Transportation headlines, Thursday, July 17

Have a transportation-related article you think should be included in headlines? Drop me an email! And don’t forget, Metro is on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. Pick your social media poison! 

House passes interim fix for Highway Trust Fund (New York Times) 

The U.S. House voted on Tuesday for a short-term fix to keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent and to avoid a massive cut in federal construction funding. Instead of relying on a gas tax increase (politically unpopular for the past 21 years), the House is relying on some budgetary maneuvers (“pension smoothing”) to keep the Fund going — and the Senate and President Obama are likely to go along with it. The fate of the President’s four-year, $302-billion transportation bill proposed this year remains unknown, but things aren’t looking good.

Jon Stewart and the Daily Show took on the Highway Trust Fund last night — as usual he offers a good (and funny) primer for those who don’t know much about the subject. Warning: mildly adult language. Meanwhile, the L.A. Times editorial page says that Congress should just bite the bullet and raise the gas tax.

Over at the Washington Post’s Fact Checker blog, President Obama gets two Pinnochios for his repeated claim that 700,000 jobs are at risk if Congress doesn’t take action on the Highway Trust Fund. The Post says the number of jobs truly at risk is far lower and that it would be more accurate to say the Highway Trust Fund helps support 700,000 jobs.

And here’s our explanation of why all this matters to agencies such as Metro.

Halted Figueroa bike lane project riles cyclists (L.A. Times) 

A plan by the city of Los Angeles to install three miles of bike lanes to Figueroa through Highland Park has hit a bump-in-the-road in the form of Councilman Gil Cedillo, who says the lanes will impact traffic and slow emergency response times. Activists counter that the lanes will make Figueroa safer (reducing the number of emergencies) and will have little impact on vehicle travel times. Making the debate more interesting: Cedillo said that he supported the lanes during his campaign and has used campaign-style tactics to get more people to public meetings to help counter views of bike activists who don’t live in the 1st district.

Beverly Hills battles Metro over Purple Line Extension (Neon Tommy) 

The article provides a basic review of Beverly Hills’ legal fight against Metro over tunneling under part of the Beverly Hills High School campus. A Superior Court judge earlier this year ruled that Metro adequately studied the issue in the environmental documents for the project. The Beverly Hills Unified School District and the city of Beverly Hills have appealed.

Meet Seleta Reynolds, the new head of LADOT (Downtown News) 

A brief interview with the new general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation; Reynolds was hired by Mayor Eric Garcetti earlier this summer. Reynolds talks a little about the differences between L.A. and San Francisco, where she formerly worked on a number of active transportation projects. She has never lived in L.A., but accurately notes how the politics of transportation work here (or don’t work depending on your POV) — they’re divided up between a number of agencies and elected officials.

L.A. and S.F. dogfight over transport visions (Cal WatchDog.com)

The headline doesn’t really describe the post which briefly — but interestingly — makes some comparisons and contrasts between the two cities. The focus of the piece is on the “Great Streets” initiative in L.A. versus the difficulty of getting a bus rapid transit project completed on busy, and often congested, Van Ness Street in San Francisco. I thought this description of L.A. was worth excerpting:

Los Angeles, in other words, is relatively distinct among America’s largest cities. Rather than an industrial-age city planned out block by block, constrained by geography, contemporary L.A. is a post-modern patchwork — a veritable network of villages that lacks a single core where residents routinely cluster on foot.

 

Metro report explains potential impacts of Highway Trust Fund being further depleted

Above is a report prepared by Metro CEO Art Leahy and Metro staff for the agency’s Board of Directors. The short of it: Metro would eventually have to cut service if the federal Highway Trust Fund continues to wither.

The bigger issue is this: Congress is due this year to approve a long-term transportation funding bill to replace the one that expires in 2014. The new bill needs to tackle an ongoing issue: the federal Highway Trust Fund (HTF) is funded by the federal gas tax, which hasn’t been raised since 1993 (it’s 18.3 cents per gallon). Vehicles are more fuel efficient and people aren’t driving as much or using as much gas — thus, the HTF is struggling to keep up with expenses that have risen over time.

One of those expenses is helping supply funds to transit agencies across the country for items such as maintenance and construction projects. Local agencies tend to spend most of their funds on providing daily service and, thus, need the help of state and federal government for big expenses.

How to save the Highway Trust Fund from eventually going broke — it’s nowhere near that, yet — has been a source of considerable discussion in Washington D.C. for many years now. One idea that is constantly batted around is imposing a vehicle mileage tax that would tax motorists based on how many miles they drive instead of by the gallon.

But nothing has happened. Politics in D.C. are tough and the two-year election cycle in the House of Representatives makes things tougher. Hopefully this is just another threat to transportation funding that never comes to pass. Time will tell.

Transportation headlines, Tuesday, July 8

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ART OF TRANSIT: The new platform for the Arcadia station along the Gold Line Foothill Extension. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

ART OF TRANSIT: The new platform for the Arcadia station along the Gold Line Foothill Extension. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

Why cars remain so appealing even in cities with great public transit (Washington Post) 

This is one of the smartest posts I’ve read in a while about the challenges facing transit in big cities in the U.S. The article is based on maps produced by MIT that allow for comparisons in travel time in a variety of cities (unfortunately, there’s no map for L.A. yet). The gist of it: cycling and driving in many cities are a more efficient and faster way of getting around than transit.

Riffing on those maps — if they’re correct — the Post’s Emily Badger writes:

Another takeaway is that these maps illustrate why people make rational calculations to drive so much of the time, even in cities where decent transit does exist. The total financial cost per trip of driving somewhere is likely higher than taking transit (or biking), once you factor in car payments, insurance, and maintenance. But we tend to treat those as sunk costs. And so we often make travel decisions with a time budget in mind, not a financial one. By that metric, it’s clear here why people who can afford to drive often chose to. It’s also clear on these maps that people who can’t afford a car pay a steep penalty in time to get around.

Transit advocates spend a lot of time worrying about the lack of appeal of transit for “choice riders,” or commuters who have other options for getting around. It’s important to recognize that the decisions they make are often weighed in time.

That means that a big part of the challenge here for cities is to make transit a more efficient travel mode, relative to cars, for more people….

[snip]

But outside of New York — with its extensive subway system — this is an extremely difficult task, particularly given that most of these maps reflect the fact that we’ve built cities to be traveled by cars (by, for instance, routing highways through them). But it’s possible to increase the relative efficiency of transit by creating dedicated lanes and signal priority for buses at stoplights, or increasing forms of express transit service. Transit networks could even compress what feels like the time cost of riding transit by adding cell service and WiFi that enable passengers to use time spent commuting productively — and in ways that aren’t possible from the driver’s seat of a car.

I hope every transit advocate, planner and elected official in our area reads this. I realize some people may not agree, but it certainly struck a chord with me and articulated what I’ve been trying to say for quite a few years: many commuters — including nearly all that I know — consider time the biggest factor in their commutes. They like the idea of transit, but time usually trumps things such as “liking the idea,” cost and the do-gooder factor.

Two other thoughts:

•This article indirectly implies that slowing down transit with extra traffic signals is a great way to dampen ridership and the investment made in transit in the first place.

•The MIT maps are a great argument for a healthy expansion of cycling infrastructure. As Emily writes, there probably is a cap on the number of people who will commute by bike, but there’s probably reason to believe most cities can grow the number of bike commuters somewhat.

Your thoughts, readers?

Bill Ford on the future of more cars: we can’t simply sell more cars (Wall Street Journal) 

Well, that’s certainly an eye-grabbing headline given that Bill Ford happens to be the Big Cheese at one of the world’s largest automakers. Unfortunately the op-ed is behind the WSJ pay wall. If you read it, please leave a comment summarizing the article. Thanks!

Gold Line Foothill Extension photo tour: transit-oriented development (Streetsblog L.A.) 

Photos and text look at some of the development plans in Monrovia, Duarte and Azusa adjacent to the project that is extending the Gold Line from eastern Pasadena to the Azusa/Glendora border. Looks like Monrovia is the most ambitious thus far with its Station Square plans; I think there are some great opportunities up and down the 11.5-mile alignment.

Why the Highway Trust Fund is running out of funds in five graphs (Washington Post) 

Or to put it in one sentence: the federal gas tax hasn’t been raised in 21 years, cars are more fuel efficient, people aren’t buying as much gas, people are driving less. Why does it matter? The Highway Trust Fund helps pay for road work and transit projects across the country and agencies such as Metro rely on those dollars. More on that later today.

Transportation headlines, Thursday, July 3

Have a transportation-related article you think should be included in headlines? Drop me an email! And don’t forget, Metro is on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. Pick your social media poison! 

Why we need to raise the gas tax — and then get rid of it (Washington Post) 

An interview with Rep. Earl Blumenauer about the looming insolvency of the Highway Trust Fund, the need to raise the federal gas tax in the short-term to patch up the fund and then eventually replace it with a vehicle mile tax. Good interview with a lot of information about the history of the gas tax and how a VMT could work.

Five lessons U.S. transit systems should learn from London (Citylab)

On the list are annual fare increases to keep pace with operating costs, service upgrades corresponding with fare hikes, technology upgrades and both leasing and developing agency property. That last one is something I know many of our readers have said that Metro should be doing given there seems to be available space at some transit stations.

New Sixth Street viaduct will have climbable 60-foot arches (Curbed LA)

The new bridge over the Los Angeles River is still being designed but it looks like a pair of the arches will have stairs to the top to provide views of the river and downtown Los Angeles. Sounds like a good sunrise/sunset photo spot!

Garcetti website getting good (LAObserved) 

Bill Boyarsky likes the improvements to the DataLA website, which he says pulls together the kind of data from a variety of sources that allows people to come to conclusions about the performance of city government and the local economy. I think all government agencies should take a look — as most agencies, including Metro, are sitting on a pile of performance data that often resides in many different places. Consolidating that data and making it presentable and easy to navigate is a ton of work, of course. It’s also good for democracy.

How to photograph fireworks (Ken Rockwell) 

A very helpful guide for those planning on shooting some pics tomorrow night. And, of course, our PSA: You can Go Metro to many of the fireworks displays around our region from Long Beach to downtown L.A. to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. We’ll have a post up soon.

Leg update: Highway Trust Fund still going broke but three-position bike racks bill in good shape

Two pieces of legislative news below from Metro CEO Art Leahy and the agency’s government relations team.

The first is bad news. Due to Congress’ inability to pass a long-range transportation funding bill, the Highway Trust Fund is going broke and states on average could lose 28 percent of federal funding if nothing is done. Blah. If this keeps up, we’ll have more soon on potential impacts to Metro.

In case you’re wondering about a solution: Congress needs to either raise the federal gas tax (it hasn’t been increased in two decades) or find other revenues to keep the Highway Trust Fund in the black.

The second is good news: state legislation that would allow bike racks that could hold three bikes on 40-foot buses is moving along nicely.

The update:

U.S. Department of Transportation Announces Planned Cuts In Highway Trust Fund Payments

As shared in a Legislative Alert yesterday, the Congressional Budget Office is estimating that it will take over $8 billion in additional revenues to keep the federal Highway Trust Fund solvent through December 31, 2014.

Earlier today, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx issued letters to major transportation stakeholders around the nation outlining how the U.S. Department of Transportation anticipates Highway Trust Fund payments will be distributed if Congress does not act to make the fund solvent in the coming weeks.

Secretary Foxx stated that the Federal Highway Administration will begin implementing cash management procedures starting August 1, 2014. No specific date has yet been set to implement cash management procedures for the Mass Transit Account.

States will receive their first notice of available funds on August 11, 2014 and thereafter every two weeks as the federal gas tax receipts are deposited into the Highway Trust Fund.

According to Secretary Foxx, “on average, states will see a 28 percent drop in federal transportation dollars. Depending on how they manage the funds, each state will feel the effects differently, but everyone will feel the impact sooner or later.”

To read the correspondence from Secretary Foxx on the federal Highway Trust Fund please click here. We are currently compiling a document that will be shared with all Board members, that includes an assessment of what a slowdown in federal transportation funds would mean for our agency.
State Legislative Update

AB 2707 (Chau) – Three Position Bike Racks
Yesterday the Assembly approved AB 2707, Metro’s sponsored bill, which would allow three position bike racks to be installed on our 40’ buses, passed the Senate floor unanimously 36 to 0. The bill now heads back to the Assembly floor for concurrence vote.

Transportation headlines, Monday, May 19

Have a transportation-related article you think should be included in headlines? Drop me an email! And don’t forget, Metro is on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. Pick your social media poison! 

ART OF TRANSIT: The peloton makes its way down Colorado Boulevard in Old Pasadena on Saturday during Stage 7 of the Tour of California. Two nearby Gold Line stations helped bring crowds to see the end of the stage. Photo by Steve Hymon.

ART OF TRANSIT: The peloton makes its way down Colorado Boulevard in Old Pasadena on Saturday during Stage 7 of the Tour of California. Two nearby Gold Line stations helped bring crowds to see the end of the stage. Photo by Steve Hymon.

Riding the Metro (L.A. Register) 

A reporter with the new L.A. Register takes a few rides on Metro Rail and then compares it to the D.C. Metro before lobbing a few questions at Metro CEO Art Leahy. Some interesting observations about the difference in fare evasion on the two systems.

Fare dodging is an organized rebellion in Stockholm, and it’s winning (New York Times) 

Proof that fare evasion is a problem that many other transit agencies grapple with. In this case, an organized group in Stockholm asks members to pay a fee and then skip paying fares; the group then covers the cost of citations that members receive for fare evasion. It’s a growing problem and Stockholm Metro officials say three percent of riders aren’t paying fares, costing the agency $36 million annually.

Gas tax hits rock bottom in 10 states (Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy)

The purchasing power of the gas tax in 10 states is at a new all-time low. Why? The gas tax in those states hasn’t changed in many years, while inflation has eroded the purchasing power of the money collected. California isn’t on the list. The gas tax here is 18 cents per gallon and hasn’t changed since 1990. Here’s a recent L.A. Times story about mileage taxes versus gas taxes.

North Figueroa bike lanes: public safety reps against public safety project (Streetsblog L.A.) 

A proposal to install bike lanes along Figueroa in northeast Los Angeles is getting mixed reviews. The city’s transportation department included the lanes in its bike lane plan dating to 2010 but public safety officials have expressed concern the lanes could slow emergency vehicle response times. Streetsblog’s response: the bike lanes are a project to improve road safety. Interesting debate.

U.S. Highway Trust Fund headed into the red within months

HTF-Cash-Flow-Summary-Through-2-28-14-Monthly-Ending-Balances-Chart

Below is the latest from Metro’s government relations staff on efforts to keep the federal Highway Trust Fund from going into the red; the fund supports road projects and mass transit across the United States. This has been a problem for many years but no solution seems imminent, particularly in an election year.

USDOT Report – Federal Highway Trust Fund Faces Imminent Shortfall

Over the weekend, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) released their latest projection on the solvency of the federal Highway Trust Fund. According to the USDOT, the federal Highway Trust Fund will encounter a shortfall before the end of Fiscal Year 2014.

The main reason the fund has not encountered a shortfall thus far is because MAP-21, the surface transportation bill adopted by Congress in 2012, authorized the transfer of $9.7 billion from the general fund to the federal Highway Trust Fund.

Congress is currently considering a number of options to address the looming shortfall.

Earlier this year, our Board adopted a support position for H.R. 3636 (Blumenauer) that would keep the federal Highway Trust Fund solvent by increasing the federal gas tax by 15 cents over three years and thereafter indexing the gas tax for inflation. For a link to the USDOT report on the federal Highway Trust Fund’s finances, please click here.

Transportation headlines, Tuesday, September 24

em>Have a transportation-related article you think should be included in headlines? Drop me an email!

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For those who didn’t go to the Paul McCartney show on Hollywood Boulevard last night or watch it on Jimmy Kimmel. Glad to hear some Wings made it into the set! Justin Timberlake gets his turn tonight. For those headed to the show, use the Red Line’s Hollywood/Highland station.

Blue Line earns deadly reputation for suicides (L.A. Times)

After rash of suicides, MTA asks public for help (Daily News)

With suicide by train up, LA appeals for help (Associated Press)

There was lots of coverage by print and electronic media of Metro’s press event Monday about Metro’s attempts to reduce suicides along the Blue Line. Thirty one of the 120 deaths along the Blue Line since 1990 have been suicides, including seven in the past 15 months. Meanwhile, the rate of accidents along the Blue Line has fallen.

From the Times’ story:

Metro has begun to ask the public to help prevent suicides, a rare move for transit organizations, which typically avoid the issue for fear of prompting copycat suicides. The agency has invested millions of dollars in gates intended to keep back cars and pedestrians at busy rail crossings, and signs with a suicide prevention hotline number were recently posted in every station. Coming into certain stations, operators have reduced their speed from 45 mph to 25 mph.

Accidental deaths have decreased this year, which officials say is a sign that the improvements have helped. But stopping people who want to kill themselves is more complicated.

[snip]

Experts say that it’s too soon to judge whether Blue Line suicides are more than a statistical fluke. Nationally, subway and light-rail suicides peaked in 2011, when 74 people killed themselves, according to federal data. That declined to 55 people in 2012, five of them in Los Angeles.

But the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health said that although the most recent data on local suicides aren’t yet available, anecdotal evidence suggests the Blue Line matches a rising suicide rate countywide.

Psychologists say that the Blue Line’s suicides could be linked to the economy. The working-class area surrounding much of the Blue Line has seen high unemployment and mass home foreclosures.

“The economy has had an impact,” Department of Mental Health psychologist James Cunningham said, “and the fact that it’s starting to turn around doesn’t necessarily mean it’s reached a lot of folks.”

It’s a very tough situation. I think it’s good that Metro chose to talk publicly and frankly about it on Monday. But I’m afraid there are no easy answers on this one.

Dallas commuters can now download their transit tickets on their phones (Wired)

From the story:

Passes purchased on a smartphone can be saved into a “digital wallet” for up to 60 days. Color coding shows how close the pass is to expiration. Soon, those with corporate and student passes will be able to add them to the app, and riders will also be able to purchase special tickets that include admission to events and museums.

Like TriMet in Portland, DART relies on bus conductors and fare inspectors to enforce payment, rather than turnstiles and gates. That makes smartphone payment a lot easier to implement than with automated fare collection. Once a pass is activated on the GoPass app, it displays a countdown timer showing how much time is left on the fare. Riders and fare inspectors alike can instantly know whether a ticket is valid.

Portland’s regional transit agency also just added an app that allows passengers to buy tickets on their smartphones. Portland, like Dallas, relies on fare inspectors to ensure passengers have purchased tickets.

Study proposes implementing per-mile tolls on U.S. interstate system (Better Roads)

Missed this one last week but worth mentioning: the Reason Foundation has proposed a toll of 3.5 cents per mile for cars and 14 cents per mile for trucks as part of their proposal to better fund and maintain the nation’s 25,000 mile interstate (i.e. freeway) system. The toll would be used instead of the current gas tax, which many people say is unsustainable because of increasing fuel efficiency and Congress’ using the funds for other purposes (such as transit).

The Reason Foundation’s proposal is rooted in some libertarian principals — namely the heaviest users of the interstates would pay the most and the money would only go for interstate upkeep and projects. Tolls would be collected electronically via transponders.

If I’m doing the math right, a drive from L.A. to San Francisco on the interstate would cost about $13. The federal gas tax is 18.4 cents a gallon, meaning a vehicle that gets 25 mpg only pays $2.65 or so in gas taxes.

Understanding the anti-gridlock zone (LADOT)

I think that neatly explains it!

Transportation headlines, Wednesday, July 17

Here is a look at some of the transportation headlines gathered by us and the Metro Library. The full list of headlines is posted on the Library’s Transportation Headlines online newspaper, which you can also access via email subscription (visit the newspaper site) or RSS feed.

First, let’s begin with an excerpt from the Los Angeles Newspaper Group (Daily News, etc.) editorial page, defending a recent opinion piece that cycling is not a viable transportation option in Southern California. Take it away, LANG Editorial Board:

Most of us, unfortunately, face commutes of far longer than a mile or two. It’s a mass sprawl from the desert to the sea, and some of us have either chosen or been forced into commutes that go from one to the other each morning and evening. Bicycling from Desert Hot Springs to Santa Monica and back again each day is not a convenient way to get around, watermelon in tow or not.

Is cycling here not just recreation but a real transit option? Have the creation of bicycle lanes on our roads, education programs to alert motorists or the desire to combat global warming and get some exercise at the same time convinced you to consider a cycling commute?

On the plus side, I’ve read stupider things in newspapers. On the other hand, I don’t recall ever hearing any kind of serious transportation advocate suggest that anyone should be commuting from Desert Hot Springs to Santa Monica whether it be in a car, bike, airplane, etc. So that’s just a really dumb example inserted into the editorial to make cycling advocates look extreme and unreasonable. Great journalism, eh?

Look, people. It’s fair game and it’s important that our press scrutinizes transportation projects of all types to determine whether they will be effective or not. As this blog has written before, not every bike lane is a good one. But it would be nice to see the media acknowledge the main argument for improving bike networks, sidewalks and transit: it’s a way to expand transportation options so that not everyone has to drive everywhere, thereby creating bad traffic. Yes, the same bad traffic editors love to crow about.

The problem is that it’s super easy to suggest thatSouthern California is too sprawling and too complicated for transit or bike lanes to ever work here. Never mind context about other large, sprawling regions where transit or bike networks do work — that’s not important when aiming to serve the lowest common denominator. It’s harder for the same editor to suggest a more nuanced approach, which would be a series of stories about the type of cycling infrastructure that works best and why. That’s the series of articles this region needs. And deserves.

Sermon over.

Is the California PUC foreshadowing the California Supreme Court? (L.A. Streetsblog) 

The Public Utilities Commission last week issued a ruling that, in essence, confirmed its earlier approvals of street crossings for the second phase of the Expo Line. The group Neighbors for Smart Rail has challenged that decision all the way to the California Supreme Court, with a ruling expected soon. The dispute involves the data used to study the impact of the rail crossings on traffic — in particular, whether the data must be current or can reflect future (i.e. worse) traffic decisions. Project supporters are pleased with the PUC upholding its earlier approvals and hope that’s a clue as to what the California Supreme Court will rule. Of course, the project is under construction and the Supreme Court thus far has not shown any inclination to halt work on the rail line.

Oregon to tax some motorists by the mile, not the gallon (Governing) 

Under the bill approved by the Legislature, 5,000 volunteers would pay a tax of 1.5 cents per mile driven instead of the state gas tax of 30 cents per gallon. With cars becoming more efficient, gas taxes have dipped and many advocates say that charging by the mile is a better way to raise funds needed for transportation while also taxing people for the road systems that they use — whether in a Prius or Lamborghini. This is just a pilot program in Oregon, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it sticks.

Metro Transit goes high-tech to find free-loading riders (Minneapolis Star-Tribune) 

The agency that runs trains and buses in the Twin Cities says that 99 percent of its rail riders are paying fares according to fare inspections. Now they are going to more closely track fare evasion on some bus routes, asking bus operators to use a computer to track freeloaders. Operators have the option of calling police when someone jumps aboard without paying, but many operators continue driving in an attempt to stay on schedule.

 

 

Transportation headlines, Tuesday, June 25

ART OF TRANSIT: Guess the intersection! And after you incorrectly guess, click above to check out the Metro Library's awesome Flickr stream with tons of similar photos of Los Angeles Transit Lines' streetcars. Photo: Alan Weeks.

ART OF TRANSIT: Guess the intersection! And after you incorrectly guess, click above to check out the Metro Library’s awesome Flickr stream with tons of similar photos of Los Angeles Transit Lines’ streetcars. Answer is after the jump. Photo: Alan Weeks.

Obama outlines ambitious plan to cut greenhouse gases (New York Times) 

President Obama, trying to fulfill a campaign promise, explains executive orders he will issue to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases that are blamed for climate change. It’s a relevant issue here, as greenhouse gases are created by the burning of fossil fuels by the transportation sector. Another big culprit is the power industry, which relies on burning coal to generate electricity. The President said he intends to cut emissions from both existing and new power plants while further limiting emissions from heavy trucks.

Of course, we can do our part. Walking, cycling and taking transit — which burns fossil fuels but transports a lot of people in the process — are all good ways to reduce your carbon footprint.

To toll or not: could the feds lift a ban on interstate tolling? (Governing) 

Proponents – including the tolling industry (shocker!) – say that lifting the ban would help pay for highway maintenance and make up for the shrinking revenue generated by the federal gas tax. With Congressional elections always on the cusp of happening, lawmakers have — another shocker! — shown no interest in raising the tax.

Party train to Vegas still looking for a station (L.A. Times) 

The X Train that is supposed to travel between Fullerton and Las Vegas has been delayed while the private venture tries to find a depot on the Vegas end of things. One likely candidate is in North Las Vegas, which is 11 miles from the Strip. Hmm. This train is not to be confused with the proposed XpressWest bullet train that would run between Victorville and Las Vegas. That project is still seeking federal financing.

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