The Transportation Act of 1958 was a federal government attempt to reinvigorate commercial railroads in the United States. The measure, known as the Smathers-Harris Act, was a series of amendments to the Interstate Commerce Act.
The legislation gave the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) power to guarantee up to $500 million in loans to railroads for maintenance or to buy equipment. It also gave the federal agency the power to fix prices.
The measure included repealing the 3 percent excise tax that shippers paid for freight moved by common carrier barges, trucks and railroads. The excise tax dated to World War II.
Despite the provisions, railroads still had difficulty remaining profitable and asked to shed services, mainly passenger rail services.