The reelection of President Obama and the new group of Democratic Senators coming to Washington is good news for consumers in terms or consumer protections. The current administration, especially in the Department of Transportation, has been the most consumer-friendly in the history of the country. But turnovers in leadership both in DOT and Congress will be changing the legislative and regulatory landscape.
The airline world has been in a turmoil for months as airlines, corporate jet owners and governments have struggled with the unilateral imposition of an environmental tax by the European Union (EU).
In the past, a few congressmen like Rep. John Mica (R-FL) and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) have been thorns in the side of TSA. They have raged against the giant bureaucracy that the agency has become and the invasiveness of TSA searches. Today, other members of Congress from the Senate and House are joining the anti-TSA crowd.
It’s not your imagination. Congress seems to be paying closer attention to travelers’ welfare. But do we need their attention? Or, will common sense do?
Ned Levi has surveyed the state of the commercial airline industry in light of a year of serious security and service failures. To combat those problems Ned has suggested New Year’s resolutions for the government and the airlines.
Jerry Costello is the co-sponsor of the FAA Reauthorization Bill of 2009, which contains several important new rules designed to help air travelers. I asked the Illinois congressman, who is also the chairman of the House Aviation Subcommittee, about passenger rights and the prospects that new rules would be adopted by the Senate and signed into law.
If anyone wonders why our air traffic system is in a steady state of decay, take a look at recent action and inaction in Washington DC. The 110th Congress punted funding decisions to the incoming 111th Congress with a limited continuing resolution that expires in March 2009 and a GAO lawyer concluded recently that the FAA has no authority to auction slots at NYC airports.
Now that gas prices have topped $4 per gallon, Congress finally seems ready to give Amtrak a reliable future. But should they? Is city-to-city passenger rail travel relevant to today’s Americans?
As gasoline prices steadily rise and airfares go up day by day, rail travel is looking more and more like a bargain. The only trouble is, the Amtrak system is literally crumbling and needs federal funding. Congress, who controls the purse strings is asleep at the switch.