Surface Transportation News #132

Surface Transportation Innovations Newsletter

Surface Transportation News #132

Realism about the Highway Trust Fund, New findings on getting to work by transit

In this issue:

Realism Emerging on Highway Trust Fund

The late Herb Stein, former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, once quipped, “If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.” Stein’s Law, as it is now known, applies to the five bailouts of the Highway Trust Fund with general fund money since 2008, to the tune of $62 billion, to make up for ongoing shortfalls in fuel tax revenue from highway users. This has gone on for seven years because Congress was unwilling to reduce federal transportation spending to match user-tax revenues. But given the federal government’s dire fiscal outlook in coming decades, this simply cannot go on much longer. And given the strong public and congressional opposition to increasing federal fuel tax rates, the only realistic alternative is to reduce the size and scope of the federal program.

I’m encouraged to see responsible mainstream organizations starting to suggest it’s time to do this. In the first report of its Fiscal Federalism in Action series, the Pew Charitable Trusts take on this challenge. Their “Intergovernmental Challenges in Surface Transportation Funding,” released in September, first compiles budget numbers showing that, after adjusting for inflation, federal surface transportation spending decreased by 4% between 2002 and 2011, while state spending decreased by 20%. But instead of automatically calling for an unlikely increase in federal fuel tax rates, Pew lays out four principles for dealing with the situation:

  1. Falling revenue forces hard choices-either increase user-tax revenues or manage within existing resources by cutting spending in real terms.
  2. Financing is not funding-increased bonding can increase near-term spending and bring projects forward in time, but does not add to the funds available [as New Jersey is now learning].
  3. Rethink the roles of all levels of government-i.e., what is appropriately a federal, state, or local responsibility?
  4. Partnership is essential, both inter-governmentally and between governments and the private sector.

Building on that base, the Eno Center for Transportation this month released “A Constrained Federal Aid Highway Program: Rightsizing for the 21st Century?” by Steve Lockwood. Based on Trust Fund revenue forecasts showing annual user tax revenues of about $34 billion (in 2010 dollars) by the end of this decade, Lockwood explores a replacement federal highway program focused on two clearly federal roles: interstate commerce (a national network of 21st century highways) and national interests such as highway safety, research and development, and roadways on federal lands. The rest of what the federal program now does would be devolved to state and local governments. In particular, he notes that “a $34 billion program cannot afford a separate metropolitan network-related program and still address the national priorities as defined at a significant level.” But he notes that a portion of the national network would continue to serve urban areas, and those areas could also generate significantly more local funding via congestion pricing of their expressways. In the paper he also suggests four alternative ways to divide up the $34 billion annual budget between the two national priorities.

There is an additional reason to bring highway program spending within the scope of the user-tax revenue. As Jeff Davis of Transportation Weekly has pointed out several times, under the 1974 Budget Control Act, trust funds like the HTF are protected from sequestration and across-the-board budget cuts if and only if at least 90% of their revenue comes from user taxes. This applies not only to the HTF but also to the Aviation, Harbor Maintenance, and Inland Waterways Trust Funds. Congress has ignored this law in recent years as it repeatedly shifted general fund money into the HTF, but it would apparently only take some Member raising a point of order to upset this apple cart. AASHTO, ARTBA, AGC, and all the other highway groups would rue the day this happened, because in future years, as entitlement spending consumes an ever-larger fraction of the federal budget, the temptation to raid HTF will only increase.

It would be far better to put the HTF back on a sound legal and financial footing today, by re-sizing the federal program to match highway user revenue generation.

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New Findings on Access to Jobs via Transit

Andrew Owen and David Levinson of the University of Minnesota Civil Engineering Department earlier this month released “Access Across America: Transit 2014.” In a real feat of number crunching, they have reviewed data on jobs reachable by transit within certain time periods in 46 of the 50 largest metro areas of the United States. Their travel times combine actual in-vehicle time with estimated walking time at either end of the trip, to approximate door-to-door time.

The meat of the report is in Tables 2 and 3. The first shows how many jobs can be reached by transit plus walking within 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, and 60 minutes for each of the 46 metro areas in their dataset, in alphabetical order. And the second of these tables provides rankings of transit accessibility, from the highest (New York, no surprise) to Birmingham, AL. This table also includes rankings for each of the six travel times.

It’s not clear to me how useful this is, because the data show only how many jobs are accessible in each metro area, regardless of its size. That might help if you were considering where to move in order to have lots of access to jobs without needing a car-and regardless of the cost of housing (which is very high in all of the 10 top-ranked metros). What is missing from this tabulation-and far more interesting-is what fraction of a metro area’s jobs one can reach within a given door-to-door travel time. Since that information is not in the report, but the total job numbers for each metro area are included, I created a spreadsheet to compute these percentages for the 30-minute and 60-minute trip times.

The results are interesting. Within 30 minutes door-to-door, only five of the 46 metros have 2 to 3% of their jobs accessible-and New York is not first. In order, they are:

San Francisco 3.2%
New York 2.5%
Minneapolis 2.3%
Salt Lake City 2.3%
Boston 2.2%

All the others are somewhere in the 1% range or a fraction of 1%, with Atlanta and Dallas bringing up the rear at 0.3% The average fraction of jobs reachable in 30 minutes across all 46 metros is just 1.2%. And just for comparison, the average journey-to-work time by car in America is just under 24 minutes.

Within the 60 minute trip time, things are even more surprising. Here are the top five in fraction of jobs reachable by transit within 60 minutes:

San Jose 21.5%
Salt Lake City 21.3%
San Francisco 17.3%
Milwaukee 15.8%
New York 14.6%

The average for all 46 metro areas is a lot lower, at 8.3%, with lower density metro areas like Atlanta at 2.7%, Dallas at 3.2%, and Phoenix at 6.2%. The 8.3% average for these 46 metros is lower than found by a Brookings study of the 100 largest metro areas, which estimated that, on average, 13% of jobs could be reached within 60 minutes by transit. It may be that the Owen & Levinson’s inclusion of walk times at both ends of the transit trip accounts for its lower percentage of reachable jobs.

Another question not addressed in their paper is how actual transit mode share in each of the 46 metro areas compares with a measure of transit commuting potential. To assess this, I obtained the 2013 journey-to-work mode share data, just posted at www.demographia.com/db-jtw2013.pdf, and added that column of data to my spreadsheet. Comparing actual journey-to-work mode share to the potential jobs reachable in 60 minutes led to the following over-achievers:

Metro Area 60-min. jobs Actual mode share Ratio
New York 14.6% 30.6% 2.10
Chicago 7.2% 11.8% 1.64
Philadelphia 7.3% 10.0% 1.37
Washington 11.8% 14.2% 1.20
Atlanta 2.7% 3.1% 1.15
Boston 11.8% 12.8% 1.09
San Francisco 17.3% 16.1% 0.93
Seattle 11.1% 9.3% 0.84

One possible implication of these numbers is that Atlanta has done a bit better than Boston, San Francisco, and Seattle in attracting a realistic fraction of commuters to transit, given the realities of its geography. Low density Houston scores 0.52 and relatively low density Miami scores 0.78. By contrast, San Jose is achieving only 0.20 of its 60-minute transit potential, meaning that with a better-designed system it might be able to attract a considerably higher transit commuting mode share. I hope Owen and Levinson will do follow-up work to explore these kinds of questions, to help guide transportation planners in assessing where it does and does not make sense to make new transit investments-and what kind (e.g., bus or light rail) would be appropriate where.

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“Cash-Cowification” and the Future of U.S. Tolling

At the annual meeting of the International Bridge, Tunnel, & Turnpike Association in Austin last month, Ed Regan of CDM Smith gave a dazzling presentation on the potential future of tolling in the United States. Scanning the country and extrapolating recent trends, he predicted a bright future for networks of express toll lanes in urban areas and some new toll roads. But by far the greatest potential was reconstruction and modernization of the Interstate highway system, via toll finance. My presentation followed Ed’s, and stressed that large-scale Interstate tolling will only come about if it can be done in a manner that is truly customer-friendly. Among other things, that would mean jettisoning the idea that tolled highways should be cash cows for a whole array of other transportation funding needs.

Unfortunately, treating existing toll roads as cash cows-while hardly ubiquitous-serves as a huge stop sign for the trucking industry and other highway user groups when they hear proposals for Interstate toll financing. And who can blame them? For example, Tollroadsnews.com reported in March that the Atlantic City Council had made a formal request to the toll agency that runs the Atlantic City Expressway to double the toll at a nearby toll booth and “dedicate the new revenue to the city’s use” as an ongoing revenue stream. One of the highest-profile examples in recent years was the Pennsylvania legislature’s enactment of Act 44 in 2007, under which the Pennsylvania Turnpike is required to generate an extra $450 million a year to be turned over to PennDOT for statewide highway and transit projects. That has forced the Turnpike to increase its debt level to $10 billion and increase toll rates every year since then. That $450 million a year is a tax on Turnpike users, not a toll, and highway users are right to object to it as such.

And then there is Virginia. To pay for the $5.7 billion extension of the Washington Metro heavy rail system to Tyson’s Corner and Dulles Airport, the legislature transferred the Dulles Toll Road from Virginia DOT to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which they put in charge of developing the new line. The explicit purpose was to milk Toll Road customers for $2.8 billion of the project’s cost. As in Pennsylvania, this change is causing annual toll rate increases that are de-facto taxes on the hapless toll-payers, and in coming years are projected to increase so high as to cause significant traffic diversion to parallel roadways. Yet former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in 2012 lauded this scheme as “a model for the country.”

There are a few signs of rethinking these cash cow policies. This year, the Pennsylvania legislature voted to phase out Act 44; instead of continuing to 2057, it will sunset in 2022, after which the $450 million tax on Turnpike customers will cease. And legislators in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania are working to prohibit the bi-state Delaware River Port Authority from diverting any more toll revenue to “economic development” projects such as concert halls, museums, and stadiums, on which DRPA has spent $500 million over the past 14 years. There is a comparable backlash going on over the politically selected “economic development” projects of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, all funded by diverted toll revenues.

I’m convinced, as I told the IBTTA audience, that we will only get to yes on toll-financed Interstate reconstruction and modernization if the new tolls are structured as pure user fees, with no revenues spent on anything other than improving and maintaining a participating state’s Interstates.

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Millennials and Driving, Continued

Two new reports continue the theme that Americans are driving less due in part to Millennials not embracing cars and suburban living the way their parents and grandparents did. The first was a survey from the nonprofit Transit Center, “Who’s on Board 2014: Mobility Attitudes Survey.” They surveyed 12,000 people in 46 cities and concluded that Millennials (those between 18 and 33) are “twice as likely to take public transit” than older generations and are likely to continue doing so as they age and start families. Well, I’ve always found “revealed preference” data to be more persuasive than “stated preference” data, so let’s move on to the next report.

The Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) has just released its second report on this subject, “The Impact of Millennials’ Travel Behavior on Future Personal Vehicle Travel.” I read the report with interest, having found their 2013 report far from persuasive. The new report seems a big more cautious in its conclusions, noting Pew’s finding that “current economic conditions can explain the more modest travel of the current millennial generation,” and noting that we will have to see what happens when economic conditions improve, a reasonable position.

Nevertheless, I see a number of methodological problems with the PIRG report. First, most of their data about how VMT relates to various factors (such as residence location, race/ethnicity, labor force participation, income, etc.) are static, generally based on the snapshot provided by the 2009 National Household Transportation Survey. That tells us nothing about changes over time.

Secondly, as I’ve seen recently in the work of other anti-auto groups, nearly all their data on vehicle miles of travel (VMT) trends ignores total VMT and focuses on VMT per capita. Just about every serious transportation researcher has acknowledged for a decade or so that per-capita VMT seems to have topped out, as it eventually had to do. According to commuting expert Alan Pisarski, the single biggest factor driving up VMT/capita over the past 30-odd years was the major movement of women into the workforce, a trend that has pretty much peaked. What is important for transportation planning is total VMT-how much demand is actually going to be placed on highways and streets. Also, PIRG’s VMT/capita graphs all extend only to 2009, when the economy was still in recession. Total VMT has turned upward again in 2012 and 2013.

Third, their VMT figures all exclude heavy trucks, yet trucks (other than personal pickup trucks) account for nearly 25% of all VMT and are critically important to highway planning. That’s because nearly all realistic projections of VMT growth show truck VMT over the next three decades growing at two to three times the rate of personal VMT. The report acknowledges this omission in one paragraph toward the end, but without providing any quantitative information. As a broad generalization, transportation researchers I’ve talked with expect total personal VMT to increase roughly in proportion to population growth and total truck VMT to grow in proportion to economic growth. That has big implications for highway (as opposed to local street) planning.

Fourth, the report says that “Available data indicate that the millennial generation is slightly more urban centric than recent prior generations,” and that “lower household formation and homeownership levels by this generation have slowed their migration to the suburbs relative to prior generations.” But are Millennials really so urban centric? How have their residential locations changed over the past decade?

Demographer Wendell Cox addressed this question, in “Where Most Millennials Are Moving; It’s Not Where You Think” (NewGeography.com, July 9, 2014). Analyzing census data, he found that there were indeed more people age 20-29 living in urban cores in 2010 than in 2000-310,000 more. But that number was dwarfed by the 1.69 million increase in Millennials living in suburbs, 620,000 more living in exurbs, and 1.82 million more living outside Metropolitan Statistical Areas. Considering only MSAs, the fraction of Millennials living in urban cores decreased between 2000 and 2010 from 20.2% to 19.3%, and the fraction living in inner suburbs declined from 46.1% to 42%. The increases were in the outer suburbs (24.4% in 2010 vs 20.6% in 2000) and exurbs (14.3% in 2010 vs. 12.2% in 2000).

In short, revealed preference data do not support the urban-centric orientation of most Millennials, and the jury is certainly still out on how their travel behavior may change as they start families and buy homes.

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Annual Highway Report Highlights Progress and Differences

Reason Foundation last month released the 21st Annual Report on the Performance of State Highway Systems, with data for 2012 from FHWA’s highway statistics tables. These are all data reported by state DOTs to FHWA in a standard format. Overall, they show continued gradual improvement in pavement conditions, bridge conditions, and the extent of expressway congestion, but with large differences among states in many of the categories.

For example, in the category of the extent of “poor-condition” pavement on both rural and urban Interstates, just a handful of states accounted for half of the poor conditions. For rural Interstates the laggards were Alaska, California, Colorado, Indiana, and Washington, while the worst conditions on urban Interstates were found in California, Louisiana, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, and Texas. Bridges continue to represent a mixed bag, with most states continuing to reduce their percentages of structurally deficient and functionally obsolete bridges. But more than one-third of all bridges are deficient in Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and West Virginia. In the bridges category, California is the best of the bunch, with only 6% deficient bridges, with Rhode Island bringing up the rear at 50.5% deficient; the national average is 21.5%.

One of the most difficult (and controversial) aspects of this annual performance review is the assessment of cost-effectiveness. Each state is separately measured on 11 performance indicators (e.g., percent of expressway lane-miles congested) and four spending measures. The overall rank is an attempt to measure relative bang for the buck. The ratings are complicated by a number of factors, such as North Carolina and Virginia state DOTs having responsibility for extensive roads that in other states would be county or city responsibilities; those roads tend to have lower capital and maintenance costs per mile than a more typical state highway system. Politics often leads to less than optimal maintenance spending, since elected officials get more political mileage out of cutting ribbons on new projects than on ensuring proper spending on (nearly invisible) preventive maintenance. Hence, states that do spend adequate sums on maintenance are not easily distinguished from states that spend very inefficiently on inadequate maintenance. Likewise, fast-growing, large-population states whose DOTs attempt to keep up with that growth via timely capital investments may have higher capital spending per mile if those projects are mostly on Interstates and other high-level roadways compared to smaller states-that likely explains the relatively high capital spending of Florida ($354K/mile) and Texas ($102K/mile) compared with West Virginia ($24K/mile) and New Mexico ($37K/mile). But in the bang-for-the-buck measure, the more dollars spent the worse the ranking, for a given overall score on the performance measures.

All that said, the bang-for-the-buck measure still manages to make meaningful distinctions on both the high and low ends. The five states with the highest bang for the buck are all largely rural: Wyoming, Nebraska, South Dakota, South Carolina, and Kansas. It’s pretty clear their DOTs are getting good results with relatively modest spending. On the other hand, bringing up the rear are Hawaii, Alaska, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and California. All except Alaska rank among the highest on administrative disbursements (bureaucratic overhead). And they are among the lowest performers on deficient bridges and rural pavement conditions.

As the country’s biggest highway spender, but with relatively low performance, New Jersey’s low overall score attracted media and legislative attention. Citing the state’s total disbursements of $2 million per mile, triple the level of next-highest Massachusetts, state Sen. Michael Doherty was quoted in USA Today as declaring that “This is out of control.”Daryn Iwicki of Americans for Prosperity said, “Project labor agreements and prevailing wages [laws] artificially inflate the costs of road work. . . . New Jerseyans need answers as to why we do the things that we do here.” Poor performance needs to be noticed if there is to be any prospect of addressing the problem.

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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.

State Highway Costs, October 20, 2014, Lexington, MA (Baruch Feigenbaum speaking). Details at www.massfiscal.org/discussion_with_baruch_feigenbaum.

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News Notes

House Panel Supports Transportation PPPs . The House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee’s bipartisan Panel on Public-Private Partnerships issued its findings and recommendations on Sept. 17th. Signed by all 11 members, it calls for improving public sector capacity to make use of various forms of P3s in infrastructure, primarily in transportation (surface, air, and water), breaking down barriers to consideration of P3s, and ensuring transparency and accountability. The report is online at: www.transportation.house.gov/uploadedfiles/P3_panel_report.pdf.

Assessment of the Indiana Toll Road Bankruptcy Filing. In response to many media requests for comments on the bankruptcy filing of the Indiana Toll Road Concession Company on Sept. 22nd, I wrote a blog post explaining the reasons for this event and its implications for long-term toll concessions. Despite the hit being taken by the providers of debt and equity for the project, both Indiana and toll road customers still emerge as winners from the deal. (http://reason.org/blog/show/indiana-toll-road-bankruptcy)

Transit and Hot Lanes. In an excellent overview, Greg Newmark of the Center for Neighborhood Policy has documented the successful integration of express bus service and HOT or express toll lanes as of January 2012. At that time, 12 such facilities were in operation, and his four data tables provide details on the projects and their transit use as of then. “HOT for Transit? Transit’s Experience of High-Occupancy Toll Lanes” appears in the Journal of Public Transportation, Vol. 17, No. 3, 2014.

PABs for All-Aboard Florida. Facing considerable political concerns about its planned dependence on $1.6 billion in federal RRIF loans for its Miami to Orlando passenger rail project, All Aboard Florida announced on October 7th that it has decided to pursue private debt financing by issuing tax-exempt Private Activity Bonds (PABs) for the West Palm Beach to Orlando segment of the project. AAF revealed that on August 15th it applied for $1.75 billion worth of bonding authority. The request requires consent of U.S. DOT. If authorized, the bonds will be sold to private investors, and AAF will be solely responsible for the debt service.

Minimize Life-Cycle Costs, not Initial Costs-ASCE and Eno. The American Society of Civil Engineers and the Eno Center for Transportation released a report on Sept. 30th calling for much greater use of life-cycle cost analysis in making decisions on surface transportation investment. The research found that only 48% of industry practitioners said their agency even predicts future operating and maintenance costs, let alone factoring that into their investment decisions. The report, “Maximizing the Investments Using Life Cycle Cost Analysis,” is a welcome addition to the literature on sound transportation investment. (www.asce.org/infrastructure/Life-Cycle-Cost-Analysis-Report)

Two New Perspectives on Climate Change. The Wall Street Journal has recently published two thoughtful and well-informed perspectives on global warming science. “Climate Science Is Not Settled” appeared Sept. 20th, in which former undersecretary for science at the Energy Department Steven E. Koonin argues that while climate change is real and is affected by human activity, the science is not yet at the point of being able to support wise public policy decisions. And on Oct. 10th, Judith Curry, former chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Tech, reviewed the growing evidence that climate sensitivity to greenhouse gases is significantly lower than the values used in most global climate models. Her “The Global Warming Statistical Meltdown” is also well worth reading.

FHWA’s Model Contract Guide for Toll Concessions. The Federal Highway Administration’s Office of Innovative Program Delivery on Sept.10th released the final version of its Core Toll Concessions P3 Model Contract Guide. OIPD received and made use of considerable outside expertise to produce what appears to be a very useful guide to the many issues that must be dealt with in long-term toll concessions, in order to protect the public interest while also creating a healthy long-term working arrangement between a state DOT and its private-sector partner. (www.fhwa.dot.gov/ipd/pdfs/p3/model_p3_core_toll_concessions.pdf)

Empty-Nesters Not Flocking to Cities. Despite popular media anecdotes about empty-nesters giving up their houses in the suburbs and moving to a condo downtown, actual data show no such trend. That’s the finding of Fannie Mae Housing Insights, in a June 12, 2014 paper titled “Are Aging Baby Boomers Abandoning the Single-Family Nest?” Among its findings is that “the percent of Baby Boomers residing in single-family detached homes was at least as high in 2012 as at any time since the onset of the housing crisis.” Demographer Wendell Cox found that between 2000 and 2010 the fraction of those 45-60 living in urban cores and inner suburbs declined, with modest increases in those living in outer suburbs, exurbs, and outside urban areas altogether. (NewGeorgraphy.com, Aug. 14, 2014)

The End of “Peak Oil”? Every few decades, someone writes a book claiming that global oil production is about to peak, with a subsequent decline forcing major changes in energy use. Reporter Russell Gold published a detailed assessment of the current status of this debate in the Wall Street Journal on Sept. 29th. “Why Peak-Oil Predictions Haven’t Come True-and Probably Won’t” is a useful corrective to yet another piece of conventional wisdom that has repeatedly proved to be incorrect.

Australia Needs Express Lanes on Toll Roads. An article in The Australian (Oct. 9, 2014) quotes the chief executive of global toll roads firm Transurban as calling for the addition of variably priced express lanes to the tolled expressways of Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane. “In the long term, network pricing will have a place in transport policy to manage demand, promote public transport, and fund upgrades of infrastructure,” Scott Charlton told the annual general meeting of Transurban shareholders. His comments recognize the wide variance among peak-period drivers in value of time and value of trip-time reliability. Transurban holds concessions for 11 toll roads in Australia’s three largest metro areas.

Assessing Conversion to All-Electronic Tolling. HNTB has published a short but very useful guide for toll road operators considering converting their facility to cashless all-electronic tolling (AET). While it enumerates a long list of advantages, it also points out complications, depending on a variety of local factors, and concludes with eight suggested best practices. (www.news.hntb.com/white-papers/should-an-agency-implement-all-electronic-tolling.htm)

North Tarrant Express Opens Nine Months Early. Developed under a long-term toll concession, the $2.1 billion North Tarrant Express project in Fort Worth opened on October 4th, nearly nine months ahead of the original schedule. The project team rebuilt 13 miles of highly congested I-35W, adding express toll lanes in the process. Russell Zapalac of Texas DOT told Public Works Financing that in addition to finishing well ahead of schedule, the project was completed with a trivial $5 million worth of change orders. The 52-year toll concession was won by a Cintra/Meridiam team, which later won another concession to extend NTE 10.5 miles north from downtown Fort Worth.

TransCore Chosen for San Francisco Express Lanes Network Tolling. The Metropolitan Planning Commission on Oct. 7th announced that it had selected TransCore to be the supplier and systems integrator for 90 miles of express toll lanes that will mostly result from converting existing carpool (HOV) lanes. This will be the first stage of a region-wide express toll lanes network in the San Francisco Bay Area. The work will include installing the company’s Digital Lane System as well as its Advanced Traffic Management System, under a $54.6 million contract.

California Enacts MBUF Pilot Program Law. Gov. Jerry Brown on Sept. 30th signed into law SB 1077, requiring Caltrans to set up a technical advisory committee and implement a pilot program to test mileage-based user fees in California. The program is to be designed by the end of 2016.

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Quotable Quotes

“Even though the agreement on the lease of the Indiana Toll Road insulated the public sector from risk, the restructuring will inevitably lead to a lot of confusion and misinformation. What it should not do is derail the growing momentum for similar deals between the public and private sector for investing in the nation’s infrastructure.”
-Robert Puentes (Brookings Institution), “The Indiana Toll Road: How Did a Good Deal Go Bad?” Forbes.com, October 3, 2014

“In a New York Times column entitled ‘Wrong Way America,’ Nobel laureate Paul Krugman again reminds us of the high cost of overzealous land-use regulations. Krugman cites the work of Harvard economist Ed Glaeser and others in noting that ‘high housing prices in slow-growing states also owe a lot to policies that sharply limit construction.’ He observes that ‘looser regulation in the South has kept the supply of housing elastic and the cost of living low.'”
-Wendell Cox, “Wrong Way Cities,” Newgeography.com, September 10, 2014

“According to scientists, cutting carbon dioxide emissions is an essential part of reducing catastrophic risks from climate change. Yet governments are persistently averse to providing estimates of how much carbon a policy saves. That may be because, in countries where climate change is controversial, it makes more sense to talk about the other benefits a scheme offers rather than its effects on carbon. Or it may be that, in countries that are enthusiastic about renewable energy, pointing out that it may not save that much carbon is seen as unhelpful. Or perhaps governments think climate change is so serious that all measures must be taken, regardless of cost (though their overall lackluster record suggests this is not the case).”
-Briefing, “Curbing Climate Change: The Deepest Cuts,” The Economist,
September 20, 2014

“American progressives love railroads and hate cars, and that is not without a political dimension. Railroads tell you where to go, which is very appealing if you see society as one big factory to be subjected to (your) expert management. And that’s really the basic question of liberalism in the better, classical sense of the word: Is the state here to tell you where to go, or is it here to help you get where you are going? And how to get there?”
-Kevin D. Williamson, “Planes, Trains, and the Internet,” National Review Online, July 15, 2014

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Robert Poole is director of transportation policy and Searle Freedom Trust Transportation Fellow at Reason Foundation.