Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 29, 2014

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

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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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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July 24, 2014

Assaults on Public Transit Bus Drivers Prompt DOT Summit

This week, with the FAA’s ban on flights to Tel Aviv and with another plane crash Thursday, this one over Mali, it’s been hard to avoid thinking about transportation risks.

Ground-based transport can be hazardous too, as a driver on a Washington, D.C., bus learned this week when a passenger slashed him across the face in a dispute over paying a fare.

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Cruise Ship Passengers Recount ‘Horrific’ Incidents (Video)

Passengers gave harrowing testimony about illness and crime aboard cruise ships at a hearing Wednesday of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee.

Security guards “did everything wrong” and “waited at least 10 minutes to even call for someone to come down and look at my mother’s body to see if she was breathing or not,” said Amanda Butler, whose mother collapsed while on a Carnival cruise while the ship was docked at Grand Cayman Island.

The woman, Violet Butler, later died.

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By Tom Curry Posted at 10:06 a.m.
Shipping

FAA Lifts Ban on U.S. Flights to Israel’s Main Airport

The Federal Aviation Administration late Wednesday night cancelled its restrictions on U.S. airline flights into and out of Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport.

The agency said it had consulted with other federal agencies “to assess the security situation in Israel and carefully reviewed both significant new information and measures the Government of Israel is taking to mitigate potential risks to civil aviation.”

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July 23, 2014

Much-Anticipated Rail Shipping Rule for Oil Is Unveiled

Ending months of waiting by industry groups and local officials, the Department of Transportation on Wednesday issued its proposed rulemaking on rail shipments of flammable materials, including crude oil from North Dakota’s Bakken shale.

Among other steps, the department would phase out within two years older tank cars for the shipment of certain types of flammable liquids, including most Bakken crude oil, unless the tank cars were retrofitted to comply with new design standards.

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Ted Cruz Sees Obama ‘Economic Boycott’ of Israel as FAA Extends Tel Aviv Flight Ban

judiciary007 052114 445x291 Ted Cruz Sees Obama ‘Economic Boycott’ of Israel as FAA Extends Tel Aviv Flight Ban

Cruz. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday extended its prohibition on U.S. flights to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport for up to an additional 24 hours, following the ban it announced Tuesday.

The FAA announcement drew immediate criticism from Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who said in statement, “President Obama has just used a federal regulatory agency to launch an economic boycott on Israel, in order to try to force our ally to comply with his foreign-policy demands.”

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By Tom Curry Posted at 2:30 p.m.
Airports, Security

Boeing, Delta CEOs Clash Over Future of Ex-Im Bank Subsidies

The corporate clash over congressional reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank was on display Wednesday in separate interviews with CEOs of two of America’s biggest transportation companies, Delta Airlines and Boeing.

Congress faces a decision this summer on whether to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank which provides direct loans, loan guarantees, and credit insurance to foreign companies to subsidize purchases of U.S goods and services.

Full story

By Tom Curry Posted at 1:32 p.m.
Aviation

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