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Archive for the ‘Policy’ Category

Nurse Lan, on time every time, thanks to transit

Friday, September 5th, 2014
Waiting briefly at Takoma Station for the Metrobus 63.

Lan is a nurse –a patient care manager in the Oncology Ward of MedStar Washington Hospital Center here in the nation’s capital. Lan and the nurses she helps oversee provide care for patients battling cancer. And her reliance on public transit to get to this important job makes it clear: When we or our loved ones depend on dedicated caregivers like Lan Phan, we also depend on a safe, efficient transportation network to get them to work so they can deliver that care.

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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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Fueling Road Spending with Federal Stimulus

Thursday, August 28th, 2014
Figure 1: Federal Highway Grants and Spending

FEDERAL RESERVE BANK OF SAN FRANCISCO
ECONOMIC RESEARCH DEPARTMENT
During the Great Recession, a surge in federal government spending was one option frequently called for as a means to sustain and stimulate the economy. Given the substantial perceived need for infrastructure improvements, many commentators argued that highways should be near the front of the line for any stimulus dollars. It is no surprise then that the 2009 fiscal stimulus package known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) contained $48 billion in transportation funding, $27 billion specifically for roads. These funds generally took the form of grants to state governments and were in addition to the usual federal transportation grants sent to state governments every year from the national Highway Trust Fund. Thanks to ARRA, federal highway grants to states jumped nearly 75% in 2009. Still, road spending by state and local governments nationwide—which is the source of virtually all road spending in the United States—was roughly flat between 2008 and 2011.

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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 Societal Costs and Benefits of Commuter Bicycling

Monday, August 11th, 2014

NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH SCIENCES
Car use is the dominant mode of transport to work in many high-income cities. In car-oriented cities, commuting by private motor vehicle allows access to employment and training (crucial social determinants of health) while enabling households to manage competing responsibilities. However, car-dependent commuting has significant negative public health effects for commuters, the wider community, and local and global ecosystems. A mode shift to greater use of active transport would bring environmental, health, social, and equity benefits (de Nazelle et al. 2011; Hosking et al. 2011).

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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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NYC: Six Months of Vision Zero Traffic Enforcement

Friday, August 1st, 2014
Image 1: Map of the most improved and least improved precincts in each Borough Command for speeding summonses, January to June 2013 versus 2014.

TRANSPORTATION ALTERNATIVES
Despite two decades of steady declines,traffic fatalities remain an epidemic in New York City. More people are killed in traffic than are murdered by guns;traffic crashes are the foremost cause of preventable death for New York City children and, after falls,the primary cause of injury-related death for older New Yorkers.

In February 2014, Mayor Bill de Blasio launched a Vision Zero initiative –with the goal of eliminating traffic fatalities and serious injuries in New York City by 2024 –which the New York Police Department embraced wholeheartedly, instructing all precinct commanders to increase enforcement of the most dangerous traffic violations.Increased enforcement remains a central element to achieving Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero goal.

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Making the Grade – Civil Infrastructure Industry Leaders Weigh In on Plan to Fix America’s Failing Infrastructure

Thursday, July 31st, 2014
Extreme Makeover: Infrastructure Edition

On June 27th in Washington D.C., a new report was released that outlines innovative new ways that the federal government, industry and other stakeholders can work together to solve the crisis of the failing state of U.S. infrastructure. Entitled “Making The Grade,” the six point plan is the result of experts from 45 different organizations, including corporations, professional organizations, think tanks, financial advisors and academic institutions.

The report’s name is intended as a rallying cry in response to last year’s quadrennial report card by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), which gave America’s overall infrastructure a D+ grade. Several of the report’s contributors continued the rallying cry in a #FlashBlog event last week. Following is a summary:

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Guest on The Infra Blog: Frank Moretti, Director of Policy and Research, TRIP

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014
Frank Moretti, Director of Policy and Research, TRIP

Frank Moretti is the director of policy and research for TRIP – a Washington, DC-based nonprofit organization that prepares reports on a variety of transportation issues, including traffic congestion, traffic safety, road and bridge conditions, transportation planning and air quality.

“The nation is increasingly reliant on its rural economy…and as that dynamic is changing we wanted to take a look at the nation’s transportation system and see if we have in place a rural transportation system that can support not only the rural economy, but the nation’s economy moving forward.”

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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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