federal legislation

COMMUTE bill would boost accessibility metrics

By Eric Sundquist A new bipartisan bill in Congress would provide funding for DOTs and MPOs to apply innovative accessibility metrics to decision-making. The COMMUTE bill, S.B. 654 and H.B. 1517, was introduced March 5 by Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Reps. Mark

House and Senate release bills on AVs

By Alex Beckmann On Friday, September 8, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee released a draft of its automated vehicle legislation. Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (Republican, South Dakota) and Senator Gary Peters (Democrat, Michigan) have been leading these

Expanded transit tax incentive can’t compete with the lure of subsidized parking

By Mary Ebeling Many municipalities have goals of improving air quality, reducing traffic congestion, and increasing transit use. The federal government asserts similar goals. However, until recently federal policies providing greater tax breaks to car commuters than transit commuters have

Conflict over drunk driving penalties divide safety advocates

By Bill Holloway As Congress hashed out the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, one area of heated debate centered on how to effectively reduce drunk driving. As described in Governing, the debate has focused on whether states should require that everyone convicted of drunk

Bill would rein in patent trolling of transit systems

By Eric Sundquist A bipartisan bill pending in a U.S. House committee would put “patent trolls” on the hook for defendants’ legal costs, making unfounded patent-infringement suits less attractive. The Saving High-Tech Innovators from Egregious Legal Disputes (SHIELD) Act, or H.R. 845, was

How do we get “everyday Americans” to support transportation funding?

By Beth Kanter  Despite the fact that everyone uses some mode of transportation, a recent article in Governing Magazine explored the transportation community’s failure to engage “everyday Americans” in the need for transportation investments. There is too much at stake – jobs, money,

Congress is still wrestling with Positive Train Control requirements

The increased Amtrak speeds in Michigan and Indiana followed the Federal Railroad Administration’s approval after  successful implementation of a Positive Train Control (PTC) system. PTC, first mandated by Congress in 2008, is a technology used in trains that is meant to avoid human error and

Congress debates raising the 80,000 pound truck weight limit

Congress set the current 80,000-pound weight limit for trucks on Interstate highways in 1991. For years proponents of raising the limit have argued that it would reduce the number of trucks on the road, shipping costs, and congestion. On the other side of the argument are those who believe these

Metropolitan Planning Organization Reform

Overview Since the early 1990s, federal law has increased the authority of Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), and pending federal legislation is likely to give them additional spending powers and responsibilities. Yet, as important arms of local government, MPOs are problematic and

The FREIGHT Act is back

Senators Lautenberg (NJ), Murray (WA), and Cantwell (WA) have reintroduced the Focusing Resources, Economic Investment, and Guidance to Help Transportation (FREIGHT) Act, which was originally introduced by Lautenberg during the 2010 session. As reported in ProgressiveRailroading.com, the act