Transportation News for March 9, 2015

  • by BPC Staff
  • on March 9, 2015

POLITICO Morning Transportation for 3/9/2015

By KEVIN ROBILLARD, with Heather Caygle

TRANSIT RIDERSHIP SETS MODERN RECORD: More Americans rode public transit in 2014 than in any year for the past 58 years, the American Public Transit Association announced overnight. The 10.8 billion trips included a 3.3 percent increase in heavy rail trips, a 2.9 percent increase in commuter rail and a 1.1 percent decrease in bus ridership. “Despite the steep decline in gas prices at the end of last year, public transit ridership increased. This shows that once people start riding public transit, they discover that there are additional benefits besides saving money,” APTA CEO Michael Melaniphy said.
THE WEEK AHEAD: The House isn’t in town this week, but the upper chamber is. And the presence of the conferences of the American Public Transportation Association and the National League of Cities means the upcoming week shouldn’t be a snoozer. Here’s what you have to look forward to.

—MONDAY: The American Public Transportation Association’s annual legislative conference gets into heavy gear, with ARTBA President Peter Ruane and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Janet Kavinoky speaking at 9 a.m. and the mayors of Fort Worth and Mesa, Ariz. participating in a 10:30 a.m. roundtable. A keynote session beginning at 1:45 p.m. has Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, acting FTA Administrator Therese McMillan and acting FRA Administrator Sarah Feinberg. That’s followed by a 3:45 p.m. Hill briefing with staffers from the Senate Commerce, Senate Banking and House Transportation committees.

The National League of Cities Conference has DOT Counselor to the Secretary Carlos Monje appearing at a 9 a.m. panel on introducing a new surface transportation bill moderated by Patrick Wojahn, a College Park, Md. city councilmember and a Rails to Trails Conservancy staffer. Foxx speaks alongside Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and EPA administrator Gina McCarthy at 3:30 p.m.

—TUESDAY: At 10 a.m., House Transportation Committee Chair Bill Shuster will be at Rice University in Houston with Texas Reps. Blake Farenthold, Brian Babin, Gene Green and Kevin Brady to discuss transportation issues. Business leaders, including Wal Mart’s Bryan Most and BNSF chief marketing officer Steve Bobb will also participate. The talk will focus on developing a strong intermodal transportation system and freight movement.

APTA’s conference continues with 8:30 a.m. appearances from Sens. Sherrod Brown and Dean Heller, as well as House Transportation subcommittee on highways and transit ranking member Eleanor Holmes Norton. That’s followed by a day of lobbying on the Hill.

And at 4 p.m., AASHTO’s Bud Wright and APTA CEO Michael Melaniphy will brief Hill staffers on “The ‘Bottom Line’ on Investment Needs For Our Transportation System’ in 334 Cannon.

—WEDNESDAY: At noon, the Waterways Council will hold their annual press event at the National Press Club, briefing reporters on WRRDA implementation, the president’s 2016 budget request and a new study on the economic importance of the inland waterways system.

—THURSDAY: Uber public policy lead Brian Worth delivers an off-the-record briefing to the Road Gang at noon on the “Impact of Technology on Business and Transportation Policy Decisions.”

—FRIDAY: Nothing doing.

CLEAN-UP CONTINUING IN ILLINOIS: The Federal Railroad Administration sent 11 investigators to the scene of the 21-car derailment near Galena, Illinois. The 105-car train was carrying Bakken crude. All the fires at the scene are extinguished and only one car is left to be moved off to the side for transloading. BNSF hoped to run the first train Sunday evening. Investigators found the train was moving at 23 MPH — not a particularly fast speed. The EPA continues to monitor air and water quality in the area.

HELLO. IT’S MONDAY: Good morning and thanks for reading POLITICO’s Morning Transportation, your daily tipsheet on trains, planes, automobiles and ports. Your host spent the weekend binge-watching “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.”

I’m Kevin Robillard, filling in for Heather Caygle. Got Netflix recommendations, scoops, tips, complaints or hate mail? I’m at and @PoliticoKevin. Heather will be back tomorrow. You cand find her at and @Heatherscope. And don’t forget to follow @Morning_Transpo and @POLITICOPro.

“My baby drove up in a brand new Cadillac…”

MH370 ONE YEAR LATER: Sunday marked the one-year anniversary of the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370. Two hundred and thirty-nine people on board the Kuala Lumpur-to-Beijing — 12 crewmembers and 227 passengers — are presumed dead. A report released on the anniversary revealed the locator beacon on the plane’s black box had actually stopped working in December 2012, more than a year before the crash. While the 500-plus page report went into minute details about the crewmembers’ lives, relatives of the missing harshly criticized the report, with one telling the BBC it was “useless.” Others continue to believe the Malaysian government is hiding information from them. The Malaysian and Australian governments insist they will continue their search. Here’s the BBC report: And the official one:

—The International Civil Aviation Organization also released a statement marking the anniversary: “2014 represented one of aviation’s safest years in terms of how few accidents were recorded, but events relating to MH370 and the later downing of MH17 identified some important gaps which can arise under rare operational circumstances.”

D.C. TRANSIT WOES: STREETCAR COULD GO KAPUT: Leif Dormsjo, the new District Department of Transportation director, is considering killing the entire streetcar project — even the already-constructed H Street portion. “We’re not planning for failure. I’m trying to prudently and responsibly prepare the service to be started. But if I can’t get to that point, I’m not going to be enchanted by some philosophy of transit that leads me to do something that doesn’t make sense,” Dormsjo told the Washington Post.

INDIANA KILLS HOOSIER STATE LINE: POLITICO’s own Kathyrn A. Wolfe reports: “The state of Indiana says it plans to end its Amtrak-serviced Hoosier State line in April because it couldn’t reach a deal with Amtrak — but just hours later Amtrak said it’s not too late. Indiana DOT said [Friday] that the Indianapolis-to-Chicago line would be shuttered on April 1 because it couldn’t reach an agreement with Amtrak and Iowa Pacific Holdings to keep the train operating.” But Amtrak said it’s willing to keep the to continue to operate the line on a month-to-month basis.

READING ASSIGNMENTS: Two new GAO reports for your perusal: “Status of NHTSA’s Redesign of Its Crashworthiness Data System” and “TSA Should Take Additional Action to Obtain Stakeholder Input when Modifying the Prohibited Items List”


-Chicago is eliminating 50 red-light cameras. The Chicago Tribune:

-Want to bike Route 66? Here’s your guide. CityLab:

-Fargo, N.D. now has a bikeshare program. The Forum of Fargo-Morehead:

-Chrysler is recalling 700,000 SUVs and minivans because of an ignition switch problem. Bloomberg:

-Federal investigators think a brake problem may have caused a Delta Airlines flight to skid on ice after landing at La Guardia Airport last week. The Wall Street Journal:

-Uber halts ride-sharing program in Japan after government calls it illegal. Bloomberg:

-Missed this weekend’s drone film festival in the Big Apple? Well you’re in luck because USA Today has a sampling from some of the films:

-Get ready to feel old. Apparently 1990 model cars are now “antiques.” Yes, believe it. The Detroit News:

-TSA agents find stowaway Chihuahua in a checked bag at NYC airport. Don’t worry, she’s alive. The AP:

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