Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
November 24, 2014

Posts in "Transit"

November 21, 2014

A Glance Back at Our Week: Congestion, Oil By Rail, And A Streetcar Nixed

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Container ships at the Maersk terminal in the Port of Los Angeles. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

This week we asked whether the cancellation of a planned streetcar line in the Washington, D.C. suburbs is perhaps a turning point for trendy transportation/urban development projects.

We heard in person from Bjorn Kjos, the head of Norwegian Air Shuttle who has set up an Ireland-based subsidiary to offer low-priced transatlantic service, a potential threat to legacy U.S. airlines such as United and Delta. Kjos is being stymied by Obama administration regulators.

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November 19, 2014

A Streetcar Setback in D.C. Suburbs

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Emergency responders take part in a drill on H Street Northeast in Washington. A new streetcar is in a test phase. (Photo Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

The momentum to transform America’s cities with streetcars and light rail systems got a setback Tuesday when the Arlington County Board in the Washington, D.C. suburbs voted to cancel a planned $550 million streetcar system.

The decision followed the election on Nov. 4 of prominent streetcar opponent John Vihstadt, an independent, to a full term on the board, following his victory in a special election last spring.

The county board chairman, Jay Fisette, a Democrat, said that he and other streetcar proponents “were caught flat-footed” by the public opposition. Full story

November 14, 2014

A Look Back: Slow Down, New Yorkers, Road Salt & Girding For 114th Congress

 

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New York City drivers must adjust to a new 25 mile per hour speed limit. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

This week we looked at New York City’s new 25 mile per hour speed limit. Polly Trottenberg, the city’s transportation commissioner, said public attitudes toward speeding will need to change just as they did toward drunk driving in the past few decades.

A culture change is what’s needed since “Culture eats policy for breakfast,” she said.

Snow storms have hit parts of the country this week and we examined the cost increases that states and counties are facing for a commodity they need to keep highways open: salt.

 

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Friday Q & A: California Rep.-Elect Pete Aguilar, Part One

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Last week, voters in California’s 31st congressional district elected Pete Aguilar (Photo By Meredith Dake/CQ Roll Call)

Last week voters in California’s 31st District, which includes the inland cities of San Bernardino, Rancho Cucamonga, Redlands and Rialto, chose Democrat Pete Aguilar to represent them.

Aguilar gave us his views on the transportation needs of his constituents.

What’s the most important infrastructure issue in your district?

Making sure that existing federal revenue stays intact. As we see possibilities of funding being cut, our first call is to make sure that we have continued funding.

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Transportation Unions Chart Strategy For New Congress

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Travelers at the Chicago Transit Authority’s Rosemont station. (Photo by Brian Kersey/Getty Images)

Labor unions are adjusting to the new balance of power in Washington. The Transportation Trades Department of the AFL-CIO, representing the workers who build, operate, and maintain highways and mass transit systems, is looking to work with the new Republican leadership in 2015 on a long-term surface transportation bill.

Transportation Trades Department president Ed Wytkind met Thursday with Sen. Tom Carper, D- Del., White House economic aide Byron Auguste, and Peter Rogoff, undersecretary of transportation for policy, to examine the agenda for the new Congress. Vice President Joe Biden stopped by the meeting as well.

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Thune Not Taking Revenue Options Off The Table

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Sen. John Thune, R-S.D. (Photo By Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

As the chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee next year, Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., will have an agenda crowded with complex issues, with transportation financing only one of them.

Thune has begun his policy making role, taking time to confer with Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx who visited South Dakota Tuesday.

Was there a meeting of the minds between the two on how to pay for infrastructure?

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November 13, 2014

Maryland Survivor Is Back to Push for P3s

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Rep. John Delaney, D-Md., is a champion of public-private partnerships. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Elected in 2012 with 59 percent of the vote in a Maryland district, which the state legislature had gerrymandered for a Democrat, Rep. John Delaney barely survived last week’s election. He won by 2,269 votes and got less than 50 percent against Republican Dan Bongino and a Green candidate.

But Delaney will be back for a second term as perhaps the House’s most committed and articulate proponent of public-private infrastructure partnerships (P3s).

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November 12, 2014

Mass Transit Advocates Seek Tax Break Parity

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Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D- Ore., left, suggested that Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., center, who is up for re-election in 2016, has reason to back tax break parity for commuters. (Photo by Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

Unless Congress takes action in the lame-duck session, commuters who use mass transit and van pools will continue to get a smaller tax break than the one available to drivers who get a tax break for employer-provided parking.

Current law allows a $130 a month mass transit tax break (an exclusion from taxable income) compared to $250 a month for car commuters.

Mass transit and van pool advocates are urging Congress to restore tax break parity, which the tax code provided from 2009 until last year.

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November 7, 2014

A Look Back: ‘Anonymous Vomit’ And Voters Rebuff Automatic Gas Tax Hike

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“Vote Here” sign outside Warren Easton High School on Election Day in New Orleans. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

This week voters chose a Republican Senate majority for 2015.

We looked at one beneficiary of that choice: soon-to-be Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee chairman, Sen. John Thune of South Dakota. One of Thune’s main concerns has been rail congestion which affects farmers across the Plains states.

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Friday Q & A: Marc Scribner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Part One

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Marc Scribner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute

Analyst Marc Scribner at the Competitive Enterprise Institute examines transportation policy from a staunchly pro-market standpoint.

Here are excerpts from our conversation. (Note: We did the interview on Election Day, before we knew Republicans would gain control of the Senate.)

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November 6, 2014

The Curious Case Of Gov. Corbett

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Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett got only 45 percent of the vote in his loss Tuesday. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Transportation advocacy and lobbying groups often say they want politicians courageous enough to push for big infrastructure bills, even if higher taxes are part of the package.

But this week’s elections provided one case of a governor, Pennsylvania Republican Tom Corbett, who pushed for and signed into law a significant transportation funding package, and yet went down in an overwhelming defeat to Democrat Tom Wolf on Tuesday.

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Obama Restates The Obvious, But In a Timely Way

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President Obama, Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev. and Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in 2009. (Photo: Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Restating the obvious can sometimes be politically significant, especially when the person who does the restating is the president.

Lame duck though Barack Obama is, “there’s only one Democrat who counts, the president,” as Senate Minority (and soon to be Majority) Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters Wednesday.

So we can’t let pass without notice that Obama used the word “infrastructure” five times in his post-election press conference Wednesday.

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November 5, 2014

Democratic Defeats To Reshape Transportation Panels

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Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., will be the top Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. (Photo By Tom Williams/Roll Call)

With the defeat Tuesday of 19-term Democrat Rep. Nick Rahall of West Virginia, Rep. Peter DeFazio of Oregon is in line to become the top Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Headed by Chairman Bill Shuster, R-Pa., the panel is preparing to produce both a surface transportation bill and a bill to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration next year.

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Mass. Rejects Automatic Gasoline Tax Increases

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There were contrasting results in Massachusetts and New Hampshire Tuesday on gasoline taxes. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

There was no consistent pattern on Election Day in voters’ willingness to pay higher taxes to finance transportation infrastructure. The outcome depended on where a voter happened to live.

Massachusetts voters repealed annual automatic gasoline tax increases, reversing a decision the state legislature made last year.

Fifty-three percent of voters supported a ballot measure to rescind the law which adjusted the state’s gasoline tax every year by the percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index.

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October 31, 2014

A Look Back: Threats to Aviation, Violent Passengers & the Gasoline Tax

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Wreckage of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, near the village of Rassipnoe in eastern Ukraine. The flight was shot down on July 17, 2014. (Photo: Dominique Faget/AFP/Getty Images)

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) aviation security conference in Washington this week offered insights on the “insider” threat to aviation from people who work for airlines, airports, contractors, and vendors.

James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence, launched the conference by sounding the alarm about the insider threat and aviation security experts then filled in the details of past and present insider risks.

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