Monday’s Headlines Have a License to Kill

  • A New York Times deep dive shows how often traffic stops for minor offenses can turn deadly. Police have killed more than 400 unarmed drivers over the past five years, often simply for “contempt of cop.” They almost always get away with it, although cities pay out millions in wrongful death lawsuits. One reason why is that officers’ training overemphasizes the danger of traffic stops.
  • More than 20,000 people died in car crashes in the first half of 2021, an 18% increase, the largest six-month spike ever recorded by the U.S. DOT. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg called it a “crisis.”
  • House Democrats’ latest version of the reconciliation bill tackling climate change includes $10 billion for high-speed rail, $10 billion for transit-oriented development and $4 billion for complete streets (Bloomberg). It also includes a fee on oil and gas producers that emit the greenhouse gas methane (Reuters).
  • Meanwhile, with the bipartisan infrastructure bill still awaiting a House vote, lawmakers passed another short-term transportation funding bill. (The Hill)
  • A Consumer Reports investigation found that U.S. auto loan debt has reached a record $1.4 trillion. Even drivers with good credit are being pushed into subprime loans, and one in four are spending more on car payments than they can afford.
  • The head of the National Transportation Safety Board said Elon Musk fans are attacking a newly appointed advisor who’s been critical of Tesla deliberately to distract from an investigation into the company’s self-driving technology. (CNN)
  • Building out the charging infrastructure necessary for a widespread switch to electric vehicles is harder than you think. (Slate)
  • The Metro Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority is planning a $300 million bus rapid transit project in suburban Clayton County. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
  • A Denver developer who specialized in dense, relatively affordable housing near transit now says he’s switching to million-dollar homes because there are too many hoops to jump through. (Denverite)
  • The Tucson streetcar has experienced record ridership since going fare-free during the pandemic. (KOLD)
  • Buffalo transit advocates continue to push for light rail, although the Federal Transit Administration wants the city to consider expanding bus service instead. (WBFO)
  • A Little Rock regional planning group is hiring a transit coordinator. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)



It’s Time to Stop Pretending That Roads Pay for Themselves

If nothing else, the current round of federal transportation legislating should end the myth that highways are a uniquely self-sufficient form of infrastructure paid for by “user fees,” a.k.a. gas taxes and tolls. With all the general tax revenue that goes toward roads in America, car infrastructure has benefited from hefty subsidies for many years. […]

Actually, Highway Builders, Roads Don’t Pay For Themselves

You’ve heard it a thousand times from the highway lobby: Roads pay for themselves through “user fees” — a.k.a. gas taxes and tolls — whereas transit is a drain on the taxpayer. They use this argument to push for new roads, instead of transit, as fiscally prudent investments. The myth of the self-financed road meets […]

Don’t Look Now, But the House Amtrak Bill Actually Has Some Good Ideas

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