DeFazio on PSR: ‘Wall Street’s goal is to get wealthier — no matter the impact’
U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio of Oregon, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, responded to a recent Fortune Magazine column by a pair of economists who defended the rail industry’s Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR) scheme and accused unions of hampering productivity.
DeFazio, along with New Jersey Rep. Donald Payne Jr., who is chairman of the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials, were two of the main architects of the INVEST in America Act (H.R. 3684), a surface transportation reauthorization bill that encompasses substantial investment in the nation’s infrastructure as well as in the safety of the people who keep the country moving that passed the U.S. House on July 1.
“PSR is not some fancy optimization strategy to increase freight volume or improve operations and reduce emissions; rather, it is a business strategy promoted by Wall Street to boost short-term profits,” DeFazio wrote.
He noted in his column that shippers, communities and the rail workforce all have been negatively affected by PSR.
“Let’s not forget that prior to COVID-19, from 2015 to 2019, the freight railroad industry slashed the average size of its workforce by over 17%,” DeFazio wrote. “It’s little wonder that STB Chairman Martin Oberman has sought information about how such a reduction may be related to or contributed to recent shipper complaints.”
The INVEST in America Act looks to protect bus and transit workers from assault, improve school bus safety and maintain safe freight rail operations. It contains increased funding for Amtrak passenger rail service and protects the environment, the public and rail workers alike by putting into law the Rule of 2 — that, like a pilot and co-pilot in the air — a certified engineer and a certified conductor remain present in the cab of freight trains when operated through the nation’s communities.
The bill is under consideration by the U.S. Senate, and SMART-TD members are encouraged to send messages to their senators to pass H.R. 3684 for the sake of public and worker safety.