Transportation News for June 29, 2015

  • by BPC Staff
  • on June 29, 2015


POLITICO Morning Transportation for 6/29/2015

By KATHRYN A. WOLFE and JENNIFER SCHOLTES, with help from Heather Caygle

RECESS WON’T STIFLE FAA OVERHAUL ROLLOUT: Since Congress is out this week, T&I leaders have found a work-around to hold true on their commitment to introducing an FAA overhaul without having to jump through pro-forma hoops. A Republican House aide has assured us that the bill text will be posted this week for the world to see, but that it’ll be a discussion draft, followed by formal introduction when lawmakers return to town next week.
Battle cry: General aviation stakeholders are bracing to hate the legislation, expecting it will pluck air traffic control from the FAA and shift from the current excise tax system to a user-fee model. And so the National Business Aviation Association is already calling on its members to be heard on the Hill opposing any such plan. “The potentially dire consequences from such actions cannot be overstated,” NBAA president Ed Bolen wrote in announcing the “Call to Action.” “Without Congress to ensure that our nation’s air traffic system safeguards the aviation needs of the entire public — including the people and companies that rely on general aviation in small and mid-size towns — such sweeping authority would instead be granted to a group of self-interested parties.” More from Pro:

GOOGLE + GRADE CROSSINGS: The Federal Railroad Administration plans to announce a new partnership with the big brains at Google today, using Google’smap data to highlight every rail crossing across the United States when people use turn-by-turn directions. FRA has also asked for similar data to be included in map data from Apple, MapQuest, TomTom and Garmin. Read more:

LARSEN DEBUTS RAIL IMPROVEMENT BILL: At a railroad crossing along the Puget Sound this afternoon, Rep. Rick Larsen plans to announce the introduction of a measure that would create a new DOT rail program to improve highway grade crossings, help with line relocations, and provide training and technical assistance to local governments. Under the bill, the department would be allowed to dole out grants for freight capacity projects, prioritizing efforts that lessen the impacts of rail operations on neighborhoods, encourage competitiveness and good repair among short line railroads, or enhance safety at critical highway crossings. The bill:

Local light: Making the rounds through Washington’s 2nd congressional district this week, Larsen plans to meet each day with local transportation officials. In a report ( he released on Friday, the congressman tries to put the federal transportation funding problem in perspective for his constituents, highlighting local projects that have moved forward because of federal funds — or could.

FIAT CHRYSLER TAKES HOT SEAT BEFORE RECALL REGULATORS: Despite Fiat Chrysler’s attempts to prevent a public grilling, NHTSA will proceed on Thursday with a hearing on whether the auto manufacturer has met its obligations in 23 recalls. The company has tried to argue that a public hearing is unnecessary since it turned in a more than five-million-page response to the agency earlier this month, owning up to possibly failing in a handful of recalls to send notifications as quickly as the law requires. A refresher from the Wall Street Journal on the company’s efforts to nix this hearing:

Jeep drama: The agency’s safety regulators have been particularly dissatisfied with Fiat Chrysler’s efforts to repair certain ’90s-model Grand Cherokees and Liberty models from 2002 to 2007, which are susceptible to fuel-tank fires. The New York Times reported last month that consumers have begun to speak out about the company’s refusal to repair their vehicles because the old Jeeps are now rusty:

IT’S MONDAY: Good morning and thanks for reading POLITICO’s Morning Transportation, your daily tipsheet on trains, planes, automobiles and ports.

A programming note: Jen is off sailing through the Virgin Islands this week, so hit up your old pal Heather Caygle with any hot MT tips. That’s in case you’ve forgotten.

“500 miles and we’re gonna make it all the way. … Oh, me and my baby driving down to a hilly seaside town in the rainfall.”


Monday — Rep. Rick Larsen begins a week of transportation talks with local officials, touring a railroad crossing today, where he plans to announce a new bill that would fund at-grade crossing improvements.

Tuesday — The National Protection and Programs Directorate (the DHS agency that works to protect the nation’s infrastructure and cyber networks) meets in Arlington to receive recommendations from the group that works to ensure resilience of transportation infrastructure. The National Business Aviation Association kicks off its three-day flight attendants and flight technicians conference in Tucson: The president of Emirates hosts a media briefing at the National Press Club:

Wednesday — The National Business Aviation Association delves into day two of its conference for flight attendants and flight technicians, with sessions on “the art of brewing the perfect cup of tea,” using hygiene practices to “eliminate the multiple sources of malodor” and how to “prepare your aircraft for a ditching.” Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ husband, retired Navy captain Mark Kelly, will give a speech on endeavoring to succeed:

The Peterson Institute for International Economics hosts a discussion in D.C. on benefits of harmonizing U.S. and EU auto regulations under the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

Thursday — NHTSA holds a public hearing to determine whether Fiat Chrysler failed to remedy safety defects in 23 recalls: The National Business Aviation Association wraps up its conference for flight crewmembers, with talks on potential aviation security threats, how to plate meals to look appealing to passengers and food safety:

AMERICANS APPEAR SPLIT OVER TRANSIT LIFESTYLES: While the majority of Americans still seem to prefer suburban living with a longer commute to a city lifestyle with a shorter trek to work, the disparity isn’t actually all that great. The AP reports that a recent poll shows 53 percent of Americans want the suburban subsidence, while 44 percent would choose an apartment or smaller house if it means less time en route. AP’s Joan Lowy and Emily Swanson further explain that “the split also has a political aspect: Sixty-seven percent of Republicans and 53 percent of independents prefer suburban or rural living, while 55 percent of Democrats prefer urban areas. The share of Americans who prefer suburban or rural living — 53 percent — is identical to the share who say the government should increase spending to build and improve roads, bridges and interstate highways. About 1 in 3 think current spending levels are about right, while just over 1 in 10 would like to see less money spent on roads.”

SELF-DRIVING CAR COMPANIES DENY CLOSE CALL: Google and Delphi Automotive are refuting a Reuters report that two rival self-driving cars almost ran into each other on the streets of Silicon Valley last week. The LA Times reports ( that a Delphi spokeswoman claims the cars didn’t come within a lane width of each other and that Google said in a statement that “the headline here is that two self-driving cars did what they were supposed to do in an ordinary everyday driving scenario.” In its initial story on the incident, Reuters reported ( that one of Delphi’s directors, who was a passenger in the company’s car at the time, said the Google car cut off his vehicle while the Delphi car was preparing to change lanes, forcing his mobile robot to abort the lane change.


— Popular elsewhere, high-speed rail remains elusive in U.S. AP:

— Chinese ride-hailing app Didi Kuaidi may raise fundraising target. The Wall Street Journal:

— Coke, Virgin and Airbus buy into the space Internet dream. Bloomberg Business:

— Exporters tally the damage from West Coast port delays. The Wall Street Journal:

— Key facts, figures about nation’s largest transit systems. AP:

— A SpaceX rocket bound for the International Space Station exploded shortly after launch. NYT:

— A high-level FAA advisory committee on cybersecurity has begun meeting. WSJ:

— Fiat Chrysler has issued an “urgent recall,” including an unusual request not to drive them until they’re serviced, for a few dozen Jeep Grand Cherokees and Dodge Durangos. NYT:

THE COUNTDOWN: Highway and transit policy expires in 33 days. DOT appropriations run out and the FAA reauthorization expires in 94 days. The 2016 presidential election is in 500 days.


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