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10/27/2008



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

USDOT notes decline in miles driven, need for new transportation funding program


During a visit to a light-rail station under construction in Dallas last week, U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters discussed the need for a new transportation infrastructure funding program.

New federal data shows that Americans are continuing to drive their vehicles less. In August, Americans drove 15 billion fewer miles, or 5.6 percent less, than they did in August 2007 — the largest-ever year-over-year monthly decline. During the past 10 months, Americans drove 78 billion fewer miles, Peters said. Meanwhile, transit ridership rose 6.2 percent over the summer.

As a result, federal gas tax revenue — which is used to fund road, transit and bridge projects — is declining, focusing even more attention on the need for a new transportation construction funding source, said Peters.

In July, the Bush Administration unveiled its proposal for a new transportation policy, which calls for eliminating federal restrictions on congestion pricing in metropolitan areas and allowing cities to reinvest revenue generated from congestion pricing on transit projects and improvements. The proposal also calls for expanding the way cities can finance transit projects, such as through state infrastructure banks, private activity bonds and expanded federal credit flexibility.


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