Surface Transportation News #129

The elephant in the room in reauthorization

In this issue:

The Elephant in the Room in Reauthorization

State DOTs are planning cutbacks in various projects as the Federal Highway Administration begins reducing reimbursement payments next month to a level that can be sustained by existing federal highway funding sources. Just to cover existing contractual obligations through Dec. 31st of this year would require an additional $8 billion, based on projections from the Congressional Budget Office. And the outlook for the full FY 2015 fiscal year is much grimmer. Based (as CBO's projections must be) on assuming that all existing programs continue at the previous year's budgeted levels plus inflation, and with revenues based on current law, FHWA could not take on any new funding commitments for the entire fiscal year, after which subsequent years through FY 2024 would vary from 50% to 100% of a business-as-usual projection.

But why is nearly all the discussion in Washington about finding additional sources of revenue? In nearly all other enterprises facing this kind of situation, the prudent thing to do—especially at a time like this—is to look hard at what the money is being spent on, prioritize that spending, and reduce or eliminate the programs with the weakest business cases. Before we get into that, let's take a quick look at how dependent state highway programs are on federal funding.

For a Reason Foundation webinar on issues facing the federal program earlier this month, I drew on figures compiled by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association showing that the average state gets 52% of its highway and bridge capital outlays from the feds. But that average conceals huge variations, from a low of 35% in New Jersey to a high of just over 100% in Rhode Island. As you might expect, states with toll roads averaged just over 50% federal support, compared with 64% for states without toll roads. By region, New England has the highest dependency (70%) and the Northeast the least (46%), primarily due to a high fraction of Northeast highway travel being on toll roads and bridges. I also compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia on their state/local fuel tax rates. These varied all over the map, but the 10 states with the lowest federal-aid dependence have modestly higher average gas taxes (31.4¢/gal.) than the 10 most-dependent states (28.8¢/gal.), showing that self-help works. Incidentally, Alaska and Hawaii provide a sharp contrast. Although both are highly dependent on federal aid (at 93% and79%, respectively), Alaska has by far the lowest gas tax (12.4¢/gal.), while Hawaii is fourth-highest, at 48.05¢/gal. (Note: all gas tax numbers come from a June 3rd report from the Tax Foundation.)

When the federal program was created by Congress in 1956 solely to build the Interstate Highway System, had anyone then suggested that more than 30 years after that program was proclaimed completed in 1982 the average state would depend on Congress for more than half its highway capital budget, that person would have been dismissed out of hand. Yet here we are today with a federal highway and transit program that tries to do something about just about anything you can imagine that relates to surface transportation. Thanks to Congress's relentless expansion, the program's cost today so exceeds its user-tax revenue that the legislators since 2008 have repeatedly appropriated general-fund bailouts to keep the spending going.

The most straightforward (but not painless) reform would be to scale back the program to the best available estimates of federal user-tax revenue, while prioritizing it to focus on what is judged critically important for the federal, as opposed to state and local, government to be funding and regulating. A little-known white paper by former FHWA official Steve Lockwood, "Exploring the Implications of Limits" (January 13, 2012), was an attempt to do just that. Its centerpiece was a more-limited strategic national highways program (the Interstates plus carefully selected additions), as also recommended in a 2011 RAND Corporation study; there would be no separate urban or rural programs and no funding distribution by formula, as at present. There would continue to be modest support for safety programs and for transportation research. The new program would be constrained to an estimated $30 billion annual highway program budget (which also assumed continuation of the Mass Transit Account in the Highway Trust Fund at $5 billion per year). This is conceptually similar to the approach set forth in Reason Foundation's 2010 policy study, "Restoring Trust in the Highway Trust Fund," except that we proposed shifting transit either to state and local governments or to the federal general fund (which is how it was funded when the agency was called UMTA and located within HUD).

This kind of prioritization, leading to targeted cuts and eliminations of poorly justified federal programs, is especially important given projections of the overall federal budget going forward. For example, last year's 10-year Ryan-Murray budget framework keeps non-defense discretionary spending over the next decade flat, in 2013 dollars. But the source of funding for Highway Trust Fund bailouts is precisely this category, which is paid for out of general federal revenues. The best way to protect the highway program from general budget cuts is to support it solely from dedicated user-tax revenues.

The federal surface transportation program is at a critical turning point. Without fundamental change to make it sustainable from its highway user customers, it will continue to spend increasingly limited dollars on far too many programs, most of which are properly the responsibility of state or local governments. Let's hope the new Congress that takes office in January will have the courage to face up to this.

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First Express Lanes Network Concept of Operations Released

While more than half a dozen metro areas now have plans in place to develop networks of express toll lanes (by converting existing HOV lanes and adding new lanes), to the best of my knowledge none has produced a detailed overall plan covering the policies needed to ensure that the network will actually function as a network—until this year.

Several months ago, Florida DOT quietly published the "Southeast Florida Regional Concept for Transportation Operations," referred to informally as the "con-ops" for the planned Express Lanes Network for the greater Miami urbanized area. The project was largely funded by a 2010 Value Pricing grant from FHWA, and the principal consultant on the project was HNTB. As the lead author of the March 2012 Reason Foundation policy study "Increasing Mobility in Southeast Florida," which laid out plans for a somewhat larger network than shown in the FDOT con-ops, I read the document with great interest.

This kind of document is valuable for a number of reasons. To begin with, a network is far more complex than individual express toll lane projects. To operate as a network, it should be seamless, allowing easy transfers from one link to another (which means expensive connector ramps where two expressways intersect). Pricing is considerably more complex, given the interactions of traffic flows from one link to another. And signage is especially difficult, given that in a large network there may be hundreds of different possible trips between numerous entry points and exit points. A customer-friendly network should therefore have consistent policies on things like which categories of vehicle are allowed on it, whether any categories get reduced or zero toll rates, how the express lanes can be accessed and how they are separated from general-purpose lanes, etc.

The FDOT con-ops is comprehensive in approaching all of these subjects, and more. But probably because so many stakeholders had to be involved, not all the key issues were fully resolved in the finished document. Stakeholders include two FDOT districts, two toll road operators (Florida Turnpike Enterprise [FTE] and Miami-Dade Expressway Authority [MDX]), three county transit agencies and the regional commuter rail agency, three MPOs, the highway patrol, and several others.  This may also be the reason for the long delay between the draft executive summary that I saw more than a year ago and the final publication date of March 2014.

The map showing the overall vision includes numerous links expected to be in operation within 10 years as well as "vision projects" for the decade or so thereafter. Included in the near-term projects are express toll lanes added to several of the urban toll roads operated by FTE and MDX, plus projects now under way extending the existing express lanes on I-95 further northward and adding such lanes to I-75 and Miami's Palmetto Expressway. The vision projects include express lanes on additional FTE and MDX toll roads. I was disappointed to see the omission of what the Reason study considered an especially important link: the portion of US 1 running from the southern terminus of I-95 to the South Dade busway (where the latter is shown as revamped into an express toll lanes/BRT facility, based on a study currently nearing completion). The seven-mile US 1 corridor is the most congested arterial in all of south Florida, and was proposed by us to have added an elevated three-lane reversible express toll lanes link, similar to what exists today on Tampa's east-west Selmon Expressway.

Among the many Express Lanes Network policy issues clearly decided are:

  • All express lanes will be barrier separated, with the type of barrier depending on the corridor; there will be no "continuous access" to the lanes from general-purpose lanes.
  • The pricing model will continue to be dynamic pricing, as on the I-95 and I-595 express lanes already in operation.
  • The ELN will operate 24/7, except for needed maintenance closures.
  • All miles of the ELN will be tolled.
  • There will be consistent signage, with up to three destinations listed at each entry point.
  • A valid Sunpass transponder and account are required for all users. License-plate video will not be used for tolling, to avoid the extra costs of billing; video will be used only for enforcement purposes.
  • The use of toll revenues will follow normal practice, including operating and maintenance costs, repayment of capital costs, and provisions for future additions to the ELN (but page 6-11 suggests a possible use of surplus revenues, if any, for bus transit operating costs and facilities such as park-and-ride lots).

Policy issues for which pros and cons are given, but without a uniform decision being reached, include:

  • Tolling will be either trip-based (entry to exit) or zone-segment based; this will be a corridor-level decision.
  • Whether hybrids can use the ELN without paying tolls is left undecided, though Table 2-7 shows that free passage is not provided for hybrids on most existing express toll facilities around the country.
  • The HOV policy is inconsistent; the decision is yes on HOVs-go-free for I-95, but no everywhere else, because only on I-95 do the express lanes result from HOV conversion, and federal law requires preferential treatment for HOVs in such cases. However, as noted on p. 7-2, "the actual number beyond the minimum of two for HOV eligibility is up to the operating entity." Hence, HOV-4 or -5 could be required, thereby reducing the lost-revenue and enforcement problems to very close to zero.
  • Revenue maximization vs. throughput maximization is not resolved, but the possibility of a hybrid of the two is discussed.
  • Project delivery will remain open to all types, including design-build and concessions.
  • The occupancy enforcement discussion acknowledges the limitations of all current methods, and hints at (but does not explicitly recommend) using the registration requirement as a way to facilitate off-roadway enforcement via audits of company-sponsored ride-sharing programs (as proposed in the Reason study).

I should emphasize that my highlighting some points that are not fully resolved is not meant as a criticism. Overall, this is a path-breaking document that represents a great deal of hard work and (I imagine) some arguments over specific issues. The result, while not quite a blueprint, does provide a sound basis for moving forward expeditiously on what may well become the country's first Express Lanes Network worthy of the name.

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Ports May Get Short-Changed by New Harbor Maintenance Provisions

Port operators cheered when President Obama signed the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) last month. That's because of language "requiring" the federal government to spend all the money it collects in Harbor Maintenance Taxes (HMT) on harbor projects, instead of spending only half and keeping the rest on hand to make the federal budget deficit look smaller. Donor ports on the west coast, which don't need dredging because of naturally deep harbors, also cheered the inclusion of a new provision allowing them to get some of their HMT contributions back to use for other projects. And nearly all ports cheered the provision that lets them go ahead with channel deepening projects at their own risk, requesting federal reimbursement afterwards that would depend on how Congress divvies up future budgets.

But as Mark Szakonyi pointed out a week later in the Journal of Commerce, neither HMT provision is actually "guaranteed." It turns out that congressional appropriations committees—not the authorizing committees that wrote the WRDA bill—have the final say on both of those provisions. "There is no mandate or trigger to force Congress to back up its goals with dollars," Szakonyi quoted ports consultant Paul Bea as saying. All of which reinforces my view that the Harbor Maintenance Tax and Trust Fund are a poor excuse for efficient investment in port infrastructure. The alternative would be for each port to operate as a self-funded entity, issuing revenue bonds to pay for capital projects like investor-owned utilities do, with the HMT and Trust Fund being eliminated as superfluous.

Despite the potential short-changing, ports and waterways users should nevertheless breathe sighs of relief that the President's own budget proposals for ports and waterways did not get taken seriously by Congress. On ports, that budget called for reducing HMTF outlays to spend even less than in recent years, which would have increased the unspent balance in that fund from $8.7 billion in FY 2014 to $14.9 billion by FY 2019. And the rip-off would have been even worse for waterways. The President proposed doubling the user tax on fuel used by barge operators, which funds the Inland Waterways Trust Fund. But there again, outlays were proposed to decline slightly, which would increase the year-end balance in that "trust fund" from $42 million in FY 2014 to $685 million by FY 2019, while not increasing investment in improved locks and dams one iota.

Neither of these trust funds can be trusted to do what they were set up to do.

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Opponents Try to Sink All Aboard Florida Rail Project

As regular readers of this newsletter will recall, I have been generally supportive of the effort by a division of the company that owns and operates the Florida East Coast Railway to develop the first private-enterprise higher speed passenger rail service since Amtrak took over money-losing passenger services from the major railroads back in 1971. In my initial assessment I saw several factors that differ significantly from other high-speed rail projects being attempted around the country. First, the proposed venture—All Aboard Florida—appears to have identified a market niche where fast (up to 125 mph) passenger rail is quicker than auto travel and less of a hassle than air travel: Miami to Orlando, with intermediate stops at Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. Although AAF has not released their traffic and revenue study, they have said from day one that they believe the passenger service will not need any government subsidies or any government capital grants. That's at least plausible, because FEC Railway already owns most of the right of way and track, apart from a short east-west stretch from its east-coast main line to the Orlando airport, a second success factor. Third, this project represents an excellent case of "value capture" by the parent company, since it expects to make a lot of money via its real-estate investments in and around the new stations it will build in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach. That is the key to the success of the Hong Kong's profitable Mass Transit Railway Corporation.

But while the initial reaction to the project was nearly all favorable, in recent months it has come under a variety of attacks. A whole populist conservative opposition has sprung up, producing a conspiracy theory that the passenger rail plan is simply a Trojan Horse to get government support for FEC's already under way plans to improve its freight rail services from the ports of Miami and Ft. Lauderdale, which are deepening their channels to attract the larger container ships that will be traversing the Panama Canal in a few years. Much of this propaganda is very ill-informed, but one of its major points has gained credibility with fiscal conservatives—namely that AAF has applied for two loans from the Federal Railroad Administration under its long-standing Railroad Rehabilitation & Improvement Financing (RRIF) program. The two loans, if granted, would cover $1.6 billion of the project's $2.5 billion capital cost. So AAF is being criticized for depending on "federal funding" after all.

Some of those capital costs include adding parallel tracks on a portion of the east coast freight right of way, so that the faster passenger trains don't interfere with slower freight trains. The conspiracy buffs expect the passenger project to tank, with the loans turning into de-facto grants to FEC Railway's freight operation. That's silly. First of all, most FRA loans already go to freight railroads for track and rolling stock investments. So there was no need to create a passenger rail service in order to get RRIF loans. Second, FRA's application guidelines ask the applicant to spell out the collateral being offered to back the loans, and AAF has announced that it is putting up rolling stock, tracks, and right of way for the requested loans. Third, it is very standard for railroads and other infrastructure companies to finance major projects with a mixture of debt and equity. AAF is readying a $405 million offering of five-year notes as part of the financing. Combined with the $1.6 billion in RRIF loans, that would mean the financing structure would be 80% debt/20% equity, a pretty typical ratio for large infrastructure projects such as PPP toll roads. I have previously written that RRIF has fewer safeguards than the federal TIFIA program, but AAF's applying for available federal loans is no more surprising than private toll road companies applying for available TIFIA loans.

Fiscal conservatives also claim that Florida DOT is providing a $204 million grant to AAF to build its new station at the Orlando International Airport. The Legislature's FDOT budget approved earlier this year does provide a grant in that amount, but to the airport, for its long-planned multi-modal terminal, somewhat like the Miami Intermodal Center at Miami International Airport. Both of these are airport projects, enabling air travelers to connect with a number of ground transportation options.

There are some real concerns that are not part of right-wing conspiracy theories. One is the increase in daily train operations through many east coast communities, with 32 daily passenger trains and, over time, FEC's hoped-for increase in container trains to and from the two ports. There will need to be safety upgrades at many grade crossings, and under current law much of that expense belongs to the roadway owners, not the railroad. People who live in the counties north of West Palm Beach are angry that they will suffer from increased waiting times at grade crossings, as well as increased noise from the trains, even though they won't be able to ride them. But increases and decreases in train volumes are a fact of life if a rail line runs through your town. FEC has been in place, originally operating both passenger and freight service, for over 100 years.

A problem relatively unique to Florida is a number of railroad drawbridges which are normally kept in the up position to accommodate large numbers of boats (e.g., 236 per day at the Loxahatchee River entering the Jupiter inlet). Because they are built at ground level, only very small boats can pass beneath them when they are down. Current operating protocols call for a 15-minute lead time to open the bridge before a train arrives, plus three minutes for the train to cross and another two minutes to open the bridge so boats can pass. AAF has said they plan improvements to the bridges, but I have not seen any specifics, so the boating community is very concerned.

My assessment at this point is that this still looks like a worthwhile effort to re-introduce passenger rail service on a commercial basis. Most of the concerns raised by opponents are not serious, and I expect AAF will be providing more specifics on its plans for grade crossing and drawbridge improvements.

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Upcoming Conferences

Note: I don't have space to list all transportation conferences that might be of interest. Below are those that I or a Reason Foundation colleague are taking part in.

TRB Fifth International Finance Conference, July 9-11, Beckman Conference Center, Irvine, CA (Adrian Moore and Robert Poole speaking). Details at www.trb.org/conferences/finance2014.aspx.

26th Annual Public Private Partnerships in Transportation Conference, July 16-18, Washington Court Hotel, Washington, DC (Robert Poole speaking). Details at www.ARTBAP3.org

P3 Connect 2014, July 28-30, Sheraton Denver Downtown, Denver, CO (Leonard Gilroy speaking). Details at www.ncppp.org/p3connect

ITS World Congress, Sept. 7-11, Cobo Center, Detroit, MI (Baruch Feigenbaum speaking). Details at www.itsworldcongress.org

2014 Preserving the American Dream Conference, Sept. 19-21, Embassy Suites-Stapleton, Denver, CO (Robert Poole and Baruch Feigenbaum speaking). Details at http://americandreamcoalition.org/?page_id=3515

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News Notes

Express Toll Lanes Booming in Texas . More express toll lane capacity is now operational in the Dallas area, and new express toll lane projects are moving forward in two other urban areas. The second phase of the $2.7 billion LBJ Freeway express lanes project in Dallas is scheduled to open on July 12th, and tolling began July 7th on the new express lanes on the SH 114 DFW Connector. In Austin, the Texas Transportation Commission announced the selection of McCarthy Building Companies for a design-build project to add express toll lanes to SH 71 near the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. And in El Paso, the Commission has selected the Abrams-Kiewit Joint Venture to develop nine miles of express toll lanes on Loop 375 Border Highway West.

More Conversions to All Electronic Tolling. Massachusetts DOT is getting ready to begin converting all toll facilities in the state—the Mass. Turnpike, the Tobin Bridge, and the three tunnels between downtown Boston and Logan Airport—to all-electronic tolling (AET). Florida Turnpike Enterprise last month completed conversion of its Veterans Expressway near Tampa to AET, after having already converted all portions of the Turnpike in Miami-Dade County. In addition, the state-run toll bridges in the San Francisco Bay Area are planning AET conversions, beginning with the Dumbarton Bridge. The Golden Gate Bridge, owned and operated by its own toll agency, was the first in the region to convert to AET.

Cap and Trade Money May Not Rescue California High Speed Rail. Gov. Jerry Brown persuaded the Legislature to allocate $250 million in projected FY 2014-15 greenhouse-gas cap-and-trade revenues to the troubled California HSR project—along with a promise to devote 25% of the annual proceeds to the project in coming years. While proponents cheered, respected Sacramento Bee political reporter Dan Walters sounded a cautionary note. In a June 17 article, he compared $250/year with the enormous $68 billion capital cost of the project, concluding that this hardly solves the funding problem. He also noted the still-ongoing legal challenges over whether the project complies with the strict conditions in the 2008 measure authorizing $9 billion worth of still-unissued state bonds for the project.

China Now World Leader in Greenhouse Gas Emissions. A chart in The Economist's April 19th "Special Report: China" shows that in 2006 China's GHG emissions surpassed those of both the United States and the EU 27 countries. By 2012, China's total had increased from around 6 billion tons to nearly 10 billion, compared with just under 4 billion for the EU 27 and about 5.2 billion for the USA. The latter two are in a gradual downtrend, while China's emissions have been on a strong uptrend ever since 2002.

Another Smartphone Tolling App. BancPass, Inc. announced last month that its PToll Mobile App for Toll Roads has become operational in the Austin metro area, after eight months of beta testing on the region's toll roads. Downloading the app is free, and once the customer sets up an account, she will gain access to the transponder toll rate rather than the more expensive rate for video tolling. BancPass envisions the system as "a viable solution to the interoperability issues facing toll operators."

Deregulating Downtown Parking. In the latest issue of the University of California Transportation Center's Access magazine, Michael Manville reviews empirical data on relaxation of the former parking space mandate on downtown developments. In 1999 the City of Los Angeles adopted an Adaptive Reuse Ordinance (ARO) to encourage the revamping of old and often unoccupied downtown office buildings into apartments and condos. One of its provisions deregulated on-site parking requirements, which would have required one on-site space for each apartment unit and two spaces for each condo. Manville's analysis of 56 ARO projects found that most developers still provided parking, but generally using a mix of on-site and off-site spaces, averaging 1.2 spaces per apartment and 1.3 spaces per condo. There was no significant increase in on street parking, because all street parking is metered.

Variable Speed Limits Coming to Atlanta. Starting this September, motorists on the northern half of I-285 (known locally as the Perimeter Highway) will face 176 electronic variable speed limit signs. Depending on traffic levels, the limit will vary from 35 mph to 65 mph, compared with today's 24/7 limit of 55 mph. While fairly common in European countries, variable speed limits are quite new in the United States, with Washington State as one of the pioneers.

Beltway Express Lanes Exceed One Million Trips. Since they opened to traffic in November 2012, the I-495 Express Lanes have served 1.1 million customers traveling 100 million vehicle miles of travel. The busiest single day thus far was Dec. 13, 2013, with 48,489 trips.

Wisconsin Voters Favor Tolls. For a state without toll roads, public opinion in Wisconsin is more favorable to tolling than many would have expected. Poll results released in May by the Marquette University Law School found that 55% would support tolls to fund highway projects, compared with only 40% favoring an increase in the state's fuel taxes. Those opposing tolls were 42% of respondents, while those opposing a gas-tax increase totaled just over 57%.

Seattle's Stuck Tunneling Machine Repair Plan. Details of the plan to repair the tunnel boring machine that was damaged part-way through boring the tunnel that will replace the obsolete elevated Alaskan Way Viaduct were announced June 20th. First, Seattle Tunnel Partners will excavate a pit in order to gain access to the machine's cutting head, with the repairs due to begin in October, and tunneling to resume in March. Meanwhile, other work on the project is continuing, with the goal of completing the tunnel by the end of 2015.

Ohio OKs Tolling for Brent Spence Bridge. Gov. John Kasich signed into law a bill that authorizes electronic tolling for the planned bridge mega-project. Construction is on hold, due to the lack of similar legislation from Kentucky, Ohio's partner on the bi-state project.

Orlando Expressway Authority Expanded. Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation to convert the Orlando Orange County Expressway Authority into a multi-county entity. The re-named Central Florida Expressway Authority will add Lake, Osceola, and Seminole Counties to the toll agency's jurisdiction, with corresponding changes in its board membership.

Another Term for Express Toll Lanes? In response to a recent NPR story on the origin of the term "Lexus Lanes," Houston blogger Tory Gattis suggests a new term for such lanes. "MaX Lanes" would stand for Managed eXpress Lanes that move the maximum number of people at maximum speed. I'd be interested in reader feedback.

One Last Word on Tappan Zee. Reader Michael Craft reminded me that Nicole Gelinas of the Manhattan Institute pointed out in a 2011 article that New York State built the bridge "on the cheap" with only a 50-year design life. You can read her excellent City Journal article at: www.city-journal.org/2011/21_2_tappan-zee-bridge.html.

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Quotable Quotes

"When I served as U.S. ambassador to Canada, I was struck by the face that Canadian infrastructure was generally in much better shape than our own. A big reason for this is Canada's use of public-private partnerships—so-called P3s. P3s are designed to create investment in public infrastructure in a more sustainable way. The private sector assumes a major share of the financing, construction, and performance risks, while the public gains the benefits of using the asset, remaining off the hook for cost overruns, delays, and other problems. P3s can be used to finance virtually anything the public needs, from roads and rail to sewers and street lights."
—David Jacobson, BMO Financial, "Canada's ABCs of P3s," The Journal of Commerce, June 9, 2014

"In our region the city of Cincinnati and its central business district are experiencing a grand rebirth. The marketplace has rediscovered the advantages of urban living. Private investment is driving residential and commercial growth. At the same time, suburban and exurban commercial and residential areas in all three states of our region are growing and thriving. At our regional council, we applaud these market-driven developments rather than condemn some of them because they run counter to someone's definition of the public good. . . . [The] deep bench of local involvement protects our regional organization from being captured by the latest centralized effort by someone telling us exactly how we should live our lives. Planning is undeniably valuable to communities and regions. But it cannot take the place of democracy at the local level. After all, if planning were the sine qua non of a successful society, the Soviet Union would still be extant and thriving."
—Mark Policinski, CEO, Ohio Kentucky Indiana Regional Council of Governments, Letter to the Editor, The Wall Street Journal, May 28, 2014

"Many experts on connected vehicle-highway systems are predicting that no [Traffic Management Center] will be needed in the future. Vehicles will just 'intelligently' progress to where they want to go, with minimum delay and avoiding collisions. Unfortunately, there will be many vehicles on the corridors with different degrees of intelligence, different accuracy of navigation devices, and different accuracy/ranges of collision avoidance sensors that have similar objectives. Compromises must be made related to speed and perhaps stop times at signals to achieve system safety. There will always be vehicles with failed electronics—because electronics fail with age and environmental stress."
—Bruce Abernathy, VASI, "At the Center of Everything . . .," Thinking Highways (North American edition), Vol. 9, No. 1, 2014

"Our transportation system is vast and complicated, and there's no reason to think Congress can know where every dollar should be spent, any more than it knows what clothes you should wear today or what you should have for dinner tonight. It is time for Congress to say what it should have said in 1982: the Interstate Highway System is finished and new transportation projects, including bike paths, transit routes, and bridge repairs, are of state or local interest and should be funded by state or local governments, not by the feds."
—Randall O'Toole, Independence Institute, "Why Is Congress Still Running the Transportation System?" Greeley Tribune, June 27, 2014

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Robert Poole is Searle Freedom Trust Transportation Fellow and Director of Transportation Policy





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