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Kate Hinds

Kate Hinds appears in the following:

TN Moving Stories: NYC Council Votes To Improve Bike, Pedestrian Crash Data, Toronto Wants Private $ For Subway, and What's HSR's Future Looking Like?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Now that Florida's governor has 'pulled a Christie,' what does that mean for the future of the country's high speed rail program? (The Takeaway)

Good time for an ominous Ray LaHood tweet: "We have choices to make—not between left and right, but between forward and backward."

New York's City Council unanimously passed a suite of bills that will require police to provide monthly reports of traffic accidents and summonses -- as well as require the city's Department of Transportation begin annual reporting on the number of bike and pedestrian crashes broken down by police precincts. (WNYC)

Toronto's mayor is seeking private money to extend that city's subway. (Toronto Star)

The head of the influential U.S. Chamber of Commerce threw his support Wednesday behind Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's proposal to speed the building of local transportation projects. (Los Angeles Times)

The Bay Area's transportation funding agency doesn't discriminate against minorities by steering state and federal dollars to trains instead of buses, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday in dismissing a suit by AC Transit riders. (San Francisco Chronicle)

Should we focus on mass transit ...or mass transit AND road improvements? Maryland's Montgomery County Council can't decide. (The Gazette)

A NYC bus driver quizzes his passengers -- then leads the bus in song. The M86 has never been this much fun. (via NYC The Blog)

NY's MTA Board's committees will meet throughout the day today, starting at 8:30 a.m. Watch the meetings live: http://bit.ly/mtawebcast

Top Transportation Nation stories we're following: High speed rail will not come to Disneyworld.  Or will it? And: New Jersey lawmakers present a united front in opposition to repaying feds for cancelled ARC tunnel, while Houston METRO gets a refund from a Spanish rail car supplier.

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NJ to Feds: We May Not Have Agreed About ARC Tunnel, But We Agree We Shouldn't Have To Pay

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) New Jersey politicians might not have agreed about the ARC tunnel -- but when it comes to paying back the federal government $271 million in ARC money, they present a united front ... against paying, that is.

Yesterday, Governor Christie's office released a copy of a letter that the entire New Jersey congressional delegation --13 congressmen (yes, the entire delegation is male) plus the two senators -- sent to DOT Secretary Ray LaHood, expressing concern that "forcing New Jersey to pay these funds will undermine efforts for a new Trans-Hudson tunnel."

New Jersey has been pursuing legal action to avoid repaying the Federal Transit Administration $271 million that the agency billed the state for work on the ARC tunnel project. This letter appears to be the latest attempt by the state to try to get off the hook for the bill.

We reached out to the DOT for comment, wondering:  what triggered this letter? Were there discussions afoot about repurposing that money for a new iteration of a Trans-Hudson tunnel -- like the Gateway Tunnel or extending the #7 subway? The DOT says they have "no update."

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Ray LaHood: I'm Disappointed FL Rejected HSR Money -- But Other States Will Benefit

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) DOT secretary Ray LaHood is not happy about Florida governor Rick Scott's decision to reject federal funding for high speed rail. His office issued the following statement this morning:

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood Statement on Florida Governor Scott’s Decision to Decline High-Speed Rail Dollars

WASHINGTON U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today made the following statement regarding Florida Governor Rick Scott’s decision to decline high-speed rail dollars.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood: “We are extremely disappointed by Governor Rick Scott’s decision to walk away from the job creating and economic development benefits of high speed rail in Florida. We worked with the governor to make sure we eliminated all financial risk for the state, instead requiring private businesses competing for the project to assume cost overruns and operating expenses. It is projects like these that will help America out-build our global competitors and lay the foundation needed to win the future. This project could have supported thousands of good-paying jobs for Floridians and helped grow Florida businesses, all while alleviating congestion on Florida’s highways. Nevertheless, there is overwhelming demand for high speed rail in other states that are enthusiastic to receive Florida’s funding and the economic benefits it can deliver, such as manufacturing and construction jobs, as well as private development along its corridors.”

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Christine Quinn: Parking Ticket Fix Good For Constituent Relations

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn was on the Brian Lehrer Show this morning to talk about her State of the City speech. And as parking tickets were one of the big ticket items in that speech, Brian asked --quoting Andrea Bernstein's Transportation Nation article--the following question:

Brian Lehrer: More than 90% of people who work in Manhattan take mass transit, not their own cars. So why the attention to the problem of parking tickets issued to drivers  while they're putting money in the meters?

Christine Quinn: Well, for a couple of reasons. We've been very aggressive on mass transit issues in the Council from our big campaign last year to successfully save student MetroCards to supporting congestion pricing for extra funding for the MTA and an array of other issues.  But we in the Council want to be responsive to the issues that New Yorkers call us about.

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BREAKING: Rick Scott Rejects $2.4 Billion for High-Speed Rail

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) Florida Governor Rick Scott just announced that he's rejecting $2.4 billion in federal stimulus funds for  high-speed rail link connecting Orlando to Tampa.

"The truth is that this project would be far too costly to taxpayers and I believe the risk far outweighs the benefits," the governor said. "President Obama’s high-speed rail program is not the answer to Florida’s economic recovery."

You can read his prepared remarks here. There's a story about this in the Orlando Sentinel here.

More as we learn it.

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TN Moving Stories: Maryland Population Growth Expected Near Transit, Transpo Groups Like President's Budget, And NCDOT Combats Junk in Your Trunk

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Transportation groups have much to like in President Obama’s budget request for infrastructure improvements -- but fear the spending plan might not get off the ground in Congress. (The Hill)

Planners in Montgomery County, Maryland, expect population growth will happen around transit centers and mixed use developments near the area's Metrorail station. (WAMU)

Christine Quinn announced her plan to ease NYC's parking restrictions and introduce new legislation that would allow ticket agents to literally "tear up" tickets. (WNYC)  Also: Quinn will be on WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show today, and it's safe to say that this parking plan will come up in the conversation.

A political battle brewing over the New Starts transit funding program could endanger at least $394 million for Minneapolis's Central Corridor light-rail line. (Star-Tribune)

The North Carolina DOT has launched a campaign to combat junk in your trunk. Drive lighter, save money at the pump:

Ray LaHood takes to his blog -- and Twitter, and Facebook -- to defend the president's high-speed rail plan in the face of critics. "As the Secretary of Transportation, let me be clear: there is no amount of money that could build enough capacity on our highways and at airports to keep up with our expected population growth in coming decades."

Greece's socialist government was able to pass its sweeping public transportation reform legislation in a final vote two hours past midnight on Wednesday, despite protracted strikes since December. (Dow Jones)

NY's Metropolitan Transportation Authority has refused to move from a parking lot slated to be turned into a park on Greenpoint's waterfront. (NY Daily News)

Is Burlington's pro-bike policy part of the secret behind Vermont's low unemployment rate? (Good)

An app to report potholes has come to Boston. (Wired/Autopia)

Top Transportation Nation stories we're following: We look at the politics behind the iconic beleaguered middle class driver. Senator Jeff Sessions weighs in on high-speed rail -- and what he thinks transportation policy should focus on. Montana grapples with megaloads. Houston's light rail system stands to get more money if the president's budget is passed. And: we just can't get enough of love on the subway.

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Sessions: High-Speed Rail Will Never Be Profitable

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Senator Jeff Sessions

Transportation Nation's Todd Zwillich asked Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions if he could ever support high-speed rail, as long as the overall budget bottom line is low.  The response:

Senator Jeff Sessions: Well, the critical number is -- are we going up or are we going down in spending? We need to be going down in spending. And then within that number, you can fight over what is your priority and what is not in your priority. I’ve studied the rail situation in years past, and I’m convinced that the way America operates it will not be an efficient thing here. High-speed rail is exceedingly expensive. I’m very dubious about that new spending program. I think most people would prefer we fix the 14th Street Bridge, and you know the potholes in the neighborhood, rather than spending huge amounts of money – and that’s just a down payment on the plan the President mentioned in his speech. I was just stunned that 80% of the American people would be in walking distance – or some distance – to the high speed rail, I think, is impractical.

Question: you just supported an increased budget line for the District of Columbia, I think. 14th Street Bridge?

Senator Sessions: (laughs) I’m just kind of kidding, but urban transportation problems are real, for millions of Americans, and a good policy would figure out how to improve that. But I don’t think high-speed rail in areas that are never going to be profitable are the answer.

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New York's Taxi Riders: Credit Cards Yes, TV No

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) They like the option to pay by credit card. But they hate the fare. Over 30% of riders also liked the ease of hailing cabs, and a similar number felt that they were faster than public transportation.  And they don't like Taxi TV, which earned disdain from a third of riders.

These were some of the opinions the New York Taxi and Limousine Commission gleaned from a survey of over 22,000 cab riders. The TLC wanted to learn passengers' likes and dislikes about cab riding--and also collect feedback to put to use in the Taxi of Tomorrow competition.

And when it comes to voting for the actual Taxi of Tomorrow -- the cab that the city will require owners to purchase, starting in 2014 -- the Karsan was the favorite.

You can see the results below.

Taxi of Tomorrow Survey Results 02-10-11

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TN Moving Stories: Boston's Pricey Cabs, BART Clears A San Jose Hurdle, and Privatizing The Tappan Zee?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Boston cab (photo by SPBer via Wikimedia Commons)

Radio Boston (WBUR) tries to figure out why that city's cabs are the most expensive in the nation.

The five-decade-long quest to bring BART to San Jose cleared a major hurdle yesterday, when the Federal Transit Administration recommended that it receive $130 million in federal funds this year -- clearing the way for construction to begin in 2012. (Mercury News)

A state commission charged with shoring up Maryland’s cash-strapped transportation improvement fund has proposed raising more than $800 million in increased fees -- and called on state leaders not to take money from the system to plug other holes in the budget. (Baltimore Business Journal)

The Takeaway talks to an economist who says that despite negative perceptions, cities make us better -- and happier.

It's too expensive to maintain New York's Tappan Zee Bridge. It's too expensive to replace it. So politicians are looking at how private companies might provide a solution. (Wall Street Journal)

NY City Council Speaker Christine Quinn will propose changes to parking rules in her State of the City speech today. (WNYC)

An Ecuardorean judge fined Chevron $9 billion in a decade-long pollution case. (Marketplace)

The FAA said that U.S. airline-passenger numbers will reach 1 billion in fiscal 2021 -- two years sooner than projected -- because of improved economic growth. (Washington Post)

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee kicked off their reauthorization field hearings/public listening sessions in West Virginia, where some attendees wanted to talk about raising the gas tax. (Charleston Gazette)

Virginia Senator Mark Warner said that Governor Bob McDonnell's plan to pump nearly $3 billion in the state's roads over three years is not "fiscally conservative" and will not solve the state's transportation problems. (Washington Post)

Top Transportation Nation stories we're following: President Obama released his budget; we began looking at its transportation spending.  And: in honor of Valentine's Day, we found love on the subway.

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TN Moving Stories: Canadian Oil Keeps Midwest Gas Prices Lower Than The Coasts, Republican Budget To Hit NY's MTA, and Americans Like Transportation, They Just

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Rockefeller Foundation survey says Americans support road upkeep and transit systems --  but they don't want to pay for them. (Washington Post).  (A storyline we've been following:  check out these stories from September 20, 2010: "Election Report:  Give Us Transportation, Just Don't Make Us Pay For It," and this one from November 1, 2010;  "Wariness about Spending on Transportation and Infrastructure Accompanies Voters To the Polls."

Gas prices are rising faster on the coasts than they are in the Midwest, thanks to bargain-priced oil coming in from Canada. (NPR)

New York's MTA would lose $73 million in federal aid under the House Republicans’ budget plan to be voted on this week, according to a study released yesterday by Rep. Anthony Weiner. (AM New York)

All five candidates in Tampa's mayoral race support light rail and improved transit -- as well as high-speed rail in Florida. (Tampa Tribune)

A light rail system that would stretch from Detroit's downtown to one of its business districts and then several miles further to the border with its northern suburbs was the topic of a hearing this weekend. Some fear that even if the project advances beyond its initial 3.4-mile stage and links the riverfront to the Eight Mile Road city limits, it will not stretch far enough. "Where's it going to go from there?" said one resident. "Ain't no jobs in this city. It needs to go into the suburbs, not just stop at Eight Mile Road." (Chicago Tribune)

NPR says the U.S. is in a streetcar boom, and more than a dozen cities either have them or are actively planning for their development, according to Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer.

The NY Daily News rejects one local politician's idea to make platforms safer -- but says the MTA "has a responsibility to do something when a train hits someone on average once every four days. It should test platform doors in a pilot program and not be rattled by critics."

Colin Beavan (remember No-Impact Man?) says bring on the bike lanes. "The fact of the matter is that it would be safer for New York as a whole if we had more bike lanes. And not just the people who travel along the streets, but the people, like you and me, who live on them

Top Transportation Nation stories we're following: Transportation projects are set to take a massive, immediate hit under a spending bill headed for the floor of the House of Representatives this week. One city in France is considering an 18 mph speed limit. We test drive the MTA's real time bus info. And there's a new lawsuit for Indiana's I-69 highway project.

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TN Moving Stories: Worst January In 6 Years for NJ Transit, DC Metro Haunted By Bad Decisions, and Columbus Shelves Streetcar, Light Rail Plans

Friday, February 11, 2011

January snowstorms dealt NJ Transit’s its worst month for train delays in six years. "Trains were late six or more minutes 8.8 percent of the time last month, the worst showing since January 2005, when the number was 11.1 percent. Last year, only 4.1 percent of trains were tardy for the same month." (The Star-Ledger)

Pennsylvania counties try to coordinate public transportation for senior citizens and disabled people. (The Patriot News)

Will private plane info become public? Most private plane owners would no longer be able to prevent the public from tracking their flights in real time under a new policy being considered by the U.S. Department of Transportation. (ProPublica)

DC's Metro recently underwent a change in leadership -- but some of the financial decisions it made in the past are still haunting the organization. (WAMU)

A survey showed that 31% of New Yorkers dislike Taxi TV. And the Taxi and Limousine commissioner feels their pain. (NY Times)

Columbus shelves its streetcar and light rail plans. (Columbus Dispatch)

But, elsewhere in Ohio: a bipartisan group of northern Ohio congress members met with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to discuss building a high speed rail line along Lake Erie that would link Cleveland with Chicago, Detroit, Toledo and Buffalo. (Cleveland Plain-Dealer)

The NY MTA is trying to appease local businesses disrupted by the building of the 2nd Avenue subway with better-designed construction barriers and fencing -- and a sign that reads, "Shop 2nd Ave."(NY Post)

Own your own ferry: a former Staten Island ferry boat, named the Gov. Herbert H. Lehman, is being sold on eBay at a starting bid of $500,000. (NY Daily News)

Top Transportation Nation stories we're following:  Climate change is threatening -- among other things -- New York's transit infrastructure. Amtrak sets ridership records. And Nancy Pelosi says we have a several trillion dollar deficit in our infrastructure in America.

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Amtrak Sets Ridership Records

Thursday, February 10, 2011

(photo by Steven Vance/Flickr)

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) Amtrak said today it had the best January ever. This follows 15 months of steady ridership increases. Officials say the rail service is being helped by the improving economy, sustained high gas prices, and the addition of Wi-Fi internet to the Acela.

And-- as President Obama said in his State of the Union -- riding the rails doesn't require a pat-down.

This news comes on the heels of the Republican's announcement yesterday that they want to cut Amtrak’s budget by $224 million, and slash funding for high-speed rail by $1 billion. And they're not exactly happy about the president's plan to spend $53 billion on high-speed rail over the next five years.

You can read Amtrak's release below.

Amtrak_ATK-11-019a_Amtrak_Sets_15_Month_Ridership_Record-1

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Pelosi: We Have A Trillion Dollar Infrastructure Deficit

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi with San Francisco Mayor Lee, construction workers hired with Recovery Act funds, and their children on the site of the Tenderloin YMCA housing development in San Francisco in January 2011. Photo: Pelosi's Office

Transportation Nation's Todd Zwillich was on hand Today when House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi held what he describes as "a rousing press conference" with Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) and Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) and other groups, urging Congress to pass the renewal of Build America Bonds that expired last December.

She said the bill would accelerate private and public construction, echoing the president’s State of the Union call to “out-innovate, out-educate and out-build the rest of the world.”

Democratic Reps. Gerry Connolly, Va., Loretta Sanchez, Calif., and John Carney, Del., also spoke in support of the resolution.  You can listen to an excerpt of Pelosi's speech here, or read the transcript below.

______________________________

Just to put this in perspective, Mr. Connolly of Virginia talked about the leveraging of dollars. My colleague, Congresswoman Sanchez, talked about the need for these jobs and the urgency of creating them now. Mr. Carney brought his knowledge and expertise on bonding to support this legislation--it will make a tremendous difference.

When we heard last week from the Society of Civil Engineers, they told us we have a several trillion dollar deficit in our infrastructure in America. It’s not only dangerous in terms of the conditions of our roads – which get about a ‘D’ – there are roads and bridges that get D, D-, C-, like that where we don’t have any good grades. It’s a matter of water systems – so this it’s a health issue– some of our water systems are made of brick and wood – imagine how ancient those are – it’s about future, broadband, that takes us into the future and helps us communicate. It’s about dredging our ports. We talk about trade and the rest – we can’t get all the profit from our trade unless you have the biggest draft on those ships to carry the biggest load of American products out of our country. And that’s not just about coastal America—it’s about what comes down the Mississippi, and what crosses our roads to get product to market. Infrastructure is important to every aspect of our economy – from international trade to lightbulbs for our homes, as we place an emphasis on doing this in a green way. You know, they say if someone would come back to our country from a hundred years ago they’d see so much different. But if Thomas Edison came back, everything would look about the same. You are making the difference in all of that!

We’re very determined to renew Build America Bonds, we know it’s urgent at any time, because of the infrastructure needs we have in our country…but at this time of such great unemployment, it’s absolutely essential. So we extend a hand of friendship to our Republican friends and say ‘let’s do this.’ It’s about public-private partnerships, it’s about leveraging the public dollars in a way that would have great scrutiny and is urgent right now.

Are we ready to create jobs right now?  Are we ready to build America with Build America Bonds? (Cheering)

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Airlines' On-Time Performance Holds Steady in 2010

Thursday, February 10, 2011

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) Airlines had essentially the same on-time performance in 2010 as they did in 2009 -- just shy of 80 percent, according to numbers released today by the DOT. See the DOT's full release below, which also contains info about tarmac delays, mishandled baggage, and discrimination complaints.

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TN Moving Stories: Guerilla Urban Planner Plants R.I. Stop Signs, and Obama's Infrastructure Bank

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Obama administration's budget proposal (due out next week) will call for creation of a national infrastructure bank -- a system that could take some spending decisions out of Congress' hands, said Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. (Wall Street Journal)

(photo by COCOEN via Flickr)

An anonymous guerrilla urban planner has planted nearly 600 "undocumented stop signs" in the town of Cranston, RI--and a special town government committee has elected to keep almost all of them in place. (BoingBoing)

Portfolio Magazine looks at how Democrats are pushing infrastructure and high speed rail, while  Republican are targeting transportation funding.  "Both sides should expect to get derailed." The Wall Street Journal has a similar view.

Two taxi medallions in New York City are being sold for a record $950,000 each. (NY Daily News)

DOT Secretary Ray LaHood is trying to broker peace between Chicago's Mayor Daley and the CEOs of American and United Airlines, who are feuding over a proposed expansion of O'Hare Airport. (Chicago Sun-Times)

The Hill writes about Congressman John Mica. "Like President Obama, the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman is a backer of high-speed rail. But House Republican leaders, to put it simply, are not as enamored of the idea."

Is there a chance the City of Milwaukee would be willing to share at least part of almost $55 million in federal transit funding – money currently designated for the planned Downtown Streetcar Circulator – with Milwaukee County to help fund its bus system?  That was an idea floated by the campaign of Chris Abele, a Milwaukee philanthropist and candidate for Milwaukee County executive, earlier this week. (Milwaukee Magazine)

Two bills intended to reduce distracted driving are heading to the Virginia House of Delegates. (WAMU)

And, just in time for Valentine's Day, a little transit romance. New Yorkers: have you ever had a missed connection on public transit? The NY Transit Museum is hosting a "love in transit party for all would-be romantics" on Valentine's Day.

Top Transportation Nation stories we're following:

  • Should EV owners pay a gas tax anyway?
  • NJ Transit gets in the real-time transit info game
  • The Republican budget would slash transportation funding
  • A group of businesspeople and retired military leaders say the goal of the US's transportation policy should be to reduce oil consumption

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City Streets Riddled With Potholes

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

(photo by Karly Domb Sadof)

(Brian Zumhagen, WNYC) It's a holey mess out there.

The unrelenting winter weather has taken a toll on New York City streets, leaving deep potholes throughout the five boroughs and in some cases creating perilous conditions for drivers and pedestrians.

The city has filled 60,000 potholes since the beginning of the year, a 20 percent increase over the same period last year, according to the Department of Transportation. But because of budget cuts, every road repair worker furloughed on five days spread out over the winter. It now takes crews an average of just under four days to fill a pothole.

Last year, it took about two days.

Fayyaz Ahmed, a cabbie, blew out a tire and had to pay $150 on repairs.

"You have to be very careful when you're driving on the road," he said. "I've never seen the city like this before in 18 years!"

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said conditions aren't bad considering how much abuse the streets have taken from the snow, the plows and the fluctuating temperatures.

"They're probably doing a very good job of keeping up with it," he said. "Do we have enough resources? No. And unless we can get some help from Albany in reducing some of the mandates, the future is going to mean even more sacrifice."

And people driving over the Brooklyn Bridge tonight will be experiencing that sacrifice. Here's the NYC DOT's Facebook status: Due to the effects of winter storms on Brooklyn Bridge roads, urgent resurfacing work begins this weekend. 11 PM-6AM Wed & Thurs, and 12AM to 6PM Sat, all Manhattan-bound traffic will be detoured. Contraflow will be in effect, and all BK-bound traffic will travel on the north roadway. In 2 locations on the FDR Drive + the BQE, closures will begin 30-60 min earlier to allow work crews to set up.

To see a slideshow of New York's pothole-ridden streets, visit WNYC.

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Retired Military Leaders: Federal Transportation Policy Should Focus on Reducing Oil Consumption

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) UPDATED with DOT response

A group composed of business leaders and retired four-star generals released a report today that says "oil dependence represents a profound threat to American economic and national security."

Simply put, the main message is "use less oil."

The group, called the Energy Security Leadership Council, has taken on various aspects of energy policy before, but this is the first time it's turned its attention to the transportation sector. Its "Transportation Policies for America's Future" report, which is timed to coincide with the upcoming transportation reauthorization bill, paints a stark picture:

"The majority of this oil is produced in hostile nations and unstable regions. Its price is increasingly volatile. As a result, the economy is left at the mercy of events and actors beyond U.S. control."

The report includes a broad swath of recommendations (some which require action from the DOT; some which require congressional approval) to reduce oil consumption, including:

  • Create a new federal formula program focused on improving system performance in urban areas using pricing strategies and single-occupancy vehicle alternatives
  • Create a competitive program that makes funds available for congestion-mitigation proposals that seek to deploy dynamic tolling, performance-based technological improvements, transit solutions, and Travel Demand Management (TDM) initiatives. In other words, use federal funds to encourage carpooling, transit, and other relatively low-energy forms of transportation.
  • Establish a program to fund nationally-significant projects that improve the efficiency of freight and goods movement, and have a substantial impact on interstate commerce
  • Remove federal legal restrictions on tolling road capacity that could bring about congestion relief
  • Promote the long-term deployment of a comprehensive, privacy-protective Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) fee
  • Pilot approaches to pre-development regulations for projects expected to achieve sustainable oil savings

The ESLC says that implementing these could save the country as much as seven billion (cumulative) barrels of oil by the year 2035.

Also today: the House Appropriations Committee released its list of $74 billion worth of budget cuts--including an almost $900 million reduction to energy efficiency and renewable energy programs.

We reached out to the Department of Transportation and House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair John Mica for reaction to the report, and heard this from the DOT:

"The Obama Administration is already working to reduce our oil dependence by investing in more sustainable forms of transportation, such as high speed passenger rail and transit opportunities, and by working with EPA to increase fuel economy standards. The Department of Transportation has also been working with HUD and EPA to make coordinated investments in sustainable communities that put affordable housing within reach of good public transportation services and economic opportunities."

No word yet from Mica's office. In the meantime, you can find the ESLC's full report here.

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Republicans Announce Proposed Spending Cuts; HSR and Amtrak Take Hits

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) The Republicans released their list of spending cuts earlier today, proposing slashing funding to a wide swath of programs -- including transportation. Among the $74 billion worth of potential reductions: cutting Amtrak's budget by $224 million, and slashing funding for high-speed rail by $1 billion.  The bill will be formally introduced tomorrow.

The Wall Street Journal points out that "it’s difficult to determine the actual level of cuts from current federal government funding levels since the cuts are proposed against President Barack Obama's fiscal 2011 budget request, which was never taken up by Congress."

The list can be found below or here.

From the US House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations:

CR Spending Cuts to Go Deep

WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers today announced a partial list of 70 spending cuts that will be included in an upcoming Continuing Resolution (CR) bill. The CR legislation will fund the federal government for the seven months remaining in the fiscal year and prevent a government wide shut-down, while significantly reducing the massive increases in discretionary spending enacted in the last several years by a Democrat majority. A full list of program cuts will be released when the bill is formally introduced.

The total spending cuts in the CR will exceed $74 billion, including $58 billion in non-security discretionary spending reductions. The statement by Chairman Rogers on these cuts follows:

“Never before has Congress undertaken a task of this magnitude. The cuts in this CR will represent the largest reduction in discretionary spending in the history of our nation.

“While making these cuts is hard, we have a unique opportunity to right our fiscal ship and begin to reduce our massive deficits and debt. We have taken a wire brush to the discretionary budget and scoured every program to find real savings that are responsible and justifiable to the American people.

“Make no mistake, these cuts are not low-hanging fruit. These cuts are real and will impact every District across the country - including my own. As I have often said, every dollar we cut has a constituency, an industry, an association, and individual citizens who will disagree with us. But with this CR, we will respond to the millions of Americans who have called on this Congress to rein in spending to help our economy grow and our businesses create jobs.”

The List of 70 Spending Cuts to be Included in the CR follows:

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TN Moving Stories: Toyota's Electronics Cleared, US News Ranks Top Public Transpo Cities, and DC Metro Escalators: Not Improving

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Portland--the winning city, according to US News (photo by Thad Roan via Wikimedia Commons)

US News and World Reports has ranked what it says are the ten best cities in the country for public transportation, ridership, and safety. (List here.)

The federal investigation into Toyota says that electronics aren't to blame for its sudden acceleration problem. (Christian Science Monitor)

The Ohio Department of Transportation is rescinding a three-year, $150 million funding pledge to Ohio's public-transit agencies that the former made in the waning days of last fall's campaign. Instead, the state plans to share $80 million in federal transportation funding with 59 local transit authorities through 2013. (Columbus Dispatch)

Metro's 588 escalators are breaking down with greater frequency - once every seven to eight days, on average - and repairs are taking longer than in past years. (Washington Post)

The Transportation Security Administration has told members of Congress that more than 15 million passengers received full-body scans at airports without any malfunctions that put travelers at risk of an excessive radiation dose. Now, the TSA has yet to release radiation inspection reports for its X-ray equipment — two months after lawmakers called for them to be made public. (USA Today)

The Infra Blog looks at yesterday's high-speed rail announcement in light of Florida Gov. Scott's recent budget address. "Over the last few years,' the Governor said, "Florida accepted one-time hand-outs from the federal government. Those temporary resources allowed state and local governments to spend beyond their means. There was never any reason to think that Florida taxpayers could afford to continue that higher level of spending once the federal hand-outs are gone. The false expectations created by the federal hand-outs are the reason we hear about a multi-billion dollar deficit."

Bicycles won't have to be registered in Long Beach any longer after the City Council voted Tuesday to end the requirement. (Contra Costa Times)

In New York, it's blizzarding...parking tickets, as alternate side rules have resumed. "The city issued 9,910 summonses on Monday, twice the daily average, to people who did not move their vehicles by the designated time." (New York Times)

Top Transportation Nation stories we're following: The president's $53 billion high-speed rail problem inspires cheers and jeers -- and raises questions. Houston's METRO is looking at expanding out to the suburbs. And in San Francisco, a new bike data app shows that the increase in accidents is outpacing the increase in cyclists.

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Obama Administration Unveils $53 Billion High Speed Rail Plan

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) The White House just sent out a press release touting a six year, $53 billion plan to invest in high-speed rail -- see below.

Immediately following came this release by House Transportation Committee Chair John Mica.

More to come!

Vice President Biden Announces Six Year Plan to Build National High-Speed Rail Network
Plan Lays Out Vision for Long Term Infrastructure Investments Needed to Win the Future

Philadelphia, PA - Vice President Joe Biden today announced a comprehensive plan that will help the nation reach President Obama’s goal of giving 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail within 25 years, as outlined in his State of the Union address. The proposal will place high-speed rail on equal footing with other surface transportation programs and revitalize America’s domestic rail manufacturing industry by dedicating $53 billion over six years to continue construction of a national high-speed and intercity passenger rail network.  As a part of President Obama’s commitment to winning the future by rebuilding America’s roadways, railways and runways, the plan will lay a new foundation for the nation’s economic opportunity, job creation, and competitiveness.

The Vice President made the announcement with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood during a visit to Philadelphia’s historic 30th Street Station, where passengers traveling from Pittsburgh and Harrisburg on Amtrak’s Keystone Corridor connect to high-speed Acela service to Boston, New York City, and Washington, D.C.  Since track improvements raised speeds between Harrisburg and Philadelphia to 110 mph in 2006, the Keystone Corridor has seen rail ridership rise by 57 percent.  In fact, more passengers now travel from Harrisburg to Philadelphia – and from Philadelphia to New York City and Washington D.C. – by rail than by plane.

“As President Obama said in his State of the Union, there are key places where we cannot afford to sacrifice as a nation – one of which is infrastructure,” said Vice President Biden.  “As a long time Amtrak rider and advocate, I understand the need to invest in a modern rail system that will help connect communities, reduce congestion and create quality, skilled manufacturing jobs that cannot be outsourced. This plan will help us to do that, while also increasing access to convenient high speed rail for more Americans.”

As the first step in this comprehensive, six-year plan, the President’s Budget for the coming fiscal year would invest $8 billion in expanding Americans’ access to high-speed passenger rail service.  In order to achieve a truly national system, these investments will focus on developing or improving three types of interconnected corridors:

  • Core Express:  These corridors will form the backbone of the national high-speed rail system, with electrified trains traveling on dedicated tracks at speeds of 125-250 mph or higher.
  • Regional:  Crucial regional corridors with train speeds of 90-125 mph will see increases in trips and reductions in travel times, laying the foundation for future high-speed service.
  • Emerging: Trains traveling at up to 90 mph will provide travelers in emerging rail corridors with access to the larger national high-speed and intercity passenger rail network.

This system will allow the Department – in partnership with states, freight rail, and private companies – to identify corridors for the construction of world-class high-speed rail, while raising speeds on existing rail lines and providing crucial planning and resources to communities who want to join the national high-speed rail network. With rail ridership reaching all-time highs in many areas of the country during 2010, these investments will ensure that more Americans have the option of taking a train to reach their destination.

"In America, we pride ourselves on dreaming big and building big," said Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood.  "This historic investment in America’s high-speed rail network keeps us on track toward economic opportunity and competitiveness in the 21st century.  It’s an investment in tomorrow that will create manufacturing, construction, and operations jobs today.”

This long term commitment builds on the $10.5 billion down payment the Obama Administration already devoted to a national high-speed rail system – including $8 billion of Recovery Act funds and $2.5 billion from the 2010 budget.  These investments are already paying economic dividends in places like Brunswick, Maine, where construction workers are laying track that will provide the first rail service since the 1940s from Brunswick to Portland to Boston.  Private dollars are also gravitating toward Brunswick’s station neighborhood, as investors have financed a number of businesses and residential condos, a new movie theatre, a new 60 room hotel, and a 21st century health clinic.  Similar high-speed and intercity passenger rail projects across the country will create jobs not only in our manufacturing sector, but also in the small businesses that open near modernized train stations.  They will connect large metropolitan communities and economies through a safe, convenient, and reliable transportation alternative.  They will ease congestion on our roads and at our airports.  And they will reduce our reliance on oil as well as our carbon emissions.

By clarifying the long-term federal role in passenger rail, this six-year program will provide states and cities with the certainty they need to make long-term transportation plans for their communities.  It will provide businesses the confidence they need to hire American workers.  Strong Buy American requirements will create tens of thousands of middle-class jobs in construction, manufacturing, and rail operations.   And the proposal will open the door to new public-private partnerships, and attract significant private investment in developing and operating passenger rail corridors.

The proposal announced today by the Vice President also streamlines the Department of Transportation’s rail programs, making it simpler for states, cities, and private companies to apply for grants and loans.  For the first time, all high speed and intercity passenger rail programs will be consolidated into two new accounts:  a $4 billion account for network development, focused on building new infrastructure, stations, and equipment; and a $4 billion account for system preservation and renewal, which will maintain state of good repair on Amtrak and other publicly-owned assets, bring stations into Americans with Disabilities Act compliance, and provide temporary operating support to crucial state corridors while the full system is being built and developed.

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