Friday, May 13, 2011

Did        you know?

Maryland’s Motor Fuel Tax funds one-third of its transit costs.  


As the price of gas surges people flock to public transit. Transportation for America reports commuters from Tennessee to Indiana and California are trading their cars for trains and busses. According to the American Public Transportation Association, when gas prices rise above $4 a gallon public transit use increases by 10.8 billion trips per year. With the U.S. Energy Information Administration predicting the price of a barrel of crude oil remaining above $108 through 2012 (last year’s price was $76), investments in accessible and reliable public transit are more important than ever. 


At the federal level, 2.86 cents of the 18.4 cent per gallon MFT is dedicated to fund transit.  The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials found that in 2008, states provided $12.3 billion for transit from various sources, including the Motor Fuel Tax (MFT). This allowed them the flexibility to use transportation revenues according to the needs of residents, whether that’s roads or mass transit.  In total, 16 states think differently about how they use revenues from the MFT, taking a comprehensive approach to transportation funding.   

For example, in California, state funding from gasoline and diesel sales taxes flow to transit through the State Transit Assistance (STA) Fund/Public Transportation Account. This funding source historically accounts for 15 to 40 percent of a transit agency operation budget. In FY 2008, the MFT generated $400 million for public transit in California, representing 17 percent of total funding. In Connecticut the MFT is deposited into a Special Transportation Fund that supports transit operations and capital projects. In Florida state law mandates a minimum of 15 percent of Florida’s Transportation Trust Fund dollars must be spent for public transportation, which includes transit, rail, aviation, seaports, and intermodal facilities. In FY 2008, the MFT generated almost $80 million for public transit in the state, representing 55 percent of total funding. Maryland’s MFT is deposited into a Transportation Trust Fund which supports transit operations and capital projects. In FY 2008, the MFT generated almost $270 million for public transit in Maryland, 32 percent of total funding. Rhode Island’s state law specifies all income from MFT be deposited into the Intermodal Surface Transportation Fund (ISTF). A portion of the ISTF funds ($0.0725 per gallon of taxes imposed) are allocated to public transit. In FY 2008, the MFT generated $38 million for Rhode Island’s public transit, yet representing a whopping 80 percent of total funding. 

Illinois has the second largest public transit system in the nation, yet state law does not allow any of its $1.3 billion in MFT revenues to go to programs other than roads and highways. Instead, the state must spend limited transportation dollars based on arbitrary formulas divided into isolated silos that fragment road, highway, transit, rail, bike, and pedestrian projects. It would be more effective and efficient to make targeted investments, no matter what the revenue source, based on their ability to reduce hours spent in traffic, curb emissions, and connect people to their homes and jobs, be that a road or train. Thinking differently about how we spend all transportation revenues would grant state leaders the flexibility to serve commuters needs and fund healthy, sustainable transportation improvements. 


Local News

City sticker price increase on hold: drivers resisting proposed boost in sticker costThe Expired Meter “Plans to boost the cost of what Chicago drivers pay for city stickers is on hold in the City Council–at least for now. A few weeks ago, 1st Ward Alderman Proco “Joe” Moreno proposed raising the price of city stickers$20 for most vehicles from $75 to $95, give discounts to owners of hybrid vehicles, and offering no cost stickers to fully electric vehicles." 

Chicago gas prices hit all-time high – FOX Chicago News “The price of gas in Chicago has hit an all-time high. According to AAA, the average price of a gallon of gas is now $4.47, 13 cents more than the old record set three years ago.” 

Argonne, Illinois Tollway join forces to find efficiencies in State Police Fleet – Darien Patch “Illinois State Police squad cars might soon become a little bit greener thanks to a fuel efficiency study with local roots announced Tuesday. The aim of the research is two-fold—to find ways to save money on gas and, in the process, help the environment through greater fuel efficiencies in the Illinois Tollway-owned squad cars."

Bill would bring railway to Illinois tollway – Rockford Register Star “State tollways could double as high speed rail corridors under a bill whose chief sponsor is [Illinois State Representative] Dave Winters. Under current law, the Illinois Toll Highway Authority can’t use its rights of way for railways.”

Drivers can dispute Illinois Tollway violations online with new website feature – The Republic “Drivers in northern Illinois now can go online to dispute Illinois Tollway violations. The Illinois Tollway announced the new website feature Monday. It allows drivers to view their license plate images online, select from two dispute options and file a challenge electronically.”

Emanuel "working on" negating parking deal – NBC Chicago “Does Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel have a secret to rescue Chicago from the hated parking meter deal? That’s what he told an audience in Loyola Park this week, according to the News-Star, a neighborhood paper that covers the North Side.”

National News

D.C. officials to plan for more streetcar linesThe Examiner “The D.C. Department of Transportation will forge ahead this summer with its plans to add more streetcars, as officials try to take advantage of the nearly $100 million allotted to streetcars in the mayor's proposed fiscal 2012 budget.”

Here comes the bus: America’s fastest growing form of intercity travelNew Geography “Travel by intercity bus is growing at an extraordinary pace: reflecting a rise in travel demand, escalating fuel prices, and investments in new routes. This confluence of factors has propelled scheduled bus service between cities to its highest level in years and has made the intercity bus the country’s fastest growing mode of transportation for the third year in the row.” 

SkyTran offers Detroit new idea for mass transitDetroit Free Press “SkyTran is a system of four-passenger cars that zip along on an overhead track powered by a version of the same maglev technology that drives trains in China, Japan and South Korea. The company says each car runs on about as much juice as it takes to power two blow-dryers.” 

Paradigm shift in Charleston: county leaders reject highway expansion “Thanks to a heroic effort by advocates for smart growth and rural preservation, officials in Charleston, South Carolina, have unanimously rejected a plan for a half-billion-dollar highway expansion.”

Governor’s lawyer misled Florida Supreme Court in high-speed rail caseThe Infrastructurist “After Florida Governor Rick Scott refused $2.4 billion in federal funding for the Tampa-Orlando high-speed rail line, state lawmakers challenged his authority to make such a decision. The state Supreme Court ruled in Scott’s favor, but it now appears that ruling was based on inaccurate information supplied to the court by Scott’s lawyer.” 

Life in the slow lane: Americans are gloomy about their economy’s ability to produce. Are they right to be? The Economist “America, despite its wealth and strength, often seems to be falling apart. American cities have suffered a rash of recent infrastructure calamities, from the failure of the New Orleans levees to the collapse of a highway bridge in Minneapolis, to a fatal crash on Washington, DC’s (generally impressive) metro system. But just as striking are the common shortcomings. America’s civil engineers routinely give its transport structures poor marks, rating roads, rails and bridges as deficient or functionally obsolete. And according to a World Economic Forum study America’s infrastructure has got worse, by comparison with other countries, over the past decade.” 

Digging a hole: what’s behind America’s aversion to fixing it first?Streetsblog “America’s bridges are deficient and its roads are potholed. The gas tax hasn’t been raised in over a decade, leaving revenues insufficient to maintain the infrastructure we have. Seattle residents want infrastructure maintenance more than new construction, so why does the government continue to prioritize new projects when the current system is in such disrepair? Yet a strong bias toward new construction persists in American transportation policies.” 

Report suggests improvements for Aquidneck Island transportation The Providence Journal (RI) “The Aquidneck Island Planning Commission recommended transportation improvements ranging from better bus service to new bike paths, a parking plan for the city and improvement of the approaches to the Pell Bridge. The Aquidneck Island Transportation Study recommendations lean heavily toward transit-oriented, multi-use transportation, and improving existing transit service and traffic patterns.”

Developer: I’ve walked away from projects because of parking minimums – Streetsblog “Housing is harder to build, more expensive, and often lower-quality as a result of the city’s parking regulations, according to one New York City developer. Alan Bell was a high-ranking housing official in the Koch administration before co-founding the Hudson Companies in 1986. Since then, Hudson has built 4,250 affordable and market-rate housing units in the New York metro area, along with another 2,000 units under development. Hudson might have built more housing were it not for parking minimums, however. Bell said in an interview that he’s walked away from a number of projects because he couldn’t make the required parking fit or evade the parking minimums by subdividing the development into small pieces.”

Missouri in transportation funding crisis – “The idea of raising taxes in Missouri for the highway system is accelerating. KMBC's Micheal Mahoney reported that it was a major topic at a presentation on the state of Missouri roads. "Missouri needs to make a new and substantial investment in its road system," said Bill McKenna. McKenna is a former member of the state highway commission. He is also a leader of the Missouri Transportation Alliance, which is pushing for more spending on Missouri roads.”

Do we need more highways?National Journal “The U.S. Conference of Mayors will unveil the results of a survey this week showing that the country's mayors are big fans of transit, and perhaps less so of new highways. The survey will show that most mayors want highway expansion to be a low priority when investing in infrastructure.” 

Global News

Shanghai motor show: VW “VW is evaluating several business models for this compact battery-powered motorbike. One of them would see customers rent bikes out of city ‘hubs’ located outside of train stations, shopping centres and at key business parks.”

Trenitalia orders additional locomotives from BombardierProgressive Railroading “Trenitalia (Italian Railways) recently placed an order with Bombardier Transportation for 50 additional E464 electric locomotives under a contract signed in 2009 for the supply of 100 units. Valued at $186 million, the contract “is a further landmark for Bombardier locomotives in Italy,” Bombardier officials said in a prepared statement. Trenitalia has placed orders for a total 688 E464 locomotives, 570 of which are in service. Delivery of the latest order is scheduled for 2012 or 2013." 

Philippines OKs first infrastructure project under Public-Private Program – Dow Jones Newswires “The Philippines' Investment Coordination Committee, a Cabinet-level agency, has approved for implementation the first project under the government's public-private partnership initiative, Economic Planning Secretary Cayetano Paderanga said Friday. The project, a PHP1.4 billion project that involves the construction of a 4- kilometer toll road in Cavite, south of Manila, that will connect to the South Luzon Expressway.”

China drawn to PPP infrastructure deals – Philippine Daily Inquirer “The Chinese government and private businesses are interested in the big-ticket projects being pushed by the Aquino administration to boost infrastructure development in the Philippines. According to Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, state-owned enterprises in China will be invited to bid in some of the Aquino administration’s priority infrastructure projects.” 

How speedy buses totally changed China's third largest city – Good “Seventeen American transit executives get on a bus... Sounds like the start of a joke, right? But that’s what happened recently in Guangzhou, the third largest city in China. Like all Chinese cities, Guangzhou has seen an explosion in automobile ownership over the past decade. This combined with rapid growth in demand for the bus system lead to terrible congestion and safety issues on Zhongshan Avenue, a major street through the Central Business District. Zhongshan Avenue is no longer a nightmare of traffic and pollution, but rather a vibrant commercial avenue.” 

Mumbai sets to get first stainless steel local train – Steel Guru “Mumbai Mirror reported that in 2002, Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation toyed with the idea of a fully stainless steel train. A tender was floated, but when Bombardier the only bidder submitted its quotation, the plan was shelved for being too costly. But the dream is finally back on track.”

Infrastructure one of Central Africa’s largest challenges – “Poor infrastructure is one of the biggest factors keeping Central Africa from achieving its full growth potential. According to the AfDB, asphalted roads represent less than 20% of Central Africa’s entire regional road network.
The African Development Bank (AfDB) says in a recent report that Central Africa – comprising Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, São Tomé e Príncipe and Chad – has the worst infrastructure on the continent.”

Can Pod Cars transform traffic in Delhi? The City Fix “Delhi is considering installing “pod cars” as a form of public transit. According to New Delhi Television (NDTV), India’s news station, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit asked Delhi Integrated Multi Modal Transit System Ltd. (DIMTS) and Transport Department to prepare a detailed project report on introducing the pollution-free transport system in the city.”

Contact Information 

For comments, suggestions, or submissions, please contact Chrissy Mancini Nichols, at or (312) 863-6042.  

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