PHIA News Digest – Vol. 93

September 28, 2016

PDSITELOGO2Amtrak’s slow ride to Pittsburgh: It’s faster to drive

It’s nearly 7½ hours on 350 miles of rail from Philadelphia to Pennsylvania’s big city in the west. It’s slower than an hour-and-15-minute flight or five-hour drive, and, at $47, comparable to the cost of tolls and gas on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Amtrak’s Pennsylvanian, which connects Pittsburgh with New York City for about 230,000 passengers a year, also leaves little room for flexibility.

We’re No. 39: Ranking of state highways finds Pa. improving

Pennsylvania ranks 39th in the nation in overall highway performance and cost-effectiveness, according to an annual report published Thursday by a California think tank.

The Los Angeles-based Reason Foundation points out that Pennsylvania’s overall ranking is an improvement over last year’s report, when the state was ranked at No. 41.



PHIA News Digest – Vol. 92

September 19, 2016

PDSITELOGO2Fitch Rates $193MM PA Turnpike Comm Motor License Fund-Enhanced Bonds ‘AA-‘; Outlook Stable

The MLF-enhanced subordinate special revenue bonds are backed by a junior pledge on the trust estate, which consists primarily of residual toll revenues. Ultimate security for the bonds and the rating, rest with the ability to access certain monies in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s (the Commonwealth) MLF to fund debt service if necessary.

Anybody Can Test a Driverless Car in Pennsylvania

Uber’s self-driving cars are today available to passengers in Pittsburgh, a move that signals the ride-sharing giant’s seriousness about its future with autonomous vehicles. It is a pivotal moment for the company—yet Uber had to clear surprisingly few regulatory hurdles to get to this point.

That’s because all you need to operate a self-driving vehicle on public roads in Pennsylvania is the right technology: no special permit or license, no unique registration, no safety clearance, nothing. Uber’s driverless taxis will have humans sitting behind the wheel—ready to take control of the vehicle if necessary—and that’s all that matters under Pennsylvania law.

It’s time for towns with free State Police protection to pay up: Editorial

And, all told, more than half of the state’s 2,600 municipalities receive “free” state police coverage. About 100 of those communities have populations of 5,000 or greater, large enough to require their own police forces.

If hardworking, taxpaying residents in Hempfield, South Middleton and scores of other Pennsylvania communities aren’t paying for state police service, it means someone else – in this case, much of the rest of the Commonwealth – is paying for that service. Read more


Auditor General Warns Of Unstable Future for Turnpike

September 13, 2016

depasqualeofficialphotoAuditor General Eugene DePasquale audited the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and found potentially troubling news for the state’s comprehensive transportation system if the General Assembly does not address the onerous financial obligations facing the commission.

The audit covered the performance of the turnpike over the past two years, and found that with toll increases, the commission collects between $12 million and $20 million annually; however, DePasquale also noted that the commission has set very high projections for traffic and he does not expect them to be met.

Act 44 of 2007 created the turnpike’s financial dilemma, as it mandated that the commission pay $450 million annually to PennDOT. Act 89 of 2013, the comprehensive multi-modal transportation funding bill, decreases the annual payment to PennDOT to $50 million starting in 2023. Read more


PHIA News Digest – Vol. 91

September 12, 2016

PDSITELOGO2Audit: Pennsylvania Turnpike could face ‘transportation disaster’

An audit claims that the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission’s financial situation could lead to dire consequences if new laws are not enacted.

State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale announced on Tuesday during a news conference that the commission is on “potentially unstable financial ground” that could lead to “transportation disaster.”

Part of two-year, Crawford and Warren counties road fix-up plan starts Monday

A two-year project that will improve travel for motorists on 29.8 miles on portions of seven roads in Crawford and Warren counties is scheduled to begin next week, according to a news release from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

APTA: Public transit helps reduce traffic deaths

The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) yesterday released a new study that shows commuters can reduce their chances of being in an accident by 90 percent if they use public transit instead of cars.

The study also found that transit-oriented communities are five times safer than automobile-centric communities due to a lower traffic casualty rate,  APTA officials said in a media conference call.

Northampton County’s upcoming bridge project is breaking the mold

Transportation officials across Pennsylvania will have their eyes on Northampton County over the next few years as it begins a groundbreaking project to replace or repair more than a quarter of its bridges.

Within the next month or so, the county’s General Purpose Authority is expected to award a Private-Public Partnership, or P3, contract to address 33 structurally deficient bridges. Under the program, the first of its kind among local governments in Pennsylvania, the bridges will be replaced in record time while locking in the county’s costs.



PHIA News Digest – Vol. 90

September 6, 2016

PDSITELOGO2Traffic fatalities rise nationally; Pennsylvania bucks trend

Traffic fatalities are up nationally compared to this point a year ago, according to a recent Associated Press report. However, in Pennsylvania the number of traffic-related deaths were the lowest on record in 2014, and preliminary data suggests this year’s numbers will fall close within that range.

The national indicators estimate about 19,100 people have been killed on the nation’s roads through the first six months of 2016. Another 2.2 million people were seriously injured in that span, the AP report noted.

Philadelphia begins returning sidelined rail cars to service

The Philadelphia area’s main transit agency has begun returning some of its sidelined rail cars to service following repairs. It’s projecting the fleet will return to full service by mid-November.

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority pulled more than 100 coaches from service in its regional system just before the Fourth of July weekend after defects were found in the suspension systems of its Silverliner V fleet.

Four ways technology will change how we commute in the future

Mark Dowd, a deputy assistant secretary at the US Department of Transportation, said that the competition gave city planners an opportunity to work with technology developers and figure out a blend of technologies that suit their specific needs.

For Lyft and Uber, more women behind the wheel

Before October 2014, the odds of finding a female driver in Philadelphia were slim. Of the city’s 3,370 taxi drivers, 24 are women, says the Philadelphia Parking Authority. That changed almost two years ago when Uber came to town, soon followed by Lyft.

Ride-hailing apps connect drivers to riders, and take a cut of the fare. In the process, they have opened to women a field long dominated by men.