Ronald Reagan picture

Statement on Signing the Bus Regulatory Reform Act of 1982

September 20, 1982

I am pleased to sign into law today H.R. 3663, the Bus Regulatory Reform Act of 1982. One of the basic policies of my administration is that private enterprise should be as private as possible—guided by the market judgments of business managers rather than by the dictates of government regulators. Enactment of this legislation is a significant milestone in our efforts to deregulate one of our country's most vital economic sectors, the surface transportation industry.

Since the intercity bus industry was first regulated in 1935, it has been subject to Federal review and approval of business decisions on what markets to serve, where to pick up and drop off passengers, how much to charge for a ticket, and even how much to spend on interior decoration. The result, increasingly apparent in recent years, has been that the industry has paid a great price in terms of regulatory delay, inefficient operations, and stifled innovation. The price, of course, has ultimately been borne by the bus passenger.

The Bus Regulatory Reform Act is a major step toward removing these regulatory burdens. Regulatory standards will be simplified and procedures expedited. Carriers will be able to enter into new markets much more easily. "Closed-door" restrictions, which prevent carriers from picking up or letting off passengers at intermediate points, will generally be removed. Carriers will not have to apply separately for authority to carry packages as well as passengers.

Along with freer entry, there will be freer exit. Carriers are naturally reluctant to enter new markets or offer innovative services if they fear the government will not allow them to withdraw if their business judgment indicates they should. This new act recognizes that forcing a carrier to continue to operate unprofitable service does not make sense and will facilitate withdrawal from such markets.

In the important area of rates, this legislation provides for a gradually increasing zone within which carriers may raise or lower rates without seeking Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) approval. The act will also phase out antitrust immunity for collectively set single-line and joint-line rates. After 3 years, ICC authority over rates that are not set collectively will end, except for continuing authority over predatory pricing.

With this legislation, we can expect to see better service to large and small communities across the Nation. We can expect to see more price options available to the consumer. And we can expect to see a more profitable and more efficient intercity bus industry, one which is governed by competitive market forces rather than by inefficient and protective government regulations.

Earlier legislation has reformed government regulation of the airline, rail, and truck industries. With the Bus Regulatory Reform Act of 1982, the intercity bus industry will also have the benefits of deregulation. While I believe that there is still too much Federal regulation of the transportation industries, this act is nevertheless a step in the right direction.

The bus industry and the people it serves represent a large and diverse group. Consequently, many parties with different interests have been concerned with this legislation. To ensure the interests of all these parties have been well served has required the highest degree of skillful negotiation and a willingness on the part of all to reach legitimate compromises. I am aware of the personal interest and hard work of the leadership of the House and Senate, of Secretary of Transportation Drew Lewis, and of Chairman Reese Taylor of the Interstate Commerce Commission in developing this legislation. Particular appreciation is due to Senator Packwood, Senator Cannon, and Senator Danforth, and to Representative Howard, Representative Clausen, Representative Anderson, and Representative Shuster for the expeditious handling of this legislation.

I have also today determined to take appropriate action, as authorized by the Bus Regulatory Reform Act and pursuant to my authority as President, with the intent of resolving the transborder trucking issue. A copy of my determination is attached and will be transmitted to the Congress and published in the Federal Register.

Note: As enacted, H.R. 3663 is Public Law 97-261, approved September 20.

Ronald Reagan, Statement on Signing the Bus Regulatory Reform Act of 1982 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Simple Search of Our Archives