2015 Dwight David Eisenhower Graduate Fellowship

Project: Research project

Project Details


For my research plan, I am interested in exploring the different experiences of the airline and railroad industries after both were deregulated in the late 1970's and early 1980's. Both industries were heavily regulated prior to 1980,with government agencies responsible for directing a wide range of business policies,from setting the volume of traffic required along particular routes to establishing the permissible rate charged for transport. In 1978, the Airline Deregulation Act changed the regulatory structure for the airline industry,allowing market force s a greater presence in dictating these policies. The railroad industry underwent similar changes two years later following the Staggers Act of 1980. Thirty-five years later, both industries have seen significant changes . Major consolidations have dropped the number of companies in both industries to single digits in North America. Significant investments have brought greater safety and efficiency to both industries. My proposal is to compare the history of both industries since deregulation across five significant performance indicators- safety, financial performance, industry consolidation, capital investments and operational performance. After reviewing the relative performance of both industries across the high-level metrics,I will narrow my scope to one or two key measures to better understand the historical forces driving the reported results.From these insights, I will evaluate the benefits of the current regulatory scheme for each industry and suggest possible next steps for both industries and their regulators . I plan to use data from publicly available reports to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Surface Transportation Board (STB) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to evaluate the industry trends immediately prior to deregulation and over the thirty-five years since . Northwestern University's Transportation Library will be of great assistance in gathering the records to synthesize the data .
Effective start/end date10/21/1510/20/16


  • Federal Highway Administration (DTFH6415G00060)


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