Category Archives: Transportation

Transportation Programs: Challenges Facing the Department of Transportation and Congress

Source: Government Accountability Office, GAO-09-435T, March 10, 2009

A safe, efficient, and convenient transportation system is integral to the health of our economy and quality of life. Our nation’s vast transportation system of airways, railways, roads, transit systems, and waterways has served this need, yet is under considerable pressure due to increasing congestion and costs to maintain and improve the system. Calls for increased investment come at a time when traditional funding for transportation.

High Speed Passenger Rail: Future Development Will Depend on Addressing Financial and Other Challenges and Establishing a Clear Federal Role

Source: Government Accountability Office, GAO-09-317 March 19, 2009

From the summary:
Federal and other decision makers have had a renewed interest in how high speed rail might fit into the national transportation system and address increasing mobility constraints on highways and at airports due to congestion. GAO was asked to review (1) the factors affecting the economic viability–meaning whether total social benefits offset or justify total social costs–of high speed rail projects, including difficulties in determining the economic viability of proposed projects; (2) the challenges in developing and financing high speed rail systems; and (3) the federal role in the potential development of U.S. high speed rail systems. GAO reviewed federal legislation; interviewed federal, state, local, and private sector officials, as well as U.S. project sponsors; and reviewed high speed rail development in France, Japan, and Spain.

Incidence and Characteristics of School Bus Crashes and Injuries

Source: Jingzhen Yanga, Corinne Peek-Asab, Gang Chengc,Erin Heidena, Scott Falbe and Marizen Ramirezb, Accident Analysis & Prevention, Volume 41, Issue 2, March 2009
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From the abstract:
Crashes in the state of Iowa were examined from January 2002 through December 2005. School bus crashes were identified through the Iowa Crash Data, a comprehensive database of all reported crashes in the State of Iowa. School bus mileage data were provided by the Iowa Department of Education. School bus crash, fatality, and injury rates were calculated and differences in crash and injury characteristics between school buses and other vehicles were examined.

School buses experience low crash rates, and the majority of crashes do not lead to injury. Buses are among the safest forms of road transportation, and efforts to educate drivers of other vehicles may help reduce crashes with buses.

Minnesota 2020

Source: Minnesota 2020, 2009

Minnesota 2020 is a progressive, non-partisan think tank, focused on what really matters. We focus public policy debate on the issues that matter for Minnesota’s future success.

We are tired of a state that focuses on divisive side issues while our schools, health care, transportation, and economic development suffer. Minnesota is great when we have good transportation, strong job creation, universal health care and quality schools.

Minnesota 2020 delivers accurate policy research with a focus on smart, effective progressive messaging through a multi-media platform. We are framing Minnesota’s public policy debate. Through our communications strategy, we’ve compelled legislative and executive branch policy change. We link academic and traditional foundation research to achieve tangible, demonstrable solutions.

Click on an issue to read more.

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Minnesota 2020 Journal

Paying Our Way: A New Framework for Transportation Finance

Source: National Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing Commission, February 2009

The United States Congress has recognized the dangers of inattention and delay and has asked for assistance to re-envision the way the federal government funds and finances our national surface transportation infrastructure. Congress established the National Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing Commission to provide recommendations for policy and action. This report offers the results of the Commission’s investigative efforts and deliberations. It provides a new framework for consideration by policy makers with responsibility for financial stewardship of the nation’s surface transportation network–and for all Americans traveling that network through cities and rural areas from coast to coast.

Highway Trust Fund: Improved Solvency Mechanisms and Communication Needed to Help Avoid Shortfalls in the Highway Account

Source: Government Accountability Office, GAO-09-316, February 6, 2009

The Highway Account within the Highway Trust Fund is the primary mechanism for funding federal highway programs. The account– administered by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) within the Department of Transportation (DOT)–channels about $33 billion in highway user excise taxes annually to states for highway projects. Although DOT and others projected that the account could run out of funds in fiscal year 2009, the balance fell more rapidly than expected and a shortfall became imminent in August 2008. In September, Congress passed legislation to provide $8 billion to replenish the account, but DOT officials anticipate the account could reach a critical stage again in fiscal year 2009.

This report (1) describes the events that led to the decline in the account balance, including how DOT responded, and (2) identifies potential improvements in mechanisms to manage account solvency. This report also includes information on strategies GAO has reported on in the past that could be used to better align account outlays and revenues. To conduct this work, GAO analyzed information in legal and budget documents, reviewed account estimates, and interviewed agency officials and stakeholders.


Source: Colby Itkowitz, Governing, Vol. 22 no. 6, March 2009

The feds are out to transform the transportation program this year. Here’s what’s ahead.

Now that the ink has dried on the federal economic stimulus bill and billions of dollars for road, bridge and transit projects are flowing to the states, the real battle can begin. This fall, the federal law that drives surface transportation policy and spending at all levels of government is set to expire. That law has been revised several times over the past two decades, and its name has always included the acronym TEA. What’s coming, however, may look more like a double espresso.

Clean and Green School Buses – Reducing Fuel Use and Exposure to Diesel Exhaust

Source: Jan Mueller, Environmental and Energy Study Institute, October 21, 2008

Making schools “greener” is not just about buildings. Transportation of students and staff to and from school is an important component of a school’s environmental and greenhouse gas footprint. School buses play an important role in minimizing that footprint, but they present unique challenges and opportunities in reducing fuel use, emissions, and health impacts.