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.

Monday, October 11, 2010

NTPP Co-Chair Dennis Archer Briefs President Obama

Today, NTPP Co-Chair, BPC board member and former Mayor of Detroit Dennis Archer joined mayors, governors and current and former transportation secretaries for a discussion with President Obama on how best to advance a national infrastructure investment plan. Mayor Archer stressed, as NTPP recommends, that going forward all transportation investments need to be held accountable for demonstrating results toward five national goals: economic growth, national connectivity, metropolitan accessibility, energy security and environmental protection, and safety. This approach would ensure the most “bang for the buck”.

This meeting was complimented by the release of a report from the Treasury Department, An Economic Analysis of Infrastructure Investment concluding that now is the optimal time to invest in public works projects. NTPP’s recommendations concur with the motivations behind this report, such as the need to strengthen America’s global competitiveness, the desire to consolidate transportation programs, the need to reform outdated formula programs, and the desire to focus more on competition, innovation and on the economic benefits of infrastructure investments.

NTPP will continue to be actively engaged in these conversations; given our bipartisan, consensus-driven approach we are a valuable resource to the debate, especially, in what is likely to be, a Republican majority Congress convening in January. The recommendations issued in our 2009 Performance Driven report are highly relevant today, as such we will continue working to ensure that these recommended reforms are incorporated into future legislation.

Friday, October 1, 2010

NTPP Event: How Fair is Road Pricing?

NTPP with Co-Hosts Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Congressman David Reichert (R-WA) hosted a policy briefing on the Hill to release our latest research paper How Fair is Road Pricing? Evaluating Equity in Transportation Pricing and Finance. The paper was written by Dr. Brian Taylor, Professor and Chair of the Urban Planning Department at UCLA. This report was initially commissioned prior to the release of NTPP’s 2009 Performance Driven report, in order to inform the recommendations for federal surface transportation policy reform put forth in that report.

Dr. Taylor’s research paper examines the equity implications of road pricing. It systematically considers the various ways that a road pricing system might raise equity concerns. Using case studies of how equity issues have been addressed in current applications of road pricing, the paper makes recommendations for how to address equity concerns in road pricing projects. Dr. Taylor points out through his research that equity is truly in the eye of the beholder.

In his opening remarks Congressman Blumenauer assured the audience that the debate highlighted by this NTPP report will be critical to developing the next authorization bill. He commended the BPC for bringing this crucial topic to the Hill. Congressman Reichert echoed a similar appreciation of BPC’s work in his remarks. Congressman Reichert stressed the importance of coming together in a bipartisan way to take a look at how to finance efforts to unclog transportation across the nation.

Dr. Martin Wachs, Director of Transportation, Space, and Technology at the RAND Corporation applauded Dr. Taylor on his research, and more specifically on his ability to explain the subtleties and the complexities associated with equity in road pricing. Dr. Wachs pointed out during his remarks that often in politically charged debates we tend to focus on the distributional aspects of the problem. We don’t often take into account, as we should, the efficiencies or effectiveness of a particular decision. Dr. Wachs noted that in most cases projects in fact proved to be much more equitable in practice than they were initially anticipated to be.

Anita Hairston, Senior Associate with PolicyLink lauded Dr. Taylor’s paper for putting the issues of equity out front. Ms. Hairston called for those involved in transportation investment decisions to use the framework presented in Dr. Taylor’s paper as a practical evaluation tool to truly understand the equity impacts of the various options for financing the transportation system.

Check out full video coverage of the event here.