Wednesday, March 28, 2012
By Kate Hinds
Senate Democrats, already on full boil over the highway funding standoff, are turning the heat up even higher: they've launched a countdown clock to tick down the minutes until the federal road funding authorization expires on March 31.
House Republicans have tried this week for both a 90-day and a 60-day extension of current funding levels, but both efforts were blocked by Democrats who want to see the Senate's two-year, $109 billion bill come to the floor. It remains unclear whether a vote on an extension will come on Wednesday.
If no agreement is reached by March 31, the government's authority to collect the 18.4 cents-per-gallon gas tax that funds federal transportation programs expires.
Earlier Wednesday, New York Senator Charles Schumer tweeted: "W/only 3 days til deadline, @SpeakerBoehner still hasn’t acted on highway bill. Senate bill has the votes to pass. Bring it up now."
To read TN's coverage of the highway funding standoff, go here.
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
The fact the GOP would move a temporary extension next week was confirmed yesterday . A statement from House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) issued today specified it would be a 3-month bill.
“Tomorrow, I will introduce a short-term extension through June 30th to ensure continuity of current programs while I and House Republicans continue to work toward a responsible transportation bill that provides long-term certainty, reduces the size of government, eliminates earmarks, and is fully paid for. We continue to believe that linking energy and infrastructure is the responsible thing to do in order to meet our long-term needs,” the statement read.
Senate Democrats are busy talking tough while leaning on the House to instead take up the 2-year $109 billion bill the Senate passed with 74 votes last week. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood joined a group of Senate Democrats Wednesday to goad House Republicans to avoid the very thing Mica says they'll do.
"We're going to continue the drumbeat. No extension," LaHood said. He called an extension the "death knell" of the Highway Trust Fund and the jobs that rely on it. The highway bill has been temporarily reauthorized eight times since 2009.
The House GOP's decision to spurn the Senate bill, at least for now, leaves open the possibility of a standoff that could lead to a shutdown. Sen. Harry Reid, the Majority Leader, said Tuesday he was "not inclined" to approve a temporary extension in light of the Senate's broad bipartisan vote.
"I hope that we will force this issue" with the House, said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).
Asked in the same press conference whether Democrats would refuse to back a temporary Highway Bill extension, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), a member of the Democratic leadership, would not say they would.
"We think it's a very bad idea," he said.
TN MOVING STORIES: House To Take Up 5-Year Transpo Bill, Port Authority Audit Expected to Slam Former Head, Obama's Old Car Available eBay
Thursday, January 26, 2012
By Kate Hinds
Top stories on TN: U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood doesn’t think there’s much chance Congress will pass a surface transportation spending bill this year -- but he's standing firm on the Obama administration's goal to connect 80 percent of Americans to high-speed rail by 2036. New York's MTA loses its only board member who's married to a Beatle. A Supreme Court ruling on GPS could affect a NYC taxi suit. And: Central Park gets its first crosstown shared bike/pedestrian path.
The new federal highway bill that will be taken up by the House of Representatives next week will be a five-year, $260 billion proposal. (The Hill)
Egyptian authorities are barring several U.S. citizens — including Ray LaHood’s son — from leaving the country after Egyptian government forces raided the offices of Washington-backed groups monitoring recent parliamentary elections there. (Politico)
A preliminary audit of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey's spending, initiated by Govs. Andrew Cuomo and Chris Christie, is expected to criticize the agency's prior leader Chris Ward -- but offer few suggestions on how it could save money. (Crain's New York Business)
House Republicans accused the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Wednesday of trying to keep secret a battery fire in a Chevy Volt out of fear of damaging the value of the government’s investment in the car’s manufacturer, General Motors, and jeopardizing President Obama’s re-election prospects. (New York Times)
Calgary has taken steps toward launching a public bike share program as soon as mid-2014, but even the city official who oversees cycling improvements won't promise there will be enough on-street bike lanes in time. (Calgary Herald)
Look out, Midwest: Austin, Texas, wants its share of the auto industry. (Changing Gears)
Editorial: at long last, Michigan lawmakers are finally confronting that state's crumbling roads. (Detroit Free Press)
Why California Governor Jerry Brown is standing firm on high-speed rail. (Christian Science Monitor)
After spending $160 million on a failed radio system for police to communicate in New York's subways, the city is buying transit cops two-way radios that will finally allow them to communicate with police above ground. (New York Post, New York Daily News)
What transit agencies can learn from Twitter."The most interesting thing we found is that transit riders do not give any positive sentiment at a particular time. They only give negative sentiment," said a researcher. "If there’s no negative sentiment at any given time, that means that things are running smoothly." (Atlantic Cities)
TN MOVING STORIES: Sales of Hybrids and EVs Slower Than Expected; Public Sector Workers on Strike in U.K.
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
By Kate Hinds
Top stories on TN:
In Its First Season, Boston Bike Share Exceeds Projections; Will Expand Next Spring (Link)
A Federal Grant Encourages Denser Development in San Francisco (Link)
New York DOT / Uses Haiku with Graphics / to Tame City Streets (Link)
VIDEO: Secrets of Grand Central Terminal (Link)
Analysts see hope at American Airlines. (The Takeaway)
And: is bankruptcy 'business as usual' for domestic airlines? (NPR)
Sales of hybrid cars and electric vehicles haven't met automakers initial projections. (Marketplace)
Public sector workers are staging a huge strike in the United Kingdom, affecting transportation in Northern Ireland and cancelling some flights in London. (BBC)
The funding plan for California's high-speed rail project is faulty, according to a new report released. (Los Angeles Times)
A recovering U.S. auto industry should add more than 150,000 new jobs by 2015, and most of them will be located in Michigan. (Changing Gears)
Four snowstorms and a hurricane kept more drivers off of the NJ Turnpike and Garden State Parkway, leading to $47 million drop in projected revenue. (Bloomberg News via NJ.com)
Check out a map of the 643 transit projects nationwide. (Reconnecting America; h/t Politico MT)
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
(Washington, D.C) House Republicans will unveil a five-year transportation and highway bill Thursday that matches Senate Democrats in highway funding levels, according to a member of Congress familiar with the bill.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) plans to roll out the bill Thursday morning and pitch it as a major jobs initiative, countering a charge from President Obama and other Democrats that the GOP won't support direct job creation.
Republicans are likely to draw attention to relatively high funding levels in their bill. It will go up against a Senate alternative funding the Highway Trust Fund at $54 billion over two years. The House version, at five years, will be "longer and at least as big" in terms of highway funding, the lawmaker said.
One thing Boehner likely won't reveal Thursday is how the unexpectedly generous bill will be paid for. And this is guaranteed to be a major sticking point with Democrats. Republicans are dead set against any tax increases, for gasoline or for anything else. While Boehner has pointed to royalties for expanded domestic oil drilling as one funding source, that's unlikely to be a major component. Such royalties yield only $800 million to $1 billion over 10 years, and the Highway Trust Fund is tens of billions short if construction projects stay at anywhere near their present pace.
About $8 billion comes from a spend-down on the $22 billion currently held in the fund. Beyond that, "Boehner won't reveal the final (funding) levels until he reveals the pay-fors," the lawmaker said.
Follow Todd Zwillich on Twitter @toddzwillich
TN MOVING STORIES: Highway Bill Vote This Week, E.U. Bans Airport Body Scanners, Detroit's Buses Get an 'F'
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
By Kate Hinds
Top stories on TN:
Where -- and when -- did transit over the Tappan Zee Bridge go? (Link)
The New York MTA and the Transit Workers Union opened contract negotiations. (Link)
As police cleared Zuccotti Park, bicyclists helped reinforce Occupy Wall Street protesters. (Link)
The House is almost ready to vote on a highway bill. (The Hill)
And: lawmakers say the FAA bill will be ready to go by the end of the month. (Politico)
There are more vehicles on the roads in the DC area -- but more of them are passenger cars, not SUVs. (Washington Post)
One road in London is doing away with curbs and sidewalks in an effort to be more pedestrian-friendly. (Good)
Montreal unveiled a $16.8 billion plan to increase transit ridership, but funding it is going to be a problem. (Montreal Gazette)
Back in the day, new MTA head Joe Lhota wanted City Hall to control the city's transit system. (New York Times)
The Illinois state legislature signed off on Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s call for speed cameras near schools and parks. (WBEZ)
A transit advocacy group says half of Detroit's buses are either late or don't arrive at all. (Detroit Free Press)
WNYC looks at the economic benefits of hydrofracking.
The Canadian government ruled out federal funding for a high-speed rail line between Windsor and Quebec. (The National Post)
The European Union banned U.S.-style body scanner machines in European airports. (ProPublica)
A bike room grows in lower Manhattan. (New York Times)
How many riders must high-speed rail attract to offset the construction emissions? (Atlantic Cities)
TN MOVING STORIES: Lima's Public Transpo System is a "Killing Machine," Two Domestic Airlines Now Using Biofuels, Capital Bikeshare Expanding This Week
Wednesday, November 09, 2011
By Kate Hinds
Top stories on TN:
Mica: the Northeast Corridor must be our high-speed rail priority, and Amtrak can keep it. (Link)
Lima's public transportation system is a "killing machine;" the mayor has vowed reform. (AP)
Two domestic carriers are now using biofuels on some flights. (NPR)
Chicago is installing new cars on the 'El' train. (WBEZ)
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is set to mark up a two-year highway and transit bill today. (Politico)
Why are America's roads so bad? Because the network was built to withstand cars, not heavy trucks. (Gizmodo)
DC's Capital Bikeshare is expanding. (Washington Post)
A ballot measure on tolling and light rail in Washington State is too close to call. (Seattle Times)
Durham County (NC) passed a sales tax to pay for public transit expansion. (Herald Sun)
A new study says biking can save cities billions of dollars in health costs. (Good)
Want to the see the MTA's time-lapse video of the NYC Marathon? Check it out here.
Cartographers are using Boston's real-time bus location data to depict bus speeds (image above). "As you can see, most of the MBTA system would be toast if faced with the classic Speed scenario." (Bostonography)