Hotline

Your weekly source of fresh takes on news affecting America's passengers. See also the RPA Blog.

Hotline #695

After a series of delays, the experimental 900 number hotline will take effect with Hotline #697 of November 29. The new number is 900/998-RAIL (900/998-7245) [corrected November 18 and 22]. The first ten seconds are free so you can see if you have already heard a particular message. The first minute is $2.00 and each minute after that is $1.00. Hotline messages, which now run up to six minutes, will be cut back to four. After a trial period, members and callers will be informed if the experimen

Hotline #694

The surface transportation conference has begun. The conference committee met briefly yesterday morning and are expected to begin work in earnest on November 12. Leaders are still saying work can be finished by Thanksgiving, but many insiders call that "dreaming" and say it may take until Christmas instead. Here is a partial list of conferees. Pay special attention to those from the Commerce committees, because they have particular jurisdiction over whether the Senate's pro-Amtrak language will

Hotline #693

The Senate has selected its conferees for the surface transportation conference. They are, from the Environment and Public Works Committee, Moynihan, Burdick, Mitchell, Lautenberg, Reid, Chafee, Symms, Warner, Durenberger; from the Commerce Committee, Hollings, Exon, Bryan, Danforth, Gorton; from the Banking Committee, Riegle, Cranston, Sarbanes, Bond, D'Amato; from the Finance Committee, Bentsen, Baucus, Packwood, Dole; from the Government Affairs Committee, Glenn, Levin, Roth. House conferees

Hotline #692

The House of Representatives approved H.R.3566, the revised surface transportation bill, late on October 23, 343-83. House leadership tried to keep floor amendments to a minimum so as to reach a vote in one day. An important amendment by Henry Waxman (D.-Cal.) was incorporated into a larger amendment and requires metropolitan planning organizations to incorporate transportation improvement plans into their air quality plans. An amendment by Robert Walker (R.-Pa.) to eliminate the transportation

Hotline #691

The House Public Works Committee approved a revised surface transportation bill (now designated H.R.3566) on October 15, 52-3. The revised bill follows upon the September 18 decision by House leadership to drop the proposed five-cent hike in the federal gas tax on which the original bill's funding was premised. The revised bill authorizes $151 billion over six years, with $119 billion for highways and $32 billion for transit. The bill was supposed to come to the House floor yesterday, but was p

Hotline #690

The House approved the fiscal 1991 transportation appropriations conference bill, 374-49, on October 9. The Senate is expected to approve it on October 16. The House Public Works Transportation Subcommittee yesterday released a new version of H.R.2950, the surface transportation bill. The full Committee will consider it on October 8, then it goes to Ways and Means for discussion of the gas-tax extension on October 9. The full House may vote on it on October 10, then it would go to conference to

Hotline #689

For the federal government, fiscal 1992 began October 1, but transportation programs technically remain unfunded, though there is a continuing resolution to fund programs at their 1991 levels through October 29. House Public Works leaders are now struggling with how to allocate highway dollars by state, the same problem that threatened the Senate bill in June. House leaders hope to have a bill on the floor October 17-18. Preliminary information is that until a new authorization is law, transit

Hotline #688

The present highway and transit authorization comes to an end on September 30. Of course, it will be impossible to finish new legislation by then -- it may take until Thanksgiving. Everything depends on the House, because the Senate passed its bill in mid-June. However, House Public Works staff are not worried about the expiration of the current program, saying there is "enough money in the pipeline" for another 60 days. Speaker Tom Foley (D.-Wash.) has told Public Works that he wants a bill on

Hotline #687

Finally, there is some news to report on H.R.2950, the House surface transportation bill. In the colorful words of the Washington Post, on September 18 Speaker Foley (D.-Wash.) performed "last rites on a seven-week-old corpse" by announcing that the controversial five-cent gas tax increase would be taken out of the bill and the bill itself would be rewritten. However, there is not likely to be major, structural changes made to H.R.2950. It is thought that as many of the pork-barrel highway proje

Hotline #686

Congress returned on September 11. Everyone wants to know what is happening with H.R.2950, the House surface transportation bill, but all that can be said is that, officially, it is in limbo while House leadership continue to discuss what is to be done with it. The Senate 1992 DOT appropriations bill was approved yesterday at both the subcommittee and committee levels. The Amtrak numbers compare very favorably with those approved by the full House on July 24 and published in our August newslett