The recognition that American transportation corporations must remain viable in a global economy led to an evaluation of transportation regulations. Critics of a highly regulated environment argued that ground transport needed to be deregulated the way the air industry had been in the 1970s. The response taken was to not only remove some regulations, but also to dissolve an entire federal bureau. The ICC Termination Act of 1995 was an effort to loosen government regulation over the railroad and motor carrier industries.
In addition to eliminating the Interstate Commerce Commission, the Act also eliminated the Rail Services Planning Office, joint boards and the Rail Public Counsel. For the rail industry in particular, the Act removed a number of regulatory actions. Tariffs were removed. Regulations governing contract rates for certain commodities were eased and/or eliminated. Several surcharges and special rate considerations were also modified. In addition, restrictions governing labor in the rail industry were also modified. Class III rail carriers no longer have the labor protection previously supplied by the ICC (Illinois Commerce Commission, 2007).
Finally, ownership restrictions, including those on intermodal ownership, were removed. Motor carriers also saw their rate regulations reduced in most areas other than the transportation of household property. Licensing practices for motor carriers were modified. Licensing is need-based, depending on the types of goods moved and companies are responsible for renewing licenses. Permanent licenses are no longer granted. Some fees and tariffs were removed and some dispute resolution services provided by the ICC were discontinued.
Since the ICC was eliminated, the Federal Highway Administration under the Department of Transportation would now handle license issuance and renewal. The ICC Termination Act did not remove all economically-based regulation. The Act provided for the establishment of the Surface Transportation Board. This Board, also under The Department of Transportation was now responsible for managing economic regulatory issues. In the years following the Act profitability, for rail lines in particular, did not increase. However, in 2005 profits rose substantially (Cornell University, 2004). Whether this is the long-term result of the act is unclear.