» A series of bus lanes will link commuter rail stations, downtown, and the Navy Pier. It’s not quite a transitway — despite the branding — but it will speed movement for thousands of passengers.
A year and a half after Chicago won $24.6 million in federal funds for the construction of an urban circulator downtown, the city announced this week that it will contribute $7.3 million in tax increment financing to improve the state of bus service in the urban center and link commuter rail stations to office buildings. Together, the money will provide for painting dedicated bus lanes on the Madison/Washington and Clinton/Canal Street pairs for a total of two miles, offer signal priority, improve bus shelters, and add bike lanes. New buses and a small bus transit center at Union Station are also part of the plan.
Though the improvements will be most visible
Continue reading Chicago Commits to Downtown Bus Priority »
» The federal government has already devolved most of its transportation powers to local and state governments. And there is little evidence that further reducing the power of Washington will produce better transportation investments.
The reaction to President Obama’s 2013 budget for transportation has ranged from the dismissive — “it’s too big to be part of the discussion” — to the supportive (myself, among others), most of the commentary revolving around the proposed program’s large size. Another theme, however, has reemerged in the discussion: The role of the federal government in funding transportation. It’s not a new conversation, of course; in American transportation circles, the roles of the three major levels of government are constantly being put into question.
The argument goes something like this: The federal government, because of its national power and ability to collect revenues from the fuel taxes it administers, is a wasteful spender and it
Continue reading Clearing it Up on Federal Transportation Expenditures »
» The executive branch’s proposed spending for FY 2013 would greatly expand spending on transit and intercity rail, but it faces a hostile Congress. It brings good news, however, for five California rail projects and new light rail lines for Charlotte, Honolulu, and Portland.
The White House has introduced a budget — and a reauthorization proposal — that would significantly increase investment in transportation infrastructure over the next six years. Though the legislation as currently designed will not be passed into law because of reluctance from Congress, the Obama Administration’s continued efforts to expand funding for sustainable mobility options are to be praised.
Over the course of the next six years, the Administration proposes significant expansions in transit and rail spending, increasing those programs from 22.9% of the overall DOT budget for surface transportation in fiscal year 2013 (and 21% in actual spending in FY 2011) to 35.7% of the budget in FY
Continue reading The President’s Budget: Full of Ambition, Short on Congressional Support »
» With a House like this, what advances can American transportation policy make?
Actions by members of the U.S. House over the past week suggest that Republican opposition to the funding of alternative transportation has developed into an all-out ideological battle. Though their efforts are unlikely to advance much past the doors of their chamber, the policy recklessness they have displayed speaks truly poorly of the future of the nation’s mobility systems.
By Friday last week, the following measures were brought to the attention of the GOP-led body:
The Ways and Means Committee acted to eliminate the Mass Transit Account of the Highway Trust Fund, destroying public transportation’s source of steady federal financing for capital projects, first established in the 1980s. The members of the committee determined that to remedy the fact that gas taxes have not been increased since 1993,* the most appropriate course was not to raise the tax (as
Continue reading Time to Fight »