News

California zero-emission vehicle mandate spurs discussion

September 2, 2022

California’s recent ban on the sale of gasoline-powered vehicles by 2035 – and the auto industry’s apparent acceptance of it – represents a major momentum boost to the conversion to zero emission cars across the globe.

While there has been chatter for years about this conversion, continuing advances in electric vehicle technology, battery life and recharging capability, the emergence of public policy incentives and the public’s growing concern about climate change are lining up to nudge market transformation.

Last week, a Washington Post article argued that the forces driving this market shift face “a much heavier lift” – convincing skeptical consumers to come along for the ride.

“The (Biden) administration’s push to upend an entrenched culture of fossil-fuel-powered motoring comes as electric cars are struggling to shake their image as a trophy of coastal elites, unreliable and a headache to charge,” the Post wrote.

The Post cited a nationwide survey by Consumer Reports that revealed that while more than a third of consumers would consider purchasing an EV, concerns related to EV ownership must first be addressed, such as creating greater access to charging, extending vehicle range, and lowering purchase prices.

While 2035 is 13 years away, remember the adage that “dates on the calendar are closer than they may appear.” To read the Post article, follow this link.

 

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Electric vehicle update

August 15, 2022

They may not be getting lots of attention, but electric vehicles are gearing up to take a significant bite out of market share in the years ahead.

PennDOT reports that there are now more than 31,000 EVs registered in Pennsylvania, three times the number that were registered in March 2019.

Last month, PennDOT submitted its plan to the federal government for building a network of charging ports across the state. The plan (which can be found at this link) calls for at least 5,000 EV charging ports at 2,000 sites in Pennsylvania by 2028.

PennDOT counts 2,800 public charging ports at more than 1,200 locations across Pennsylvania at present.

The plan was required in order to receive $171.5 million in National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure funds over the next five years. An additional $2.5 billion in grant funding is available as well.

Also tied to the funding is something called the EV Equity Guiding Principles, which states are obliged to follow. They include making EVs more affordable and charging more accessible; investing in fleet electrification; investing in traditionally underserved, low-income, persons of color and otherwise vulnerable population areas; and increasing EV awareness, education and technical capacity.

Vehicle manufacturers across the globe have expressed strong interest in growing the EV market, and advances in battery and charging technology have piqued consumer interest. Prices will become more competitive as the market grows and as environmental standards tighten.

Pennsylvania also must settle in on a system to assure that all vehicle users make a fair contribution to bridge and road construction and maintenance. Currently, EV users do not contribute to paying for the wear and tear on the transportation system.

 

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National study shows fatalities are increasing for traveling public

June 30, 2022

TRIP, a national nonprofit transportation research organization, released a study this week that chronicles alarming national trends in motorist, bicycle and pedestrian safety. In essence, it documents significant increases in fatalities, even as vehicle travel rates dropped due to the COVID pandemic.

The data show an abrupt reversal in fatality rates, which had been dropping before the pandemic. The data show that U.S. traffic fatalities increased by 19% from 2019 to 2021.

Pennsylvania’s data track with national trends. Traffic fatalities during the same period increased by 17% in Pennsylvania, and fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled increased by 24%, while vehicle miles traveled decreased by 6% per billion.

Nationally, bicycle and pedestrian fatalities also increased significantly. Bicycle fatalities increased by 16%, and pedestrian fatalities by 18%.

Studies by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety concluded that the fatality increases were related to increased risks being taken by drivers. These risks include speeding, failure to wear seat belts and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

To combat the increase in fatalities, in early 2022 the U.S. Department of Transportation adopted a comprehensive National Roadway Safety Strategy, a roadmap for addressing the nation’s roadway safety crisis based on a “Safe System” approach, which is also being adopted by state and local transportation agencies. For more information, click here.

The TRIP study also said that new funding for improved roadway safety through the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will provide additional resources to address traffic safety.

Click here to view the TRIP report, appendix, infographics and video interview footage with report authors.

 

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APC calls for further reduction in bridge and highway fund diversions

June 16, 2022

Associated Pennsylvania Constructors is reviving an initiative to further reduce the diversions from the Motor License Fund, the constitutionally protected repository for fuel taxes and license and registration fees that fund PennDOT’s bridge and highway program.

The initiative would keep $300 million in the Motor License Fund, instead of using it to subsidize State Police operations. Pennsylvania has approximately $2 billion in unspent federal COVID money and a projected budget surplus of nearly $4.5 billion, which could be tapped to back-fill the State Police budget.

The Commonwealth had been gradually reducing the annual diversions. The diversion this fiscal year has been $673 million. Governor Wolf had proposed to take the diverted amount down to $500 million, and this initiative would take it down to $200 million.

In a letter to members of the General Assembly, APC said the plan would provide additional revenue for PennDOT’s construction program without raising taxes or license and registration fees. Additionally, it would enable Pennsylvania to fund the public-private partnership major bridge initiative without imposing tolls on those bridges.

Finally, it would cover the required state match of nearly $1 billion that is a condition for receiving $5 billion in federal infrastructure funds over the next five years.

The initiative comes as legislators continue work on a new state budget set to go into effect July 1. APC this week launched an outreach program inviting transportation advocates to urge their state legislators to support the initiative. Advocates can identify and contact their legislators through this link.

 

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Road and Bridge Safety Awards Program Now Open for PA Counties

June 2, 2022

PHIA has launched its annual Road and Bridge Safety Improvement Award program for 2022.  The annual contest is now taking applications from members of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania (CCAP).

Each year the Pennsylvania Highway Information Association (PHIA) and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) team with various state organizations to recognize the best road safety or bridge improvement projects undertaken across the state.   Eligible projects are those in which most or all of the safety improvements were completed in 2021.  The competition recognizes not only major, high-cost projects, but any improvements that have increased public safety.

The CCAP program will recognize counties’ use of highway user fees for needed community safety improvements, culminating in a presentation to the winners at CCAP Annual Conference at the  Lancaster County Convention Center on August 7-10, 2022.  Click HERE to download a copy of the entry brochure.  The entry deadline is July 1, 2022.

For more information on other municipal organizations’ Road and Bridge Safety Award programs, click here.