BAF IN THE NEWS
Clinton transpo advisory team includes politicians, former DOT officials (full article in Morning Transportation)
All four are familiar names in Washington political and policy circles. Rendell, a colorful personality known for speaking his mind, has served as a co-chair of Building America's Future, which advocates for robust infrastructure investment.
Reuters: Uber Sees Flying Commuters in 10 Years
Flying commuters like George Jetson could be whizzing to work through the sky less than 10 years from now, according to ride-services provider Uber, which believes the future of transportation is literally looking up.
Associated Press: No Injuries After Pence Plane Slides Off Runway in NYC
Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence's campaign plane slid off a runway during a rainstorm at New York's LaGuardia Airport late Thursday, tearing up concrete before coming to rest on a patch of grass.
Reuters: U.S. Judge OKs Historic $265 Million Settlement in 2015 Amtrak Derailment
A U.S. judge on Thursday signed off on a record $265 million settlement over an Amtrak passenger train crash in Philadelphia in 2015 that killed eight people and injured about 200 others, court records showed.
Washington Post: New DOT initiatives target airlines’ baggage fees and price transparency. Are they enough?
When the Transportation Department (DOT) announced new “enhanced” protections for air travelers last week, the reaction was predictable. Airlines complained loudly that they were being re-regulated. Consumer groups offered a collective eye-roll, grumbling that it wasn’t enough. And the government cheerfully congratulated itself.
Associated Press: Auto insurers: Distraction big factor in traffic death surge
Auto insurers believe drivers who text, use smartphone apps or are otherwise distracted are a big factor in the recent surge in traffic fatalities and injuries, an industry official said Thursday.
Washington Post: Donald Trump believes the United States can get $1 trillion in new roads — for free
Inside two weeks before Election Day, Donald Trump has finally released a plan to pump $1 trillion of new infrastructure spending into the U.S. economy.
AJC (Atlanta): Metro Atlantans still say gridlock is region’s top issue
Traffic is again the top issue on the minds of metro Atlanta residents, according to a closely-watched annual survey released Friday.
LaCrosse Tribune (Wisconsin): LAPC: Transportation talk turns to regional cooperation, infighting
Charged with developing a plan for transportation alternatives, the region’s metropolitan planning organization is struggling with more existential problems.
WAVY(10): McCrory announces $147M in transportation, infrastructure projects
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory announced Thursday that $147 million is being distributed to 508 towns and cities for transportation and infrastructure projects.
By Brianna Gurciullo | 10/28/2016 05:40 AM EDT
With help from Kathryn A. Wolfe, Lauren Gardner and Jennifer Scholtes
SCOOP: CLINTON'S TRANSPO POLICY ADVISERS: Hillary Clinton's roster of transportation policy advisers includes former DOT officials and politicians our MT readers should recognize: former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, former DOT Deputy Secretary John Porcari, former FAA Administrator Jane Garvey and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Our Kathryn A. Wolfe has the scoop for Pros.
Familiar names: Rendell co-founded Building America's Future, a group that advocates boosting investment in infrastructure. Garvey was appointed by President Bill Clinton as the first woman to lead FAA and she later advised President Barack Obama's transition team. Porcari served as deputy secretary with both Ray LaHood and current Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. Villaraigosa was under consideration for Transportation secretary before Obama ultimately tapped Foxx.
Where do they go now? "It's too soon to say which — if any — of those advisers might move over to advise the transition team, should Clinton win the election," Kathryn reports. "But a source with knowledge of the team's process said Porcari and Garvey in particular have been habitual participants on conference calls, which typically took place about every two weeks."
HAPPY FRIDAY: Good morning and thanks for tuning in to POLITICO's Morning Transportation, your daily tipsheet on all things trains, planes, automobiles and ports. Please send tips, feedback and, of course, song lyrics to firstname.lastname@example.org or @brigurciullo.
Want to keep up with all of MT's song picks? Follow our Spotify playlist.
WIKILEAKS: WHITE HOUSE LACKED INTEREST IN MAGLEV: Back in April 2015, former Sen. Tom Daschle apparently grumbled to John Podesta that the Obama administration wasn't responding to Japan's offer to help pay for a maglev train route between Baltimore and Washington, D.C., according to a supposedly hacked email released by WikiLeaks. As our Jennifer Scholtes reports for Pros, Daschle, a consultant for Japan's government, said Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was "consumed by this project." "He has raised it three times to both the president and vice president," Daschle told Podesta. "In all three instances, they have not responded to his expressions of interest. He is very frustrated."
Seven months later, Maryland received almost $28 million from the FRA to study the feasibility of a maglev route. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx then took a ride on a maglev train in Japan and spoke with Japanese officials about the United States building a maglev system.
The backstory: Congress gave DOT the authority in 2008 to spend $45 million on maglev projects east of the Mississippi River, directing the department to consider only the Baltimore-Washington line and two others: a proposed project in Pittsburgh and plans for a line to connect Atlanta and Chattanooga, Tenn. The FRA put $27.8 million of that funding on the table during a solicitation for grant applications in March of 2015 and ultimately gave the entirety of that award to the proposed Baltimore-Washington project.
PENCE PLANE SKIDS OFF LAGUARDIA RUNWAY: NTSB is investigating after Mike Pence's campaign plane skidded off a LaGuardia Airport runway Thursday in the rain. No one was hurt. The plane was operated by charter company Eastern Airlines, POLITICO's Matthew Nussbaum reports . The Republican vice presidential candidate left the airport within an hour of the incident. Later, Donald Trump said at a rally in Ohio: "I just spoke to our future vice president and he's OK. Do you know he was in a big accident with a plane? The plane skidded off the runway and was pretty close to grave danger. But I just spoke to Mike Pence and he's fine. He got out. Everybody's fine."
The FAA told The Associated Press that a "crushable concrete runway safety technology called an Engineered Material Arresting System stopped the plane." The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey told the AP that it temporarily shut down the runway after Pence's plane "overshot" it.
SULFUR EMISSIONS CAP TO SET SAIL IN 2020: The International Maritime Organization's Marine Environment Protection Committee decided on Thursday to put a new cap on the sulfur content of shipping fuel beginning in 2020. Some major shipping countries had wanted to push the effective date to 2025, as Joshua Posaner reports for POLITICO Europe. "A clear decision on whether to stick with 2020 as proposed in 2008 depended on whether delegates from the IMO's 171-member states were convinced that enough alternative fuels would be available," Josh reports.
WMATA TO LIMIT TRAIN SPEEDS: After a Metrorail train almost hit four people — two FTA inspectors and two track workers — last week, WMATA plans to make software changes over the next couple years to keep all trains from going faster than 59 mph, The Washington Post reports . The limit will help prevent trains from overrunning stop signals and mitigate crashes, Chief Safety Officer Pat Lavin said at Metro's board meeting Thursday. Some Silver Line trains have reached speeds as fast 75 mph on straightaways. Lavin said last week's close call happened at a blind spot near the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport stop. The operator didn't know about a temporary speed restriction and there was a miscommunication over radio.
WHAT'S IN A NAME? Transportation safety experts, at a forum co-hosted by NTSB on Thursday, supported the idea of the government giving automakers wiggle room to develop advanced driver assistance systems, but acknowledged there eventually will need to be some standardization of those technologies and what they're called, as our Lauren Gardner reports for Pros. Former NTSB chief Debbie Hersman, now president and CEO of the National Safety Council, praised the voluntary agreement struck earlier this year among NHTSA, IIHS and 20 automakers to make automatic emergency braking standard in most new cars by 2022, but noted: "We have to get some standard nomenclature to talk about this."
NTSB member Earl Weener agreed, saying industry and regulators "gain experience" by watching manufacturers as they take different approaches to developing the underlying technology in advanced systems. "And that comes much more quickly than trying to have government put together standards about something they don't really understand completely," Weener said.
Ratings system update likely delayed: One way to nudge automakers toward installing crash-avoidance technologies, like lane-departure warnings, is for NHTSA to include them as part of its five-star vehicle safety rating system. The agency proposed a sweeping update to its New Car Assessment Program last December and had originally planned to finalize changes by the end of the administration. But a NHTSA official said Thursday that regulators plan to solicit a second round of public comments on the proposal given the large number of technologies it suggested wrapping into the overhaul.
NEW SHERIFF IN TOWN: FTA has named a new director for its WMATA safety oversight team as the current leader departs for Cleveland. Angela Dluger will now manage FTA's temporary oversight of the nation's second-largest subway, Lauren reports for Pros. Dluger has worked at the agency since 2010 and was most recently deputy associate administrator in the Office of Transit Safety and Oversight, where she worked on safety programs and regulations.
LeBron says you can go home: Sean Thompson is leaving FTA to become director of rail operations for the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, where he previously worked from 2010 to 2011. Thompson built FTA's WMATA team once the feds assumed oversight of the troubled system a year ago this week, and a spokeswoman said he also helped lead the agency's response to the fatal smoke incident at L'Enfant Plaza in January 2015.
COMPANIES WANT FMCSA TO CHANGE DRUG TEST REQUIREMENT: Members of the Alliance for Driver Safety & Security are asking FMCSA to allow transportation companies to use hair drug test results instead of urine exam results when considering truck driver applicants. The Trucking Alliance members say hair testing is more effective, and complain that currently, if an applicant fails a hair test, a company can't share the results with other companies. "Maverick has had 108 people apply for truck driver positions who cleared the mandatory urine exam but failed our hair test," Steve Williams, the president of the Trucking Alliance and CEO of Maverick Transportation, said in a statement Thursday. "We denied them employment, but they likely found work at other trucking companies, because we can't share those positive hair test results with those businesses."
The members say hair testing is more expensive than urinalysis, but they're willing to pay for it because of the more reliable results. Meanwhile, they say they are "being forced to also fund the redundant and less effective urine testing process." The FAST Act instructed HHS to release guidelines for hair testing. "However, HHS is expected to request more time to develop its guidelines," the Trucking Alliance companies say.
GAO DINGS FMCSA ON HOW IT SIZES UP SAFETY INTERVENTIONS: The GAO is out with a report on the actions FMCSA takes to prevent truck and bus crashes. FMCSA has tried to determine the "effectiveness" and "efficiency" of its Compliance, Safety, Accountability program, which aims to identify safety problems among motor carriers and step in to get them fixed before an accident happens. Every year, FMCSA assesses the combined "effectiveness" of its interventions, which include sending letters to warn motor carriers of safety problems and launching investigations. But the GAO found that the statistical model the agency uses doesn't include an analysis of its different kinds of interventions. "Without this type of specific information, FMCSA is hampered in its ability to identify the circumstances under which different types of interventions are effective," according to the GAO.
When evaluating the "efficiency" of interventions, FMCSA uses a 2011 study that estimated the average cost of interventions in just four states. "Without current cost estimates that are representative of all states, FMCSA cannot appropriately assess the efficiency of its interventions," the GAO said. And while FMCSA has tried to make interventions more effective and efficient, it isn't comprehensively measuring its own progress, the GAO concluded.
DEPARTURE LOUNGE: Allison Cullin is leaving the Senate Commerce Committee Republican staff to join Amazon's transportation policy team in D.C. early next month. Cullin worked on the FAST Act and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration reauthorization bill.
THE AUTOBAHN (SPEED READ):
— The math behind Donald Trump's $1 trillion infrastructure plan. The Washington Post.
— "Inside Uber's plan to take over the skies with flying cars." Wired.
— "Amtrak reaches $265 million settlement over deadly Philadelphia crash." NPR.
— "Pricey charter flights were standard for Bill Clinton's free speeches." The Wall Street Journal.
— "Auto insurers: Distraction big factor in traffic death surge." The Associated Press.
— "New scanners and conveyors could make airline security faster and safer." Bloomberg.
— "Chip makers cut deals as cars get smarter." The Wall Street Journal.
THE COUNTDOWN: DOT appropriations run out in 42 days. The FAA reauthorization expires in 336 days. The 2016 presidential election is in 10 days. Highway and transit policy is up for renewal in 1,436 days.
THE DAY AHEAD:
Nothing on our radar for today.
Did we miss an event? Let MT know at email@example.com.
Stories from POLITICO Pro
Clinton transpo advisory team includes politicians, former DOT officials Back
By Kathryn A. Wolfe | 10/27/2016 03:41 PM EDT
Hillary Clinton has put together a team of policy advisers to corral views on transportation policy that includes two former DOT officials and two politicians — a former mayor and a former governor.
Specifically, according to several sources with direct knowledge, Clinton's policy advisory team is co-chaired by former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, former DOT Deputy Secretary John Porcari, former FAA Administrator Jane Garvey and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
All four are familiar names in Washington political and policy circles. Rendell, a colorful personality known for speaking his mind, has served as a co-chair of Building America's Future, which advocates for robust infrastructure investment.
Garvey is steeped in transportation and was appointed by President Bill Clinton as the first woman to head up the FAA. She also advised the transition team for President Barack Obama, has been associated with the Clinton Foundation, and serves on the board of United Continental Holdings.
In Porcari, Clinton's team has a savvy workhorse with a deep knowledge of virtually every issue before the DOT, considering his stint as deputy secretary under former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood as well as Anthony Foxx. Porcari recently left the administration to join engineering and design firm Parsons Brinckerhoff.
And for some time before Foxx was selected, Villairaigosa's name was among those floated as under consideration for DOT secretary.
It's too soon to say which — if any — of those advisers might move over to advise the transition team, should Clinton win the election. But a source with knowledge of the team's process said Porcari and Garvey in particular have been habitual participants on conference calls, which typically took place about every two weeks. They were mostly used to gather policy positions and opinions from a variety of transportation interests.
The advisory team has recently stopped holding its conference calls as the election draws near, one source said.
The calls have lately been organized by Madhuri Kommareddi, who is now vice president of corporate strategy at BlackRock Group.
Previously, Kommareddi was associated with the Clinton Foundation, and had previous positions in the White House, as well as having helped with Obama's political campaigns during his time as a senator.
Clinton has pledged to pour $275 billion into infrastructure spending if she's elected. That program would be paid for by revamping business taxes, though the campaign has offered little information about how it planned to move that ambitious agenda through Congress.
WikiLeaks email describes plea for White House interest in maglev Back
By Jennifer Scholtes | 10/27/2016 09:14 PM EDT
Seven months before the DOT gave Maryland nearly $28 million to study a maglev train route, former Sen. Tom Daschle was allegedly still trying to get an unresponsive Obama administration to come around to the idea, according to an email released by WikiLeaks.
In an apparent email to John Podesta, Daschle complained about lack of interest from President Barack Obama and Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in creating a maglev train route from D.C. to Baltimore — a proposal Daschle promotes as a consultant for the Japanese government.
Daschle sought Podesta's advice for getting the White House to respond to Japan's offer to pay what the email characterized as $7 billion, about half the cost of constructing a maglev system between Baltimore and Washington, D.C., and to secure a memorandum of understanding to share the technology.
"This is a huge issue for Abe. For some reason he is consumed by this project," Daschle allegedly wrote to Podesta in April of last year about Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. "He has raised it three times to both the President and Vice President. In all three instances, they have not responded to his expressions of interest. He is very frustrated."
Daschle, who runs his own consulting firm, also leads the board of The Northeast Maglev, a venture that promotes the idea of constructing a Baltimore-Washington maglev line that would eventually extend to New York City. And Podesta was an aide to the former senator in the mid-90s, while Daschle was serving as Senate Democratic leader.
Daschle said in the email last year that he talked to White House chief of staff Denis McDonough and tried to engage with Foxx and Vice President Joe Biden.
"We have gotten nowhere," Daschle told Podesta, who had stepped down as counselor to President Barack Obama at the time of the alleged email. "I know you are under severe restrictions about any contact with the administration, but if you could offer any advice, I would welcome it."
Seven months after that email was sent, Foxx was riding aboard a maglev train in Japan, calling it "fascinating technology," following DOT's announcement that the Federal Railroad Administration had given Maryland $27.8 million for a maglev study.
The secretary also met with Japanese officials during that trip last fall to discuss U.S. construction of a maglev train system, which is estimated to cost upwards of $10 billion to connect Washington and Baltimore.
At that point, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan was already on board with the idea, himself riding on a Japanese maglev train earlier last year and saying "there is no question that this is the future of transportation," The Washington Post reported at the time.
For its part, the Japanese government agreed this summer to give $2 million to support the feasibility study on the Baltimore-Washington line.
Congress gave DOT the authority in 2008 to spend $45 million on maglev projects east of the Mississippi River, directing the department to consider only the Baltimore-Washington line and two others: a proposed project in Pittsburgh and plans for a line to connect Atlanta and Chattanooga, Tenn. The FRA put $27.8 million of that funding on the table during a solicitation for grant applications in March 2015 and ultimately gave the entirety of that award to the proposed Baltimore-Washington project.
Pence plane skids off runway, passengers OK Back
By Matthew Nussbaum | 10/27/2016 08:01 PM EDT
A plane carrying Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence skidded off the runway Thursday evening after landing at New York's LaGuardia airport. No one was injured.
Pence was traveling with his wife and eldest daughter, a cadre of aides, Secret Service personnel and a traveling press corps. The plane is operated by a private Miami-based charter company, Eastern Airlines.
"Everyone realized the plane was skidding, but I don't think there was panic," said Marc Short, a senior Pence aide who was aboard the plane.
After the plane had stopped, Pence made his way to the back of the aircraft "to make sure everybody was OK," Short said, and then thanked the pilots.
Pence was hardly shaken by the incident. He called into the finance event at Trump Tower shortly after the landing, and spoke on speaker phone as he would no longer be able to make it in person, according to spokesperson Marc Lotter, who was with Pence aboard the plane.
Rescue vehicles came to the plane, though all the passengers were able to exit without assistance. Campaign manager Kellyanne Conway called Short soon after the incident to make sure no one was hurt. Donald Trump called Pence twice while they were still on the runway and finally got through on the third call and spoke with Pence, Short said. Within an hour of the incident, Pence and his aides had departed the airport.
Pence took to Twitter to thank the first responders.
"So thankful everyone on our plane is safe. Grateful for our first responders & the concern & prayers of so many. Back on the trail tomorrow!" he wrote.
Trump later Thursday told a rally in Geneva, Ohio, "I just spoke to our future vice-president and he's OK. Do you know he was in a big accident with a plane? The plane skidded off the runway and was pretty close to grave danger but I just spoke to Mike Pence and he's fine. He got out. Everybody's fine."
Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton tweeted: "Glad to hear@mike_pence, his staff, Secret Service, and the crew are all safe. -H."
"Nobody has been hurt, we're going through all our standard operating procedures and cooperating with all authorities," said Nick Loudon, executive director of special projects at Eastern Airlines. "We don't want to make any assumption [about] what happened yet."
"A new plane is headed to New York and the governor will be out on the trail tomorrow," Lotter said. Pence has stops Friday planned in Pennsylvania and North Carolina.
Upon arriving at his Manhattan hotel, Pence gave a thumbs-up and the "OK" sign to waiting reporters before making his way inside.
-- Cristiano Lima contributed to this report
Hersman: Automakers need 'mix' of rules, latitude to innovate Back
By Lauren Gardner | 10/27/2016 02:32 PM EDT
A former chair of the NTSB today said regulators need to give automakers some leeway to develop advanced technologies that can help drivers avoid crashes, but that eventually some uniform standards will be needed.
Debbie Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council, said she's "absolutely a believer" that drivers will see automatic emergency braking systems faster thanks to a voluntary agreement among 20 automakers and NHTSA. The agreement will make the technology standard on nearly all new cars by September 2022.
"You've got to encourage the innovation and the rollout," she told reporters at forum on advanced driver assistance systems jointly hosted by NTSB and NSC.
"But I think at some point," she added, "there's got to be a role for identifying if there are things that aren't working, or practices or technologies that are best in class. And the industry can do that themselves through standards-setting, through cooperative agreements. But I think there's got to always be a role for the government to come in underneath that and say, 'If it's not happening, we've got to get it there.'"
Hersman noted that automatic emergency braking technology is called different things by different manufacturers, and that drivers are already confused by the offerings that vary by vehicle type.
"If human beings are going to struggle with those transitions, we've got to begin to think about how do we standardize, how do we communicate, how do we educate people who are going to be still having some role" in driving, she said.
FTA names new WMATA safety lead Back
By Lauren Gardner | 10/27/2016 11:52 AM EDT
FTA has named Angela Dluger as lead regulator supervising safety at WMATA, as part of the agency's temporary oversight initiative.
The move comes as current WMATA lead Sean Thompson departs FTA for the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA), where he'll serve as director of rail operations. Thompson previously worked at RTA and left in 2011 for positions at FRA, before jumping to FTA in 2014.
Dluger joined FTA's Office of Budget and Policy in 2010 and later became the deputy associate administrator in the Office of Transit Safety and Oversight. She has more than a decade of experience working at public transit agencies in San Jose, Calif., and Chicago, according to FTA.