Saturday, July 30, 2016

Transportation News Round-Up: July 30, 2016

Photo courtesy of Getty.

This week in transportation, the Obama Administration announced funds for electric vehicle infrastructure, Democrats reissued their call for a national infrastructure bank, and the National Surface Transportation Board threw approval of the Texas high-speed rail line back to the state. Here are the most important and interesting transportation stories from the past week:

NJ Spotlight: Obama Administration has $4.5B for infrastructure for electric cars

The Hill: How the Democratic and GOP platforms differ on infrastructure

Bloomberg: Democrats reissue call for infrastructure bank in Philadelphia

Vox: Shared vehicles could make our cities dramatically more livable

KHOU: High-speed rail opponents hope to block project next year

Happy reading, and happy weekend!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Transportation News Round-Up: July 16, 2016

Photo courtesy of the Chicago Tribune.
This week in Transportation, Congress passed a short-term FAA funding bill, Cook County issued a transportation plan, and California continued grappling with high-speed rail issues. Here are the most important and interesting transportation stories from the past week:

The Hill: How the new aviation law will affect your travel
Congress passed this week a short-term FAA authorization bill that will extend the agency's authorization through September. The bill includes a number of policy provisions that will affect travelers, including baggage fee refunds if luggage is lost or delayed; assurance that minors will be seated with someone they're traveling with; an expansion of the TSA PreCheck program, and more airport security.

Chicago Tribune: Seeking a bigger voice on transit, freight issues, Cook offers transportation plan
This week, Cook County, Illinois released its first transportation plan in nearly 80 years in an effort to have a bigger role in regional planning and get more federal transportation funding. Rather than proposing specific projects, the plan advocates a framework for approaching future policies, such as addressing "transit deserts" (areas where there is high need for public transportation but little offered) and acknowledging the importance of biking, walking, and transit.

Sacramento Bee: Late-blooming measure would fast-track bullet train's 'bookends'
Proponents of CalTrain and commuter rail in California are pushing a bill that would separate those rail lines from California's high-speed rail (HSR) project and its many legal and financial challenges. The lines are currently being promoted as 'bookends' of a 'blended system' proposed in 2012 to address the high costs of having the new HSR line on all-new tracks. However, this blended system will lengthen travel times, which has legal implications for the bond measure that passed in 2008 requiring the HSR line to meet certain travel times. Separating commuter rail from HSR would be critical to ensuring funding for those lines even if HSR sinks.

FishbowlNY: NY Times adds "Transportation and Infrastructure" Team
The New York Times has launched a new team that will dive more deeply into New York City's transportation and infrastructure issues. What's interesting is that they'll also travel around the country to find out what NYC can learn from other cities. The team thus has an opportunity to highlight best practices and point the city in the direction of what's working elsewhere.

Happy reading, and happy weekend!

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!