The federal government has a special responsibility to foster those elements of our national transportation system that are essential to foreign and interstate commerce and national defense. In other transportation systems that primarily support local needs, the federal government's responsibility is to encourage the greatest possible decision-making and flexibility on the part of state and local governments to spend funds in ways that make the best sense for each community. Thus all levels of government have an important role in providing a balanced and coordinated transportation network.
In keeping with national transportation goals, the Railroad Revitalization and Regulatory Reform Act of 1976 has begun the task of removing regulatory constraints of the Interstate Commerce Commission on America's ailing railroads. Now we should carefully assess the need to remove many of the regulatory constraints imposed on the nation's airlines and motor carriers. Consumers pay too high a price for the artificial fare and rate structures imposed by federal regulations.
The great Interstate Highway System, initiated by President Eisenhower, has brought new freedom of travel to every American and must be completed and maintained. Our road network should always stress safety through better design as well as bridge maintenance and replacement.
We must also have a safe and efficient aviation system capable of responding to the air transportation needs of the future and of reducing exposure to aircraft noise. This includes airport development, navigational and safety facilities, and the design and adequate staffing of advanced air traffic control systems. In airplane use as in other modes of transportation, the impact on the physical environment must always be a basic consideration in federal decisions and such decisions should also include appraisals of impact on the economy. We deplore unfair treatment of United States airlines under foreign landing regulations.
Research must be continued to find safe, more fuel-efficient automobile engines and airplanes; safer, faster rail service; and more convenient, less expensive urban transportation. Tax policies should be considered which would stimulate the development and installation of new energy sources in transportation, such as railroad electrification.
The disorganization of a Democrat-controlled Congress frustrates the coordination of transportation policy. Currently there are more that [sic.] 50 congressional subcommittees with independent jurisdiction in the transportation field. This hopelessly disjointed and disorganized approach must be reformed.
In keeping with the local goal setting in transportation, the Republican Party applauds the system under which state and local governments can divert funds from interstate highway mileage not essential to interstate commerce or national defense to other, more pressing community needs, such as urban mass transit.
We support the concept of a surface transportation block grant which would include the various highway and mass transit programs now in existence. This will provide local elected officials maximum flexibility in selecting and implementing the balanced transportation systems best suited to each locality. It will encompass both capital and operating subsidies For urban mass transit. It will eliminate red tape and over-regulation. We regret that the Democrat-controlled Congress has not adopted such reform.
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