974. Also in response to the energy crisis and to help stimulate urban development, Congress enacted the first federal public transportation operating assistance legislation, beginning a nearly 20-year trend to help larger systems’ operations, and for smaller systems, continues today. 7. Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1983. Enacted under President Reagan as a “jobs bill,” public transportation got its first dedicated source of federal revenue created by dedicating one cent of the federal gas tax for capital rail and bus projects, which Reagan sold as a “user fee” (are you listening President Bush?). 8. Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Taking regulations of a 1973 law to new levels, the ADA mandated that virtually all public transportation service required be accessible to disabled. Its “complementary paratransit” provisions dramatically expanded such services, resulting in significant expansions of privately contracted bus service. 9. Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991. This landmark legislation was the first general authorization of use of highway funds for public transportation and committed the government to consider transit on a level playing field with highways in planning stages. 10. Transportation Equity Act of the 21st Century. TEA 21 dramatically increased federal investment and other things mentioned last time, but it also created guaranteed funding. This year’s reauthorization will be a difficult encore.

View comments or post a comment on this story. (0 Comments)

More News

SinglePoint, Passengera align to provide infotainment platform

The powerful passenger infotainment solution will be on display at SinglePoint’s booth #720 at the 2017 UMA Expo in St. Louis.

Sound Transit ridership up 23% in 2016 systemwide

Ridership growth particularly picked up late in the year. Average weekday ridership during the fourth quarter increased 27.9% over the same period in 2015, with light rail weekday ridership growing 83.8%.

Findings of Toronto transit report not released to public

In June, the City paid the firm to provide business case analyses for several projects planned by the city, including Mayor John Tory’s original “SmartTrack” idea for additional stops along the GO Transit rail line travelling through Toronto, and the controversial one-stop Scarborough subway extension.

HART leasing Teslas to expand rideshare program

The HART HyperLINK program partners with Transdev to provide direct connections from door to bus stop through an on-demand ride-hailing service similar to Uber,

WTC Oculus safety improvements possible following death of woman

Jenny Santos plunged from the C1 level escalator early Saturday morning as she was grabbing her twin sister's hat. She was brought to Bellevue Hospital and pronounced dead.

See More News

Post a Comment

Post Comment

Comments (0)

More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher

Automotive Fleet

The Car and truck fleet and leasing management magazine

Business Fleet

managing 10-50 company vehicles

Fleet Financials

Executive vehicle management

Government Fleet

managing public sector vehicles & equipment

TruckingInfo.com

THE COMMERCIAL TRUCK INDUSTRY’S MOST IN-DEPTH INFORMATION SOURCE

Work Truck Magazine

The number 1 resource for vocational truck fleets

Schoolbus Fleet

Serving school transportation professionals in the U.S. and Canada

LCT Magazine

Global Resource For Limousine and Bus Transportation

Please sign in or register to .    Close