U.S. Congress

Transportation for America endorses Obama's new transportation plan

Transportation for America has endorsed the President's new plan for a transportation spending bill before the November elections. T4's James Corless:

'Tea Party' Anti-Tax Protestors Demand Better Transit

WSJ has the story, in all it's ironic glory:

Protesters who attended Saturday’s Tea Party rally in Washington found a new reason to be upset: Apparently they are unhappy with the level of service provided by the subway system.

Rep. Kevin Brady called for a government investigation into whether the government-run subway system adequately prepared for this weekend’s rally to protest government spending and government services.

The Texas Republican on Wednesday released a letter he sent to Washington’s Metro system complaining that the taxpayer-funded subway system was unable to properly transport protesters to the rally to protest government spending and expansion.

Yeah, and after he gets to the bottom of that "mystery", perhaps he can team up with O.J. to find the real killer!

Senate introduces bill to ban Texting and Driving

The New York Times has the story. This comes hot on the heels of a study of truckers that shows they have 23x the chance of a crash while texting.

The Case of the J-Walking Congressman

Tagan Goddard's Political Wire has the transcript of a "spirited exchange of views" between Representative Lee Terry (R-NE) and a D.C. motorist over pedestrian right of way. Although it appears that our elected leader was, legally speaking, in the wrong, that's only because we've got traffic laws and street designs that have been created over a half century to marginalize the rights of people on foot and to maximize the rights of people in big polluting metal boxes. He's only saying what we've all thought. I'm going to go write him a letter of support right now. 

House Transportation Bill Lays Groundwork for Reform

Key Details are Missing, Significant Work Still Needed;

Transportation coalition prepares to work for changes in draft legislation to meet Kentucky's needs for the 21st Century.

Download the Press Release.

National Call-In Day

Wednesday is T4America's National Call in Day. The Surface Transportation Authorization Act of 2009 is in play, and will determine the transportation system we have to live with for the rest of our lives. If you support transit, walking, and bicycling there is much to like in the new bill, but the bill lacks a clear strategy for reforming our transportation system, something like this. Tell your Representative "No new transportation money without reform."

Let's light up the switchboards. Here are suggested comments for making the call. You probably want to know the name of your Represenatiative. Here's a handy map of KY and IN representatives - though if you're in Louisville it is probably John Yarmuth (3rd), and if you're in Southern Indiana it's probably Baron Hill (9th).

Tell your Representative to support a national vision for transportation

[Ed's Note: Copied & pasted from Steve Davis's article at Transportation for America.]

“… It’s important to develop a long-term transportation strategy when it comes to our economy and environment. We must rebuild our aging infrastructure in a smart way that addresses our economic and energy challenges.” — Rep. Carnahan

In the revolutionary transportation bill of 1991, Congress officially declared that Eisenhower’s Interstate Highway System had been completed, signaling an end to one of the greatest national investments in history. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a new national vision to take it’s place, and our transportation system has been operating as a ship without a rudder since.

We’re in desperate need of an overarching strategy that determines when, how, and where transportation dollars are spent. As of now, we have no firm plan. No vision. No goal for what the billions in taxpayer dollars should accomplish. That can all change with the National Transportation Objectives Act of 2009 introduced last week by three members of the U.S. House of Representatives, Russ Carnahan (D-MO), Rush Holt (D-NJ), and Jay Inslee (D-WA).

These three Representatives made a great step towards a 21st Century transportation system by introducing this bill, but this legislation needs us to stand behind it to have a real impact. Let’s send a message to Congress loud and clear that this is the kind of vision the American people support.

HR 2724 Sets Sights High

HR 2724 sets 20-year goals for the federal transportation bill. They are goals we can really get behind:

  1. Reduce per capita vehicle miles traveled by 16 percent.
  2. Triple walking, biking, and public transportation usage.
  3. Reduce transportation-generated carbon dioxide level by 40 percent.
  4. Reduce delay per capita by 10 percent.
  5. Increase proportion of freight transportation provided by railroad and intermodal services by 20 percent.
  6. Achieve 0 percent population exposure to at-risk levels of air pollution.
  7. Improve public safety and lower congestion costs by reducing traffic crashes by 50 percent.
  8. Increase share of major highways, regional transit fleets and facilities, and bicycling/pedestrian infrastructure in good state of repair condition by 20 percent.
  9. Reduce average household combined housing plus transportation costs by 25 percent, using 2000 as a base year.
  10. Increase by 50 percent the number of essential destinations (work and non-work) accessible within 30 minutes by public transportation or 15 minutes by walking, for low-income, senior, and disabled populations.

UPDATE: CART and Bicycling for Louisville have both endorsed this bill, and are calling on Representive Yarmuth to endorse it.

UPDATE #2: T4America finally got off their duffs and posted on their website about this. They do a better job of explaining this than we do.

Bike Commuter Tax Credit

Bob Mionske is one of the cycling worlds premier lawyers. He has a new blog "Road Rights", which is quite engaging.

In its first installment, he focuses on the Bicycle Commuter Act, which allows cyclist to claim up to $20/month to offset the cost of commuting to work.

His article contains four main parts:

  1. history of the legislation
  2. how to claim yer $$$
  3. how to rig your organization to dole it out
  4. the bright future for bicycle tax incentives


AIG's collapse threatens to bankrupt Transit

Sale-Leaseback is a tax shell game engaged in by about 60 transit agencies in the US; however, the fine print is now coming back to haunt these agencies, as the collapse of certain insurers, including AIG, is causing loan payback demands. Needless to say, they don't have the money sitting around for that.

PBS has a well-produced segment that explains the shady accounting and the dilemma. They include a nice interview with Sen Grassley (IA), where he tells the transit agencies "hard cheese". Ouch.

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