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Infrastructure in the News 9.14.16

NATIONAL NEWS

In These Times: Our Most Vital Infrastructure Isn’t “Crumbling.” It Hasn’t Been Built Yet.

http://inthesetimes.com/article/19460/our-most-vital-infrastructure-isnt-crumbling-it-hasnt-been-built-yet/

There isn’t much downside to proposing more infrastructure spending. That’s the generic name for everything from dams and levees to railroad tracks and schools, but it mostly means roads and bridges.

Yahoo! Finance: For Detroit, Silicon Valley transportation startups look cheap

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/detroit-silicon-valley-transportation-startups-144757992.html

The traditional auto industry is riding high, breaking sales records, raking in profits on hot-selling trucks and SUVs, and piling up cash on balance sheets.

Associated Press: Uber gives riders a preview of the driverless future

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/uber-gives-riders-a-preview-of-the-driverless-future/2016/09/14/26b0132c-7a64-11e6-8064-c1ddc8a724bb_story.html

Uber riders in Pittsburgh can get a glimpse of the future by summoning a car capable of handling most of the tasks of driving on its own.

Wall Street Journal: Does Car Sharing Help the Environment? The Early Evidence Is In (full article follows Morning Transportation)

http://blogs.wsj.com/experts/2016/09/13/does-car-sharing-help-the-environment-the-early-evidence-is-in/

The proliferation of car-sharing services in major cities is evidence that this new transportation option is popular with consumers, likely because it’s cheaper to share a car than own one.

Wall Street Journal: Ford Rolls Out Plans for Robo-Taxi Fleets, Autonomous-Car Services (full article follows Morning Transportation)

http://www.wsj.com/articles/ford-rolls-out-plans-for-robo-taxi-fleets-autonomous-car-services-1473854746

Ford Motor Co. rolled out sweeping plans Wednesday to expand into robo-taxi fleets and other autonomous-car services, the latest in a series of technical ventures unveiled before an annual meeting with investors who have largely kept the company’s stock in neutral.

Reuters: Commentary: What happens when a company is lost at sea

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-business-shipping-commentary-idUSKCN11J2I6

One of the world’s largest container lines, Hanjin Shipping, filed for receivership, a type of corporate bankruptcy, on August 31. The South Korean company, which moves more than 100 million tons of cargo every year, faced an estimated $5.5 billion in debt as of late June.

STATE NEWS

Bismarck Tribune (North Dakota): Industries fear 'dangerous precedent' will slow infrastructure development

http://bismarcktribune.com/news/state-and-regional/industries-fear-dangerous-precedent-will-slow-infrastructure-development/article_ecf7cc94-0eb6-5296-b1fc-a2f3fcf09064.html

Leaders of the American Petroleum Institute and North America’s Building Trades Union on Tuesday say they are concerned the Obama administration’s recent move to delay construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline could slow infrastructure development.

Jacksonville Business Journal: Experts discuss the merger of technology, transportation and economy

http://www.bizjournals.com/jacksonville/news/2016/09/14/experts-discuss-the-merger-of-technology.html

Transportation and technology are colliding together, and to keep up Jacksonville will need to look at engaging its business community and staying innovative, said experts at a luncheon on the Economic Impacts of Transportation.

WTOP (Maryland): Md. transportation leader: No new Potomac crossing anytime soon

http://wtop.com/sprawl-crawl/2016/09/md-transportation-leader-no-new-potomac-crossing-anytime-soon/

Northern Virginia commuters may be eager for another Potomac River crossing to smooth the way into D.C., but a key regional transportation leader is dumping cold water on the notion.

North Jersey.com: Passaic County says it'll sue over transportation project shutdown's extra costs

http://www.northjersey.com/news/passaic-county-says-it-ll-sue-over-transportation-project-shutdown-s-extra-costs-1.1660022

The political stalemate between Governor Christie and the Democrats in Trenton over how to replenish the Transportation Trust Fund has dragged into its third month, with most road and bridge repair projects around the state at a standstill.

WISN 12 (Wisconsin): Report details pending crisis in Milwaukee transportation infrastructure

http://www.wisn.com/news/report-details-pending-crisis-in-milwaukee-transportation-infrastructure/41648024

There's trouble ahead for Milwaukee's streets, bridges and buses unless some changes are made. A new transportation study out Tuesday shows 56 percent of streets are in poor or fair condition.

Associated Press: Bar cars returning to Connecticut-New York commuter trains

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/bar-cars-returning-to-connecticut-new-york-commuter-trains/2016/09/13/6a04ed70-79e0-11e6-8064-c1ddc8a724bb_story.html

Railroad cars equipped with bars for serving alcohol are returning to commuter trains running between New York City and Connecticut, restoring a tradition dating back 50 years that evoked the stylish cocktail-sipping scenes of the “Mad Men” TV show.

Associated Press: White House asks Congress for $2.6 billion to help Louisiana

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/congress/white-house-asks-congress-for-26-billion-to-help-louisiana/2016/09/13/8d014f78-7a1f-11e6-8064-c1ddc8a724bb_story.html

The Obama administration asked Congress on Tuesday for $2.6 billion to help Louisiana rebuild from disastrous floods that have ravaged the state.

Washington Post; Car2Go upgrades its D.C. fleet as usage rises

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/dr-gridlock/wp/2016/09/13/car2go-upgrades-its-d-c-fleet-as-usage-rises/

Car2Go is overhauling its D.C. fleet.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Streets, bridges, buses need costly upgrades

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/local/milwaukee/2016/09/12/streets-bridges-buses-need-costly-upgrades/90257686/

Milwaukee and Milwaukee County will need to spend more on aging streets, highways, bridges and buses in the next several years even as both governments face significant obstacles to going deeper into debt, uncertain state and federal support, and growing competition for funds from major building projects, says a new report by the Public Policy Forum.

USA Today Wisconsin: State awards $3 million grant for railroad improvements

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/local/2016/09/13/state-awards-3-million-grant-railroad-improvements/90309976/

The Wisconsin and Southern Railroad Company received a hefty grant to replace the rail of the railroad track between Brandon and Ripon.

Wall Street Journal: Bikes Are Hub of City’s Plan (full article follows Morning Transportation)

http://www.wsj.com/articles/bikes-are-hub-of-citys-plan-1473813835

When the L-train tunnel closes for repairs in 2019, disrupting subway travel between Brooklyn and Manhattan for 225,000 daily commuters, the city will look to the lowly, human-powered bicycle to be a part of the solution.

By Brianna Gurciullo | 09/14/2016 05:41 AM EDT

With help from Kathryn A. Wolfe, Jennifer Scholtes and Lauren Gardner

IT AIN'T OVER TILL IT'S OVER: Supporters of an air traffic control overhaul "are not giving up," says American Airlines CEO Doug Parker. At an Airlines for America event Tuesday, Parker said ATC restructuring "is a cause that is crying out for leadership from the White House." He hinted that the solution might come from the attendees, who could take jobs in a Trump or Clinton administration, our Kathryn A. Wolfe reported for Pros.

A4A's president and CEO, Nick Calio, said Tuesday that government shutdowns are a "major business issue that disrupts our entire organization" and a reason to separate air traffic control from the FAA. A shutdown is highly unlikely this year. Still, Calio said, "absent modernization, we most certainly will face a shrinking air traffic control system despite the increasing demand for air travel."

But lawmakers need convincing: A restructuring proposal faces skeptics in Congress. Senate Commerce Committee ranking member Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) has said the Department of Defense would hesitate to put air traffic control in private hands. And there's also the matter of many House Democrats and members of the general aviation industry, who remain opposed to wholesale changes.

The bottom line: An overhaul won't come quickly, if at all. NATCA President Paul Rinaldi said at the A4A event he expects that this time next year, "we're going to be looking at an extension."

IT'S WEDNESDAY: Good morning and thanks for tuning in to POLITICO's Morning Transportation, your daily tipsheet on all things trains, planes, automobiles and ports.

Our Lauren Gardner was chatting with Rep. John Mica on Tuesday about Amtrak and he drew a double-decker train in her notebook. (Mica thinks the new Acela trains ordered by Amtrak should have been double deckers, like the ones in Europe that can carry twice the amount of passengers per car. The double deckers are high-speed, too.) The Florida Republican probably shouldn't consider a career as an artist: http://bit.ly/2c797ZS.

Please send tips, feedback and, of course, song lyrics to bgurciullo@politico.com or @brigurciullo.

"God made the automobile/To pass all the pretty girls/That smoke by the side of the road/Their blues lovin' boys in tow/To drive 'til the of the day/And bow to a borrowed flag/Beside all the brave and the blind/And men without men in mind." (h/t The Washington Post's Martine Powers)

Want to keep up with all of MT's song picks? Follow our Spotify playlist: http://spoti.fi/2c1dyHF.

COMMITTEE APPROVES BILL TO SUSPEND CUBA FLIGHTS: The House Homeland Security Committee approved a bill Tuesday to stop flights to and from Cuba, at least until the Obama administration conducts a study of security protocols at airports on the island nation. Our Jennifer Scholtes reported for Pros: "The measure's sponsors argue that many of the canine teams used to sniff out bombs at Cuban hubs are made up of 'mangy' dogs, airport workers aren't thoroughly vetted and the island nation's hubs are ill-equipped to screen travelers flying to the United States because they don't have magnetometers to detect nonmetallic explosives."

"'There are now over 100 flights inbound to the United States out of Cuba. God help us if one of those planes has a bomb on it,' Chairman Mike McCaul (R-Texas) said during the markup. 'This island is only 90 miles away from Miami, from the United States. ... And we have no idea what the status of that security is in those airports.'"

WHAT'S THE HOLDUP? Passengers on 11 domestic flights in July waited over three hours because of tarmac delays, air carriers reported to DOT . Passengers on 10 international flights waited over four hours for the same reason. Five of the flights were United and seven were Delta. The on-time arrival rate of the reporting airlines was 75.2 percent, a decrease from June as well as July of last year. Domestic flight cancellations increased to 1.9 percent. The airlines with the lowest on-time arrival rates: Frontier, JetBlue and American. The airlines with the highest cancellation rates: ExpressJet, Southwest and Spirit.

NTSB DIGS INTO COAST GUARD TRAFFIC SERVICE: Watch supervisors and operators at U.S. Coast Guard vessel traffic service centers have inconsistently used their authority to direct ships, the NTSB has found. And in some cases, "watchstanders lack confidence applying the navigation rules and regulations when unsafe situations are detected because they do not have sufficient knowledge of or proficiency with the rules and regulations," according to a synopsis of the independent agency's study of the Coast Guard's vessel traffic service system released Tuesday.

Lack of action: Since 2009, "the NTSB has investigated six major commercial vessel accidents inside VTS areas, half of which resulted in a hazardous materials release," according to the report. "All of these accidents occurred under conditions that called for VTS action, but such action was not taken or the need for action was not recognized." Accidents like collisions, allisions and groundings led to two deaths, 179 injuries and over $69 million in damage from 2010 to 2014. NTSB gave 17 recommendations to the Coast Guard, including updating manuals and training as well as conducting risk assessments.

TAKE THAT, COAST GUARD: Rep. Duncan Hunter has just lobbed a "gotcha" letter at the Coast Guard, basically telling the maritime service's leaders that a simple Google search may prove them wrong and him right. The California congressman dug up a Coast Guard document on major icebreakers of the world, and he wants to know whether any of those vessels are capable of fulfilling some of the service's icebreaking missions, despite the fact that Coast Guard leaders have said there are no ships available for lease that would meet their requirements. "If so, why will the Coast Guard not seriously consider lease options given the evidence of vessels identified in the Coast Guard's own document?" the letter says.

MT MAILBAG: Democratic Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois fired off a letter to FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez this week urging her agency to rework or nix proposed deals with auto companies. The deals would settle the regulator's claim that the companies deceptively advertised used vehicles as passing tough safety inspections when they were still subject to open recalls. The proposed consent orders with General Motors and two auto dealer companies stop short of prohibiting deceptive language, instead requiring sellers to include a disclaimer that the advertised vehicles might still be under a recall and to tell consumers how to find out whether the car is subject to an open recall.

"Selling a new car or renting a car with an open recall is already banned, and I have been working with safety advocates to close the major loophole in the law that allows for sale of used cars with open recalls to occur," Schakowsky wrote. "In the meantime, the FTC should stop auto dealers from deceiving their customers."

DEPARTURE LOUNGE: Mark Powers is stepping down as CFO of JetBlue. Starting in November, Senior Vice President and Treasurer Jim Leddy will be interim CFO, as long as JetBlue's board of directors approves it.

THE AUTOBAHN (SPEED READ):

- NTSB: Ineffective rudder in slick braking led to Delta runway accident. USA Today.

- It's not your imagination. Your Metro train is slowing down. The Washington Post.

- Rep. Roger Williams "offers unusual defense in ethics probe." The Center for Public Integrity.

- American Airlines faces federal suit over travel insurance "kickback scheme." POLITICO Pro Florida.

- Southwest Airlines flight makes emergency landing in Chicago. The Associated Press.

- Independent truckers ask appeals court to bar e-logs. The Wall Street Journal.

- Spat over which U.S. airlines fly government workers intensifies. Reuters.

THE COUNTDOWN: DOT appropriations run out in 15 days. The FAA reauthorization expires in 380 days. The 2016 presidential election is in 54 days. Highway and transit policy is up for renewal in 1,480 days.

THE DAY AHEAD:

10 a.m. - The House Transportation Committee marks up the FAA Veteran Transition Improvement Act, the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Amendments Act, the Railroad Emergency Services Preparedness, Operational Needs and Safety Evaluation Act and other legislation. 2167 Rayburn House Office Building.

11 a.m. - The FAA and Aerospace Industries Association hold a NextGen demonstration. 2359 Rayburn House Office Building.

1 p.m. - The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health holds a public web meeting to seek comments on the future of its Center for Motor Vehicle Safety.

3 p.m. - The Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee has a public teleconference.

Did we miss an event? Let MT know at transpocalendar@politicopro.com.

To view online:
https://www.politicopro.com/tipsheets/morning-transportation/2016/09/calls-for-an-atc-overhaul-are-here-to-stay-house-committee-passes-bill-to-suspend-cuba-flights-ntsb-digs-into-coast-guard-traffic-service-019136

Stories from POLITICO Pro

ATC reform proponents 'not giving up' Back

By Kathryn A. Wolfe | 09/13/2016 04:17 PM EDT

Maneuvering over the next FAA bill is ramping up, with proponents of changing the structure of air traffic control using the specter of a government shutdown in two weeks as evidence for why the system should be overhauled.

At an Airlines for America event Tuesday, the group's president and CEO Nick Calio said the airline industry is still feeling the impact of the sequester and that shutdowns are a "major business issue that disrupts our entire organization."

Of course, so far there's little indication that the government will actually shut down. And Calio acknowledged it's unlikely.

"Do I think the government will shut down? No. But I've said that before," he said, adding that there's an "exhausting potential for it to happen again."

Calio said that even if the government doesn't shut down, "absent modernization, we most certainly will face a shrinking air traffic control system despite the increasing demand for air travel."

Paul Rinaldi, president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, echoed a similar theme, noting the "funding uncertainty that will have to be addressed before Congress breaks at the end of this month."

"It's just the same old story and it continues to repeat itself, and those in this room and many in the industry realize that we've got to do something different," Rinaldi said. "So yes, we need stable, predictable funding, and if that is dovetailed into some type of new structure or reform, we want to be part of the discussion."

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee, said the current extension gives us "time to talk about this," but reiterated previous comments about the Defense Department being "quite concerned" about removing air traffic control from the FAA.

"You turn over air traffic control to civilians -- 20 percent of U.S. airspace is used by the DoD, and so there are a lot of things that have to be considered, but we'll have time to talk," Nelson said.

In any case, Doug Parker, chairman and CEO of American Airlines, said Tuesday that "we're not giving up on this. This isn't over."

Parker hinted that the overhaul issue is the next administration's to champion, noting that the solution may be "in this room" - among people who could shift to posts in the next administration.

"This is a cause that is crying out for leadership from the White House," Parker said.

Earlier Tuesday, Rinaldi made similar comments, saying he'd "love to see a brand new administration," along with Congress, "working together."

Rinaldi predicted that if he ends up speaking at the same event next year, with just weeks before the current extension expires, "we're going to be looking at an extension."

Indeed, Congress will have its work cut out for it. The 114th Congress will end at the end of this year, meaning every bill that was not enacted will die and have to be reintroduced and moved through the legislative process again.

Lauren Gardner contributed to this report.

Back

House panel OKs bill to halt U.S.-Cuba flights Back

By Jennifer Scholtes | 09/13/2016 06:22 PM EDT

House Republicans are moving ahead with their main legislative salvo intended to force the Obama administration to walk back its decision to open commercial fights between the U.S. and Cuba.

The House Homeland Security Committee on Tuesday approved a bill by unanimous consent that would at least temporarily stop all commercial flights to and from the Caribbean nation, less than two weeks after Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx traveled to Cuba on the first scheduled passenger flight in more than 50 years.

The five-page bill (H.R. 5728), introduced by Transportation Security Subcommittee Chairman John Katko (R-N.Y.), comes after panel leaders accused the White House of fast-walking the onset of commercial flights this year to shore up President Barack Obama's legacy.

The bill would bar the operation of U.S.-Cuba flights until the Obama administration has completed a study on security protocols at Cuban airports. The measure's sponsors argue that many of the canine teams used to sniff out bombs at Cuban hubs are made up of "mangy" dogs, airport workers aren't thoroughly vetted and the island nation's hubs are ill-equipped to screen travelers flying to the United States because they don't have magnetometers to detect nonmetallic explosives.

"There are now over 100 flights inbound to the United States out of Cuba. God help us if one of those planes has a bomb on it," Chairman Mike McCaul (R-Texas) said during the markup. "This island is only 90 miles away from Miami, from the United States. ... And we have no idea what the status of that security is in those airports."

Although the measure is unlikely to become law, its advancement brings attention to GOP leaders' ongoing criticism of the administration's decision to lift the travel restrictions. And while the markup is the last step for the committee, there are several more opportunities for legislative action since the House Foreign Affairs Committee also has jurisdiction over the bill and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) introduced a companion measure (S. 3289) in the Senate this month.

McCaul and Katko - along with Reps. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) and Richard Hudson (R-N.C.) - tried this summer to travel to Cuba on a trip to personally assess the aviation security measures in place there. But Cuba denied the congressional delegation's visa applications, even after Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson pushed the foreign government to give the lawmakers their needed travel documents.

"I would hope that this bill, as we report it to the House floor, sends a message to the government of Cuba," McCaul said. "I know they're watching this hearing, and I hope they hear the message loud and clear: We will not be denied access if you are going to fly into the United States."

The Obama administration and many congressional Democrats have countered GOP criticism of Cuban airport security by noting that the airports cleared for departures to the United States have all met minimum requirements set by the United Nations' International Civil Aviation Organization, and that the Obama administration reached a deal in August that allows the U.S. to put air marshals on flights between the two countries.

In a 9-13 vote, the committee voted down an amendment by ranking Democrat Bennie Thompson of Mississippi that would insert language into the bill asserting that ICAO's safety and security standards are "the cornerstone of the international aviation system and are the baseline against which TSA evaluates all last point of departure airports." The amendment would also add a sense of Congress that any future bills calling on TSA to assess foreign airports should be "uniform" and "should not single out one country or one airport."

Thompson said during the markup that the bill's sponsors have "chosen to disregard" TSA's assessments of Cuban airport security and "instead have decided to hold Cuban airports to a standard different than all other foreign airports with direct flights to the U.S."

"For too long politics have stood in the way of progress," Thompson said. "The department has told the committee that to single out one specific foreign airport for this type of reporting requirement would be unprecedented."

Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) pointed to Vietnam as an example of how air travel is allowed from countries that used to have far worse relationships with the United States.

"My question to you is, 'Why Cuba?' Why is this not an umbrella bill, for example?" Sanchez asked her Republican counterparts. "I would just hate to seem like we are just discriminating against one country. ... It seems like you are thwarting the ability of this president to move the relationship with Cuba."

Thompson's amendment also would have added language acknowledging that there are 280 foreign airports serving as last point of departure to the United States, including the airports in Brussels and Istanbul that were attacked this year. It also notes that the U.S. and Cuba early this year agreed to terms for flights between the two countries, that TSA is allowed to intervene and give security directives to airlines if specific threats are identified at foreign airports, and that Congress enacted legislation in July that requires TSA to do comprehensive risk assessments of security procedures at foreign airports and allows the agency to donate security equipment to those hubs.

The panel adopted a substitute amendment that would bar airlines from employing Cuban nationals for flight processing if they do not publicly disclose the text of agreements with the Cuban government, as well as an amendment that would prohibit U.S. air carriers from hiring Cuban nationals that have been recruited, hired or trained by Cuban entities such as the country's council of state or the Communist Party.

Katko said airline officials have told lawmakers that it takes them up to 10 days to get visas approved to send personnel to Cuba.

"It just basically is a messaging bill to say to the airlines: To the extent that you can, try to get your own guys on the ground," Katko said. "God forbid something happens down there and they need airline personnel down there right away."

But Thompson called the mandates an improper interference and argued that employment agreements "may contain proprietary and sensitive information that could stifle competition to the detriment of the flying public."

Back

POLITICO Pro Florida: American Airlines faces federal suit over travel insurance 'kickback scheme' Back

By Daniel Ducassi | 09/13/2016 09:55 PM EDT

A federal lawsuit filed in South Florida alleges that American Airlines was taking "kickbacks" each time it sold trip insurance through its website on behalf of a third-party insurer.

The lawsuit was filed Monday by lawyers for Coral Gables-based Leon Cosgrove law firm on behalf of a Sarasota man who purchased trip insurance on the American Airlines website.

The suit says American Airlines, with a major hub in Miami, aggressively markets the trip insurance, but denies taking a cut of each sale.

The airline tells customers that the insurance is offered by Allianz Global Assistance, not American Airlines, and is underwritten by Jefferson Insurance Company or BCS Insurance Company.

"Despite these denials and representations to the customer that it plays no role in the provision or administration of the insurance policies, sales of the policies are in fact a hidden profit center for American, misrepresented to the customer as a 'pass through' charge," the lawsuit, which seeks class-action status, states. "American falsely represents to its customers that, when they purchase an insurance policy, the funds to cover the policy's cost are transmitted to Allianz Global Assistance, who American identifies as the company offering the policy for sale to the customer."

The suit alleges a violation of Florida's Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act and unjust enrichment. In addition to class action status, the suit seeks compensatory and punitive damages, an order that American disclose the amount in kickbacks it receives from selling trip insurance premiums, among other forms of relief.

Read the lawsuit here.

This article first appeared on POLITICO Pro Florida on Sept. 13, 2016.

Does Car Sharing Help the Environment? The Early Evidence Is In

The proliferation of car-sharing services in major cities is evidence that this new transportation option is popular with consumers, likely because it’s cheaper to share a car than own one.

But what impact has it had on the environment? New research, from the City of Seattle and university researchers finds positive environmental results.

Car sharing is a rent-by-the-hour system, where users find a car nearby using a smartphone app. Members then unlock the car and use it as long as they like, returning it to one of many areas around town. The availability of the cars makes them a quick and easy way to travel, without having to wait for a bus or commit to the full-day rate of a traditional rental car.

Here are some of the ways car sharing is making a now-measurable environmental impact:

In a recent survey, Seattle found that one-in-eight car-sharing members used the system instead of purchasing a car of their own. According to the city, this has reduced the number of cars in Seattle by about 4,500.

Researchers are finding a similar result on college campuses. A Berkeley study on the impact of Zipcar found 40% of college students were less likely to buy a car.

Additionally, car-sharing programs typically use fuel-efficient vehicles. In the case of Car2Go, they use two-seat Smartcars, which average about 34 mpg in the city. In Seattle, public transit averages about 42 passenger miles per gallon. By my calculations, if every fourth Car2Go has two passengers, the fuel efficiency is equal to public transit.

And reducing the number of cars on the road can also reduce the amount of pavement needed for parking. Storm water runoff from pavement, which runs directly into rivers, lakes and the ocean, is one of the most significant sources of water pollution, carrying brake dust, tire rubber, bits of oil and other pollution that add up over time. Car sharing can be one part of reducing that impact.

In fact, rather than one car using a parking space for eight hours, Car2Go reports their cars sit for one or two hours and are used again, reducing the amount of space needed for parking. The Zipcar study found a similar result, arguing that college campuses should embrace car sharing rather than “more spots and lots.”

And it’s not just startups in this space. The car-sharing model is taking off with established names in automotive transportation. BMW is now launching its own effort, using its all-electric i3 as part of the fleet. Competition will not only increase the number of people using the service – and the associated environmental benefits – but will help keep prices low.

All this is a good example of how private companies can provide services that improve customer service and help the environment, all without the expense of government-run programs. It’s just the latest example of private innovators in a free market becoming more effective at finding environmentally friendly solutions that achieve those important goals in a way that serves consumers and doesn’t force taxpayers to foot the bill.

This is an important case study of durable environmental solutions. The model of expensive, top-down environmental mandates works only when problems are simple and well defined. For distributed environmental problems, where impact comes from many small inputs, attempts to coerce individuals to change behavior often generate unintended consequences as people find ways to avoid restrictions. Helping people do more with less, using technology and business rather than coercion, is the best way to create environmental solutions that aren’t subject to the changing political winds.

Ford Rolls Out Plans for Robo-Taxi Fleets, Autonomous-Car Services

Ford Motor Co. rolled out sweeping plans Wednesday to expand into robo-taxi fleets and other autonomous-car services, the latest in a series of technical ventures unveiled before an annual meeting with investors who have largely kept the company’s stock in neutral.

The No. 2 U.S. auto maker says the move into new business services will deliver 20% profit margins once rolled out—far higher than the low single-digit return typical for car manufacturers—and help it pivot to services less exposed to the U.S. auto industry’s boom-bust cycles.

Ford, a traditional car and truck manufacturer coming off record 2015 profits, is in a technological arms race with rivals including General Motors Co. and Toyota Motor Co., which have recently announced significant investment on the road toward driverless cars.

Ford expects total company profits next year to decline amid heavy investment in new areas but will rebound in 2018 as Ford takes several steps to improve its core automotive business, such as expanding its highly lucrative performance-car lineup, improving profitability on low-margin small cars and generating cost-savings averaging $3 billion annually between 2016 and 2018.

Ford thinks autonomous vehicles could account for 20% of U.S. vehicle sales by the end of the next decade and the first deployment will be in geo-fenced urban areas, such as New York City and Metro Detroit.

“The world is moving from simply owning vehicles to owning and sharing them,” Ford Chief Executuve Mark Fields said. “That’s why we are expanding to sell more vehicles and more transportation services at the same time.”

Since taking over as CEO in mid-2014, Mr. Fields has worked to pivot Ford in a new direction, aiming to take advantage of the computerized car to diversify into new transportation services and take on new rivals that are looking to redefine the future of the car business.

Only recently, though, has the company begun to detail its plans, rolling out a raft of new investments in recent months that include the purchase of a van-shuttle service in San Francisco and taking a stake in laser-sensor maker Velodyne Inc., which makes devices for autonomous cars.

Such actions have done little to excite investors, though. Wall Street appears more fixated on short-term concerns, such as U.S. car sales slowing from last year’s record clip. Ford’s stock is down 11% since the start of the year, despite a coming redesign of its F-series heavy-duty trucks that are among its biggest moneymakers.

While Ford continues to book profits amid strong demand for high-margin pickup trucks and sport-utility vehicles in the U.S., earnings have been dented from the U.K’s decision to leave the European Union, weaker financial results in China and a $640 million charge related to recalling nearly 2.4 million vehicles with faulty door latches.

The recall charge forced Ford to cut its pretax profit guidance for 2016, with the company now saying it expects to earn $10.2 billion in operating income, down from the $10.8 billion recorded in 2015.

Ford said its total operating cash flow will remain positive through 2018, and the company expects financial results to improve in troubled Russia and South America as its restructuring efforts take hold there.

The car company didn’t provide specifics on what exact services it will provide through its noncore business or the potential revenue it expects to generate from each, only that it would target several areas, such as ride sharing, management services for autonomous-car fleets and connected telematics, through potential partnerships and acquisitions.

Meanwhile, other car makers are racing ahead with their own plans, and new players such as ride-hailing startup Uber Technologies Inc. and electric car maker Tesla Motors Inc. are capturing much of the investor enthusiasm that Ford attracted a few years ago when it avoided filing for bankruptcy protection during the financial crisis.

GM earlier this year invested $500 million in ride-hailing startup Lyft Inc., with which it plans to soon start testing a fleet of driverless Chevrolet Bolt taxis on public roads. Other global giants, including Toyota, Nissan Motor Co. and Volkswagen AG, have committed to putting self-driving cars on the road, and in some cases, are pursuing far more aggressive timelines.

Ford plans to roll out its first fully autonomous car with no steering wheel or pedals in 2021 but only for commercial purposes. A personal-use driverless car will be available in dealerships around the middle of next decade, Mr. Fields said.

Ford hosted reporters and analysts at its headquarters earlier in the week in an effort to showcase future plans and coming innovations. The auto maker offered rides in self-driving Fusion sedans currently undergoing tests and displayed prototypes of its electric bicycles.

Ford Chairman Bill Ford Jr., speaking to reporters Tuesday, signaled the company is switching its messaging as it embarks on these new ventures, seeking to underscore the value of its manufacturing heritage in the coming car-tech revolution.

Ford executives have for years stressed the company wants to avoid becoming a “handset maker”, worried that if the 113-year-old car company didn’t get out ahead of Silicon Valley challengers like Google, Uber and Apple, Inc., it would end up a low-margin assembler of other companies’ technology.

“That conversation has really shifted in the last year,” Mr. Ford said, adding that tech firms are starting to realize building a car is no easy feat. “People from the outside looking in really underestimated what we brought to the table, particularly in terms of technology,” Mr. Ford said.

Bikes Are Hub of City’s Plan

When the L-train tunnel closes for repairs in 2019, disrupting subway travel between Brooklyn and Manhattan for 225,000 daily commuters, the city will look to the lowly, human-powered bicycle to be a part of the solution.

A new five-year New York City transportation plan includes a proposal to create protected bike lanes on a section of Delancey Street on the Lower East Side that connects to heavily used bike lanes on the Williamsburg Bridge.

The plan, to be released Wednesday, also calls for a new, indoor, city-owned secure bicycle parking site on the Manhattan side of the bridge, near connections for four other subway lines. The site could serve as a prototype of a new kind of bicycle-storage system near transportation hubs.

The city says a small but growing share of city commuters ride bicycles to work or school—2.5%. Groups worried about the plan to close the L-train tunnel for 18 months welcomed the effort though they said it was only the start of a broader discussion.

“Everything needs to be mustered: additional direct bus service, bikes, ferries and private cars, any and all possible modes of transportation that can be brought to bear” said Felice Kirby, a leader of the L Train Coalition, a group concerned about the shutdown.

City Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said cycling in general and the bike lanes on Delancey Street were key to the five-year plan to reshape the transportation system at a time the city faces pressure from a record-high population. The cost of the plan wasn’t available.

“All city agencies,” she said, “are grappling with problems caused by economic growth and job creation that other cities would envy.”

The plan focuses on promoting walking, biking and mass transit, especially in less affluent neighborhoods far from subway stops, while cutting car travel and congestion caused by trucking, she said.

Transportation planners envision stepped up electronic and video monitoring of trucks to identify traffic-clogging double parking and overweight vehicles.

The plan also calls for variable parking fees for cars—to be paid via a new smartphone app to be released soon. Fees could be greater in high-demand areas to free up parking space, or lower in other areas where parking was a less urgent problem, officials said.

Some new initiatives, including a study of design changes to make left turns safer at 100 intersections, were added to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero plan to eliminate deaths and injuries in auto accidents.

On Tuesday, Mr. de Blasio said the city was on track to add 75 bike lane miles this year. The total includes 18 miles of protected lanes, where bikes are separated from pedestrians and vehicles.

The two-way Delancey Street protected bike paths would run from Allen Street east to the foot of the Williamsburg Bridge, under current city plans.

Under a pilot project, parking for dozens of bicycles would be made available next year, officials said, inside the Delancey and Essex Municipal Parking Garage, a 24-hour-a-day facility on Essex Street. Nearby is a subway stop on the F, J, M and Z lines.

Similar secure bicycle parking will be provided in warm weather at transit hubs next year as part of the pilot. The sites would mirror bicycle parking near transit centers in Europe and Asia, some with spaces for thousands of bikes.

“Cyclists do not need to worry about finding an open secure rack near their destination or having their bikes stolen or vandalized,” in the parking sites, the plan noted.

The commissioner said she hoped to see large-scale bicycle parking included as New York Penn Station and the Port Authority Bus Terminal are redeveloped.

Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives, an advocacy group, said his group had been discussing bike parking with the city for about a year.

“They are looking to showcase what New York doesn’t have yet,” he said, “modern secure bike parking at least at busy transit hubs. This is a step in the right direction, as is the proposed bike lanes on Delancey Street.”