Category Archives: Transportation

Opinion: DOT’s math on privatization adds up to ‘no deal’

Source: Ledger-Enquirer, September 22, 2014

….This much is unarguable: If “privatizing,” as the term has been coined, costs more than the government function cost taxpayers in the first place, then it’s a bad idea no matter what function we’re talking about. That, apparently, is the case with the Georgia Department of Transportation — or rather, would have been the case if a DOT committee hadn’t done its homework. The department was considering a contract for janitorial and other services at highway welcome centers and rest areas. The DOT sent out a request for proposals, and received two bids, one for $37.7 million and the other for $36.5 million. Except that, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Transportation Board’s Public-Private Partnership (P3) Committee determined that the DOT could employ people to do the same work for $27.8 million….

Public Private Partnerships: Balancing the needs of the public and private sectors to finance the nation’s infrastructure

Source: U.S. House of Representatives, Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Findings and Recommendations of the Special Panel on Public-Private Partnerships, September 2014

From the press release:
The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Panel on Public-Private Partnerships (P3 Panel) today released its final report and recommendations on how to balance the needs of the public and private sector when undertaking P3s to finance the Nation’s infrastructure…. Over the last six months, the Panel held roundtables, hearings, and meetings to identify the role P3s play in the development and delivery of transportation and infrastructure projects, consider whether P3s enhance the delivery and management of infrastructure projects beyond the capabilities of government agencies or the private sector acting independently, and focus on how to balance the needs of the public and private sectors when identifying, developing, and implementing P3 projects. The final report makes recommendations to grow public sector capacity to better structure agreements and ensure the needs of the public sector are adequately protected. It also proposes improvements to traditional procurement processes to ensure better outcomes for all projects. The report includes a series of recommendations for breaking down barriers to P3s, and changes to federal programs to allow for partnerships to be more easily considered by states and localities. The report also recommends steps to ensure transparency and accountability for P3s, which is critical to fostering public support for such complex agreements….

Broome County Transit – Keep it Public

Source: ATU, [no date]

Broome County is reportedly considering the privatization of its bus system. Where transit privatization schemes have recently been tried in New York State and elsewhere, the experiments have failed miserably, literally leaving passengers stranded in the cold. … Instead of shrinking service through privatization, Broome County should move to give our local economy a boost by growing our bus system and linking it with other transportation networks in neighboring counties. ….

Space, Inc.

Source: Al Jazeera America, Fault Lines, April 19, 2014

Fault Lines explores what happens when aggressive corporations go in search of profits in the unregulated territory that is space. Space is up for sale, and only big business can afford to buy. The American government is no longer exerting its space supremacy. NASA’s annual budget has been cut by more than $1 billion since 2010. The space shuttle program has been mothballed. International Space Station resupply missions are being put out to private tender. So, who’s left to roam the final frontier? Fault Lines will boldly go where no program has gone before to explore what happens when aggressive corporations search for profits in outer space.
Related:
Timeline: The privatization of space exploration
Once the sole bastion of NASA, the American effort to travel to and study space is now helmed by private companies.

Private spacecraft reach a pair of milestones
SpaceX and Orbital Sciences are competing to restock the International Space Station

Struggling NM town hopes to get economic boost from space tourists
Truth or Consequences is a small town hoping to get a big lift from Virgin’s space tours into desert sky

Moody’s Predicts Huge Potential for Public-Private Partnerships

Source: Daniel C. Vock, Governing, September 9, 2014

The United States could soon become the biggest market for public-private partnerships in the world, analysts from Moody’s Investors Service said in a recent analysis of trends around the globe. Thirty-three states now permit the partnerships for transportation projects, the credit rating agency noted, and many of those states adopted those laws within the last five years.
Related:
US is poised to become largest public-private partnership (P3) market in the world
Source: Moody’s Global Credit Research, Sepember 8, 2014

Given the sheer size of its infrastructure and growing urban population, the US has the potential of becoming the largest market for public-private partnerships (P3s) in the world, says Moody’s Investors Service in its “Global P3 Landscape” report. An increasing number of US states are authorizing the use of P3s for transportation projects, typically the first type of P3 project in a new market, and the use of P3 models has been steadily increasing over the last five years. …

Red light camera industry fights citizen vote

Source: Noah Pransky, WTSP, September 4, 2014

…Florida’s leading red light camera-provider American Traffic Solutions confirms to 10 Investigates Wednesday that it has joined the fight to prevent a citizen-backed referendum on red light cameras from ever reaching a ballot. The city is also fighting the referendum on grounds that it infringes upon city council’s power. However, the enemy of the city’s enemy is not its friend in this case; the city is objecting to the intervention from the industry-backed group. As previously reported by 10 Investigates, Tampa law firm Carlton Fields Jorden Burt incorporated a group last week called “Keep Florida Roads Safe,” and immediately filed lawsuits to prevent voters from having a say on red light cameras (RLC). The firm has represented ATS before, but would not reveal if it formed the new group on behalf of ATS. ATS, which has the majority of Florida’ 70+ RLC contracts but not Brooksville’s, appears concerned about a possible precedent-setting legal decision and citizen vote….
Related:
Florida Red Light Camera Programs
Source: Florida Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability, February 7, 2014

Florida Red Light Camera Programs: A Presentation to the Senate Transportation Committee
Source: Larry Novey, Florida Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability, February 13, 2014

Florida Legislative Report Pans Red Light Camera Safety / Florida government report found angle and rear end collision increases at intersections with red light cameras.
Source: thenewspaper.com, February 11, 2014

All three illegal parking apps on hiatus in S.F. as Herrera’s Cease-and-Desist deadline passes

Source: City and County of San Francisco, Office of the City Attorney, Press Release, July 11, 2014

City Attorney, grateful that Monkey Parking, ParkModo and Sweetch are honoring request, to remain vigilant against those who would hold ‘public parking hostage’ … Following today’s close-of-business deadline that City Attorney Dennis Herrera imposed on mobile app companies seeking to facilitate sales or auctions of the city’s on-street public parking spaces, all three businesses involved in the practice have confirmed in writing that their apps are currently on hiatus in San Francisco.

It’s Time To Respond to Populist Opposition

Source: Robert W. Poole, Jr., Public Works Financing, Vol. 295, July/August 2014
(subscription required)

In April the conservative magazine The Weekly Standard published a five-page cover story called “HOT and Bothered,” which characterized the express toll lanes project on the Capital Beltway (I-495) as “another nightmare from the suburbs-hating traffic planners.” The article grossly misrepresented how this Fluor/Transurban toll concession project came about, and also attacked the principle of express toll lanes as horribly elitist: the cover illustration showed an overhead sign separating traffic into “Express Lanes” and “Riff-Raff.”…

How big investors are shaping the (boring) future of transportation

Source: Lawrence Delevingne, CNBC, August 20, 2014

Forget flying cars, large private investors are focusing on improving existing infrastructure and technology over the next 25 years. … Long-term investors who control tens of billions of dollars—private-equity firms, sovereign wealth funds, public pensions and the like—aren’t betting on the proverbial jet pack of tomorrow. Instead, they hope to make substantial returns by focusing on more immediate—and boring—needs, like fixing bridges, redesigning airports and tweaking road and car technology. Deals like Industry Funds Management’s purchase of London Stansted Airport in 2013; Fortress Investment Group’s ongoing development of Florida East Coast Industries, a regional rail system from Miami to Orlando; and Global Infrastructure Partners’ recent sale of its stake in the Port of Brisbane to Canadian pension La Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec show how private investors will have a big part in shaping the evolution of transportation over the next 25 years. … The number of investors who fund large transportation projects have proliferated over the last 10 years. Today, large banks and private-equity firms, such as Carlyle, JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley, KKR, Goldman Sachs and Citi, compete with large public pensions, like CalPERS, Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and the Teacher Retirement System of Texas for the best deals. …

Connecticut: Redflex Busted For Impersonating The State Court

Source: theNewspaper.com, July 31, 2014

Australian photo ticketing company busted for impersonating the Connecticut judicial system.
School busThe state of Connecticut’s judicial system in January issued a cease-and-desist order to Redflex Traffic Systems after the Australian photo ticketing vendor was caught giving the impression that its tickets and payment website came from the court. Connecticut does not allow red light cameras or speed cameras, but Redflex uses school buses as photo ticketing platforms in accordance with a law passed in 2011. One of the vehicle owners who received a $450 school bus ticket from Redflex under this law became suspicious and sent a copy of the notice he received to Connecticut’s chief court administrator, who was appalled at what he saw….