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operated transit and recommended the creation, by interstate compact between the States of Virginia and Maryland and the District of Columbia, of a transit regulatory commission with jurisdiction coextensive with the metropolitan area to provide unified and centralized regulation in substitution for the existing regulation by multiple agencies.
The joint commission adopted these recommendations, and, beginning in the latter part of 1957 and extending over a period of several months, the joint commission negotiated the instant compact known as the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Regulation Compact. This compact has been enacted by Virginia (Chap. 627, 1958 act of assembly) and by Maryland (Chap. 613, acts of general assembly, 1959). Consent legislation was introduced late in the 2d Session of the 85th Congress (H.J. Res. 626 and S.J. Res. 193) but no action was taken thereon and the present resolution (H.J. Res. 402) was reintroduced in this Congress.
NEED FOR LEGISLATION
According to testimony adduced at the hearings the Washington Metropolitan area has experienced a rapid rate of growth in the postwar years (hearings cited supra, pt. 1, pp. 47-48). Except for relatively moderate growth in the District of Columbia, this growth has occurred in the Virginia and Maryland counties. This population growth has been accompanied by a physical expansion of the urbanized
The increase in the number of automobiles has been even at a greater rate. It is estimated that the number of automobiles in the metropolitan area doubled in the 7-year period between 1948 and 1955 (transportation plan, National Capital Region (1959) p. 24). The growth in population, automobiles, and physical area is continuing.
These changes have been accompanied by an increasing dependence on the private automobile and a decreasing patronage of public transit (transportation plan, cited supra pp. 12, 24). As a result, traffic has become a major problem of overgrowing proportions. At the present time, the population of the area stands at slightly more than 2 million, whereas it was approximately 1,850,000 in 1955 (transportation plan, supra pp. 2, 16). It is estimated that the population will increase to 2,400,000 by 1965, and 3 million by 1980 (transportation plan, supra p. 16). This projected growth, superimposed upon the present congestion of traffic, clearly demonstrates the need for remedial action.
After 4 years of study and work, the National Capital Planning Commission and the National Capital Regional Planning Council, on July 1, 1959, issued its transportation plan for the National Capital region. This plan contemplates a balanced system of transportation providing for private automobile traffic and a system of mass transit consisting of a combination of rail and express bus service.
The transportation plan proposes that the development of the transportation system take place in three stages. As the first step, the plan recommends that immediate action be taken to improve the present public transit service by centralizing regulation of existing privately owned transit on a regional basis to overcome the barriers imposed by jurisdictional boundary lines. This is the function of the instant compact. As a second step in the transportation plan, express bus service would be introduced on all new radial freeways as they are completed and, as a third step, rail transit service would be inaugurated no later than 1970, by which time it is expected that the express bus system will have reached its capacity on several of the important routes.
The transportation plan points out that there is no existing machinery of Government capable of handling on a regional basis the problems presented in each of the three stages of development and that adequate governmental machinery must be brought into being. The transportation plan recommends the Washington metropolitan area transit regulation compact as a suitable means of handling the first stage problem of improving the present public transit service. The transportation plan indicates that a different kind of regional organization will be required for the second and third stages of development, since problems of financing, construction and operation would be involved.
Thus, the function of the instant compact is to improve transit service offered by the existing privately owned transit companies through coordinated regulation and improvement of traffic conditions on a regional basis. The transportation plan does not require the elimination of privately owned and operated carriers, but anticipates their continued existence with the possibility that such carriers may enter into agreements with the subsequent proprietary agencies to operate the publicly owned facilities. Thus, the regulatory functions to be performed by the subject compact are not only required presently, but will be required as long as private transit continues to operate in the metropolitan area.
House Joint Resolution 402 is concerned only with the metropolitan area transit regulation compact. The necessity for initiating the remedial action provided for therein is apparent and urgent and may be considered separately from the other aspects of the transportation plan involving the engineering, construction, financing and operation of rail facilities and participation in the development of an adequate highway system. In this connection, it must be recognized that approval of the regulatory compact does not commit or bind the Congress to the entire transportation plan. Legislation to put into effect other features of that plan will doubtless be considered by other committees of the Congress.
Under the existing regulatory arrangement, four separate commissions, each acting within its own sphere, participate in the regulation of transit in the metropolitan area. Intrastate traffic in Virginia and Maryland are subject to the jurisdiction of the State corporation commission and public service commission, respectively. _Intra-District of Columbia traffic is subject to regulation by the Public Utilities Commission of the District of Columbia and the Interstate Commerce Commission has jurisdiction over traffic moving between the political jurisdictions.
The motor carrier operations of D.C. Transit System, Inc., between Maryland and the District of Columbia, however, are exempt from regulation by the latter commission under the commercial zone exemption of section 203(b) of the Interstate Commerce Act, so that, as a practical matter, the Interstate Commerce Commission has limited its exercise of jurisdiction to the interstate traffic between Virginia and the District of Columbia. Even with respect to the latter transportation, the Interstate Commerce Commission has not exercised jurisdiction over the continuation of the journey of an interstate Virginia passenger in the District of Columbia, except with respect to commuter travel between points in the District of Columbia and the Pentagon. In the latter instance, a joint fare is prescribed which is lower than the separate combined fares of the carriers. (See hearings cited supra, p. 49.)
Another difficulty of the pattern of regulation in the metropolitan area is that under the rulings of the Maryland Court of Appeals, applications for abandonment of service in Maryland must be determined on the basis of the profitableness of the particular line or route involved, without regard to the operations of the entire regulated company.
It is apparent from these facts that the pattern of service and structure of rates in the metropolitan area have developed on a company and limited service area basis. Regulation, limited as it is to jurisdictional compartments, has deprived any agency of power to orient the pattern of service and rates to a communitywide basis. The centralization of regulatory authority in a single agency, which would be substantially achieved under the subject legislation, is an essential step in bringing about a more satisfactory transit service.
With the exception of the purely intrastate Virginia transit service, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Commission would succeed to the jurisdiction over transit in the metropolitan district presently exercised by the four commissions referred to above. The intrastate transit service in Virginia would continue to be subject to the jurisdiction of the State Corporation Commission of Virginia, but, under section 20(b) of the compact, that Commission, in order to achieve the objective of the compact to effectuate the regulation of mass transit on a unified and coordinated basis throughout the metropolitan district, shall refer all matters relating to the exempted transportation to the compact commission for its recommendations (H.J. Res. 402, sec. 20(b)). The exclusion of the intrastate transportation in Virginia is necessitated by provisions in the Virginia constitution which, it is represented, precludes the Virginia Legislature from delegating to the compact commission jurisdiction over common carriers and public service corporations. It is estimated that the Virginia intrastate transportation does not account for as much as 5 percent of the total transit passenger movement in the metropolitan district. The effect of the exclusion is further minimized by the fact that intrastate and interstate passengers are commingled in the same vehicles and, as a result, the intrastate service would not have an adverse effect on the development of service oriented to a regional basis.
SECTION ANALYSIS OF THE COMPACT
The compact is divided into two parts, "Title I: General Compact Provisions,” and “Title II: Compact Regulatory Provisions.”
Article Í creates the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit District, which embraces the District of Columbia, the cities of Alexandria and Falls church, the counties of Arlington and Fairfax, and political subdivisions of the State of Virginia located within those counties, and the counties of Montgomery and Prince Georges, in the State of Maryland, and political subdivisions of the State of Maryland located within said counties.
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Commission is created by article II as a common instrumentality of the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the State of Maryland, and is given jurisdiction, as specified in the compact, coextensive with the metropolitan district for the regulation and improvement of transit and the alleviation of traffic congestion on a coordinated basis, without regard to political boundaries within the metropolitan district.
Article III provides that the Commission shall be composed of three members, one member each to be appointed by the Governors of Virginia and Maryland and by the Board of Commissioners of the District of Columbia, and each of the appointees shall be a member of the agency of his State having jurisdiction over the regulation of mass transit. The Commission shall select a chairman annually from its membership. The Commissioners are to serve without compensation from the Commission, but each signatory government may pay its appointed commissioner such salary or expenses, if any, as it deems appropriate. The Commission is empowered to employ such engineering, technical, legal, clerical or other personnel on a regular, part-time, or consulting basis, as in its judgment may be necessary for the discharge of its functions. The Commission shall establish its office at a location to be determined by it within the Metropolitan District.
Article IV provides that the expenses of the Commission shall be borne by the signatories in the proportion that the population of each signatory within the metropolitan district bears to the total population in the metropolitan district. The signatories agree to appropriate for the expenses of the Commission their proportion of the budget and to pay such appropriation to the Commission. In order fully to utilize personnel in the existing regulatory commissions of the signatories and to keep the expenses of the Commission to a minimum, provision is made for the existing regulatory commissions to make available, upon request, personnel, services, or material.
Under article V there is also created a Traffic and Highway Board, which shall be composed of the Chairman of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Commission and the heads of the traffic and highway departments of each of the signatories and of the counties and cities encompassed within the metropolitan district, a representative of the National Capital Planning Commission, a representative of the National Capital Regional Planning Council, and a representative of each local and regional planning commission within the district. The Board shall make recommendations to the Commission with respect to traffic engineering, including the selection and use of streets for transit and routing, the requirements for transit service throughout the Metropolitan District, and related matters. The Board shall also consider the problems referred to it by the Commission and shall continuously study means and methods of shortening transit travel time, formulate plans with respect thereto, and keep the Commission fully advised of its plans and conelusions. The Board shall serve the Commission solely in an advisory capacity, but members of the Board, in their capacity as officials of local government agencies, shall use their best efforts to effectuate the recommendations and objectives of the Commission.
Under article VI, action by the Commission shall be by a majority and two members shall constitute a quorum. Any action relating to or which affects operations or matters solely intrastate or solely within the District of Columbia, however, shall not be effective unless the commissioner from the signatory affected concurs therein.
Article VII provides that it shall not be construed to amend, alter, or in anywise affect the power of the signatories and the political subdivisions thereof to levy and collect taxes of any kind or fees for the licensing of vehicles and the operation thereof.
In article VIII the compact recognizes that affirmative legislation by the Congress to remove Federal jurisdiction from the sphere of compact action and to empower the Federal judiciary to discharge the enforcement and review provisions imposed upon it by the compact, as well as granting congressional consent to the compact required by the Constitution, is required before the compact may become legally effective. The compact, therefore, provides that it shall become effective 90 days after its adoption by the signatories and consent thereto by the Congress and the enactment by the Congress of legislation to remove the Federal jurisdiction from the area of compact activity and to establish jurisdiction in the Federal judiciary. The removal of Federal jurisdiction is to be by suspension rather than repeal of the laws affected.
Article IX provides that no amendment of the compact shall be effective unless adopted by each of the signatories, but the compact provides that it may be amended without the prior consent or approval of the Congress and such amendment shall be effective unless, within 1 year thereof, Congress disapproves such an amendment (sec. 1). (But see Committee amendment No. 5, supra, which has the effect of requiring prior congressional approval.)
Under section 2 of article IX any signatory may withdraw from the compact upon 1 year's written notice to that effect to the other signatories, and the withdrawal of one of the signatories from the compact automatically terminates the compact.
Section 3 of article IX provides for the reversion of jurisdiction to the signatories and to the Federal Government, as their interests may appear upon termination of the compact and for the reactivation of the applicable laws of each jursidiction without further legislation.
In article X, the compact contains a pledge by each of the signatories to the other for faithful cooperation in the solution and control of transit and traffic problems within the metropolitan district, and, in order to effect such purposes, each agrees to enact any necessary legislation to achieve the objectives of the compact.
Article XI contains the usual separability provision and provides that the compact shall be liberally construed, in accordance with the ordinary rules for construction of interstate compacts, to eliminate the evils described therein.
Title II of the compact provides the regulatory law which is to be administered by the Commission and consists of article XII, which is divided into 24 sections.
Section 1 defines the scope of the compact and the transportation covered. Paragraph (a) specifies that the act shall apply to the transportation for hire by any carrier of persons between any points in the metropolitan district and to the persons engaged in rendering or performing such transportation service. Transportation by water, transportation by the Federal Government and the signatories, transportation by school bus, and transportation performed by a rail
H. Rept. 1621, 86–2