Why Congress can’t solve America’s infrastructure crisis (The Atlantic)
An article explaining the imbroglio surrounding the passing of a long-term federal transportation spending bill. The article was published after Congress yesterday passed a stopgap bill to continue transportation funding until the end of July. Without a long-term spending outlook, it’s hard for state and local governments to plan for larger, long-term projects.
The article notes that the federal gas tax hasn’t gone up in more than 20 years, so using that as a sustainable funding source any time soon is out of the question. But one possible revenue stream could come from repatriated earnings — essentially taxing foreign earnings from U.S. companies.
There are issues with this idea too. Such a proposition may require a complete tax overhaul. And there is the question of whether it would provide enough revenue.
If Amtrak were an airline (The New Yorker)
A good read comparing Amtrak’s customer-friendly policies and comparing them to how the airlines handle similar scenarios. The entire article is worth a read, but this excerpt sums up the comparison well:
In short, if Amtrak were run like an airline, we would see smaller seats, punitive booking practices, baggage schemes, and, quite possibly, higher prices.
Given the dependence some people have on Amtrak to commute, the company is probably failing to extract its monopoly profits. On the other hand, not everyone would lose out.
Amtrak’s C.E.O., with his three-hundred-and-fifty-thousand-dollar salary, is grossly underpaid by the standards of the airline industry. Compare that to the American Airlines C.E.O., who, thanks to a successful merger, took home twenty-one million dollars in 2013.
This article comes after Amtrak was hit with two major blows last week: a derailment that killed eight and injured hundreds and a $251-million funding cut. Since then, there’s been some debate in our own comments about the merits of privatizing Amtrak.
This article seems to suggest if that ever happened, passengers might expect to open their wallets for just about everything, though it really only works for airlines because of the speed they can provide.
Some people do more than text while driving (N.Y. Times Bits Blog)
The results of a survey of 2,000 drivers released yesterday shows that texting is no longer the only thing drivers are doing on their phones. The list of other mobile distractions has expanded to include Facebook, Twitter and even taking selfies, although texting is still one of the predominant activities.
The AT&T commissioned survey reveals that distracted driving and the allure of constant connectivity is still on the rise, despite widespread public safety campaigns reiterating the repercussions of fines and accidents. The article tries to explain the disconnect:
First, policy and safety efforts to discourage distracted driving are flying in the face of strong social pressure to stay connected. It’s also flying in the face of market forces and new technology that encourage constant connectedness. That’s summed up in the auto industry’s idea du jour: touch-screen Infotainment.
Another reason the article suggests drivers continue to use their phones while driving despite the risks is that they believe they can do it safely. In my own experience, that belief is probably the most prevalent among distracted drivers and is also the hardest to overcome for safety advocates.
Amazon confirmed some of its Amazon Prime Now orders are now being delivered using the New York City Subway. The relatively new Prime Now service guarantees deliveries within one or two hours after placing an order. So why would a company choose to use public transportation to make deliveries? The answer is obvious in a city like New York: it’s faster.
A story that looks at what happened when an entire neighborhood in the South Korean city of Suwon went car-free by removing 1,500 cars from its streets for a month. I don’t want to give it all away, but I leave you with the article subtitle: “Everyone loved it, obviously. And the world didn’t fall apart.” Imagine that.
I write my own science fiction when I ride (Zocalo Public Square)
The latest in the ongoing series of Metro rider profiles by Zocalo.
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Categories: Transportation Headlines