|Long title||A bill to reform the economic regulation of railroads, and for other purposes..|
|Enacted by||the 96th United States Congress|
|Effective||October 14, 1980|
|Public law||Pub.L. 96–448|
The Staggers Rail Act of 1980 is a United States federal law that deregulated the American railroad industry to a significant extent, and it replaced the regulatory structure that had existed since the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887.
The Interstate Commerce Act of 1887 is a United States federal law that was designed to regulate the railroad industry, particularly its monopolistic practices. The Act required that railroad rates be "reasonable and just," but did not empower the government to fix specific rates. It also required that railroads publicize shipping rates and prohibited short haul or long haul fare discrimination, a form of price discrimination against smaller markets, particularly farmers in Western or Southern Territory compared to the Official Eastern states. The Act created a federal regulatory agency, the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC), which it charged with monitoring railroads to ensure that they complied with the new regulations.
In the aftermath of the Great Depression and World War II, many railroads were driven out of business by competition from the Interstate highways and airlines. The rise of the automobile led to the end of passenger train service on most railroads. Trucking businesses had become major competitors by the 1930s with the advent of improved paved roads. After the war, they expanded their operations as the highway network grew and acquired increased market share of the cargo business. 219 Railroads continued to be regulated by the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) and a complex system for setting shipping rates.:
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression that took place mostly during the 1930s, beginning in the United States. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations; in most countries, it started in 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s. It was the longest, deepest, and most widespread depression of the 20th century. In the 21st century, the Great Depression is commonly used as an example of how intensely the world's economy can decline.
World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 70 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.
An airline is a company that provides air transport services for traveling passengers and freight. Airlines utilize aircraft to supply these services, and may form partnerships or alliances with other airlines for codeshare agreements. Generally, airline companies are recognized with an air operating certificate or license issued by a governmental aviation body.
The Staggers Act followed the Railroad Revitalization and Regulatory Reform Act of 1976 (often called the "4R Act"), which reduced federal regulation of railroads and authorized implementation details for Conrail, the new northeastern railroad system.The 4R reforms included allowance of a greater range for railroad pricing without close regulatory restraint, greater independence from collective rate making procedures in rail pricing and service offers, contract rates, and, to a lesser extent, greater freedom for entry into and exit from rail markets.
The Railroad Revitalization and Regulatory Reform Act of 1976, Pub.L. 94–210, S. 2718, 90 Stat. 31, enacted February 5, 1976, often called the "4R Act," is a United States federal law that established the basic outlines of regulatory reform in the railroad industry and provided transitional operating funds following the 1970 bankruptcy of Penn Central Transportation Company. The law approved the "Final System Plan" for the newly created Conrail and authorized acquisition of Northeast Corridor tracks and facilities by Amtrak.
Conrail was the primary Class I railroad in the Northeastern United States between 1976 and 1999. The trade name Conrail is a portmanteau based on the company's legal name, and while it no longer operates trains it continues to do business as an asset management and network services provider in three Shared Assets Areas that were excluded from the division of its operations during its acquisition by CSX Corporation and the Norfolk Southern Railway.
Although the 4R Act established the guidelines, the ICC at first, did not give much effect to its legislative mandates. As regulatory change began to appear from 1976 to 1979, including the phasing in of the loss of collective ratemaking authority, most major railroads shifted away from their effort to maintain the historic regulatory system and came to support greater freedom for rail pricing, for higher and lower rail rates.
Major railroad shippers also continued to believe that they would be better served by more flexibility to arrive at tailored arrangements that were mutually beneficial to a particular shipper, and to the carrier serving a particular shipper. The judgments supported a second round of legislation.
The major regulatory changes of the Staggers Act were as follows:
Effective competition is a concept first proposed by John Maurice Clark, then under the name of "workable competition," as a "workable" alternative to the economic theory of perfect competition, as perfect competition is seldom observed in the real world.
The Act also had provisions allowing the Commission to require access by one railroad to another railroad's facilities if one railroad had effective "bottleneck" control of traffic. The provisions dealt with "reciprocal switching" (handling of railroad cars between long-haul rail carriers and local customers) and trackage rights. However, the provisions did not have as much effect as the others mentioned.
The act was named for Harley Staggers (D-WV), who chaired the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
Studies of the rail industry showed dramatic benefits for both railroads and their users from the alteration to the regulatory system. 253–4 According to studies by the Department of Transportation's Freight Management and Operations, railroad industry costs and prices were halved over a ten-year period, the railroads reversed their historic loss of traffic (as measured by ton-miles) to the trucking industry, and railroad industry profits began to recover, after decades of low profits and widespread railroad insolvencies. In 2007 the Government Accountability Office reported to Congress, "The railroad industry is increasingly healthy and rail rates have generally declined since 1985, despite recent rate increases.... There is widespread consensus that the freight rail industry has benefited from the Staggers Rail Act.":
The Association of American Railroads, the principal railroad industry trade association, stated that the Staggers Act has led to a 51 percent reduction in average shipping rates, and $480 billion has been reinvested by the industry into their rail systems.
The Staggers Act was one of three major deregulation laws passed by Congress in a two-year period, as the cumulative result of efforts to reform transport regulation begun in 1971, during the Nixon administration. The other two laws were the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 and the Motor Carrier Act of 1980. This legislation in effect superseded almost a century of detailed regulation begun with the establishment of the ICC in 1887. The Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act of 1995 abolished the ICC, and created its successor agency, the Surface Transportation Board, an administrative affiliate of the United States Department of Transportation.
A common carrier in common law countries is a person or company that transports goods or people for any person or company and is responsible for any possible loss of the goods during transport. A common carrier offers its services to the general public under license or authority provided by a regulatory body, which has usually been granted "ministerial authority" by the legislation that created it. The regulatory body may create, interpret, and enforce its regulations upon the common carrier with independence and finality as long as it acts within the bounds of the enabling legislation.
The Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) was a regulatory agency in the United States created by the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887. The agency's original purpose was to regulate railroads to ensure fair rates, to eliminate rate discrimination, and to regulate other aspects of common carriers, including interstate bus lines and telephone companies. Congress expanded ICC authority to regulate other modes of commerce beginning in 1906. Throughout the 20th century several of ICC's authorities were transferred to other federal agencies. The ICC was abolished in 1995, and its remaining functions were transferred to the Surface Transportation Board.
The Elkins Act is a 1903 United States federal law that amended the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887. The Act authorized the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) to impose heavy fines on railroads that offered rebates, and upon the shippers that accepted these rebates. The railroad companies were not permitted to offer rebates. Railroad corporations, their officers, and their employees, were all made liable for discriminatory practices.
The Hepburn Act is a 1906 United States federal law that gave the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) the power to set maximum railroad rates and extend its jurisdiction. This led to the discontinuation of free passes to loyal shippers. In addition, the ICC could view the railroads' financial records, a task simplified by standardized bookkeeping systems. For any railroad that resisted, the ICC's conditions would remain in effect until the outcome of legislation said otherwise. By the Hepburn Act, the ICC's authority was extended to cover bridges, terminals, ferries, railroad sleeping cars, express companies and oil pipelines.
The Mann–Elkins Act was a 1910 United States federal law that was among the Progressive era reforms. The Act got its name from congressmen Stephen Benton Elkins and James Robert Mann. Both congressmen sponsored and created legislation about interstate trade which would go on to be signed into law. The Mann–Elkins Act would further expand upon the work by these two men. The act was part of an initiative by President William Howard Taft "to regulate destructive competition and unfair trade practices" in order to make good on promises made during his campaign. It was created because, "Taft believed that the 1887 Interstate Commerce Act should be amended so as to permit railroads to make traffic agreements, which would preserve the principle of competition, and avoid the common control of competing railroad lines." This act was in direct response to railroad price increase that took place in 1910. The Act placed a price ceiling on interstate commerce and transportation companies to ensure fair market value of prices. The Act extended the authority of the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) to regulate the telecommunications industry, and designated telephone, telegraph and wireless companies as common carriers.. The act placed all telecommunications under the ICC's control. It was passed by the United States Senate, 50-12.
The United States Department of Transportation is a federal Cabinet department of the U.S. government concerned with transportation. It was established by an act of Congress on October 15, 1966, and began operation on April 1, 1967. It is governed by the United States Secretary of Transportation.
The Airline Deregulation Act is a 1978 United States federal law that deregulated the airline industry in the United States, removing the federal government control over such areas as fares, routes, and market entry of new airlines. It introduced a free market in the commercial airline industry and led to a great increase in the number of flights, a decrease in fares, an increase in the number of passengers and miles flown, and a consolidation of carriers. The Civil Aeronautics Board's powers of regulation were phased out, but the regulatory powers of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) were not diminished over all aspects of aviation safety.
Deregulation is the process of removing or reducing state regulations, typically in the economic sphere. It is the repeal of governmental regulation of the economy. It became common in advanced industrial economies in the 1970s and 1980s, as a result of new trends in economic thinking about the inefficiencies of government regulation, and the risk that regulatory agencies would be controlled by the regulated industry to its benefit, and thereby hurt consumers and the wider economy.
The Penn Central Transportation Company, commonly abbreviated to Penn Central, was an American Class I railroad headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, that operated from 1968 until 1976. It was created by the 1968 merger of the Pennsylvania and New York Central railroads. The New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad was added to the merger in 1969; by 1970, the company had filed for what was, at that time, the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history.
The Safety Appliance Act is a United States federal law that made air brakes and automatic couplers mandatory on all trains in the United States. It was enacted on March 2, 1893, and took effect in 1900, after a seven-year grace period. The act is credited with a sharp drop in accidents on American railroads in the early 20th century.
The United States Railroad Administration (USRA) was the name of the nationalized railroad system of the United States between December 28, 1917, and March 1st, 1920. It was possibly the largest American experiment with nationalization, and was undertaken against a background of war emergency.
The Surface Transportation Board (STB) of the United States is a federal, bipartisan, independent adjudicatory board. The STB was established in 1996 to assume some of the regulatory functions that had been administered by the Interstate Commerce Commission when the ICC was abolished. Other ICC regulatory functions were either eliminated or transferred to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration or to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics within DOT.
Harley Orrin Staggers Sr. was an American politician who served sixteen terms in the United States House of Representatives from 1949 to 1981, representing West Virginia's 2nd Congressional District as a Democrat. From 1966 until his retirement in 1981, Congressman Staggers chaired the powerful House Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce. A longtime supporter of the American railroad industry and its workers, Congressman Staggers' landmark legislative achievement was the Staggers Rail Act, passed in 1980.
The United States Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) is an independent federal agency based in Washington, D.C. that is responsible for the regulation of oceanborne international transportation of the U.S. It is chaired by Michael A. Khouri.
A public service company is a corporation or other non-governmental business entity which delivers public services - certain services considered essential to the public interest. The ranks of such companies include public utility companies like natural gas, pipeline, electricity, and water supply companies, sewer companies, telephone companies and telegraph companies. They also include public services such as transportation of passengers or property as a common carrier, such as airlines, railroads, trucking, bus, and taxicab companies.
The Motor Carrier Regulatory Reform and Modernization Act, more commonly known as the Motor Carrier Act of 1980 (MCA) is a United States federal law which deregulated the trucking industry.
The Surface Freight Forwarder Deregulation Act of 1986, Public Law 99-521, is a federal law of the United States which eliminated federal regulation of prices, services and entry as to general commodities surface 'freight forwarders' This Act was a follow on to a sweeping program to free up competitive forces in United States transportation, most but not all of which was accomplished in the 1971-1980 period, as set out in the deregulation topic in this encyclopedia.