Report examines elderly involvement in fatal accidents

March 14, 2018

Pennsylvania is among the states with the most vehicle fatalities involving elderly drivers.  A report by TRIP, a nonprofit transportation research group based in Washington, D.C., discusses fatalities involving elderly drivers nationwide, as well as possible solutions.

“Largely because of the transportation funding measure known as Act 89, Pennsylvania reached a record low number of overall highway fatalities in 2016,” noted PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner.  “This is very positive news.  However, this report shows there is still much to be done to improve safety for older drivers and improve mobility for seniors.”

To view the “Preserving the Mobility and Safety of Older Americans” report, click here.  To view the news release, click here.



Ride-sharing firms make inroads in health care sector

March 9, 2018

Several recent articles show that ride-sharing firms such as Lyft and Uber are continuing to broaden their scope, most recently beginning to work with health care providers.

A service initially associated with social life in the city is now teaming up with doctors and hospitals to reduce the rate of missed appointments caused by unreliable transportation.

Technology creates options, but it can also create barriers. In a pilot program that includes about 100 hospitals and doctors’ offices, Uber has developed a way for doctors to hail rides for their patients who may be unfamiliar with the app. Rides can be scheduled as far as 30 days in advance. Patients are not required to have a smart phone or the app.

Ride sharing also shows promise in reducing unnecessary ambulance rides. A recent study by the University of Kansas found that ambulance use is down at least 7 percent  in hundreds of cities where ride sharing apps are used. Relying on ride sharing for transportation to medical facilities leaves the ambulances for those with medical emergencies and saves money.

“Lyft, Uber and other ride-sharing companies are having a significant impact on mobility,” said PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner. “It’s great to see ride-sharing evolve and have a positive impact in health care as well.”



PennDOT lets nearly $71 million in projects during February

March 9, 2018

PennDOT continued its 2018 construction letting season by issuing just shy of $71 million in projects in February, bringing the year-to-date total to almost $164 million according to numbers compiled by the Associated Pennsylvania Constructors (APC).  As a result, PennDOT finished 2017 with just over $2.578 billion in project lettings.  PennDOT forecasted the 2017 letting program to be $2.4 billion and they anticipate the same for 2018.

As in year’s past, PHIA will continue to track contract lettings on a monthly basis.

To view the full February letting report and year comparisons, click the link below.

February Letting Report* (PDF)


*The report lists the total contracts awarded at each letting date, a comparison to the same period in the previous calendar year, and letting adjustments made since the previous month. PHIA staff will track PennDOT lettings throughout the year and provide monthly update.



Trump infrastructure plan is a starting point

February 20, 2018

President Trump recently unveiled his $1.5 trillion federal infrastructure proposal. The proposal would dole out $200 billion to states in matching federal money but require state and local governments to raise the remainder through taxation or public-private partnerships. The initiative also would allow states to generate their share by tolling.

The proposal did not specify sources for the matching federal money, saying it would result from cuts in other areas. The proposal also did not address the impending insolvency of the federal Highway Trust Fund.

The trust fund’s primary revenue source is fuel taxes, which have not been raised since 1993.

“As our friend George Wolff mentioned in the Keystone Transportation Funding Coalition newsletter, the president’s proposal is a first step in addressing our infrastructure needs, but we have a long way to go.” said PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner. “In particular, this proposal must return the Highway Trust Fund to solvency to meet the states’ needs over the long term.”



Proposed budget reduces amount diverted from transportation

February 12, 2018

Governor Wolf’s proposed budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year would allocate $769 million to the State Police from the Motor License Fund.

That amount compares with $778 million in the current fiscal year and continues a gradual decrease that began following a study by the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee last year.  The committee determined that under the Pennsylvania Constitution, the appropriate amount to be taken from the Motor License Fund should be about $533 million.

Under the constitution, money that flows into the Motor License Fund from fuel taxes and license and registration fees must be used for highway purposes, including highway safety.  The committee determined that the State Police allocate about 47 percent of their resources to highway safety.

“We’re happy to see the diverted amount reduced, although we would prefer that it occur more quickly,” said PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner.  The committee found that reducing the diverted amount to the appropriate level would pay for paving more than 1,000 miles of roads and designing, replacing and maintaining nearly 140 bridges, he noted.

In a related matter, the proposed budget again calls for implementing a $25 per capita fee to municipalities that use the State Police as their main police force. Several legislators have introduced plans that would charge municipalities for state police coverage.  Residents of municipalities who utilize a local police force ultimately pay twice to subsidize a “free” police station for other municipalities.