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Archive for the ‘Guest Post’ Category

No, Americans Are (Still) Not Driving More

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

Written by Shane Phillips
The U.S. Department of Transportation is reporting that driving is at a six-year high, but beware the hype. As James Brasuell at Planetizen notes, these numbers are not adjusted for population and thus don’t account for the growing number of residents living in the country. As always, the better question to ask is how much the average American is driving, and the answer to that is the same as it’s been for years: less and less.

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The High-Speed Rail Debate Revisited

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

Innovation Newsbriefs
Vol. 25, No. 12
Two recent columns in the New York Times (both reprinted below) have revived the semi-dormant debate about the future of high-speed rail in America. The first column, by New York Times correspondent Ron Nixon, casts a skeptical eye on the Administration’s high-speed rail program and concludes that “despite the administration spending nearly $11 billion since 2009….the projects have gone mostly nowhere…”

The second column, closely following the first, is an opinion piece by the Times’ editorial board. The editors may have felt obliged to respond to the highly critical assessment of the White House initiative by one of their own reporters.

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The Changing Nature of State-Federal Relations in Transportation

Monday, August 4th, 2014

Innovation Newsbriefs
Vol. 25, No. 11
With the Republicans likely to control the Senate next year and the presidential elections casting a shadow over any new proposal to raise taxes, there will be a huge temptation for Congress to kick the can down the road once again — beyond the presidential election and into the next Congress. Remember, it took three years and eight short-term extensions to pass the last reauthorization, MAP-21!

Fortunately, many individual states are trying to compensate for the lack of congressional action on long term funding by raising additional revenue of their own. Our survey has identified more than 30 states that have launched transportation-related fiscal initiatives in the past two years.

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12 U.S. DOT Secretaries Speak, But Won’t Agree on a “Fix”

Monday, July 28th, 2014

Innovation Newsbriefs
Vol. 25, No. 10
The 12 bipartisan secretaries allude in their letter to their combined experience stretching back over 35 years. Indeed, they arguably have more institutional knowledge, experience and expertise in transportation funding than the whole current Congress combined. Their coming together at this moment also bespeaks to their above-the-fray non-partisanship and general collegiality…So the obvious question for them is: Why can’t they, or why won’t they, make a single substantive consensus recommendation on exactly how transportation funding should be increased?

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Subtle Signs of Progress in the Urban Highway Debate

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

Last Friday, Streetsblog highlighted a project moving forward in Denver to widen, bury, and partially cap an elevated freeway that runs through the city, leaving neighborhoods divided and disinvested in a city that’s otherwise booming economically. It’s a sad story, especially given Denver’s tendency toward smart transportation and development policy, and becausebigger freeways don’t do much of anything to improve traffic in the long term. It’s also somewhat surprising, as other cities across the country (and the world) have seen aging urban freeways as an opportunity to heal the wounds of the past rather than doubling down on destructive development from a bygone era.

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Los Angeles Parking Meter Reform, Reasonable Edition

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

The LA Times Editorial Board published a post this morning imploring city officials to come up with a more just system, so I’m throwing out a few ideas. My motivation here is two-fold. First, to find a solution that maintains high enough fees to discourage scofflaws because parking turnover is important to both consumers and businesses — $23 simply doesn’t meet that requirement. Second, to minimize the frustration of excessive fines resulting from the rare, honest mistake, and to reduce the confusion that leads to those mistakes. If you get three parking tickets a month, it’s you that needs to re-evaluate, not the city. Parking tickets have a place in a congested, highly urbanized city, but they must be perceived as fair if they’re to survive. Here are my recommendations:

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States’ Fiscal Initiatives Offer a Solution to the Impending Trust Fund Shortfall

Friday, June 6th, 2014

Innovation Newsbriefs
Vol. 25, No. 8

While transportation stakeholders and the Washington press corps are agonizing about the impending Highway Trust Fund shortfall and its impact on the federal transportation program, they are ignoring developments outside the Beltway that go a long way toward mitigating the prospective funding shortage. For in fact, individual states, far from standing idly by, are responding to the fiscal uncertainties in Washington by stepping up and augmenting their transportation budgets.

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Hopes for a Long-Term Transportation Bill Are Fading

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

Innovation Newsbriefs
Vol. 25, No. 7
With federal transportation spending outpacing tax receipts by some $1.25 billion/month, the cash balance of the Federal Highway Trust is drawing perilously close to the point where the U.S Department of Transportation will be obliged to institute cash management strategies—such as slowing down or delaying state reimbursements — to keep the Trust Fund account solvent. Based on current spending and revenue trends, this point —a cash balance of $4 billion in the Highway Account —will be reached in late July according to the latest U.S. DOT estimate However, CBO estimates that “both the highway account and the transit account will end the end of the fiscal year with a positive balance” according to an April 14 memo from the Congressional Budget Office (Subject: CBO’s Highway Trust Fund Runs, April Baseline)

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Why Infrastructure Investment Needs to be a National Priority

Friday, May 23rd, 2014
Deborah Wince-Smith, President & CEO, Council on Competitiveness

The U.S. receives an enormous return on infrastructure investments. Maintaining the status quo is not acceptable. America’s infrastructure underpins the U.S. economy. It is the thread that knits our great nation together. To compete in the global economy and raise our standard of living, we must renew and update America’s aging public infrastructure. Time is running out.

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Ten Years and $400 Billion in Federal Highway Spending Later, Are We Any Better Off?

Friday, May 16th, 2014

The federal government has spent $365 billion out of the Highway Trust Fund’s highway account since 2005, pouring money into new roads, capacity improvements, and system preservation. At the same time, fewer people are driving, and those that are are doing it less: total annual vehicle-miles traveled haven’t budged for almost a decade even as we’ve added 20 million new residents, and per-capita VMT has fallen significantly. The number of cars on the road has remained essentially unchanged, cars per 1,000 residents peaked in 2007, and young people are doing just fine without a driver’s license, thank you.

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