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White House Fact Sheet on the National Transportation Policy

March 08, 1990

President Bush today joined Secretary of Transportation Samuel K. Skinner in releasing "Moving America," the first statement of national transportation policy issued by the Federal Government in over a decade.

Last year, President Bush made development of a new national transportation policy statement one of the administration's major objectives. In developing the policy, the Department of Transportation (DOT) conducted an extensive outreach effort involving over 100 hearings, field visits, and meetings to hear the views of the transportation community and the general public. Reflecting the central role of transportation in Americans' lives, and the broad range of their transportation needs and concerns, the statement issued today is designed to improve America's competitiveness, advance American technology, unleash private sector resources and initiatives, rebuild and expand the transportation infrastructure, and improve the quality of life of all Americans.

The new statement of national transportation policy is a comprehensive framework of policies for all aspects of transportation and a strategy to carry the policies into action. The policies and action strategies reflect new initiatives, such as major increases in funding for Federal aviation and research and development programs, as well as the renewal and extension of sound policies and programs that have worked well in the past, such as increased efforts to reduce highway fatalities and to achieve economic deregulation of transportation industries.

The policy provides a framework for Federal decisions. Federal actions to carry out the new policy will be built on the foundation of a strengthened transportation partnership in which Federal, State, and local governments and the private sector all participate in financing, maintaining, and operating the transportation system.

The policy statement and the action strategies focus on six themes:

Maintain and expand the Nation's transportation system.

Foster a sound financial base for transportation.

Keep the transportation industry strong and competitive.

Ensure that the transportation system supports public safety and national security.

Protect the environment and the quality of life.

Advance U.S. transportation technology and expertise.

Maintain and Expand the Nation's Transportation System

The policy provides a framework for reauthorizing Federal transportation programs by focusing Federal resources on facilities and projects of national significance, reducing categorical grants, and providing greater flexibility to recipients. The policy gives priority to maintaining needed transportation infrastructure, encourages effective management and pricing techniques to improve use of assets and enhance capacity, promotes increased attention to intermodal and rural connections, and supports addition of new capacity where required. The Federal Government will work with its partners, State and local governments and the private sector, to address the projected transportation needs.

Strategies for action include:

Increase Federal research and development funding and aviation capital improvements -- air traffic control modernization and airport grants -- by 70 percent over the amount funded during the previous 5 years.

Focus Federal-aid highway programs on systems and projects of national significance, and provide greater flexibility to State and local governments.

Restructure urban mass transportation programs to provide greater flexibility and increased State and local matching shares.

Foster a Sound Financial Base for Transportation

The policy supports increased reliance on user fees, reduced spending from the General Fund, and use of transportation trust funds in a fiscally responsible manner. It proposes to foster State and local financing by permitting greater use of tolls on highways and passenger facility charges at airports. It also promotes greater private investment in transportation by supporting the removal of legal and regulatory barriers to private participation in financing, building, owning, and operating facilities and services such as roads and transit systems. The policy encourages joint public-private projects at the State and local level.

Strategies for action include:

Spend transportation trust funds for transportation purposes.

Increase aviation user fees to finance an expanded program.

Allow local passenger facility charges at airports, to finance increased airport capacity.

Increase private sector participation in transportation, including local transit and airports.

Increase State, local, and private funding of highways by, for example, opening up opportunities for toll roads.

Establish new Federal user fees to recover a portion of Coast Guard and Federal railroad safety activities.

Keep the Transportation Industry Strong and Competitive

The policy encourages increased productivity and competitiveness in transportation. Federal budgets and programs will emphasize more cost-effectiveness and competitiveness for mass transit, the U.S. merchant marine, and commercial space services. The policy supports elimination of unnecessary and outmoded Federal regulations, including remaining ICC regulation of trucking, inconsistent State requirements and standards for truck regulation and tax reporting, and Federal requirements that impose unique cost burdens on railroads. DOT will reassess Federal user charges and subsidies affecting competition among modes and will review maritime, aviation, and other programs to ensure free and equitable competition. DOT will also participate in negotiations to improve access of U.S. transportation companies to international markets and to encourage harmonization of equipment technologies and standards domestically and internationally. Finally, the Federal transportation work force will be enhanced by increasing the number of air traffic controllers and improving the recruitment and training of controllers.

Strategies for action include:

Encourage uniform international standards for air traffic control, aircraft, and airports.

Encourage more open skies in international agreements.

Promote uniformity in State registration and reporting requirements for motor carriers.

Eliminate remaining economic regulation of trucking.

Support repeal of the Federal Employers' Liability Act for railroads.

Achieve Amtrak self-sufficiency.

Review and restructure maritime programs to improve competitiveness of U.S.-flag ships in world trade.

Ensure that the Transportation System Supports Public Safety and National Security

One of the chief objectives of the policy is to improve transportation safety. A major focus is reducing highway fatalities. The policy also focuses on effective handling of hazardous materials, aging aircraft and aviation security, and standards and procedures for safe construction and operation in all modes. To support national security, the policy commits DOT to work with the Department of Defense to identify defense transportation needs and carry out the new national sealift and airlift policy. Other policy commitments include working with other agencies in fighting terrorism and in battling domestic and international trafficking in illegal drugs.

Strategies for action include:

Support reauthorization of highway safety programs to reduce highway fatalities.

Increase the number of Federal aviation, railroad, and motor carrier safety inspectors.

Increase public awareness and promote enforcement of State seatbelt, child safety, and motorcycle helmet laws.

Reduce drunk and drugged driving.

Improve safety standards for passenger cars, light trucks, and vans.

Enhance marine safety by reducing the incidence of boating while intoxicated and supporting other safety initiatives.

Support legislation strengthening oversight of the transportation of hazardous materials.

Expand safety inspection and enforcement for pipelines with greatest risk.

Improve disaster preparedness.

Increase the level of effort for DOT drug enforcement by 10 percent in FY 1991.

Protect the Environment and the Quality of Life

An essential consideration in transportation is its effect on the environment and on the quality of life, including access and mobility for all citizens. The statement recognizes the importance of minimizing adverse effects of transportation on the environment, and supports the administration's clean air initiatives as they relate to transportation. Under the policy, DOT will promote stronger measures for oilspill prevention, effective means of responding to spills that occur, and liability requirements for damages caused by oilspills.

Strategies for action include:

Carry out transportation elements of the administration's clean air initiatives.

Support and implement enhanced oilspill protection and liability legislation.

Support no net loss goal for wetlands affected by transportation projects consistent with administration policy.

Enforce mobility rights of disabled citizens.

Advance U.S. Transportation Technology and Expertise

The policy emphasizes the importance of renewed attention to technology and innovation, and supports increased Federal spending for transportation research, including magnetic levitation and intelligent vehicle/highway systems. The policy commits DOT to working with the academic and business communities to build awareness of transportation as a career and increase cooperative programs to prepare professionals for technologically advanced careers in transportation. The policy calls for coordination among Federal agencies and State, local, and private interests to improve collection of transportation-related data, foster more effective dissemination of data, and share knowledge of techniques for applying data in transportation planning and decisionmaking.

Strategies for action include:

Increase overall funding for DOT research and development activities by 17 percent in FY 1991.

Increase funding for new aviation technology and human factors research.

Increase highway research, including intelligent vehicle/highway systems.

Conduct research on magnetic levitation and high-speed rail.

Develop a comprehensive assessment of data needs and priorities of DOT and the transportation community.

George Bush, White House Fact Sheet on the National Transportation Policy Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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