Friday, January 23, 2009
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
The Bipartisan Policy Center's National Transportation Policy Project is hosting a reception tonight, Wednesday, the 14th, as part of the Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting. The reception will be at the Omni Shoreham (by Woodley Park metro), in the Congressional Room, from 6-7:30pm. All are invited to attend.
The reception will feature two of NTPP's Co-Chairs, former Congressman Sherwood Boehlert and former Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer. Several members of the NTPP will be in attendance as well, including former FAA administrator Jane Garvey. Senator Mark Warner, a former NTPP Co-Chair, will also be stopping by early in the evening, and there may be a guest appearance by a former Senator...
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Monday, January 5, 2009
During his career in the U.S. House of Representatives Congressman LaHood had a reputation for approaching public problems with an open and pragmatic mind. I am confident that this attitude will translate into a willingness to consider significant reform in the transportation sector during his leadership of U.S. Department of Transportation. Many necessary changes can only come through legislative action, but DOT can undertake administrative and regulatory changes to promote greater linkages between transportation policy, economic growth and competitiveness, energy security, and climate change. Addressing these issues, which are deeply interwoven with transportation policy areas, is essential in developing a forward-looking federal vision – and DOT can play an important role in this task.
There are a number of steps DOT can begin today to reform the system. Perhaps the most dramatic might be a reorganization of DOT’s structure along functional, rather than modal, lines. The leading example of such a departmental restructuring comes from the United Kingdom. The goal is to better align priorities, objectives, and process while reducing inefficiency and providing incentives for success. A restructuring would help clarify and consolidate the grant-making agencies within the DOT (like merging the highway and transit agencies into one) and the more regulatory-oriented agencies that deal with goals like safety. Within the limits of existing statute, the new Secretary might consider a reorganization of DOT around national goals and purposes, such as transportation in metropolitan regions, major trade and goods movement corridors, and intercity passenger connectivity. In addition, the new Secretary might undertake – again, within existing law – a consolidation of the Department’s regulatory activities that deal with goals like safety.
DOT can lead in other areas as well. In focusing on energy security and environmental goals, Cong. LaHood, as Secretary, should begin the process of further increases in CAFE standards for all classes of vehicles and should direct DOT’s operating agencies to develop guidance to state, local, and metropolitan agencies that will encourage genuine strategic transportation planning and linkages between transportation, economic growth, energy, and climate change at those levels. To improve operations DOT can take action to enhance the role and capacity of the Bureau of Transportation Statistics to collect data critical to insuring performance and accountability; without better data it is hard to develop accountability much less set goals. DOT can also move to put a greater emphasis on operating improvements and restoration of existing assets and, to the extent possible under existing law, using DOT programs and authority to allow state and local governments to utilize pricing in the management of systems.
Even if all of these goals cannot be fully accomplished in the next few years, a DOT focused on opportunistically moving the ball forward when possible will help to ensure that critical long-term concerns are advanced.