New York State County Highway Superintendents Association News & Views
Tuesday, November 14, 2017


NYS Transit Industry News

Solving the Transit Financing Puzzle

America’s legacy transit systems are struggling. From Boston to New York to Washington, maintenance has been neglected, antiquated train cars continue to roll, and bus services struggle to retain riders. Fixing these problems requires money, but cities are divided on who should pay.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has proposed using a congestion fee on downtown drivers to raise the dollars to subsidize New York City transit. WMATA, which manages the Washington, DC, transit system has repeatedly lobbied for transfers from state governments and, to a lesser extent, regional municipalities. Gasoline taxes are an existing source of transit funding, and increases are regularly proposed as a way to stop the bleeding.

Many of these ideas make some intuitive sense. Economists are typically fans of roadway congestion pricing as a means of rationing scarce road space. Gasoline taxes work similarly, although in a far less efficient way, and using them to fund transit runs into problems. The level of taxation that corrects for congestion is not necessarily aligned with the funding needs of regional transit agencies.


State Government Affairs

New York Transit Fares to Rise Without
New Funding Sources​​​​​​​

New funding sources for New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority will need to be identified for the authority to avoid unplanned fare and toll hikes, according to a report released on Thursday by State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

“In the absence of adequate funding, the system could fall into further disrepair and riders could face unplanned fare hikes,” DiNapoli said in a statement detailing the report.



Federal Developments

Senate Advances Trump Pick for No. 3 Transportation Post​​​​​​​

The Senate on Thursday advanced President Trump’s pick for the No. 3 spot at the Department of Transportation (DOT), despite protests from Northeast Democrats who want the White House to fund rail-and-tunnel projects in their region.

In a 87-9 vote, senators agreed to invoke cloture and end debate on the nomination of Derek Kan to be undersecretary of transportation for policy at the DOT. The Senate will vote to confirm him on Monday.


Around the Country

Taking Transit Beyond the Traditional​​​​​​​

Ridership on most U.S. public transit systems is on the decline. An analysis by the Eno Center for Transportation, comparing data between 2014 and 2106 from the American Public Transportation Association, found that all but seven of the country's largest urban areas lost riders. The decline has been attributed to a variety of factors including the rise of ride-hailing services and low gasoline prices that make driving less expensive.

Regardless of the reason, transit districts are getting the message that they need to make some changes. Houston and Seattle were two of the cities that saw ridership increases in the Eno study, and the two metro areas had something in common: They had undertaken major overhauls of their bus networks. Houston, in addition to expanding service on weekends and evenings, redesigned its system to ensure that buses arrive at least every 15 minutes. Seattle undertook a similar redesign to optimize its bus network while expanding its light rail routes.

Uber Announces Partnership with NASA on
​​​​​​​Flying Car Service​​​​​​​

Uber is joining forces with NASA to develop an air traffic management system for its flying taxi service, the company announced Wednesday at a technology conference in Lisbon, as first reported by CNN.

The ride-hailing firm first unveiled its ambitious plans for a flying car project last year, as part of Uber’s effort to transform the transportation industry.

Uber will begin testing the concept in 2020 in Los Angeles, as well as in Dallas and Dubai, the company said Wednesday.


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