Saturday, April 30, 2016

Transportation News Round-Up: April 30, 2016

This week in transportation, the TSA backed off on a plan to reverse-screen flyers, a solar plane crossed the Pacific, and the Massachusetts House approved funding for high-speed rail. Here are the most important and interesting stories from the past week:

POLITICO: TSA's idea: end screening at some airports
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is walking back a proposal to end screening at some regional airports after receiving sharp criticism from Congress. The plan would have ended security screening of domestic passengers at some regional airports (though it didn't say exactly which airports), instead 'reverse-screening' those passengers once they get to a larger airport. Rep. Greg Walder (R-OR) said the plan "makes no sense," while House Transportation Committee Ranking Member Rep. Mike DeFazio (D-OR) said "it was never our intent that they would dictate who can and cannot have commercial air service."

Reuters: Most Americans support usage fees to fix crumbling roads -survey
Nearly two-thirds of Americans support the idea of roadway user fees to pay for much-needed transportation infrastructure repair, according to a survey by Kelton Global for transportation consulting firm HNTB Corp. This would likely be a pay-per-mile tax system like the kind that has been piloted in Oregon and floated elsewhere. The article notes that the gasoline tax has been "waning" because of fuel efficient vehicles, changing driving habits, and tax rates that haven't grown with inflation.

POLITICO: Mayors: Flint could happen to us
Following the Flint water crisis, nearly 1/3 of American mayors think they "may already have hurt their own citizens" by making cost-saving decisions on their city's infrastructure, according to a survey. Across party lines, nearly half of the mayors believe their roads, bridges, and water pipes have deteriorated critically, with transportation infrastructure topping the list of infrastructure concerns. More than a third said the next President should prioritize infrastructure, far ahead of economic inequality and education.

ABC: Solar Impulse 2, flying on renewable energy, has safely landed in California
Swiss adventurer Bertrand Piccard (a good name for a pilot!) has successfully flown a solar plane from Hawaii to California, completing the ninth of 13 legs in his trip around the world. The goal of the flight, on an aircraft powered by 17,000 solar cells and with the wingspan of a jumbo jet, is to promote alternative energy: Piccard believes electric-powered planes carrying up to 50 passengers over short distances, could be possible within the next decades.

Mass Live: House budget would create working group for Boston-Springfield rail, including look at "Maglev" technology
The Massachusetts House passed a budget this week that includes an amendment to create a working group that will study the possibility of high-speed rail between Boston and Springfield. Similar to a working group created several years ago to explore expanded rail service between Springfield and Greenfield, the group would figure out what work would need to be done, and how much it would cost, to develop high-speed rail from Boston through Worcester to Springfield. This would include examining the possibility of Japanese "maglev" bullet train technology. Passed out of the House, the budget now needs Senate approval.

Happy reading, and happy weekend!

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