Category Archives: Transportation

Driven into Debt: How Tickets Burden the Poor

Source: ProPublica and WBEZ, 2018

Parking, traffic camera and vehicle tickets generate millions of dollars in desperately needed cash each year for the City of Chicago. But for the working poor, and particularly for African Americans, paying for tickets can be difficult — opening the door to more fines and fees, and spiraling debt. Drivers who don’t pay what they owe face tough punishments from the city and state that threaten their livelihoods.

Articles include:
Chicago Hiked the Cost of Vehicle City Sticker Violations to Boost Revenue. But It’s Driven More Low-Income, Black Motorists Into Debt.
Source: Melissa Sanchez, ProPublica, and Elliott Ramos, WBEZ July 26, 2018

Now, a former official regrets the move and wants the city to revisit it. Some policies, she said, are “terrible.”

How ProPublica Illinois and WBEZ Worked Together to Find Thousands of Duplicate Tickets in Chicago
Source: Melissa Sanchez, ProPublica, and Elliott Ramos, WBEZ July 6, 2018

We heard from you about how ticket debt, especially from $200 city sticker citations, has affected you. And we would like your help as we continue our reporting.

Three City Sticker Tickets on the Same Car in 90 Minutes?
Souce: Melissa Sanchez, ProPublica, and Elliott Ramos, WBEZ June 27, 2018

Chicago has issued 20,000 duplicate city sticker tickets since 2007. City officials are now looking at whether this violates a city ordinance and say motorists might be in for a refund.

Chicago Begins To Rethink How Bankruptcy Lawyers Get Paid
Source: Melissa Sanchez, ProPublica, May 9, 2018

Judges are demanding that lawyers tell their clients that their other debts might not get paid, but their lawyers will.

Some States No Longer Suspend Driver’s Licenses for Unpaid Fines. Will Illinois Join Them?
Source: Melissa Sanchez, ProPublica, March 15, 2018

Our analysis shows suspensions tied to ticket debt disproportionately affect motorists in largely black sections of Chicago and its suburbs.

She Owed $102,158.40 in Unpaid Tickets, but She’s Not in the Story
Source: Melissa Sanchez, ProPublica, March 2, 2018

Still, we want to tell you a little bit about her, and about some of the other people we interviewed, because they helped inform our ticket debt investigation.

How Chicago Ticket Debt Sends Black Motorists Into Bankruptcy
Source: Melissa Sanchez and Sandhya Kambhampati, ProPublica, February 27, 2018

A cash-strapped city employs punitive measures to collect from cash-strapped black residents — and lawyers benefit.

The Many Roads to Bankruptcy
Source: Melissa Sanchez, ProPublica, February 27, 2018

Here are some stories of Chicagoans driven into ticket debt.

Large, established toll road systems are better positioned for the next recession

Source: Maria Matesanz, Eriq Alexander, Kurt Krummenacker, Moody’s, Sector In-Depth, July 17, 2018
(subscription required)

Large road systems will experience more stable traffic and revenue trends in a recession than smaller or less well established systems, based on our analysis of their performance during and after the last recession. From a financial and operational standpoint, we expect larger toll roads to maintain steady traffic growth and performance with minimal negative credit effects associated with typical traffic and toll revenue drops seen during recessions. We define large, established toll roads as those that operate multiple assets and have been in operation more than 15 years….

Georgia Bus Drivers Joined the School Uprising and Paid a Price

Source: Rachel M. Cohen, The Intercept, April 22, 2018
The red-state school uprising is spreading to educators around the country, with teachers in Colorado and Arizona now planning walkouts to demand better treatment from state and county governments. But the widespread public support that has helped carry the teachers to victories so far has been less present for blue-collar workers following in their footsteps. In Georgia, bus drivers who organized their own work stoppage last week were met with public condemnation and immediate firings.

On Thursday, the same day that the votes in favor of a walkout were tallied in Arizona, nearly 400 school bus drivers in DeKalb County, Georgia, stayed home from work, staging a “sickout” to protest their low salaries and meager benefits.  

Whether the school bus drivers can succeed in winning their demands and maintaining broad popular support remains to be seen, but the protest provides an important test case on whether these teacher movements will lead to a broader working-class uprising or stay limited to organizing among a narrower band of white-collar professionals. The bus drivers are not building their case around the idea that their unique talents merit greater monetary reward, but that they simply need and deserve to be treated more fairly…..

…..While the teachers strikes in West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Arizona have boasted the vocal support of local school boards and superintendents, the school district leadership in DeKalb County has offered no such solidarity to the school bus drivers. In fact, seven bus drivers were fired on Thursday, identified as “sickout ringleaders.”….

Trends in Public Transportation Ridership: Implications for Federal Policy

Source: William J. Mallett, Congressional Research Service, CRS Report, R45144, March 26, 2018

Despite significant investments in public transportation at the federal, state, and local levels, transit ridership has fallen in many of the top 50 transit markets. If strong gains in the New York area are excluded, ridership nationally declined by 7% over the past decade. This report examines the implications for federal transit policy of the current weakness and possible future changes in transit ridership.

Although there has been a lot of research into the factors that explain transit ridership, there seems to be no comprehensive explanation for the recent decline. One complication is that national trends in public transportation ridership are not necessarily reflected at the local level; thus, different areas may have different reasons for growth or decline. But at the national level, the two factors that most affect public transportation ridership are competitive factors and the supply of transit service. Several competitive factors, notably the drop in the price of gasoline over the past few years and the growing popularity of bikeshare and ridesourcing services, appear to have adversely affected transit ridership. The amount of transit service supplied has generally grown over time, but average fares have risen faster than inflation, possibly deterring riders…..

U.S. And Canadian Not-For-Profit Transportation Infrastructure Enterprises: Methodologies And Assumptions

Source: S&P Global Ratings, March 12, 2018
(subscription required)

S&P Global Ratings is publishing its methodology for assigning ratings and related credit products to U.S. and Canadian not-for-profit airports, ports, toll facilities, or parking systems (transportation infrastructure enterprises, enterprises, or entities), and for debt secured by specific revenue streams tied to special facility projects or by demand tied to transportation infrastructure.

Related:
Criteria FAQ: An Overview Of Criteria For Rating U.S. And Canadian Not-For-Profit Transportation Infrastructure Enterprises
Source: S&P Global Ratings, March 12, 2018
(subscription required)

How Does Chicago Make $200 Million A Year On Parking Tickets? By Bankrupting Thousands of Drivers.

Source: Melissa Sanchez and Sandhya Kambhampati, Mother Jones & ProPublica Illinois, February 27, 2018

Ticket debt hits poor, black neighborhoods the hardest. ….

For Chicago’s working poor, and particularly for African Americans, a single unpaid parking or automated traffic camera ticket can quickly spiral out of control and threaten their livelihoods. Bankruptcy offers a temporary reprieve, giving these motorists the chance to resume driving without fear of getting pulled over or losing their vehicles to the city pound.

The problem has gotten worse over the past decade, ProPublica Illinois found in an analysis of bankruptcies filed in the Northern District of Illinois, which includes Chicago and its suburbs. In 2007, an estimated 1,000 Chapter 13 bankruptcies included debts to the city, usually for unpaid tickets, with the median amount claimed around $1,500 per case. By last year, the number of cases surpassed 10,000, with the typical debt to the city around $3,900. Though the numbers of tickets issued did not rise during that time, the city increased the costs of fines, expanded its traffic camera program, and sought more license suspensions.

The result: more debt due to tickets…..

Funding and Financing Highways and Public Transportation

Source: Robert S. Kirk, William J. Mallett, Congressional Research Service, R44674, CRS Report, January 11, 2018

Almost every conversation about surface transportation finance begins with a two-part question: What are the “needs” of the national transportation system, and how does the nation pay for them? This report is aimed almost entirely at discussing the “how to pay for them” question. Since 1956, federal surface transportation programs have been funded largely by taxes on motor fuels that flow into the Highway Trust Fund (HTF). A steady increase in the revenues flowing into the HTF due to increased motor vehicle use and occasional increases in fuel tax rates accommodated growth in surface transportation spending over several decades. In 2001, though, trust fund revenues stopped growing faster than spending. In 2008 Congress began providing Treasury general fund transfers to keep the HTF solvent….

What Does Telecommuting’s Rise Mean for Traffic and Transit?

Source: Mike Maciag, Governing, October 30, 2017

…. Americans primarily working from home recorded its largest ever year-over-year increase in 2016, climbing to 5 percent of the workforce. Using the Census estimates, we compared each metro area’s average share of workers telecommuting in 2015 and 2016 with averages for 2006 and 2007. In 186 of the 252 areas with comparable data, the share increased. If this trend continues, Americans working from home will soon overtake the share of people who use public transportation, as it already has in many regions. The slow but steady shift carries numerous potential implications for transportation systems…..

The Direct and Indirect (Spillover) Effects of Productive Government Spending on State Economic Growth

Source: Andrew Ojede, Bebonchu Atems, Steven Yamarik, Growth and Change, Early View, September 25, 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Using data on 48 contiguous U.S. states and a spatial econometric approach, this paper examines short- and long-run effects of productive higher education and highway infrastructure spending financed by different revenue sources on state economic growth. Following the Lagrange Multiplier, Wald, and Likelihood Ratio tests, the data are found to be characterized by both spatial lag and spatial error processes, leading to the estimation of a dynamic spatial Durbin model. By decomposing results of the dynamic spatial Durbin model into short- and long-run direct as well as indirect (spillover) effects, we show that accounting for spillover effects provides a more comprehensive approach to uncovering the effects of productive government spending on growth. We find that, regardless of the financing source, productive higher education and highway spending have statistically significant short- and long-run direct as well as spillover effects on state income growth.