January 22, 2021

Plan

A Charlotte advisory group Thursday night recommended an ambitious multi-billion-dollar plan in transportation investments paid for, in part, through a higher sales tax and possible property tax hike.

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The plan would pay for improvements to virtually every mode of transportation — from buses, light rail and roads to greenways and bike lanes.

The Charlotte MOVES Task Force proposed paying up to half the cost — up to $6 billion — with a new sales tax and possible city bonds, which would be backed by property taxes. The rest would come from the state and federal governments.

Former Mayor Harvey Gantt, who chaired the group, called it a “bold” plan that “has the potential to shape our community for generations to come.”

The so-called Transformational Mobility Network plan calls for a decade of construction with financing stretched over 30 years.

The plan is scheduled to go to the City Council on Dec. 14. But it’s unclear what the council will do with it.

“I don’t know that we would rubber stamp any recommendation,” Mayor Pro Tem Julie Eiselt said Thursday afternoon. “It’s one thing to say, ‘Here’s what we need.’ It’s another to say, ‘Here’s what we can support.’”

New sales tax required

The group proposed a “One Cent for Mobility” plan to raise the county sales tax by a penny. City officials said that would raise $6.6 billion over 30 years. The measure could go before voters as a referendum next fall.

Any proposed sales tax increase and referendum would require authorization by the General Assembly. Charlotte’s current 7.25% tax is one of North Carolina’s highest. Only two counties have higher rates, at 7.5%.

How the proposal would fare in Raleigh is unclear.

“I’m always happy to listen to the proposal,” said Rep.-elect John Bradford of Cornelius, who will be Mecklenburg County’s only Republican in the GOP-controlled Legislature. “That’s a tax that’s going to impact everybody. … People really need to understand what one cent means for their household income.”

The proposal is designed to improve transportation alternatives and with them access to jobs and economic development opportunities.

The plan also calls for unspecified “displacement mitigation” efforts that would discourage gentrification, which displaces poor residents through heavy investment that chances the character of a neighborhood. It didn’t spell out what that would involve.

Chance to ‘make a difference’

Some members raised questions about details of the plan.

“I absolutely support the vision,” said software engineer Jim Marascio. He said he still has concerns about paying for the investments and called anti-gentrification portions “a slippery slope.”

But most task force members praised the plan.

“This is an opportunity for us to make a difference in the lives of Charlotteans and the whole region,” attorney Ernie Reigel told the panel. “If we lead, the other communities around will benefit. … If we don’t do it now, we’ll look back . . . and regret it.”

“It’s vitally important that we do this and we need to do it as quickly

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Predicting what the world will look like after the coronavirus pandemic winds down may be a tough ordeal, but researchers in Greater Boston may have some answers on how regional transportation may change.

A November survey conducted by the Boston Transportation Department and the Boston-based nonprofit “A Better City” interviewed workers in and around the city to better understand how COVID-19 has impacted commuting before and during the public health crisis.

The more than 4,200 respondents – employees primarily working in the hospital, higher education and business professional industries – were also questioned about how their transportation choices may shift in a post-pandemic environment.

The results of the survey, posted online recently, showed 38% of the individuals interviewed plan on driving alone to work once the public health crisis winds down. That is a 15-point jump from the only 23% of respondents who said they were driving alone pre-COVID-19.

Driving alone was by far the most popular mode of transportation among respondents looking ahead past the pandemic, with 38% saying it was their favored anticipated commuting method for when the public health crisis comes to an end.

Taking the subway followed at 16.4%, using the commuter rail at 12.3%, biking at 8%, walking at 6.1%, taking the bus at 6% and telecommuting or working from home at 4.5%. Those who answered they plan to take a private bus or shuttle, carpool or use a taxi, Uber or Lyft amounted to less than 3% of respondents each.

Among the factors weighing in on people’s plans to switch to driving alone after the pandemic ends was safety, according to the survey.

“Though 15% of all survey respondents indicate that they plan to switch from sustainable commuting to driving alone when their workplaces fully reopen, there are a number of mitigating factors respondents identify as possible to support them in driving alone less,” the survey said. “The majority of those planning to make the switch indicate that their primary motivation is safety, suggesting that some amount of this behavior change could be impermanent in a post-vaccine future.”

Of the drive-alone respondents who said they are open to changing their transportation behavior, 45% identified a free or reduced-cost MBTA pass as the most influential potential action to support them making the switch.

The survey also found that although more than 80% of respondents reported a desire to telework more than they did before the coronavirus outbreak, only about 20% said they want to telework full-time after their workplaces completely reopen.

Forty-seven percent of respondents to the survey answered they would prefer to telework a few times per week, while 16% believe they would most benefit from teleworking a few times per month. Nine percent answered they would like to never telework.

Another key finding from the survey was that a greater number of Boston-area employees may be more open to biking to their workplaces than they were prior to the COVID-19 crisis.

Of the 1,086 respondents who indicated they plan to switch to a

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News Release

November 26, 2020

Toronto City Council today unanimously approved the MoveTO action plan. This plan will help manage congestion and build a more resilient, modern and safe transportation system.

The MoveTO plan proposes five key measures that will help make the city’s transportation system more resilient in response to the effects of COVID-19 on Toronto’s overall transportation network.

The five key proposed actions that will launch starting next year include:

  • ‘Smart’ traffic signals – automatically adjusted signal timing based on actual traffic demand. Staff are proposing 500 locations over the next five years.
  • ‘Intelligent’ intersections – helps to improve safety at intersections for pedestrians and cyclists. Staff are proposing 100 locations over the next two years.
  • Advanced Transit Signal Priority (ATSP) – detects buses running behind schedule and extends green times when necessary. There are currently 400 locations with Transit Signal Priority in the city and staff are proposing to accelerate the implementation of ATSP on 100 more priority locations over the next two years with a focus on key TTC corridors across the city.
  • Construction Hub Pilot Program expansion – this program helps manage traffic and reduce congestion caused by construction around work zones, improves communication with the local community, and keeps people safe. An expansion of the pilot is proposed and will include three new locations: Lakeshore Hub, Downtown Hub and East Harbour. The next step is a focus on working with developers to do more to reduce the amount of time the right-of-way is closed due to construction.
  • Transportation Demand Management Strategy – a set of measures to help avoid congestion at specific times, locations, and on certain modes of transportation. Staff propose building on the existing Smart Commute program with local employers to provide additional supports for commuters, while developing strategies to address more localized instances of congestion.

These five recommended strategies aim to reduce travel times and improve travel reliability for vehicles, improve safety and optimize movement for pedestrians and people on bikes at intersections, improve transit operations, coordinate construction activities to minimize impacts to the transportation network and improve safety, and help employers to reduce travel demand and greenhouse gas emissions.

The MoveTO plan builds on the work the City has done to positively impact congestion, while also considering safer streets, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and taking further steps towards a more equitable transportation network in Toronto. Some of these strategies include the recently approved Freight and Goods Movement Strategy, the Traffic Agents program and the Vision Zero Road Safety Plan.

The full interim MoveTO report is available online.

Quotes:

“MoveTO will help keep people moving safely throughout Toronto. This plan delivers smart, common-sense approaches that will help pedestrians, cyclists, transit riders, and drivers get around our city. I have urged City staff to have the technology in place as quickly as possible to make sure we have a more modern and safer transportation system as soon as possible that responds and adapts to traffic in real time. These are solutions that

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LONDON (AP) — Britain will ban the sale of new gasoline and diesel cars by 2030, a decade earlier than its previous commitment, the prime minister said Tuesday.

Boris Johnson made the pledge as part of plans for a “green industrial revolution” that he claims could create up to 250,000 jobs in energy, transport and technology.

READ MORE: U.K. becomes 5th country to exceed 50,000 coronavirus deaths

The government said sales of new gasoline and diesel cars and vans will end in 2030, though hybrid vehicles can be sold until 2035.

Automakers have expressed concern about the target, saying the previous goal of 2040 was already ambitious.

The government’s green plans also include investments in hydrogen energy and carbon capture technology, and an ambition to generate enough wind energy to power every home in the U.K. by 2030. To the chagrin of some environmentalists, plans also include a new generation of nuclear power plants.

The environmental push is part of Johnson’s efforts to move beyond the tremors of the coronavirus pandemic and Britain’s divisive exit from the European Union, and to bring new jobs to struggling former industrial regions of central and northern England.

“Although this year has taken a very different path to the one we expected, I haven’t lost sight of our ambitious plans to level up across the country,” Johnson said in a statement.

“Our green industrial revolution will be powered by the wind turbines of Scotland and the North East, propelled by the electric vehicles made in the Midlands and advanced by the latest technologies developed in Wales, so we can look ahead to a more prosperous, greener future.”

Johnson also has made a shared commitment to fighting climate change part of his pitch to Joe Biden as he seeks to convince the U.S. president-elect he is not a carbon copy of Donald Trump, who has downplayed the threat posed by global warming.

READ MORE: Uncertainty in UK over COVID-19, relationship with U.S.

The U.K. is due to host the COP26 global climate conference next year, after a 12-month delay because of the coronavirus pandemic. Britain has also pledged reduce its carbon emissions to net zero by 2050.

Rebecca Newsom of Greenpeace U.K. said the “landmark” announcement was a big step forward, although she regretted the inclusion of “speculative solutions, such as nuclear and hydrogen from fossil fuels, that will not be taking us to zero emissions anytime soon, if ever.”

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LONDON (AP) — Britain will ban the sale of new gasoline and diesel cars by 2030, a decade earlier than its previous commitment, the prime minister said Tuesday.

Boris Johnson made the pledge as part of plans for a “green industrial revolution” that he claims could create up to 250,000 jobs in energy, transport and technology.

The government said sales of new gasoline and diesel cars and vans will end in 2030, though hybrid vehicles can be sold until 2035.

Automakers have expressed concern about the target, saying the previous goal of 2040 was already ambitious.

The government’s green plans also include investments in hydrogen energy and carbon capture technology, and an ambition to generate enough wind energy to power every home in the U.K. by 2030. To the chagrin of some environmentalists, plans also include a new generation of nuclear power plants.

The environmental push is part of Johnson’s efforts to move beyond the tremors of the coronavirus pandemic and Britain’s divisive exit from the European Union, and to bring new jobs to struggling former industrial regions of central and northern England.

“Although this year has taken a very different path to the one we expected, I haven’t lost sight of our ambitious plans to level up across the country,” Johnson said in a statement.

“Our green industrial revolution will be powered by the wind turbines of Scotland and the North East, propelled by the electric vehicles made in the Midlands and advanced by the latest technologies developed in Wales, so we can look ahead to a more prosperous, greener future.”

Johnson also has made a shared commitment to fighting climate change part of his pitch to Joe Biden as he seeks to convince the U.S. president-elect he is not a carbon copy of Donald Trump, who has downplayed the threat posed by global warming.

The U.K. is due to host the COP26 global climate conference next year, after a 12-month delay because of the coronavirus pandemic. Britain has also pledged reduce its carbon emissions to net zero by 2050.

Rebecca Newsom of Greenpeace U.K. said the “landmark” announcement was a big step forward, although she regretted the inclusion of “speculative solutions, such as nuclear and hydrogen from fossil fuels, that will not be taking us to zero emissions anytime soon, if ever.”

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Community Content
 |  Wicked Local

The town is seeking resident input and feedback on strategies, priorities and policies for the future of the transportation system as part of the development of Connect Arlington, the town’s Sustainable Transportation Plan. 

The survey is available at https://surveymonkey.com/r/ConnectArlington and will be open until Dec. 11. Feedback from this survey will inform the final recommendations of Connect Arlington. A final virtual public forum with additional opportunities to engage will be held on Dec. 14.  

The town has worked with Nelson/Nygaard Consulting Associates to develop Connect Arlington since January, and the development has been guided by the Sustainable Transportation Plan Advisory Committee, which is made up of advocates, interested residents, business owners and town staff. The first parts of the plan have been completed and include a Transportation Factbook describing the existing conditions of the town’s transportation system and a summary of public engagement from the spring and summer. 

Connect Arlington will provide a vision for the transportation system in Arlington over the next 20 years, building upon the Master Plan and its recommendations. Goals and recommendations will be developed to prioritize short- and long-term actions for projects, programs and policies to achieve this vision. It will focus on all aspects of transportation and mobility in Arlington. For more information, visit https://bit.ly/3ptu7AZ. Questions regarding Connect Arlington may be directed to Daniel Amstutz, senior transportation planner in Arlington’s Department of Planning and Community Development, at 781-316-3093 or [email protected]

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Some transportation experts are advising the MTA to pump the brakes on its congestion pricing plan, arguing that the number of people driving into New York City — and their reasons for doing so — have changed dramatically since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

As the Metropolitan Transportation Authority expresses optimism that its “Central Business District Tolling Program” will be fast-tracked under President-elect Joe Biden’s administration, some are raising concerns about targeting drivers who may be financially strained in the pandemic, and are driving to work because of safety concerns.

John Corlett, director of public and government affairs for AAA Northeast, said that, even with a green light from the federal government, MTA officials “need to hit the reset button,” given how much has changed since congestion pricing was approved by the State Legislature last year.

“There’s a lot of tough questions here that are going to have to be addressed in the next six to 12 months,” Corlett said.

After years of petitioning by transit advocates and the MTA, state lawmakers approved a plan to charge new tolls to motorists driving below 60th Street — an area deemed Manhattan’s “Central Business District.” Although the toll amount has not been determined, officials have predicted the plan will generate about $1 billion annually for the MTA.

The MTA had hoped to begin charging the new tolls early next year, but the congestion pricing plan has been stalled for more than a year since the authority sent its proposal to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration, as legally required, for guidance on how to move forward with an environmental study.

MTA chairman Patrick Foye said the federal government’s inaction on the proposal over environmental concerns is especially confounding, because of its potential to reduce traffic congestion, encourage transit use, and improve air quality.

“Yet, despite the obvious benefits, it’s beyond outrageous and cynical that the Trump administration has used a routine environmental review process to hold this environmentally beneficial critical project up,” Foye said in a statement Friday.

A Federal Highway Administration spokesperson said the proposal is under review, and requires thorough consideration because it would set a precedent as the first “cordon” congestion pricing toll zone in the country.

The MTA’s plan is to bond against the revenue to raise about $15 billion for its $51 billion Capital Program, which funds infrastructure investments throughout the MTA, including for the Long Island Rail Road. The LIRR stands to get about 10% of the revenue raised by the new tolls — money that would be directed toward upgrading signals, switches, tracks and stations.

The MTA continues to reel from the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has cost the agency

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Owners of electric and hybrid vehicles in Texas face higher fees every year under a proposal that would help shore up the state’s road fund, which relies on a decreasing amount of motor fuel taxes.

Electric vehicles would be hit with an additional $200 registration and annual renewal fee, while hybrids, which use a combination of gasoline and electric power, would be taxed an additional $100 for registration and renewal, according to a proposal from state Rep. Ken King, a Panhandle Republican.

Revenue from the proposed fees would go to to the state highway fund which the Texas Comptroller reported had $14.2 billion in revenues during 2019 and expects revenues of $14.6 billion in 2020.

If the bill passes it would take effect Sept. 1, joining a majority number of states with extra fees for electric vehicles.   In several states the extra fees for electric vehicles have climbed so high that owners are paying more than they would have paid in gas taxes if they were driving gasoline-fueled vehicles, according to an analysis by the consumer  advocacy publishing company Consumer Reports. In some cases, electric vehicle owners are paying four times more than they would  have paid in gas taxes.

In Texas, drivers of gas- and diesel-powered vehicles pay a state tax of 20 cents a gallon that supports the highway fund, which is used to maintain state roads. But Texas motor fuel taxes have decreased as vehicles became more fuel efficient and electric vehicles and hybrids became more popular. In fiscal year 2020, which ended in August, Texas collected $3.5 billion in motor fuel taxes, 5.4 percent less than the $3.7 billion in fiscal year 2019.

PUMPING UP REVENUE: Texas, other states look to boost fees on EV’s to fund highway maintenance

Electric vehicles represented 1.8 percent of total U.S. vehicle sales in March 2019, up from 1.6 percent a year earlier, according to electric utility trade association Edison Electric Institute of Washington.

King, who represents a swath of the Panhandle stretching from Oklahoma to New Mexico, also introduced a bill this week that would add a 1 cent tax to every kilowatt hour of energy generated by wind, solar, coal and nuclear power. Power generation from natural gas would be exempt.

King could not be immediately reached for comment.

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“Drivers can obtain the best car insurance plan if they follow several smart methods, including analyzing multiple offers or customizing the policy’s parameters”, said Russell Rabichev, Marketing

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State regulators opened hearings Thursday into Xcel Energy-Colorado’s proposal to spend $102 million over three years on getting more electric vehicles on the roads.

The Colorado Public Utilities Commission will consider the plan by Xcel Energy, Colorado’ largest electric utility, to invest in charging stations, incentivize homeowners to install charging equipment and provide support for converting government and business fleets to electric.

The utility has said the plan would support Gov. Jared Polis’ goal of having about 940,000 electric cars in Colorado by 2030. The move to more electric vehicles is seen as essential to meeting state and local goals of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions and addressing climate change.

“It’s critically important that we tackle the transportation sector because it’s the No. 1 source of greenhouse gas emissions. It’s a huge source of asthma-inducing smog pollution and the brown cloud,” said Danny Katz, director of the Colorado Public Interest Research Group and the CoPIRG Foundation.

Xcel Energy’s proposal is a key component because one of the biggest things keeping people from buying electric vehicles is the fear that there aren’t enough charging stations or not knowing how to install one in a home, Katz said.

Other utilities across the country have become involved in helping make the transition to electric vehicles, and Xcel Energy’s plan would be a big step in doing that in Colorado, Katz added. “We think the writing is on the wall. We’re headed toward an electric-vehicle future. so let’s get there more quickly.”

First, the plan must be approved by the Colorado PUC, which regulates Xcel Energy. The Colorado Office of Consumer Counsel, which represents the public before the PUC, generally supports the plan, said Joseph Pereira, the agency’s deputy director.

However, there are several questions about how the plan will be carried out and what the impacts on customers will be, Pereira said.

“What we’re really advocating for is a plan that maximizes the benefits (for the rate payers) at the right cost,” Pereira said. “If the PUC adopts a plan heavy on investment but does not optimize the benefits, we could see rates go up quite a bit.”

It will be important for Xcel Energy to provide incentives to customers to charge vehicles when demand for electricity is low, he added.

Katz agreed. He said the utility can structure the program to encourage customers to charge vehicles overnight when there’s typically excess capacity on the grid.

A 2019 law required Xcel Energy and other regulated utilities to submit plans to the PUC if they want to build charging stations and recover their costs. The law removed a prohibition against a regulated utility from owning and operating the equipment.

Colorado air commissioners adopted a zero-emission vehicle standard in 2019. At least 5% of automakers’ vehicles available for sale by 2023 must be electric.

And the state is using some of the $68.7 million it got from a settlement between Volkswagen and the federal government to build fast-charging stations across Colorado. The ranks sixth in the nation

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