Destination access bills introduced in U.S. House

A trio of U.S. House members along with 10 co-sponsors have introduced a pair of bills that would set destination access as a national performance measure. Both bills describe destination access, aka “accessibility,” in terms of travel times by auto, transit, walking, and biking, with consideration for traffic-stress levels on the active modes. One of the bills focuses on access to employment, while the other focuses on access to non-work destinations such as shopping and schools.

COMMUTE bill would boost accessibility metrics

A new bipartisan bill in Congress would provide funding for DOTs and MPOs to apply innovative accessibility metrics to decision-making. It would require U.S. DOT to provide data and support for five state DOTs and 10 MPOs to measure access to destinations by various modes. Whether the bill passes or not, the field is likely to continue looking at accessibility as an important metric, and SSTI has been at the forefront of the effort to apply accessibility to transportation and land use decisions.

House and Senate release bills on AVs

Both the Senate and the House have bills out that would regulate AV testing, operation, and safety features. The Senate bill would preempt states from passing stricter laws and would apply the existing federal-state preemption framework, which mainly deals with the design, construction, and performance of vehicles, to automated vehicles. As written, the preemption language seems to be broader than the existing framework, because it would preempt any state or local law and regulation in nine areas, rather than just laws dealing with the design, construction, or performance of automated vehicles in those areas.

Expanded transit tax incentive can’t compete with the lure of subsidized parking

Many municipalities and the federal government have goals of improving air quality, reducing traffic congestion, and increasing transit use. However, until recently federal policies providing greater tax breaks to car commuters than transit commuters have thwarted these goals. However, recent equivalency in financial incentives does not fully counterbalance the attraction of driving alone to work.

Conflict over drunk driving penalties divide safety advocates

As Congress hashed out the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, one area of heated debate centered on how to effectively reduce drunk driving. The debate has focused on whether states should require that everyone convicted of drunk driving—including first-time offenders—install an ignition interlock device in their vehicle. Opponents have argued that these funds should be made available to states with 24/7 sobriety programs for repeat offenders as well.

How do we get “everyday Americans” to support transportation funding?

Despite the fact that everyone uses some mode of transportation, a recent article in Governing Magazine explored the transportation community’s failure to engage “everyday Americans,” in the need for transportation investments. There is too much at stake – jobs, money, infrastructure – for people to ignore these critical issues. If we want policymakers to make smart transportation decisions, they need to feel pressure from their constituents. The article finds that we aren’t reaching “everyday Americans” because the messages that the transportation community has been using doesn’t resonate with them. How do we fix this communications challenge?

Congress is still wrestling with Positive Train Control requirements

The increased Amtrak speeds in Michigan and Indiana followed the Federal Railroad Administration’s approval after successful implementation of a Positive Train Control (PTC) system. PTC, first mandated by Congress in 2008, is a technology used in trains that is meant to avoid human error and prevent crashes. But now it is under attack from House Republicans.

Congress debates raising the 80,000 pound truck weight limit

Congress set the current 80,000-pound weight limit for trucks on Interstate highways in 1991. For years proponents of raising the limit have argued that it would reduce the number of trucks on the road, shipping costs, and congestion. On the other side of the argument are those who believe these benefits are outweighed by the fact that heavier trucks are more difficult to control and stop, and that heavier trucks cause greater damage to roads and bridges.