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Advancing a Multimodal Transportation System by Eliminating Funding Restrictions

January 30, 2015 Comments off

Advancing a Multimodal Transportation System by Eliminating Funding Restrictions
Source: Center for American Progress

One of the most pervasive, durable, and detrimental myths in transportation policy is that highways pay for themselves, while public transportation does not. In reality, both modes require significant public subsidies, as user fees—such as fuel taxes and farebox revenues—cover only a portion of total costs. States and the federal government supplement these user fees with property taxes, bonding, and general revenues. On average, these nonuser fee revenues represent 26 percent of total annual highway expenditures.

Moreover, treating all highways equally obscures the fact that per-mile construction and maintenance costs, driving levels, and motor fuel tax revenues vary substantially depending on the location, size, and population around a particular road. While the overwhelming majority of driving occurs within metropolitan areas, many large urban highways and arterial roads cost substantially more money to maintain than they generate in fuel taxes. This is also true of many rural and exurban arterial roads. This means that states must cross subsidize thousands of miles of roads that generate insufficient gas tax revenues each year.

Research by the Center for American Progress shows that nearly 4 in 10 miles of interstate highway and other principal arterial roadways fail to generate enough in user fees to cover their long-term maintenance costs. For the purposes of this analysis, maintenance costs include one reconstruction and multiple resurfacings over the course of three decades while excluding the costs of land acquisition, engineering, construction, and inflation.

UK — Road traffic demand elasticities A rapid evidence assessment

January 30, 2015 Comments off

Road traffic demand elasticities A rapid evidence assessment
Source: RAND Corporation

The aim of this review was to gain a better understanding of the factors driving road transport demand for both passengers and freight in the UK by reviewing the literature on elasticity of road traffic demand, with a particular focus on key economic and demographic factors: namely, population growth, income growth and changes in fuel costs. The primary aim was to identify, by means of a rapid evidence assessment, what elasticity estimates were available in the literature with respect to these variables and, where evidence exists, how these elasticity values have changed over time, if indeed they have changed at all. The range of estimated fuel price elasticity values reported in the studies in this review is quite small (-0.1 to -0.5), although a variety of data types and methodologies were used. Fuel price elasticities will be expected to vary by distance, area type and trip purpose.

For passenger transport, reported income elasticity values are predominately in the range 0.5 to 1.4. The evidence indicates that car ownership has a strong, positive, indirect effect on the income elasticity of demand. For freight transport, elasticity estimates of economic activity are mainly in the range 0.5 to 1.5 for an aggregate commodity sector but there the evidence suggests a much greater variation between sectors.

The evidence on changes in fuel price and income elasticities of car demand over time is limited and for freight transport, the evidence is mixed. Much of the data for the UK on car traffic is rather old. This has implications for the use of elasticities in forecasting and strategic planning.

See also: Evidence review of car traffic levels in Britain: A rapid evidence assessment

Free e-book — CityLab Books: The Future of Transportation

January 27, 2015 Comments off

CityLab Books: The Future of Transportation
Source: The Atlantic

For all the mobility challenges facing American metro areas—from choked highways to poor mass transit—there’s a bounty of ideas for improving travel in and around cities. Driverless cars. Electric bicycles. Rapid buses. Express highway lanes.

CityLab covered all these ideas and more in its special nine-month series on The Future of Transportation, with reported features from every major U.S. city and opinion pieces from the leading thinkers in American mobility. This e-book includes a selection of twelve of the series’ most popular and provocative stories so the discussion, and the journey, can continue.

Commission identifies the infrastructure priorities and investment needs for the Trans-European Transport Network until 2030

January 21, 2015 Comments off

Commission identifies the infrastructure priorities and investment needs for the Trans-European Transport Network until 2030
Source: European Commission

The European Commission has published nine studies on the state of play and the development needs of the TEN-T core network corridors. The studies have identified infrastructure development needs which represent approximately €700 billion of financial investment until 2030. They highlight the importance of optimising the use of infrastructure along the corridors, notably through intelligent transport systems, efficient management and the promotion of future-oriented clean transport solutions. This is the first time that tens of thousands kilometres of rail, road, inland waterway connections, ports, airports and other transport terminals have been studied in such a comprehensive way and with a common methodology.

CRS — Keystone XL Pipeline: Overview and Recent Developments (January 5, 2015)

January 14, 2015 Comments off

Keystone XL Pipeline: Overview and Recent Developments (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL Pipeline would transport oil sands crude from Canada and shale oil produced in North Dakota and Montana to a market hub in Nebraska for further delivery to Gulf Coast refineries. The pipeline would consist of 875 miles of 36-inch pipe with the capacity to transport 830,000 barrels per day. Because it would cross the Canadian-U.S. border, Keystone XL requires a Presidential Permit from the State Department predicated on the department’s determination that the project would serve the national interest. That determination considers environmental impacts, evaluated and documented in an environmental impact statement (EIS) pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

TransCanada originally applied for a Presidential Permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline in 2008. An issue that arose during the permit review was environmental impacts in the Sand Hills region of Nebraska. This concern led the Nebraska legislature to enact new state pipeline siting requirements that would alter the pipeline route. The Presidential Permit was subsequently denied by the State Department. In May 2012, TransCanada reapplied for a Presidential Permit with a modified route through Nebraska. The new permit application initiated a new NEPA process.

Private Capital, Public Good: Drivers of Successful Infrastructure Public-Private Partnerships

January 5, 2015 Comments off

Private Capital, Public Good: Drivers of Successful Infrastructure Public-Private Partnerships
Source: Brookings Institution

Despite its fundamental and multifaceted role in maintaining national growth and economic health, infrastructure in the United States has not received an adequate level of investment for years.1 Political dysfunction, a challenging fiscal environment, greater project complexity, and the sheer size of the need across different sectors are forcing leaders across the country to explore new ways to finance the investments and operations that will grow their economies over the next decade.

Part of this exploration means new kinds of agreements between governments at all levels and the private sector to deliver, finance, and maintain a range of projects. Beyond simplistic notions of privatization, the interest is in true partnerships between agencies, private firms, financiers, and the general public. Many nations already successfully develop infrastructure in this manner today.

These public-private partnerships (PPPs) are alternately framed as a panacea to all of America’s infrastructure challenges or a corporate takeover of critical public assets. In reality, they are neither. A well-executed PPP is simply another tool for procuring or managing public infrastructure—albeit a new and increasingly popular one.2 The growing interest can be attributed to a number of factors, including tightening budgets, increased project complexity, better value for money, the desire to leverage private sector expertise, and shifting public sector priorities.

However, this surge of interest is not matched by broad public sector understanding of the PPP landscape.

This paper is designed to fill that gap by providing an overview of basic PPP structure, how to consider proper risk and reward sharing, and the purpose and the rationale behind these arrangements. It is based on extensive background research and directly informed by interviews with leading practitioners from the public and private sector.

AASHTO and APTA’s 2015 Bottom Line Report Estimates $163 Billion Needed Annually to Fix Nation’s Aging Surface Transportation System

December 31, 2014 Comments off

AASHTO and APTA’s 2015 Bottom Line Report Estimates $163 Billion Needed Annually to Fix Nation’s Aging Surface Transportation System
Source: American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and the American Public Transportation Association

The “2015 Bottom Line Report” on transportation investment needs, released today by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and the American Public Transportation Association, estimates that to meet current demand it will require an annual capital investment over six years by all levels of government in the amount of $120 billion in the nation’s highway and bridge network and $43 billion in America’s public transportation infrastructure. To meet the combined surface transportation needs, it would require an investment of $163 billion investment per year in surface transportation over a six year period. Despite those dramatic investment needs, currently only $83 billion is invested in roads and bridges, while just $17.1 billion is invested in public transit.

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