Moving Passengers and Freight into the Future: A Review of the Report of the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission 1

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 22 Apr 2008 18:30:00 GMT

The Commission’s Report, required pursuant to section 1909 of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU, Public Law 109-59), was released January 15, 2008. The hearing will examine the Report’s recommendations relating to freight mobility; highway, auto, and truck safety; passenger and freight rail capacity and service development; intermodal transportation; and the integration of our surface, maritime, and aviation networks. Witnesses are expected to testify regarding the methodology used to analyze the nation’s long-term transportation system needs and the Report’s recommendations for financing short- and long-term capital investment in infrastructure improvements and expansions.

Witnesses
  • Jack Schenendorf, Commission Vice Chair, Counsel
  • Frank Busalacchi, Commission Member, Secretary, Wisconsin Department of Transportation
  • Steve Heminger, Commission Member, Executive Director, Metropolitan Transportation Commission
  • Matt Rose, Commission Member, Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer, BNSF Railway
  • Patrick Quinn, Commission Member, Co-Chairman and President, U.S. Xpress Enterprises

The Electric Drive Answer: Transportation Technologies & Policies to End Oil Dependence 2

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 22 Apr 2008 13:30:00 GMT

The Electric Drive Transportation Association (EDTA), with support from the Environmental and Energy Study Institute, invites you to The Electric Drive Answer: Transportation Technologies & Policies to End Oil Dependence.

During this unique multi-industry panel, EDTA members will detail their latest projects and plans for battery, hybrid, plug-in and fuel cell electric drive vehicles, components and infrastructure. They will also discuss how federal policies can speed the commercialization of clean, efficient electric drive and reduce the role of oil in transportation.

EDTA members from the following companies will participate: Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai Motor Company, Toyota, Southern California Edison, Johnson Controls-Saft Advanced Power Solutions, Electrovaya, EnerDel, Phoenix Motorcars, and Vectrix.

Panelists:
  • Mike Andrew, Director of Government Affairs and External Communications, HEV Battery Systems Power Solutions, Johnson Controls-Saft Advanced Power Solutions
  • Edward B. Cohen, Vice President, Government & Industry Relations, Honda North America
  • Dr. Sankar Das Gupta, CEO, Electrovaya (or another representative)
  • Daniel J. Elliott, CEO, Phoenix Motorcars
  • Charles Gassenheimer, Chairman of the Board, Ener1
  • Nancy Gioia, Director of Sustainable Mobility Technologies and Hybrid Vehicle Programs, Ford Motor Company
  • Charles Ing, Director, Government Affairs, Toyota
  • Andrew J. MacGowan, Executive Chairman, CEO, & President, Vectrix
  • William MacLeod, Senior Manager, Government Affairs, Hyundai Motor Company
  • Dean Taylor, Technical Specialist, Southern California Edison
  • Joseph Trahern, Director Legislative and Regulatory Affairs, General Motors

This event is free and open to everyone. Pre-registration is not required. Please forward this notice. For more information please contact EDTA by visiting www.electricdrive.org or by contacting Jennifer Watts at 202-408-0774×306 or jwatts@electricdrive.org.

About EDTA: The Electric Drive Transportation Association is a trade association representing battery, hybrid and fuel cell electric drive technologies and infrastructure. EDTA’s membership includes major automotive and other equipment manufacturers, electric utilities, technology developers, component suppliers, and government agencies.

Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles Come to DC 1

Posted by Brad Johnson Sun, 20 Apr 2008 16:00:00 GMT

The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) invites you to view and ride in a plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV) on the Capitol Mall during the Earth Day festivities. Flexible-fuel PHEVs offer a promising opportunity to reduce dependence on imported oil, decrease greenhouse gas and other transportation emissions, revitalize local economies, and lower fuel costs. The single largest contributor to America’s foreign oil dependence is the transportation sector which accounts for two-thirds of US oil consumption. Moreover, the transportation sector is 97 percent dependent on petroleum.

The vehicle, an XH-150, was developed by the Bellevue, Washington-based AFS Trinity Corp. and is a modified 2007 Saturn Vue Greenline SUV that gets up to 150 miles-per-gallon. Its energy storage system combines lithium-ion batteries with ultracapacitors. Adding ultracapacitors allows the vehicle to achieve top speeds and rapid acceleration in electric-only mode equal to a conventional hybrid. For a typical daily commute of 40 miles round trip, the vehicle does not use its internal combustion engine at all. The XH-150 was unveiled in January at Detroit’s North American International Auto Show. Look for the AFS Trinity Truck on the Mall.

A September 2007 Harris National Study found that more than one quarter of vehicle owners would consider purchasing a PHEV for their next vehicle purchase. On January 31, GM’s vice president for global program management, Jonathan Lauckner, said GM plans to build “tens of thousands” Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid electric cars by 2011. A shift to manufacturing flexible-fuel PHEVs could be central to revitalization of the American auto industry by positioning domestic automakers as leaders in this emerging technology. Plug-in hybrids can be recharged in standard electric sockets, then driven 20 to 60 miles without the use of gasoline. This means the commute of millions of Americans could be completed with the use of little, if any, gasoline. Such savings are critical in these tight economic times.

Federal and state support of this technology can accelerate commercial deployment. More than 45 bills have been introduced in the 110th Congress that include provisions for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. A national campaign to raise awareness of PHEVs has received tremendous response from state and local governments, businesses, utilities, as well as national security, environmental and public interest groups. More than 630 entities have joined the National Plug-In Partners Campaign (spearheaded by Austin Energy), including a number of the nation’s largest cities including Austin, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Memphis, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Francisco, Portland and Seattle. In addition, the campaign has now surpassed 8,000 fleet orders, helping to prove to automakers that if they build plug-in vehicles, Americans will buy them.

This event is open to the public. No RSVP is required. For more information, please contact Fred Beck at 202-662-1892 or fbeck@eesi.org.

Location: Capitol Mall between 4th and 14th Streets

Surface transportation and the global economy 2

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 16 Apr 2008 14:00:00 GMT

Witnesses
  • Siva Yam, President, United States of America-China Chamber of Commerce
  • John Isbell, Global Director of Delivery Logistics, Nike
  • Ray Kuntz, Chief Executive Officer, Watkins and Shepard Trucking, On behalf of the American Trucking Associations
  • Edward Wytkind, President, Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO

Transportation Challenges of Metropolitan Areas 3

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 09 Apr 2008 14:00:00 GMT

This hearing is the first in a series of hearings exploring emerging themes in transportation policy and practice, the needs of our national surface transportation system, and the reauthorization of our surface transportation laws. The Subcommittee will continue this series by holding hearings in the near future on the issues surrounding freight access and goods movement, infrastructure preservation and modernization, highway safety, mobility and connectivity of rural areas, and other issues.

Witnesses
  • Robert Puentes, Metropolitan Policy Program at The Brookings Institution
  • Robert D. Yaro, President of the Regional Plan Association in New York
  • The Honorable Ron Sims, King County Executive, Seattle, Washington
  • Jolene Molitoris, Assistant Director of the Ohio Department of Transportation
  • Michael R. Wiley, Executive Director of Sacramento Regional Transit District
  • Ron Kirby, Transportation Director of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments

Surface Transportation Trust Funds and Amtrak 6

Posted by Wonk Room Thu, 03 Apr 2008 13:30:00 GMT

Witnesses Panel I: Status of Surface Transportation Trust Funds and Impact on Federal Spending

  • James S. Simpson, Administrator, Federal Transit Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation
  • James D. Ray, Administrator (Acting), Federal Highway Administration, U. S. Department of Transportation
  • John F. McCaskie, Chief Engineer, Swank Associated Companies (Transportation Construction Coalition)
  • William W. Millar, President, American Public Transportation Association
Panel II: Future Outlook and Budgetary Needs for AMTRAK
  • Joseph H. Boardman, Administrator, Federal Railroad Administration
  • Donna McLean, Chairman of the Board, National Railroad Passenger Corporation-AMTRAK
  • Alexander Kummant, President & CEO, National Railroad Passenger Corporation-AMTRAK
  • David Tornquist, Assistant Inspector General, United States Department of Transportation
  • Joel M. Parker, International Vice President & Special Assistant to the President, Transportation Communications International Union

Around the Blogs: The Benefits of Density 2

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 21 Feb 2008 18:34:00 GMT

Alex Steffen at WorldChanging in January, with My Other Car is a Bright Green City (edited for publication in BusinessWeek), and Allison Arieff at the New York Times’s By Design blog on Monday, with Is Your House Making You Look Fat?, take involved and interesting looks at the environmental, energy, and health consequences of America’s love affair with sprawl. In Steffen’s words: “The best car-related innovation we have is not to improve the car, but eliminate the need to drive it everywhere we go.” Arieff mirrors his sentiment: “First, let’s talk about cars. Stop designing for them.

Their excellent essays have spurred varied responses.

Ezra Klein at the American Prospect, yesterday: How We Live Now:

There’s often a tendency to assume that the status quo is the most “natural” way for things to be, and that rejiggering the relevant subsidies is somehow more artificial and presumptuous. But the current system was built atop a massive structure of subsidies and tax breaks. The mortgage tax deduction advantaged bigger homes; funding schools through inequitable property taxes encouraged families to move out of cities where the property taxes were low and into richer suburbs where the schools would be wealthy; putting billions into costly and little-used roads made far-flung developments appear cheap to those who only saw the finished product; underfunding public transportation heavily influenced development patterns, and so on and so forth.

Matt Yglesias picks up at the Atlantic: Dense:

What’s particularly astounding about this stuff, in my view, is that fixing the problem would hardly require some totalitarian density police to come around and force us to all live closer together. Instead, the main step we would need to take would simply be to allow people to build more densely if they want to. As a secondary measure, scrapping or limiting the tax code’s weird and destructive subsidy of big houses would do some good.

Other blogs that picked the thread up include Duncan Black’s Eschaton, 2020 Hindsight, Urban Grounds, Dove’s Eye View, Trinifar’s Some Maintenance Required, The Vigorous North, and The Velorution.

Budget Briefing: Transportation Budget Cut, Shifts Funds from Mass Transit to Highways 4

Posted by EESI Thu, 14 Feb 2008 00:38:00 GMT

On February 4, 2008, Transportation Secretary Mary Peters released the 2009 fiscal year (FY) budget request for the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to fund construction, maintenance, and operation activities for the nation’s roadways, railways, and air transportation. The proposed $68.2 billion total represents a $2.13 billion decrease from the FY 2008 appropriations bill enacted in December 2007. Moreover, proposed budget rescission measures totaling $3.89 billion would further reduce the budgetary resources available to DOT in FY 2009 to $64.31 billion.

The Administration is again proposing dramatic cuts in federal support for Amtrak. Congress appropriated $1.3 billion for Amtrak in FY 2008 with $850 million going to capital and debt service and $475 million to operating subsidies. The Administration’s budget proposes a total of $800 million, a cut of $525 million or 40 percent. The Administration proposes $525 million for capital and debt service grants and $275 million for “efficiency incentive grants” which would replace direct operating subsidies and give the Secretary of Transportation discretion in how the funds are used.

Other highlights in the Department of Transportation (DOT) budget include:

  • Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ) – $1.8 billion. CMAQ supports transportation projects that assist in meeting and maintaining national ambient air quality standards.
  • Clean Fuels Grant Program – $51 million to support transit operators in transitioning to cleaner and more efficient buses and fuels, an increase of $2 million from $49 million appropriated in FY 2008.
  • Transit Planning – $113.5 million to support the activities of regional planning agencies and states to plan for transit investments, an increase of $6.5 million from $107 million appropriated in FY 2008.

The Administration’s proposed budget request includes $40.1 billion to fund highways and bridges through the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), a $1.1 million decrease from the $41.2 billion total appropriated to FHWA for FY 2008, including the $1 billion supplemental appropriation for bridge repair. The requested amount also is below the $41.2 billion authorized in “SAFETEA-LU” (Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users of 2005).

The proposed budget requests $10.1 billion for the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to fund rail and bus transit needs. This represents an increase of $644 million over FY 2008 funding for FTA, but the amount is $202 million below the amount authorized by SAFETEA-LU.

More significantly, the Administration is proposing to transfer $3.2 billion from the Mass Transit Account to the Highway Account, which is estimated to have a negative balance of $3.2 billion dollars in FY 2009. The Administration says these funds will be repaid to the Mass Transit Account through provisions in a future transportation authorization law.

Of the $10.1 billion in total spending proposed for FTA in FY 2009, the Formula and Bus Grants program will receive $8.3 billion, which is the amount of obligation limitation authorized by SAFETEA-LU and is a $593 million increase over FY 2008.

Other major FTA program accounts are funded from the general fund, not the Highway Trust Fund, and are subject to more budgetary discretion. The largest general fund transit account is the Capital Investment Grants program (formerly known as New Starts), which would receive $1.6 billion under the proposed budget. This is $51 million above the FY 2008 level but below the $1.8 billion authorized by SAFETEA-LU for FY 2009. Overall, the Administration’s budget requests $202 million less than the amount authorized by SAFETEA-LU for general fund transit accounts.

For more information contact Jan Mueller, jmueller@eesi.org, 202-662-1883.

A report from the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission 4

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 31 Jan 2008 15:00:00 GMT

Transportation for Tomorrow: Report of the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission, prepared by a specially convened Commission, meets the charge given under Section 1909 of the Safe Accountable, Flexible and Efficient Transportation Equity Act – A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU). The Report includes detailed recommendations for creating and sustaining a pre-eminent surface transportation system in the United States.

National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission Report

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 17 Jan 2008 16:00:00 GMT

EE News:

Advisory panel expected to put gas tax increase plan before House committee

Alex Kaplun, E&E Daily reporter

A House panel is poised to open a debate this week into increasing the federal gas tax as a means for funneling additional dollars toward bridge repairs, highway construction and other transportation projects.

The House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee will hold a hearing Thursday to examine a report from the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission, which is expected to outline a series of recommendations for improving the country’s transportation infrastructure.

The report will not be formally released until tomorrow morning but reports late last week indicate that the majority of the 12-member panel will endorse raising the gas tax to pay for a wide range of transportation initiatives. The size of the proposed increase to the 18.4 cent per gallon tax remains unclear and could range from as little as a dime or as much as a quarter per gallon.

Three members of the panel – including Transportation Secretary Mary Peters – are expected to oppose the increase. The Bush administration has consistently opposed any boost to the gas tax, arguing that it is an inefficient way to pay for future transportation projects.

Still, several key lawmakers in the last couple years have said that Congress should explore increasing the tax to inject extra dollars into federal transportation funds that are failing to keep up with the nation’s needs. But the idea has yet to gain any significant traction on Capitol Hill.

In the wake of last summer’s Minnesota bridge collapse, T&I Committee Chairman Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.) proposed a temporary five-cent gas tax increase to repair and replace bridges across the United States. The increase would sunset after three years and raise roughly $25 billion over that period.

Oberstar’s plan never made it out of committee before the end of the last session of Congress. It remains to be seen whether he will try to revive a similar plan this year.

But one influential Republican has already come out against any proposal to increase the gas tax, saying that it would place an extra burden on consumers without substantially increasing federal transportation dollars.

“This is a disappointment and probably even a big waste of tax dollars. A special commission came up with an old, cold, bad idea,” said Senate Finance Committee ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). “Raising the gas tax puts the brunt of the long-term trust fund expenses on automobile drivers, when diesel trucks and other heavy vehicles also use the highways.”

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