Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 31, 2014

Posts in "Autos"

October 30, 2014

DIY Transportation Policy on the Ballot in Seattle

In some cities and states, voters don’t need to cede transportation policy making to their state legislators, their governor or Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and federal bureaucrats.

Voters make their own policy on Election Day. Case in point: Seattle.

The state of Washington uses vote by mail, so the city’s voters are already casting ballots to decide two transportation questions.

Full story

New Hampshire Election Gives Read On Gasoline Tax

New Hampshire is one case where we’ll get a reading on Election Day on voters’ preferences on raising taxes to pay for infrastructure.

The increase in the state gasoline tax, which Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan signed into law last May is an issue in ads which the Republican Governors Association is running against her.

It was also a focus of the televised debate Wednesday night between Hassan and her Republican opponent Walt Havenstein.

The bill Hassan signed increased the state’s excise tax on both gasoline and diesel from 18 cents to 22.2 cents per gallon.

Full story

October 27, 2014

The Week Ahead: Aviation Security Meeting, Ebola Quarantine Debate

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Director of National Intelligence James Clapper will address a major aviation security conference in Washington this week. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A big aviation security conference takes place in Washington this week, sponsored by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Meanwhile, the debate on air travel and the Ebola outbreak will likely intensify as four states have split with the Obama administration by imposing their own quarantines on doctors, nurses and anyone else in direct contact with those who may be infected with Ebola.

Full story

October 24, 2014

A Look Back: Congestion Pricing, Fuel-Efficient Planes & Sand For Fracking

452912796 445x317 A Look Back: Congestion Pricing, Fuel Efficient Planes & Sand For Fracking

Falling prices for jet fuel won’t hurt demand for Boeing’s new fuel-efficient 787 airplanes, CEO Jim McNerney said this week. (Photo: Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP/Getty Images)

This week we took a look at congestion pricing, tolls that vary with the amount of traffic on a particular stretch of highway.

Can that market-based strategy reduce gridlock in some cities where it is most needed?

The problem: older highways such as the Schuylkill Expressway in Philadelphia, one of America’s most congested roads, have no adjacent space to add a new toll lane.

Full story

October 23, 2014

Can Congestion Pricing Work Where It’s Needed Most?

452281681 1 445x296 Can Congestion Pricing Work Where It’s Needed Most?

Can congestion pricing ease traffic on roads like this one in Chicago? (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Congestion pricing of highways, or “priced managed lanes,” is now used from Houston to San Jose.

The toll goes up when a highway is more congested. Only people who most want to use that highway will pay the toll. Others will defer trips to off-peak times or try to find another route.

But can congestion pricing work where it’s most needed?

Full story

October 21, 2014

Debate Just Starting on Mandate for ‘Talking Vehicles’

169021616 445x301 Debate Just Starting on Mandate for ‘Talking Vehicles’

The aftermath of a highway accident last year in Brentwood, Calif. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Should the federal government require your new car to be equipped to communicate with other cars on the highway, in order to prevent accidents?

The comment period closed Monday for initial public and interest group response to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) proposal to create a standard requiring vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication capability for cars and light trucks.

Full story

October 20, 2014

With Gasoline Under $3 A Gallon, Drivers Are Thriving

146224083 1 445x304 With Gasoline Under $3 A Gallon, Drivers Are Thriving

American drivers are enjoying an autumn windfall of lower gasoline prices (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Sometimes the bit of data that makes transportation news is staring you right in the face. So it was this weekend when I drove from Washington, D.C., to Princeton, N.J., and back.

I was driving a rental car and normally don’t pay too much attention to the price of gasoline.

Full story

October 17, 2014

A Look Back: Autonomous Vehicle Scenarios, 2014 Campaign and Pets on Trains

489579995 1 445x283 A Look Back: Autonomous Vehicle Scenarios, 2014 Campaign and Pets on Trains

Boarding an Amtrak train in Jacksonville, Fla. (Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images for Amtrak)

This week we looked at futuristic scenarios for autonomous vehicles on our roads as envisioned by the Cato Institute’s Randal O’Toole and others.

If self-driving vehicles become the norm, will that lead to the withering away of mass transit in most metro areas, and traffic lights and speed limits becoming obsolete? We may know in about 30 years. Full story

The Container’s Friday Q&A: ARTBA’s Peter Ruane, Part Two

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Peter Ruane, president of the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Here is the second part of our interview with Peter Ruane, president of the American Road & Transportation Builders Association.

In Minnesota, Gov. Mark Dayton is talking about a new sales tax on gasoline, in addition to the state’s 28.6 cents per gallon tax on gasoline. I think Virginia made a similar move last year.

What do you make of states trying to make some revenue changes on their own to pay for transportation projects?

We had seven states do this last year, on their own, either passed a state gasoline tax increase or some form of that, a sales tax, some creative ways to bring recurring revenue. That the key word: recurring.

If Minnesota goes in that direction, I think that’s outstanding. Some of that is a reflection of their lack of faith that the feds are going to do their job and come up with a solution to the [shortfall in] the Highway Trust Fund.


There’s a lot of talk now about vehicle-to-vehicle communications and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications.

For example, if you had a vehicle-to-infrastructure system, it could relay information about traffic patterns and potholes back to the transportation authority.

But Bob Poole at the Reason Foundation has said that if you’re talking about embedding information technology in highways, bridges, overpasses, etc., it’s an immensely expensive idea.

It is very topical and there’s an awful lot out there. All the big auto companies have put out a lot of information on this lately and have made commitments that they’re going to accelerate their research.

We welcome it. Those kind of improvements are going to lead to gains in the safety area: we will see fewer accidents and fewer lives lost.

But there was an article in the Wall Street Journal recently and the headline was “The Internet of Asphalt Will Take a Long Time to Pave.”

We are all in favor of ITS [intelligent transportation systems], but don’t use it as a red herring. Don’t let these sexy technological solutions distract us from the immediate thing in front of us. Let’s deal with the Trust Fund, deal with the urgent situation we have right now.

The Container’s Friday Q&A: ARTBA’s Peter Ruane, Part One

3064307 445x299 The Containers Friday Q&A: ARTBAs Peter Ruane, Part One

Congress is facing the need to come up with new revenue sources for highway funding. (Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)

Peter Ruane, president of the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, is one of Washington’s most forceful advocates for infrastructure spending.

We discussed with him whether Congress can devise a long-term solution to the nation’s infrastructure funding dilemma. Full story

October 16, 2014

For New Hudson River Span, Toll Prices Must Wait

456789084 445x309 For New Hudson River Span, Toll Prices Must Wait

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo attends a ceremony last week to welcome one of the world’s largest floating cranes to work on the replacement of the Tappan Zee Bridge. (Photo by Jim Alcorn/Getty Images)

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, is far ahead in the polls and cruising to what appears to be certain election on Nov. 4 for a second term.

He’s out with a new memoir, “All Things Possible: Setbacks and Success in Politics and Life.”

But he hasn’t yet told voters what the tolls will be on the Tappan Zee Bridge in order to help pay for a new span across the Hudson River.

Full story

October 15, 2014

With Autonomous Cars, A World Without Red Lights?

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A Google self-driving car maneuvers through Washington, D.C. in a 2012 test drive. (Photo: Karen Bleier/AFP/GettyImages)

While full deployment of autonomous vehicles is years, if not decades, in the future, free-market-oriented transportation experts are welcoming the vehicles’ potential to reduce government intervention in Americans’ travel decisions.

At a Cato Institute panel discussion Tuesday, Randal O’Toole, a senior fellow at the think tank, speculated that when nearly all American cars are automated, “I can see in the long run that things like stop signs and possibly even traffic lights, [and] speed limits, are going to be redundant.”

Full story

October 14, 2014

In Smart Vehicle World, Less Need For Mass Transit?

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A Google self-driving car (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Picture a brave new world in which commuting to work will be faster and safer and in which traditional mass transit systems will wither away in many cities.

That was the future as sketched by one free-market-oriented transportation expert Tuesday at a panel on autonomous vehicles at the libertarian Cato Institute.

“I think autonomous vehicles will just about completely replace the need for mass transit” in all but the six biggest U.S. cities, said Randal O’Toole, a senior fellow at Cato.

Full story

The Week Ahead: Foxx And Inhofe, Delta’s Assessment, Ebola Hearing

457060106 445x289 The Week Ahead: Foxx And Inhofe, Deltas Assessment, Ebola Hearing

A plane about to land at JFK airport in New York City, where new Ebola screening began Sunday. (Photo: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)

This week’s transportation events range from a big House hearing on the Ebola outbreak to an Oklahoma event pairing conservative Sen. James M. Inhofe with Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. Full story

October 7, 2014

The Container’s Q&A: Randy Iwasaki On New Autonomous Car Test Site, Part Two

Here’s the second half of our interview with Contra Costa Transportation Authority Executive Director Randy Iwasaki about the test site for autonomous vehicles at the Concord Naval Weapons Station.

Full story

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