Saturday, March 19, 2016

Transportation News Round-Up: March 19, 2016

Photo courtesy of Fortune.
This week in transportation, DOT announced the Smart City Challenge finalists, driverless car advocates pleaded for national regulations, and DC Metro shut down for 24 hours. Here are the most important and interesting stories from the past week:

CNET Road Show: $50 million 'Smart City Challenge' finalists announced at SXSW
Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx has announced seven finalists for the 'Smart City Challenge,' which seeks to get midsize cities to implement vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure technologies. Austin, Columbus, Denver, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Portland, and San Francisco will repeat for the top prize, but all seven cities will get federal support for their new programs, which will help to mitigate traffic and improve emergency response times.

USA Today: Self-driving car leaders ask for national laws
Representatives from Google, General Motors, Lyft, and Delphi spoke at a Senate committee hearing about the importance of developing national-level regulations for self-driving cars. The concern here is that in the absence of federal rulemaking, states will adopt their own laws (23 states already have bills pending in their legislatures), resulting in a patchwork of laws that will impede the deployment of driverless vehicles that can be driven across state lines.

Forbes: U.S. big cities now among the most traffic jammed in the world
To nobody's great surprise, U.S. cities have become some of the most congested in the world. According to connected car services company INRIX, American commuters spent eight billion hours stuck in traffic last year, the equivalent of a week's worth of vacation days per driver. Los Angeles is the worst (again, to the surprise of no one), with Washington, DC, San Francisco, Houston, and New York City rounding out the top five.

Dallas Morning News: Editorial- High-speed rail opponents are shortsighted
Once praised for its reliance on private funding alone, the high-speed rail line connecting Dallas and Houston is now under fire particularly from opponents of Eminent Domain. The editorial board of the Dallas Morning News admonished the Brazos Valley Council of Governments, reminding them of the many benefits of the proposed line, particularly the fact that it will relieve traffic congestion and generate tax revenue from the private developer.

Fortune: 3 big lessons from DC's transit shutdown
This Wednesday, the DC metro shut down for 24 hours in the middle of the week so safety inspectors could ensure the kind of electrical system failure that caused a fire on Monday wouldn't happen again. For the most part, people found a workaround, either telecommuting that day or using Uber, Lyft, or Capital Bikeshare to get to work. But the shutdown was a stark reminder of the system's negative feedback loop of declining ridership resulting in lower revenues, meaning less money to fix the safety and service problems that cause the declining ridership.

Happy reading, and happy weekend!

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