Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 17, 2014

September 16, 2014

Highway Safety Agency Under Bipartisan Fire for GM Defects Response

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Sen. Claire McCaskill, D- Mo., in a 2010 photo (Photo By Bill Clark/Roll Call)

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found few allies on Capitol Hill Tuesday.

A House committee, a Senate committee, and the Department of Transportation’s inspector general’s office all agreed that the agency does not have the staff it needs to be an effective watchdog over car defects.

Full story

By Tom Curry Posted at 4:01 p.m.
Autos, Uncategorized

Labor And Capital In Accord on Threats to U.S. Airlines

452532224 445x280 Labor And Capital In Accord on Threats to U.S. Airlines

Delta Airlines planes at Kennedy airport in New York City (Photo by Eric Thayer/Getty Images)

Labor and capital were in agreement Tuesday that while it’s good that U.S. airlines are now profitable, foreign competitors are a growing threat, and Congress needs to lift the burden of taxes and fees on the industry.

Full story

By Tom Curry Posted at 12:48 p.m.
Aviation, Uncategorized

New NTSB Data Show General Aviation Has Become Less Risky Over Past 20 Years

UltimateGAdata 445x282 New NTSB Data Show General Aviation Has Become Less Risky Over Past 20 Years

General aviation is far more dangerous than regularly scheduled commercial aviation. But data released Monday by the National Transportation Safety Board show that general aviation has gotten safer over the past 20 years.

Full story

September 15, 2014

U.S. Airlines Still Not Quite Recovered To Their Pre-Recession Passenger Levels

emplanechart 445x322 U.S. Airlines Still Not Quite Recovered To Their Pre Recession Passenger Levels

Even with a recovering U.S. economy, domestic air travel has still not quite gotten back to its pre-recession levels.

The Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (Twitter: @TransportStatsreported Monday that U.S. airlines carried 59.2 million passengers on domestic flights. That compares to nearly 61.5 million domestic passengers in June of 2007. Full story

A Cautionary Tale About The Difficulty of Bringing Anti-Texting Technology To Market

In case you missed it, the New York Times on Sunday had a detailed account by Matt Richtel (Twitter: @mrichtel) of an entrepreneur and engineer named Scott Tibbitts who has spent five years devising a technology called Groove to prevent texting while driving — and thus save the lives of pedestrians and others killed by texting drivers.

Tibbitts and his company, Katasi, worked with Sprint and with American Family Insurance to make his technology available.

The story is a cautionary tale about the difficulty of bringing new technology to market. One impediment that has kept Katasi’s potentially life-saving device off the market: the companies’ potential legal liability if the technology weren’t 100 percent effective in blocking every single text.

Traffic Safety Administration, FedEx Earnings & Privacy During Airport Screening On Week’s Agenda

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Sen. Claire McCaskill, D- Mo., will chair a hearing Tuesday examining the performance of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (Photo by Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A busy week for transportation policy in Washington starts Tuesday with a hearing by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, headed by Sen. Claire McCaskill, D- Mo., (Twitter: @clairecmc) on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which has been accused of slow reaction to the GM recalls of 27.5 million cars this summer.

Full story

September 12, 2014

Thirteen Years After 9/11, A New Attempt To Screen 100 Percent of Cargo Containers

166779106 445x275 Thirteen Years After 9/11, A New Attempt To Screen 100 Percent of Cargo Containers

Cranes at the Port of Los Angeles ( Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

In 2007, to avert the danger of a terrorist attack on an American port, Congress required that all containers coming to the United States be scanned by non-intrusive inspection and radiation detection equipment before being loaded onto U.S.-bound ships in foreign ports.

It set July 1, 2012 as the deadline for achieving this goal.

Full story

By Tom Curry Posted at 4:21 p.m.
Ports, Security, Shipping

Sidewalks, Rail & Highway Projects On the Winners List As Foxx Awards $600M

57396410 445x286 Sidewalks, Rail & Highway Projects On the Winners List As Foxx Awards $600M

The 2006 Tour de Georgia bicycle race as it passed through Dahlonega, Ga.

It was Christmas in September on Friday for state and local transportation officials in 46 states as Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced $600 million in grants for projects ranging from a new streetcar in Providence, R.I., to building on-ramps and off-ramps at a key freight chokepoint in City of Industry, Calif.

Full story

Big Issues on the Horizon for Small Plane Manufacturers

citation longitude 005 1280x1024 418x335 Big Issues on the Horizon for Small Plane Manufacturers

The new Cessna Longitude is scheduled for first delivery in 2017. (Image courtesy of Cessna)

Next year Congress must pass a bill to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration. One industry with a lot at stake is general aviation, the companies that manufacture aircraft other than those flown by the military and scheduled commercial airlines.

Full story

September 11, 2014

Transportation Policy Guru Poole Voices Skepticism About Vehicle-To-Vehicle Technology

Robert Poole, co-founder of the Reason Foundation, has worked on transportation policy for more than three decades and is an influential voice on tolling, congestion pricing and infrastructure finance.

Vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) technology may some day allow cars to communicate with each other and with traffic infrastructure to avoid collisions.

Poole’s skepticism about this technology, which he explains in his monthly newsletter published this week, is worth reading.

Full story

How Global Business Travelers Are Coping In An Increasingly Perilous World

455040786 445x295 How Global Business Travelers Are Coping In An Increasingly Perilous World

Part of the wreckage of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 which was shot down over Ukraine on July 17. (Alexander KHUDOTEPLY/AFP/Getty Images)

We recently asked Global Business Travel Association (Twitter: @GlobalBTA ) executive director Michael W. McCormick for his views on how the last several month’s world events have affected business travelers.

Here’s the first part of that interview…. Full story

As Grain Harvest Faces Freight Rail Backlog, Thune Asks Railroads To Bring In Help

Thune4 022504 218x335 As Grain Harvest Faces Freight Rail Backlog, Thune Asks Railroads To Bring In Help

Sen. John Thune, R- S.D.

Freight rail delays are hurting not only farmers trying to get their grain to market, but Minnesota taconite miners with inventories they can’t ship, according to Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D- Minn., and apple and cherry marketers in Washington state, as Sen. Maria Cantwell, D- Wash., reported at Wednesday’s Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee hearing which we reported on. Full story

By Tom Curry Posted at 10:14 a.m.
Autos, Rail, Uncategorized

September 10, 2014

N.D. Senators: Farmers Are Being Hurt By Freight Rail Backlog

InternetSalesTax 06 042313 445x295 N.D. Senators: Farmers Are Being Hurt By Freight Rail Backlog

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D – N.D. (Photo By Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

Farm state senators sounded the alarm about delayed crop shipments and ruined crops at a Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee hearing Wednesday on a U.S. freight rail system that has been overwhelmed by a massive increase in rail shipments of crude oil.

The hearing opened with statements from the two senators from the state enjoying the benefits of the Bakken crude oil boom – North Dakota. But it is that state’s farmers – as well as farmers in neighboring states — who are also suffering from freight rail backlogs.

Full story

By Tom Curry Posted at 3:54 p.m.
Rail, Uncategorized

Hudson Urges TSA To Move Faster on Expedited Screening For Low-Risk Frequent Flyers

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Rep. Richard Hudson, R- N.C. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Richard Hudson, R- N.C., chairman of the Homeland Security Committee’s Subcommittee on Transportation Security, said Wednesday he was frustrated that the Transportation Security Administration hasn’t moved faster to implement its Pre-Check program.

The program allows low-risk frequent travelers to get through airport screening on an expedited basis — without removing their shoes and taking their laptops out of carrying cases, for example.

Full story

General Aviation Pilots Group Criticizes NTSB Study on Pilots’ Drug Use

144991527 445x289 General Aviation Pilots Group Criticizes NTSB Study on Pilots’ Drug Use

An investigator examines a single-engine plane which crashed in Glendale, Calif. in 2012. (ROBYN BECK/AFP/GettyImages)

The group representing general aviation pilots is criticizing the National Transportation Safety Board’s new study of pilots’ drug use. We reported on that study yesterday.

“There are just far too many gaps and unknowns in this [NTSB] study for us to be able to draw any meaningful conclusions about aviation safety,” said Mark Baker, president of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA). “Overall the number of general aviation accidents has declined significantly over the past decade, and continuing that trend should be our focus.” Full story

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