204 205 1970s, largely because of the country’s new Interstate Highway System, which further eroded rail traffic in favor of trucks and automobiles. In addi- tion, punitive taxation policies and burdensome federal regulations helped drive many independent lines into bankruptcy. As the situa- tion worsened, ASLRRA mem- bership continued to decline, even as the organization persevered in its advocacy role, trying to get Congress to ameliorate what was clear- ly seen by many as the last dying throes of a once prof- itable and vibrant American industry. Finally, in 1976 Congress passed the Railroad Revi- talization and Regulatory Reform (4R) Act and, in 1980, the Staggers Act, two piec- es of legislation that ended most of the economic regula- tion on the rail industry and gave the larger railroads a viable exit strategy for di- vesting themselves of their unprofitable lines. All at once, the major rail- roads began to market these lines to short line operators and independent entrepreneurs, and America’s small railroad industry was, in essence, reborn, returning to its early 19th century roots of serving local customers with efficient and cost-effective transportation. Between 1980 and 2014, America’s freight railroads invest- ed $575 billion on capital expenditures and maintenance expenses related THE AMERICAN SHORT LINE AND REGIONAL RAILROAD ASSOCIATION to locomotives, freight cars, tracks, bridges, tun- nels, and other infrastructure and equipment. Having just celebrated its 100th Anniversary, the ASLRRA continues to further the industry’s legislative priorities in the nation’s capital, as well as providing networking possibilities for its members via events and conventions through- out the year. Its committees are designed to advance issues such as technology, legislative policy, mechanical issues, passenger rail, etc. It communicates with its members via its website, e-newsletters and bulletins, and bi-monthly articles to Railway Age magazine. Once again vibrant and viable, the American short line industry serves the needs of its last mile/first mile customers by connecting them to the larger rail lines; providing their transpor- tation needs when the larger railroads can’t or won’t; and, generally, saving all of its customers, large and small, money, compared to the costs of truck transportation. And, according to Jim Howarth, Vice President for Business Develop- ment for the New York, Susquehanna & Western Railway, “Small customers and not-so-small customers to small railroads.” For the next hundred years, the ASLRRA will continue to champion the sustainability and growth of what The Economist magazine has noted about the American freight rail system: “[It’s] one of the unsung transport successes of the past 30 years. . .universally recognized in the industry as the best in the world.”