Policy reform in federal transportation policy: student perspectives …

Answers from my final exam for CE5212/PA 5232 Transportation Policy, Planning, and Deployment from my students. I distilled longer answers to bullet points. Some interesting themes emerge. The class was about half planners, half engineers.
The US Secretary of Transportation has asked you to provide insight into US Transportation Policy. In particular, he wants to know what recommended policy changes you would make to federal surface, air, and water transportation policy (including investment strategies), and why. Use what you have learned in CE5212/PA5232 to recommend 7 to 10 important policy changes, discuss each change, its rationale (giving empirical support where possible), and its drawbacks (e.g. what barriers have prevented implementation). Use examples where appropriate.
renovate and rejuvenate the interstate highway system
separate truck and auto highways
road pricing
stricter EPA pollution standards
disband FHWA
reform TSA
allow international air carriers domestic access
rejuvenate US inland waterways to allow large scale vessels
open surface transportation bill to all modes of surface transportation beyond highways and transit
transition from fuel tax to mileage based user fee
turn airlines into public private partnerships (franchising a la London buses)
reduce power of unions to assign workers at ports
apply antitrust to automakers to increase number of independent companies
slow down the rate of construction of HSR
dedicate more funding to development of smart vehicle and smart road technology
remove barriers to closing or downgrading less valued links
invest in maintenance of existing valued links
implement a mileage based user fee for road users to replace gas tax
decentralize much of federal highway system planning and authority
higher emissions standards
separate cars and trucks where possible
invest in R and D for smart vehicles
more resources for road maintenance
promote transit oriented development
bridge and structure inspection and safety programs
improve existing urban rail transit systems, especially mature systems
loosen entry regulation in air transportation
diversity location of ports
invest in innovation
invest in HSR
play more active role in management of airlines
deconstruct freeways that are no longer necessary
increase security in ports
invest in public transportation
shift to VMT tax
Change present road finance system gradually
Support environmentally friendly vehicles
Improve road infrastructure for safety
Implement congestion pricing
True HSR
Create more jobs in transportation
Dedicate more money to transit
Improve inland waterways
Eliminate FHWA
Implement VMT tax to replace gas tax
Create infrastructure bank
Tie federal dollars to implementation of local traffic safety laws
Support TDM with matching funds (a la UPA)
Encourage privatization of local transit services
De-federalize airport security
Allow cabotage
Focus on accessibility rather than mobility
Change transit CEI
Merge USDOT and HUD
Rationalize US passenger rail system (abandon some link, invest in HSR in high density corridors)
Raise gas tax now and move towards VMT tax in long term
Deploy environmentally friendly cars and infrastructure to support them
Support transit ridership
Break union monopolies on waterfront
Regulate air travel demand (congestion pricing for airports)
Build additional airports
R and D for PRT
More planning and research
Improve management of funds
Alternative funding sources
True HSR
Break union monopolies on waterfront
Upgrade ATC and aircraft inspection systems
Focus TSA on real threats
Breakdown barriers between engineering and planning
VMT Tax (tax output rather than input)
Decentralize highway revenue (let states tax more, rather than a federal tax disbursed to states)
More R and D
Benefit cost analysis for projects
Allow cabotage and additional deregulation of airlines
Privatize and rationalize Amtrak
Build HSR incrementally to avoid mistakes
Fund urban transit
VMT tax
index gas tax in short term
discourage investment in HSR (problem is urban, and Benefit cost analysis does not warrant)
reallocate HSR funding to LRT
Objective analysis of which LRT to invest in
Support green roads
R and D for intelligent vehicles
Support alternative fuel production
More funding
Find alternatives to gas tax
Prioritize mass transit funding
Multimodal transportation fund
More funds to improve safety
More rigorous drivers license program
True HSR
VMT tax
More R and D
Rationalize government programs in transportation (fewer organizations)
Breakdown barriers between engineering and planning
Stronger environmental regulations
Decentralize highway authority (let states tax more, rather than a federal tax disbursed to states)
Objective process for determining transportation susbsidies
Raise and index gas tax
Use VMT tax for hybrid and electric cars
Distribute federal gas tax back to states in proportion to where it is generated
Invest in separate facilities for cars and trucks to improve safety
R and D for intelligent vehicles and roads
Federal transit dollars should not just fund large capital but also bus operating and maintenance costs
Partially nationalize air transportation system
Improve port security