Transportation headlines, Wednesday, May 19

Here’s a look at some of the transportation headlines gathered by the Metro Library. The full list of headlines is posted on the library’s blog. Don’t forget you can also follow the Metro Library on Facebook and Twitter.

FTA chief paints dismal picture of nation’s transit priorities (Transport Politic)

Peter Rogoff, head of the Federal Transit Administration, spoke recently at a transit conference in Boston and did not hold back any punches. He told officials from across the country that if they were short of money to operate their systems — and most large agencies are these days — then it often didn’t make sense for those same agencies to ask the FTA to help fund pricey rail expansion projects.

The Transport Politic’s Yonah Freemark dissects Rogoff’s remarks and offers a critical take on most of them. In particular, Freemark points to the fact that some of the problems local transit agencies are having is attributable to a lack of federal help when it comes to operating and maintenance funds. Excerpt:

What’s most surprising about this speech is that it comes from a member of an Administration that has made a point to emphasize different kinds of thinking when it comes to transit investments. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood has been a major proponent of angling transit programs towards livability, in strong opposition to the Bush Administration’s obsession with diminishing spending on public transportation. This DOT has made positive statements about major new rail capital projects like Los Angeles’ 30/10 program.

In which direction is Mr. Rogoff’s FTA heading? Is he preparing us for a complete drop-off in federal funds resulting from Congress’ inability to pass a new transportation authorization bill? Is this a desperate call for more local financing? Only time will tell.

A visitor bikes in L.A. (Tucson Vel0)

A cyclist in town from Tucson brings along his folding bike and goes for a ride on Venice Boulevard, part of which has a bike lane. His verdict: not enough cyclists wearing helmets, poor pavement quality and surprisingly courteous motorists.