July 20, 2009
TRANSpolicy ends and MTS Matters begins.  This blog is taking on a new look and a bit clearer focus.  The title better reflects my interest area—the marine transportation system—and what, for the most part, I have been bringing to the reader’s attention.  The new host (WordPress) offers more features and better serves an issue oriented blog and its readers.  Thanks for checking in on TRANSpolicy.  Come visit http://mtsmatters.com.   Pbea

TRANSpolicy ends and MTS Matters begins.  This blog is taking on a new look and a bit clearer focus.  The title better reflects my interest area—the marine transportation system—and what, for the most part, I have been bringing to the reader’s attention.  The new host (WordPress) offers more features and better serves an issue oriented blog and its readers.  Thanks for checking in on TRANSpolicy.  Come visit http://mtsmatters.com.   Pbea

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July 1, 2009
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June 30, 2009
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June 27, 2009
What does the Maritime Administration know about highway and mobility issues?  Should MARAD or some of the non-modal administrations at USDOT be given a vote on “intermodal” projects as the new Surface Transportation Amendments Act (STAA) directs?  Both fair questions.   And the answers are (drum roll please): 1) More than you think they know, and 2) maybe it’s about time. ~  That part of the bill sets up a high ranking intermodal post and a program mechanism for judging projects for funding.  The purpose is to give the Secretary the input of the other parts of the department when making a decision on an intermodal project even when an agency might have less expertise in, say, an airport connector to an urban transit system.  However, in doing so it may start to dismantle…or at least lower…the modal silos and their sense that “what’s mine is mine and I don’t much care about yours.”  And when those walls are lowered—or start to include windows and doors—it can foster an “ours” sense of fitting pieces together as well as an enhanced professional capacity in all areas of the department.  ~  As it happens, it’s the port maritime sector that may have the stronger sense of intermodalism and belief in the notion of seamless connections between all modes.  Take a look at a modern marine terminal today (the NY Container Terminal is our visual aid) and see how they are all about bringing ships to the rails and roads and the closer the better.  They are about moving cargo with increasing efficiency and reliability and getting it to and from the distribution centers.  The ports are about intermodalism.  So while the Maritime Administration does not have a history of managing large grant programs like their larger sister silos it has spent time giving attention to ports where the connections are made…and where they may be lacking.  Knowing that and then doing something about it is good for the system. - Pbea

What does the Maritime Administration know about highway and mobility issues?  Should MARAD or some of the non-modal administrations at USDOT be given a vote on “intermodal” projects as the new Surface Transportation Amendments Act (STAA) directs? Both fair questions.   And the answers are (drum roll please): 1) More than you think they know, and 2) maybe it’s about time. ~  That part of the bill sets up a high ranking intermodal post and a program mechanism for judging projects for funding.  The purpose is to give the Secretary the input of the other parts of the department when making a decision on an intermodal project even when an agency might have less expertise in, say, an airport connector to an urban transit system.  However, in doing so it may start to dismantle…or at least lower…the modal silos and their sense that “what’s mine is mine and I don’t much care about yours.”  And when those walls are lowered—or start to include windows and doors—it can foster an “ours” sense of fitting pieces together as well as an enhanced professional capacity in all areas of the department.  ~  As it happens, it’s the port maritime sector that may have the stronger sense of intermodalism and belief in the notion of seamless connections between all modes.  Take a look at a modern marine terminal today (the NY Container Terminal is our visual aid) and see how they are all about bringing ships to the rails and roads and the closer the better.  They are about moving cargo with increasing efficiency and reliability and getting it to and from the distribution centers.  The ports are about intermodalism.  So while the Maritime Administration does not have a history of managing large grant programs like their larger sister silos it has spent time giving attention to ports where the connections are made…and where they may be lacking.  Knowing that and then doing something about it is good for the system. - Pbea

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June 26, 2009
Chair Oberstar’s surface transportation bill….otherwise known as “Skipping the LU”

Chair Oberstar’s surface transportation bill….otherwise known as “Skipping the LU”

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June 25, 2009
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June 24, 2009
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June 22, 2009
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June 21, 2009
…Oberstar told BNA that the White House’s plan is “terribly detrimental” and “irresponsible.” Oberstar said… [he] did not expect [House] leadership to try to oppose his ambitious agenda. (Source: BNA)
This is strong rhetoric aimed at the White House.  The respective stances of the Administration and the House transporation chairman are not surprising, but these words do have a sharpness that if anything reminds us that the prerogatives of institutions and the priority agendas of leaders don’t take a back seat to party allegiance.  For quite some time Oberstar has aimed to put his stamp on a major restructuring of the failing surface transportation policy.  Indeed he and the White House likely agree to a great extent on major elements of a new policy.  But the White House calculus in calling for an 18 month delay on the issue—thus postponing a politically taxing tax debate—appears to have little to do with the imperative to solve significant policy and program problems (although one can see the benefit of allowing certain policy discussions to ripen a bit more).  The proposed postponement has everything to do with everything else that is on the White House agenda.  ~   Let’s acknowledge that transportation just doesn’t rise anywhere near the top of the tall stack of do-now issues in the Oval Office.  Furthermore I’m not sure the trillions in the economic recovery package are an indicator of a president’s strong interest in transportation.  It was a means to pump money into the economy and create jobs.  As it happened, it also gave him an opportunity to put a personal imprint on transportation through his initiative on hi-speed rail.    ~    It’s terrific that he is pressing to upgrade and increase passenger rail service in the US.  But if that and “livable communities”—also a very important objective—end up being the highlights of the president’s term as it regards transportation initiatives then the search may continue for a successor to Eisenhower.  But let’s not abandon hope just yet. -  Pbea
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June 19, 2009
First out of the gate: A detailed description of the planned House surface transportation bill to “transform Federal surface transportation from an amalgamation of prescriptive programs to a performance-based framework”.  The bill text and committee action will come in the next week(s).

First out of the gate: A detailed description of the planned House surface transportation bill to “transform Federal surface transportation from an amalgamation of prescriptive programs to a performance-based framework”.  The bill text and committee action will come in the next week(s).

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June 18, 2009
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June 17, 2009
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June 16, 2009
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December 19, 2008
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