Transportation News for August 27, 2015

  • by BPC Staff
  • on August 27, 2015

POLITICO Morning Transportation for 8/27/2015

By JENNIFER SCHOLTES, with help from Kathryn A. Wolfe

AUTOMAKERS WAGE PRE-EMPTIVE STRIKE AGAINST CAR-HACKING BILL: When Sens. Ed Markey and Richard Blumenthal return to the Capitol next month, they plan to waste no time drumming up support for their SPY Car Act and even aspire to possibly tack it onto the next highway bill Congress will have to move this fall. But automakers have begun a campaign to undermine support for the anti-car-hacking bill, which would direct NHTSA to establish minimum cybersecurity standards for all vehicles.
Pro Cybersecurity’s Tim Starks reports this morning that The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers is warning lawmakers against the legislation, “calling its mandatory federal security and privacy standards ‘an antiquated regulatory solution,’ according to a position paper obtained by POLITICO: But safety advocates say the industry’s call for voluntary measures is the real antique in this debate — a throwback to the decades when car manufacturers lobbied against mandates for seat belts and airbags.”

Push for support: Markey is expected to send another batch of letters to major automakers this fall, asking more questions about the security practices they’ve adopted in recent months. Blumenthal is going to push for a Senate Commerce hearing on car hacking. And the pair is looking for a House lawmaker to champion a companion bill. But Tim explains that the senators “are combating not only a powerful industry — which spent $54 million on lobbying last year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics — but the Republican-controlled Congress’ anti-regulatory sentiment.”

Pros get the full story: The bill:

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TRAVEL INDUSTRY FOLKS PLAN LUFTHANSA SNUB: Several travel industry leaders plan to shun Lufthansa if the airline goes through with its plan next week to add a surcharge to tickets that aren’t purchased directly from the company, the Global Business Travel Association reports. The group polled its members and says about 50 percent of those who currently include Lufthansa in their travel programs as a preferred carrier “plan to decrease spending with Lufthansa once this fee takes effect.” And about the same percentage said they “definitely or probably will not use Lufthansa as a preferred carrier if the Lufthansa Group moves forward with the fee.” The travel association says the airline’s new strategy will hurt the industry since it’s “a direct price increase to managed travel programs with no corresponding benefit” and could also “ultimately lead to decreased price transparency if carried out by not only Lufthansa, but other airlines in the industry.”

PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL SOUNDS OFF ON FORD’S MEXICO DREAMS: Spicing up a recess week, Pro’s Matthew Korade has initiated a game of “name that presidential candidate” today in Morning Trade. See if you can guess who said this at a campaign event in Dubuque, Iowa, following statements about Ford Motor Co.’s plans to build a factory in Mexico: “I would say to the head of Ford, ‘Sorry, I’m not gonna approve. You’re gonna pay a tax, for every car and every truck and every part that comes across that Southern border, you’re gonna pay a 35 percent tax, OK?’ That’s what’s gonna happen.” Yes, it’s Donald J. Trump.

The backlash: No sooner did the politically moderate shooter-from-the-hip-in-chief make the remarks than the conservative, pro-free-trade Club for Growth release a statement saying that if the business mogul gets his way, “the heavy hand of government will get substantially heavier, and car buyers will be left holding the bag.”

TSA TOUTS VIPR TEAMS: In the wake of last week’s attempted shooting spree on a train bound for Paris, the TSA notes that — here in the U.S. — the federal government beefs up local transit security with VIPR teams (stands for Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response) made up of Federal Air Marshalls, specialized TSA agents, explosives-detection experts and bomb-sniffing dogs. Last year alone, VIPR teams ran roughly 14,000 operations at transportation hubs throughout the country, turning out in particular force for high-profile, transit-heavy events like the commute to Super Bowl XLVIII in New Jersey. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Cory Booker called this week for the TSA to finally implement rail security directives Congress handed down in 2007:

OBAMA PICKS NEW NATIONAL INFRASTRUCTURE ADVISER: The White House announced this week that President Barack Obama is set to nominate Joan McDonald to be a member of the National Infrastructure Advisory Council. From 2011 until last month, McDonald served as DOT commissioner for New York state and was previously commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development. Before that, she was the New York City Economic Development Corporation’s senior vice president for transportation, the city’s deputy commissioner for planning and traffic operations, and a director for Metro-North Railroad.

LAWYERS FOR RAIL CRASH VICTIMS SLAM FRA RULES: The FRA is holding a meeting downtown this morning on efforts to improve rail safety and will hear from Tom Jones, a lawyer whose Kansas City firm represents families of those injured or killed in railroad crashes. Presenting testimony on behalf of the American Association for Justice Railroad Litigation Group, Jones will argue that the agency’s draft rules would give railroads the ability to legally hide evidence of safety problems, as long as the railroads claim the evidence was part of their safety plans. “It cannot be in the public’s best interest to allow railroads to keep unsafe practices shielded from public disclosure, and leave people who suffer serious injuries or death because of unreasonable hazards without justice,” Jones says in his written testimony.

MOVING ON UP: The Regional Airline Association has officially given the nod to its interim president, Faye Malarkey Black, to be the next president of the trade group. Black was elevated to the acting role in February. Prior to that, she had been senior vice president of government affairs for the group.


— Europe faces up to flight safety threat posed by drones. Reuters:

— Why Gogo’s infuriatingly expensive, slow Internet still owns the skies. Bloomberg Business:

— Fiat Chrysler boss says automaker can survive with or without partner. The Wall Street Journal:

— Search for MH370 may ramp up soon with new sonar equipment. AP:

— Ten automakers are sued in U.S. over ‘deadly’ keyless ignitions. Reuters:

— First state legalizes taser drones for cops, Thanks to a Lobbyist. The Daily Beast:

THE COUNTDOWN: Highway and transit policy expires in 64 days. DOT appropriations run out and the FAA reauthorization expires in 36 days. The 2016 presidential election is in 442 days.