Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Highway Trust Fund Battles

Posting his most recent entry on the National Journal Transportation Expert blog, BPC’s Director of Transportation Policy, Emil Frankel took the opportunity to reinforce the strength and applicability of the NTPP performance-driven framework. The framework put forth by NTPP in 2009 is not only applicable in today’s discussions about how to most effectively and efficiently address national fiscal and economic challenges, but is a useful guide for how to both generate and clearly demonstrate maximum return on investment.

Emil highlights the importance, and in fact necessity, of tying transportation policy and funding decisions to the current domestic policy debates around budget deficits, national debt, and economic growth. Our nation faces huge fiscal challenges and, as Emil points out, the transportation sector will not, nor should it, be immune from having to grapple with these realities.

Emil answered the question ‘what’s the solution?’ posed by the blog moderator, emphasizing both austerity and investment going forward. He explicitly calls for more resources to be invested in transportation infrastructure, so long as these scarce public resources are invested wisely and efficiently. This is a statement that echoes similar sentiments expressed in the recently released joint statement between NTPP and the National Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing Commission.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Thoughts on Investing in High-Speed Rail

Emil Frankel, BPC’s Director of Transportation Policy recently weighed in on the National Journal expert blog discussion about whether investment in high-speed rail is beneficial for the economic growth of our country. In his latest blog entry, Mr. Frankel acknowledges that high-speed rail has become a contentious, partisan, and ideological issue, and warns that this type of discussion can distract us from a broader, critical consideration of how and where we should invest scarce federal resources.

Emil points out that NTPP’s 2009 Performance Driven report proposed a mode-neutral competitive "connectivity" grant program. Under such a program, intercity passenger rail projects would be eligible for federal support on the basis of projected performance toward a suite of national goals. This type of competitive grant program would help ensure that investments, including investments in high-speed rail, are made only if they are able to demonstrate and deliver greatest returns and benefits to the country compared to investments in other modes.

Check out the debate among transportation experts on this topic, as well as Emil’s full blog post here.

Monday, November 15, 2010

What Changes Will the New Congress Bring?

Emil Frankel was recently invited to submit an entry on the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association (IBTTA) official blog Talking Points discussing ‘What Changes Will the New Congress Bring?’

Given the new landscape on Capitol Hill, as a result of the recent mid-term elections, Emil suggests that debates over all domestic programs and initiatives are likely to be dominated by a push for fiscal constraint, expenditure freezes or caps, reductions in annual general fund deficits, and the ballooning national debt.

Transportation has typically been an issue that cuts across partisan and ideological lines, and in his blog Emil expresses hope that these conditions will continue in the new Congress. The likelihood of bipartisan support for passage of a surface transportation bill in 2011 rests on leaders of both parties recognizing that investment in transportation infrastructure is not only possible, but is essential, in a time of economic and fiscal constraint.

Check out Emil’s full blog entry, as well as that of other transportation experts here.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Transportation and Climate: A Path to Recovery and Economic Growth

NTPP's Joshua Schank discussed Transportation and Climate: Economic Growth and Implications of the Midterm Elections on Future Policy at an event co-hosted by the Bipartisan Policy Center and the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, as part of the Joint Center's ongoing series on Critical Issues in Climate Change.

The session was moderated by Carolyn Green, Founder and Managing Partner at EnerGreen Capital Management. Other panel participants included the Honorable Mayor William Euille from the City of Alexandria, Virginia, James Corless, Director at Transportation for America, and Jim Tymon, Staff Director for the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit of the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

The discussion focused on the impact that federal transportation policy has on our economy, climate and on the well-being of communities. Panelists reiterated that reforming federal transportation policy can help ensure long-term, sustainable economic growth, energy security and environmental protection. During the discussion panelists considered the historical impacts of transportation investments and discussed policy options for ensuring that future investments take a more systematic approach.

Listen to a full recording of the panel discussion here.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

After the Election, What If?

This week's National Journal Transportation Expert Blog poses a question, assuming Republic gains in Congress next year and potential Republic control of the House, how would the debate around transportation change? What kind of attention would federal transportation legislation receive given this new Congressional reality?

Many experts who posted blog entries addressing this question concur that our future national reality, the context in which future transportation investments will be negotiated, is one of constrained resources; one in which the public seems to be calling for a narrowing of the federal scope. There is a corresponding call for defining what is truly in the national interest. This issue of a well defined national transportation system was a key discussion topic at NTPP’s workshop on transitioning to a performance-based federal surface transportation policy.

It is clear that given a constrained resource environment and numerous competing demands on the federal budget the transportation sector, like many other sectors, must look long and hard at the various options for funding the system. It is beginning to be recognized by transportation policy experts that the days of an ever-expanding federal-aid transportation program may have come to an end.

Emil’s entry on the National Journal Blog this week presents the case that in an environment of severely limited resources it is essential to apply outcome-based, performance-driven, accountability principles to policy. These principles are part of the driving force behind NTPP’s Performance Driven report. It is clear that wiser investment decisions are needed; carefully thought through in terms of return on investment.

Check out Emil’s full blog entry, as well as the entries and opinions of other leading transportation policy stakeholders, here.