Directs the Secretary to: 1 evaluate whether it is in the public interest, including public safety and the legal rights of persons injured in railroad accidents, to withhold from discovery or admission into evidence in a federal or state court proceeding for damages involving personal injury or wrongful death against a carrier any report or data compiled regarding a railroad safety risk reduction program required under this chapter; and 2 implement a rule addressing the results of the evaluation.
Establishes civil penalties for violation of such requirements by a railroad carrier. Directs the Secretary to require each railroad carrier to: 1 establish a toll-free telephone service to receive directly calls reporting malfunctions of signals, disabled vehicles blocking railroad tracks at grade crossings, obstructions to the view of a train's approach, or other related safety information; 2 warn any trains operating near the grade crossing immediately upon receiving such a report, and contact appropriate public safety officials to direct traffic and remove any disabled vehicle; 3 timely investigate any report of a view obstruction and remove it if possible, or correct any other reported unsafe circumstance; and 4 ensure placement of the toll-free telephone number and certain other explanatory information on signs at each grade crossing.
Authorizes the Secretary to waive the requirement that telephone service be toll-free for Class II and Class III rail carriers if such service would be cost prohibitive. Authorizes the Secretary to purchase items of nominal value and distribute them to the public without charge as part of an educational or awareness program to improve the safety of highway-rail crossings and prevent trespass on railroad rights-of-way. Declares that such Secretarial approval preempts state law concerning the adequacy of such technology.
Allows such activities for purposes of accident prevention and accident investigation.
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Sets forth uses of information obtained through such activities. Authorizes the Secretary to study other elements of the locomotive cab environment and their effect on an employee's health and safety. Authorizes the Secretary, based on the conclusions of the studies, to: 1 prohibit the use of such devices during work, unless they are being used in accordance with railroad operating rules; and 2 issue regulations to improve elements of the cab environment to protect an employee's health and safety.
Requires each railroad carrier that has such a testing program to provide a redress process for its employees who were determined to be in violation of the program. Requires camp car compliance with such requirement by December 31, Provides for FY funding. Declares that any such facility lacking a state permit shall not be required to possess one other than a siting permit : 1 if by a certain deadline the facility has applied, in good faith, for all required permits; and 2 until the permitting agency has either approved or denied the permit application.
Declares that any such facility that does not possess a state siting permit shall not be required to possess one to continue to operate or to comply with state land use requirements. Authorizes a state governor to petition the Surface Transportation Board to require the facility to apply for a land-use exemption. Requires the Board to accept such a petition and the facility to have such an exception to continue to operate.
Authorizes the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency EPA to make modifications to such requirements to protect human health and the environment. Allows the Board to issue a land use exemption only if the facility at the existing or proposed location does not pose an unreasonable risk to public health, safety, or the environment. Prohibits any such land-use exemption for a solid waste rail transfer facility proposed to be located on land within the National Park System, the National Wildlife Refuge System, the National Wilderness Preservation System, the National Trails System, the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, a National Reserve, a National Monument, or certain lands for which a state has implemented a conservation management plan, if the facility's operation would be inconsistent with restrictions placed on such land.
Considers any repaid portion of the U. Government's share of money, and any contingent interest recovered, to be state funds. Redefines "motor carrier" to exempt from unified carrier registration system plan and agreement requirements any carrier that the board of directors of the unified carrier registration plan determines appropriate. Amends the Railroad Revitalization and Regulatory Reform Act of to extend from 25 years to 35 years the repayment term of direct loans or loan guarantees for improvement of intermodal or rail equipment or facility projects.
Authorizes Amtrak and a state to agree on the operation of an intercity route or service not included in the national rail transportation system. Declares that this Act does not preclude Amtrak from restoring, improving, or developing non-high-speed intercity passenger rail service. Provides that: 1 the mission of Amtrak is to provide efficient and effective intercity passenger rail mobility consisting of high quality service that is trip-time competitive with other intercity travel options and that is consistent with certain goals; and 2 one of Amtrak's goals shall be to provide additional or complimentary intercity transportation service to ensure mobility in a natural disaster or other times where travel options are not adequately available.
Requires the Amtrak Board to: 1 implement a modern financial accounting and reporting system not later than three years after enactment of this Act; and 2 develop a five-year financial plan. Authorizes appropriations FYFY Directs Amtrak to report to Congress on infrastructure and equipment improvements necessary to provide regular high-speed service within specified periods of time between Washington, D. Allows Amtrak, an intercity passenger rail operator, freight railroads that host Amtrak trains, or an entity state for which Amtrak operates intercity passenger rail service to petition the STB directly for an investigation of such delays or failures.
Authorizes the STB to: 1 establish and collect fees from any entity that files a complaint or otherwise requests its services; and 2 increase the number of its employees by up to 15 for the five fiscal year period beginning with FY Authorizes appropriations. Because they are standalone agreements, they are not under the same kinds of pressures that traditional government instruments are, nor do they enjoy the same types of support. In the early s, business interests and decision makers in and around Washington D.
The daily movement of thousands federal employees, expansion of housing and employment, increasing automobile use which led to congestion, and inadequate transportation options for the car-less urban population dictated that change was needed. Because of the limited size of D. Decisions on transportation methods would therefore require input from those areas, as well as decision makers in D.
In the early fifties, the patchwork system of private bus companies regulated by the different jurisdictions created incoherent fares and schedules, making it a nightmare to travel across state lines on public transit.
Planners recognized that transportation decisions would be better made on the metropolitan level, with all parties coordinating their actions . One of the first formal suggestions for a regional transportation body came in a report drafted by Jerome Alper, a private practice lawyer hired by the Joint Transportation Commission JTC , a project of the D. Board of Commissioners, and Maryland and Virginia legislators.
There was little in the way of metropolitan governance at this time, though many saw a need for interstate management of not only transportation but also crime, water resources, and pollution. But approaching metropolitan governance when the District of Columbia is involved gets immediately complicated because of the uncertainty over who speaks for the District. In , District of Columbia was still 18 years from returning to home rule, and was instead being managed by a three-member commission, with many of its affairs being legislated in Congress.
Planning was sometimes managed by commissions such as the National Capital Park and Planning Commission. Within this framework there were numerous boards and commissions representing business or professional interests who were also vying for influence . What was certain was that there was no one body endowed with democratic legitimacy representing the people of the District. Democratic legitimacy or not, Maryland and Virginia knew they preferred to deal with the District, as opposed to the federal government, and hoped any eventual arrangement would host some form of District-specific representation.
Fortunately, the concept of interstate management of transportation appealed to members of Congress, and in , Congress passed the National Capital Transportation Act, which besides creating the National Capital Transportation Agency NCTA , also endorsed the creation of an interstate compact between Maryland, Virginia, and the Board of Commissioners of the District of Columbia for the purposes of organizing and managing regional transit facilities. It was not, however, a body endowed with the capability to build and operate a rail transit system.
Creating a body that would have this power became a struggle between the JTC and NCTA members, with both jockeying for their version of the body to be the one to prevail. The JTC wanted their bill to prevail so that decision-making power stayed out of the hands of the federal government, and they also hoped to create a body that would not have comprehensive control over transportation policy, thus leaving highway policy untouched. Its makeup was tilted towards suburban interests, and included the D. Board of Commissioners, traditionally the voice of business interests in the district and not always kind to the idea of home rule.
Their organization also included Harland Bartholomew, the famed urban planner who at the time was drafting the pro-highway Mass Transportation Survey of The big questions both men faced when designing the interstate body included how much the Federal government would pay, how much it would control, and what was the best way to balance the interests between the District of Columbia and suburbs in Maryland and Virginia. Competition for influence between the JTC and the NCTA prompted the JTC to draft the compact language in such a way to have their proposal passed quickly, before either the NCTA could generate enough momentum for their own plans, or the federal government would assume control.
There was also a procedural concern that compelled the JTC to act fast: the legislative schedules of the different compact members. Much like negotiating international trade agreements, compact designers knew they had to craft a deal that would then be debated in the individual legislative bodies of each state and the district, rather than a system where all parties are at the table at the same time. Unfortunately, the legislative schedules of Maryland and Virginia meant that any alteration made to the agreement would mean a delay of two years before the other state would review.
So, in the interest of timeliness, drafters knew they had to submit an agreement devoid of controversy to ensure it would be accepted by all parties, including Congress, without any need for amendment . The compact was limited to rail and bus transit, meaning it would not have control over roads and highways. The circulated plan also did not mention route planning, funding, or financing.
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While it would have been unlikely in the past that Congress would approve a plan that left the federal government out of the compact, the political climate in the White House was by this time friendly to the idea. C, and eventually Congress.
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The concessions made by JTC drafters hobbled WMATA from the start, making it particularly vulnerable to economic downturns and reliant on majority rule of diverse interests. One of the key preemptive concessions was to not give the body the power to directly generate its own revenues through taxation or other means. Instead, WMATA would need to get by on contributions from its member jurisdictions, ticket sales, and federal grants. None of these were guaranteed, or fixed, in the same way they would be for similarly sized transportation agencies.
Placing such a high burden of revenue on the ridership alone, while understandable from the perspective of efficiency or fairness, goes against other understandings of public transportation that see it as a benefit of the city at large, not just its ridership. And, while General Revenue fund pools are large, they are also subject to the whims of the appropriations process, and in economic recessions can see sharp reductions.
Dedicated funding has gone up somewhat in recent years. But, this only appears to have increased the amount of dedicated grants, not earmarked funding streams, like a gasoline tax that would go directly to WMATA and serve as a truly long-term, dedicated source. While WMATA is not alone in facing funding issues in recessions, its lack of dedicated funding makes it particularly vulnerable to political and economic swings. The member board of directors has been criticized in the recent past for its inability to set broad policy agendas, focusing instead on minutiae and day to day management concerns, and lacks an effective process for strategic planning .
Having a board that micro-manages at the expense of setting larger priorities could be a sign of leadership that does not feel they have either the political clout or financial backing to implement their plans. This problem is a common feature of government agencies that are young, or do not exist in a system where influence and support come from clearly defined or sustained sources.