Category Archives: Transportation

Public Performance Measurement and Reporting Network

Source: Public Performance Measurement and Reporting Network, February 2009

The goal of the Public Performance Measurement and Reporting Network is to promote the use of valid, reliable data as a key element in improving the delivery of public services. In support of the Network, the National Center for Public Performance has implemented a series of initiatives: a comprehensive and continuously updated database of publications and cases; national conferences and workshops; publications of measurement-based books and articles; an Online Public Performance Measurement Certificate; and a monthly e-newsletter.

The communities are as follows: 311, Public Health, Municipal Performance, Nonprofit, Parks, Libraries, Transit, Education.

Beltway Burden: The Combined Cost of Housing and Transportation in the Greater Washington, DC, Metropolitan Area

Source: Urban Land Institute, Terwilliger Center for Workforce Housing, 2009

Working families in the Washington, DC, metro area face many challenges. By national standards the median household income of $78,000 is high, but so too are the costs of owning or renting a home. Pockets of affordable housing exist in parts of the District of Columbia and Prince George’s County, MD, but most of the homes in the central and inner suburbs, particularly in adjoining Fairfax County, VA, and Montgomery County, MD, are far beyond the means of the median-income family.

To find affordable homes, many in the workforce have followed the popular advice to “drive till you qualify” by moving to remote suburbs such as Warren and Fauquier counties, VA, in the west; Spotsylvania County, VA, and Charles County, MD, in the south; Frederick County in the north; and Calvert County, MD, in the east. As reflected in this report, however, efforts to save on housing expenses often lead to higher transportation costs, with the result that an even larger portion of household budgets are consumed by the combined burden of housing and transportation costs.

This report provides a comprehensive examination of the “cost of place” in the Washington, DC, region, presenting a jurisdiction-by-jurisdiction look at the combined housing and transportation cost burdens for households in the metropolitan area. Drawing on the latest research and methodologies, estimates of household transportation costs are used to develop a new way of looking at the total cost of housing and the issue of housing affordability in the region.

Region-wide, households spend an average of nearly $23,000 per year on housing and $13,000 on transportation. Combined, these costs represent almost 47 percent of the median household income. These cost burdens vary significantly across the 22 jurisdictions. In some areas where households spend more on housing, they tend to spend less on transportation and vice versa. Across the metropolitan area, however, there are neighborhoods where households are saddled with both high housing and high transportation cost burdens.
See also:
Transportation Calculator

FHWA’s Oversight of Design and Engineering Firms’ Indirect Costs Claimed on Federal-Aid Grants

Source: Office of the Inspector General, Project ID: ZA-2009-033, February 05, 2009

From the summary:
On February 5, 2009, we issued our audit report on the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) implementation of Section 307 of the National Highway Systems Designation Act (NHSDA). Section 307 of NHSDA requires the use of the Federal Acquisition Regulation as criteria to determine cost allowability when performing indirect cost rate audits of design and engineering (D&E) firms. Indirect rates are comprised of costs such as executive compensation; employee fringe benefits and wages; facilities charges; and insurance, legal, consultant, and travel costs. State departments of transportation (DOT) use indirect cost rates for reimbursing D&E firms for allowable costs incurred, establishing final contract costs, and negotiating new contracts. Our audit objectives were to evaluate the implementation of NHSDA Section 307 audit requirements, and test the allowability of executive compensation and other high risk indirect cost elements billed by D&E firms on state DOT contracts.

Transportation & Infrastructure Finance

Source: Sean Slone, Council of State Governments, CSG National Report, 2009

This report examines the transportation funding issues states are faced with, the finance options available to them, and how states can decide which options best fit into their transportation plans. It draws on the work of two federal commissions created by Congress–the National Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing Commission and the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission–as well as the research and assessment of numerous other transportation, law and tax policy analysts, expert panels, and state and federal officials.

Most states have begun to look at and even implement innovative ways to fund transportation. Their efforts come with the realizations that raising fuel taxes is politically difficult and that the future revenue yield from existing funding sources will be inadequate to maintain the nation’s existing transportation systems and to increase capacity for the future.

America’s Most Improved Commutes

Source: Matt Woolsey, Forbes, February 3, 2009

In these 10 areas, getting to and from work has become less of a hassle.

Boston may have bad weather, bad drivers and a bad accent, but it’s one of the only places in America where “commuting” isn’t a four-letter word. Boston is one of the only cities to improve both its rail and road commutes since 2000. 

In Tough Economic Times, Public Transit Users Save More Than $8,400 Per Household

Source: American Public Transportation Association, Transit News, February 5, 2009

As American families look for ways to save more and maximize their budgets, riding public transportation is a fast and easy solution to save money on the cost of commuting.

According to the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) “Transit Savings Report” a person riding public transportation can achieve an average annual savings of $8,481 per year by taking public transportation instead of driving, based on today’s gas prices and the average unreserved parking rate. 
See also:
Individual savings calculator    

Public Transit Ridership Surges as Gas Prices Decline – Highest quarterly transit ridership increase in 25 years

Source: American Public Transportation Association, Transit News, December 8, 2008

The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) announced today that Americans continue to ride public transportation at record levels even though gas prices declined. More than 2.8 billion trips were taken on public transportation in the third quarter of 2008 — an increase of 6.5 percent over the third quarter of 2007. This is the largest quarterly increase in public transportation ridership in 25 years. Meanwhile, vehicle miles of travel (VMT) on the nation’s highways declined in the same period by 4.6 percent according to the Federal Highway Administration.
See also:
Public Transportation Ridership Statistics

Tough Times for Mass Transit

Source: Dave Demerjian, Wired Magazine, February 03, 2009

With the economy shaky and gas prices still unpredictable, more Americans than ever using light rail, subway, and bus to get where they need to go. Which makes the service cuts, layoffs, and fare increases that are decimating transit systems across the country all the more painful.

Our seemingly bottomless recession is creating record budget shortfalls at the state and local level, and that has transportation agencies desperately cutting costs and raising revenue to stay solvent. They’re counting on money from the proposed federal stimulus package to keep things from getting worse, but today Senate Republicans shot down a Democrat plan to pad that bill with extra transit funding.

Green Fleets Across America 2009

Source: School Bus Fleet, Vol. 55 no. 1, January 2009
(free registration required)

For pupil transporters, “going green” not only benefits the environment and yields cost savings, it provides a healthier ride and an educational experience for students. Here, we showcase practices in place at school districts and contractors throughout the country. 

Innovative State Transportation Funding and Financing: Policy Options for States

Source: David Burwell and Robert Puentes, National Governors Association, January 2009

From the press release:
The report, Innovative State Transportation Funding and Financing: Policy Options for States, outlines the challenges states face in funding transportation needs, and details a number of near- and longer-term policy solutions that states can examine.

The nation’s highways, roads, bridges, and transit systems currently are funded by an array of revenue sources, including fuel taxes, vehicle user fees, transit fares, impact fees, bonds, property and sales taxes, and general funds. However the total annual investment in surface transportation falls dramatically short of the amount needed to maintain the current system, let alone improve the status of the nation’s transportation infrastructure.