May 2, 2016
Today, CEI, The Rutherford Institute, CEI Vice President Iain Murray, and yours truly filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit challenging the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) final rule on body scanners, which was published in March.
CEI et al. argue that TSA’s final rule fails to consider one important factor related to the deployment body scanners: a potential increase in highway injuries and deaths. If that sounds crazy, let me explain. Past research suggests that post-9/11 airport security policies were so invasive that a number...
April 28, 2016
Today, CEI, the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association (CASAA), and CEI employee Gordon Cummings, as a private individual, filed a lawsuit challenging the Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) recent regulation extending the existing statute prohibiting smoking aboard aircraft to cover electronic cigarettes. The reason is simple: Congress never gave regulators the power to prohibit e-cigarette use aboard aircraft.
The agency is inventing authority it clearly does not have. Congress granted USDOT power to implement its law under ...
April 13, 2016
Following decades of excessive local government fare regulation that led to a terminal decline in the private mass transit industry, government began taking over the responsibilities performed by now-bankrupt private mass transit companies following the Urban Mass Transportation Act of 1964. Over the span of a decade, the mostly-private mass transit industry was largely replaced by government transit monopolies.
Since then, politicians at the federal, state, and local levels have poured trillions of dollars of taxpayer funds into mass transit systems. By 2014, 28 percent of total surface transportation funds were spent on mass transit, with the majority of those dollars coming from...
April 5, 2016
Last month, I wrote about why everyone should be disappointed by the Senate’s FAA reauthorization bill: it fails to include key air traffic control reforms contained in the House’s AIRR Act and threatens the nascent small unmanned aircraft research and entrepreneur communities with onerous manufacturing regulations (Section 2124).
Apparently undeterred by the bill’s fundamental weaknesses, Senate leadership is poised to move forward with a floor debate. Things are likely to get worse, as the Senate has once again indicated it has little interest in passing needed...
April 1, 2016
Capital Research Center, a conservative policy group in Washington, D.C., recently published an extended essay, “PATCO’s Revenge: Capitol Hill cronyism may give the air traffic controllers what they always wanted,” by Steven J. Allen. Allen alleges that the House’s AIRR Act air traffic control title—which spins off air traffic control from the Federal Aviation Administration into a new independent nonprofit ATC Corporation described in more detail in this CEI report—contains labor provisions that would allow the air traffic control union to legally strike, something currently prohibited under federal law. However, Allen’s frightening thesis is built upon a fundamental misunderstanding of federal labor law and the reforms...
March 18, 2016
Futuristic transportation technology often captures the imaginations of the press and public. Sometimes, it’s hype-driven nonsense: think the mysterious “IT” that became the mockery-inducing Segway or Elon Musk’s more recent vomit-inducing death-tube proposal appropriately named the Hyperloop, which has managed to hoodwink the dumber segments of the tech press as well as the government of Slovakia.
Beyond the problems...
March 16, 2016
This morning, the Senate Commerce Committee held a markup hearing on their Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2016 (S. 2658). A couple of positive unmanned aircraft system (UAS) amendments—a drone delivery amendment from Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and one from Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) ...
March 14, 2016
Today, a draft proposed rule from the Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration has been making the rounds. It will be published in the Federal Register tomorrow and comments will be due on May 16. The aim is to require that all trains have at least two crewmembers in the cab unless they are explicitly approved to operate single-crewmember trains. It is nothing more than government-imposed union featherbedding, will offer no safety benefits, and will impose nontrivial costs.
In Congress, legislation known as the Safe Freight Act has been repeatedly introduced at the behest of railroad unions that would be even worse by...
March 9, 2016
The AIRR Act (H.R. 4441), the FAA reauthorization bill in the House, contains badly needed reforms of U.S. air traffic control. See my FAQ on what this reorganization is all about. Today, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its cost estimate, or score, of the AIRR Act. It concludes that the bill would add $19.8 billion to the deficit through 2026. Before conservatives blow a gasket on this supposed budget buster, note that the CBO report relies on some nonsensical assumptions to derive this misleading figure.
CBO assumes aviation taxes will remain the same following the spinoff of the FAA’s Air Traffic Organization into the new independent nonprofit ATC Corporation. This is because the House Ways...
March 4, 2016
CEI is a strong supporter of transportation user fees. We prefer tolls over fuel taxes, and local airport user fees over tax-funded federal grants. While there is broad agreement among free market transportation researchers on these points (see Reason Foundation, Cato Institute, and Heritage Foundation on why airport user charges are preferable to broad taxation), some conservatives fail to...