Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 1, 2014

July 31, 2014

NTSB ‘Concerned’ About Proposal to End Medical Certification for Pilots

The acting head of the National Transportation Safety Board voiced doubts in House testimony Thursday about a proposed bill that would end the Federal Aviation Administration’s medical certification requirement for many general aviation pilots.

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By Tom Curry Posted at 5:16 p.m.
Aviation

Driving While Stoned Risky, but No Federal Standard Yet

More stoned drivers on the road because of marijuana legalization could be a serious risk, at least according to some lawmakers.

At a hearing Thursday on driving and operating other vehicles while impaired by marijuana, House Subcommittee on Government Operations chairman Rep. John L. Mica, R- Fla., said “we’re going to have more people stoned on the highways and there will be consequences.”

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration official Dr. Jeff Michael told the subcommittee that right now there’s too little data to devise a federal impairment standard. His agency is working with the state of Washington to assess the change in marijuana use by drivers before and after the state’s legalization of the drug.

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Boeing 787 Announcement Comes as Ex-Im Bill Lobbying Intensifies

The announcement Wednesday by Boeing that North Charleston, S.C., will be the site for final assembly of the 787-10, the newest version of its 787 Dreamliner, coincided with a push by a coalition of business groups to urge House Republicans to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank.

The charter for the bank, which is especially important for Boeing’s sales to foreign airlines, expires at the end of September.

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By Tom Curry Posted at 9:22 a.m.
Aviation

July 30, 2014

Tighter Scrutiny Needed for Railroad Disability Claims, GAO Says

The Railroad Retirement Board, which administers the retirement and disability system for railroad workers and dates back to the 1930s, paid $276 million in disability benefits to nearly 13,000 beneficiaries in fiscal 2012. But the Government Accountability Office said this week that the RRB needs to tighten its scrutiny of disability claims.

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By Tom Curry Posted at 5:19 p.m.
Rail

In Fight for Urban Street and Curbside Space, Can Pricing Create Peace?

175796612 445x292 In Fight for Urban Street and Curbside Space, Can Pricing Create Peace?

People order food from the BBQ Bus food truck during lunch at Farragut Square in Washington, D.C., in August 2013. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

A thriving city with new restaurants and other businesses has a healthy surge of revenue, but there’s one constraint the transportation manager or mayor can do little about: space on the roads and at curbsides.

“Our biggest challenge would certainly be use of right of way or space,” said Larry Marcus, the Transportation and Engineering Bureau Chief for Arlington County, Va., at a transportation data panel this week sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

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On Two Transportation Fronts, a Republican Pushback on Executive Power

A familiar Republican argument — that President Barack Obama’s appointees are using executive branch power to hurt states and businesses — was heard almost simultaneously late Tuesday afternoon on the Senate floor and across the street from the Capitol at a hearing in the Russell Senate Office building from two GOP senators on two different topics, both involving transportation.

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July 29, 2014

Streetcars Keep Winning Scramble for Federal Mass Transit Project Funding

In the competition for urban transit funding, light rail and streetcars are winning and buses remain runners up.

Last week the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) celebrated the opening of the $196.5 million Sun Link Streetcar line in Tucson, Ariz., paid for in part by a $63 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant – a legacy of the 2009 stimulus act, and $19.7 million in other Department of Transportation money.

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By Tom Curry Posted at 1:49 p.m.
Rail, Transit

CDC Sees Low Ebola Risk to United States Via International Flights

In what seems to be an increasingly dangerous world, another threat that international travelers can ponder is the largest Ebola outbreak in history.

Stephan Monroe, the deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control’s National Center for Emerging Zoonotic and Infectious Diseases, told reporters Monday that “it’s possible that someone could become infected with the Ebola virus in Africa and then get on a plane to the United States.”

But, he added, “It’s very unlikely that they would be able to spread the disease to fellow passengers.”  Full story

By Tom Curry Posted at 10:57 a.m.
Aviation, Travel

July 28, 2014

RideScout CEO Sees a ‘Right-Pricing’ Transportation Revolution

At Monday’s U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation panel discussion on using data to expedite transportation, RideScout co-founder and CEO Joseph Kopser played the role of visionary and crusader.

His company has an app allowing travelers in more than 60 cities in the United States and Canada to figure out the quickest way of getting from one point to another, whether’s it’s a taxi, a bus, or their own car.

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A Bullish Global Business Travel Forecast, Shadowed by Geopolitical Risks

Spending on global business travel will reach $1.18 trillion this year, nearly 7 percent higher than in 2013, according to a forecast issued Monday by the Global Business Travel Association Foundation.

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Week’s Transportation Highlight Will Be Senate Passage of Highway Funding Bill

Months of hand-wringing, anguished warnings, and legislative maneuvering culminate in the next five days, as the Senate prepares to pass a bill to refill the Highway Trust Fund and avert what Democratic leaders were calling “the transportation equivalent of a government shutdown.”

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July 25, 2014

Chief Truck and Bus Regulator Ferro to Leave Obama Administration

CQ’s John Boyd reports that Anne Ferro, the head of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, is leaving her job to become president and CEO of the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators.

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By Tom Curry Posted at 4:31 p.m.
Trucking

‘Seamless Mobility’: Not There Yet, But Will Pay Off Once We Arrive

Step off your flight, walk a short distance, and board a rail system that takes you to a downtown hotel to start your vacation or your business meeting. That’s an ideal that some American cities, such as Seattle and Chicago, attain but others, such as Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Orlando, do not.

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Debut Saturday for Historic Expansion of Washington’s Metro Rail System

Saturday is a historic day for mass transit in the United States: it marks the opening of a $3 billion, 11.7 mile-stretch of rail called the Silver Line which will serve the nation’s capital and its suburbs, the first new stations in the 106-mile Metro system since 2004.

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By Tom Curry Posted at 12:32 p.m.
Airports, Commuting, Transit

Toomey Would Skip Most Environmental Reviews in Post-Disaster Rebuilding

When the Senate takes up a bill next week to refill the Highway Trust Fund, it will get a chance to debate an amendment offered by Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Pat Toomey that would speed up construction of transportation infrastructure after natural disasters.

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