Surface Transportation News: The Postal Service’s Electric Truck Problem, Traffic Bottlenecks Aren’t Being Fixed, and More
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Surface Transportation Innovations Newsletter

Surface Transportation News: The Postal Service’s Electric Truck Problem, Traffic Bottlenecks Aren’t Being Fixed, and More

Plus: Transit options for the Bay Area, Maryland's managed lanes moving forward, exempting electric vehicles from congestion pricing, and more.

In this issue:

Express Lanes and Express Bus Are the Best Near-Term Transit Options for San Francisco Bay Area

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed travel behavior in many ways. As of now, we have no clear idea what fraction of commuters will shift permanently from driving to working at home or what fraction will shift from transit to driving. As previous articles in this newsletter have suggested, these unprecedented uncertainties call for caution in making commitments to transportation megaprojects.

A case in point is the San Francisco Bay Area. A major (pre-pandemic) study of future transit needs considered mostly rail transit projects for increasing capacity across San Francisco Bay, proposing such projects as a second BART tunnel and a new cross-Bay commuter rail line. These projects were in the range of $5 to $12 billion, and none could have been in operation before about 15 years at the earliest. Far less costly and less risky would be to expand the region’s bus transit, as two recent studies suggest.

In “Express Bus and Express Lanes System for the San Francisco Bay Area,” long-time transit expert Thomas Rubin suggests continuing to expand the growing system of express toll lanes throughout the nine-county region and making a commitment to developing regional express bus service using these faster and more reliable lanes. But to be fully effective, a number of missing links in that express lane network need to be added, including on the three major bridges between the East Bay and the communities in Silicon Valley and San Francisco itself.

The study goes on to sketch out a model for express bus service from the Oakland area to downtown San Francisco using a bus/high-occupancy toll (HOT) lane each way on the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, supported by two bus transfer stations on the Oakland side, one for westbound trips and the other for eastbound trips. One goal of this model would be to maximize zero-transfer and one-transfer trips from origin to destination.

Since there is no possibility of adding lanes to these bridges, the study proposes converting one lane each way to buses, other super-high-occupancy vehicles, and toll-paying personal vehicles. Rubin provides calculations showing that these converted lanes would very likely handle more person-miles of travel than the bridge’s general-purpose lanes.

Some might dismiss this proposal as unlikely to go very far, but two very recent developments suggest otherwise. In January, a well-respected Bay Area public policy organization, the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR), released a major study, “Freeways of the Future: Delivering a Fast and Reliable Regional Bus Network on Existing Freeway Lanes.” Like the Reason study, it recommends a near-term transit focus on regional express bus service, taking advantage of the growing express lanes network. The study includes a map of the projected 600-mile network that includes many of the gap closures identified in the Reason study, including on the San Mateo and Dumbarton bridges. Oddly, it omits the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, which Rubin suggests as the first bridge missing link to fill in.

And last month, in February, a state bill was introduced, Assembly Bill 455—The Bay Bridge Fast Forward Program. It calls for measuring congestion on the bridge, and if it fails to meet certain speed and reliability targets, the bill would require a bus/high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane on that bridge.

To be sure, these are early days. But the combination of these two policy studies and the proposed legislation makes the idea of focusing on express bus service on an expanded express lanes network more likely than many would have expected.

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Maryland Managed Lanes Have Developer, But Still Face Opponents
By Baruch Feigenbaum

Last month, the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT), its State Highway Administration (SHA), and the Maryland Transportation Authority (MTA) selected Accelerate Maryland Partners LLC as the public-private partnership (P3) developer/operator for Phase 1 of the $11 billion I-495 and I-270 managed lanes project. The team is led by equity providers Transurban and Macquarie, with Dewberry Engineering and Stantec Consulting as designers.

Accelerate Maryland Partners had the highest-ranked financial proposal. The company also offered to pay a $145 million development rights fee and agreed to a $54.3 million limit on what it will be paid during predevelopment. (Under “predevelopment,” they will work with MDOT to fine-tune the design, prior to negotiating the 50-year concession agreement.) The team also proposed a higher rate of return on its equity investment in exchange for taking greater construction cost risk, reducing the state’s risk in the project.

Transurban and Macquarie both have proven P3 track records in the region. Transurban financed, developed, and operates the managed lanes on I-95, I-395, and I-495. Macquarie was half of the P3 team that did likewise for the Elizabeth River Tunnels project. Both companies have delivered transportation megaprojects on time. And both have the experience to manage any unanticipated project hurdles.

Much of the opposition to the project has suggested that the state should be investing in mass transit, not roadways. Yet, a rail line along the I-270 and I-495 corridor would cost state taxpayers billions of dollars and need ongoing taxpayer operating subsidies. By contrast, the managed lanes are expected to be paid for only by those who choose to use them.

The project will also create a new transit option for the 272,000 workers who commute into Fairfax County, Virginia, each day, many of them from Montgomery County, Maryland. These workers currently have no viable transit option and can only get to work by driving. The consortium is making a commitment to transit in the area, providing at least $300 million for bus services that can use the new managed lanes, as well as $5 million for Vision Zero improvements and bicycle and pedestrian connections. Managed lanes provide a virtual exclusive busway, in which buses can bypass congestion for faster and more reliable trips. Several different agencies including the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), Montgomery County’s Ride On, and the Fairfax Connector bus service could offer transit service using the new lanes.

The next steps for the project are review and approval by the Maryland Transportation Authority board later this month, a 30-day review by Maryland’s comptroller, treasurer, and the legislature’s budget committees, with final approval hoped for by May 2021. MDOT, SHA, and the Federal Highway Administration are finishing up the Environmental Impact Study in parallel with the team’s predevelopment work.

Unfortunately, some environmental groups are still seeking to stop the project. The Maryland Sierra Club argues that the project has serious, negative environmental effects. The group commissioned a study that argued that the managed lanes will actually make congestion worse by shifting traffic from shoulder to peak hours, that managed lanes are an inefficient use of infrastructure, and that induced demand will occur.

While some traffic may shift from the shoulder hours to the peak, this is an economic benefit to the region. Those travelers would then be commuting at a more convenient time for them. Since the managed lanes provide a virtual exclusive busway and give commuters who need a reliable, guaranteed travel time a new option, they are hardly inefficient. Finally, tolling helps reduce induced demand by ensuring commuters pay the full cost of their trip.

But the Maryland Transit Opportunities Coalition argues that the toll lanes are unaffordable. The group uses a worst-case model to argue that drivers will pay “up to $49” to travel from Frederick to Shady Grove at the height of the morning peak travel periods, despite the state’s estimate of an average toll rate of $4-to-$5 for the same distance. Whatever the highest toll is, it will be paid by only a small fraction of commuters during the peak of the peak periods. The coalition, which advocates building more rail lines, including a Southern Maryland light rail project and an extension of the MARC train to western Maryland, fails to mention the likely new bus service option in the managed lanes. The coalition also claims that its rail expansion would be cheaper than the managed lanes, ignoring the fact that drivers who use the toll lanes would be the people paying for the toll lanes. In contrast, all taxpayers would end up paying for most of the cost of the rail expansions.

There are also some opponents in the Maryland legislature. Their bills, HB 67 and SB 843, do not accurately reflect the terms of the P3 project. They would require duplicative environmental studies. Worse, they would require any toll changes to be subjected to a public hearing. Managed lanes are effective because tolls are allowed to increase or decrease based on demand and congestion. Requiring a public hearing to change the tolls would undermine the congestion relief, which is the primary benefit of priced managed lanes. Finally, a bill would require a monorail feasibility study along I-270, which has nothing to do with the project itself.

Maryland DOT has ensured that the managed lanes include dedicated funding for mass transit, environmental remediation, a pedestrian path, and bike lanes over the new American Legion Bridge. The growing Washington, DC, region needs additional roadway capacity, and it is past time for opponents to acknowledge this fact.

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Truck Bottlenecks Mostly Aren’t Being Fixed

Every year I read the American Transportation Research Institute’s latest annual report on the nation’s top 100 truck bottlenecks. The researchers analyze data from truck-mounted GPS units to calculate the extent of congestion on major highways used by trucks. The vast majority of these bottlenecks occur at interchanges, usually of two Interstates or an Interstate and another major highway, though a few are entire stretches of a highway, such as the congested portion of I-35 through downtown Austin.

For comparison with this year’s bottleneck report, I pulled from my files the 2014 report. Reviewing the top 25 bottlenecks six years apart (long enough for a major interchange redesign and reconstruction), I was dismayed at how many of the same bottlenecks are still there, sometimes even in the same position (e.g., the worst bottleneck in both reports is I-95/SR 4 in New Jersey). Of the current top-25 bottlenecks, 17 were also in 2014’s top 25. Of the eight newcomers, four were lower down on the 2014 list, and the others appear to have become much worse bottlenecks than before because I could not find them in the top 75 from 2014. Among these newly ranked in the top 10 are I-75/I-24 in Chattanooga (now #7), I-64/I-55 at I-44 in St. Louis (now #8), and I-95/I-287 in Rye, NY (now #9).

In terms of states, in 2014 the ‘winner’ was Texas, with seven bottlenecks in the top 25. Texas is now ‘down’ to only five of the top 25 in 2020. Georgia was in second place in both sets of top 25 rankings, with four. California dropped from three to two top-25 bottlenecks, and four states with top-25 bottlenecks in 2014 had none in 2020: Connecticut, Kentucky, Minnesota, and Washington. The Kentucky bottleneck that dropped out of the top 25 was I-64/I-65/I-71 in the Louisville area, where the Ohio River Bridges project evidently led to significant congestion relief for what had been the ninth most-congested bottleneck in 2014.

The answer to these congestion-and-emissions-spawning bottlenecks in most cases is redesign and replacement with enough capacity and design features to cope with today’s, and the next several decades’, truck and personal vehicle travel. A few major bottlenecks have been replaced with state-of-the-art designs, such as the Marquette interchange in Milwaukee and the Springfield interchange in northern Virginia. But these megaprojects are very costly—$900 million for the Marquette and $676 million for Springfield. Projects like these cannot be done via annual budgets. They need long-term financing, based on a reliable revenue source. For the Ohio River Bridges ($2.3 billion), it was tolls. There aren’t many other options.

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The Postal Service’s Electric Truck Problem

The electric vehicle (EV) community is up in arms over the U.S. Postal Service’s announcement that its Next Generation Delivery Vehicle (NGDV)—after a lengthy procurement process—was awarded to Oshkosh Defense for its internal combustion engine truck. This decision by the independent agency is seemingly at odds with the Biden administration’s goal of replacing the federal government’s entire non-military vehicle fleet with EVs.

More details that soon emerged changed the optics somewhat. The contract actually states that up to 165,000 NGDVs will be powered either by electricity or conventional engines, and the initial buy will include 10% electric vehicles. The “flexible design platform” can accommodate either type of motive power, with decisions made during the life of the contract based on cost, with the hope that declining battery prices will make the electric version cost-competitive. Nevertheless, some members of Congress denounced the decision and have talked about Congress or the administration stepping in (despite the independence of USPS).

If the Postal Service were a real business (and operated in the black), it could make the decision that both FedEx and UPS have recently made: buy electric trucks for local delivery because their total cost of ownership (acquisition plus lifetime operation and maintenance) is expected to be less than for a conventionally powered vehicle. Postmaster General (a strange title for a CEO) Louis DeJoy explained that the contract could not be for 100% electric trucks “because we don’t have the extra 3 or 4 billion dollars . . . that it would take to do it.”

And that identifies a general problem about federal government business entities. They must make capital equipment purchases on the basis of lowest acquisition cost, rather than lowest lifecycle cost. That is penny-wise and pound-foolish. So to get past this fundamental problem, some are arguing that Congress should simply give USPS the additional billions.

Economist Dorothy Robyn, in a recent post for Boston University’s Institute for Sustainable Energy, pointed out that Congress has already appropriated $10 billion for USPS in the December 2020 omnibus appropriations and stimulus bill, which is unspent pending terms to be set by the Treasury Department. Part of that could provide the extra funding DeJoy suggested would enable a potentially more cost-effective all-electric purchase. But as Robyn also pointed out, “Longer term, Congress and the Administration need to reform federal procurement policy so that agencies award contracts based on life-cycle cost, not first cost.”

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Pennsylvania Seeks Toll-Financed P3s for Interstate Bridge Replacement

Having pioneered the use of long-term public-private partnerships to replace or modernize 558 small bridges last decade, PennDOT’s Public-Private Partnership Office is proceeding with a new program to replace nine major bridges on Interstate highways in Pennsylvania.

There’s a good reason for PennDOT’s focus on deficient bridges. According to the Reason Foundation’s 25th Annual Highway Report, the \state ranks 45th in the country on structurally deficient bridges, with only Rhode Island, West Virginia, Iowa, and South Dakota doing worse. To be fair, it also has the third-highest number of bridges to maintain (25,400) and the fifth-highest amount of highway route-miles (41,000). The success of the Rapid Bridge Replacement P3 program evidently impressed the legislature, which has permitted the P3 Office to go ahead with the new Interstate bridge replacement program, to be financed via toll revenues. The previous small-bridge P3 program was financed based on availability payments, which committed the state DOT’s budget to annual payments for the next 25 years.

The situation today does not give PennDOT that luxury. Due to reduced vehicle miles of travel (VMT) during the pandemic, PennDOT expects to be $500-$600 million short of projected fuel tax revenues by the end of the current fiscal year, June 30. Back in 2019, as reported by the Post-Gazette, “Because [PennDOT] neglected work on the Interstates for many years while it waited for federal funds that never materialized, the state in 2019 decided it had to shift $3.15 billion to [ongoing] Interstate work instead of local upgrades through 2028.” That leaves something like a $2 billion hole that would preclude replacing the nine Interstate bridges, without using tolls to finance them.

Ever since the 1991 federal Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) legislation, it has been legal to replace non-tolled bridges or tunnels on the Interstate with a tolled bridge or tunnel, and that is the provision PennDOT will use for this program, which is called Pennsylvania Pathways. It announced the nine candidate bridges last month, and the next day issued a Request for Information from prospective P3 companies or teams interested in taking part. A Request for Qualifications is due out in June 2021, with a Request for Proposals expected to be issued to pre-qualified firms in February 2022. The intent of the program is that the tolls cover 100% of the cost of construction and operations/maintenance, so as to preserve PennDOT’s fuel tax revenues for its other highways and programs.

This program poses a challenge to the trucking industry. For decades its mantra has been, ‘No tolls for existing highways.’ But these bridges need either major repairs or total replacement. What customer tolls will be paying for is not “existing” facilities but brand-new (or substantially upgraded) bridges on important routes for commercial trucking. And if PennDOT is wise, it will not start charging tolls on any of these bridges until the replacement is completed and opens to traffic. That is a value proposition the trucking industry should embrace.

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Should Electric Vehicles Be Exempt from Congestion Pricing?

It’s looking increasingly likely that the plan to implement congestion pricing in Manhattan—authorized by the state legislature in 2019—will finally happen. But energy and transportation analyst Charles Komanoff, a long-time advocate of this idea, is worried that lobbying will create exemptions, which will reduce the effectiveness of the pricing in taming the city’s awful congestion (as well as reducing the revenue generated).

In a Streetsblog post last month, Komanoff was especially worried that electric vehicle advocates will succeed in getting either an exemption or at least a cut rate for EV drivers in the city. He argues that this would be a mistake, and I agree.

Electric vehicles have such environmental cachet that their advocates have gotten Congress to agree to a federal tax break of up to $7,500 per EV purchase, to which a number of states, including New York, have added an additional break (New York’s is another $2,000). In California and some other states, EVs are exempt from the variable tolls on express toll lanes, undercutting the power of variable pricing to keep traffic flowing and also reducing the revenue needed in many cases for debt service on revenue bonds needed to finance the lanes.

Komanoff is well-known in transportation circles for his giant spreadsheet aimed at quantifying every aspect of urban transportation. While I have not examined his BTA spreadsheet, the portions used for estimating emissions come from well-accepted sources: the speed-emission equations from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the speed vs. miles per gallon analysis from the University of California-Riverside. Komanoff used these resources to estimate what the emission outcomes would be if free passage for EVs led to a one percent increase in daily traffic under the congestion pricing program. Tailpipe emissions of conventional pollutants would go up (e.g., PM 2.5 by 1.1%) as would CO2 (by a smaller 0.33%). This is despite the EVs themselves having no tailpipe emissions. Obviously, if free passage for EVs would lead to more than 1% additional driving within the congestion pricing zone, the conventional and CO2 emissions would be even larger. And this analysis also ignores the increased emissions from electric utilities that rely on coal or natural gas to power the EVs.

If the EV lobby loses the battle for exemption from New York City congestion pricing—and on environmental grounds—this might serve as a wake-up call for state legislators to repeal existing EV exemptions from variable pricing on express toll lanes and access for single-occupant EVs to HOV lanes.

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News Notes

New Reason Series on Debatable Ideas. Reason Foundation recently launched a new series, “Debatable Ideas: Examining Key Transportation Issues, Myths, and Misconceptions.” Each week we will post a new one-pager, discussing ideas on which there is no consensus. I will have several contributions to this series, the first of which is “Can Increasing Highway Capacity Be Effective?” addressing the subject of induced demand and the claim that adding highway capacity is self-defeating. You can find the series here.

Trucks in Express Lanes? A news item last month in Charlotte, North Carolina, noted that some kinds of trucks would be able to use the express toll lanes on I-77 starting Feb. 8; this applies only to two-axle trucks and vehicles pulling one-axle trailers. But this is hardly unprecedented. A December 2019 report from Fitch Ratings (“Managed Lanes Driven to Strong Performance”) includes a table of toll-financed express lanes with specifics for each. Of the 13 listed facilities, nine allow heavy trucks, including SH 288 in Houston, the LBJ and NTE in Dallas/Ft.Worth, and the C-470 express lanes in Denver. A poster presentation at the 2021 TRB Annual Meeting reported on a pilot test of allowing trucks to use a bus-only lane in Seattle.

Greece Enabling Per-Mile Electronic Tolling. A new electronic toll system developed by Kapsch TrafficCom is being implemented on Greek toll roads. Instead of charging tolls at various points along the tollway, the new system identifies when a participating vehicle enters the toll road, counts the kilometers it drives until the point of exit, and charges only for the number of kilometers driven. The system is an option for customers; it requires the installation in the vehicle of an onboard unit mounted on the windshield linked to a toll account. The system is intended to be fairer than conventional tolling. It will be mandatory on new toll roads and a recommended option for existing ones.

100% Border Cargo Scanning Could Wreak Havoc. Congress enacted HR 5273 late last year, and it was signed into law on Jan. 5. It requires actual X-ray scanning of every car, truck, and rail car that crosses the Canadian and Mexican borders into the United States. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) must come up with a plan to implement this mandate, though technology to do this is not installed at all the crossings. Many freight interests hope DHS treats 100% as an “aspirational goal” rather than a serious mandate. The U.S.-Mexico border already suffers from chronic congestion, and 100% inspection of every vehicle threatens to impose massive delays and congestion.

Alabama MPOs Ask State DOT for Bridge Options. Replacing the aging I-10 bridge across the Mobile River is a small step closer to getting back on Alabama DOT’s agenda. The MPOs on both sides of the river—the Mobile MPO and the Eastern Shore MPO—have jointly asked ALDOT to develop a plan for the bridge replacement project. Their letter asked the agency to explore a solution that reduces congestion while allowing citizens to use all existing routes across the river without a toll. Gov. Kay Ivey seconded the motion, asking ALDOT to determine how much state funding could be used for the project, in addition to a $125 million federal INFRA grant already on hand.

Lessons Learned From U.S. HOT Lanes. That is the subject of a paper that I researched for the OECD’s International Transport Forum and presented at their international workshop on congestion pricing last September (via Zoom). The workshop was ably chaired by economist Ken Small. Only one other country—Israel—has begun to use priced lanes, with a single project in Tel Aviv, also presented at the workshop. A summary of the proceedings, as well as each of the discussion papers, can be found on the ITF’s website.

Flyover Connectors Under Way on US 101 Express Lanes. The new express toll lanes being added to US 101 in San Mateo County, CA cross SR 92, which includes the San Mateo Bridge to the east and the Younger freeway to the west, going all the way to I-280. To improve access to the express lanes on 101 (which are in the center of that freeway), the San Mateo County Transit District is planning flyover connectors from westbound 92 to both directions of express lanes on 101, with a second option being to make the connectors reversible. Direct connectors such as these would be a big benefit to express lane users, both personal vehicles and buses, by eliminating the need for vehicles making the transition to have to cross several lanes of peak-period congestion to get into or out of the express lanes. They are a key component of a seamless express lanes network for the Bay Area.

Gondolas As New Transit Alternative? The Tampa Bay (FL) Regional Transit Authority is seeking a consultant to study the feasibility of an aerial gondola system on two potential corridors in St. Petersburg and Clearwater. The study would be funded by $1 million from the state legislature to study “innovative transit opportunities.” I hope the selected consultant understands the difference between mass transit and tourist rides. The only gondolas I know of operate at about 5 mph and carry perhaps half a dozen people per car—not exactly “rapid” or “mass.” It’s hard to know what transit problem such a system would attempt to solve—and at what cost. Several companies are pitching gondola projects, including in the cities of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

“Is High-Speed Rail Travel on a Track to Nowhere?” That’s the headline on a detailed BBC report by Tim McDonald, based in Singapore. He begins by reporting that back in January, the $17 billion HSR line between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur was “canceled for good.” Several leading officials thought the cost would be a lot more than $17 billion, based on large cost escalation on other HSR projects, which McDonald goes on to discuss. Of particular interest to the BBC, the UK’s planned HS2 from London to Birmingham (and from there to Leeds and Manchester) went from an initial estimate of $79 billion to a current $138 billion, and its construction just began in September. He also cites the California HSR fiasco and the research on megaprojects and risk by Oxford’s Bent Flyvbjerg.

Renewing U.S. Transportation Infrastructure via Private Investment. One of the best policy papers I’ve read on the current need for modernizing aging US transportation infrastructure is “Planes, Trains and Automobiles: Renewal of U.S. Transportation Infrastructure.” It provides an economically literate assessment of what’s wrong with status-quo approaches and explains that vast sums are available to invest in revenue-generating transportation infrastructure, if only we can get the policies right to facilitate such investment. The authors are Clive Lipshitz of Tradewind Interstate Advisors and Ingo Walker of the NYU Stern School of Business. Go here.

Illinois Tollway Going Cashless. On Feb. 25, Illinois Tollway announced that it will go fully cashless. At the time of the announcement,92% of customers were paying via iPass or E-ZPass. Those without transponders will be billed, but at a higher toll rate to reflect the added costs of billing and collection. Also, in May the Tollway will make its iPass transponders available without requiring a deposit.

2020 VMT Down Only 13.2%. FHWA reported on Feb. 25 that vehicle miles of travel had bounced back dramatically, reaching more than 87% of the 2019 figure, despite huge declines in April and May. December’s VMT was down only 10.3% from the prior year’s December nationwide, though it had fully recovered in some portions of the United States.

Blumenauer Favors Paying per Mile, Not Per Gallon. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), perhaps encouraged by Oregon’s leading role in moving toward mileage-based user fees as a replacement for state fuel taxes, told Politico that he no longer favors increasing federal fuel tax rates. Rather, he would like to see progress at the federal level in charging per mile. Politico noted that Blumenauer’s comments came a day after Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced he would oppose a federal gas tax increase.

Online Course in Better Megaproject Forecasting. Prof. Bent Flyvbjerg, who chairs the Global Projects Academy at Oxford University, has announced an online course on the methodology he has developed to estimate the costs and usage of proposed transportation megaprojects. It is called Reference Class Forecasting (RCF). The new online RCF course begins on March 24. Details are available here.

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Quotable Quotes

“I continue to hate earmarks. Most of the time during my years at Connecticut DOT, we could never even find the locations of earmarks that the Connecticut congressional delegation got into reauthorization and/or appropriations bills. No cost-benefit analyses were ever conducted for them, and they distorted long-term plans and strategies, and shorter-term TIPs and STIPs. Before the process had ended, surface transportation reauthorization bills had just become long lists of public works projects favored by Congress—no priorities, no strategies, no analysis. All that still applies, and we are better off without a return of earmarks in transportation bills.”
—Emil Frankel, former Assistant Secretary for Transportation Policy, U.S. Department of Transportation, 2002-2005, email to Robert Poole, Feb. 24, 2021 (used with permission)

“Norwegians are indeed keen EV buyers because their politicians ladle out tax handouts, free parking, half-price tolls, and even free charge-ups in some jurisdictions. These indulgences are financed how? Tiny Norway, with 0.07% of the planet’s population, exports 3% of the world’s oil and 14% of its natural gas. Its sovereign wealth fund, where these riches accumulate, tops $1.3 trillion, or $245,000 per citizen. . . . Here’s the tragic part: The politics of these subsidies is almost guaranteed to suck the air out of the room for things that might actually make a difference, like a carbon tax.”
—Holman W. Jenkins, Jr., “EVs Are the Lowest Climate Priority,” The Wall Street Journal, Feb. 10, 2021

“[On the new C-470 express toll lanes] we’re between 50%-60% down [in traffic], depending on the week. It’s going to come to the point where we decide if we can keep eating that revenue loss and dipping into state funds to pay off our debt service—or if we transfer that debt to a concessionaire and take that debt off our books. It’s a matter of time.”
—Nick Farber, CDOT, quoted in Bianca Giacobone, “The Story in Numbers: Which U.S. States Might Turn to P3s Post-Covid,” Inframation News, Nov. 9, 2020

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