Friday, July 1, 2016

Transportation News Round-Up: July 1, 2016

This week in transportation, House members took issue with airplane seats, Connecticut explored a pay-per-mile tax, and the Panama Canal expansion opened. Here are the most important and interesting stories from the past week:

The Hill: House lawmakers renew fight over shrinking airplane seats
As Congress continues debating an FAA reauthorization bill, Reps. Steve Cohen (D-TN) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) are hoping to include a provision directing the agency to develop minimum standards for airplane seat sizes and distance between rows. They note that the average distance between rows has shrunk by four inches in the past 40 years, while the average seat width has dropped 1.5 inches.

The Verge: Alphabet's Sidewalk Labs plans to take over public transport in Columbus, Ohio
On the heels of Columbus' victory in the Smart City Challenge, Google spinoff Sidewalk Labs has announced it will use camera-equipped cars to keep track of empty private parking spaces in the city and offer them for short-term rental to help tackle the city's congestion problem. It also offered the city a three-year trial of its new app (along with 100 Wi-Fi kiosks) which integrates car-sharing services, bus routes, and bike lanes to help people figure out the best way to get around the city.

Government Technology: Connecticut joins states in exploring mileage tax
As the gas tax becomes less and less adequate in raising revenue for road maintenance, several states have begun exploring alternatives such as the pay-per-mile tax system (I wrote a longer post about Oregon's pilot program here). The CT Department of Transportation is exploring the feasibility of such a tax in the state, though it has already received bipartisan opposition in the state legislature.

Southeast Farm Press: 4 things to know about Panama Canal expansion opening
I've been meaning to do a longer post about the Panama Canal expansion and what it means for US ports now that more megaships will be able to cross over to the East coast, but until then here's an article with some basic information about the expansion and the size of the ships that will be able to traverse it. Having done my graduate Capstone project on maritime infrastructure last year, I can say there is a virtual consensus that US ports have a lot of work to do, including federal assistance, to accommodate the rise of ocean carrier alliances and freight megaships.

Happy reading, and happy weekend!

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