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

Posts in "Transit"

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

October 28, 2014

NTSB Cites Sleep Apnea in Fatal Train Accident

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Four passengers were killed when a Metro-North train commuter derailed in The Bronx on Dec. 1, 2013. (Photo by Christopher Gregory/Getty Images)

The National Transportation Safety Board said Tuesday the probable cause of a commuter rail accident that killed four people in New York City last year was the engineer having fallen asleep “due to undiagnosed severe obstructive sleep apnea.”

The engineer’s sleep apnea was made worse by a recent schedule change, which had him starting work at 4 or 5 a.m.

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October 23, 2014

Can Congestion Pricing Work Where It’s Needed Most?

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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?

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October 20, 2014

From Texas To Wisconsin, Voters To Determine Transportation Policy

In two weeks, voters decide which party will control the Senate and House, as well as choosing 36 governors and 6,049 state legislators.

In some places voters will also be making transportation policy directly through ballot initiatives and referenda.

A common factor in three states, Texas, Maryland and Wisconsin, is the attempt to ensure that some tax revenues are used only for transportation and aren’t diverted to other purposes.

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October 17, 2014

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

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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

Ruane 01 041508 259x335 The Containers Friday Q&A: ARTBAs Peter Ruane, Part Two

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.

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

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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 9, 2014

Minnesota Governor Wants New Tax For Infrastructure

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Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, a Democrat, is running for a second term (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

In a debate Wednesday night, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, a Democrat, proposed a wholesale state sales tax on gasoline to raise revenue to pay for transportation infrastructure. He said the tax would raise close to the $6.5 billion the state needs for infrastructure projects over the next 10 years.

The state already has a 28.6 cents per gallon tax on gasoline.

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.

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October 3, 2014

A Look Back: Ebola, Aftermath of An ATC Fire, Industry Reacts to Oil Tanker Car Rules

453306488 1 445x310 A Look Back: Ebola, Aftermath of An ATC Fire, Industry Reacts to Oil Tanker Car Rules

Dr. Tom Frieden, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tried to reassure travelers this week about the Ebola virus (Photo: Jewel SamadAFP/Getty Images)

This week the Ebola virus dominated the news — including transportation news — as one case of a person infected with Ebola was reported in Dallas.

Dr. Tom Frieden, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tried to assure travelers that the man who flew to Dallas from Liberia had not been infectious while on board the airplanes he took.   Full story

The Container’s Friday Q & A: Contra Costa Transportation Authority’s Randy Iwasaki, Part One

With a boost from Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, there’s momentum in favor of vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure networks that could better regulate traffic flows and allow cars and trucks to avoid collisions.

New evidence of that momentum came this week as the Contra Costa, Calif., Transportation Authority and Mercedes-Benz Research & Development of North America in Sunnyvale, Calif., announced that they’re setting up a test site at the Concord Naval Weapons Station.

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Report Urges Life Cycle Infrastructure Cost Analysis

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Transportation Secretary Foxx and President Obama tour a light rail facility in St. Paul, Minn. last February. (Photo: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)

If you build in 2015, budget for maintenance in 2025, 2035 and beyond.

That’s one message of a report this week from the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Eno Center for Transportation, a Washington think tank.

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October 2, 2014

The Container Interviews Foxx On Transportation Funding, Part Two

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Secretary Foxx with President Obama at an event in July (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Here is the second part of our interview Tuesday with Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

Do you get any sign from Congress that the Grow America Act or some surface transportation bill could be taken up in the lame-duck session?

We’re starting to see members introducing components of the Grow America Act. We have some activity along those lines on the House side and some even on the Senate side…. That’s encouraging. Frankly, it’s encouraging to hear members on a bipartisan basis express a desire to get something done.

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