U.S. Senators Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ, Patty Murray (D-WA), and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) have introduced legislation that would establish a national freight transportation policy. The legislation directs agencies of the federal government to develop and implement a strategic plan to improve freight transportation, seeking to drop freight-related CO2 by40% by 2030.
Other goals include reducing congestion and delays, increasing the timely delivery of goods and services, reducing freight-related transportation fatalities, and so forth.
It’s not often that I personally inject my own thoughts about things, but it’s hard to be neutral when you’re talking politics. So I’m going to start editorializing a bit.
The legislation is titled Focusing Resources, Economic Investment, and Guidance to Help Transportation (FREIGHT) Act of 2010. It’s this driver’s opinion that any legislation in which the title is made into an acronym to make it sound good has probably had all of its useful creativity wasted on that title. This one appears to fit the mold.
The bill creates a new office in the Department of Transportation called the Office of Freight Planning and Development. This office would coordinate efforts to improve the efficiency and operation of all modes of the national freight transportation system.
The bill has laudable goals and a good intent, but it does little to change things when it’s really boiled down. Outside of highways and the Interstate system, the federal government has little control over how freight is handled, moved, or planned. The majority of the problems they are attempting to address, in my opinion, are not things they can (or should) control.
Most congestion problems, for instance, are thanks to poor planning by state-level highway departments and misappropriation of transportation funds. I doubt a whole new office as a subset of an existing government bureaucracy is really going to change any of that.
One of the goals, reducing the delays at international ports of entry, is definitely under the federal government’s control. I’d be interested to know how they plan to keep up the onerous security controls and other safeguards in place while speeding up the process. There are some protocols that are downright stupid and wasteful, but history says those will be the last ones to be considered for removal or revamp. Logic and bureaucrats don’t mix.
Overall, this bill looks like more feel-good talk from some senators who probably know very little about transportation. Further, it appears to me that it merely opens the door for yet more federal bureaucracy and mishandling , adding more manure to an already over-fertilized area of government.
What the world really needs are more unemployed politicians.
Apologies if my political commentary is out of place here. I felt it had to be said.