Category Archives: Transportation

Work organization, health, and obesity in urban transit operators: A qualitative study

Source: Marnie Dobson, BongKyoo Choi and Peter L. Schnall, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Early View, First published: 18 August 2017
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From the abstract:
Background:
Urban transit operators have high rates of obesity, hypertension, and other cardiovascular risk-factors compared to other occupations. There have been few qualitative studies exploring the interrelationships between the organization of transit work, stress, and health including obesity, from the perspective of operators.

Methods:
Five focus groups were conducted at five Divisions in a transit authority in Southern California and included 65 bus and rail operators.

Results:
Operators reported a great deal of stress related to their work, including 1) time pressures and lack of recovery time; 2) long work shifts and overtime; 3) feeling unsafe when dealing with the public; 4) lack of respect from supervisors and management. Operators believed stressful working conditions negatively impacted their health and weight.

Conclusion:
This qualitative study yielded new as well as confirmatory data about stress and transit work organization, health, and weight in operators. This study will add to future survey research and interventions in this population.

Spotlight: Building America

Source: Capitol Ideas, Vol. 60 no. 3, May/June 2017

Articles include:
Bridging Partnerships: How Four States Found Funds to Build
By Sean Slone

In February 2016, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo signed into law a plan to spend $4.8 billion on state infrastructure over the next 10 years. RhodeWorks, as the plan is known, received significant attention for including a new funding mechanism—tolls on heavy commercial trucks—and a focus on bringing the state’s aging bridges up to snuff.

Fueling Transportation Revenues
By Sean Slone

If the recent pattern holds, 2017 could end up being a big year for state transportation funding efforts. In 2013, six states approved major transportation packages. In 2015, eight states followed suit. The intervening even-numbered years saw less activity, perhaps owing to shorter legislative sessions in some states and re-election concerns. But transportation policy analysts are confident this year won’t buck the odd-number year trend for a simple reason: It’s time.

Help Wanted: Prioritizing Deferred Maintenance
By Katherine Barrett and Richard Greene

President Donald Trump’s promise to spend $1 trillion on infrastructure has raised the nation’s awareness about infrastructure needs in all 50 states. Above and beyond the desire or need for infrastructure additions, it’s clear that the crumbling and aging bridges, roads, water pipes and buildings currently in place need attention. The American Society of Civil Engineers recently graded the nation’s infrastructure at a D+; the same as it was the previous year.

Much ado about nothing? – A meta-analysis of the relationship between infrastructure and economic growth

Source: Johan Holmgren, Axel Merkel, Research in Transportation Economics, In Press – Corrected Proof, Available online 10 May 2017
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From the abstract:
Investing in infrastructure is often seen as an important part of economic policy, at the regional, national as well as international level. Investing in infrastructure is often presented as a solution to a number of problems such as unemployment, depopulation of rural areas and low economic activity. A number of studies have tried to estimate the effects on production from investing in infrastructure. The aim of this study is therefore to provide a systematic analysis of previous studies of this relationship. For that purpose, a meta-analysis of 776 estimates of elasticity of production with respect to infrastructure, was performed. The estimated effect (elasticity of production) of investing in infrastructure varies from −0.06 to 0.52. The effects appear to vary depending on the type of infrastructure in with the investment is made as well as between industries. It is also found that the estimated effects exhibiting high precision, are clustered around zero. This is to say that the higher the reliability of the estimate, the closer it is to zero.

An integrated model for road capacity choice and cordon toll pricing

Source: Qianwen Guo, Yanshuo Sun, Zhi-Chun Li, Zhongfei Li, Research in Transportation Economics, In Press – Corrected Proof, Available online 2 May 2017
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From the abstract:
In this paper, an analytical model is proposed to address road capacity choice and cordon toll pricing issues for an urban transportation corridor. In the proposed model, the road capacity, toll location and level are considered as decision variables, and the effects of self-financing and subsidy constraints on these variables are explored. It has been shown in the numerical studies that the self-financing requirement can lead to a decreased social welfare, and subsidies in certain ranges are welfare-improving. Results also show that subsidy increments yield disproportionately smaller welfare improvements, which is a sign of low efficiency.
Related:
From internal efficiency to societal benefits – Multi modal transport safety agency’s socio-economic impact analysis
Source: Petri Mononen, Pekka Leviäkangas, Harri Haapasalo, Research in Transportation Economics, In Press – Corrected Proof, Available online 9 May 2017
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Pressures to cut public expenditure and to reach high value for money of projects that use scarce public money are evident across the globe. At the same time there seems to be a lack of decision support tools for pin-pointing whether public services are yielding net benefits. Accountability is called for but the ‘accounting systems’ that validate the right choices in service delivery are not yet thoroughly established. As a response, an impact evaluation via a real-world case study of a multi-modal transport safety agency is presented. The main contribution of this article is methodological, including a summary of study cordoning; description of methods to map impact mechanisms; quantification of socio-economic impacts of services; the benefit to cost (B/C) appraisal of services and service bundles, and evaluation of an agency’s overall B/C ratio by applying the findings to systems level. The described analytical process is repeatable elsewhere with modifications or as it stands.

Regional differences in the determinants of Oregon VMT

Source: Yue Ke, B. Starr McMullen, Research in Transportation Economics, In Press – Corrected Proof, Available online 22 March 2017
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From the abstract:
Road user charges (RUCs) in the form of per mile charges have been suggested as an alternative to fuel taxes to help keep up with the costs of maintaining and expanding public road systems. The success of a RUC in providing for the long term stability of highway finance depends partly on how drivers respond to changes in the tax structure and also other determinants of driving behavior. Region specific characteristics, such as public transit accessibility and biking infrastructure, may also affect vehicle miles traveled (VMT) demand. This paper uses econometric techniques to examine the determinants of VMT using data from the Oregon Household Activities Survey (OHAS). We use standard OLS regression to examine the impact of urban density, household income, fuel cost, transit mileage, household location, and additional household characteristics on VMT. Preliminary results show that statewide Oregon demand for VMT is positively and significantly impacted by household income. Statewide, fuel price, transit use and population density are all found to be statistically significant and negatively related to household VMT. However, at the regional level some of these variables lose significance. Holding all factors constant, household VMT is found to differ by region as well as by population density.

Cab Drivers Union Says Chicago Taxi Industry Is Nearing Collapse

Source: Jeff Schuhrke, In These Times, June 13, 2017

….But with the introduction of Uber and other rideshare companies to the city—which can operate without the expensive, city-issued medallions—Aikins has seen his clientele plummet over the past three years, making it increasingly hard to keep up with his medallion loan payments.

Across the city, the number of taxi rides dropped from 2.29 million in January 2014 to 1.1 million in January 2017, according to a report released recently by Cab Drivers United, AFSCME Local 2500 (CDU). As a result, the average monthly income per medallion has fallen by $2,000 during the same time…..

….In addition to repaying loans on their medallions, taxi operators also have to pay thousands of dollars each year in city expenses, like the ground transportation tax and medallion license renewal fee—expenses that rideshare drivers are not subject to.

CDU says the number of rideshare vehicles in Chicago now exceeds 227,000, while 42 percent of the city’s taxis didn’t pick up a single passenger this March. The union stresses that the decline of the taxi industry is a loss for the broader public. Unlike most rideshare vehicles, taxis serve people without bank accounts by accepting cash, and they also have more stringent requirements on providing access to people with disabilities…..

In Most States, a Spike in ‘Super Commuters’

Source: Tim Henderson, Stateline, June 5, 2017

The number of commuters who travel 90 minutes or more to get to work increased sharply between 2010 and 2015, a shift that traffic experts, real estate analysts and others attribute to skyrocketing housing costs and a reluctance to move, born of memories of the 2008 financial crisis.

In all but 10 states, the number of “super commuters” increased over the period, and in California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, North Dakota and Rhode Island, it grew by more than 40 percent, according to census data. The growth came amid an overall increase in the number of commuters as the economy improved, but the increase in the number of people with the longest rides, 23 percent, was almost three times the increase in the number of those with shorter commutes, close to 8 percent. ….

Vigorous Campaign Revives Transit Union in Right-to-Work Virginia

Source: John Ertl, Labor Notes, May 31, 2017

Going into its latest contract, the transit union in Fairfax County, Virginia, was in tough shape. People weren’t active because they didn’t believe the union could do much—and the union couldn’t do much because people weren’t active.

Management never budged on the issues that stewards brought up. Grievances piled up, unresolved. And since Virginia is a “right-to-work” state, half the workers in the bargaining unit weren’t even members of Transit (ATU) Local 1764.

But after a robust union campaign, in a matter of months the Fairfax Connector went from a unit at risk of decertifying to a strong union shop…..

Budget of the U.S. Government – Fiscal Year 2018

Source: Office of Management and Budget, May 2017

A New Foundation for American Greatness – President’s Budget FY 2018

Major Savings and Reforms

America First – A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again

Analytical Perspectives
Appendix
Historical Tables
Supplemental Materials
Fact Sheets
Supplementals, Amendments, and Releases
Past President’s Budgets

Related:
Greenstein: Trump Budget Proposes Path to a New Gilded Age
Source: Robert Greenstein, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, CBPP Statement, May 22, 2017

President Trump’s new budget should lay to rest any belief that he’s looking out for the millions of people the economy has left behind.

President Trump’s Budget Includes a $2 Trillion Math Mistake
Source: Ryan Teague Beckwith, Time, May 23, 2017

President Trump’s budget includes simple accounting error that adds up to a $2 trillion oversight.

Trump releases budget hitting his own voters hardest
Source: Andrew Restuccia , Matthew Nussbaum and Sarah Ferris, Politico, Updated: May 23, 2017

The president’s proposal for next year’s federal spending calls for more than $1 trillion in cuts to social programs, including farm aid.

What Trump’s budget cuts from the social safety net
Source: Denise Lu and Kim Soffen, Washington Post, Updated May 23, 2017

On Tuesday, President Trump released his 2018 budget proposal. It makes deep cuts across many anti-poverty programs, slashing food stamps by more than a quarter and children’s health insurance by 19 percent.

Trump budget slashes money for federal lands, needy and health care
Source: Thomas Burr, The Salt Lake Tribune, May 23 2017

President Donald Trump’s proposed 2018 fiscal budget would hit Utah’s needy and disabled, cut block grants to communities, slash funding for public lands and public transit projects and could hurt rural airport services.

How the Trump Budget Undermines Economic Security for Working Families
Source: Rebecca Vallas, Harry Stein, Eliza Schultz, Neil Campbell, Kate Bahn, Regina Willensky, Kevin DeGood, Antoinette Flores, Ethan Gurwitz, Alexandra Thornton, and Angela Hanks, Center for American Progress, May 23, 2017

With an administration chock full of self-serving millionaires and billionaires, it comes as little surprise that President Donald Trump’s proposed budget would be an enormous windfall for the wealthiest Americans. But the degree to which it privileges the 1 percent at the expense of nearly everyone else—breaking Trump’s campaign promises to restore prosperity to everyday Americans—is staggering. Notably, by calling for cuts to Social Security, the budget violates one of Trump’s most significant promises.

Indeed, his proposed repeal of the estate tax alone—a tax that only affects the wealthiest 0.2 percent of estates—would cost the same as feeding more than 6 million seniors for a year through Meals on Wheels, a program facing deep cuts under the Trump budget.

And that is just one of several massive giveaways to the wealthy that President Trump calls for in this budget proposal while slashing critical investments in education, infrastructure, jobs, and more that make it possible for workers and families to get ahead. Here are seven ways that President Trump’s budget proposal threatens to do them serious damage.

Trump’s Budget Would Hit These States the Hardest
Source: Sam Petulla, NBC News, May 23, 2017

The Trump administration unveiled a budget for 2018 on Tuesday that seeks to overhaul many of the country’s safety-net programs for low-income and struggling Americans. Though these cuts are popular among Republican lawmakers, they affect programs that are actually more commonly used in Republican-leaning states than in Democratic ones, and that in many cases benefit white voters without college degrees — a demographic group that strongly supported President Donald Trump in the 2016 election.
The programs experiencing the deepest cuts provide assistance for health care services to children, the poor and disabled, and that supplement food and housing for those with low incomes. Most of the programs were created decades ago by Democratic presidents.