Typically railroad operators and trucking companies fight tooth and nail over who can best move freight. But the two rival industries have come together in a battle to push back costly Obama-era regulations which make it hard to do business. In January Paul Page wrote for The Wall Street Journal:
The trucking and rail industries, often at odds in Washington, are teaming up to press the incoming Trump administration to limit the ability of transportation regulators to write new rules.
Leaders of the industry trade groups say they are trying to unite transport representatives in Washington, including airline, automobile and shipping groups, in the effort to reverse Obama administration-era safety initiatives and slow the process for enacting new regulations.
The effort is part of a push lobbying groups are making in Washington as they prepare for the prospect of business-friendly policy changes with Donald Trump in the White House and Republicans in control of both chambers of Congress.
The Obama administration, through agencies that oversee trucks, railroads and highways, has written a series of freight and passenger transport rules in the past eight years that safety advocates say reduce traffic and rail accidents. Opponents, including truck freight and rail companies, say the rules’ benefits are unproven, and they have added heavy costs at a time when tepid freight volumes have squeezed corporate profits.
Transportation companies want the Transportation Department to rethink rules that include work limits for truck drivers, safety-equipment requirements for trains and other regulations. And the rail and truck groups want to go farther by setting particular steps transportation agencies must go through as they write rules and operating guidelines.
Now Material Handling and Logistics News reports that the new administration is making progress on cutting the regulatory red tape.
On March 22, President Trump held a public meeting with truck drivers and fleet executives at the White House, even seizing the opportunity to be photographed taking a pugnacious pose in a truck cab. In his remarks he promised to improve trucking productivity through his ambitious infrastructure plan, but didn’t discuss other government actions except in general terms.
But just before that event took place, FMCSA withdrew a controversial safety fitness rule it had proposed for truckers. The Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program had drawn criticism since its inception for resulting in blacklisting fleets based on what were said to sometimes be faulty and out-of-date data. Truckers have said the program needs a top-to-bottom overhaul.
The FMCSA proposal would have done away with the “Conditional,” “Satisfactory” and “Unsatisfactory” rating system, in favor of a simple “Fit” or “Unfit” designation. A new version of the rule is expected following completion of another research study, this one mandated by Congress as part of the last highway program bill.
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