Transportation Systems Casebook/Printable version

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Transportation Systems Casebook

The current, editable version of this book is available in Wikibooks, the open-content textbooks collection, at

Permission is granted to copy, distribute, and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License.


This Casebook contains a set of case studies developed by students enrolled in the Introduction to Transportation Systems course taught in the School of Policy, Government and International Affairs at George Mason University by Prof. Jonathan Gifford.


The following should be included the written Case Study Report:

  • Summary
  • Annotated List of Actors
  • Timeline of Events
  • Maps of Locations
  • Clear Identification of Policy Issues
  • Narrative of the Case
  • Discussion Questions
  • Complete References of Cited (primary and secondary) Documents (with hyperlinks as appropriate)

The report should be written from a Neutral Point-of-View. Online encyclopedias are not acceptable sources for citation (feel free to read to get background information, but they are at best tertiary sources).

The report should be on the order of 3000-5000 words. It should be fully referenced. Additional readings on the order of 30 -100 pages should be assigned with the case, these will be linked on the case web page or handed out in class.

Source: Adapted from "Transportation PlanningCasebook/About, " Wikibooks , accessed Sep 2014

China’s Belt and Road

Summary[edit | edit source]

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a cross-regional infrastructural initiative unveiled by China in 2013. It has since had global commentary both positive and negative and sparked criticism and support from various political regimes. It is currently as controversial as it is ambitious. Currently, China has spent an estimated $200 billion with Morgan Stanley estimating that by 2027 China would have spent between $1.2- $1.3 trillion on the BRI.[1] China plans to complete this multi-billion dollar initiative in 2049.

Annotated List of Actors[edit | edit source]

·      Hillary. R. Clinton, U.S. Secretary of State (2009-2013)

·      Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party and President of China

·      Central Committee (of the Chinese Communist Party wrote the comprehensive reform blueprint of the Initiative in November 2013).

·      State Council of the People’s Republic of China. (The chief administrative authority of China)

·      National Development and Reform Commission. (NDRC)

·      Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (China)

·      Ministry of Commerce. (China)

·      Asian Infrastructure Development Bank (AIIB), China-ASEAN Maritime Cooperation Fund, China-Indonesia Maritime Cooperation Fund and Silk Road Fund. These financial institutions lend out loans for infrastructure projects on BRI mostly in the Asia-Pacific region.

·      ASEAN. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations is a regional intergovernmental organization of the member countries that promotes and facilitates economic, political, security, military, educational, and sociocultural integration among its members.

·      Participating countries and international organizations.

Maps of Locations[edit | edit source]

Timeline of Events[edit | edit source]

  • Initiative unveiled in September and October of 2013 by Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
  • Blueprint of the Initiative was made by the Central Committee with the approval of the State Council in November 2013.
  • In March 2015, detailed plans of the BRI were laid out by the National Development Reform Commission (NDRC), Foreign Affairs Ministry and Ministry of Commerce.
  • Asian Infrastructure Development Bank although established in 2013 began its operation in December 2015.
  • The first and inaugural forum on the Belt and Road Initiative was held in May 2017.
  • October 2017, the BRI is added to the Chinese Communist Party’s constitution.
  • Second forum on the BRI was held in April 2019.

Clear Identification of Policy Issues[edit | edit source]

The Chinese Belt and Road Initiative foster regional, economic and international development for about 64% of the World’s population.  This initiative has the following:

Pros:[edit | edit source]

  • Fosters economic development and integration resulting in growth to both developed and developing countries.[1] This initiative seeks to make this integration a win-win cooperation and prosperity for all.
  • Improving upon and influencing current international economic system reforms and architecture.[2] Having had slow and difficult international economic reforms in decades, China on becoming an emerging power seeks to play an important role in shaping the global economic system.
  • Provides hard infrastructure in the form of roads, railways, pipelines ports and others which will lead to a reduction in transportation time and other costs associated with trade.[3] The creation of the infrastructure will help countries export their products easily to other countries leading to such benefits as earning of foreign currencies, creation of jobs and increased market shares of goods and services.

Cons:[edit | edit source]

  • Although not fully executed, the BRI faces certain challenges, criticisms and oppositions. Some of the major challenges of the BRI stems from the risk associated with how broad and ambitious the BRI is and also based on political values of participating countries as against that of the Chinese. Some of these challenges, criticisms and opposition include:
  • Lack of information and transparency of BRI investments. Some of the BRI investments have the requirement that they can only be awarded and undertaken by Chinese contractors.  Contractors use this requirement as a basis to not disclose information which allows them the opportunity to inflate the costs of infrastructure. This has led to over-inflated cost and increase debts on the part of borrowing countries partaking in the building of infrastructure. This has then led to mistrust and opposition and even withdrawal from the BRI in some countries.[4]
  • The BRI is considered as neocolonialism or a ploy by China to dominate Asia and trade. Given the low-interest loan rates accessible to participating countries in developing the infrastructure for the BRI, critics see this as a way of China creating unsustainable debt burdens for its neighbors and potentially taking control of regional choke points.
  • Excess exports by China are another sign that raises questions and criticisms on the dominance of China on trade. Some Chinese experts are of the view that one of the benefits of the BRI investments is to be able to absorb China’s excess capacity which although true could create unfavorable trading terms for other countries. India is one of the countries that see China as using such a ploy.[5]
  • The risk of clashes of political values and culture across countries. Since the BRI has a broad and rich mix of political regimes and economic systems such as capitalism, socialism and others, there are bound to be challenges in cooperation and coordination among countries, which may result in delays in the execution of projects. [6]
  • Difficulty in achieving financial sustainability of cross-country projects. To be able to sustain these cross-country infrastructure projects, the return on investment should outweigh the cost. Most Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) undertaken by the Chinese government and companies have not been profitable. This shows that China does not have lot of favorable outcomes running cross-border projects which makes the profits to be derived from the BRI questionable.[7]

Narrative of the Case

From ancient Silk Road to the Belt and Road Initiative: a historic perspective of transcontinental trade in Eurasia.

The human being has historically been in search of more favorable conditions to live in. This desire has been driving him to explore new destinations and open new routes.

The emergence of cross-continental trade networks in the Eurasian continent date back to the period of the Han Dynasty in China, when the unique Chinese merchandise like silk and spices reached Europe. Trade in silk and related byproducts in the broader Eurasian continent opened small-size trade linkages between and among the regional commercial hubs in the Central Eurasia, and stimulated the growth of medieval cities like Samarkand, Bukhara, Aleppo etc. These small trade linkages emerged into major trade routes connecting China to European markets as transcontinental trade began to evolve. Historians named the network of commercial trade routes connecting China to Europe as the “Silk Road”.

Transcontinental trade between China and Europe was flourishing until Constantinople – the capital city of Byzantine Empire and the major trade hub on the crossroads of Europe and Asia, fell to Ottoman Empire in 1453. Constantinople’s fall dramatically changed the geopolitics in the broader Eurasian continent and stimulated the European explorations of alternative trade routes to China.[1]

Although, the commerce in the city re-established following the conquest and Istanbul[2] regained its dominance over transcontinental trade routes shortly, overland trading eclipsed by the exploration of new maritime routes.[3] Improvement in technology which could support long maritime journeys, as well as significant scientific changes about the understanding of the World in late fifteenth century would encourage the Europeans to find new ways for trade with China, avoiding trade middlemen of Central Asia and then less friendly Turkish control of the overland trade routes.

Throughout the history wars and geopolitics significantly shaped and reshaped the Eurasian transcontinental trade routes on micro and macro levels. Decline of the overland trade via Silk Road had mirrored onto the development of the trade hubs in Eastern China, Central Asia and Caucasus. Only in eighteenth century the Silk Road region regained its strategic importance as it had become the intersection of three major geopolitical powers-Russian, British and Chinese empires – now mostly from cultural and archeological point of view.[4] 

Establishment of Russian dominance over the Central Eurasian region and the Caucasus in early nineteenth century and emergence of the Soviet Union in 1920s significantly affected the flow of people and goods through the Silk Road.

The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 opened unique opportunities for the regional trade, integration and re-emergence of the ancient Silk Road, as this region become attractive again for foreign investments. In 1993, the European Union introduced the “Transport Corridor Europe-Caucasus-Asia” (TRACECA) program to develop transport corridor from Europe to China, via the Black Sea, the Caucasus, the Caspian Sea and Central Asia.[5] Central Asia and the Caucasus has significantly enjoyed the Western political and economic support until recently. On July 20, 2011, in Chennai, India, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton laid out the United States’ vision of the new Silk Road and the U.S. support to re-establishing the “international web and network of economic and transit connections” in Eurasia. The U.S. policy concerning the trade and transit connections in the Central Eurasia would later be dubbed as the New Silk Road Initiative.[6]

In 2013, in the light of the NATO’s (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) gradual withdrawal from Afghanistan, as well as the U.S.’ active engagement with the Central and South Asian countries to forge the regional integration, China introduced the “Belt and Road Initiative” – a new transcontinental integration policy which would stimulate closer economic ties and deepen cooperation in the greater Eurasian region – but this time, under Chinese dominance.

Belt and Road Initiative as an economic tool for the integration of regional economies

Officially, the BRI was introduced by the Paramount leader of the People's Republic of China Xi Jinping during his visits to Kazakhstan in September 2013 and to Indonesia in October 2013. The multi-billion dollars initiative which covers 71 regional economies, including China involves two major components: Silk Road Economic Belt and the New Maritime Silk Road.

In his speech at the Nazarbayev University in Kazakhstan, Chinese leader Xi Jinping proposed a new integration policy to improve the transcontinental connectivity and cooperation by building “economic belt along the Silk Road” which would span from the Pacific to the Baltic Sea.[7]

A month later, Chinese leader Xi Jinping during his speech before the Indonesian Parliament introduced the New Maritime Silk Road Initiative, which envisages strengthening the China-ASEAN maritime cooperation and investments through the China-led China-ASEAN Maritime Cooperation Fund and China-Indonesia Cooperation Fund.[8]

For the implementation of this initiative China has signed intergovernmental agreements and memorandums of understanding with number of countries trying to bind the economies to the emerging transcontinental network. However, the BRI geography still remains debatable due to lack of integrated transportation linkages, disparity in regional economic development and huge cost burden that the initiative can put over smaller economies.

According to the RAND Corporation report, poor development of overland transportation networks, particularly rail connection between neighboring countries significantly affects the regional trade. Rail connection and harmonization of border-crossing processes are of the greatest importance for the trade facilitation in the Central Eurasian region as the 25% of BRI countries in this region are landlocked, thus are heavily depended on the rail communication. The RAND Corporation estimates with regard to the correlation of rail connection to the level of trade in the BRI region show that adding rail connection between trading partners increases trade by 2.8 per cent in average (Table 1).[9]

Table 1. Sensitivity test of the impact of transport connectivity on export trade volumes

Change of transport indices Change in trade
Added rail connection 2.8 per cent
Air distance reduced by 10 per cent 0.41 per cent
Maritime distance reduced by 10 per cent 0.13 per cent

Source: RAND Corporation

From economic point of view, experts argue that if fully implemented, the BRI can reduce travel time for transcontinental delivery of goods and stimulate foreign investments to the regional economies. With proposed level of investment and improved regional trade relations between and among the regional countries, the BRI’s realization would not only affect the level of trade in the BRI region but also would have impact on the non-BRI markets. According to the World Bank report (2019), if fully executed the BRI transport infrastructure can reduce travel time by up to 12 per cent and increase world trade between 1.7 and 6.2 per cent.[10]

The multibillion dollar initiative is heavily dependent on the Chinese investments. It is funded through different China-led programs and financial institutions, most importantly Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, China-ASEAN Maritime Cooperation Fund, China-Indonesia Cooperation Fund and the Silk Road Bank. Although most of the popular sources indicate that Chinese investments for the BRI projects is from $1 trillion -$8 trillion, the World Bank estimates that the overall BRI investments do not exceed $575 billion.[11]

According to the World Bank statistics, the BRI financing is rapidly increasing public and corporate debt in emerging markets, which have already reached the historic pick since 1980s.[12] In this circumstances, increasing debt burden in less developed economies create challenges for sovereign debt sustainability and make them vulnerable to debt distresses. The Center for Global Development has identified 23 BRI economies relevantly susceptible to the raising debt burden. Eight of them are of particular concern: Djibouti, the Kyrgyz Republic, Lao’s People’s Democratic Republic, the Maldives, Mongolia, Montenegro, Pakistan and Tajikistan.[13]

Belt and Road as the foreign policy tool

In 2017, the 19th National Party Congress of the China’s Communist Party formally incorporated the Belt and Road Initiative into the Chinese Constitution by writing the following wording into it: “[] following the principle of achieving shared growth through discussion and collaboration, and pursuing the Belt and Road Initiative.”[14] This was significant adjustment into the BRI, as it now represents the Government’s policy rather than Chinese overseas investment program.

Although China’s BRI project has widely been seen mostly in economic terms, it has always had strategic meaning for the Chinese Government. The BRI policy identifies five major elements for the transcontinental integration: policy communication among regional countries; hardware improvement; trade facilitation; monetary policy; and people-to-people contacts.[15] Almost all these elements hold national security importance for China.

Experts assert that by investing in BRI Chinese Government aims to stabilize border regions by mitigating threats time-to-time emanating from peripheries; securing energy supply and transport routes by establishing overland oil transportation systems; and the last but least to cultivate stronger diplomatic and economic influence in the region by signing partnership agreements and memorandums of understanding and investing in the development of regional economies.[16]

Effective implementation of the BRI in a broader perspective is shaped by the expectations and reactions of the major World powers, like the United States and the European Union. Although the U.S. Government in many occasions voices that the U.S.’ New Silk Road Initiative and BRI are complementing each other, the trade confrontations between the two, as well as increasing Chinese influence over the regions once dominated by the western investments can prove the opposite. During the hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Secretary James Mattis commented on the BRI in a following way:[17]

Regarding 'One Belt, One Road,' I think in a globalized world, there are many belts and many roads, and no one nation should put itself into a position of dictating 'One Belt, One Road.' That said, the 'One Belt, One Road' also goes through disputed territory, and I think that in itself shows the vulnerability of trying to establish that sort of a dictate.

Another factor that makes the BRI an issue of the national security for China is the security and safety concerns associated with Chinese business involvement in remote and unstable areas like Africa, Middle East and Central Asia. These threats include but not limited to examples as anti-Chinese sentiments in Yemen – deportation of 500 Chinese nationals from Yemen; killing of Chinese citizens in Syria in 2015 and in Pakistan in 2017 etc.[18]

The withdrawal of NATO and U.S. forces from Afghanistan and U.S. distancing from Central Eurasian affairs in recent years have created a geopolitical vacuum in Central Eurasian which has become more susceptible to the increasing Chinese influence, most importantly through the Belt and Road Initiative.

Lessons Learned / Takeaways[edit | edit source]

·       The BRI now a part of the Constitution of the Communist Party of China represents the Government’s policy rather than Chinese overseas investment program.

·       Although China’s BRI project has widely been seen mostly in economic terms, it has always had strategic meaning for the Chinese Government.

·       China seeks to reform existing international economic systems through the BRI.

·       There are oppositions to the BRI because the benefits to be derived by the Chinese far exceed the benefits to other participating regional countries.

·       According to the World Bank statistics, the BRI financing is rapidly increasing public and corporate debt in emerging markets

Discussion Questions[edit | edit source]

·       Is it fair to limit some contracts to Chinese contracts?

·       How can transparency be enforced for the BRI?

·       Do the overall benefits of the BRI outweigh the current human, economic and political cost?

·       How else can the BRI be funded besides Chinese investments?

·       Will BRI make fair trade more difficult?

For more information follow the link below

References[edit | edit source]

[1] United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Silk Roads, Dialogue, Diversity and Development (UNESCO). Istanbul:

[2] Following the conquest of Constantinople, the city was renamed to Istanbul.

[3] Peyrouse, Sebastein. The Ohio State University. Building a New Silk Road? Central Asia in the New World Order:

[4] UNESCO. The End of the Silk Road. Chapter six:

[5] European Union. Central Asia-Transport:

[6] Clinton R, Hillary. Secretary of State (2009-2013). Remarks at the New Silk Road Ministerial Meeting, September 22, 2011, New York:

[7] Jinping, Xi. President of the People’s Republic of China. Transcript of the speech at the Nazarbayev University, September 7, 2013, Almaty, Kazakhstan:

[8] Jinping, Xi. President of the People’s Republic of China. Transcript of the speech at the Indonesian Parliament, October 2, 2013, Jakarta, Indonesia:

[9] Hui Lu, Charlene Rohr, Marco Hafner, Anna Knack, “China Belt and Road Initiative: Measuring the impact of improving transportation connectivity on trade in the region”, (RAND Europe, 2019) p. 14-15:

[10] The World Bank Group Report, “Belt and Road Economics, Opportunities and Risks of Transport Corridors”, 2019, p 5

[11] Ibid., p. 37

[12] Ibid., p. 39       

[13] John Hurley, Scott Morris, Gailyn Portelance, “Examining the Debt Implications of the Belt and Road Initiative from a Policy Perspective”, (Center for Global Development, 2018), p. 11:

[14] An Baijie, China Daily:

[15] Jinping, Xi. President of the People’s Republic of China. Transcript of the speech at the Nazarbayev University, September 7, 2013, Almaty, Kazakhstan:

[16] Dr.Joel Wuthnow, Research Fellow, Center for the Study of Chinese Military Affairs Institute for National Strategic Studies, U.S. National Defense University, Testimony before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission Hearing on “China’s Belt and Road Initiative: Five Years Later” (2018)

[17] CSIS, Reconnecting Asia:

[18] Dr.Joel Wuthnow, Research Fellow, Center for the Study of Chinese Military Affairs Institute for National Strategic Studies, U.S. National Defense University, Testimony before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission Hearing on “China’s Belt and Road Initiative: Five Years Later” (2018)

[1] China Power,

[2] Yiping Huang, “Understanding China’s Belt and Rad Initiative: Motivation, framework and assessment” China Economic Review, Vol 40, September 2016, pp 314-321.

[3] Chatzky, A and McBride, J., “China’s Massive Belt and Road Initiative”, Council on Foreign Relations, May 21, 2019, accessed October 12th, 2019

[4] Chatzky, A and McBride, J., “China’s Massive Belt and Road Initiative”, Council on Foreign Relations, May 21, 2019, accessed October 12th, 2019

[5] Chatzky, A and McBride, J., “China’s Massive Belt and Road Initiative”, Council on Foreign Relations, May 21, 2019, accessed October 12th, 2019

[6] Yiping Huang, “Understanding China’s Belt and Rad Initiative: Motivation, framework and assessment” China Economic Review,Vol 40, September 2016, pp 314-321.

[7] Yiping Huang, “Understanding China’s Belt and Rad Initiative: Motivation, framework and assessment” China Economic Review, Vol 40, September 2016, pp 314-321.

[1] Chatzky, A and McBride, J., “China’s Massive Belt and Road Initiative”, Council on Foreign Relations, May 21, 2019, accessed October 12th, 2019

NYC Fare Payment System

NYC Fare Payment System[edit | edit source]

This case reviews the Introduction of the New York City transit system’s new fare payment system. It is the collaborative work of Aleksandr Grinshpun and Lukas Camby, graduate students enrolled in George Mason University's Transportation Policy, Operations, and Logistics Program at the time of writing. The following casebook explores the key actors, policy challenges, and history associated with NYC Fare Payment System in the context of its integration into America's public transport. It was produced as an assignment for George Mason University's Introduction to Transportation Systems graduate course, taught by Dr. Jonathan Gifford.

Summary[edit | edit source]

In New York City, the earliest form of fare collection for public transit started with the nickel in exchange for a ticket. As all the transportation modes expanded and centralized, fares increased, and new technologies such as turnstiles and tokens had to be introduced to create operating efficiencies and cut costs. Some fare payment utilities were easily adopted, while others are more difficult to implement. One of the more recent fare payment technologies initiated in the 1990’s was MTA’s MetroCard.[1] These plastic cards featured a metallic strip similar to a credit card that could be swiped at a fare collection point and could also be reloaded at fare machines. This system was proposed as an alternative to the token-based system that past New York City transit companies and operators had used from the 1950’s to the 1990’s without having to ever completely overhaul the entire system.[2] A new digital system was favored. The institution of the MetroCard in 1993 was to facilitate ridership data in an attempt to improve operations.[3]

It was a huge shift for transit users at the time. Jack Lusk, a senior vice president with the MTA, told the New York Times in 1993 that “this is going to be the biggest change in the culture of the subways since World War II, when the system was unified… we think the technology is working just fine. But it may take riders some getting used to.”[4] It would take an additional 4 years until May 14th, 1997, when the entire bus and subway system accepted MetroCard. Cubic Transportation Systems designed the magnetic-stripped, blue-and-yellow card to respond to a swipe-based system. The MetroCard works in the following manner: each MetroCard is assigned an exclusive, everlasting ten-digit serial number when it is manufactured. The value on the card is stored magnetically. While each transaction on the card is recorded in the Automated Fare Collection (AFC) Database. After money is loaded onto the card and it is swiped through a turnstile, the value of the card is read, a new value is written, the passenger goes through, and the AFC is updated with that transaction.[5] Although this system was novel at the time of introduction, it quickly became notorious for its technical limitations. Only a few years after the system was introduced newer technology became available that allowed for contactless payment cards to be used. WMATA in Washington, DC introduced SmartTrip in 1999 as one of the first contactless smartcard systems used for paying transit fares in the United States.[6] Most recently, on May 31,2019, the MTA launched a pilot program of its new tap-to-pay system, known as OMNY, that is intended in due course to take the place of swiping a MetroCard. The fare technology will roll out incrementally, allowing transit officials to overcome obstacles as they work toward fully retiring the MetroCard in 2023. With OMNY, riders can bypass lines to refill their Metro cards and simply tap their contactless bank cards or mobile wallet app on their smart phones to pay the fare.[7]

Annotated List of Actors[edit | edit source]

● Public Transit Users

● MTA vice president Jack Lusk (1993)[8]

● Cubic Transportation System (MetroCard)

● Mayor David Binkens (1990-1994)[9]

● Mayor Rudi Giuliani (1994-2001)[10]

● Mayor Michael Bloomberg (2002-2013)[11]

● Mayor Bill de Blasio (2013-present)[12]

● Accepted on the following public transportation providers:

○ Rail:

■ AirTrain JFK

■ New York City Subway


■ Staten Island Railway

○ Bus:

■ Bee-Line

■ Hudson Rail Link

■ MTA Regional

■ Nassau Inter-County Express

○ Other:

■ Roosevelt Island Tramway

● Technology Companies

○ Apple Pay

○ Samsung Pay

○ Google Pay

● Financial Institutions

Timeline of Events[edit | edit source]

  1. At inception, private companies organized rapid transit routes and surface lines. Abraham Brower established New York City's first public transportation route in 1827. It was a 12-seat stagecoach called "Accommodation," that operated along Broadway from the Battery to Bleecker Street.[13]
  2. As of 1831, Brower had added the "Sociable" and horse drawn "Omnibus."[14]
  3. In 1832, John Mason organized the New York and Harlem Railroad, that used a street railway powered by horse-drawn cars with metal wheels running on metal track.[15]
  4. As early as 1855, 593 omnibuses traveled on 27 Manhattan routes and horse-drawn cars ran on street railways on Third, Fourth, Sixth, and Eighth Avenues.[16]
  5. Before any underground excavation commenced for the "official" underground subway in 1900, under the management of the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Corporation (BRT), the City of Brooklyn was serviced by a series of elevated railway lines referred to as "Els".[17]
  6. From 1870 to 1873, Alfred E. Beach created a 312-foot tunnel under lower Broadway and ran a subway car operated by "pneumatic pressure."[18]
  7. In 1872, the Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT)[19] began operating the first El in Manhattan along Ninth Avenue.[20] The elevated lines accommodated efficient rapid transit service, with frequent trains, a cheap fare, and swifter travel time than street traffic.[21] However, these wooden cable cars powered by steam, were prone to mechanical malfunctions such as; snapped cables, engine problems, and track fires.[22]
  8. Nearing the end of the 19th century, the adoption of electricity on trolley cars, led to the replacement of horses for propulsion. [23]
  9. New York City's first ‘official’ subway system opened its doors for business in Manhattan on October 27, 1904.[24]
  10. Until May 10, 1920, to pay for their fare Subway customers purchased tickets which cost $0.05.[25]
  11. IRT service expanded to the Bronx in 1905, to Brooklyn in 1908, and to Queens in 1915. Also in 1915, the BRT began subway service between Brooklyn and Manhattan. Shortly after, the Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit Corporation (BMT) absorbed the BRT.[26]
  12. Trolley bus lines, also called trackless trolley coaches, used overhead power lines to serve Staten Island in the 1920s.[27]
  13. Beginning in 1930, for three decades, Brooklyn's surface transit were also reliant on trolley bus lines.[28] However, by 1956 and 1960, motor buses had become the dominant form of New York City public transit, replacing trolley cars and trolley buses.[29]
  14. The first city-run subway service began service in 1932, when the NYC's Board of Transportation completed construction of the Eighth Avenue line and created the Independent Rapid Transit Railroad (IND).[30]
  15. Post the purchase of the BMT and IRT in 1940, NYC's Board of Transportation became the sole owner and operator of all the city’s subway and elevated lines.[31]
  16. Towards the late 1940’s, the city also acquired three other bus companies that operated in Queens and Staten Island.[32]
  17. From 1920 through 1948, turnstiles were introduced for fare payment collection as a cost-cutting initiative in response to post-World War I inflation.[33]
  18. In 1948, turnstiles started accepting dimes once the fares were increased by 5 cents.[34]
  19. On June 15, 1953, the New York State Legislature formed the New York City Transit Authority (now MTA New York City Transit) as a separate public entity to manage and operate all city-owned bus, trolley, and subway routes.[35]
  20. Since turnstiles couldn't handle two different coins, tokens replaced coins in 1953, when the fare rose to 15 cents.[36]
  21. In 1970, NYCTA released a larger version of the classic Y token in 1970 to accompany a fare increase to 30 cents.[37]
  22. In 1979, for the anniversary of the Subway, the Diamond Jubilee token was unveiled. The commemorative token had a fare value of 50 cents.[38]
  23. In 1980, the city introduced the Solid Brass NYC token, which featured an updated design.[39]
  24. 1986 brought a new token called “bull’s eye,” and “fare rose to $1 a trip.”[40]
  25. In 1995, the MTA introduced the symbolic “Five Boroughs” token, the last token before the MetroCard, which was phased out in 2003. This token was valued at $1.50.[41]
  26. In 1993, the MetroCard was introduced.[42]
  27. When WMATA launched SmartTrip in 1999, it was the nation’s first contactless smart card for transit.[43]
  28. On May 31,2019, the MTA launched a pilot program of its new tap-to-pay system, known as OMNY, that is intended to replace swiping a MetroCard. The fare technology is expected to be released in phases, allowing transit officials to identify complications and find solutions prior to fully retiring the MetroCard in 2023.[44]

History of NYC Public Transit Fares[edit | edit source]

● $0.05 (1904– July 1, 1948)

● $0.10 (July 1, 1948 – July 1, 1953)

○ Bus fare: $0.07 from 1948 until 1950 and $0.10 from 1950 till 1953

● $0.15 (July 2, 1953 – July 5, 1966 )

○ Bus fare: $0.13 from 1954 till 1955 and $0.15 from 1956 till 1966; 5th Avenue Bus line fare raised to 15 cents on January 1, 1954

● $0.20 (July 5, 1966 – January 3, 1970 )

● $0.30 (January 4, 1970 – December 31, 1971 )

● $0.35 (January 1, 1972 – August 31, 1975 (MSBA/Long Island Bus from 1973)

In December 1973, the MTA started trialing a program in which passengers could pay a single one-way fare to take round trips on the subway, buses, and railroads on Sundays. Since this resulted in higher ridership, the MTA extended it through the beginning of 1975.

● $0.50 (September 2, 1975 – June 27, 1980 )

● $0.60 (June 28, 1980 – July 2, 1981 )

● $0.75 (July 3, 1981 – January 1, 1984 )

● $0.90 (January 2, 1984 – December 31, 1985 )

● $1.00 (January 1, 1986 – December 31, 1989 )

● $1.15 (January 1, 1990 – December 31, 1991 )

● $1.25 (January 1, 1992 – November 11, 1995 )

● $1.50 (November 12, 1995 – May 3, 2003 )

● $2.00 (May 4, 2003 – June 27, 2009 )

● $2.25 (June 28, 2009 – December 29, 2010 )

● $2.25 base fare (December 30, 2010 – March 2, 2013 )

● $2.50 SingleRide MetroCard ticket fare

● $2.50 base fare (March 3, 2013 – March 21, 2015 )

● $2.75 SingleRide MetroCard ticket fare

● $2.75 base fare (March 22, 2015 – present)

● $3.00 SingleRide MetroCard ticket fare

Maps of Location[edit | edit source]

Policy Issues[edit | edit source]

● Too old or too new? Since the system used technology that has only been tried in a few other places, the MTA is being extremely ambitious with the OMNY project. They are also putting a huge amount of confidence that the technology will work seamlessly. Contactless smartcard systems are now the standard method of paying for transit fares in many parts of the world and many people have long been perplexed about why the New York City transit system has used a system that feels very obsolete by comparison as it was developed using early 1990’s technology. The root of the problem is that New York switched from tokens to electronic reloadable fare cards a little early, before the technology developed further just 5 years later to allow for a contactless system adopted by WMATA. Although WMATA’s SmartTrip system is not without its problems, it is still a very reliable system that has completely replaced the disposable farecards that the Washington Metro used beforehand. While the system was cutting edge at the time of its installation, the technology of fare payments advanced very quickly and obsolescence by the late 2000’s was inevitable.

● Misuse of Technology As with all new technologies, the public is concerned that their personal identifying information (PII) may be put at risk in a contactless fare system. Policymakers will have to ensure that appropriate data security measures are in place and evolve as new cyber threats emerge. Furthermore, an aversion to government-operated technology systems among the general public may give rise to skepticism over this method of payment. Although this phenomenon is already taking place with the MetroCard, the fact that contactless fare payment may cross over ridership information with PII may be worrisome to certain users.

Additionally, fare evasion/insufficient funds will continue to be an issue with contactless fare technology. Systems will need to ensure collection of fares prior to boarding or the beginning of a trip to avoid freeloading off of the system. Non-collection of fares may put a burden on MTA’s bottom line.

● Advertising on Metro Cards Metro cards have long been used for advertising. Pilot programs that started in the early 2000’s undertaken to see how effective advertisements were for the Metro cards. The program was expanded in 2012 when the entire card was put on offer for advertisement space, this created a frenzy of companies placing logos and messages on New York City farecards. While advertising on transit is far from a new idea, the concept of placing advertisements on transit fare cards has rarely been done on a large scale before. The benefits of this program include added revenue from a larger cohort of advertisers and much greater flexibility of ad selection and variety than compared to using physical wraps on trains. This policy however has been criticized for creating some confusion amongst transit riders about the need for consistency in the appearance of the cards. Some have also questioned why some cards have ads while others don’t and that the fare remains the same regardless it the card has an ad or not. While the new system will feature new cards with the OMNY logo, it is yet to be seen on whether the new cards will feature ads.

● Lack of connectivity with other transit systems in the region such as, NJ transit. While the OMNY program is going to be compatible with all services operated by MTA including the subway, local buses, express buses, LIRR, and Metro-North. Compatibility with these extra services will be added in stages as OMNY begins its proving ground operations with the subway. But one notable transit agency in the region that will not be participating in ONMY is New Jersey Transit which operates NJ Transit Rail and many local and express buses that serve urban and suburban communities in Northern New Jersey. They will be using a different system developed by Conduent of Florham Park, NJ. This lack of connectivity will be notable given how most large urban areas have favored developing a single smartcard payment system that works amongst all major transit providers in an area such as WMATA for the Washington, D.C. area. While the need for connections and compatibility has been addressed within MTA, the concerns over lack of coverage with the services outside the state of New York have been a cause of concern. Advocates want the system to be as integrated with all services in the region as it can be, and as things are currently developing, a commuter from New Jersey may have to maintain 2 cards in their wallet so that both NJ Transit services and MTA services can be used conveniently. The issue has existed for a while as NJ Transit has long had their own train and bus tickets.

● Half- priced fares and Access-A-Ride New York City has instituted a system of reduced fares in recent years for enabling low-income people to use the subways in a more affordable fashion. The programs issues special Metro cards for those who qualify by submitting a request to the MTA. The introduction of the new OMNY system has been met with concerns from some advocates that the new system is inherently disadvantageous to low income subway user in that it will make it more difficult to have access to these kinds of benefits when the new system becomes dominant. MTA has not yet specified how it plans to keep these benefits going once OMNY is fully installed and operational.

● The issue of cash users. Although the new system will dispense reloadable smartcards from fare machines that accept cash, OMNY has been criticized for being another example of how technological change is making cash users feel like they are a burden. OMNY will feature credit card payment options both online and at physical fare machines that will be universally accepted. MTA has not provided details on how the new cards will be distributed to those who wish to continue to use cash to pay for their fares. WMATA in the D.C. area faced early criticism for SmartTrip cards being only available in a few select stations and that the cards cost $10 a piece. The MTA of New York will almost certainly suffer similar criticisms once these new machines that dispense OMNY cards are put into service.

Narrative of the Case[edit | edit source]

New York City’s public transportation fare payment has evolved with the demands of an expanding system. However, one could argue that fare payment technology has not kept pace with the ridership volume created by that expansion. The earliest form of fare payment was five cents in exchange for a ticket to board. In the 1920’s turnstiles were introduced to lower costs associated with operating public transit. Since turnstiles were unable to accept multiple coins for payment as fares increased, tokens became the currency to board public transit. However, tokens are unable to provide ridership data that the MTA urgently craved. Collecting data would allow for knowing “the exact location and time that every rider entered the station or boarded a bus.” In theory, this data would allow for better planned routes serving the ridership population when needed at a reduced operating cost. As such, the magnetic strip MetroCard was introduced in the early 1990’s. These Metro cards are still in use today. In May 2019, MTA launched its new tap-to-pay system, known as OMNY, that is intended to replace the MetroCard.

Unfortunately, some technologies are more adaptable than others. For example, the exchange of coins for tickets is straightforward. The later iteration of exchanging coins for tokens is also a concept that is easy to implement. Turnstiles were also easily accepted by the public. On the other hand, transitioning from tokens to the MetroCard provided challenges for both users and the MTA. The AFC made frequent errors in tracking values held on Metro cards. Turnstiles often were not able to read the cards and users found ‘hacks’ to game the system and gain free ridership.

The introduction of the new payment system for the New York City subway has been touted as a crucial step forward for the public transportation system of America’s most populous city. As other cities around the world have been aggressively adopting new technologies into their operations, the MTA has taken key notice. With the introduction of other fare payment systems that use contactless cards in the united states and some systems introducing smartphone based payment systems, the New York City subway system’s fare payment technology has become notably outdated by comparison in recent years. The system is in desperate need of an update as eventually the Metro card system will become incompatible with other technologies and the existing system would need the be maintained through contractors that no longer make the required components and software making the system much more expensive to operate. The fare payment system update is also a great way for the MTA to tout the continued advancement and upgrading of the system, as the subway has long struggled with a perception of widespread infrastructure woes due to the age of the system and has tried to find innovative ways of solving these pressing problems and restoring rider satisfaction for a city as globally important as New York.

In order to restore ridership and give the public greater satisfaction when using public transit, MTA is converting to a OMNY, a contactless fare payment system, wherein riders will be able to bypass lines to refill their Metro cards and simply tap their contactless bank cards or mobile wallet app on their smart phones to pay the fare. Metro cards, which are 25 years old, “run on OS2,” an obsolete operating system deemed “‘no longer supportable’” by MTA leadership. User experience is also expected to improve, with leaders aiming to facilitate “‘end-to-end connectivity’ across” multiple modes of MTA-offered transit. This contactless feature is supposed to support saving riders their most valued commodity - time.

From a technical standpoint, an update is a must. But an update is not without consequences for the riders who are used to the current system. The new system has such a heavy reliance on the latest technology of fare collection that some who are used to the relative simplicity and familiarity of Metro cards may be somewhat apprehensive about adopting the new system. While the benefits from the installation of the new system will only become apparent as the new fare and turnstile machines are implemented. Lessons Learned

As with all new technologies, there is an evolution throughout the birth, growth, and maturity stages. One can say that the implementation of the MetroCard was like implementing developed technology in an age that favored more innovative data tracking and management systems. It is also quite surprising that the most-used transit system in the United States has taken over 20 years, or well into the maturity stage, to adopt contactless fare payment technology. While newer metropolitan transit systems, such as WMATA in Washington, DC, were able to leverage such technology from their inception, NYC’s MTA was forced to retrofit older existing technology and infrastructure. The introduction of the OMNY fare payment system for New York City is one of the most notable developments in the story of American public transportation. The technological developments that have led New York City to this point in fare collection have been extensive and pose a unique challenge for a city where more than 1 billion rides are made on public transit within the city limits annually. With the scale of this new payment system’s implementation comes a multitude of challenges that have to be addressed and solved both before the system is designed and before it is fully tested, proven, and completely operational. Discussions about the adoption of new technology on a systemwide scale have been made within the wider New York City community, as have how these decisions will affect the way New Yorkers pay their transit fares decades to come. But some of the most important lessons have come from how the technology has already progressed and discussions about ensuring fairness in an urban space as complicated and multifaceted as New York. How an agency balances the pros and cons of a technical update like this is the key issue that can be observed from this development and what it does for the people who actually use the transit system. Does it increase efficiency over the long run? Is it a technical burden for all those involved? Is a city like New York truly ready for a system like this? Are we able to foresee the consequences and potential shortcomings to this technology? Is OMNY being truly embraced by city leadership the way MetroCard was? These questions and the lessons we can gain from the New York City experience will set a precedent for other large cities as they move from old fare collections systems to newer ones.

Discussion Questions[edit | edit source]

● How does fare payment matter for transit users? ● Does technological change make fare payment harder or easier? ● How can transit agencies learn from the experience of MetroCard to make informed decisions on when to make updates to fare payments? ● Do you think that MetroCard was a victim of its early success and age? ● How does fare payment technology evolve further beyond contactless smartcard and smartphone based payment technologies? ● Is New York City the ideal proving ground for a system like OMNY?

Assigned Readings[edit | edit source]

Spivack, Caroline. “A Guide to OMNY, the MTA’s New MetroCard-Replacing Fare System.” Curbed NY. Curbed NY, May 22, 2019. “NYC Subway History: The Story of Fares, Tokens & Cards,” Living In |, June 6, 2018,

“Mta.Info | Facts and Figures,”, n.d.,

References[edit | edit source]

“15C FARE STARTS; LINES FORM TO BUY TOKENS IN SUBWAYS; Half of Turnstiles Converted by Deadline -- Mechanics Work Through the Night FEW HITCHES REPORTED Quota of Disks Is Raised to 5 -- 2 Restaurants Offer to Take Them for Food FARE RISES TO 15C ON ALL CITY LINES.” The New York Times, July 25, 1953.

Adam Clark Estes. “The Cursed History of NYC MetroCards.” Gizmodo. Gizmodo, October 23, 2017.

“Approved Fares for NYC Transit, MTA Bus, Long Island Bus and the Staten Island Railway Effective December 30, 2010.”, 2009.

Boorstin, Robert O. “ALL OVER CITY, TRANSIT FARE TRANSITIONS MADE Of.” The New York Times, January 1, 1986.

Cavan, Sieczkowski. “MTA Approves MetroCard, Single-Ride Fare Hike For 2015.” HuffPost Canada. HuffPost Canada, January 22, 2015.

“Costlier Token.” The New York Times, September 2, 1975.

“Display Document.”, 2011.

Donohue, Pete. “MTA Subway Fare Hike Takes Effect on Sunday, Price Rises to $2.25 per Ride.”, 2018.

Evelly, Jeanmarie. “City’s Half-Priced MetroCard Program Continues to Expand, But Frustrations Persist.” City Limits, October 2, 2019.

“Expect Long Lines for Tokens.” The New York Times, November 11, 1995.

Fitzsimmons, Emma G. “M.T.A. Is Raising Fares and Tolls; One Subway or Bus Ride Will Cost $2.75.” The New York Times, January 22, 2015.

Frost, Mary. “What’s Going on with OMNY, Public Transit’s New Fare-Payment System?” Brooklyn Eagle, August 23, 2019.

“Half‐Fare Plan Extended To’75.” The New York Times, May 24, 1974., and Matt Coneybeare. “Check Out This Great Schematic-Style Redesign of the New York City Subway Map.” Viewing NYC. Viewing NYC, June 7, 2019.

Illson, Murray. “M.T.A. Ready for 2‐for‐1 Fare Test Tomorrow.” The New York Times, December 15, 1973.

“Mayors of the City of New York.” Accessed November 17, 2019.

Meislin, Richard J. “FARE RISES TO 75¦; TRANSIT TAX PLAN DRAWN IN ALBANY.” The New York Times, July 3, 1981.

“MTA - News.”, 2019.

“M.T.A. Is Raising Fares and Tolls; One Subway or Bus Ride Will Cost $2.75.” The New York Times, January 22, 2015.

“Mta.Info | Facts and Figures.”, n.d.

“Mta.Info | New Fares - Effective March 3, 2013.”, 2013.

Nonko, Emily. “The History of the New York City MetroCard | 6sqft.” 6sqft, November 8, 2017.

“NYC Subway History: The Story of Fares, Tokens & Cards.” Living In |, June 6, 2018.

“Old and New Commuter Fares in New York Area.” The New York Times, June 30, 1980.

Ormsbee, Brian. “A Historical Look at the New York City Subway - 100 Years Underground.”, December 2004.

Prial, Frank J. “TOKEN UNCHANGED.” The New York Times, January 5, 1972.

Raschke, Kurt. “A Brief History of Metrorail Fare Collection.”, July 8, 2011.

“Report for the Three and One-Half Years Ending June 30, 1949.” HathiTrust, 2016.

Robinson, Douglas. “New Tokens Go on Sale in Subways.” The New York Times, January 3, 1970.

“Same Subway Token Despite Fare Increase.” The New York Times, January 2, 1984. increase.html.

Schmitt, Eric. “Transit Lines Brace for Test Of $1.15 Fare.” The New York Times, January 2, 1990.

Spivack, Caroline. “A Guide to OMNY, the MTA’s New MetroCard-Replacing Fare System.” Curbed NY. Curbed NY, May 22, 2019.

Steinberg, Jacques. “That Extra Dime Is a Little to Some, a Lot to Others.” The New York Times, January 1, 1992.

“TAKING OVER 10 NASSAU BUS LINES.” The New York Times, December 28, 1972.

“Variations in Fare.”, 2019.

“Www.Nycsubway.Org: Subway FAQ: Which Lines Were Former IRT, IND, BMT.”, 2012.,_IND,_BMT.

Yohana Desta. “1904 to Today: See How New York City Subway Fare Has Climbed over 111 Years.” Mashable, March 22, 2015.

Supersonic Flight Integration

Supersonic Flight Integration[edit | edit source]

This case reviews the Challenge of Integrating Supersonic Flight into American Airspace. It is the collaborative work of Alexander Merker and Farida Ibrahim, graduate students enrolled in George Mason University's Transportation Policy, Operations, and Logistics Program at the time of writing. The following casebook explores the key actors, policy challenges, and history associated with supersonic commercial flight in the context of its potential reintegration into America's national airspace. It was produced as an assignment for George Mason University's Introduction to Transportation Systems graduate course, taught by Dr. Jonathan Gifford.

Summary[edit | edit source]

In the early 2010s, interest in commercial supersonic air transport (SST) was renewed as advances in technology and an increasing demand for private and business air travel created a market niche for faster and longer-range aircraft. Supersonic air travel, that which exceeds the speed of sound, offers considerable speed advantages over subsonic flight. The Concorde, a first-generation supersonic airliner, completed air travel to London in only 2 hours, a third of the time its subsonic competitors took to complete the journey. The speed advantage of supersonic aircraft is a strong selling point in the private and business aviation market, where time-savings are a principal reason for ownership.[45]

However, allowing supersonic aircraft to fly at their intended speeds in American airspace poses the same challenges it did over half a century ago when the first wave of supersonic airliners was in active development. The most significant regulatory barrier to supersonic aircraft is a Federal Aviation Administration ban on overland supersonic flight by civil aircraft in American airspace, which was enacted during the first wave of supersonic airliners in 1973.[46] This ban and the public perceptions behind it remain a barrier to integration of such air travel into American airspace, with additional concerns regarding the environmental impact of the pollution generated by these aircraft contributing to public perception issues.[47]

Annotated List of Actors[edit | edit source]

Aerospace Manufacturers[edit | edit source]

  • Boom Technology
  • Aerion Supersonic
  • Spike Aerospace
  • The Boeing Company
  • Lockheed Martin

Federal Aviation Administration[edit | edit source]

  • Responsible for the regulation and oversight of airspace in the United States, the FAA establishes rules relating to supersonic flight in American airspace

National Aeronautics and Space Administration[edit | edit source]

  • NASA provides research into the effects of supersonic flight, in addition to developing sonic boom dampening technologies

Environmental Groups[edit | edit source]

  • The Anti-Concorde Project
  • International Council on Clean Transport

International Civil Aviation Organization[edit | edit source]

  • United Nations body responsible for maintaining international standards for air travel

Timeline of Events[edit | edit source]

1962: The British and French merge their development efforts and the Concorde Project begins

1963: Development of the Soviet Tu-144 begins

1967: The American SST Program selects the Boeing 2707 as its production design

1971: The American SST Program is cancelled

1973: The Federal Aviation Administration bans all civil aircraft from exceeding Mach 1 over land in American airspace

1975: The Tu-144 enters regularly scheduled service

1976: Concord begins regularly scheduled service

1983: The Tu-144 is retired from service

2003: British Airways and Air France retire the Concorde

2006: NASA begins its Quiet Spike sonic boom mitigation test program

2018: NASA begins construction of the QueSST Supersonic Demonstrator

2018: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) implements the Reauthorization act of 2018 which grants the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) the power and authority to establish new federal and international policies to regulate and certify safe and efficient civil supersonic aircraft operations.

2020: Expected first flight of the Boom Technologies XB-1 Supersonic Demonstrator

2021: Expected first flight of NASA’s X-59 QueSST Supersonic Demonstrator

2023: Intended date of first flight for the Aerion AS-2 Supersonic Business Jet

Maps of Locations[edit | edit source]

A map of the Control Zones of American Airspace

American Airspace Map

A Map of Concorde's Flight Path

Policy Issues[edit | edit source]

Noise Concerns[edit | edit source]

The primary regulatory concern involving supersonic aircraft is their trademark sonic boom. The sonic boom can be defined as “a shock wave of pressure created by compression of sound waves as the air is displaced by the air-frame traveling at or above Mach 1”.[48] This shock wave of pressure results in a large ‘boom’ that are often compared to the clap of thunder. It is for this reason, that public pressure on the federal government was high in regards to the sonic booms created by aircraft travelling faster than Mach 1. The public skepticism surrounding supersonic flight was fueled by the belief that supersonic aircraft would be detrimental to public health and damaging to property. As a result, the federal government amended the existing Federal Aviation Act of 1958 to include a section that gave the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) the capacity to extend already set noise standards of civil subsonic aircraft to supersonic civil airliners. As a result, the Control and Abatement of Aircraft Noise and Sonic Boom Act of 1968 was implemented.[49] However, in 1973 the Federal Aviation Authority issued a ban on all civil air travel exceeding the sound barrier (Mach 1) over land in American airspace. To date, this ban remains the largest policy barrier for commercial supersonic aircraft in the United States. This is largely because it limits the capacity of supersonic airliners to service a large surface area and to expand its routes.

A U.S. Navy F/A-18A Hornet breaks the sound barrier with a visible vapor cone. A vapor cone is a visible effect of supersonic flight.

Studies into the subject of the sonic boom and the impact on health and property have yielded a an uncertain measurement of the impact of sonic boom pressure shock waves on the general population. As far back as the 1950s, studies have found that the impact of sonic booms is heavily dependent on factors such as aircraft altitude, atmospheric conditions and body shape.[50] The most physical aspect of sonic booms, its characteristic pressure shock wave, was found by NASA to have been at a measurement 1.94 psf for the Concorde under normal flight conditions. This is at the cusp of the 2-5psf, what NASA categorizes as “Rare minor damage”, and above the 1.0 psf where public reaction is seen. However, the perceived impact of sonic boom in the form of shattered windows and other structural damage, has not been found to occur below 11 psf.[50]

However, the opposing opinions on the effects of the supersonic aircraft have led to numerous debates between policy makers and supersonic flight proponents. This has resulted in continued dialogue between supersonic aircraft manufacturers and government agencies, such as the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Since the ban in 1973, stakeholders within the aerospace industry and NASA have worked to develop a better understanding of sonic boom and solutions for mitigation. Examples of this include NASA's Quiet Spike test bed.[51]

With the resurgence of interest in supersonic transport technology, a renewed effort against the technology has emerged as well. In a series of announcements, the FAA pledged to acknowledge the technological differences between supersonic and subsonic aircraft and take it into consideration when assessing noise requirements.[52] This was a significant achievement for the technology, showing both maturity in sonic boom mitigation developments, as well as changing perspectives on its impacts.

So far, dialogue between supersonic aviation and policy makers have remained open and productive as agencies such as the FAA have expressed willingness to modify current policies if supersonic airliners are able to achieve a sound level comparable to that of their subsonic counterparts.[53] This signifies a shift in trends among policy makers as the FAA has shown willingness to revisit the issue and possibly lift the ban if provided with adequate research to support the stance that supersonic airliners will not be damaging to physical property, the environment, or the human body.

In 2019, the International Council on Clean Transport, an environmental advocacy organization focusing on transportation, produced a report outlining the potential environmental impacts of this technology under current fleet projections made my potential manufacturers.[54] This report concluded that regions under the most traveled supersonic flight paths might experience sonic booms up to 200 times a day. The United States, United Kingdom and United Arab Emirates were expected to be the most traversed of all counties in this projected scenario for 2035.

Research into this topic continues at the same time NASA and the FAA work towards re-defining the standards for overland supersonic flight and an end to the ban on such air travel.[55] One of the goals of NASA’s X-59 supersonic technology demonstrator is to build a supersonic aircraft that produces a reduced overland sonic boom. As a result, the X-59 has been marketed as a quieter supersonic aircraft with a mission to elicit public feedback on the impact of the modified produced for the purposes of reopening U.S. airspace to supersonic flight.[56]

Environmental Concerns[edit | edit source]

Rising concerns over climate change have resulted in an increasingly environmentally conscious society. As a result, environmental groups stand in opposition to the reintegration of supersonic transports into the national airspace. In addition to concerns over the impact of sonic booms, another concern for environmental groups are the emissions created by these aircraft which could potentially deplete the stratospheric ozone layer.[57]

A 1966 scientific study by the American National Academy of Sciences confirmed that exhaust emissions released from supersonic jetliners are harmful to the stratosphere and could contribute to climate change. The research showed that “a five-fold increase in the amount of water vapor would lead to a two degree Celsius increase in surface temperatures”.[58] A 2019 study on the carbon emissions impact of supersonic commercial aviation found that it would contribute to a substantial increase in such emissions.[59]

In addition, a 1972 report by future Nobel Laureate Paul Crutzen, also found that nitrous oxide emissions from supersonic transport engines might have a significant impact on ozone depletion.[60] This study was used as the basis for environmental agreements made by anti-SST organizations such as the Anti-Concord Project.[61] Crutzen's work on ozone depletion would eventually lead to research which was crucial to the understanding of the human influence on climate change, for which he won a Nobel Prize.[62]

More recently, a 2019 ICCT report on the environmental impacts of supersonic commercial aviation found that it would contribute to a substantial increase in carbon emissions.[63] The study determined that a hypothetical global fleet of 2000 supersonic aircraft (as proposed by proponents of the technology) would emit a carbon footprint equivalent to 59% of the combined fleets of all American air carriers in 2017.

The issue of carbon footprint is a growing area of concern for the technology, as governments and airlines take increasingly aggressive measures to reduce carbon emissions in air travel. In 216, the United Nations body responsible for international aviation standards, The International Civil Aviation Organization, set in place a carbon emissions reduction program for international air travel.[64] These strict standards are likely to conflict with the reintegration of commercial supersonic aircraft, though developers of the technology like Boom Technologies have claimed that their use of bio fuels over kerosene will have an mitigating effect on their carbon emissions, with its XB-1 test aircraft being "..history’s first zero net carbon footprint on a supersonic flight,".[65]

Narrative of the Case[edit | edit source]

The First Wave of SST Development[edit | edit source]

In the early 1960s, airlines and aerospace manufacturers believed that the future of air travel would be through supersonic aircraft. Seeking to gain an advantage in an advantage for both their manufacturers and airlines, the United Kingdom, France, Soviet Union and the United States invested in programs to develop and produce supersonic airliners.[66] The United Kingdom and France quickly merged their efforts, developing a partnership to build the Anglo-French Concorde.[67] The United States, with a large manufacturing base to draw upon, selected two competing designs for further government investment in what was known simply as the SST Program.[68] The Soviets utilized their Tupolev design bureau to develop their supersonic transport, the Tu-144.[69]

The Anti-Concorde Project was a significant group in the resistance to supersonic commercial flight.

In 1964 the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) authorized a series of tests flights to be carried out in Oklahoma City. The purpose of these tests were to measure the effects of supersonic booms on the environment and also what physical effects it would have on civilians on the ground.[70] These experiments were controversial as it was during this phase, that residents concentrated within these areas began to raise concerns about the loudness of supersonic engines and the damage it was doing to their property.[71] Many people submitted claims to the government requesting compensation for broken windows, cracked tiles and other damage to physical property. In addition, there were also numerous complaints regarding the noise levels and the associated thunder claps. These experiences contributed heavily to the formation of public opinion as the experiences of individuals within this city continued to spread across the United States influencing the ideas and opinions about supersonic flight. By 1966, The Anti-Concorde project was formed to counterbalance the claims of the aerospace industry about the technical and economic viability of the Concorde program. This created the opportunity for people who shared similar views, to rally together collectively bargain against the Concorde. It became one of the most predominant groups in opposition to supersonic air travel, as it assembled a group of experts to publish information regarding the extensive fuel consumption, and sonic booms that would result from supersonic airliners.[61] The project would also publicize the facts about the economics of Concorde; that the plane could not be operated at a profit, and that the research and development costs, funded entirely with taxpayer's money, would never be recovered.[72] The anti-Concorde project used this information to lobby against the aerospace industry to end all supersonic transport projects on economic and environmental grounds.

Facing both intense scrutiny for its environmental impacts and a transition by American air carriers to high-capacity subsonic aircraft, the United States cancelled its supersonic airliner program (SST) in 1971 before a prototype could fly.[73] Boeing, the winner of the design competition for the SST program, was forced to lay off more than 60,000 employees as a result of the program’s cancellation.[74] Shortly after the end of the SST Program, the Federal Aviation Administration would ban all overland supersonic flight by civil (non-federal) aircraft in 1973.[75] The ban remains in place to this day.[76]

The Anglo-French Concorde and Soviet Tu-144 projects continued despite challenges in public perception and airline economics. The Concorde and Tu-144 entered full commercial service in the mid-1970s, achieving the project goals. However, they still faced challenges. The Tu-144, which suffered a fatal crash on the world stage at the 1971 Paris Airshow, was found to be ill-suited for passenger air travel due to high internal noise levels and serious reliability issues.[77] As a result, the Soviet Union retired the Tu-144 from commercial airline service less than a decade later in 1983.

After the retirement of the Tu-144, the Anglo-French Concorde maintained its status as the only active commercial supersonic aircraft despite challenges involving public perception and the economic viability of the project. The Concorde fared far better than the Tu-144, remaining in service until 2003. Serving the national flagship carriers of the United Kingdom (British Airways) and France (Air France), fourteen Concorde's provided transatlantic supersonic air travel between their national capitols and New York City.[78] The Concorde was not the commercial success it was intended to be though. The economics of operating the fuel inefficient aircraft, which sat only 100 passengers, were compounded by bans on overland supersonic travel that eliminated all but one destination outside of Europe.[79] In comparison, the Concorde’s subsonic competitor Boeing 747 sat 660 passengers and consumed half the amount of aviation fuel during an equivalent flight between New York and London.[80] By the 2000s, increasing costs of fuel and maintenance led to the retirement of the aircraft from both fleets, bringing an end to supersonic commercial air travel.

Continuing Investment in SST Technology[edit | edit source]

The modified F-15B used by NASA during its Quiet Spike Program to test sonic boom mitigation techniques.

Despite the cancellation of the American SST Program, supersonic aircraft testing and research was not abandoned entirely in the United States. NASA continued to study potential evolutions of the design and made notable contributions to the cause by offering potential solutions to the design challenges that led to the cancellation of the SST.[81] NASA, through its research, continued to influence supersonic transport development and remained a fundamental contributor to the study of supersonic flight. This included a partnership with its Russian counterparts in 1996 for continued supersonic transport development, retrofitting a Tu-144 for test flights that were conducted through 1999.[82] More recently, NASA studied supersonic boom mitigation through Quiet Spike Program, which mounted a modified nosecone to an F-15B aircraft to test experimental structural solutions to the issue.[51]

The Second Wave of SST Development[edit | edit source]

Currently, in response to renewed business interest in such aircraft, NASA is in the final development stages of the X-59 Quiet Supersonic Transport experiment aircraft that will demonstrate new technologies and design methods for civilian supersonic aircraft.[83] The overall goal of this program is to develop sonic boom dampening technologies that will allow for a return to overland supersonic travel.

Outside of government initiatives into this technology, private industry has taken a strong interest in the prospects of supersonic air travel for private and business aviation. In these markets, where time savings are the commodity being purchased, the benefits of supersonic air travel are clear over current aircraft. The current fastest business aircraft, the Cessna Citation X+, has a top speed of Mach 0.935, just below the sound barrier.[84] Aerospace startups Boom Technologies and Aerion Supersonic believe that their in-development supersonic business jets will fill this market niche.[85]

The X-59 is an upcoming experimental supersonic aircraft under development by NASA and Lockheed Martin

The first tests of new supersonic transport demonstrator aircraft are expected to take place in the early 2020s. The NASA developed and Lockheed Martin produced X-59 is scheduled for its first flights in 2021, while the Boom Technologies XB-1 is expected to fly in 2020.[86] [87] Meanwhile, Aerion Supersonic intends to produce and fly its AS-2 supersonic business jet by 2023, forgoing the process of developing a demonstrator entirely.[88] All of these designs, with the exception of the X-59, will depend upon a repeal of the overland supersonic flight ban before they can enter the market.

Federal regulators are presently optimistic of a near-future repeal of the supersonic test ban. The FAA is currently in the process of developing standards for overland supersonic flight, though they would not outright repeal the ban.[89] This rule-making process would create a noise certification process through which manufacturers would need to seek approval for designs under yet to be determined noise standards. The data collected through the X-59 program will be used in the development of these standards. Additionally, the FAA is working to develop a streamlined approval process for supersonic flight authorization, which would allow pilots to legally fly pass the speed of sound.[90] The FAA expects that these two regulatory changes would allow for commercial supersonic flight without repealing the overland ban, instead providing a process through explicit authorization for such flight activities. This is, in essence, an indirect repeal of the overland supersonic ban.

Outside of the United States, there is at least one other program to develop a supersonic transport aircraft. In Japan, the Next Generation Supersonic Transport program has been in active development since 2006.[91] This project, financed by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), intends to ultimately produce a supersonic aircraft which will seat up to 50 passengers. If this program were to succeed in producing a commercial aircraft by 2030, it would almost certainly fly through American airspace.

Lessons learned[edit | edit source]

Going forward, it is fundamental to acknowledge the importance of public perception and its influence on guiding public policy. The regulatory obstacles were due in large part due to public perceptions of the impact of supersonic aircraft, many of which did not align with research into the subject. A barrier to the reintegration of supersonic flight into American air space remains the regulatory policies that prohibit supersonic airliners from flying over land. These existing regulatory policies hinder the success of supersonic airliners by limiting their hide speed transit to specific trans-oceanic routes. It is evident from past experience that without public approval supersonic air travel would have limited mainstream success. This case study is an excellent example of how the development of technologies can be affected by politics and public discourse. In the instance of this technology, a stagnation in innovation was not the reason for its demise, but rather the misinformed opinions of the voting public that resulted in regulatory action. At the moment, this regulatory action remains a barrier for the revival of this technology, and the public perceptions which led to it have forced innovators to respond to these beliefs with investments in noise reduction technologies.

In addition to the regulatory barriers that remain in place, the process of removing such barriers will likely run afoul of environmental groups and those ambivalent about aircraft noise and the effects of sonic booms. In the 1960s, the chorus of concerns for both emissions impacts and noise issues played a very prominent role in the creation of the regulatory barriers that exist today. Both manufacturers and users of these aircraft will need to address these concerns as the make their case for an indirect deregulation of the FAA’s overland supersonic flight restrictions. These issues are already present in the national conversation for conventional commercial aviation, with “Flight Shaming” over the emissions of air travel currently gaining popularity in Europe and noise complaints surging as the FAA implements its “NextGen” air traffic management system.[92] [93]

While both technical and public perception barriers exist for the reintegration of these aircraft into the national airspace, it is clear that the FAA and Department of Transportation are in support of loosening restrictions. Though there is a groundswell of investment of these aircraft, and a perceived business case for their revival, eliminating regulatory barriers is the most fundamental requirement for their viability in the American market. The clear interest shown by the FAA and Department of Transportation are therefore crucial indicators of the likelihood of success in both reintegrating these aircraft into U.S. airspace, as well as their business viability. Reintegration will of course also rely on continued mitigation efforts in noise and environmental impact, two of the two biggest points of contention for the technology's detractors. As covered in this case study, both government and industry are in the process of developing mitigation techniques for both, and this will likely be one the of biggest cases for loosening restrictions and successful reintegration. Therefore, it can be assessed that there is a high likelihood that reintegration efforts will be successful and commercial supersonic aircraft will fly in American skies in due time.

Discussion Questions[edit | edit source]

  • To what extent should public perceptions of technologies be taken into account by policy makers?
  • How much should environmental concerns be weighed against the potential economic benefits of a transportation technology?
  • Are there any other examples of technologies whose development was curtailed due to environmental concerns?
  • Given the evidence put forth in this case book, do you believe the overland supersonic flight ban should be repealed?

Assigned Readings[edit | edit source]

GMU Mercatus Center: Make America Boom Again: How to Bring Back Supersonic Transport (2016, 39 Pages)

The Heritage Foundation: It’s Time to Let Supersonic Flight Soar Again (2018, Web)

Aerospace America: Supersonic’s not-so-super emissions (2019, Web)

Congressional Research Service: Supersonic Passenger Flights (2018, 18 Pages)

International Council on Clean Transport: Noise and climate impacts of an unconstrained commercial supersonic network (2019, 15 Pages)

References[edit | edit source]


Summary[edit | edit source]

Micro-mobility platforms are small, human and electric-powered pieces of transportation equipment such as bikes, scooters, and similar (e.g. skateboards, segway) that operate at fairly low speeds of no more than 20–25 mph. Companies offering micro-mobility services typically make them available for short-duration rental after which time, these platforms are stored in the public right of way.[94][95] Micro-mobility has become a distinct movement within the broader transportation trend towards new mobility services, which began with the 2009 advent of smartphone-enabled ride hailing services like Uber and the introduction of station-based bikesharing businesses between the early 2000s to roughly 2015. More recent dockless systems are an evolution of the station-based bikeshare and smartphone-enabled ride haling models. Dockless micro-mobility platforms began arriving in U.S. metropolitan areas in 2017, and 2018 saw large growth in deployment of dockless electrified systems. Analysts anticipate this trend has the potential to continue quick growth and may have a large impact on urban transportation.[96] Given the potential impact, municipal governments and the public sector are likely to be required to further analyze this trend, determine additional policy, and plan for incorporating more micro-mobility technologies into urban landscapes.

In the Washington D.C. metropolitan area, Metrorail transports passengers from suburban areas from as far as 20 miles to the urban center surrounding the National Mall. Though Metrorail stations are typically placed within a half mile of each other, many destinations of interest are located beyond walking distance of those stations. Micro-mobility services have disrupted the traditional first and last-mile modes on these trips, and also offer a single mode for one-way point to point trips within the urban center. A large majority of urban trips are below 3 miles, and micro-mobility is finding a niche in that space.

Annotated List of Actors[edit | edit source]

  • Private Corporations
    • Lime - U.S. dockless scooter and bikesharing startup company based in San Mateo California founded in 2017.[97]
    • Spin - U.S. dockless scooter and bikesharing startup company based in San Fransciso founded in 2016.[98]
    • Motivate - U.S. station-based bikesharing company based in New York established in 2012 in Portland, OR as Alta Bicycle Share. Operates Capitol Bikeshare in Washington, D.C. Motivate was acquired by Lyft in June of 2018.[99]
    • Jump Bikes - U.S. dockless e-bikesharing company headquartered in New York, NY (formerly station-based bikesharing company SocialBike launched in 2010), acquired by Uber in April of 2018.[100]
    • Bird - Santa Monica based dockless scooter-sharing startup founded in 2017 by a former Uber and Lyft executive.[101]
    • Skip - San Francisco based startup dockless scooter-sharing founded in 2018.[102]
  • U.S. municipalities, including but not limited to:
    • San Francisco
    • Austin
    • Santa Monica
    • New York
    • Boston
    • Chicago
    • Atlanta
    • Denver
    • Seattle
    • Los Angeles
    • San Jose
    • Greater Washington DC Area
      • Arlington County, VA
      • City of Alexandria, VA
      • Fairfax County, VA
      • Washington DC
        • City Council
        • District Department of Transportation (DDOT)
        • District Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE)
        • Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA)
      • Nation Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO)
  • Community-based development organizations and NGOs

Timeline of Events[edit | edit source]

  • Early 2000s – 2006 station-based bikesharing schemes begin to launch at small scale internationally[103]
  • 2007 larger scale deployment including Paris’ launch of Vélib
  • 2010 station-based bikeshares launch in U.S., including Capital Bikeshare in Washington, D.C.
  • 2014 dockless bikesharing catches on in China[104]
  • August 2018 Chinese based firm Ofo scales back operations and laying off U.S. employees
  • Sept 2017: DDOT explores dockless vehicle options for D.C.
  • Sept 2018: Regulatory framework proposed by DDOT, Phase I extended (DDOT 2018)
  • Fall 2018: 300 additional racks (600 total) to be installed throughout D.C.
  • Dec 2018: Planned end of pilot period (DDOT 2018)
  • Jan 2019: DDOT to issue new permits to service providers under revised regulations (DDOT 2018)

Maps of Locations[edit | edit source]

  • World map
  • Metrorail system map

Policy Issues[edit | edit source]

  • Concerns over safety and integrity of public space (DDOT 2018)
  • Regulatory framework to include guidance (DDOT 2018):
    • Equipment and operation standards
    • Coverage in all eight wards (equity)
    • Data sharing requirements
    • Program fees to cover public administration and space management costs
    • Performance bonds and enforcement mechanisms
  • Sustainability and waste at end of equipment life (see china’s bikeshare graveyards)
  • Safety while sharing public right of way with traditional vehicles – speed limit policy
  • Impact on transportation system emissions
  • Capacity limits
  • Transit system planning

Narrative of Case[edit | edit source]

Although the concept of bikesharing dates back well into the middle of the 20th century, deployment of limited bikesharing systems did not begin to gain momentum until the 1990s.[105] Further adoption was sporadic until the middle of the 2000s, when station-based services began emerging in cities across Europe, North America, and China. By the end of 2010, station-based bikesharing services were a common feature in major international metropolitan areas, and have since continued to grow.  

It took approximately seven years of concurrent development for smartphone-enabled on-demand transportation services like Uber and bikesharing models to combine, but in 2017 and 2018 an influx of private investment helped launch numerous dockless micro-mobility startup businesses across the U.S.[106] Washington, D.C. was the site of early adoption of each of these innovations.

In the Washington D.C. metropolitan area, Metrorail transports passengers from suburban areas from as far as 20 miles to the urban center surrounding the National Mall. Though Metrorail stations are typically placed within a half mile of each other, many destinations of interest are located beyond walking distance of those stations. Riders would traditionally rely on taxis or buses for the final mile of their trips. Micro-mobility services have opened up a whole new level of personalized transportation options for residents of urban areas where systems using shared electric bikes and scooters have been deployed. Shared assets governed by D.C.’s Dockless Vehicle Program have greatly enhanced mobility within the District, not only as a supplement to heavy rail or bus trips, but also as the sole mode for many cross-town journeys. A 2018 study by VA Tech determined that the most common motivation for both dockless and docked bikeshare use was to get around faster and easier (88% of CaBi users). Less common was the practice of using the bike to get to other modes of transportation (54% for CaBi).[107]

With the exception of folding bicycles, personal bicycles are only allowed on Metrorail during off-peak hours. Therefore riders using Metrorail for morning and evening commutes need to get to their final destination (if beyond walking distance) through a mode which is present in the terminal vicinity. Buses offered the most economic option, traditionally, with taxis or later Uber drivers offering a more expensive, but often quicker option.  CaBi was the first to introduce a low-cost Personal Transportation Device (PTD) for relatively short one-way trips. A 2018 study conducted by VA Tech determined that riders of CaBi tended to be regular commuters, with little variation in time of day or routes chosen. CaBi riders were also found to be more regular riders than dockless bikeshare users, reporting six trips per month compared to 1–2.[108] The public advantage of the CaBi docked bicycles is that they are not scattered throughout the landscape, creating an eyesore, and are easily located by riders in established collection points. The disadvantage of a human-powered bicycle, however, was that a rider must exert considerable effort (and perspiration) which may not be desirable while dressed in business attire. Riders are also limited by the power of their legs, making mechanical bicycles a relatively slow option.  

When electric-assisted bicycles or (e-bikes) were introduced, they offered a faster option, easily sustaining speeds of 20mph.  As a dockless system, the bikes were found scattered throughout communities, often in odd places. This made it somewhat unreliable as a transportation mode, as riders could not count on finding a bike in any particular location.  A problem for the service provider is that of charging. Trucks need to be dispatched to collect and charge the bikes as their batteries are depleted.  Bird, an electric scooter company, has solved this problem by providing users an opportunity to earn money by taking the scooters to their residence and charging them overnight (coordinated through the smartphone application). Users embark on a sort of scavenger hunt to find the scooters in the evening, with the most depleted being significantly more valuable, and earn up to $20 per scooter after returning them to a Bird “Nest” by 7:00 am.  

Electric scooters have several advantages over bikes in that they require virtually no effort, can be ridden by women in skirts, or men with messenger bags or other garments/accessories which may otherwise impede the ability to pedal.  For both dockless bikes and scooters, DDOT has recognized the need to discourage riders from leaving the PTDs in areas which block pedestrian traffic or otherwise take away from the visual enjoyment of the landscape. New regulations which are expected to go into effect in December, 2018, will require them to be secured to something when not in use.  This will not prevent them from being a scattered eyesore along thoroughfares, but it will prevent them from being left in open spaces.    Safety is a concern as these devices are integrated into existing traffic. Scooters are not allowed on sidewalks in D.C., as these nearly silent scooters travelling 20 mph pose a significant risk to pedestrians at a walking pace.  The scooters are forced onto the streets, where riders are expected to wear helmets and any other appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) as would be typically used by cyclists: goggles, gloves, reflective clothing.  However, few scooter riders seem to be taking this seriously. Riders are often seen in dark-colored business attire, with no PPE, and little regard for their lack of visibility by drivers of automobiles.  

According to some surveying, the public perception of micro-mobility deployment appears to be favorable by a majority of approximately 70 percent favoring with 30 percent unfavorable.[109]

Conclusion: the proliferation of PTDs in D.C. has provided urban travelers with a low-cost, flexible option for short trips (under 3 miles) and last-mile connections from other modes.  The physical presence of the bikes and scooters has forced DDOT to implement policies which provide for safety of users and pedestrians and preservation of aesthetics. Riders are not afforded the same level of safety and security as when riding in a car, bus or train, but that is not preventing growth in micro-mobility. Indeed, if San Francisco is any indicator, where a 2018 announcement for 5 e-scooter permits was met with proposals from 12 entities, growth seems likely to rise sharply.[110] The primary motivation for using micro-mobility is that it is the fastest way to navigate a dense urban environment on trips less than three miles. Low-income inner-city riders have not yet embraced the technology, and continue to rely on buses or walking for local trips.

Lessons Learned[edit | edit source]

  • Docked bikes are most often used during peak commuting hours by a demographic which reports having at least a Bachelor’s Degree and makes in excess of $100,000 per year.[111]
  • Dockless scooters tend to crowd public spaces and block walkways.
  • DDOT is requiring unattended scooters to be locked to prevent them from being left in open areas.
  • Scooters are not compatible with pedestrian traffic.
  • Riding scooters on public roads may be a more hazardous activity than riding bicycles, which are more visible and capable of traversing larger obstacles.
  • Users are required to bring their own PPE, however few do, and several fatalities have resulted.
    • Jacoby Stoneking, killed in Dallas, TX[112]
    • Carlos Sanchez-Martin, killed in D.C.[113]
  • There is a risk of oversupply of services and equipment.
  • Service providing companies are engaging in aggressive competitive behavior with public policy implications, particularly with regard to legislation.
  • The rise of dockless micro-mobility is a result of the convergence of technologies leading to innovation.  

Discussions Questions[edit | edit source]

  • What level of regulatory oversight should cities provide to ensure the safety of micro-mobility riders and pedestrians?
  • Does the presence of dockless PTDs detract from the architectural the aesthetics of city landscapes, e.g., in Washington, D.C. the National Mall?
  • Are high-speed scooters and electronic-assisted bicycles compatible with human-powered cycles or vehicular traffic?
  • Why are bikeshare programs under-utilized by low-income residents with no other mode available?
  • How can cities transfer the costs of the additional public administration workload to the service providers?
  • Is micro-mobility a passing venture-capital-inspired bubble?
  • What is the likely impact on city transit systems and ridership?

Further Reading[edit | edit source]

  • Populus Technologies. “The Micro-mobility Revolution: The Introduction and Adoption of Electric Scooters in the United States.” 2018.
  • Transportation Officials. "NACTO Policy 2018 Guidelines for the Regulation and Management of Shared Active Transportation." July 2018.  
  • Virginia Tech and the District Department of Transportation. "D.C. Dockless Bike Share: A First Look." Spring 2018.  
  • The Economist. "How bike-sharing conquered the world." December 2017. Beijing.

List of Works Referenced[edit | edit source]

Airport Passenger Facility Charges

Overview[edit | edit source]

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), as mandated by the Aviation Safety and Capacity Expansion Act, implemented a passenger facility charge (PFC) in 1990. Under this Act, airline tickets included a fee of $3 per flight, with a cap of $12 round trip. These funds in turn support FAA approved airport infrastructure projects. In 2000, Congress increased PFCs to $4.50 per flight, with a cap of $18 round trip, and the fee has since remained at these levels.

PFCs were initially established to help the country’s ailing airport infrastructure. At the time, both airports and airlines were in bad economic shape, and it is estimated that the airline industry was $35 billion in debt. In 1978, President Jimmy Carter deregulated the airline industry, which some believed attributed to decline of the airline industry. Others attribute the decline to the airlines overextending themselves and making significant fleet investments that did not provide a return on investment.[114] Regardless, the Executive and Legislative branch both agreed that the airline industry could not be relied upon to provide funding to improve airport infrastructure. PFCs provided a way to raise revenue, while only charging the users of the system.[115]

PFC funded projects fall into four broad categories: airside, landside, noise, and access. Nearly half of airside funding, supports runway investments and nearly all landside funding supports terminal improvements.

In addition to support from local and state authorities and the PFC program, there are two alternative ways airports receive funding from the U.S. government:

  1. Airport Improvement Program (AIP) - A Federal grant program which targets aircraft operations, and airports planning and development.
  2. Investors preferential income tax - Provides investors preferential treatment on income generated by airport improvement projects.[116]

A benefit of the PFC program, in comparison to AIP and investor preferential income tax, is that the program allows for flexibility on how the funds are used. PFCs can fund FAA approved airport transit, noise mitigation, and terminal improvement projects. Airports have the discretion to use PFC funds to meet their needs; however, PFCs cannot be used for income generating projects (i.e. terminal food concession or airport parking garages).[117] Overall, the PFC program is thought to be more flexible, in comparison to more prescriptive programs like AIP and investor preferential income tax.

In 1992, the first year PFC’s were first collected, over $85 million was collected . By 2017, the FAA collected $3.2 billion.[118] The PFC program has significantly grown in the past two decades. Accounting for inflation, $85 million in 2017 dollars equates to over $161 million.

The below graph depicts air passengers carried in the United States, from 1990-2017, the same time period PFCs have been in effect. According to the International Civil Aviation Organization, in 1990 there were nearly 465 million air passengers in the United States. There are two significant downturns in the number of passenger. The first downturn followed the events from September 11, 2011. During this time, most Americans avoided air travel out of fear. The second downturn was during the 2008 Recession, as Americans avoided unnecessary expenses, such as air travel. By 2017, passenger traffic climbed to 849 million travelers in the United States.[119]

Annotated List of Actors[edit | edit source]

Actors for the Increase in PFCs[edit | edit source]

American Association of Airport Executives - An association representing airport management personnel at public-use and general aviation airports.[120]

Airports Council International North America - Pursues airports interest in international organizations, such as the International Civil Aviation Organization.

Senator Susan Collins - Republican from Maine, chairs the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development Appropriations subcommittee.

Congressman Bill Shuster - Republican from Pennsylvania, chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Senator John Thune - Republican from South Dakota, Chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee.

Congressman Peter DeFazio - Democrat from Oregon, Ranking Member on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Actors Against the Increase in PFCs[edit | edit source]

Airlines for America - An association comprised of the largest U.S. flagged carriers that advocate for America’s airlines as models of safety, customer service, and environmental responsibility.[121]

Taxpayer Associations - Associations such as Americans for Tax Reform and National Taxpayers Union view an increase in PFCs as an additional tax.

Government Actors[edit | edit source]

Federal Aviation Administration - An operating administration of the U.S. Department of Transportation whose mission is to provide the safest, most efficient aerospace system in the world.[122]

Timeline of Events[edit | edit source]

1990 - Aviation Safety and Capacity Expansion Act of 1990

  • Established the PFC program, at a rate of $3 per flight.

1994 - Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994

  • Mandated the Secretary of Transportation to review the effectiveness of the PFC program.

1995 - GAO Report on Airport Improvement Program, Update of Allocation of Funds and Passenger Facility Charges, 1992-94

  • Provides information on the funds collected by the airports from 1992 - 1994 and the projects funded with PFCs.[123]

2000 - Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century

  • President Clinton signed this Act that allows for modifications to the PFC program, allowing the FAA to increase the PFC to $4 or $4.50.[124]

2007 - FAA Reauthorization Act of 2007

  • Reduced some limitations on the use of PFC funds[125]

2012 - FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012

  • Authorized non-hub small airports to collect PFCs, and required GAO to study alternative ways PFCs could be collected.

2014 - GAO Releases Study “Raising Passenger Facility Charges Would Increase Airport Funding, but Other Effects Less Certain”

  • GAO was asked to conduct study after airports wanted to raise the PFC ceiling to $8.50.

2018 - FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018

  • Removes certain restrictions on the use of funds generated by PFC.

Origins[edit | edit source]

The Aviation Safety and Capacity Expansion Act of 1990 allowed the Secretary of Transportation to authorize public agencies that control commercial airports to impose a PFC charge on each paying passenger boarding an aircraft at their airports to supplement their AIP grants. The intent of the PFC program was to further airport development that preserves or enhances airports’ safety, security, capacity, reduces noise generated by airport activities, or enhances airline competition.

Continuous airport improvement projects are crucial to reducing airport congestion. Flight delays due to congestion have a significant economic and environmental impact. In 2007, the FAA reported that airport congestion, and the resulting delays, cost the airlines and passengers $40 billion.[126] The FAA requires airlines to track their delays, which is defined as arriving 15 minutes later than the scheduled time. Using these statistics, the FAA compiles reports to analyze the root cause of delays. In 2015, 18.9% of total domestic flights were delayed. The third leading cause for these delays are due to the national aviation system, which includes runway closures and heavy traffic.[127]

The below graph depicts total PFC collections from 1990 through 2017. This data, obtained from the FAA, shows one significant downturn in revenue during the 2008 Great Recession. Even after the events of September 11, 2001, airport PFC’s revenue modestly increased by $28 million. Taking into consideration the 2008 downturn, PFC collections have, on average, increased, reaching $3.2 billion in 2017.

Policy Issues[edit | edit source]

PFC Ceiling[edit | edit source]

Under current law, airport operators can impose a charge of up to $4.50 on each ticket. Most airports charge $4.50, although they must demonstrate to the FAA that the project they are funding will make significant improvements to air safety, increase competition, or reduce congestion or noise impact on the community.

Airlines have opposed any increase in the PFC ceiling, claiming that raising or eliminating the cap would decrease air travel, as the charge would make people less likely to fly with an increased cost. Airport operators and other supporters of PFC’s have favored raising the cap to $8.50, or in some cases, eliminating the cap altogether. They claim that airports are unable to undertake all the necessary upgrades to make flying a better experience for passengers, as $4.50 does not bring in enough revenue. The Senate FY19 Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD) legislation included a provision that would increase the PFC ceiling to $8.50, but this was not included in H.R. 302, the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018.

Americans for Tax Reforms, a leading conservative U.S. taxpayer advocacy group, believe airports can finance construction and other improvement projects without raising the airport PFC limit. This organization highlights an $8.5 billion improvement project at Chicago O’Hare International Airport. O’Hare is not relying on PFC to finance the project. Instead, the project will be funded by the airlines. The airlines leases at O’Hare expired in May 2018, and O’Hare increased the cost of the leases in order to fund the expansion project. Americans for Tax Reform suggest the other airport can follow this example in order to complete airport improvement projects.[128]

Other organizations, such as American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) advocated before the Senate Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee to increase the PFC. AAAE President and CEO Todd Hauptli urged policymakers that increasing the PFC limit was the only way to assist airport with critical infrastructure projects, while also not impacting the federal budget.[129]

Use of Revenue[edit | edit source]

There has been some debate between airport operators and airlines about the appropriate scope of PFC projects. Unlike other grant programs that the FAA operates, like the AIP grant, which are limited to airside projects, PFC money can go towards a broader scope of improvement projects. Airport operators would like to broaden the scope of PFC-eligible projects.

Airlines have strongly opposed this, as they feel that airports will use PFC funds on projects that deliver less value and have no direct benefit to the airlines. Airlines are especially concerned that while passengers get charged the additional $4.50, they often do not have any input on what projects are funded with PFC’s. Federal law requires airports consult with the airlines on projects, but it does not require their consent.

Transparency of Spending[edit | edit source]

Stakeholders have also raised concerns about the transparency of PFC collections. Under the current systems, airlines are required to have audits of their PFC collections and the FAA provides audit guidance to help provide assurances that collections are accurate.[130] Airports have raised the concern that there is no transparent way for airports to track exactly how many passengers travel through an airport each day, resulting on their reliance on the audits and data that is published by the airlines. FAA regulations require that all airlines that process more than 50,000 PFC collections produce an annual independent audit of their accounts and processes.

According to the most recent GAO report, the FAA has reported that they do not know how many airports are receiving these audits, and they do not know how many airlines’ auditors follow the audit guidelines. While the FAA has stated that it is a rare occurrence that airlines do not follow their audit guidelines, it is difficult to know if this is the case, since the audits are rarely reviewed.

While airport stakeholders have expressed an interest in increasing transparency, it is not clear what that would involve. Currently, PFC charges are collected when passengers pay for their airline tickets, along with the other fees and charges that must be collected, such as TSA fees and state and local taxes. One proposal from the airports would be a separate payment screen for passengers when they purchase a ticket. For example, passengers who buy a ticket at the counter or kiosk, there would be an additional screen at the kiosk to pay the PFC. Passengers who purchase tickets online, there would be an additional screen before checkout.

Further, the FAA publicly provides monthly data on the type of investment projects (i.e. airside, landside, noise, and access) but it does not provide any further details on these projects or categorize projects by airport. Information on specific PFC airport projects can only be obtained from the media, which likely obtains their information through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. After extensive research for examples of current PFC projects, media recently reported that Bangor International Airport is using the funds to build a new terminal, and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and Missoula International Airport are working to improve their terminals and runways.[131]

Funding Airport Infrastructure[edit | edit source]

A 2016 report found that of the 100 “top” airports in the world, only 13 were U.S. airports. The top two airports (Singapore and Incheon) are both private airports.[132] Many airports around the world have increased airport efficiency and competitiveness by privatizing. According to Cato, more than 100 countries have taken steps to partly or fully privatize their airports. Privatized airports and airlines estimated to be valued at $3.3 billion. An early proponent of airport privatization was the United Kingdom, under the leadership of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Following this model, Europe has become a leader in airport privatization. In 2016, the Airports Council International found that 47% of airports in the European Union are private, an increase of 5% from 2010.[133] These airports are providing long term leases, sometimes upwards of 60 years, for an airport’s operations to be run by a company.

Airport privatization has been a much discussed subject in the U.S. In 1996, Congress took steps to allow for airport privatization through the Airport Privatization Pilot Program, but since only two airports have successfully privatized - Branson, Missouri and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Since 2001, twelve airports have submitted applications for consideration into the Airport Privatization Pilot Program, but many have withdrawn their applications. The main reasons

these airports withdrawal is that airports are unable to meet the conditions required by the program to solicit bids for privatization.

Discussion Questions[edit | edit source]

  • Should the PFC rate remain at the current level or increase? If it should increase, what level should it increase to?
  • Do you believe PFC should be described as a tax?
  • Should the airlines bear more financial responsibility in maintaining airport infrastructure?
  • Are PFCs an effective way to increase capital for airports?
  • Should there be increased oversight of the PFC program?
  • Should U.S. airport privatize?

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

The PFC program has allowed airports to conduct land-side projects by charging passengers a surcharge of $4.50 on airplane tickets. Since 2000, this charge has remained at the same level. The airline industry has lobbied to keep PFCs at this level, as they feel an increase in the fee would decrease airport passengers. Alternatively, the airport industry has lobbied to increase the PFC charge, as a way to increase revenue for infrastructure projects.

Further Reading[edit | edit source]

GAO Report on Raising Passenger Facility Charges Would Increase Airport Funding, but Other Effects Less Certain.

Resources[edit | edit source]

Citations[edit | edit source]

CEQ 2-Year Planning

Summary[edit | edit source]

On August 15, 2017, President Donald Trump signed Executive Order (EO) 13807, which aims to reduce the federal review time of major infrastructure projects under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).[134] The EO seeks to limit the NEPA process to no more than 21 months, with final approvals issued within 3 months following a decision.[135] These changes are designed to achieve the administration’s goal of expediting the construction of large infrastructure projects by shortening the federal permitting process to 2 years. The Trump Administration’s efforts are largely focused on streamlining environmental review process of Environmental Impact Statements (EISs), the most comprehensive of three levels of review under NEPA. Currently, any project requiring federal approval or utilizing federal funds must be reviewed according to one of three NEPA processes, which require agencies to examine how an action will affect the environment both temporarily, during the construction phase, and permanently. In such cases, each federal agency often produces its own study and conclusion. Each federal agency implements NEPA differently, and in a 2014 U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, agencies reported a huge disparity in costs paid to private contractors to complete EISs, ranging from $250,000 to $1.5 million.[136]

Timeline of Events[edit | edit source]

September 18, 2002 - President Bush signs Executive Order 13274

  • EO 13274 applied only to transportation infrastructure projects. It allowed the Secretary of Transportation to designate high-priority projects and then assembled an interagency task force of all of the federal agencies with a role in the permitting process to find ways to work together to complete all permitting as quickly as possible.[137]

March 22, 2012 - President Obama signs Executive Order 13604

  • This order applied to more infrastructure projects beyond just transportation. EO 13604 placed the federal Chief Performance Officer (a Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget) in charge of an interagency steering committee to “facilitate improvements in Federal permitting and review processes for infrastructure projects in sectors including surface transportation, aviation, ports and waterways, water resource projects, renewable energy generation, electricity transmission, broadband, pipelines, and other such sectors as determined by the Steering Committee.”[138]
  • The Obama order focused on transparency by identifying projects and their timelines on a new website (the “Permitting Dashboard”), where the public could see how quickly the process was or was not moving.[139]

December 4, 2015 - FAST Act signed by President Obama

  • The most recent surface transportation reauthorization bill, the FAST Act of 2015, included Title 41 (“Federal Permitting Improvement”). This provision established a statutory Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council that has the same membership as the Steering Committee established by the Obama’s E.O. 13604 (plus FERC, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and HUD). The Council was charged with selecting infrastructure projects that have a total project cost of over $200 million each, and don’t qualify for abbreviated review processes under any other law. The Council is then directed to set performance schedules (using the Dashboard), including intermediate and final completion dates, for the permitting processes of the projects.[140]

January 24, 2017 - Trump Executive Order 13766

  • Trump’s initial order on the subject was drastically more concise than President Obama’s EO 13604, and excluded language in the Bush order about federal responsibility “to promote environmental stewardship.” Trump’s order dispensed with any kind of interagency working group or task force, and rather directed the chairman of the CEQ to be in charge of corralling agencies into compliance.[141]

August 15, 2017 - Trump Executive Order 13807

  • EO 13807 included focused on the concept of “One Federal Decision” in order to meet a two-year processing goal of environmental reviews and permitting.
  • The order included projects that meet certain statutory requirements as high priority projects and says that the head of CEQ shall satisfy the requirements of the earlier order by simply referring projects to the FPISC. In doing so, the order aims to implement title 41 of the FAST Act.[142]

February 12, 2018 - President Trump Releases Infrastructure Plan Outline

  • In addition to calling for $200 billion in new federal spending that aims to encourage investment of over $1 trillion in non-federal funds for infrastructure projects, the plan included the “one agency, one decision” environmental review structure that would reduce the permitting time frame to a two year maximum.[143]

April 9, 2018 - Federal Agencies Sign MOU Implementing EO 13807

  • Twelve separate agency heads within the Trump Administration signed the MOU which seeks to implement EO 13807 by establishing a coordinated and timely process for environmental reviews of major infrastructure projects.[144]

October 29, 2018 - USDOT issues Final Rulemaking to Streamline NEPA Requirements and other key environmental rules.

  • The rule aims to speed up and ensure “greater consistency” in the permitting of surface transportation projects. This effort will also reduce duplicative environmental reporting efforts between the Federal Highway Administration, Federal Railroad Administration, and Federal Transit Administration.[145]

Overview[edit | edit source]

The Trump Administration and others believe that the federal permitting process, especially the environmental review aspect under NEPA, is too long and prevents or delays the completion of important infrastructure projects. According to a GAO report in 2014, the completion of final EISs in 2012 had an average preparation time of 1,675 days, or 4.6 years—the highest average EIS preparation time the organization had recorded since 1997. Additionally, the GAO reported that many agencies told them that the “time frame measures for EISs may not account for up-front work that occurs before the Notice of Intent to produce an EIS—the 'start' date typically used in EIS time frame calculations.”[146] For example, DOT officials reported to GAO that the “start” date is unclear in certain instances because of the large volume of project development and planning work that takes place before they issue a Notice of Intent.

Under the president’s executive order, federal agencies would adhere to a policy of “One Federal Decision” that aims to improve coordination between federal entities to expedite the review process. On April 9th, 2018, the heads of 12 different departments and agencies in Trump’s cabinet signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that aimed to implement EO 13807. Specifically, agencies agreed to work together to “develop a single Permitting Timetable for the necessary environmental review and authorization decisions, prepare a single environmental impact statement (EIS), sign a single record of decision (ROD), and issue all necessary authorization decisions within 90 days of issuance of the ROD, subject to limited exceptions.”[147] Furthermore, agencies agreed under the MOU to conduct their review processes at the same time, rather than sequentially.[148]

Attempts at making the environmental review process more efficient are not exclusive to the Trump Administration. In 2002, President Bush signed an EO that allowed the Secretary of Transportation to designate high-priority projects and then assembled an interagency task force of all of the federal agencies with a role in the permitting process to find ways to work together to get all the permitting done as quickly as possible. In 2012, President Obama issued EO 13604, which focused on transparency by identifying projects and their timelines on a new public website - the “Permitting Dashboard”, so the public could follow the review process.[149]

Policy Considerations[edit | edit source]

Critics of the President’s plan argue that the cumbersome environmental review process is important to ensure fair consideration of the impacts federal projects may have on “wetlands, endangered species, Coast Guard navigational consents,” etc. Beyond impacts to the natural environment, EISs assess potential impacts to Environmental Justice populations, such as socioeconomically disadvantaged and limited English proficiency populations, as well as noise and vibration disturbing the surrounding communities and visual impacts.[150] By consolidating reviews and requiring them to be completed within a certain timeframe, environmental and public interest groups fear that such considerations will be excluded or not thoroughly assessed as part of the NEPA process.[151]

Another critical aspect of the NEPA process is public involvement. Multiple public review periods are required throughout the EIS process, including a 45-day public comment period following the publishing of the draft EIS.[152] Opponents worry that expediting the NEPA process that lack of public involvement will be one of the main consequences. The Sierra Club asserted, “Without strong NEPA procedural regulations, the public will not get the opportunity to comment or the opportunity to comment will be excessively shortened so that agencies and special interests can get approval to spend 100’s to billions of taxpayer dollars on projects that devastate the environment, including impacts due to activities that exacerbate climate change.”[153]

Furthermore, opponents believe that many delays to the process are caused more so by political disputes over project scope, character, funding and siting, rather than the actual environmental review. They are quick to point out that less than 10 percent of federally assisted transportation projects require an EIS. In 2014, the GAO reported that less than 1 percent of projects required an EIS.[154] Most projects qualify for a Categorical Exclusion (CE) from the National Environmental Policy Act, the least intensive NEPA review process. Additionally, about 5 percent of projects are subject to Environmental Assessments, the mid-level NEPA review.[155] Moreover, critics identify other issues that they believe have a more impactful role in creating project delays than the permitting and review process:

  • Funding for Permitting and Reviews: Many believe that one of the largest problems to processing reviews is not the process itself, but a lack of funding and staff required to process the permitting and environmental reviews. They argue that the loss of agency expertise and the lack of support for NEPA and permitting staff in the agencies is responsible for many problems in implementing NEPA. They believe the process could be accelerated while ensuring environmental protection by implementing a system to collect fees from project sponsors to address bottlenecks by allocating those funds to agencies.[156]
  • Lack of Sustainable Project Funding: Opponents also point to the impediments created by a lack of sustainable funding. Without guaranteed revenue streams, state and local agencies are slow to carry out projects because of the risks created by not having funding certainty.[157]
  • Procurement Practices: Most states require a design-bid-build procurement process in which contracts for design and construction have to be awarded in separate bids. Some argue that this inhibits the efficiency in delivering process.[158]
  • Other Environmental Requirements: As noted in the 2014 GAO report, beyond the lack of documentation on the number of NEPA reviews and associated costs and timelines, it is not well documented if environmental compliance efforts are aimed at meeting the requirements of the “Endangered Species Act and the Clean Water Act; executive orders; agency guidance; and state and local laws.” Without knowing where the current efforts are being directed, it is difficult to know how to effectively streamline NEPA reviews while maintaining adequate environmental protections.[159]

Annotated List of Actors[edit | edit source]

Governmental Actors[edit | edit source]

President Donald Trump

  • Assumed office in January 20, 2018. Among other issues, campaigned on improving the nation’s infrastructure.

DJ Gribbin, former Special Assistant to the President for Infrastructure Policy

  • Point person for infrastructure policy in the White House, responsible for coordinating the Administration-wide process behind the President’s infrastructure initiative


  • Structured within the Executive Office of the President, “CEQ oversees the implementation of NEPA, reviews and approves federal agency NEPA procedures, and issues regulations and guidance documents that govern and guide federal agencies’ interpretation and implementation of NEPA.”[160] CEQ is technically a three-person council, with each member nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate, but for at least 20 years, Congress has set up the CEQ to be led by one member through language in appropriations funding.

Trump Administration and Agency Heads Signing MOU:

  • Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke
  • Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue
  • Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross
  • Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson
  • Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao
  • Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry
  • Department of Homeland Security Kristen Nielsen
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Secretary Mark Esper
  • Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt
  • Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Kevin McIntyre
  • Advisory Council on Historic Preservation Executive Director John Fowler
  • Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council Acting Executive Director Angela Colamaria

Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council (FPISC)

  • The Fast Act, the most recent surface transportation reauthorization bill, created a new entity – the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council (FPISC), composed of agency Deputy Secretary-level members and chaired by an Executive Director appointed by the President. The entity was tasked with improving Federal infrastructure permitting.

Opponents[edit | edit source]

Natural Resources Defense Council
Sierra Club

Proponents (non-governmental)[edit | edit source]

U.S. Chamber of Commerce
National Association of Manufacturers
North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU)
American Council of Engineering Companies[161]

Additional Suggested Reading[edit | edit source]

White House Press Release on Issuing MOU:

Opposition Op-Ed on Other Steps Needed to More Quickly Process Permits:

GAO Report on NEPA Efforts (2014):

White House MOU on Executive Order for Streamlined Permitting:

Discussion Questions[edit | edit source]

  • From your experience or assessment, what do you think causes the most significant delays in permitting and reviews?
  • Do you believe the application of NEPA has become too stringent and inhibits infrastructure improvements, or does it ensure an adequate consideration of environmental impacts?
  • What action, if any, do you think federal policymakers should take to address issues with delays of environmental reviews, permitting, and project delivery?
  • Do you think the Trump Administration’s 2-year permitting plan is a good goal and would be a benefit for transportation systems?
  • Is it possible to conduct all environmental reviews, required public outreach, and complete documentation within 2 years?
  • Will special interest groups gain influence bypassing public interests if environmental reviews are expedited?

Sources[edit | edit source]

I-66 Inside the Beltway Tolls

Summary[edit | edit source]

The I-66 inside the beltway tolls is implemented jointly by the Implemented jointly by the Commonwealth Transportation Board, Northern Virginia Transportation Commission and Virginia Department of Transportation. Proposed project follows a multi-year study undertaken in 2011 and completed in 2013. Tolling: Convert I-66 to dynamically-priced toll lanes in both directions during weekday rush hours. The I-66 inside the Beltway project is part of the multimodal project that involves: enhanced bus service throughout the corridor, better access to Metro, new bicycle and pedestrian access, and roadway improvements on local roads. The revenue from the I-66 tolls provide necessary funding for ongoing maintenance and infrastructure improvements in the I-66 corridor.

Annotated List of Actors[edit | edit source]

  • Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT). VDOT is responsible for building, maintaining and operating the state's roads, bridges and tunnels
  • Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB). The CTB operates under CTB Policy Handbook dated January 25, 2018. It is chaired by the Secretary of Transportation and has direct approval authority of VDOT and Department of Rail and Public Transportation and have funding allocation authority through the funding mechanism established by statute.
  • Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (NVTC). Founded in 1964, in part to represent the interests of the Commonwealth during the establishment of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Agency (WMATA), NVTC is charged with the funding and stewardship of WMATA and the Virginia Railway Express (VRE), which it co-owns. Because Northern Virginia is also home to six bus systems, NVTC works across jurisdictional boundaries to coordinate transit service. Per the terms of the MOA, the CTB has delegated to NVTC the authority to select and administer the I-66 Commuter Choice Program.
  • Arlington County
  • Fairfax County
  • City of Falls Church
  • INRIX. A private corporation aimed towards delivering innovative products for the automotive and transportation industries such as real-time parking and traffic information and solutions that facilitate the safe testing and deployment of autonomous vehicles.
  • Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) supports State and local governments in the design, construction, and maintenance of the Nation's highway system (Federal Aid Highway Program) and various federally and tribal owned lands (Federal Lands Highway Program).
  • Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT): The mission of DRPT is to facilitate and improve the mobility of the citizens of Virginia and to promote the efficient transport of goods and people in a safe, reliable, and cost-effective manner.
  • Transportation Planning Board (TPB). It is the federally designated metropolitan planning organization (MPO) for metropolitan Washington.
  • Transcore. A private corporation aimed towards developing express lanes technology and creating smarter traffic systems.

Timeline of Events[edit | edit source]

  • 1982-I-66 opened inside of I-495 as one of the first interstates in the US limited to HOV-only traffic during peak weekday travel periods.
  • 2009-VA DRPT conducted the I-66 Transit/Transportation Demand Management (TDM) Study.
  • 2012- DOT and DRPT completed the I-66 Multimodal Sudy Inside the beltway, followed by Supplemental Report in 2013.
  • March, 2015-VA Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne announced plans to transform I-66 inside the beltway. CTB approves Governor Terry McAuliffe’s administration’s proposal to transform I-66 inside the beltway.
  • 2016-Governor McAuliffe announces bipartisan compromise to address gridlock on I-66 inside the beltway. Design public hearings are held and
  • March, 2016-I-66 inside the beltway design public hearings held. Information discussed how dynamically-priced toll lanes will operate on I-66 inside the Beltway, locations of the toll gantries and pricing signs.
  • June, 2016-CTB awards construction contracts valued approximately $60M to Tran score, LP (toll integrator contract) and Fort Myer (civil infrastructure) for Tolling System on I-66 inside the Beltway.
  • August, 2016-Governor McAuliffe announced groundbreaking for I-66 Inside the Beltway Improvements Project
  • December, 2017-Tolls for solo drivers and expanded rush hour periods begin.
  • June, 2018 Inside the Beltway Express Lanes Six-Month Performance.
  • 2011 HOV-3+ will travel for free as adopted in the Regional Transportation Plan

Maps of Locations[edit | edit source]

I 66 inside the beltway toll lanes.

I 66 inside the beltway toll lanes exits

Clear Identification of Policy Issues[edit | edit source]

Road pricing is a policy that requires you to pay for the use of a road. There are a lot of different types of road pricing. The aim of the road pricing is to make the price of using the road equal to the cost of using the road, including the negative externalities like pollution, noise, accidents, and etc.


  • Reveals the true economic costs of the road use (including replacement costs) so that intermodal competition would become fairer. Because road prices would be primarily connected with congestion costs, some distributional and locational effects could arise. Costs of driving in non-urban areas would probably fall whereas urban driving costs would increase so that in the medium run, the quality of the public urban transport system would improve. *Reducing the cost of congestion - It has been estimated that traffic congestion in urban cities lowers GDP by as much as 3.50%. Lowering congestion will translate into more benefits for business and citizens. [162]
  • Increased efficiency in public transportation - With increased usage, public transport will attract more funds through fees levied for services. This will add to its corpus and improve the efficiency and quality of public transportation. [163]
  • Lowering air pollution by making use of less cars and motorcycles will also mean a lower degree of air pollution. [164]


  • Congestion tax is vertically inequitable - Those who have higher incomes will pay lower proportion of their income in such charges as compared to those with limited monetary resources. [165]
  • City centers will lose business - Currently, people have the convenience of travelling to shops and urban centers with ease. Imposing a congestion tax will only serve to lowered traffic to city centers and this will impact business adversely. [166]
  • Expensive to implement - Collecting the congestion tax will be a tough task, given that the cost of collection will be high. Even the technologies and manpower needed to administer this tax will be costly. [167]
  • Public transport systems will be overburdened and overcrowded - Increasing the burden on public transport systems will create further problems for the State as more people will take this transportation mode and create a burden on already choked systems. [168]

Narrative of the Case[edit | edit source]

Traffic congestion in many of the nation’s metropolitan areas is endemic, with the cost of congestion—including lost time, wasted fuel, and vehicle wear and tear—topping $78 billion per year for the nation’s 437 urban areas. Transit ridership has recently surged, leaving some systems operating near or beyond their physical capacity. Many rural areas currently do not have any transit services and in areas that do have service, the quality and coverage are inconsistent. The federal government does not bear sole responsibility for the current crisis. All levels of government are failing to keep pace with the demand for transportation investment. Increasingly, policy makers at all levels must use existing revenues simply to attempt to keep pace with the preservation and maintenance of an aging system, leaving few or no resources for vitally needed new capacity and improvements to the system. Meanwhile, the federal Highway Trust Fund faces a near-term insolvency crisis, exacerbated by recent reductions in federal motor fuel tax revenues and truck–related user fee receipts. Our current federal funding approach is weakened by two factors. First, by not being indexed to inflation, the Highway Trust Fund’s purchasing power relative to needs erodes over time. Without periodic correction by Congress, the gap between needs and revenues grows. Second, increasing fleet fuel economy and changing vehicle technology will erode the long-term sustainability of fuel-tax-based revenue mechanisms, as vehicles use less, and different, fuel over the same distance traveled and thus pay lower taxes for the same travel benefit. [169]

In addition to insufficient investment, our system is underpriced. Basic economic theory tells us that when something valuable, such as roadway space, is provided for less than its true cost, demand increases and shortages result. Shortages in our road system are manifested as congestion. As the symptoms of congestion manifest and proliferate deteriorating roadways, bridges, and transit systems will increase and, more accidents and fatalities will be prone to take place in transportation systems. Compounding these effects will be the waste of time robbing businesses of vital economic activity and productivity. Simultaneously, there will be a significant waste of fuels and add on harm to the environment unnecessarily. [170], Congressionally-created Commission Recommends Mileage Tax Instead of Fuel Tax for Transportation Infrastructure Financing. </ref>

By making those who directly use and benefit from the transportation system should, as a general rule and when feasible, bear the primary responsibility for the full cost of system use, including externalities costs placed on others and the environment. Internalizing the full costs of transportation will require more accurately identifying, quantifying, and charging the full range of costs, including the direct costs of transportation improvements and operations, such as pavement damage, and the indirect costs, such as those due to associated congestion, accidents, and pollution. The various applications of tolling and pricing can generally be grouped into two types of approaches, one of which targets tolling and the other comprehensive pricing. Both of which are differentiated by the geographic scope of their application. [171]

Across the United States and around the world, targeted tolls and pricing are a proven technique for charging users who travel on selected roads or within a regional transportation system. Widespread acceptance depends on clear evidence that the fees can be administered in ways that are fair and convenient for users and that are practical and cost-efficient for governments. A New Framework for Transportation Finance 127 network. Advances in technology are encouraging adoption of more sophisticated tolling and pricing practices. In the United States, targeted tolls are mostly used to pay for construction, maintenance, operation, and improvement of individual facilities and sometimes to manage congestion. Facilities that are subject to targeted tolling and pricing are access-controlled, and prices to use them are usually fixed. Examples of targeted tolling and pricing include charging to use selected highways, tunnels, or bridges; pricing access to designated congestion-free lanes; and charging to enter cordoned areas prone to heavy congestion. Targeted tolling and pricing approaches refer to direct user fee mechanisms that are administered at the local, regional, or state levels and that focus on pricing access to and/or distance traveled on individual facilities or regional networks. Specific targeted approaches include tolling applications (such as a tolled bridge or highway), high occupancy toll (HOT)/ managed lanes, and cordon pricing. Targeted tolling and pricing rates can be fixed as a set rate for facility access or for specific distances, or they can be variable, with dynamic rates that can change based on considerations such as type of vehicle or time of day/level of congestion (typically referred to as congestion pricing). [172] Targeted tolling and pricing are not feasible strategies for revenue generation at the federal level because they focus on specific roads or networks of facilities in defined geographic areas. They are nonetheless important tools that some states, localities, and regions use to generate funding for surface transportation investment. In addition, the systems and architecture that would be required to implement comprehensive pricing at the federal level could be leveraged to facilitate broader use of targeted tolling and pricing—particularly congestion pricing—at the state and local levels. [173]

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), in partnership with the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT), developed and introduced the conversion of I-66 inside the Beltway between I-495 (the Capital Beltway) and Rosslyn, to variably-priced toll lanes and extend the existing morning and evening high occupancy vehicle (HOV) periods from a 2.5-hour window to a 4-hour window between 5:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. traveling eastbound and 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. traveling westbound to better manage the travel demand in the corridor.[174] Beginning in 2017, single occupancy vehicles (SOVs) were allowed to use the lanes during the restricted hours by paying a toll, and vehicles with two or more occupants (HOV-2+) were no longer tolled. Beginning in 2021, which is consistent with the opening of the express lanes project along I-66 outside the beltway, both SOVs and vehicles with two occupants (HOV- 2) will be required to pay a toll to use the lanes, and HOV-3+ will not be tolled. In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and 23 CFR 771, a Categorical Exclusion (CE) has been prepared in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration for an electronic tolling system under the federal Value Pricing Pilot Program. [175]

During the initial launch of the I-66 tolls lanes, there was vast wave of criticism against their continuing used and rates. Several Virginia lawmakers called for the state to suspend tolls on I-66, condemning initial variable tolls rates that went as high as $40 as an outrageous and unacceptable measure. Amongst critics their argument stated that the currently application of the inside the beltway tolls rates were very different from what we briefed people it would be. He said VDOT told him that as many as 76 commuters paid $40 at the peak of the morning rush hour on Tuesday, out of about 11,000 vehicles that went through the system during the morning rush. But, it is still unclear what the average toll is. In a presentation to the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission in September 2015, Deputy Transportation Secretary Nick Donohue said the tolls were projected to be about $7 going eastbound in the morning rush hour and about $9 westbound in the evening. The tolls are intended to vary significantly depending on congestion. The tolls are dynamic, meaning they change according to demand and volume of traffic to maintain a target speed. The tolls are calculated every six minutes. During Monday’s commutes, the average speed was 57 mph consistently.[176]

Other large metropolitan locations have developed and enacted road pricing measures in order to combat the growing effects of congestion. One example is London, which enacted strict congestion pricing through many of its central districts in 2003. If a motorist wants to bring their vehicles into central London between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m., they have to pay a fee of roughly $15. In the first 10 years, the fees have netted about $1.6 billion, most of which has been reinvested back into transit, including improving the city’s bus network. Several other cities have also experimented with congestion pricing. In Stockholm, traffic dropped by an average of 20 percent after the city introduced its congestion fees. Though 70 percent of Swedes were initially opposed to the tax, after a few years of lighter traffic, 70 percent support now the tax. [177] The electronic road pricing (ERP) system that was launched in YEAR continues to be carried out in Singapore. In July 1989, the Cabinet gave the go-ahead for the ERP system, with an initial target to introduce it in five years' time. The $197-million system, produced by a Singapore-Japan consortium led by Philips Singapore, underwent rounds of tests to its gantries and in-vehicle units for 12 months before the system's launch. The system was implemented in stages, beginning with the CBD, and on the Central Expressway, Pan-Island Expressway and the East Coast Parkway in the following two years. It was later extended to other expressways and major arterial roads, such as Orchard Road. In preparation for the launch, motorists had to make appointments at vehicle inspection centers and workshops to get their vehicles fitted with an in-vehicle unit. [178] Currently, the charge period in the central RZ is in effect from 7:00AM to 7:00PM (Monday through Friday) and charge rates vary from zero to approximately US$2.00 per crossing at a charge point. The rates vary from zero to about US$4.00. Also, a few of the arterial streets are priced weekdays from 7:00AM to 9:30AM and the prices vary from zero to about US$0.80. Over the past thirty years, the expansion of the congestion pricing program has been accompanied by major reforms and expansion in vehicle taxation policies as well as significant enhancements to public transportation services including introduction and expansion of mass rapid transit, light rail and bus systems. [179]

Northern Virginia is really taking a significant approach towards comprehensive transporation policy, naturally a wide array ofattention is being made on I-66 inside the Beltway. Moving forwrds there will be a new project coming online for I-66 outside of the Beltway. All of these things seem like separate, different projects, but they’re actually all designed to work together. The magnitude and reach of these projects are required for the larger redevelopment that is happening in the region. The projected growth is estimated to take place not only in Arlington but also Tysons Corner, and other surrounding periphery urban locations. The goal is aimed towards large experiments in urban redesign and redevelopment. So all of this has to be taken in this bigger context because they’re not just transportation projects in isolation, they’re part of what’s going on across the entire region. Part of the success is directed towards actually reducing travel times. Travel times were 10-12 minutes compared with 15-30 minutes last December. In addition, travel speeds on I-66 averaged 52.4 miles per hour (mph) during morning commutes compared to 45.7 mph in February 2017. Drivers on parallel arterial roadways including Routes 7, 29 and 50, and the George Washington Memorial Parkway, experienced similar or improved travel speeds and times. The application and dispersion of funds is and will continue to be an essential element towards the feasibility and vitality of the inside the Beltway toll lanes. Funding is being directed towards a stable revenue stream to support multimodal investments on I-66 and complementary corridors adjacent to I-66. Toll revenue generated from the I-66 inside the Beltway Express Lanes supports the I-66 Commuter Choice Program run by the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission. All toll revenues after operating costs will be allocated to transit and other multimodal initiatives that provide a direct benefit for those who travel on the I-66 corridor by the Commission. Fairfax Connector Express Bus Service between Vienna/Fairfax-GMU and Pentagon Metrorail stations, Fairfax County ($3,452,618). [180]

Lessons Learned[edit | edit source]

  • Lack of political support and long term commitment is indicative of a faulty finance transportation policy
  • Poor popular perception reflects poor general awareness road conditions and capacity. towards
  • Congestion pricing is considered as inequitable often suggest that it will harm those with lower incomes who will be forced to pay additional costs or be priced off the roads
  • Mass transit systems are ill-equipped to handle rapid passenger surges.
  • Shuffling traffic around to other surrounding roads is not the best methods to handle mass congestion.

Discussion Questions[edit | edit source]

  • Exactly where does the toll revenue go?
  • Should other U.S. cities use congestion pricing to ease traffic?
  • Which measures should be installed in order to make congestion pricing politically permissible?
  • Aside from congestion pricing, which other mechanisms should be set in place in order to alleviate congestion?
  • Does congestion pricing hurt local business?

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

Most transportation pricing systems usually require several months or even years to achieve its full effects. One of congestion pricing’s greatest strengths is convincing drivers to skip trips they don’t really need to take, or convince them to go at another time. Though the express lane scheme targets commuters, not everyone who travels during those periods is going to work. The percentages vary by metro area and travel corridor but the data show that about half of peak period trips are for other purposes. A long term commitment is required in order to see this if congestion pricing can influence where people choose to live.

Complete Reference[edit | edit source]

Sidewalk Based Delivery Robots

Summary[edit | edit source]

Starship Technologies is a startup company building fleets of self-driving sidewalk-based delivery robots designed to deliver goods locally within 15-30 minutes in up to a two-mile radius from a local hub. The robots drive autonomously 99 percent of the time to make curb-side deliveries. When encountering a situation the robot cannot handle, it will be remotely piloted over the internet. Launched by Skype co-founders, Starship’s aim is to fundamentally reshape how goods are shipped and delivered. There are a few other competitors to Starship Technologies, but with strategic partnerships like with Daimler the company is emerging as a leader in this new transportation mode that has several challenges to successful widespread implementation.

Annotated List of Actors[edit | edit source]

Ahti Heinla[edit | edit source]

CEO, CTO and co-founder of Starship Technologies. Also a co-founder of Skype. [181]

Daimler (Mercedes-Benz)[edit | edit source]

Major automotive manufacturer and investor in Starship Technologies who has launched "pilot projects combining Mercedes-Benz vans and delivery robots" [182]

Dispatch[edit | edit source]

Startup company and competitor to Starship Technologies. [183]

DoorDash and Postmates[edit | edit source]

Food delivery startups conducting pilot testing with Starship delivery robots [184]

District Department of Transportation[edit | edit source]

Approved testing of Starship six-wheeled delivery robots in summer 2016 to run from September 15 through December 2017. [185]

Janus Friis[edit | edit source]

Co-founder of Starship Technologies and also co-founded Joost, Skype, Kazaa and Joltid . [186]

Marble[edit | edit source]

Startup "urban logistics" company and competitor to Starship Technologies. [187]

Virginia Commonwealth[edit | edit source]

Passed SB1207 in February 2017, which "allows for the operation of electric personal delivery devices on the sidewalks and shared-use paths and across roadways on crosswalks in the Commonwealth unless otherwise prohibited by a locality." [188]

Timeline of Events[edit | edit source]

  • July 1, 2014 - Starship Technologies is founded.
  • August 2014 - First robot prototype is created.
  • December 2014 - First Starship Technologies office opens in Tallinn, Estonia.
  • September 2016 - Mercedes-Benz Vans partnership with Starship Technologies is announced.
  • January 2017 - Starship Technologies announces $17.2M in funding.
  • March 2017 - Starship Technologies office opens in Washington, D.C.
  • April 2017 - Starship Technologies office opens in Hamburg, Germany.
  • July 2017 - Delivery Robots are approved for testing on sidewalks in five states: Florida, Idaho, Wisconsin and Virginia plus the District of Columbia. Virginia is the first state to codify electric personal delivery devices.
  • August 2017 - Just Eat announces it has delivered its 1000th meal in London by robot [189]

Maps of Locations[edit | edit source]

This is a Google Map of the five states that currently have laws in place allowing for sidewalk-based delivery robots. It also shows San Francisco that is debating whether to ban or allow for testing.

Narrative of the Case[edit | edit source]

In DC area, street delivery robots recently appeared on the sidewalks. They are designed to deliver takeout food from restaurants to customers. Starship Technologies, an Estonian-based ground delivery robotics company, has teamed up with Postmates and Dashdoor, online delivery service providers, to deliver food. The robot is a medium-sized, knee-height with six wheels. Each robot is about 35-pounds. The average speed is about 4 miles per hour which is a little bit slower than the human walking speed of 5 miles per hour. It is equipped with an orange flag to make it more visible to pedestrians on the sidewalk. After receiving an order from a customer, normally via a smartphone app, takeout food will be placed inside the robot by restaurant staff. The customer can also make the payment, including the delivery fee, via the mobile app. The robot will then deliver the order to the customer along the street and sidewalk. The customer will be notified by the app to expect that the robot is coming. Using the app, the customer can unlock the lid on top of the robot, take out the food and close the lid. Then, the robot will be dismissed by marking as one successful delivery. [190]

The robot is operated through the mobile app. When placing an order, a consumer can input the destination for delivery. The destination can either be coordinates or street names, the same inputs as people traveling to a place. The robot is equipped with GPS, sensors and cameras etc. Artificial intelligence technologies are applied to facilitate integrating all the technologies so the robot can drive by itself. [191]

The built-in artificial intelligence technologies allow the robot to learn more about sidewalks, traffic patterns and interaction with pedestrians. They are able to learn and recognize signals, traffic lights, crosswalks, pedestrians and animals. Integrated navigation and obstacle avoidance software enables the robot to drive mostly on its own.

Human supervision and monitoring is needed in case the robot needs to be operated manually for situations that involving in safety, emergency or beyond robot’s ability to manage. A human operator can take over by through remote access. The robot is equipped with security system, such as alarm sounds, cameras and tracking devices, to prevent theft. Normally, the value inside the robot is not expensive. However, they are equipped for this scenario just in case. Each robot can carry the equivalent of two grocery bags (around 22 pounds) up to three miles from a local hub, restaurant or retail outlet. Customers will be able to choose a delivery route and expect goods to be delivered at a time that fits their schedule. A shopper can also track the robot’s location in real time during delivery. Therefore, they can meet the robot at the set destination to finish the delivery. [192]

While Starship is testing its robots in Washington, D.C. area, Virginia has made robotics history. The Commonwealth was the first state to pass legislation allowing delivery robots to operate on sidewalks and crosswalks across the state. The new law goes into effect on July 1, 2017 and was signed into law by the governor. The two Virginia lawmakers who sponsored the bill, Ron Villanueva and Bill DeSteph, teamed up with Starship Technologies to draft the legislation. Idaho, Wisconsin, Florida likewise passed state legislation to allow for the use of delivery robots earlier this year — all with the help of Starship Technologies. Ohio is now the fifth U.S. state to pass a law permitting the use of delivery robots on sidewalks and in crosswalks statewide. The regulations for each state are listed below with the sequence of the state passing the sidewalk delivery robot law:

1. Virginia (Signed on 2/24/2017)[edit | edit source]

Robots operating under the VA law won’t be able to exceed 10 miles per hour or weigh over 50 pounds, but they will be allowed to rove autonomously. The law doesn’t require robots to stay within line of sight of a person in control, but a person is required to at least remotely monitor the robot and take over if it goes awry. Robots are only allowed on streets in a crosswalk. [193]

2. Idaho (Signed on 3/27/2017)[edit | edit source]

Ground-based delivery robots are allowed to operate in Idaho without a person walking alongside them or watching them in their line of sight. In other words: The robots can operate autonomously in Idaho. But there still has to be a remote monitor somewhere in the loop to intervene in case one of the rovers needs assistance. The delivery robots that fall under the law can’t go faster than 10 miles per hour. Similar to the Virginia legislation, local Idaho municipalities are allowed to adopt their own regulations, like if a town wants to prevent the operation of the robots in certain crosswalks or limit the speed of the devices. [194]

3. Wisconsin (Signed on 6/21/2017)[edit | edit source]

The Wisconsin law places an 80-pound weight limit on the robots and doesn’t permit the machines to travel faster than 10 miles per hour. The robots are also required to have a person in the loop to take over control in case something goes awry. The 80-pound limit, however, might mean that some of Starship’s competitors can’t operate in the state. [195]

4. Florida (Signed on 6/26/2017)[edit | edit source]

Robots operating on sidewalks and crosswalks in Florida will not be allowed to weigh over 80 pounds or travel faster than 10 miles per hour. That weight limit is important to note as it could lock out other ground robot companies from operating in the state. That’s because some of Starship’s competitors, including the robot delivery startup Marble, which started a trial in San Francisco earlier this year, make robots that weigh more than 80 pounds. The three other state laws similarly have potentially prohibitive weight limits. (Starship’s robots weigh 45 pounds when empty.) [196]

5. Ohio (Signed on 6/30/2017)[edit | edit source]

Ohio’s new robot law allows for the machines to operate on sidewalks and in crosswalks in the state, so long as they weigh less than 90 pounds and travel at speeds of less than 10 miles per hour. The robots can rove unmanned, but a person is required to be in the loop remotely to take over operation in case something goes awry. All the other state laws have near identical provisions, with weight limits ranging from 50 to 90 pounds. [197]

6. San Francisco (City ordinance signed 10/27/2017)[edit | edit source]

San Francisco was considering banning sidewalk delivery robots. This is despite being home to tech company Marble that is testing robot similar to Starship's. San Francisco supervisor Norman Yee said "our streets and our sidewalks are made for people, not robots" and also expressed concern that delivery jobs would be eliminated. SF police commander Robert O'Sullivan is also in favor of the ban fearing potential harm to children, the elderly or people in wheelchairs. "If his by a car, they also have the potential of becoming a deadly projectile," he said. [198] However, San Francisco has implemented a city ordinance that establishes a permit system and allows for testing of delivery robots in certain zones and within a list of permitted parameters. [199]

Policy Implications[edit | edit source]

Potential Benefits[edit | edit source]

  • Reduced congestion from larger delivery vehicles
  • Since they are electrically powered with a lithium-ion battery, they can reduce urban air pollution
  • Reduced costs for customers and businesses spurring more economic activity

Potential Negative Impacts[edit | edit source]

  • Reduction in employment or impacts to the nature of delivery services
  • Crowding of constrained urban space now reserved for pedestrians and people in wheelchairs - i.e. a few sidewalk robots will not cause too much of an issue, but what happens beyond a certain critical mass?

Consequences to employment and society[edit | edit source]

The primary motivators for these robots is convenience and cost. By lowering the cost of delivery, this will likely induce more customers to order from restaurants and at a lower costs per item. DoorDash co-founder Stanley Tang said that the company will not attempt to replace human workers with robots. He said, “We have people who use cars, bikes, scooters, motorcycles or walk to make a delivery. And each has a different strength and suitability for different deliveries. Robots will be another type of vehicle in our system.” He continued that since human "dashers" depend on tips, they prefer not to do a lot of lower cost deliveries. [200]

Matt Delaney, one of Marble’s three co-founders who called robots “the only sane solution” said that these sidewalk-based delivery robots could improve quality of life for people like his grandfather, who lost his driver’s license and has to hire someone for tasks like picking up prescriptions at the pharmacy. [201]

Potential solutions to employment impacts[edit | edit source]

South Korea is the first country to implement a "robot tax" by "limiting tax incentives for investments in automated machines." Also, Bill Gates has called for a tax on robots as jobs are lost to automation. He said it could help slow down the pace of change and provide money to hire additional employees in sectors that require people, such as health care, as well as to fund worker retraining. Gates said: "Right now, the human worker who does, say, $50,000 worth of work in a factory, that income is taxed and you get income tax, social security tax, all those things. If a robot comes in to do the same thing, you’d think that we’d tax the robot at a similar level." [202]

Elon Musk, the founder and CEO of Solar City, Tesla, and SpaceX said that robots will push us to a universal basic income (UBI) and that is the reasonable next step for the U.S. "There is a pretty good chance we end up with a universal basic income or something like that, due to automation," Musk told CNBC. "Yeah, I am not sure what else one would do. I think that is what would happen." [203]

Lessons Learned[edit | edit source]

The challenges of robot delivery include finding their way around roads and sidewalks, navigating next to vehicles and around pedestrians, and interacting more directly with humans. In addition, GPS isn’t accurate enough to keep the robots on sidewalks. The robots have to use equipped sensors to detect the surroundings and determine proper actions via the built-in artificial intelligence. They will have to rely on digital street maps like autonomous cars do. They will have to be able to face and react appropriately under the following situations:

  • Traffic lights
  • Pedestrian crossing behaviors and patterns
  • Emergency vehicles
  • Unpredictable humans and animals


Sharing a sidewalk with delivery robots is another issue. The robot moves a little bit slower than people walking. The motion may be like every few feet it pauses, jerking to the left or right, perhaps turning around, and then turning again before continuing on its way. Accommodation to the street delivery robot will have to be accepted by the public. It may need more time and experiences to determine if the public will fully accept them.

Sidewalk-traversing robots are one of several possible solutions to the “last-mile” logistics. “With just a handful of robots in service, urban areas have yet to face any backlash. But the revolutionary promise of robot deliveries will only be realized if these companies achieve thousands and thousands of robots in thousands of cities around the world.” according to the San Jose Mercury News. [205]

Discussion Questions[edit | edit source]

  • Will robots disrupt the fabric of urban neighborhoods?
  • Can sidewalk robots be made sufficiently safe and secure and not potentially used for harmful purposes (i.e. terrorists hiding a device in one)?
  • Are pedestrians prepared to jostle for limited sidewalk space?
  • Are robots safe without risking hurting pedestrians during operation and who is liable for injury?
  • Will (or should) sidewalks be adapted for robots?
  • Are sidewalks maintained appropriately in meeting the needs for robotic operations?

Further Reading[edit | edit source]

Gaskill, Tyler. 2017. "Conquering the Last Mile." Quality Progress 50 (4): 10-12.

Reference[edit | edit source]

Evacuation Best Practices (Lessons Learned)

Summary[edit | edit source]

Taken together, natural disasters (comprising hurricanes, tropical storms, floods, firestorms, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions) affect 26+ million people in the US and 255 million globally each year. There are six areas that contribute to the success or failure of any evacuation: Control of the Evacuation, Evacuation of Vulnerable Populations, Fuel Availability, Evacuation Routes, Media Influence and Public Awareness.[206] The page reviews major hurricane areas and evaluates the critical failures during past evacuations and lessons learned that resulted in policy changes.

List of Actors[edit | edit source]

Can declare a state of emergency or disaster for any situation. The President plays a large role in disaster response but does not have much of a role in evacuation.[207]

Governor or Tribal Chief Executive
The Stafford Act[208] gives the authority to issue the evacuation orders or delegate authority to the local officials. He or She must request that the President declares a state of emergency or disaster to receive federal aid. The governor has the authority to activate his state's National Guard and request assistance from other states based on the Emergency Management Assistance Compact.[209]

Issues a local evacuation order and advises the governor on local needs.[210]

National Guard
Will pre-stage equipment for hurricane response. They can also assist local police to provide security during evacuations and provide transportation to evacuate people from areas using ground or air assets.[211]

Local Law Enforcement
Actively enforce and facilitate evacuation operations. They have several responsibilities including actively evacuating people from their homes, ensuring that people safely evacuate the area, enforcing curfews, escort essential supplies, build protective barriers around hazardous materials, maintaining law and order during and after the evacuation, and actively preventing looting.[212]

National Hurricane Center
Collects storm data and analysis, enabling them to provide advice to decision makers on necessary evacuation areas, storm strength, establishing watches, and warnings. They provide the data on the affected area or to appointed state organizations in order to advise local or state officials.[213]

Homeland Security and FEMA
Work in conjunction with each other to advise state and local governments on creating and refining evacuation plans and procedures. They also assist in coordination for critical evacuation resources (transportation, delivery of supplies, support locations and shelters). They control air space, movement for all resources and manage security operations in the evacuation area to ensure delivery of supplies and evacuation of vulnerable populations.[214]

Clear Identification of Policies[edit | edit source]

The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (Stafford Act)

In 1974 President Nixon signed the first version of the Disaster Relief Act later to be known as the Stafford Act. This act established law and guideline to plan, evacuate, and recover from disasters. State and local governments are required to establish evacuation plans to include establishing routes, stock piling necessary supplies, shelter locations and shelter plans. They must also plan for evacuation and delivery of necessary resources. Plans must consider all modes of transportation in order to relocate and evacuate all residents in the area including vulnerable populations. Public education plans must be made available to all, including limited knowledge of English. This act has been amended several times to expand its scope usually in the wake of a hurricane.[215]

Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act (PKEMRA)

In 2006 following the destruction of Hurricane Katrina PKEMRA was used to amend the Stafford Act to prevent future loss of life. PKEMRA established a Disability Coordinator and developed rules and guidance to ensure individuals with disabilities have appropriate care, transportation equipment and shelters capable of tending to their needs.[216] It established the National Emergency Family Registry and Locator System to reunite family members separated in the evacuation process. It coordinated and supported precautionary evacuations and recovery efforts. It also provided transportation and relocation assistance to individuals without the means to provide self-transportation. And it provided case management assistance to identify and address unmet needs of survivors of major disasters.[217]

Public Law 109–308

Amended the Stafford Act to require evacuation plans to include households with pets. [218]

Public Law 104-321

Congress granted consent for the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC). EMAC are agreements between Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, and all U. S. territorial possessions to provide assistance during an emergency situation. It also includes providing emergency services, evacuation shelters, National Guard personnel, and any other government aid or personnel required. The requesting state is required to compensate for all services rendered.[219]

Jones Act
This requires only United States flag ship vessels to transport goods between the coasts of the United States.[220]

Policy Issues

Lack of Enforcement These policies make the State responsible for enforcing these standards but the States are reluctant to hold people liable for failing to meet these guidelines. The federal government does not have guidelines to hold States responsible for failing to enforce these standards.

Funding The acts did not include additional funding for building infrastructure to assist in meeting these guidelines. FEMA can assist in contracting and coordinating public transportation. Areas lack the amount of various routes and modes required to meet all of the established guidelines.

Timeline of Events[edit | edit source]

Each evacuation plan is unique to each case, as differences in scale and structures of the cities exist. Generally, the evacuation takes place 72 hours before the landfall of the hurricane, when the mayor of the city announces mandatory evacuation.

Usually, the hurricane watch condition follows 48 hours[221] before estimated landfall. Ideally, during this phase, people should review their evacuation routes and the items in their disaster supply kit, add or drop items based on their needs especially for children, or the elderly.

During the hurricane warning phase, 36 hours before the landfall of the hurricane the following steps should be taken: “follow evacuation orders from local officials” [222], communicate with family and friends to update them about your conditions, and follow the checklists provided by the city websites concerning preparedness in relation to where the landfall will hit first. The hurricane warning phase can be divided into four different sub-phases:[223]

36 Hours before landfall

During this phase, people should usually be constantly updated with the weather conditions and the emergency instructions, prepare the items for their disaster supply kit making sure to include water, food, batteries, first aid supplies for at least 72 hours. Moreover, people should plan on how to communicate with their families should there be an outage of power. Phone lines are usually overloaded, so it is more reliable to send texts. It is, in addition, recommended to keep the fuel tank of vehicles full in order to evacuate. In this phase, people should stock their vehicle with the emergency kits and supplies for the evacuation.[224]

18-36 Hours before landfall

During this phase, people should keep checking for updates concerning weather conditions and emergency instructions.[225] This would be the phase where people take care of removing lightweight objects from the perimeter of their houses, and take these inside the house. It is also recommended to trim or cut trees that could fall on buildings. Windows should be covered in case the storm will break the glass.[226]

30 Hours before landfall

People who evacuate, usually do so 30 hours before landfall, either by reaching the closest evacuation spot posted in the city website or by using the contraflow lanes[227] designated as the “evacuation route”. Usually, evacuations start with inland areas and then coast areas are the last ones to evacuate in order to help the flow of traffic.[228]

6-18 Hours before landfall

Weather and emergency updates should be be checked every 30 minutes during this phase and people should be charging all their devices in order to have full battery to communicate during the disaster.[229]

6 hours from landfall

At this point, if some of the people have not evacuated, they are recommended to be home and keep family and friends updated about their conditions. People should stay away from windows and should set the temperature of their fridges and freezers to the coldest option so that in case of power outage, the food can be stored for longer. In addition, people should check emergency communications, weather conditions and city websites for constant update about the disaster.[230]

Maps of Evacuation Routes[edit | edit source]

The Stafford Act requires that all areas have established evacuation routes including posted signs, primary routes and secondary routes, and established control measures to convert two way roads to one way roads. Below are links to Miami, New Orleans and Houston evacuation plans with best practices listed for each. [231]

2014-08-27 10 58 11 Sign for the Coastal Evacuation Route at the Red Lion Circle

Miami Evacuation Route[232]

  • Clearly marked evacuation zones
  • Well established primary and secondary routes
  • Displays additional routes
New Orleans Evacuation Route[233]

  • Map is interactive tailored to location
  • Establish how many hours are required for evacuation
  • It can be downloaded and used on mobile applications
Houston Evacuation Route[234]

  • Has a clear date to reevaluate the map
  • Displays the flow of traffic during a evacuation

Critical Failures and Best Practices[edit | edit source]

I-45 & Louetta Rita Evacuation

Evacuation Control

Evacuation control is critical to a safe and effective evacuation. In September 2005 several counties in Texas had a mandatory evacuation order issued for several counties including those that were not in the direct path of the storm. Officials anticipated that only 800,000 people would evacuate and 1.2 million actually evacuated.[235] Most travelers ran out of gasoline on major evacuation routes causing further congestion. This spurred FEMA to institute policies requiring States to maintain fuel reserves for emergency evacuation purposes.[236] They also issued evacuation orders for inland counties prior to the coastal areas completing their evacuation. This caused extreme traffic congestion, public hysteria, and dangerous road conditions leading to 107 of the 113 deaths during Hurricane Rita being attributed to the evacuation.[237]

Best Practices

In years since several States have developed control measures to prevent evacuations turning fatal. Most States have developed evacuation zones with separate primary and alternate routes. States have also started factoring in congestion from neighboring counties when developing evacuation timelines like New Orleans displays on their evacuation routes.[238] FEMA requires that supply deliveries of fuel and other essential resources are on pre-established routes.[239] During Hurricane Irma to ensure that hurricane evacuation routes were used critical supplies were only delivered along the routes.[240]

Vulnerable Populations

La. Air Guard hosts joint aeromedical evacuation exercise 150416-Z-PB681-003

Evacuation plan policy makers should address the importance of evacuation planning for vulnerable populations. Vulnerable populations include but are not limited to people who are unable to self-evacuate in a car and those with specific or functional needs[241]. Vulnerable populations include elderly, hospitalized, children, homeless, and handicapped. During Hurricane Katrina nearly 1 million people evacuated by automobile within 48 hours. However, vulnerable populations, specifically elderly people, were not able to evacuate. Therefore, post Katrina disaster, evacuation planning for vulnerable populations requires a national policy response. As shown in a study, the failure of evacuation planning prior to Katrina caused over 1,800 deaths, of which 71% of the victims were over the age of sixty and 47% were over the age of seventy-five[242]. Ever since, evacuation planning for vulnerable populations has been a major policy issue to address. For this reason, the matter of vulnerable populations shifted to be a matter of not only sociology and emergency management, but also a discipline of transportation and planning. In fact, in 2006, the GAO (Government Accountability Office) carried out a study to address this issue in the policy making process. One of the study’s major findings was that one of the most critical challenges to address during evacuations was to identify appropriate transportation modes for vulnerable people.

Best Practices

The major problem identified by the GAO was that both state and local governments are not disposed to evacuate “transportation-disadvantaged populations”[243] because they lack preparation and organization of planning, training and exercising. In addition, another problem that had to be addressed was legal barriers, such as liability concerns, regarding roles of agencies and across jurisdictions. The post-Katrina disaster led various actors (city of New Orleans, together with public, nonprofit, state and federal agencies) to create the City Assisted Evacuation Plan (CAEP), which was tested during Hurricane Gustav in 2008. This evacuation program addressed specifically people with medical needs, who needed to be evacuated in a short period of time. In the case of Hurricane Gustav, they were transported to Belle Chasse Naval Air Field. In addition, the plan also focused to address the elderly, transporting them by Amtrak to the neighboring safe states. The homeless were also picked up from different locations in the city and transported to designated areas. The CAEP was created based on the lessons learned from Katrina concerning vulnerable populations and has become a “best practice” for this matter. In addition, the failure to include vulnerable populations within the evacuation plans, led Congress to pass the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act of 2006 mentioned above.

Fuel Availability

Out of gas Enmark S Patterson St, Valdosta, Georgia

Fuel shortages have occurred during several evacuations. For example, during Hurricane Rita in 2005 some travelers were in traffic for over 36 hours unable to find fuel stations, clogging the evacuation routes once their vehicles ran out of gas.[244] Most travelers ran out of gasoline on major evacuation routes causing further congestion. This spurred FEMA to institute policies requiring States to maintain fuel reserves for emergency evacuation purposes.[245] Several oil refineries were shut down in the wake of Hurricane Harvey earlier this year cutting Florida off from its fuel reserves during the mass evacuation from Hurricane Irma. [246] Hurricane Irma was one of the largest evacuations seen in Florida’s history and many travelers were left stranded on the roads, 12 years after precautions were taken to prevent this occurrence.

Best Practices

As previously stated States are required to maintain fuel reserves for emergency situations. Unfortunately due to the refineries in Texas being shut down in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, Florida could not access its fuel reserves.[247] Florida’s Governor arranged for shipments to be rerouted from other States and provided police escorts for deliveries. They focused on resupplying evacuation routes and urged travelers to take only as much fuel as they required to get to safety. The President also waived the Jones Act of shipments of fuel delivered to Florida by ship.[248] Local law enforcement also made allowance for gas station owners providing them with police escorts if they were willing to wait to evacuate ensuring many others made it to safety. In spite of the fuel shortage in Florida measures were quickly utilized at all levels to assist in correcting the crisis.

Public Awareness and Media Influence

Hurricane Irma (37116202616)

The media has been indicated as being one of the most important influences to make sure people evacuate when natural disasters happen. A Congressional Research report claims that one of the first lessons learned from hurricane events is that “informing citizens about evacuation routes and shelter locations as part of a community preparedness activity can help reduce the amount of time a household takes to evacuate. Without this information, households are generally slow to react to an evacuation order”[249] However, further researchers have demonstrated that information alone does not guarantee best evacuation practices nor more people evacuating outside the danger zone. Major findings have been discovered through hypothesis testing of different issues[250] which are supposed to collaborate with information about the severity of the event. In 1985, FEMA started a National Hurricane Program to address these issues. Following is a summary of each problem identified when it comes to evacuation:

Perceived Risk and Evacuation Behavior

When the information conveyed to people about increased winds appears severe, then it will be more likely that people evacuate from the danger area. However, risk perceived from the storm surge does not have the same effect of the strong winds, meaning that people will not perceive the risk of surge as seriously as the strong winds leading to fewer people evacuating.

Information Sources about Evacuating

The media has a positive impact on evacuation pattern decisions of people that are within the official evacuation area. However, it has been shown that people that are out of the designated evacuation are less likely to evacuate. What made people outside the designated evacuation area make the decision of evacuating was the neighbor's behavior. The more neighbors evacuate, the more people from the same neighborhood do. This seems to increase the risk perception of the event.[251] Another source of information that has shown to be essential to increase evacuation has been the knowledge of designated evacuation areas; it has been shown that the more people know about the evacuation plan, evacuation location, the more likely it would be for people to evacuate.

Sociodemographic Characteristics of Evacuation

A study shows that “none of the social and demographic control variables (e.g., age, children in the household) have a significant effect on the evacuation behavior of the respondents inside or outside of an officially designated evacuation area.”[252] The only variable that seems to have significant weight was the age variable. The more elderly people in the household, the less likely they seem to evacuate.

Best Practices

All these studies about evacuation behavior and patterns can be helpful in implementing new policies as well as creating initiatives to modify these patterns and make sure everyone evacuates during natural disasters. The National Hurricane Program (1985) started by FEMA is one of these initiatives that helps protect communities through awareness. The major goals[253] of the program are training for emergency managers of state and local governments, and Federal agencies; and operations which provide support to both state and local managers during the hurricane event. It has been also useful to provide role assignments especially for state and local and federal agencies.

Evacuation Exercise[edit | edit source]

The class will break into groups of three and plan an evacuation of ten people from George Mason Arlington Campus. This plan must include node, routes used, food and shelter plan for all ten people, one person will have additional medical considerations. You will have 10 minutes to develop a plan using the internet and the class presentation.

Further Reading[edit | edit source]

Director, Hani S. Mahmassani; Center, Transportation; University, Northwestern. "Traffic jams during hurricane evacuations are entirely preventable". Quartz. Retrieved 2017-10-03.

"About the National Hurricane Center". Retrieved 2017-10-24.

nrf_massevacuationincidentannex.pdf (PDF), retrieved 2017-10-24

"Congressional Document". Retrieved 2017-10-24.

Stafford_ActselectHSA2016.pdf (PDF), retrieved 2017-10-24

"Transportation Systems Casebook/Evacuation Best Practices (Lessons Learned) - Wikibooks, open books for an open world". Retrieved 2017-10-24.

mass_evacuation_incident_annex_2008.pdf (PDF), retrieved 2017-10-24

Armey, Richard (2002-11-25). "H.R.5005 - 107th Congress (2001-2002): Homeland Security Act of 2002" (webpage). Retrieved 2017-10-24.

PLAW-109publ308.pdf (PDF), retrieved 2017-10-25

"What Is EMAC?". Retrieved 2017-10-26.

Cuite, Cara; Morss, Rebecca (2017-09-08). "Perspective | What to tell people to get them to evacuate before a hurricane hits". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2017-10-27. 

"The Disaster Declaration Process |". Retrieved 2017-10-27.

2017-evacuation-routes-map-small.pdf (PDF), retrieved 2017-10-28

"Appendix E: Best Practices - Catastrophic Hurricane Evacuation Plan Evaluation: A Report to Congress". Retrieved 2017-10-28.

"How Harvey made it harder to evacuate for Irma - Vox". Retrieved 2017-10-28.

"U.S waives Jones Act to secure fuel for hurricane responders". Reuters. 2017-09-08. Retrieved 2017-10-28. 

Carpender, S. Kay; Campbell, Paul H.; Quiram, Barbara J.; Frances, Joshua; Artzberger, Jill J. (2006). "Urban Evacuations and Rural America: Lessons Learned from Hurricane Rita". Public Health Reports (1974-). 121 (6): 775–779. ISSN 0033-3549. JSTOR 20057041. Retrieved 2017-10-28.

"Hurricanes |". Retrieved 2017-10-28.

"Hurricane - NOLA Ready". Retrieved 2017-10-28.

Renne, John (2011). "Evacuation Planning for Vulnerable Populations: Lessons from the New Orleans City Assisted Evacuation Plan". Brookings Institution Press.

EVAC_MIAMI-DADE.pdf (PDF), retrieved 2017-10-28

"Contraflow Evacuation Maps - New Orleans, Louisiana". Retrieved 2017-10-28.

EVAC_MIAMI-DADE.pdf (PDF), retrieved 2017-10-28

"Contraflow Evacuation Maps - New Orleans, Louisiana". Retrieved 2017-10-28.

2017-evacuation-routes-map-small.pdf (PDF), retrieved 2017-10-28

Congressional Research Service (2011-09-04). Federal Evacuation Policy: Issues for Congress. Retrieved 2017-10-28.

Stein, Robert M.; Dueñas-Osorio, Leonardo; Subramanian, Devika (2010). "Who Evacuates When Hurricanes Approach? The Role of Risk, Information, and Location". Social Science Quarterly. 91 (3): 816–834. ISSN 0038-4941. JSTOR 42956432. Retrieved 2017-10-28.

Stein, Robert M.; Dueñas-Osorio, Leonardo; Subramanian, Devika (2010). "Who Evacuates When Hurricanes Approach? The Role of Risk, Information, and Location". Social Science Quarterly. 91 (3): 816–834. ISSN 0038-4941. JSTOR 42956432. Retrieved 2017-10-28.

Congressional Research Service (2011-09-04). Federal Evacuation Policy: Issues for Congress. Retrieved 2017-10-28.

"Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act". Retrieved 2017-10-28. "40 Years Ago: The Disaster Relief Act of 1974". National Low Income Housing Coalition. Retrieved 2017-10-28.

References[edit | edit source]

Keystone Pipeline

Summary[edit | edit source]

The Keystone Pipeline is a cross-border pipeline that is owned by TransCanada. The Keystone Pipeline System, stretching 4,324km (2,687 miles) in length, plays a key role in delivering Canadian and United States crude oil supplies to markets around North America.[254] The Keystone Pipeline System currently runs through the following states: North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Oklahoma, and Texas.[255] The system is mostly known for the controversial expansion phase proposal, the Keystone XL Project. The Keystone XL (KXL) Project is a proposed 36-inch-diameter crude oil pipeline beginning in Hardisty, Alberta, and extending south to Steele City, Nebraska.[256] This project would be an additional extension of the current pipeline that is already present in the United States. The base Keystone Pipeline System, which went into service in July 2010, has already transported over 1.4 billion barrels of crude oil from where it is produced in Canada to key U.S. refining centers; KXL is expected to enhance this system.[257] Because the pipeline is a cross-border pipeline, the pipeline requires a Presidential permit. The Keystone would be an economic benefit to the United States; however, posing environmental threats to U.S. localities has caused the project to be highly controversial. The project has been debated in Congress over the presidency of Barack Obama and has continued into the presidency of Donald Trump. To date, under the Trump administration, the U.S. Department of State has signed and issued a Presidential Permit to construct the Keystone XL Pipeline.[258]

Annotated List of Actors[edit | edit source]

TransCanada[edit | edit source]

TransCanada is a Canadian owned energy company that primarily operates in the natural gas, oil and power industries. The company currently owns and operates the Keystone Pipeline.[259] The company has been responsible for transporting more than 1.5 billion barrels of crude oil since operations began in 2010. TransCanada has submitted multiple iterations of the Keystone XL pipeline. After President Barack Obama refused a Presidential Permit to the company, TransCanada filed a claim under the NAFTA trade agreement stating the president's denial of the permit was unwarranted.

States[edit | edit source]

Nebraska[edit | edit source]

Landowners filed a suit to stop TransCanada from building the Keystone XL on the grounds that a Nebraska law was unconstitutional. The law allowed the governor to give TransCanada eminent domain power in the state. The lower circuit court ruled in favor of the landowners causing a stop to the proposed route of the pipeline. However, the case was overruled by the Nebraska Supreme Court, indicating the law was not unconstitutional. This lead to the push for the Obama Administration to finally make a decision on the whether or not TransCanada’s application would get approved.

Montana[edit | edit source]

In 2012 Montana approved easements to let the Keystone XL pipeline cross state-owned land, including the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers.[260]

South Dakota[edit | edit source]

In 2010, South Dakota Public Utilities Commissions granted a permit, with 50 conditions, for the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline in western South Dakota.[261]

Department of Energy[edit | edit source]

The Department of Energy, under the Office of NEPA Policy and Compliance was responsible for evaluating the potential impacts of the Keystone XL pipeline and related facilities.

Department of State[edit | edit source]

The Secretary of State has the authority to issue Presidential Permits for cross-border liquid (water as well as petroleum product) pipelines and other cross-border infrastructure.[262] The Department of State has issued permits for the Keystone Pipeline System under Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump.

The Environmental Protection Agency[edit | edit source]

The Environmental Protection Agency is an independent agency under the Executive Branch. The primary role is to review the environmental impact statements (EIS) of other federal agencies and to comment on the adequacy and the acceptability of the environmental impacts of the proposed action.[263] Several environmental studies were done to evaluate the proposed project and multiple Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statements were released prior to the Final Environmental Impact Statement.

The United States Congress[edit | edit source]

The United States Congress became involved in the Keystone Pipeline during the Obama Administration. The U.S. Senate approved TransCanada to build the Keystone Pipeline which was controversial because the legislative branch overstepped in a decision that was to be made by the executive branch. While the bill was passed, the President did counter and veto the bill.

President George W. Bush[edit | edit source]

President was primarily involved in the early stages of the Keystone Pipeline System. Before the November 2008 elections, George W. Bush, Jr. approved the construction of the Keystone Pipeline. In March, 2008 the Department of State issued a Presidential Permit authorizing TransCanada Keystone Pipeline LP to construct, operate and maintain facilities related to the Keystone crude oil pipeline project.[264]

President Barack Obama[edit | edit source]

President Barack Obama had the longest tenure with the pipeline. He is most known for the controversy revolving around the lengthy process to the decision of whether or not the pipeline application would be approved. Ultimately, president Obama rejected TransCanada’s application to build the XL pipeline due to several reasons. The White House released a statement from the President on November 6, 2015 stating that the pipeline would not make a meaningful long-term contribution to the economy; the pipeline would not lower gas prices for American consumers; and shipping dirtier crude oil into the country would not increase America’s energy security.[265]

President Donald Trump[edit | edit source]

President Donald Trump campaigned in the 2017 presidential election by promoting the construction of the Keystone XL. Months after being in office, president Trump approved the construction of the Keystone XL by presidential memorandum. The memorandum included language that “invited TransCanada to promptly re-submit its application to the Department of State for Presidential permit, directed the Department of State to take all actions necessary and appropriate to facilitate its expeditious review, and required a decision to be made within 60 days of TransCanada’s application submission."[266]

Timeline of Events[edit | edit source]

July 2008: TransCanada Corp. and ConocoPhillips, joint owners of the Keystone Pipeline, proposes a major extension to the network, dubbed Keystone Pipeline XL.[267]

March 2010: The National Energy Board [Canadian Board] approves TransCanada’s application for Keystone XL, with 22 conditions regarding safety, environmental protection and landowner rights.[268]

April 2010: The U.S. State Department releases a draft environmental impact statement stating the Keystone XL would have a limited effect on the environment. Months following, the Keystone XL opposition put political pressure on elected officials and major Department stakeholders to reconsider the stance.[269]

June 2010: TransCanada completes phase one of the Keystone Pipeline System, from Hardisty, Alberta to Wood River [refinery in Roxana, Illinois] and Patoka, Illinois and begins operation in July.[270]

July 2010-March 2011: The State Department extends its review of the Keystone, indicating that the federal agencies involved need more time to weigh in before a final environmental impact assessment can be released.[271]

February 2011: The second phase of the Keystone Pipeline System is completed and begins commercial deliveries of crude oil to Cushing, Oklahoma. The project consisted of an extension from Steele City, Nebraska to Cushing, Oklahoma.[272]

August 2011: The State Department releases its final environmental assessment, which reiterates that the pipeline would have limited environmental impacts.[273]

November 2011: The State Department indicates that TransCanada must reroute the Keystone XL to avoid an ecologically sensitive region in Nebraska and TransCanada agrees.[274]

December 2011-January 2012: Members of Congress pass a bill with a provision stating that President Barack Obama must make a decision on the pipeline’s future in the next 60 days. The President rejects the project due to the insufficient amount of review time needed to review the new proposed route. TransCanada is given the opportunity to resubmit another application for review, if desired.[275]

May 2012: TransCanada applies for Keystone XL Presidential Permit which includes an alternative route in Nebraska as soon as that route is selected.[276]

January 2013: The Governor of Nebraska approves the new route of the Keystone Pipeline and sends the recommendation to President Barack Obama and Secretary Hillary Clinton.[277]

January 2014: Keystone Pipeline System begins delivering crude oil to refineries on the Gulf Coast of Texas with the completion of the Gulf Coast Pipeline project (phase three).[278] The State Department releases Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the Keystone XL Project.[279]

February 2014: A Nebraska judge rules that the law that allowed the governor to approve Keystone XL over the objections of landowners was unconstitutional.[280]

January- February 2015: The Supreme Court of Nebraska strikes down the lower-court decision.[281] The U.S. Senate approves a bill to build Keystone XL; however the bill was vetoed by the President in February.[282]

November 2015: The Obama Administration rejects TransCanada’s application to build the Keystone XL pipeline.[283]

January 2016: TransCanada announces that it would file a Notice of Intent to initiate a claim under Chapter 11 of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in response to the U.S. Administration’s decision to deny a Presidential Permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline on the basis that the denial is arbitrary and unjustified. TransCanada also files a lawsuit in the U.S. Federal Court in Houston, Texas, asserting that the President’s decision to deny the construction of the pipeline exceeds his power under the U.S. Constitution.[284]

April 2016: A spill is discovered in an underground section of the pipeline in South Dakota. TransCanada estimates a 16,800 gallon spill in Hutchinson County.[285]

January 2017: President Trump signs a presidential memorandum to allow the TransCanada to construct the Keystone XL pipeline extension.[286]

Maps of Locations[edit | edit source]

Keystone XL and Keystone Pipelines

Revised Nebraska Keystone XL Route

Policy Issues[edit | edit source]

Environmental Impacts[edit | edit source]

The leading issue that caused the pipeline to get denied a Presidential Permit was due to the environmental (environmental and social) impacts that the construction of the XL pipeline would cause. The construction would not only displace individuals who owned land in the right of way of the pipeline, but also pose potential threats to wetlands, and endangered species. A particular area of concern that required TransCanada to resubmit an application for Presidential Permit was the Northern Plains aquifer system and the Sandhills aquifers. The Northern Plains aquifer system supplies 78 percent of the public water supply and 83 percent of the irrigation water in Nebraska and approximately 30 percent of water used in the U.S. for irrigation water and agriculture.[287] Considering the close proximity to the pipelines original route, any major underground oil spill could be detrimental to the aquifer system.

Over the last several years there has been a debate over nonrenewable and renewable energy resources; however, there has been more of a push for the United States to invest in cleaner energy. The concern with transporting crude oil is related to the concerns of pollution. The extraction and refining process of crude oil produce carbon dioxide emissions. Opponents argue “oil derived from tar sands can have serious impacts on climate even before it is burned – estimates show that extraction and processing of tar sands generates between 5 to 10 times more carbon dioxide emissions than conventional oil.” [288]

When looking at social environmental impacts, landowners were mostly impacted by the threat of eminent domain. Eminent domain is the process where private property may be taken from an owner for use of the public. Private property that would not be completely consumed faced impacts of having land disturbance. In Nebraska, farmers were concerned with the possibility of farming land and wells being polluted by oil spills. Landowners were concerned that if a leak were to happen the State of Nebraska would have to bear the consequences of the damage. “The worry is compounded by TransCanada’s own admission that their leak detection system only identifies leaks of more than 1 percent of flow;” such a small percentage of disrupted flow could mean 8,000 or 9,000 barrels per day could leak and go undetected, and could last for quite a while.”[289]

The environmental impacts of this project primarily led to the slowdown and ultimately permit denial under the Barack Obama Administration. The Department of State’s Environmental Impact Statement indicated that the environmental impacts would be limited and suggested that the construction be re-routed to avoid any issues related to ecological concerns. The Executive Summary stated that project would need to be implemented in accordance with applicable regulatory requirements of federal, state, or local permitting agencies.[290]

Economic & Energy Incentives[edit | edit source]

The argument for the XL pipeline revolves around economic benefits such as job growth and energy security. According to a Canadian study of future oil production from Alberta tar sands, production could grow from 1.2 million barrels per day to over 3.3 million barrels per day by 2020; these numbers make a compelling case for extending America’s use of Canadian tar sands in order to serve our continually growing energy needs.[291] This argument coincides with the argument that the Keystone XL would allow the United States to develop more energy security. The extension to the pipeline would increase the diversity of the U.S. petroleum supply. The application submitted by TransCanada argued that the pipeline would allow the U.S. to decrease its dependence on crude oil from Mexico and Venezuela, the two largest oil exporters into the U.S. Gulf Coast.[292] While some point that the pipeline would give the U.S. energy security; international events would still have an impact on prices. Proponents of the construction of the pipeline rely heavily on economic benefits rather than energy security.

The Keystone expansion would provide net economic benefits from improved efficiencies in both the transportation and processing of crude oil of $100 million-$600 million annually, in addition to an immediate boost in construction employment.[293] While numbers aren’t exact, TransCanada has noted that the majority of the job creation would steam from the construction of the pipeline. During the construction, KXL would create significant employment benefits in the form of tens of thousands of well-paying jobs and associated earnings throughout the United States.[294] While job growth may be only short term, the tax revenue generated would benefit the states impacted by the construction of the pipeline. The total estimated property tax from the proposed project in the first full year of operations would be about $55.6 million spread across 27 counties in three states.[295] Furthermore, when looking at the economic benefits at a national level, the U.S. would also be impacted positively. The construction of KXL is expected to contribute approximately $3.4 billion to the U.S. GDP.[296]

Politics and Conflicts between Congress and the President[edit | edit source]

The debate over the Keystone XL pipeline was just one example of the recent highlighted tensions between the legislative and executive branches of the federal government. Republicans in the House and Senate have long supported the Keystone XL pipeline, first as a way to promote American energy independence during an era of high oil prices, then as a method to create jobs. When Republicans took the majority of the seats in the Senate in the 114th Congress, they had control of both houses in Congress for the first time since the 109th Congress in the early 1990s. This lead to the party pursuing a number of their priorities, including Senate Bill 1 to approve the pipeline which President Obama vetoed.

Earlier in the process this conflict manifested itself when Congress set a deadline on Keystone XL approval, which caused the Administration to deny the necessary border crossing permit because it was unable to make a determination by the deadline. Eventually President Obama rejected the pipeline citing the impacts of climate change.

While environmental reasons were cited for the pipeline’s permit denial, Keystone KL also evolved into a powerful political symbol as shown by the vicious political debate that at times dwarfed the practical environmental concerns. Eventually, as the economy improved and oil prices fell, many of the practical positives of approving the permit fell away clearing the way for President Obama to make a decision based on macro level environmental and political concerns.

The Role of the Nebraska Legislature[edit | edit source]

Given the greatest area of environmental concern regarding the pipeline occurred where it crossed Nebraska, the state of Nebraska’s unicameral legislature was heavily involved in the approval process. Nebraska Governor Dave Hineman sent a letter to President Obama in September, 2011 requesting the federal government reroute the pipeline around the Sand Hills region of the state. That November, Governor Hineman called a special session of the state legislature to address the environmental concerns over the pipeline which resulted in a new pipeline sitting law that required TransCanada to apply from the state utility commission. [297] The pipeline, now revived, is still pending approval by the Nebraska Public Utility Commission, which has until November 13, 2017 to make a final decision.

Nebraskans are fiercely opposed to the pipeline based on concerns that it will impact their soil quality, hurt their property values, and endanger the Ogallala aquifer beneath the Sand Hills region. The aquifer stretches beneath most of the state, running from South Dakota to Texas, and serves as one of the world’s largest underground sources of fresh water. While there was some contention in the state of Nebraska, the state’s congressional delegation largely supported the measure.[298]

Narrative of the Case[edit | edit source]

Presidential Permitting[edit | edit source]

Executive Order 11423 grants the Secretary of State the authority to receive applications for Presidential permits for land border crossing facilities. The order states “. . . the proper conduct of the foreign relations of the United States requires that executive permission be obtained for the construction and maintenance at the borders of the United States of facilities connecting the United States with a foreign country.” This authority applies to all new border crossings and to all substantial modifications of existing crossings at the international border.[299]

The Department of State coordinates with the relevant federal agencies to evaluate proposed crossings and make a recommendation to the president whether the crossing would be in the national interest. This is known as a National Interest Determination (NID). In Keystone XL’s case this included evaluation of the potential effects the pipeline would have on energy security; environmental and cultural resources; the economy; foreign policy, and other factors. The environmental and cultural impact are determined based on the Environmental Impact Statement issued by the Environmental Protection Agency pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).[300]

TransCanada initially applied for a Presidential Permit in 2008. At that time concerns were expressed regarding the pipeline’s impact on the Sand Hills region of Nebraska, which lead the state to implement new requirements that would change the pipeline’s route. Faced with a Congressionally imposed deadline to make a decision, the State Department denied the initial permit in January 2012 due to lack of information regarding the impact on the Sand Hills region.[301]

A second permit application was made by TransCanada in May, 2012 which triggered a new NEPA process and the issuance of a new Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).[302]

Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)[edit | edit source]

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires the development of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for certain actions “significantly affecting the quality of the human environment”. The role of the EIS is to provide federal agencies with detailed information concerning significant environmental impacts of federal actions.

In 2010 letter to the State Department, EPA said that the draft EIS released for public comment was not thorough enough and suggested significant revisions prior to the State Department making a National Interest Determination (NID). [303] The final EIS was released in August 2011 and said the revised pipeline with the new route avoiding the Sand Hills region would have no significant impact to most resources in the region.[304] In November, 2011 the State Department said it would postpone the NID until it could further evaluate the impact on the environment. In December, 2011 Congress passed legislation requiring President Obama to issue a decision on the pipeline within 60 days. In January, 2012 President Obama rejected the permit application saying that the deadline prevented a full assessment of the pipeline’s impact.[305]

Revised Route[edit | edit source]

In May 2012 TransCanada submitted a new permit request containing a revised route. The new route was devised in consultation with Nebraska citizens and the state legislature, as well as the company’s desire to minimize disturbance to the area. A supplemental EIS was developed and issued, which found there would be no significant impact to regions along the revised route. Attempts were made by the House of Representatives in 2013 and 2014 to force approval of the pipeline, but were rebuffed by the Democratically controlled Senate.[306] In January, 2015 the House and Senate passed a bill approving the pipeline, which President Obama vetoed in February, 2015 citing that he decision was within the purview of the executive branch. In November, 2015 President Obama rejected the pipeline’s application citing the impacts of climate change.[307]

A New Administration[edit | edit source]

On January 24, 2017, shortly after his inauguration, President Trump signed a presidential memorandum clearing the way for the Keystone XL pipeline. The memorandum invited TransCanada to re-submit their application for a presidential permit and directed the Secretary of State to issue a NID within 60 days of receiving the application. The memorandum also directed the Secretary to consider the last Supplemental EIS completed to meet the requirements of NEPA. Two days after the issuance of the memorandum, TransCanada resubmitted their application.[308]

On March 24, President Trump approved the pipeline’s application.[309] TransCanada however has not indicated whether they intend to go forward with the pipeline. Citing changing oil markets from when their initial application was submitted in 2008, the company says they plan to make a decision before the end of 2017 as to whether they will move forward with the project. Crude prices have dropped from nearly $140 a barrel at the time of the initial application to $51 a barrel today. Part of this price fall was driven by the development of domestic oil production in the United States creating a glut in the market.[310]

Discussion Questions[edit | edit source]

Engagement with state and local stakeholders was relatively limited at the beginning of the project, how would earlier external stakeholder engagement have permitted some of the difficulties Keystone XL experienced?

What role do you think the NEPA process played in the political machinations that occurred? Do you think a more streamline NEPA process would have resulted in less political battles?

Frustrated with the Executive branch, Congress tried to approve the pipeline against President Obama’s wishes and faced a veto. Should Congress have a role to play the National Interest Determination process?

References[edit | edit source]

Privatization of Air Traffic Controllers

Summary[edit | edit source]

Air traffic control (ATC) is the ground-based system that manages air traffic. The primary role of ATC is to manage airspace, manage air traffic, and to prevent collisions between aircraft. In the United States, ATC is a government service provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that relies on government funding. Around the world there are other models used for ATC; Germany uses a government owned corporation, the United Kingdom uses a for-profit corporation, and Canada uses a non-profit corporation. Each model has it's merits and disadvantages but the issue of privatization ultimately comes down to the funding model used.[311]

In the United States, we must consider a model that meets the needs of our large air transportation system and is able to provide stable funding and be consistently applied to all airports. Currently, funding is not completely stable as the FAA relies on federal dollars which are at risk of being lost to budget issues and politicization of budget items. It is critical that ATC has stable funding so that it may continue to work at safe and efficient levels. The other major criteria that a model must meet is being able to handle the size and volume of air transportation in the United States, currently the US ATC system handles over 16 million flights across 19,600 airports every year and that number is only going to increase.[312]

Annotated List of Actors[edit | edit source]

Actors in Favor of Privatization of Air Traffic Controllers[edit | edit source]

President Donald Trump[edit | edit source]

Announced a plan to privatize ATC on June 5, 2017

Bill Schuster[edit | edit source]

Republican Congressman from Pennsylvania presented the bill H.R. 2997, Privatizing ATC, on the House of Representative floor on June 22, 2017.

Airlines for America (A4A)[edit | edit source]

Spent 1.6 million on lobbying for privatization of ATC. They believe the slow adoption of technology is hindering air traffic efficiency. Members include: Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Atlas Air Worldwide, FedEx, UPS, United Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, Jet Blue, Southwest, and Air Canada.

Actors Against Privatization of Air Traffic Controllers[edit | edit source]

Federal Aviation Administration[edit | edit source]

Against privatization of air traffic controllers because the private company would lack oversight and control.

Delta Airlines[edit | edit source]

Against bill because they believe the airline companies are the problem of congestion, at or near airports in the sky and the ground, due to loading procedures. In 2017 Delta’s antiquated computer system crashed, grounding hundreds of flights.

Alliance for Aviation Across America[edit | edit source]

A nonprofit lobbying firm against privatization of ATC. They fear privatization of ATC will bring user fees which would be too high for small companies to pay. There members include: Air Care Alliance (ACA), Aircraft Electronics Association, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), American Air Campers Association, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), Angel Flight Mid-Atlantic, Arkansas Aerospace and Defense Alliance, Aviation Council of Pennsylvania, Charlie Bravo Aviation, Experimental Aviation Association (EAA), Flight School Association of North America, Granite State Airport Management Association (GSAMA), Helicopter Association International, League of Rural Voters, Management Association for Private Photogrammetric Surveyors (MAPPS), Medimpact, National Air Transportation Association (NATA), National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), National Farmers Organization (NFO), National Farmers Union, National Grange, Popular Rotorcraft Association, Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council, Society of Aviation and Flight Educators (SAFE), Texas Aviation Association, Universal Weather and Aviation, U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, Veterans Airlift Command, West Virginia Coal Association, Wheeling Area Chamber of Commerce, and Wolf Aviation Fund.

Timeline of Events[edit | edit source]

1926- Air Commerce Act- regulated aviation economics, safety, and air traffic controllers.

1936- Federal Government took over en-route air traffic control, while airports were controlled locally.

1958- Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) created in response to air traffic control radar.

1970- Airport and Airway Trust Fund (AATF) created to provide resources to the aviation through fuel and ticket taxes.

1982- Airport and Airway Improvement Act which reorganized the aviation taxes on the usage of funds.

1983- First discussion of privatization of air traffic controllers by the Reagan administration but was shot down because no model had ever been tried before.

1985- Airlines start talking about lobbying for privatization of ATC.

1986- Congress passes Aviation Safety Commission Act which looked at “how the Federal Aviation Administration may most effectively perform its responsibilities and increase aviation safety.”

1987- New Zealand becomes the first country to corporatize ATC.

1988- FAA publishes report recommending the “FAA be transferred from USDOT and be established as a user-funded authority.”

1993- Bill Clinton suggests government-owned corporation supported by user fees and governed by stakeholders.

1995- Representative Norman Mineta (D-CA) introduced H.R. 1441 which separate ATC personnel to a separate corporate entity, collecting user fees and issuing revenue bonds.

1996- National Civil Aviation Review Commission that was tasked to perform an independent assessment of FAA financial requirements.

1996- Creation of NAV CANADA as a nonprofit user co-op private corporation.

1997- The Mineta Commission Report was released and suggested “broad and sweeping changes in the ways the FAA was managed”.

2001- British became the first enter into a Private-Public Partnership (P3) for ATC.

2009- Proposal to move toward user-fee to fund the ATC but only the large commercial airlines would pay it but went nowhere.

2017- President Donald Trump proposes privatization of ATC.

2017- Bill Schuster takes bill H.R. 2997 to the House of Representative floor to privatize ATC.

Graphics[edit | edit source]

[105]Map of NextGen landing path compared to conventional landing path

[106]Comparison of current ATC system with NextGen system

Policy Issues[edit | edit source]

Current Legislation[edit | edit source]

HR 2997- in June, 2017 Representative Bill Schuster (R-PA-9) introduced a bill titled "21st Century Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization Act" (AIRR Act). The chief goal of this bill is to establish the American Air Navigation Services Corporation (AANSC), a non-profit corporation that would take over all ATC duties and equipment by October, 2020. Currently, HR 2997 has 22 cosponsors and no scheduled hearings or votes as of November, 2017.[313]

Funding[edit | edit source]

Currently funding is one of the most contentious and important issues in deciding on an ATC management model. Under the federal system the US currently employs, funding comes from the federal budget which must be approved by congress. The advantage of this funding model is that it separates funding from usage and allows the FAA to lobby for the amount of money they need to maintain critical systems. The major disadvantage of this model is that funding can be late or inconsistent depending on congress, during a government shutdown funding can be frozen and employees aren't getting paid to do their critical jobs. Funding can also be politicized, if a politician or group wants to bleed out the FAA then they can by restricting federal funding.

In a private system, funding is achieved by collecting usage fees and ticket fees. There are many ways to do this such as Nav Canada's method of collecting fees based on weight of aircraft and distance flown.[314] The advantage of usage fee based funding is that it scales with use and remains consistent as long as flight load remains consistent, while this may be an issue in some countries, it is unlikely to be an issue in the US which already handles over 88% of all air traffic.[315] However, according to a Delta Airlines report this model will not save the customers any money and may lead to a 20-29% increase in ATC fees on tickets. The same study showed that Canadian tickets saw a 59% increase in ATC fees and UK fliers saw a 30% increase.[316]

Equity[edit | edit source]

Currently, the United States has roughly 4000 airports that Bureau of Transportation Statistics classifies as rural. These airports serve small communities, have low passenger usage, and can be vital to the health of a community, especially in states like Alaska.[317] General aviation and rural flights pay less into the ATC and de facto and de jure subsidized by the FAA and federal government so that this critical access to these airports may be maintained. According to the Delta study, privatization will favor larger airports that pay more into the system. This will cause rural airports to shrink, limit landings and take offs, and eventually close forcing users to potentially drive hundreds of miles to large hubs, a solution that's not always an option in rural America. This issue of rural airports struggling has already been observed in the UK following their privatization and would only be amplified by the sheer size of the United States.[318]

Control[edit | edit source]

Control of the private ATC system is an important consideration. Currently, the ATC system is overseen by the FAA and reports to federal government oversight. In a private model, ATC will by overseen by a corporate board and under HR 2997, will be subject to government oversight. However, the downfall is that the board can be taken over and controlled by the major airlines who will be able to run ATC system in a way that is favorable to their corporation rather than be favorable to the public and to the needs of all air transportation users. From the start, there would be no competition and the ANSC would be a total monopoly, able to do whatever it wants with minimal oversight. This lack of oversight and potential market failure could leave tax payers stuck with the bill as the ATC system is inherently too big to fail.[319]

Narrative of the Case[edit | edit source]

What is NextGen?[edit | edit source]

NextGen is an incremental program planned to incorporate precision satellite navigation and surveillance, digital networked communication, and an integrated weather system. This sophisticated program is acquiring integrated air traffic control system, developing new flight procedure, and creating and maintaining new supporting infrastructure. NextGen will require airlines and others to invest in up-to-date avionics and other technologies to take advantage of NextGen benefits.[320]

Presidential Permitting[edit | edit source]

President Donald Trump is likely to announce a proposal to privatize ATC. He is expected to push for the separation of ATC operation from the FAA to move and improve the U.S airlines. The main issue that the FAA current software’s is insufficient; therefore, the change will improve the ATC system from radar and voice-based communication to a system based on satellite navigation and digital communication. The administration looks at the ATC system as technology business within the FAA. The separation of the system is meant to speed up the modernization to update the ATC system.[321]

The AIRR act will help ensure a modern, safe system that benefit passenger and the economy and will keep America competitive in a vital industry. President Trump and his advisor argued that revolving off air traffic control from the FAA would accelerate the deployment of NextGen technology while freeing the agency to fulfil its core function as a safety regulation.[322]

On the other hands, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), privatizing air traffic control would create problems with how the FAA and Department of Defense cooperate on air system security. Another GAO report questions about how quickly safety roles and responsibilities could be split between a privatized ATC entity and the FAA as the safety regular.[323]

Privatizing Air traffic Control and its Impact to the Rural Community[edit | edit source]

President Trump and other support the idea of privatizing air traffic control plan that would put the management of U.S airways in the hands of a private board and bring funding through taxes and fees. Airlines Company argues that the privatization would allow the antiquated air control system to upgrade and respond more quickly to changing technology. But an alliance of small airports says that privatizing would dramatically reduce service for rural areas.[324]

Nearly three-quarter of the U.S land found in a rural area. Rural industries like food production, firefighting, flight training, and disaster relief are critically dependent on smaller aircraft. This is not just an issue that affects some community; it changes all the ability to keep industries alive. Privatizing ATC can gain a lot of investment to the infrastructure in a small airport because rural areas are America lifeblood. Moreover, this type of structure airlines would have the ability to implement a host of new fees and taxes, which can decimate general aviation to rely on late user fees.[325]

Effects on Delays and Costs[edit | edit source]

The most significant contributor to delays is not air traffic control. An aviation expert Michael Baiada Saied “instead of focusing on privatization, the question Congress and the (GAO) should be asking first is what causes delays. Unfortunately, the (ATC) system is too often scapegoat for airline’s problems”. According to data from the Department of Transportation in 2015, the airlines were responsible for 323 to 454 flight delays. According to Michael Baiada, “the solution to airline delays must rest with the individual airlines and their adoption of operational excellence to drastically improve their performance, blocking, and tackling”[326]

In addition, According to senators Ed Markey and Richard Blumenthal highlighted that “the data from the Department of Transportation reveals airline problems, including technical glitches and mechanical failures, those two reasons are the leading causes of airline delays; the surpassing weather can cause delay”.[327]

Security Concerns with Privatization[edit | edit source]

According to the U.S Department of defense Policy Board on Federal Aviation, air traffic control would create problems with how the FAA and Department of Defense cooperate on air system security. Moreover, they raised questions about safety roles and responsibilities could be split between a privatized ATC entity and the FAA in safety regulation. The issue of coordination is developing and implementing new procedures and flight standards, and highly skilled staff.[328]

In addition, according to Fast Company, hackers already probe aviation systems looking for weaknesses, and security experts believe it is only a matter of time before cyber attacks occur. Therefore, privatizing ATC will enhance the security software to make sure the system will not fall.[329]

Discussion Questions[edit | edit source]

  • Do you trust the big airline companies to run our nation’s air traffic control system? Why or why not?
  • Can a private ATC be equitable in the United States? Why or why not?
  • Does the US even need privatization?
  • Are there any public solutions to the issues privatization seeks to solve?

References[edit | edit source]

Full references forthcoming following technical issues

Revenue Adequacy

Summary[edit | edit source]

As it did with most industries the heavily regulated environment era left railroad companies in a detrimental financial state. In times pre the Staggers Act of 1980, in the early 1970’s, the rail industry experienced financials hardships due to regulation. Rail companies were unable to adjust rates, merge or abandon obsolete services. Efficiency and reliability were among the major problems and some railroad companies began to go bankrupt. The first concern of “Revenue Adequacy” was first rooted in the 1976 Railroad Revitalization and Regulatory Reform Acts. The section of this act dealt with tasking the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) with developing “standards and procedures for the establishment of revenue levels adequate to cover total operating expenses including depreciation and obsolescence, plus a fair and economic profit or return (or both) on capital employed businesses.” The Interstate Commerce Commission in 1979 defined revenue adequacy as a rate-of-return on investment between seven and ten percent. Yet at that time only 13 of the 36 Class 1 railroads had reached those levels. The declining state of freight railroad bred concern for changes to occur. This in turn led to the passage of the Stagger Act of 1980 which was to “provide for the restoration, maintenance, and improvement of the physical facilities and financial stability of the rail system of the United States.[330]” This case study will give a comprehensive overview of concept of revenue adequacy, the cost and benefits to obtaining revenue adequacy and its impacts on the rail industry.

List of Actors[edit | edit source]

US Government[edit | edit source]

Surface Transportation Board- An independent adjudicatory and economic-regulatory agency charged by Congress with resolving railroad rate and service disputes and reviewing proposed railroad mergers. The agency has jurisdiction over railroad rate and service issues and rail restructuring transactions (mergers, line sales, line construction, and line abandonments); certain trucking company, moving van, and non-contiguous ocean shipping company rate matters; certain intercity passenger bus company structure, financial, and operational matters; and rates and services of certain pipelines not regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The agency has authority to investigate rail service matters of regional and national significance. STB was created on January 1, 1996 by the ICC Termination Act of 1995, the Board is the successor to the former Interstate Commerce Commission (1887-1995) and was administratively aligned with the U.S. Department of Transportation from 1996 to mid-December 2015. The STB Reauthorization Act of 2015 established the STB as a wholly independent federal agency on December 18, 2015. [331]

Major Class 1 Railroad Companies[edit | edit source]

BNSF Railway - One of the largest freight rail lines which is a product of about 390 different railroad lines acquired over a span of 160 years; with the first line, Aurora Branch Line, starting in 1849. BNSF received their new name and a look in 2005.[332] Their staff consist of over 40,000 employees, they operate over 32,000 route miles in 28 states and 3 Canadian provinces and they serve two-thirds of the US, portions of Canada and key Mexican gateways.. In 2015 they had a total operating revenue of about 21.4 billion dollars.[333]

Canadian National Railway Company - Canadian National Railways - incorporated June of 1919, is the longest railway system in North America. It has approximately 19,000 route-miles in North America. Now known as Canadian National (CN), the former Crown Corporation expanded its holdings to include marine operations, hotels, telecommunications and resource industries. However, the core of CN was still its railway system, which had its origins in the amalgamation of five financially troubled railways during the years 1917–23: the Grand Trunk and its subsidiary, the Grand Trunk Pacific; the Intercolonial; the Canadian Northern; and the National Transcontinental. In 1995, CN was sold to private investors and it serves the cities and ports of Vancouver, Prince Rupert, B.C., Montreal, Halifax, New Orleans, and Mobile, Ala., and the metropolitan areas of Toronto, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Calgary, Chicago, Memphis, Detroit, Duluth, Minn./Superior, Wis., and Jackson, Miss., with connections to all points in North America.[334] In 2015 CN employed over 23,172 workers in Canada and the US and earned 12.6 billion in revenue. CN has one of the lowest operating ratio among Class 1 railroads based on 2015 year-end results.[335]

Canadian Pacific - was founded in 1881 to physically unite Canada and Canadians from coast to coast. By 1889 that mission had been fulfilled and the railway extended from coast to coast and the enterprise had expanded to include a wide range of related and unrelated businesses. Its 14,000 mile network extends from the Port of Vancouver in the Canada's West to The Port of Montreal in Canada's East, and to the U.S. industrial centers of Chicago, Newark, Philadelphia, Washington, New York City and Buffalo.[336]

Norfolk Southern - The history of Norfolk Southern spans to nearly two centuries of American railroading and its earliest predecessor was Charters South Carolina Canal and Rail Road which dates back to 1827.[337] They were the first company to computerized operations. Norfolk Southern is and has been one of the nation’s premier transportation companies. Norfolk Southern Railway operates approximately 20,000 route miles in 22 states and the District of Columbia. They serves every major container port in the eastern United States and provides connections to other rail carriers. Norfolk Southern operates the most extensive intermodal network in the East and is a major transporter of coal, automotive, and industrial products. [338]

Union Pacific - the first transcontinental railroad dating back to 1862 and is compromised from a series of mergers throughout the years. They are: Chicago & North Western Railroad, Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad, Missouri Pacific Railroad, Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad, Southern Pacific Railroad and Western Pacific Railroad.[339] The Union Pacific Railroad now connects 23 states in the western two-thirds of the country. They service includes Agricultural Products, Automotive, Chemicals, Coal, Industrial Products and Intermodal. Union Pacific serves many of the fastest-growing U.S. population centers, operates from all major West Coast and Gulf Coast ports to eastern gateways, connects with Canada's rail systems and is the only railroad serving all six major Mexico gateways. They service over 10,000 customers, operating over 32,000 route miles and with over 40,000 employees.[340]

Time Line[341][edit | edit source]


Interstate Commerce Act of 1887 was enacted by major political parties and with the assistance of pressure groups. The act had the following 6 points. 1. Mandating of "just and reasonable" rate changes. (This was the traditional language of the Anglo-American common law). 2. Prohibition of discrimination in the form of either special rates or rebates for individual shippers. 3. Prohibition of discrimination or unjustified "preference" in rates for any particular localities or shippers or products. 4.Forbidding of long-haul / short-haul discrimination. Unless an exception was allowed by the Interstate Commerce Commission, no company might charge more for a shorter than for a longer distance on the same route (and in the same direction). 5.Prohibition of pooling of traffic or markets. 6. Establishment of a five-member Interstate Commerce Commission.[342]


Congress passed the Regional Rail Reorganization Act of 1974 known as the 3R Act. This legislation provided interim funding and created a rail operator known as Conrail as a government funded private company. Under the 3 R Act an organization known as the United States Railway Association (USRA) prepared a final system plan which identified all lines from the bankrupt carriers that would be transferred to a new corporation known as The Consolidated Rail Corporation (CONRAIL).


Congress approved Conrail’s Final System Plan as part of the Railroad Regulatory Reform Act of 1976. This law, known as the 4R Act was signed into law on February 5, 1976. Incidentally, the 4R Act turned over the ownership of most of the North East Corridor to Amtrak. Freight operating rights over this trackage was guaranteed to Conrail however.

April 1, 1976

Conrail began operations. Its mandate was to revitalize rail service in the Northeast and Midwest and operate as a for-profit-company. However, it must be noted that Conrail as a carrier did not begin a turn around until 1980 when the Staggers was passed.

October 14, 1980

In 1980 Congress passed the Staggers Act and President Jimmy Carter signed this piece of landmark legislation in October of that year. The Staggers Act named for Representative Harley O. Staggers of West Virginia deregulated the railroad industry and created competition among railroads and allowed railroads to compete with trucking companies. The Staggers Act granted greater pricing freedom, streamlined merger timetables between parallel or formerly competing carriers, expedited the line abandonment process, allowed multi-modal ownership and permitted confidential contracts with shippers. The passage of the Staggers Act allowed the railroads to divest themselves of their unprofitable passenger business and concentrate on their core activity, which is the movement of freight. At the time of the passage of the Staggers Act only 3 American railroads still operated their own passenger service. They were the Southern, Denver Rio Grande and Western and the Rock Island. By 1983 all 3 of those freight carriers opted to turn over their private service to Amtrak or in the case of the Rock Island, to commuter authorities.

Thus here we are in the 21st Century and the gold standard for freight carriers is revenue adequacy. This is not to say that controversy within the industry and between carriers and shippers does not exist.

October 23, 2008

In a decision released by the Surface Transportation Board (STB) the STB denied a petition filed by the Association of American Railroads (AAR) to institute a rulemaking proceeding to consider the use of replacement cost methodology in the Board’s annual railroad revenue adequacy determination.

September 8, 2015

The STB finds that the following Class I rail carriers were revenue adequate in 2014. BNSF, Grand Trunk Corporation, Norfolk Southern Combined Railroad Subsidiaries and the Union Pacific Railroad Company.

September 8, 2016

The STB found that based on a determination of a 9.61% cost of capital, the Board found that BNSF Railway Company., Grand Trunk Corp. (CN), Soo Line Corp. (CP), and the Union Pacific Railroad Co. were revenue adequate for 2015. CSX, Kansas City Southern and Norfolk Southern did not make the list. According to the STB news release “A railroad is considered to be revenue –adequate to at least the current cost of capital for the railroad industry, which for 2015 the board determined to be 9.61%. Congress directed the Board to conduct such revenue adequacy determinations on an annual basis.

Maps[edit | edit source]

BNSF Service Map

Canadian National Service Map

Canadian Pacific Service Map

Norfolk Southern Service Map

Union Pacific System Map

CSX System Map

Policy Issues[edit | edit source]

Measurability of Revenue Adequacy Part of the conundrum of both measuring revenue adequacy and defining which railroads meet that test, is that no economist can 100% accurately predict what the cost of capital will be next year, in two years, etc., Interest rates for commercial borrowing are subject to many outside variables. There is no clear way to continually measure revenue adequacy. The percentage railroad companies need in order to be deemed revenue adequate varies from year to year. In 2014 Norfolk Southern was considered a revenue adequate company and in 2015 they were not. Therefore with no clear continual way to measure, freight companies go into their calendar year not having a target percentage to reach for. All that is available to them is an algorithm. The concept that was developed was initially done at a time when the financial wellbeing of the freight industry was in peril. [343]

Economic Regulation STB is currently planning to enact a revenue cap on freight railroads. This can potentially place the railroads in a state pre-Staggers state. A balanced regulatory structure is what has proven to work on both sides of the spectrum, protecting rail customer against unreasonable rates but still allowing freight railroads the freedom to make adjustments as the economy change. [344]

Regulatory Oversight Railroad profitability may be used as a trigger for determining reasonableness of rates on particular rail shipments. Constraints had relatively little practical effect when it was introduced because there was a widespread of revenue inadequacies but since then railroads are being deemed more adequate. Profits used to determine rates opposed to economy will work in favor of the customer but it can potentially harm the fright railroad companies over time. [345]

Narrative[edit | edit source]

Class l:

Over time, the definition of Class l railroads has changed. As of 2014, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) has defined Class l railroads as, “having operating revenues at, or exceeding, S475.75 million annually. Currently there are only seven railroads that are considered to be Class l, which makes up an astonishing 93 percent of the industry’s revenue. With leaving only seven percent of revenue to Class ll, known as regionals, and Class ll, known as short lines. Although Class ll and Class lll, only produce seven percent of the total railroad industry’s revenue, both classes have a total combined number of over 500 railroads. [346]

Staggers Rail Act of 1980:

“Revenue adequacy” is a term defined by Congress as the ability of privately owned freight railroads to achieve revenue levels that are adequate to cover total operating expenses, including depreciation and obsolescence, plus a reasonable return on capital employed in the business so as to attract and retain capital in amounts adequate to provide a sound transportation system.[347]

With the railroad industry struggling to survive; the current U.S. President, Jimmy Carter, along with Congress, were able to establish the Staggers Rail Act of 1980. This was enforced after multiple attempts to revive the railroad industry’s financial burden. During the signing of the approved legislation, President Jimmy Carter stated, ““In recent decades the problems of the railroad industry have become severe. Its 1979 rate of return on net investment was 2.7 percent, as compared to over ten percent for comparable industries. We have seen a number of major railroad bankruptcies and the continuing expenditure of billions of Federal dollars to keep railroads running. Service and equipment have deteriorated. A key reason for this state of affairs has been overregulation by the Federal Government. At the heart of this legislation is freeing the railroad industry and its customers from such excessive control.”

The Stagger Rail Act lead to the demise of the Interstate Commerce Commission. After 16 years of the act’s life, the ICC was removed and its authority was split between the Department of Transportation and the Surface Transportation Board. The Staggers Rail Act deregulated the federal government and limited their involvement which in turn substantially improved the industry’s financial situation. It limited ICC’s authority, which is now STB, “to regulate rates only for traffic where competition is not effective to protect shippers.” Another key point is the Staggers Act allowed railroad-shipper contracts. These contracts consist of predetermined, individualized, fixed rates for specific shippers that have been negotiated by the shipper and railroad without any interference. Today it is estimated that one-third of all railroad traffic is under a railroad-shipper contract.

Coal Companies: Both coal producers and coal-fired utilities have an invested interest in the railroad revenue adequacy. This is mainly because the outcome of the railroad revenue adequacy has a direct effect on the rates that railroads charge. However, the outcome effects the coal producers and coal-fired utility companies in different ways. Producers are worried because the higher the railroad rates, the less competitive their coal prices will be. On the other hand, coal-fired utility companies worry because the higher the railroad rates are the less money they can make from the sale of electric energy.[348]

Problems with Attracting Investors:

Corporate investors must consider multiple factors before choosing any company to invest money into. The two major factors for investors are predicted rate of return and the risk of their principal. With that being stated, investors are more likely invest in company who have a track record of having a low risk of negative return and has a strong possibility of a high rate of return. However, the railroad industry is notoriously known for not being revenue adequate. Which means the railroad companies are not able to cover the cost of expenses, cost of operating efficiently, and the cost of giving investors a competitive return. The U.S. Surface Transportation Board (STB) now proactively determines the rate of return for investors to be competitive. But despite how proactive the STB is, it won’t go far unless the railroads can consistently be revenue adequate.[349]

Railroad Revenue Adequacy for 2015:

Just last month, September 8th, 2016, the STB announced the railroad companies that were deemed revenue adequate for the previous year (2015). The companies listed below were able to attain the rate of return on net investment which was a minimum of 9.61% for 2015 and cover all cost of their capitol. Revenue Adequacy for 2015: 1. BNSF Railway Co. 2. Grand Truck Corp. 3. Soo Line Corp. 4. Union Pacific Railroad

To view all decisions of revenue adequacy for railroads, click here:[350]

Price Regulation and Revenue Adequacy

In 1996, the STB created the RSAM Benchmark, which now limits railroads to a price that a railroad can charge for a shipment. Since then, every year the STB meets and determines these prices for every railroad. The RSAM Benchmark is determined by using three statistical data. 1. (REV>180): Total revenue with a revenue-to-variable-cost greater than 180. 2. (VC>180): Total variable cost with a revenue-to-variable-cost greater than 180. 3. (REV shortage/overage): Amount short of revenue adequacy/Amount over revenue adequacy The Board then adds REV>180 with REV shortage or overage, and divides it by VC>180; which will be the RSAM Benchmark. The STB then determines if the calculated RSAM is sufficient enough to allow the railroad to have competitive prices.[351]

Discussion Questions[edit | edit source]

Is freight rail industry deregulation, i.e. the reforms of the Staggers Act of 1980 actually working for the freight railroad industry as of the 21st Century?

Does passing policy law changes, as in the case of the Staggers Act but not supervising execution actually insure that private freight carriers remain revenue adequate?

If the evaluation tool of revenue adequacy is creating a cap on rates what are the pros and cons of this policy?

If making the cost of capital, to include maintaining a state of good repair and the ability to modernize, is the test of revenue adequacy doing its job?

Additional Readings[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Handicapped Parking

Summary[edit | edit source]

Federal regulations surrounding handicapped parking were first introduced in 1990, when President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into law. The ADA prohibits unjustified discrimination based on disability, and specifically recognizes the importance of eliminating structural and architectural barriers by requiring all new or altered facilities subject to the ADA to be readily accessible to and usable by people with disabilities.

Though this federal regulation exists, handicapped parking is regulated and enforced at the state level, usually by state Departments of Motor Vehicles (DMVs) or by state Departments of Transportation (DOTs). In an effort both to facilitate compliance with all applicable laws and to mitigate the tension between federal and state enforcement processes, the ADA authorizes the Department of Justice, upon request of state or local officials, to certify that state or local accessibility laws meet or exceed the requirements of the ADA.[50] Each state sets its own criteria for "qualifying disabilities", or the disabilities that qualify for special disabled parking placards or handicapped license plates, making management difficult. There are a number of policy issues and strategies surrounding the enforcement of handicapped parking at the state and local levels, discussed in greater detail below.

Annotated List of Actors[edit | edit source]

ADA National Network: Funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research, the ADA National Network provides information, guidance, and training on how to implement the ADA in order to support the mission of the ADA, to "assure equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency for individuals with disabilities." The network consists of ten regional ADA centers located throughout the United States, as well as an ADA Knowledge Translation Center.[352]

Disabled Persons: An individual with a disability is defined by the ADA as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment. The ADA does not specifically name all of the impairments that are covered.[353]

State Departments of Transportation (DOT): Policy and regulation of parking for persons with disabilities.

State Departments of Motor Vehicles (DMV): Agency tasked with issuing permanent and temporary placards, placards for institutions, and license plates for people with permanent and military-related disabilities.

President George H.W. Bush: signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into law on July 26, 1990.

The Media: Public outreach and bringing awareness to the handicapped parking issues.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ): issued new regulations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 2010; and is responsible for the following as they pertain to the ADA:

  • Technical Assistance: The ADA requires the DOJ to provide technical assistance to businesses, State and local governments, and individuals with rights or responsibilities under the law. The Department provides education and technical assistance through a variety of means to encourage voluntary compliance. Activities include providing direct technical assistance and guidance to the public through this ADA Website and the ADA Information Line, developing and disseminating technical assistance materials to the public, and undertaking outreach initiatives[354];
  • Enforcement: The DOJ may file lawsuits in federal court to enforce the ADA, and courts may order compensatory damages and back pay to remedy discrimination if the Department prevails[355];
  • Mediation: Through its ADA Mediation Program, the DOJ refers appropriate ADA disputes to mediators at no cost to the parties. The mediators in the Department of Justice program are professional mediators who have been trained in the legal requirements of the ADA[356];
  • Regulation: The ADA requires that the Department write regulations for implementing[357]; and,
  • Certification of State and Local Accessibility Requirements: The ADA specifically recognizes the importance of eliminating structural and architectural barriers by requiring all new or altered facilities subject to the ADA to be readily accessible to and usable by people with disabilities. Covered entities must comply with the Department's ADA regulations, including the ADA Standards for Accessible Design. In an effort both to facilitate compliance with all applicable laws and to mitigate the tension between federal and state enforcement processes, the ADA authorizes the Department of Justice, upon request of state or local officials, to certify that state or local accessibility laws meet or exceed the requirements of the ADA[50].

Timeline of Events[358][edit | edit source]

1950: The earliest law providing for “handicapped” parking was Delaware’s 1955 Code 2134.

1960: Protections for handicapped citizens spawned from the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960’s. While no legislation directly concerning civil rights was passed during that decade, it laid the groundwork for future legislation because civil rights dealt with preventing discrimination and making accommodations for equal rights and access.

1968: After passage of the Architectural Barriers Act, the federal government mandated parking spaces, signage, and curb cuts. The universal access symbol, associated with physical accessibility, also debuted that year.

1973: The first handicapped parking stickers were introduced in Washington, D.C.

1988: Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1698, prohibiting discrimination in housing on the basis of race, religion, national origin, and gender, but it was not until 1988 that the need for legislation to protect handicapped citizens was recognized. It was then that people with disabilities were added to Title VIII.

September 1989: The Senate passes their version of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA)

May 1990: The House of Representatives pass their version of the ADA.

July 1990: President George H.W. Bush signed the ADA into law. Within the law is Section 4.6, Parking and Passenger Loading Zones. It is this section that set into motion the creation of parking spaces reserved for handicapped drivers. The law determined that the spaces needed to be on the shortest route to an entrance, which meant that they were the closest spaces to the business. It also determined that the spaces needed to be wider than regular parking spaces with an aisle next to them, that the spaces cannot be on a steep slope, and need to be designed as handicapped parking.[359]

Maps of Locations[edit | edit source]

Accessible Parking spaces Standards

Red Top Meters Locations - DC

Blue Zone Parking Census Map - San Francisco

Clear Identification of Policy Issues[edit | edit source]

Policy Issues[edit | edit source]

Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 (42 U.S.C. 12181-12189) prohibits the discrimination on the basis of disability by public accommodations. It requires government buildings and public and commercial facilities to be designed, constructed, and altered in compliance with the accessibility standards it has established.[360]

In 2010, the Department of Justice published revised regulations that adopted enforceable accessibility standards, called the 2010 ADA Standard for Accessible Design. These regulations set the minimum requirements for newly designed and constructed or altered state and local government facilities, public accommodations, and commercial facilities to be readily accessible for disabled people.[361] With no grandfather exception to the ADA Act (1990), Handicapped Parking is fairly easier to accommodate and typically involves striping and signage.[362]

Handicapped Parking Abuse[edit | edit source]

Handicapped parking provides accessible and proximate parking for individuals with disabilities, but it is often the case that parking privileges are abused by persons who do not meet state qualification criteria and who simply do not want to walk from a more distant spot[363].

Beginning approximately in the 1970s, many states began offering unlimited free on-street parking to holders of disabled parking permits (placards, licensed plates, and tabs), because parking meters were thought to be hard to access for disabled people, and were considered an impediment to independence and mobility.[364] Incentives such as unlimited free parking have proved to encourage widespread abuse and fraudulent behavior of handicapped parking permits. Furthermore, there is a lack of repercussions for those found to be in violation of handicapped parking, because punishment is marginal and enforcement seldom occurs. Handicapped parking abuse results in a deficiency of available handicapped parking spaces required by people with real disabilities, who rely on them to accomplish their everyday jobs. Handicapped parking abuse has two main forms:[365]

  1. A person who is not disabled parking in a handicapped parking space.
  2. A person who is not disabled but somehow managed to obtain a placard by loan or other means.

In California, 10% of all drivers carry handicapped parking placards. An estimated 30% of those may be considered cases of fraudulent use. Most state-issued handicapped parking stickers and dashboard tags don’t have expiration dates and are not attached to a specific vehicle, which encourages sharing between family members and friends. Disabled people may be unable to find appropriate parking due to placard abuse. For example, the State of California issued 2.1 million handicapped placards in 2011. In Los Angeles only, there are at least six times as many residents with disabled parking privileges as there are parking meters. In return, only 11 tickets for placard abuse were issued by the Los Angeles DOT. The citation for placard abuse can range anywhere from $250 to $1000.[366]

Enforcement Strategies[edit | edit source]

Handicapped parking abuse takes away accessible parking for disabled individuals who genuinely need it. The abuse is also responsible for loss of revenue in cities and towns across the country, and can negatively impact businesses in the area, as many states allow unlimited free on-street parking for disabled drivers.

Handicapped parking management is regulated at the state level. Listed below are common enforcement strategies:

  • Elimination or limitation of the meter-fee exemption: Unlimited, free-metered parking seems to encourage abuse, sometimes by handicapped persons (who park for extended periods of time), but also by others who may borrow a placard or obtain one by fraudulent means. Another suggestion would be to grant the meter-fee exemption to specific placard holders who are physically unable to reach a parking kiosk or insert coins into a meter[367].
  • Volunteers: A number of states have implemented volunteer parking enforcement training programs for citizens who are interested in ensuring that handicapped parking will remain available for those who need it. Once the proper training is complete, volunteers are empowered to issue citations to those who abuse disabled parking spaces.[368] For example, the city of Asheville, South Carolina issued approximately 900 handicapped parking citations in 2013, 80% of which were issued by volunteers.[369]
  • Enforcement of Time Limits is a technique used by many city governments nationwide and has the following benefits:
  1. Restricts employees from using curbside parking and encourages off-street parking and other long term arrangements;
  2. Minimizes drivers circling around in search of a parking spot, which negatively impacts air quality, by providing convenient curbside parking spaces; and,
  3. Ensures the optimum use of valuable city parking and its availability for short-term parking users. [370]
  • Boot Technique: The boot is a device used nationwide on illegally parked vehicles. It is designed to immobilize a vehicle without causing damage to the vehicle. In many states, a vehicle becomes boot-eligible after one delinquent citation for parking in a handicapped zone. Once booted,
  • Report to State DMVs or Localities by providing license plate and placards number. This technique often comes with the challenge that not all placards holders will have a visible physical disability (see enforcement challenges, below). A number of apps and websites, such as, have been developed to assist with reporting improperly parked vehicles without confronting the offender.[371]
  • Identify the Misuse of Placards as a Breach of Law: An increasing number of states, including Massachusetts and Washington State, are utilizing this approach.
  • Educating not only healthcare providers and the public, but also offenders. Issuing warnings first, followed by tickets and steep fines for secondary offenders is thought to be effective, according to the Council on Disabilities, City of Seattle.[372] A number of websites exist to increase awareness of handicapped parking and its enforcement. [373]

Enforcement Challenges[edit | edit source]

  • Privacy: Many disabilities are not physically and immediately visible, making it difficult for law enforcement officials to detect handicapped parking abuse. Questioning and investigation by law enforcement can be seen as harassment or a privacy violation.
  • Prioritization of Police Priorities: Enforcing handicapped parking regulations tends not to be a high priority for law enforcement officials, who are busy responding to issues of more importance of criminal and traffic violation nature. Similarly, people may be hesitant to call 9-1-1 to report a handicapped parking violation for fear of tying up the line in case of an emergency, and because it is seen as a low-priority use of a police officer's time.
  • Environmental Issues: Numerous urban planning studies show that the shortage of available parking in cities negatively impacts air quality and the environment. This is caused mainly by increased traffic from drivers looking for parking from one street to another. A study titled “The Abuse of Disability Parking Placards in Massachusetts,” conducted by the Office of the Inspector General in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts found that “drivers in Cambridge, Massachusetts spent an average of 11.5 minutes searching for parking, or a 30% share of their traffic cruising. According to the study, this results in greater congestion and increased pollution.”[374]

Narrative of the Case[edit | edit source]

History of Handicapped Parking in the United States[edit | edit source]

Protections for handicapped persons stemmed from the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960’s.  Though handicapped persons were not explicitly included as a protected class of citizens under any of the major pieces of Civil Rights legislation passed during that decade, the new laws dealt with preventing discrimination and making accommodations for equal access for all people. 

Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 prohibited discrimination in housing on the basis of race, religion, national origin, and gender.  In 1988, Title VIII was amended to include handicapped citizens as well. During this same year, the first version of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was introduced to Congress.  A second, amended version was introduced the following year.  The Senate passed their version on September 9, 1989 and the House passed its version on May 22, 1990.  The two versions of the bill were reconciled into one comprehensive bill and on July 26, 1990 President George H.W. Bush signed the ADA into law. Section 4.6 of the ADA set the legal basis for the creation and maintenance of handicapped parking spaces.

Section 4.6 of the ADA, Parking and Passenger Loading Zones, states the following:

4.6.1 Minimum Number. Parking spaces required to be accessible by 4.1 shall comply with 4.6.2 through 4.6.5. Passenger loading zones required to be accessible by 4.1 shall comply with 4.6.5 and 4.6.6.

4.6.2 Location. Accessible parking spaces serving a particular building shall be located on the shortest accessible route of travel from adjacent parking to an accessible entrance. In parking facilities that do not serve a particular building, accessible parking shall be located on the shortest accessible route of travel to an accessible pedestrian entrance of the parking facility. In buildings with multiple accessible entrances with adjacent parking, accessible parking spaces shall be dispersed and located closest to the accessible entrances.

4.6.3* Parking Spaces. Accessible parking spaces shall be at least 96 in (2440 mm) wide. Parking access aisles shall be part of an accessible route to the building or facility entrance and shall comply with 4.3. Two accessible parking spaces may share a common access aisle (see Fig. 9). Parked vehicle overhangs shall not reduce the clear width of an accessible route. Parking spaces and access aisles shall be level with surface slopes not exceeding 1:50 (2%) in all directions.

4.6.4* Signage. Accessible parking spaces shall be designated as reserved by a sign showing the symbol of accessibility (see 4.30.7). Spaces complying with 4.1.2(5)(b) shall have an additional sign "Van-Accessible" mounted below the symbol of accessibility. Such signs shall be located so they cannot be obscured by a vehicle parked in the space.

4.6.5* Vertical Clearance. Provide minimum vertical clearance of 114 in (2895 mm) at accessible passenger loading zones and along at least one vehicle access route to such areas from site entrance(s) and exit(s). At parking spaces complying with 4.1.2(5)(b), provide minimum vertical clearance of 98 in (2490 mm) at the parking space and along at least one vehicle access route to such spaces from site entrance(s) and exit(s).

4.6.6 Passenger Loading Zones. Passenger loading zones shall provide an access aisle at least 60 in (1525 mm) wide and 20 ft (240 in)(6100 mm) long adjacent and parallel to the vehicle pull-up space. If there are curbs between the access aisle and the vehicle pull-up space, then a curb ramp complying with 4.7 shall be provided. Vehicle standing spaces and access aisles shall be level with surface slopes not exceeding 1:50 (2%) in all directions.[375]

Qualifying for Handicapped Parking[edit | edit source]

Each state sets its own criteria for "qualifying disabilities", or the disabilities that qualify for special disabled parking placards or handicapped license plates. Most states consider drivers disabled if they:

  • Do not have full use of one or both arms;
  • Cannot walk a set number of feet without stopping to rest;
  • Cannot walk without using a cane, crutch, brace, prosthetic device, wheelchair, or the assistance of another person;
  • Have a Class III or Class IV cardiac condition, as set by the American Heart Association;
  • Must have portable oxygen to walk;
  • Have a visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with correcting lenses; or,
  • Have a visual acuity of 20/200 but with a limited field of vision in which the widest diameter of the visual field subtends an angle of 20 degrees or less.

Case Studies[edit | edit source]

Washington DC:[edit | edit source]

One of the greatest challenges faced by the District of Columbia is the widespread abuse of placards associated with free meter-parking. An audit conducted by the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) for a block in the Central Business District (CBD) revealed that 31 out of 34 parked cars had placards displayed, or 91% of all parked vehicles. As a result, the Red Top Meters program is being introduced to mitigate the situation. Red Top Meters are parking meters with a distinctive red top that are accessible and are reserved for the exclusive use of persons with disabilities. They offer two options for payment: at the meter by coin or credit card, or by phone using Parkmobile app, the District’s pay-by-phone service. Persons with disabilities will be allowed to pay for parking twice the time limit allocated for adjacent regular meters. The Red Top Meter Program will be implemented within the CBD in early 2017, and serve two purposes:

  • Provide persons with disabilities greater access to curbside parking in the high demand, congested CBD area by setting aside reserved, accessible parking meters; and,
  • Enable DDOT and the Department of Public Works to equitably manage the limited available curbside space in high demand parking areas within the CBD by encouraging parking turnover at metered spaces. [376] [377] [378]

Anyone can park at the red top meters until they are officially implemented in 2017. The program was initially launched in 2012 and faced a lot of criticism and confusion, mainly due to installation occurring before there was a statutory authority to inforce the program; the inadequate distribution of the meters installed; and accessibility issues, as some were not accessible for persons with disabilities. Both issues should have been addressed by the new program.[379]

New York State:[edit | edit source]

New York has two types of permits for citizens with disabilities, a New York State permit and New York City permit.

  1. The New York State parking permit is a blue plastic hang-tag. The permit is valid all over New York State where there are designated parking spaces for people with disabilities. In New York City, these spaces are all off-street, such as in parking lots for shopping malls, office buildings, or university campuses. In addiction to the permit, the state offers a metered parking waiver. The metered parking waiver allows the holder to park in a metered parking space in any city, town, or village of New York State (except New York City) without paying the meter fee.
  2. The New York City permit is a placard that can have several license plates associated with it. The permit holder must move the permit to whichever vehicle he or she is using at the time as there are no copies allowed. The City permit allows the driver to park along most curbsides on city streets, including in all “No Parking” zones, and at metered parking without paying, except for those marked with taxi stands.[380]

State of California:[edit | edit source]

California Vehicle Code 4461 VC prohibits the misuse of disability parking placards, and violators could be charged with a misdemeanor if convicted of illegal use of a disabled placard, and could face jail time. But despite the strict laws, the abuse is very pervasive statewide. It is fairly easy to legally obtain a placard in California. All what an individual needs is to fill out the application form and have it signed by a physician. Some claim that they could even be obtained from eBay or Craigslist. The qualifying criteria are broader and health matters like depression could grant a disabled parking placard if authorized by a physician. In 2014, the California DMV launched a unique type of enforcement called “Operation Blue Zone” in the City of San Francisco. For instance, the DMV investigators targeted perpetrators in the early stage of application and searched disability parking applications for irregularities, like having the same diagnosis or false diagnosis, or same handwriting and signature by the same physician. The investigation, which was prompted by citizen complaints, was successful in catching fraud placard applications in the area. [381] [382] [383] [384]

Discussion Questions[edit | edit source]

  1. Is the responsibility of issuing and enforcing handicapped parking placards and plates best left to state governments and DMVs, or would the federal government do a better job of this? What are the pros and cons of each?
  2. Which enforcement strategy do you feel is the most effective? Can you think of any other enforcement strategies that should be implemented?
  3. Could technologies such as finger printing scanners be the answer to today's challenges in managing handicapped parking?

Additional Readings[edit | edit source]

The Abuse of Disability Parking Placards in Massachusetts

Implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act: Challenges, Best Practices, and New Opportunities for Success

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  364. .

Automated Trucks

Summary[edit | edit source]

Autonomous trucks have developed from a long line of trucking innovations over the last 120 years, from originally being automobile haulers to being fully automated and delivering 2,000 cases of Budweiser 120 miles. This wave of the future within the shipping and distribution industry involves a significant amount of planning at many state and local government levels in regards to many different policy issues. Technology (i.e. V2V, V2I, and V2P) being one of the key issues within this development, and sets the tone for other areas such as; safety, employment, training and licensing, environment and energy, and regulations. Automated trucks are relatively new, however, researchers suggest that the impact will be substantial within the logistics industry in regards to areas such as; fuel efficiency, human error that cause accidents (which will decrease damages to consumer products carried), and labor costs by cutting out the need for human drivers. With continuous improvement, it is safe to say that there are more lessons to be learned within the automated truck industry and Self-Driving Trucks Are Going to Hit Us Like a Human-Driven Truck.[1]

Annotated List of Actors[edit | edit source]

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)

  • NHTSA was established by the Highway Safety Act of 1970 and is dedicated to achieving the highest standards of excellence in motor vehicle and highway safety. It works daily to help prevent crashes and their attendant costs, both human and financial.[2]

Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)

  • FHWA provides stewardship over the construction, maintenance, and preservation of the Nation's highways, bridges, and tunnels. FHWA also conducts research and provides technical assistance to state and local agencies in an effort to improve safety, mobility, and livability, and to encourage innovation.[3]

United States Department of Transportation

  • The mission of the USDOT is to serve the United States by ensuring a fast, safe, efficient, accessible and convenient transportation system that meets our vital national interests and enhances the quality of life of the American people, today and into the future.[4]
    • Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)
      • The FMCSA was created on January 1, 2000 as part of the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999 under the USDOT. Its primary mission of the FMCSA is to reduce crashes, injuries and fatalities involving large trucks and buses.[5]

American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA)

  • The AAMVA is a tax-exempt, nonprofit organization developing model programs in motor vehicle administration, law enforcement and highway safety. The association also serves as an information clearinghouse in these areas, and acts as the international spokesman for these interests. Founded in 1933, AAMVA represents the state and provincial officials in the United States and Canada who administer and enforce motor vehicle laws. AAMVA’s programs encourage uniformity and reciprocity among the states and provinces. The association also serves as a liaison with other levels of government and the private sector. Its development and research activities provide guidelines for more effective public service. AAMVA’s membership includes associations, organizations and businesses that share an interest in the association’s goals.[6]

Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

  • The FTC filed a comment on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) advance notice of proposed rulemaking related to vehicle-to-vehicle communications. As the lead federal agency charged with protecting consumer privacy, the FTC in its comment expresses support for NHTSA’s deliberative, process-based approached to addressing privacy and security risks, which includes a privacy risk assessment. The comment also commends NHTSA for designing a V2V system to limit the data collected and stored to only that which serves its intended safety purpose.[7]

National Traffic Safety Board (NTSB)

  • The NTSB is an independent Federal agency charged by Congress with investigating every civil aviation accident the United States and significant accidents in other modes of transportation – railroad, highway, marine and pipeline. The NTSB determines the probable cause of the accidents and issues safety recommendations aimed at preventing future accidents. In addition, the NTSB carries out special studies concerning transportation safety and coordinates the resources of the Federal Government and other organizations to provide assistance to victims and their family members impacted by major transportation disasters.[8]

State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMVs)

  • (For example) The Virginia DMV's responsibilities include vehicle titling and registration, driver licensing and maintenance of driver and vehicle records. The agency also monitors the state's trucking industry and serves as the state's Highway Safety Office. In addition, the agency effectively enforces motoring and transportation-related tax laws, and efficiently collects and distributes transportation-related revenues.[9]

Law Enforcement

  • Customs & Border Protection (CBP)
    • CBP rules and regulations will have to address the stopping and searching of autonomous vehicles. The technology will need to be able to recognize and communicate at border crossings.
  • State and Highway Patrols
    • Domestic law enforcement will need to be able to communicate with autonomous vehicles if there are ever any needs for citing traffic violations (i.e. speeding, broken lights, etc.).

Developers of Automated Vehicle Technology

  • Peloton Technology
    • Peloton is an automated vehicle technology company working to reduce crashes and enhance fuel mileage in trucking. Their technology connects trucks using direct Vehicle to Vehicle (V2V) communications that allow the non-lead truck to react immediately to the actions of the truck in front of it. This collision mitigation system constantly deploys radar sensors to detect stopped or slowed vehicles ahead of the truck to alert the driver and apply brakes when needed.[10]
  • Daimler Trucks
    • Manufactured the first licensed autonomous commercial truck in May 2015 to operate on an open public highway in the United States, called the Freightliner Inspiration Truck.[11]


  • Founded in 1903, the Teamsters mission is to organize and educate workers towards a higher standard of living. There are currently 1.4 million members under 21 Industrial Divisions that include virtually every occupation imaginable, both professional and non professional, private sector and public sector.[12]
    • Teamsters - Freight Division
      • The Freight Division represents the interests of more than 75,000 Teamsters members from approximately 200 local unions. Freight employees include truck drivers, dockworkers, mechanics, and office personnel. On a daily basis, the Freight Division coordinates National Grievance Panels, Regional Grievance Panels, change of operations, and negotiations of individual contracts. The Freight Division also responds to questions from members and local unions concerning worker benefits, equipment safety, grievances, change of operation, and organizing new members. The Division works closely with other departments to further the interests of freight members.[13]

American Trucking Association (ATA)

  • ATA is the largest national trade association for the trucking industry. Through a federation of 50 affiliated state trucking associations and industry-related conferences and councils.[14]

Training Programs for Truck Drivers

  • Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI)
    • Since 1986, the PTDI has been working with the carriers, truck driver training schools, insurance industry, and government to make safety a national #1 priority in the trucking industry. PTDI is the first nonprofit organization to develop uniform skill performance, curriculum, and certification standards for the trucking industry and to award course certification to entry-level truck driver training courses and motor carrier driver-finishing programs. Our goals are to advance truck driver training, proficiency, and professionalism and to put quality drivers on the roads. PTDI works with carriers and schools throughout the certification process to obtain national recognition that their programs meet these standards. PTDI has been certifying entry-level truck driver training courses since 1989.[15]

Correlated Businesses

  • Truck stops, hotels, restaurants, and other services that have built up around freight traffic have a vested interest in the continuation of truck driving, and will have to integrate autonomous vehicles into their operations.

Timeline of Events[edit | edit source]

1898: Alexander Winton from Cleveland Ohio invented the Semi-Truck in 1898 calling it the "Automobile Hauler." [16]

1899: Winton Motor Carriage started the manufacturing the "Automobile Hauler" for its own use and for other automobile manufacturers. [17]

1914: August Charles Fruehauf incorporated the "Freuhauf Trailer Company" and developed the carriage semi trailer. [18]

1939: Company in Tacoma Washington called "Peterbilt" began selling its semi-trucks. [19]

1942: Industries first commercial vehicle with an all-aluminum cab debuts and is called the "shovelnose." [20]

1950: Freightliner sells the first trans-continental cab-over-engine sleeper to a company named "Hyster" that could haul a 35 ft trailer. [21]

1953: Freightliner introduced the first overhead sleeper in the model WF64 for long haul operations in order to meet federal laws and restrictions. [22]

1966: In cooperation with Cummins develops a prototype dolly in order to carry doubles and triples through the mountain passes with application of the brakes slowing down the trailer. [23]

1974: Air ride suspension was developed and patented in order to give drivers on the road a more comfortable ride and to mitigate wear and tear on tractor trailers on the roads and highways. [24]

1982: The Surface Transportation Act of 1982 is established to address many issues in the transportation industry in order to standardize truck size and weight limits bringing national consistency to regulations for the first time. [25]

2013: A coal mining company named "Rio Tinto" moved 100 million tons of coal by April. [26]

2015: Nevada grants first license to operate an autonomous truck on public roads in the United States to Daimler Trucks North America.[27]

2016: United States DOT issues Federal policy for automated vehicles, setting clear expectations for development and deployment by manufacturers and identifying Federal and State roles for regulation. [28]

2016: Otto truck (owned now by Uber after a $680 million dollar purchase) drives 2,000 cases of Budweiser beer on 120 mile journey without a driver and full automation.[29]

Maps of Locations[edit | edit source]

States with Enacted Autonomous Vehicles Legislation

U.S. Interstate Highway System

Clear Identification of Policy Issues[edit | edit source]

Technology - Development of technology includes tools that ensure safe and accurate vehicle operation. The primary considerations for technology fall into the following categories: vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V), vehicle-to-infrastructure and vehicle-to pedestrian (V2P). Comprehensively, in the United States, the communication between the vehicle and any other entity is referred to as vehicle-to-anything or V2X. Overarching concerns for V2X communication systems include the use of the wireless spectrum, device verification (see Security section for more information), real time environment capacity, system updates and the end-of-life for DSRC systems or other needed technology/equipment. The debate is ongoing whether V2X should run on its own platform due to the fear of interference and over saturation, or whether current platforms (wireless, 3G, 4G, etc.) should be used. Real-time communication is also of concern. The threshold of all systems is unknown concerning message receipt and delivery. For instance, in a congested interstate, how many vehicles can be present and communicating effectively at one time, without error? Technology updates are being considered, as well. It is difficult to predict the extent of user acceptance for implementing these updates. If updates occur automatically, it will increase the ability for systems to stay current and maintain cross-communication, however, if the vehicles need to be taken into the dealer or the infrastructure equipment needs to be replaced/manually updated, this cause risk to accuracy and effectiveness between systems. Furthermore, the life cycle of the technology being used is unknown. What will the process be when the technology needs to be replaced?[30]

  • Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) - V2V communications refers to a system designed to transmit basic safety information between vehicles to facilitate warning to drivers concerning impending crashes. V2V communication components include on-board sensors, cameras and radar applications. These components address crash avoidance and crashworthiness to ensure safety of the vehicle, the operator/passengers, surrounding infrastructure, other vehicles, other operators/passengers and pedestrians. On-board communications utilize dedicated short-range radio communication devices (DSRC) to transmit messages regarding vehicle speed, vehicle heading, brake status, etc. to other vehicles. In turn, through DSRC other vehicles transmit messages back with complimentary information. V2V communication is being developed by multiple companies and countries. To avoid limitations by heterogeneous technology, there is pressure to the development industry to create fused systems that have the capacity to communicate with each other and that use an identical or nearly identical messaging language. Similar to differences in spoken languages, variation in V2X communication can cause errors, in turn increasing the possibility of accidents. Additional in-vehicle components of V2V systems are memory, gps receivers, safety application electronic control units, driver-vehicle interfaces, and the vehicle's internal communications network.[31]
  • Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) - V2I communications refers to a system designed to transmit information between the vehicle and infrastructure to include safety information, location information, and information regarding other vehicles, traffic congestion, etc. To support a connected vehicle core system architecture, the architecture of the system includes dynamic mobility applications to provide real-time traffic info, road weather applications, and real time information synthesis safety for machine to machine communication (Aeris). There are numerous considerations that V2I communications must encompass. Some of these considerations include: Signal priority for transit and emergency vehicles, roadway maintenance, density of pedestrian traffic, traffic signal timing, red light violation warning, curve speed warning, reduced speed zone warning, stop sign gap assist, stop sign violation warning, weather information, oversized vehicle warning, etc.[32]
  • Vehicle-to-Pedestrian (V2P) - V2P communications refers to a system designed to transmit information between the vehicle and pedestrians. This includes safety information and location information. Vehicle-to-pedestrian communication is a debated development. Unlike a vehicle or the surrounding infrastructure, permanent hardware component(s) with an embedded communications system are not feasible. Some solutions to provide the vehicle, infrastructure and pedestrian with safety and location information, beyond identification through radar or cameras, include having the pedestrian utilize a wireless equipped device, such as a cellphone, to send and receive information.[33]

Environment and Energy - The impending impact on the environment and energy from the conversion of standard automobiles to highly autonomous vehicles (HAVs) is difficult to predict with complete accuracy, however, there will undoubtedly be an impact to fuel economy, traffic congestion, and carbon emissions. Seeing the full benefit to our environment and the impact on energy conservation will not be fully realized until wide-spread adoption of automated vehicles and automated trucking occurs. This is not anticipated to occur until, at least, 2035.[34]

  • Fuel Economy - For automated trucks, specifically, fuel economy will improve significantly as adoption of automated trucks grows. Truck platooning is one means of improving fuel economy. This allows trucks to travel "together" with a distance of 30 feet between vehicles. Platooning minimizes shifts in gears, de/acceleration, unnecessary stopping, unnecessary idling. Depending on the experience of a non-automated truck driver, the type of transmission (manual, automatic-manual or automatic), and surrounding operators, fuel economy is greatly decreased. In addition to platooning, the incorporation of autonomous technology in heavy vehicles, like tractor-trailers, could cause a decrease in weight due to a transition to either automatic transmission or, more likely, electric trucks. Trucks and cars alike, during the autonomous transition, are expected to spur a transition to lighter, electric vehicles.[35]
  • Traffic Congestion - Traffic congestion could be decreased by automated vehicles, as a whole. There is an expectation that automated vehicles will increase a desire to pursue ride sharing, decreasing the amount of vehicles on the road. However, the reduction in cost and accessibility of transportation by automated vehicles, once fully implemented, may contrarily, increase demand. This may also cause a preference for consumers to use automated vehicles through private operating or ride sharing, rather than using current transit modes (metro, bus, etc.). The demand for trucking for trade and commerce is increasing. Currently, the cost and the shortage of qualified drivers imposes limitations to this increasing demand. Once automated trucks are available nation-wide, the reduction in cost and elimination of needing a qualified operator, this demand can be fulfilled. This opportunity will cause an increase in traffic congestion by automated trucks. Exploration in constructing lanes solely for automated truck traffic is underway, but this is costly, and not guaranteed.[36]
  • Carbon Emissions - Carbon emissions will be reduced through automated trucking by reducing idling time. Also, if a transition to electric trucks ensues, fuel use and carbon emissions will be further reduced.[37]

Training and Licensing - Training vehicle manufacturers, technology developers, infrastructure engineers, state DoTs/DMVs/law enforcement, key federal players (DoT, NHTSA, FHWA, etc.), drivers and pedestrians on automated technology will be an enormous learning curve for many. Today's society is becoming more and more technologically dependent and familiar. Human machine interface (HMI) concerning automated vehicles is still of great concern, despite the increased technology capacity in our society. Licensing for vehicles will evolve, or depending on an individual's perspective, digress to a state where the driver in the vehicle knows how to operate the technology, but not the vehicle itself. What will this transition look like for automated trucks, the majority of current drivers requiring a Class A Commercial Driver's License? Along with training on the technology, the industry is concerned with consumer acceptance, as well.[38]

  • Training - At this time, training on automated technology is through model programs, publications, and industry and global partnerships. In order to develop systems that can interact with one another nationally and globally, communication between key players is essential. Autonomous vehicles will be safer, more reliable and more effective if there is shared communication between organizations and nations. One example of training and learning through partnership is seen in the relationship between the U.S. DoT and the European Commission. They have been working together in order to develop V2V that is cooperative between systems. Model programs for automated vehicles and automated trucks are limited to a handful of states. Nevada is one of the leading states in innovation and policy for automated trucking. It is the first state with a licensed automated, electric truck through Daimler Corporation. The lessons learned from this state's initiatives are thoroughly documented. Resulting policy and publications have been available, to some extent, for other entities to research and learn from, continuing training in V2V communication and deployment. There has also been a push for federally developed training. The DoT has established an ITS Joint Program Office (ITS-JPO) that produces curriculum in support of Professional Capacity Building (PCB). The curriculum currently available is meant to enhance professionals' and the public's understanding of V2V systems, V2I systems, system deployment, challenges, and current/future applicable issues for automated vehicles. They have ITS training modules, "Talking Technology in Transportation (T3)" webinars, conferences, workshops, web-based and classroom courses. Globally and nationally, conferences and workshops have been established. For example, the inaugural Automated Vehicles Symposium supported through the Transportation Research Board (TRB) and Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) occurred in 2012.[39]
  • Licensing - Licensing on automated trucks has not been solidified. There are several considerations to licensing an operator on a fully autonomous truck. Tractor-trailers are combination vehicles which fall under a Class A license for certification. This license is further specialized if the cargo being carried is hazardous, with a hazardous endorsement and restricted depending on the components of the vehicle (air brakes, manual v. automatic transmission, etc.) and areas of authorization (intrastate v. interstate). There is a national minimum requirement for licensing on a Class A vehicle developed by the American Association for Motor Vehicle Administrators and approved by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the DoT. Requirements include written tests (General Knowledge, Air Brakes, Combination Vehicle, Tank (if applicable), Hazardous Material (if applicable)), a practical application (vehicle inspection, basic control skills test (backing/parking), and a road test). Testing is administered through state DMVs. As society transitions to automated vehicles, the requirements for an operator will be reduced and the requirements for the vehicle and the vehicle's technology will increase.[40] Requirements have not been established yet. The DoT will need to determine: how to test the operator on the technology; if, how and to what extent the operator will be expected to maintain an understanding of the operation of the vehicle as a fail safe; if, how, and to what extent to restrict the vehicle and/or operator based on cargo type, vehicle type, interstate/intrastate transit, vehicle components. The timeline to transition the certification process is also imperative. Age consideration and operator hours/training will be evaluated too. Right now, an individual must be 21 years of age to hold a Class A license (pilot in place to allow 18 to 21 year olds operate). Because the transition to automated trucks will not be immediate, there will be a need to maintain the current certification process and new certification process until a full transition has occurred. What impacts will this have on workload? What impacts will this have on law enforcement and commerce regulation of trucking?[41]

Regulation - Key players have identified the need for national regulation to regulate automated vehicles. Like the development of previous modes of transportation (railroad, mass transit, automobiles, etc.) navigating the roles of federal government v. state government and the roles of public v. private authority is a challenge. The lanes of authority cross due to overarching issues such as public safety, public security, liability, and commerce.

  • Federal v. State - The beginnings of researching and developing automated infrastructure and vehicles can be linked back to the 1990s with the introduction of the Automated Highway System (AHS) later renamed to the Intelligent Vehicle Highway System (IVHS), now known as the Intelligent Transportation System (ITS). In correlation with the 1991 Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA), $600 million dollars supported researching this initiative, subsequently averaging $100 million annually, in the following years. The federal government has a vested interest in autonomous vehicles and infrastructure due to public safety expectations. This interest progressed with the 1997 Intelligent Vehicle Initiative, the 2003 Vehicle Infrastructure Integrity Initiative, and the 2006 Crash Avoidance Metrics Partnership (CAMP), to name a few. For trucks, or heavy vehicles, V2V technology is expected to address 81 percent of crash causes and V2I technology is expected to address 15 percent of crash causes, averaging to 79% of causes identified by the 2009 DoT Crash Analysis Report. This could significantly reduce the amount of accidents where a truck is involved. [42]

DoT and the Federal Government are responsible for regulating motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment. NHTSA is responsible for: setting Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) for new motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment; enforcing FMVSS compliance; investigating and managing the recall and remedy of non-compliance and safety-related motor vehicle defects and recalls on a nationwide basis; communicating with and educating the public about motor vehicle safety issues; and issuing guidance for vehicle and equipment manufacturers to follow. In September 2016, the U.S. DoT released the Federal Automated Vehicle Policy. This was a major step in providing regulation during the development stage of automated technology, rather than post-development. Although it does not address all concerns, or provide an answer to all challenges, it shows the initiative of the federal government to play an active and proactive role in automated vehicle deployment.[43]

States are responsible for regulating the human driver and most other aspects of motor vehicle operation. This includes: licensing (human) drivers and registering motor vehicles in their jurisdictions; enacting and enforcing traffic laws and regulations; conducting safety inspections where states choose to do so; and regulating motor vehicle insurance and liability. Once licensing applies primarily to the technology, not the operator, the federal government will set the minimum requirements for vehicles and equipment. Right of way concerning infrastructure will be overseen by the federal government, but more than likely, as with current policy, states will hold responsibility for maintenance and development in their jurisdiction. State policy for automated vehicles will be subordinate to federal regulation, however, this has not prevented states from being proactive in developing policy, as well. States like Nevada, Washington, D.C., Arizona and California have been among the first states to develop policy (2011-2015) for licensing and permitting automated vehicles.[44]

  • Public v. Private - The main discussion involving authority between public and private industry is related to the automobile, technology, equipment and infrastructure manufacturers. Because the federal government will determine minimum requirements for safety and security of autonomous vehicles and technology in autonomous trucks and the manufacturers must produce and test their equipment according to these standards, there has to be a means of oversight. With current automobile production, there is oversight by the federal government. The expectation is the same for autonomous vehicles. The point of contention will lie in the privacy of proprietary information regarding the technology. All companies will be required to meet the same standard and capacity to communicate between different makes/models and equipment/communications systems. This will limit the growth of some companies in technology innovation and raise the expectation to share developments. The second area of concern lies in the ability of companies to test the new technology. Will the companies test the technology on their own or will independent test facilities need to be made? Also, concerning oversight of technology and data, will the government monitor this or will an independent, third party? There are various risks and conflicts of interest involved with either approach.[45]

Safety and Insurance - Automated trucking and automated vehicle promotion over the past two decades has been greatly fueled by its promise to increase safety on the road, and reduce deaths and injuries by vehicular accidents. According to the DoT Crash Analysis Report, automated technology is expected to address 79% of accident causes contributing to accidents where a commercial truck is involved. Despite the probability of automated trucking meeting this predicted expectation in increasing safety standards, the risk that it will not and the risk involved with trusting a new technology has caused a concern for insurance companies. Determining who will agree to provide insurance and how much the bill will cost to do so is a significant hurdle that will need to be overcome before automated trucking is widely accepted. Concerning regulation of safety concerns, requirements and system updates; the DoT in conjunction with NHTSA will be the primary developers and regulators of the safety standards. All involved in manufacturing, sale and purchase will hold a role in ensuring safety standards are met and maintained, as well.[46]

Legal and Ethical - Legal and ethical concerns with automated vehicles will affect numerous entities from insurance companies, to the car manufacturer, the seller, the driver and the software developer. The software will need to be programmed to make ethical decisions usually left to humans' discernment. For example, if an automated truck is in a scenario where it will either collide with another vehicle or be forced off an on ramp, what will the software program the vehicle to do? There is continued argument whether this ethical choice should be determined at the federal level or by the actual manufacturer of the software.[47]

Privacy and Security - Privacy and security of this new technology is essential. For automated trucks, carrying cargo, and being of significant size to cause a robust amount of damage, if privacy or security are compromised, the effects could be devastating. Already written into policy is the prevention of individual or vehicle data tracking using the technology, by companies, the government, states, authorities, etc. Also, privacy intrusion through this technology is prohibited. The details of regulating privacy and security have not been solidified, nor have the repercussions for occurrences. The complex technology also generates several characteristics that translate into a vulnerability: powerful capacity (data rate capabilities/computation/storage), high mobility (difficult nodes prediction), dynamic network topology (data can join and leave the system quickly), time sensitivity/latency (to ensure safety, the data needs to be received in a timely manner), sufficient energy (resource rich devices with complex algorithms), physical protection required, wireless communication, heterogenous technologies, heterogeneous operating environments. These characteristics are researched and utilized advantageously by attackers.[48] Attackers fall into three general categories:

  • Active v. Passive - Active attackers seek to harm the system nodes directly. Typically, these attackers are insiders, who have internal access to the system. Passive attackers seek information acquisition between the system nodes, typically to prepare for an attack through research and pattern identification. Passive attackers are usually outsiders, external to the system.[49]
  • External v. Internal - External attackers do not have authorization or authentication to access the system. Internal attackers have authorization and/or authentication to enter the system.[50]
  • Malicious v. Rational - Malicious attackers do not have a specific target. Rational attackers have a specific target.[51]

ITS attacks could include attacks on availability, identification and authenticity, confidentiality and privacy, integrity and data trust and non-repudiation and accountability. Examples of availability attacks on ITS are: denial of service, jamming, broadcast tampering, black hole, malware, spamming, etc. Examples of identification and authenticity attacks include: man in the middle attack, replay, GPS spoofing, position faking, masquerading, key/certification replication, etc. Examples of confidentiality and privacy attacks include: eavesdropping, traffic analysis, information gathering, etc. Examples of integrity and data trust include: message tampering, message suppression and alteration, etc. Examples of non-repudiation and accountability attacks include: loss of event traceability, wormhole, etc.[52]

In order to combat all attackers to automated trucks, V2X needs to incorporate: user, source, and location authentication; traceability and revocation authority; data integrity; privacy and anonymity for the user and the vehicle; availability and real time capabilities of data; non-repudiation or unique association of an ITS entity; robustness versus external attackers. Security mechanisms to meet the intent of these requirements include: encryption on sensitive messages; randomizing traffic patters; message signatures; trusted hardware modules; active detection systems; message signature and other integrity metrics for content delivery; certificate accompanying message signature; check mechanisms; pseudo-random frequency hopping; unsinkability ID-based systems for user privacy.[53]

Employment - The current trucking industry driver workforce is decreasing. It is an aging industry. By 2022, it is predicted that the U.S. will be short around 240,000 truck drivers. At the same time, the American Trucking Association estimates that there are approximately 3.5 million truckers currently working. Automated trucks, once wide-spread, will eliminate the need for commercial drivers to operate the vehicle. This will assist in mitigating the anticipated driver shortage, increasing the ability to meet the growing shipping demand. It will also leave millions without jobs, or with a significant decrease in salary. It will be some time before there is no human behind the wheel of a tractor-trailer. This is, in part, attributed to public acceptance. Reasonably so, most individuals are not prepared to see a tractor-trailer traveling on the interstate without a human being in the vehicle. Also, companies who are shipping their product will need reassurance on its security before buying into this technology, despite the potential cost savings and increased throughput. Additionally, there is argument for always having an individual behind the wheel for cargo security, technology monitoring, and maintenance issues, etc. The "driver" wage is expected to decrease, along with the minimum age requirement, with transition to automated technology. Employment supporting infrastructure and technology for automated trucks will increase, but the majority of current truck drivers do not have an engineering or information technology background. Again, truck drivers are an aging workforce. Widespread implementation of automated trucks is not expected until 2035. A significant portion of older drivers will have aged out of the system at this point. Arguably, it may add value to train today's younger generation of truck drivers to support the industry through IT/customer service opportunities.[54]

Trade - Nearly 70% of all freight tonnage moved in the U.S. trucking is transported by trucks according to the American Trucking Association. Automated trucking can ameliorate barriers in fulfilling the industry's freight throughput to include: strict hours of service regulations placed on truck drivers; fuel deficiency; speed deficiency; need for safety; and the increasing driver shortage. Alleviating these barriers hold the potential for improving commerce. At the same time, considerations regarding insurance for the commodities being shipped; the process of documentation; obtaining signatures for ownership; safeguarding the freight; etc. need to be made.[55]

Narrative of the Case[edit | edit source]

Over the past decade, if not longer, automakers and tech companies have spent billions of dollars in an attempt to bring autonomous vehicles to the United States’ roads. Several states have introduced legislation to allow testing on their roads [citation], and Ford has promised to deliver a mass-produced, fully-autonomous vehicle for ride-sharing service by 2021[5]. Perhaps one of the first proposed applications of autonomous vehicles was to the trucking industry. As with any issue, there are positives and negatives to automated trucking, and advocates have emerged on both sides.

An analysis by the American Transportation Research Institute (ARTI) in 2013 found that the driver-based costs of trucking accounted for about one-third of all marginal costs for motor carriers[3]. Other estimates may vary, but it is clear that there are significant savings to be had for carriers if trucks become driverless. There could also be savings for carriers in the form of time. Currently, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration mandates that drivers of property-carrying vehicles can only drive for 14 consecutive hours, and only after 10 consecutive hours off-duty[6]. Driverless trucks would not be forced to take mandatory rest periods, and could drive for many more hours. The ARTI study also found fuel costs to be a significant portion of marginal costs for carriers, at around 38%[3]. This figure may have been reduced in recent years, as the average price of diesel fuel dropped over a dollar per gallon from 2013 to 2015[4]. However, there remains potential for carriers to realize savings, as driverless trucks unencumbered by limits on hours can travel at slower, more fuel-efficient speeds. Finally, perhaps the most important advantage of automation in trucking would be improved safety. In 2014, there were 3660 fatalities in crashes involving large trucks, 16% of which were the occupants of the trucks themselves[1]. Obviously, if a truck does not have a driver, a driver cannot be killed in a crash. Further, an automated truck that works as designed would never be involved in a crash at all.

However, progress in automation does not come without drawbacks, the most obvious of which is job loss. As of May 2015, there were over 1.6 million truck drivers in the United States[2], and it is the most common job in more than half of the 50 states [citation needed]. Not only that, but many other industries benefit from trucking, such as gas stations, diners, and motels. These types of establishments will suffer without the business of truck drivers who need to make stops on their long-haul drives.

Lessons Learned[edit | edit source]

Proactive policy vs. reactive policy

  • Link to release of US DOT policy from September 2016

Lack of a pilot location (complete testing environment)

  • Without an isolated pilot location with a complete environment for testing, the technology can’t be evaluated comprehensively
  • California passed bill in September 2016 to use for testing

Lessons to be learned (areas policy may fail to address in a timely manner)

  • Spending
  • Maintenance
  • Privacy (sharing of data between vehicles)

Discussion Questions[edit | edit source]

How do you program ethics into automated technology? And who should make that decision?

If an automated truck is going to collide with another non-automated vehicle, does the truck minimize damage to itself and its occupant(s), or does it minimize damage to the non-automated vehicle and its occupant(s)?

What will the role of the truck driver be once trucks are automated? What training will be required?

How will automation in trucking affect the economy (e.g. loss of jobs)?

How will we ensure that an automated truck (or any automated vehicle) will not be utilized by terrorists?

How will automated trucks be maintained while in service?

Will an automated truck be programmed to pull over to the side of the road when it gets a flat tire?

Further Reading[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Disability Transport & TNO's

Summary[edit | edit source]

Disability transport seems to be an ongoing issue in transportation. The disabled population relies heavily on public transportation and Transportation Network Operators (TNOs). Although para transit services have improved over the recent years, those with extreme mobility limitations are still unable to receive equitable service. Routine tasks that require minimal or no planning from an able bodied individual, become a hardship for people with limited mobility. According to FTA regulations, taxi companies are required to outfit their company owned fleets to be wheelchair accessible. However, Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) such as Uber and Lyft, are exempt from this regulation due to the fact that vehicles used for service are not company owned.

List of Actors[edit | edit source]

Uber[edit | edit source]

An innovative ride-sharing service that allows for customers to request a “taxi-like” service from the push of a button on their personal phones.

Lyft[edit | edit source]

A ride sharing application offering rides in minutes.

Persons with disabilities[edit | edit source]

People with disabilities, physical or mental, who request rides using taxis, Lyft or Uber platforms.

District of Columbia Taxicab Commission Accessibility Advisory Committee[edit | edit source]

Advises the DC Taxi Cab Commission on how to make taxicab service in the District more accessible for individuals with disabilities. Under the DC Taxi Act, the Committee was tasked with producing a comprehensive report and making recommendations to the Mayor and to the Council on issues regarding accessible taxi service.[56]

U.S. Access Board[edit | edit source]

A federal agency that promotes equality for people with disabilities through leadership in accessible design and the development of accessibility guidelines and standards for the built environment, transportation, communication, medical diagnostic equipment, and information technology.[57]

Yellow Cab Company of DC[edit | edit source]

Yellow Cab Company of D.C. is a family owned and operated business serving the Washington Metropolitan area since 1931 and provides Wheelchair Accessible taxicab services.[58]

Royal Taxi of DC[edit | edit source]

Pioneered Wheelchair Accessible Taxi service in Washington DC; starting with the Roll DC pilot program which began January 2010. Royal Cab was awarded new ramp-equipped taxi vehicles as part of the pilot project. All vehicles are now available for service.[59]

Blue Top Cab of Arlington, VA[edit | edit source]

Specializes in transporting special-needs passengers. Their accounts include the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services, the Virginia Department of Rehabilitative Services, the Virginia Department for the Visually Handicapped, the Arlington County Community Services Board, the Arlington County Department of Human Services and the Arlington Chapter of the American Red Cross.[60]

Friendly Cab of Arlington, VA[edit | edit source]

Provides 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year at your service. Serving in this area for last 70 years.[61]

Red Top Cab of Arlington, VA[edit | edit source]

Provides local and airport transportation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Red Top offers wheelchair accessible taxicabs.[62]

City of Alexandria's DOT Paratransit Program[edit | edit source]

The City of Alexandria's specialized transportation service for residents of the City of Alexandria and visitors who cannot use regular transit buses or rail due to their disability.[63]

Specialized Transit for Arlington Residents (STAR)[edit | edit source]

A shared ride paratransit service intended to provide a comparable level of transportation as provided by ART, Metrobus and Metrorail.[64]

TransportDC[edit | edit source]

A program in Washington, DC which allows MetroAccess users to use participating taxicabs for a fee of $5 with only a half-hour notice needed. The program has recently been downsized to only allow unlimited rides during the first half of each month. [65] [66]

Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA)[edit | edit source]

Top provider of Washington, DC public transportation. Operator of the MetroAccess program for disabled persons in the Washington, DC metro area. [67]

Timeline of Events[edit | edit source]

July 1964 - Civil Rights Act of 1964 [68]

July 1990 – Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 [69]

June 2010 – Uber launched in San Francisco as a black car service [70]

December 2011 – Uber expansion into the DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia area [71]

April 2012 – UberX, Uber’s most popular and cheaper option launched [72]

June 2012-Lyft is launched in San Francisco [73]

August 2014 – UberWAV piloted in some areas, DC not included [74][75]

October 2014-Lyft allowed to operate in D.C.[76]

February 2015 – National Federation for the Blind v. Uber Technologies [77]

February 2015-Legislation legally allows Lyft to operate in VA [78]

July 2015-Lyft approved to operate in NYC [79]

December 2015 – UberTAXI with Wheelchair option launched in DC [80]

June 2016 – WMATA begins SafeTrack program [81]

July 2016 – TransportDC runs low on funding for FY16 [82]

October 2016 – TransportDC relaunches with new restrictions [83]

Maps of Locations[edit | edit source]

Uber Washington, DC Service Area[edit | edit source]

Lyft DC Service Area[edit | edit source]

Policy Issues[edit | edit source]

Federal Laws & Regulations[edit | edit source]

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)[edit | edit source]

Title III (28 U.S.C. §36.201)[edit | edit source]

“No individual shall be discriminated against on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation by any person who owns, leases (or leases to), or operates a place of public accommodation.” [84]

Transportation Services for individuals with disabilities (ADA, Section 37.5 regarding discrimination) [85][edit | edit source]
National Federation for the Blind v. Uber Technologies[edit | edit source]

National Federation for the Blind v. Uber Technologies stated that Uber violated Title III of the ADA. Uber, for federal purposes, was now considered a public transportation accommodation.[86]

FTA Regulations[edit | edit source]

Federal Transit Administration governing laws regarding public vehicles offering rides to the public. Section 37.77. This states that if a vehicle is used to provide transportation services, then the vehicle must be readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities including those in wheelchairs. [87]

State & Local Laws[edit | edit source]

Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia all consider Uber separate from the taxicab industry and more of a technology company that provides transportation services [88]. The Commonwealth of Virginia does not permit local governments to regulate Transportation Network Companies (TNCs). [89]

Taxis[edit | edit source]

Accessible Taxis[edit | edit source]

Although taxi services for the disabled population has improved over the last 10 years, accessibility issues remain in the Washington DC metro areas that prevent this demographic from enjoying the freedom of movement that others do. According to David Capozzi Executive, Director of the U.S. Access Board, as much as 10 percent of the customer base for taxi service consists of people with a disability affecting mobility, hearing, vision, thinking and other physical and mental processes.[90] Disabled customers are two times more likely to not have available taxi service than non-disabled. There simply are not enough wheelchair accessible vehicles (WAVs) available. According to the District of Columbia Taxicab Commission Accessibility Advisory Committee, 2015 Annual Report, in Washington DC, the number of wheelchair accessible vehicles (WAVs) in the past year has increased from 20 to a little over 100 (roughly 1.5% of the accessible taxi fleet). This is a significant increase, but there is still work to be done. The District is not alone, according to the National Council on Disability, “the lack of wheelchair-accessible taxi service is one of the most important transportation issues for people with disabilities in the United States."[91] There is availability of WAV taxis however trips must be planned and coordinated in advance and they do not accommodate the vast range of disabilities. For example, most WAVs cannot transport large wheelchairs with peripheral equipment attached. Additionally, taxicabs that are sedans are not required to be wheelchair accessible. Government recognizes the need for more WAV taxis and has developed policy to address it. Under the DC Taxi Act of 2012, each taxi company with 20 or more taxicabs in its fleet as of July 1, 2012, will be required to dedicate a portion of its fleet to wheelchair accessible taxis: 6 percent by December 31, 2014; 12 percent by December 31, 2016; and 20 percent by December 31, 2018.[92] The following information provides WAV options in the Washington DC, Arlington and Alexandria city areas.

Washington D.C. Wheelchair-Accessible Taxis:[edit | edit source]

Requesting an Accessible Taxicab:

According to Washington DC's City office, there are two taxicab companies in the District - Royal Cab and Yellow Cab - that have wheelchair accessible taxicabs as part of its fleet. The limited number of D.C. accessible taxicabs are ADA-compliant and designed for standard-sized power wheelchairs and standard-sized scooters.[93] Learn more about how to request an accessible taxicab, or to read frequently asked questions about the accessible taxicabs.

To reserve a trip on a wheelchair accessible taxi vehicle, you have the following options:

  1. Call one of the two taxi companies that offer accessible taxis in DC:
    • Royal Taxi: 202-398-0500
    • Yellow Paratransit: 202-544-1213
  2. Reserve a taxi online at:
    • Royal Taxi: (Note: Be sure to select "Wheelchair accessible")
    • Yellow Paratransit: (Note: request a wheelchair accessible cab by selecting the Add Special Options drop down menu)

The cities of Alexandria and Arlington Virginia offer similar accessible WAV services as Washington DC. They are utilizing a combination of federal funds, tax credits, incentives, and governmental requirements to support and increase the number of accessible public VFHs.

Alexandria and Arlington, Virginia Wheelchair-Accessible Taxis:[edit | edit source]

Taxicab companies serving Arlington have wheelchair-accessible vehicles.[94] Passengers are encouraged to call ahead whenever possible; cabs may be requested in advance. The fare is set at the meter rate. Call the individual cab company for information or to arrange for service. Companies other than the ones listed below may also have accessible cabs.

  • Blue Top Cab: 703-243-8294
  • Friendly Cab: 703-892-4144
  • Red Top Cab: 703-522-3333, 703-522-3331 (TTY)

Specialized Transit for Arlington Residents (STAR) is the paratransit component of Arlington Transit – ART. ART provides public fixed route bus services in Arlington County.[95] STAR serves Arlington residents who have difficulty using public fixed route transit due to the effects of age or disability.

STAR Business and scheduling office (Call Center): 703-892-TRIP (703-892-8747)

  • Press “1” for reservation, cancellations, and trip information.
  • Press “2” for administration dept.

TDD (Virginia Relay Center): 711


Alexandria's DOT offers transportation service for residents of the City of Alexandria and visitors who are disabled. Contact the Paratransit Coordinator at 703-746-4079 to arrange complementary paratransit service. Trips are provided by taxicabs and wheelchair accessible vans. DOT provides service throughout the City of Alexandria, City of Falls Church, Arlington County, Fairfax County and Fairfax City.

Alexandria DOT Service Operates seven days a week during the following times:

  • Monday - Thursday: 5:30 a.m. to Midnight
  • Friday - 5:30am to 3:00am
  • Saturday - 6:30am to 3:00am
  • Sunday - 7:00am to Midnight

Arlington, Virginia Taxicab Discounts for Disabled customers:

Companies other than the ones listed below may have discounts available.

  • Blue Top Cab: offers a discount to passengers 55+ who request the discount from the driver at the time of the trip.
  • Red Top Cab: sells coupon books at a 10% discount.
  • Arlington Yellow Cab: sells coupon books at a 10% discount.

One of the most convenient means for passengers to arrange for a WAV is using a smartphone application.

Report Taxicab Discrimination[edit | edit source]

Examples of discrimination include refusal of service to:[96]

  • An individual with a service animal;
  • An individual with a collapsible wheelchair that fits into a car trunk;
  • A passenger because of the requested destination within the District;
  • Potential passengers because of their race or national origin; and
  • Potential passengers because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

To report discrimination of a Washington DC Taxi visit:

To report discrimination of an Alexandria or Arlington, Virginia Taxi you must file a Consumer Complaint at:[97]

Complaints can also be submitted using one of the following options

By Mail:

Department of Motor Vehicles

Motor Carrier Services (TNC)

P.O. Box 27412

Richmond, Virginia 23269-0001

Via Fax:


By Email:

Over the Telephone:


Uber[edit | edit source]

Overview[edit | edit source]

Over the past few years, paratransit services in the DC region have had service issues due to increased usage in the area. At the same time, new Transportation Network Companies, such as Uber, have emerged on the market. While these systems are being used for taxi services, they do not consider themselves taxi companies [98]. Therefore, typical regulations that involve taxicabs do not apply. This especially affected people with disabilities since these TNCs did not feel like they needed to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). [99]

Before TNCs in DC[edit | edit source]

In the past, disabled persons in the Washington, DC metropolitan region were mainly constrained by WMATA services (MetroRail, MetroBus, and MetroAccess) or local public transit (Fairfax Connecter, DASH, CUE, etc.) along with the limited service times. With regards to the regular public transportation options, if an individual did not live near the current fixed route, there was no way for them to utilize these options. MetroAccess was able to complement this system by allowing those who live within .75 miles of a fixed-service operated by WMATA to have door-to-door service. [100] Still those outside of the service-region are unable to receive ample transportation service without using a taxicab company. Leaving most disabled persons with a large bill for transportation.

TransportDC[edit | edit source]

In order to compensate for the limitations by public transit services, the District of Columbia Department of For-Hire Vehicles in cooperation with Capital Cab and Yellow Cab, created the TransportDC program. [101] This program allows for MetroAccess users to use taxicab services for a fee of only $5 one-way. The major benefit of the TransportDC program is that it allows for MetroAccess users to request transport without 24 hour notice and the service is available all hours of the day. [102] Due to the increase in popularity, funding for TransportDC began to run out in the 2016 fiscal year. [103] [104] In order to reduce the chance for future funding issues, new restrictions were put on the Transport DC program:

“As of October 1, 2016 Transport DC offers customers transportation to and from any location in the District with no restrictions during the first half of the month ending on the 15th of the month. For the second half of the month, booking requests would be granted solely based on availability and rides would be limited to medical and employment destinations.” [105]

These new restrictions once again make it hard for people with disabilities to get around the city.

The Uber Innovation[edit | edit source]

With options continuing to dwindle for disabled persons, many look to TNCs to fill the void. The problem that arose with this was that Uber drivers were not trained on how to help those who are disabled and some even were not in compliance with the ADA laws. Since the company viewed itself as a technology company, Uber considered itself exempt from having to comply with ADA laws. [106]This changed in 2015 when a federal court case in California ruled that Uber is a public accommodation, therefore subject to the ADA. [107] In order to comply with ADA laws and after much criticism from the public, Uber expressed that they will have trained drivers that understand the ADA and all drivers will accept service dogs as well as collapsible wheelchairs. [108] Uber also now offers users the possibility to ask for wheelchair accessible vehicles. This offer comes in the form of two options, UberWAV and UberTAXI Wheelchair. UberWAV is a program launched in some areas in the country and allows for users will accessibility needs to order a wheelchair accessible vehicle at a cost comparable to the inexpensive UberX rate. [109] UberTAXI is an option where Uber has contracted out UberWAV-like service to a local taxicab company. [110] This is not as cheap as the UberWAV program since the individual is paying the taxi company rate as well as a booking fee charged by Uber.

Issues Still Remain[edit | edit source]

For those in Washington, DC, UberWAV is still not an option since the city is not included in the current program. Therefore, those who would like to request an Uber and require a wheelchair accessible vehicle, need to pay the higher cost through UberTAXI. Not only is this extremely high priced, but wait times have the possibility of exceeding 20 minutes. For those outside of Washington, DC, such as Northern Virginia and Maryland, wheelchair accessible vehicles are not even an option through UberTAXI. Therefore, if you are traveling into Washington, DC, you must rely on the current systems in place. Recently, with WMATA’s SafeTrack program, this has become even more of a problem, as MetroRail service has become unreliable and further affecting people with disabilities.

Lyft[edit | edit source]

Overview[edit | edit source]

The technology of Lyft is considered to be technologically advanced, by offering rides with a push of a button. However, the ability to provide rides to the disabled is not as accessible as rides to the non disabled population. Although federal and state regulations mandate public transportation companies to provide wheelchair accessible vehicles, Lyft, as a company, does not own their cars, so they are able to bypass these laws and regulations.

Wheelchairs[edit | edit source]

The ride share phone application, Lyft, states they provide rides in minutes, wherever you’re headed. [111] However, what about providing rides to people with disabilities? Are they offered rides in minutes, or can their ride become more complicated and time consuming? Looking at Lyft’s current internal disability policies will help determine if all people with disabilities are able to be serviced. The first disability policy mentioned on Lyft’s website regards wheelchairs, and the steps a Lyft driver must take when picking up a person in a wheelchair. Directly from the Lyft website’s anti-discrimination section, the following procedure must be executed: “It is Lyft’s policy that passengers who use wheelchairs (that can safely and securely fit in the car’s trunk or backseat without obstructing the driver’s view) should be reasonably accommodated by drivers on the Lyft platform. You, as a driver, should make every reasonable effort to transport the passenger and their wheelchair.” [112] The section continues to state that a driver who refuses to transport passengers with lightweight wheelchairs, are at risk for being removed from the company. The words “reasonable effort” can be very subjective. Termination from the company is noted above if reasonable effort is not put forth, but there is no clear cut definition of what reasonable effort entails. What if a Lyft driver encounters a customer with a wheelchair that cannot fit properly in the trunk, or the customer is bound to an electric wheelchair?

Referring again, to the Lyft website regarding the policy for passengers with large wheelchairs that cannot be loaded securely in the car, the driver must make a reasonable effort, and if the passenger cannot be accommodated, the driver must cancel the trip, and call a number in which a Lyft customer service agent will reach out to the passenger with transportation resources in their area. [113] The accessible resources in the Metropolitan area include: in Maryland, contacts in the Baltimore area: MTA Paratransit Program, and Action Taxi. In the District: Metro Access, Washington Flyer, and Yellow Cab Company. In Virginia, contacts in Virginia Beach that include: to register with the ADA, to schedule HRT, and Black and White Cabs. [114] If a customer in a wheelchair cannot be accommodated by Lyft and the trip has to be cancelled, after the Lyft representative reaches out to the customer with other options, the customer is responsible for contacting these alternative transportation services on their own.

Non Discrimination[edit | edit source]

The Americans with Disabilities Act, ADA, was signed into effect in 1990, to ensure anybody with a disability will not be discriminated against, and have the same opportunities as those without disabilities. [115] With the introduction of the ADA all people, including disabled persons, are legally required to be treated equally.

In an article published by Fortune regarding the discrimination Lyft and Uber shows disabled people, an allegation claims that Uber and Lyft are being sued by disabled people. One woman in the article claims a Lyft driver left her on the curb, because her wheelchair wouldn’t fit in the car, and the driver did not provide her alternate transportation. [116] This as noted above, is violation of the Lyft policy regarding wheelchairs. The Lyft driver who responded to this client did not have a vehicle outfitted for wheelchair use.

Service Animals[edit | edit source]

What about customers with service animals/guide dogs? Unlike certain wheelchairs, guide dogs/service animals cannot be folded and placed in the trunk of a car. The policy from the Lyft website states that a driver must comply with local, federal and state laws regarding service animals. Additionally, denying a ride due to the service animal will result in the suspension from Lyft. [117] The Lyft policy continues to state that if a driver picks up a person with a service animal, and current client(s) in the car feel uncomfortable, or are allergic to animals, they must cancel their trip and request another Lyft driver. [118]

“According to the ADA, a service animal is defined as a dog to perform work or tasks for individual people." [119] The ADA also states the following, ”Allergies and fear of dogs are not valid reasons for denying access or refusing service to people using service animals.” [120] When using Lyft, a "pool" can be requested to minimize costs, and share the car with other passengers who are heading in the same direction. If a Lyft driver encounters a client with a service animal, and a current client in the car is allergic or has a fear of animals, the Lyft driver must cancel the trip for the client with the service animal. This is not in violation of the ADA if the Lyft driver requests another Lyft car to pick up the passenger with the service animal. Other than a "pool" situation, the Lyft driver would normally not have customers already in the car when picking up customers.

Looking to the Future[edit | edit source]

In an article written by Roland Renzik, with Smart Chair, a wheelchair company for children, Roland points out the fact that Uber and Lyft are taking steps to assist those in wheelchairs by offering handicapped accessible vehicles. [121] The article continues to state that clients who need wheelchair accessible vehicles, are urged to call Lyft 24 hours in advance. Furthermore, the article outlines cities where wheelchair accessible rides are possible. In Virginia, the only city where this service is offered is Virginia Beach. Wheelchair accessible vehicles are offered in the District of Columbia, and Baltimore, Maryland. Although these cities are limited, Lyft is taking strides to offer more handicapped accessible vehicles.

Continuing Issues[edit | edit source]

Although transportation for the disabled seems to be getting more recognition, not all Lyft cars are outfitted to accommodate persons in wheelchairs. People who are not in wheelchairs do not need to make arrangements with Lyft 24 hours in advance, and many people in wheelchairs feel this is unfair and unjust. Outfitting more Lyft vehicles with handicapped and wheelchair accessibility, will enable more disabled people to be offered services at just the push of a button.

Discussion Questions[edit | edit source]

  1. When you have used Taxi, Uber, or Lyft, have you ever been in a handicap accessible vehicle?
  2. When you have used Taxi, Uber, or Lyft, have you stopped to pick up another rider that is disabled?
  3. Have you ever not used Taxi, Uber, or Lyft based on the fact that you have been with a disabled person?
  4. Have you ever seen a person not able to use Taxi, Uber, or Lyft, due to a disability?
  5. Do you believe that TNCs (Uber & Lyft) would be able to have their own fleet of WAVs without employing local Taxi companies?
  6. With Taxi companies losing market share to TNCs, how will those who are disabled be able to get to the places they need to go without the use of Taxis?

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Jump up↑ Santens, Scott. "Self-Driving Trucks Are Going to Hit Us Like a Human-Driven Truck." Medium, May 14, 2015
  16. The History of Semi-Trailer Trucks. Great Western Transportation. (Retrieved October 16, 2016)
  17. Ibid
  18. Ibid
  19. Ibid
  20. 1. Jump up ↑ Freightliner. "Freightliner Trucks: 70 Years of Innovation." Accessed October 16, 2016.
  21. Ibid 1950's
  22. Ibid 1950s
  23. Ibid 1960s
  24. Frasier Sr, Van L. 1974. "Air Ride Suspension For Trucks". United States. Accessed October 16, 2016
  25. United States Congress. Surface Transportation Act of 1982. Washington D.C.: (Accessed October, 16 2016)
  26. Murphy Rebecca. Rio Tinto improves productivity through the world's largest fleet of owned and operated autonomous trucks. (Accessed October 16, 2016)
  27. Giroux, David. Freightliner Inspiration Truck Receives Autonomous Vehicle Licensing from Nevada DMV. (Accessed October 16, 2016)
  28. Ibid
  29. Ohnsman, Alan. This Bud's For The Robot: Otto, Anheuser-Busch Claim First Automated Truck Shipment. (Accessed October 16, 2016)
  30. Harding, J., Powell, G., R., Yoon, R., Fikentscher, J., Doyle, C., Sade, D., Lukuc, M., Simons, J., & Wang, J. (2014, August). Vehicle-to-vehicle communications: Readiness of V2V technology for application. (Report No. DOT HS 812 014). Washington, DC: National Highway Traf c Safety Administration.
  31. Ibid.
  32. Ibid.
  33. Ibid.
  34. Bob Tita, and Mike Ramsey, "Truckers Gain Automated Assist", (August 2015). Wall Street Journal. Accused on November 1, 2016 at
  35. Thomopoulos, N., & Givoni, M. (2015). The autonomous car--a blessing or a curse for the future of low carbon mobility? an exploration of likely vs. desirable outcomes. European Journal of Futures Research, 3(1), 1-14. doi:
  36. Carbon War Room, "Unlocking Fuel Saving Technologies on Trucking and Fleets", (November 2012). Accessed on November 1, 2016 at
  37. Thomopoulos, N., & Givoni, M. (2015). The autonomous car--a blessing or a curse for the future of low carbon mobility? an exploration of likely vs. desirable outcomes. European Journal of Futures Research, 3(1), 1-14. doi:
  38. Anita Kim, David Perlman, Dan Bogard and Ryan Harrington, "Review of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) for Automated Vehicles", Department of Transportation. (March 2015). Accessed on November 15, 2016 at
  39. Leonard, K. M., Smith, Egan, PE,P.T.O.E., P.T.P., & Gay, K. (2016). Developing the workforce for a connected vehicle future: USDOT's intelligent transportation systems training opportunities for today and tomorrow. Institute of Transportation Engineers.ITE Journal, 86(6), 39-42. Retrieved from
  40. American Association for Motor Vehicle Administrators, "Commercial Driver's License Manual", (May 2015).
  41. Anita Kim, David Perlman, Dan Bogard and Ryan Harrington, "Review of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) for Automated Vehicles", Department of Transportation. (March 2015). Accessed on November 15, 2016 at
  42. Automated Vehicles Policy. (September 2016). Department of Transportation and NHTSA. Accessed on November 16, 2016 at
  43. Ibid.
  44. Ibid.
  45. Ibid.
  46. Pedro M. d'Orey, Amin Hosseini, José Azevedo, Frank Diermeyer, Michel Ferreira, Markus Lienkamp, "Hail-a-Drone: Enabling teleoperated taxi fleets", Intelligent Vehicles Symposium (IV) 2016 IEEE, pp. 774-781, 2016.
  47. Noor, A. K., & Beiker, S. A. (2012). Intelligent and connected. Mechanical Engineering, 134(11), 32-37. Retrieved from
  48. Lutin, Jerome M, PHD,P.E., A.I.C.P., Kornhauser, A. L., P.H.D., & Lerner-Lam, E. (2013). The revolutionary development of self-driving vehicles and implications for the transportation engineering profession. Institute of Transportation Engineers.ITE Journal, 83(7), 28-32. Retrieved from
  49. Ibid.
  50. Ibid.
  51. Ibid.
  52. Ibid.
  53. Ibid.
  54. James Manyika, Michael Chui, Jaques Bughin, Richard Dobbs, Peter Bisson and Alex Marrs. "Disruptive technologies: Advances that will transform life, business and the global economy",(May 2013). Accessed on November 16, 2016 at
  55. Ibid.
  56. District of Columbia Taxicab Commission Disability Advisory Committee, February 20, 2014, accessed 31 Oct, 2016 at:"
  57. United States Access Board, 2016, accessed on 1 Nov, 2016 at:
  58. Yellow Cab Company of DC, 2016, accessed on 1 Nov, 2016 at:
  59. Taxi Transportation Service, 2016, accessed on 1 Nov, 2016 at:
  60. Arlington Blue Top Cabs, 2016, accessed on 1 Nov, 2016 at:
  61. Friendly Cab of Arlington, 2016, accessed on 1 Nov, 2016 at:
  62. Red Top Cab of Arlington, 2015, accessed on 1 Nov, 2016 at:
  63. City of Alexandria, DOT Paratransit Program, Oct 20, 2015, accessed on 1 Nov, 2016 at:
  64. Arlington County Transit, STAR, 2016, accessed on 1 Nov, 2016 at:
  65. Di Caro, Martin. “Transport DC is Back – With Tweaks TO Test Paratransit’s Financial Viability.” WAMU 88.5: American University Radio (October 3, 2016).
  66. “Transport DC.” Department of For-Hire Vehicles. Last modified October 1, 2016.
  67. “MetroAccess Frequently Asked Questions.” Washington Metro Area Transit Authority. Accessed October 13, 2016.
  68. Congress, Library of. n.d. The Civil Rights Act of 1964: A Long Struggle for Freedom. Accessed October 2016.
  69. n.d. Information and Technical Assistance on the Americans with Disabilities Act . Accessed October 2016.
  70. Johnson, Charles. “Timeline: History of Uber.” Chicago Tribune (March 11, 2015).
  71. Eldon, Eric. “How Uber Is Launching In Its Newest City, Washington, DC.” TechCrunch (December 15, 2011).
  72. Johnson, “Timeline: History of Uber”
  73. Crunch, The. 2012. With A San Francisco Launch Imminent, Lyft is Doubling Its Fleet of Drivers And Readying An Android App. August 25. Accessed October 2016.
  74. Mikaela. “Wheelchair Accessible Rides with uberWAV.” Uber Newsroom (August 7, 2014).
  75. Jake. “Your Wheelchair-Accessible Vehicle Has Arrived.” Uber Newsroom (September 22, 2014).
  76. Aratani, Lori. 2014. D.C. Council okays bill to legalize Lyft, Sidecar, uber-X type services in the District. October 28. Accessed November 2016.
  77. “Statement of Interest of the United States of America: National Federation of the Blind of California, Michael Kelly, Michael Hingson, and Michael Pederson v. Uber Technologies, Inc., Rasier, LLC, and Rasier-CA, LLC.” United States District Court for the Northern District of California – San Francisco Division (February 5, 2015).
  78. Lazo, Luz. 2015. Uber and Lyft are now legal in Virginia. February 15. Accessed October 2016.
  79. Joshi, Meera, and Allan Fromberg. 2014. "TLC Approves Lyft's Purchase of Black Car Base Atlas Travel & Limousine, Inc." Taxi & Limousine Commission. July 25. Accessed November 2016.
  80. Ann, “Wheelchair Accessible Taxis”
  81. “SafeTrack.” Washington Metro Area Transit Authority. Accessed October 13, 2016.
  82. Di Caro, “Transport DC is Back”
  83. Di Caro, “Transport DC is Back”
  84. Nondiscrimination On the Basis of Disability by Public Accommodations and in Commercial Facilities, 28 U.S.C. §36.201 (2016).
  85. Office, GPO U.S. Government Publishing. 2016. Electronic Code of Federal Regulation. November 7. Accessed November 2016.
  86. ”Statement of Interest”
  87. Office, U.S. Government Publishing. n.d. Electronic Code of Federal Regulation. Accessed November 2016.
  88. Lazo, Luz. “New Regulations for Uber and Lyft open the door for expansion.” Washington Post (February 21, 2015).
  89. “Taxicab Regulation.” Accessed October 15, 2016.
  90. Capozzi, David M, Executive Director, U.S. Access Board, Testimony to U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, The Americans with Disabilities Act and Accessible Transportation: Challenges and Opportunities, November 17, 2011
  91., Office of Human Rights, Washington D.C., 2016, found at:
  92. District of Columbia Taxicab Commission Accessibility Advisory Committee, Annual Report on Accessible For-Hire Vehicle Service, October 1, 2014, accessed on 1 Nov, 2016 at:
  93., Office of Human Rights, Washington D.C., 2016, accessed October 2016 at:
  94. Arlington County Government, Aging and Disability, 2016, accessed October 2016 at:
  95. Arlington Transit, Specialized Transit for Arlington Residents (STAR), 2016, accessed October, 2016 at:
  96., Office of Human Rights, Washington D.C., 2016, accessed October, 2016 at:
  97. City of Alexandria and Arlington Office of Human Rights, 2016, accessed Oct, 2016 at: and
  98. Murphy, David. "Uber Tries to Wriggle Out of ADA Lawsuits." PCmag.Com (May 22, 2015).
  99. Murphy, “Uber Tries to Wriggle”
  100. “MetroAccess Frequently Asked Questions”
  101. ”Transport DC” Department of For-Hire Vehicles
  102. Di Caro, “Transport DC is Back”
  103. Di Caro, “Transport DC is Back”
  104. Lazo, Luz. “Transport DC became so popular that the city is now downsizing it.” Washington Post (July 21, 2016).
  105. ”Transport DC” Department of For-Hire Vehicles
  106. Murphy, “Uber Tries to Wriggle”
  107. ”Statement of Interest”
  108. Zara. “Serving our users with Accessibility Needs.” Uber Newsroom. (July 9, 2015).
  109. Jake, “Your Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle”
  110. Ann, “Wheelchair Accessible Taxis”
  111. —. 2016. Accessed October 2016.
  112. —. 2016. Help Center. Accessed October 2016.!
  113. —. 2016. Help Center. Accessed October 2016.!
  114. Lyft, Inc. 206. Accessible Vehicle Dispatch. Accessed October 2016.
  115. n.d. Information and Technical Assistance on the Americans with Disabilities Act . Accessed October 2016.
  116. Wieczner, Jen. 2015. Why the disabled are suing Uber and Lyft. May 22. Accessed October 2016.
  117. —. 2016. Anti-Discrimination Policies. Accessed October 2016.
  118. —. 2016. Anti-Discrimination Policies. Accessed October 2016.
  119. Justice, US Department of. 2011. "Service Animals." July 12. Accessed October 2016.
  120. Justice, US Department of. 2011. "Service Animals." July 12. Accessed October 2016.
  121. Reznik, Roland. 2015. Accessible Transportation with Uber and Lyft for Wheelchair Users. June 27. Accessed October 2016.

Additional Readings[edit | edit source]

1. Vock, Daniel C., September 2, 2015, Governing the States and Localities, Disabled in DC: How Taxis and Uber Might Be Worsening the Paratransit Problem. Found here

2. District of Columbia Taxicab Commission Accessibility Advisory Committee, Annual Report on Accessible Vehicle for Hire Service, September 30, 2015. Found here

3. Accessible Transportation Options, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit. 2011. WMATA.COM. July. Accessed October 2016. Found here

4. Virginia, Fairfax County. 2016. Transportation Guide to Northern Virginia for People with Disabilities . Accessed October 2016. Found here

5. Government, Arlington County. n.d. Aging and Disability. Accessed October 2016. Found here

Commercial Space Flight

Summary[edit | edit source]

Commercial spaceflight is the movement of cargo, satellites, scientific payloads, and passengers beginning in Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) 62 miles above the earth’s sea level by way of privately owned spacecraft and rockets.  Commercial is defined as operations run by the private sector with vehicles, spacecraft, or services they own.[1]  The industry functions as a public-private partnership whereby commercially operated companies design and produce the transport vehicles NASA charters for their space missions.  These companies are also able to pursue their own non-governmental commercial interests such as space tourism. Commercial spaceflight is opening up new opportunities for space exploration, scientific discovery, and commercial enterprise. With these opportunities comes a host of policy developments and issues that have national and international impacts.

Annotated List of Actors[edit | edit source]

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)[edit | edit source]

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP) facilitates strong public-private partnerships with the private space industry to encourage innovation for development of the commercial space transportation program, which is carried out by using spacecraft that is owned and operated by private companies or organizations for profit. [2]

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)[edit | edit source]

FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST) was formed in 1995 and is responsible to oversee, authorize and regulate both commercial launches and reentry activities to ensure protection of the public, property, national security and foreign policy interests of the U.S., and encourages, facilitates and promotes commercial space transportation. [3]

American Commercial Space Industry[edit | edit source]

Private American companies that are designing and developing transportation capabilities to and from low-earth orbit and the International Space Station (ISS) to be selected by NASA’s CCP Program.  NASA has selected Boeing and SpaceX to build and operate systems to transport astronauts to and from the International Space Station, and Sierra Nevada Corporation’s spacecraft to ferry equipment and cargo to the Space Station. Additionally, SpaceX and Orbital ATK received contracts with NASA to transport cargo to the ISS. Other private companies are developing spacecraft to compete for the emerging market of commercial passenger flight to low-earth orbit for tourism to include Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin.[4]

U.S. Space Subcommittee[edit | edit source]

U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Space has legislative jurisdiction, general oversight and investigative authority on all matters relating to space research and development, including commercial space activity.[5]

Department of Commerce[edit | edit source]

Office of Space Commerce is responsible for space transportation commerce policy activities and its mission to foster the conditions for the economic growth and technological advancement of the U.S. commercial space industry.[6]

Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee (COMSTAC)[edit | edit source]

Advisory committee composed of industry, government, academia, and advocacy that provides information, advice and recommendations to the FAA on matters concerning the U.S. commercial space transportation industry.[7]

Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF)[edit | edit source]

American aerospace industry committee, whose mission is to promote the development of commercial human spaceflight, pursue higher levels of safety and share best practices and expertise throughout the industry.[8]

Timeline of Events[edit | edit source]

1962 - Communications Satellite Act

Provided expanded telecommunications service and established a commercial communications satellite system responsive to public needs and national objectives.  United States participation would take the form of a private corporations subject to government regulation.[9]

1967 - United Nations “Five Space Treaties” developed under the United Nations Office for Outer Space (UNOOSA)

  1. Outer Space Treaty (1967)
  2. The Rescue Agreement (1968)
  3. The Liability Convention (1972)
  4. The Registration Convention (1976)
  5. The Moon Agreement (1984) [10]

Outer Space Treaty (1967), most important of the five and the second of the so-called "non-armament" treaties; it sought to prevent “a new form of colonial competition” and the possible damage that self-seeking exploitation might cause. This article restricts activities in two ways:

First, it contains an undertaking not to place in orbit around the Earth, install on the moon or any other celestial body, or otherwise station in outer space, nuclear or any other weapons of mass destruction.

Second, it limits the use of the moon and other celestial bodies exclusively to peaceful purposes and expressly prohibits their use for establishing military bases, installation, or fortifications; testing weapons of any kind; or conducting military maneuvers.[11]

The five space treaties, enabled space programs to follow an internationally agreed upon set of standards, and fostered cooperative engagement that ultimately led to nations allowing private commercial organizations to take over some of the functions of space programs.  Without early engagement by governmental organizations like UNOOSA, organizations like the Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF) would not be possible today.[12]

1984 - Commercial Space Flight Act

Law that regulates and promotes the private spaceflight  industry in the US. The law is responsible for issuing launch licenses to private companies and U.S. citizens.[13]

1990 - National Aeronautics and Space Administration Multiyear Authorization Act

Title I:  National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorizations:

  • Established within Department of Commerce an Office of Space Commerce to coordinate space-related issues, programs, and initiatives and authorized appropriations.
  • Amended the Commercial Space Launch Act to authorize appropriations to carry out the Act.
  • Commerce Secretary responsible for facilitating private sector involvement in commercial space transportation activity, and promoting public-private partnerships.[14]

Title II: Launch Services Purchase Act of 1990:

  • Requires NASA to purchase launch services for its primary payloads from commercial providers.
  • Allows launch vehicles to be acquired or owned by NASA, except for historical displays, only as required by such exceptions or for conducting research, development, and testing of launch technology.
  • Requires contracts to provide launch services to NASA to be awarded on the basis of full, fair, and open competition.
  • Requires NASA to limit its requirements for submission of cost or pricing data in support of a bid or proposal.
  • Requires performance specifications, not detailed Government design or construction specifications, to be used.[15]

1998 - Commercial Space Act

Requires the federal government to procure commercial space transportation services from US companies to promote commercial space opportunities for the private sector.  The Act implemented many of the provisions of the Launch Services Purchases Act of 1990 eight years earlier. [16]

2004 - Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act

Allowed for more private investment to develop commercial launch vehicles capable of carrying humans into space.[17] The Act gave the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) authority to regulate human space flight. It also established the regulatory framework, and passenger protocol rules for carrying passengers into space.[18]

2004 - SpaceShipOne

First non-governmental manned spacecraft that reached low-Earth orbit. The spacecraft successfully completed two more flights the same year leading to the first privately developed reusable spacecraft.[19]

2010 - National Space Policy of the United States

“In support of its critical domestic aerospace industry, the U.S. government will use commercial space products and services in fulfilling governmental needs, invest in new and advanced technologies and concepts, and use a broad array of partnerships with industry to promote innovation.  The U.S. government will actively promote the purchase and use of U.S. commercial space goods and services within international cooperative agreements.” [20]

2013 - National Space Transportation Policy

The goal of this policy is for the United States to encourage and facilitate the US commercial space transportation industry by promoting innovation-driven entrepreneurship, and international competitiveness that benefits the US economy.  The policy supports human space transportation initiatives to low-Earth orbit to and from the International Space Station, and deep-space exploration. The policy also strengthened the development of US commercial spaceflight for the private human spaceflight market.[21]

2015 - Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act of 2015

Extends the “learning period” regulation to 2023 so the FAA cannot enact any safety regulation for commercial human spaceflight, and extends indemnification (Space Launch Liability) to 2025 for US launch providers for failed launches resulting in third-party loss.[22]

Narrative of the Case[edit | edit source]

What compelled lawmakers to support commercial space transport?

Commercial space flight was predicated on the belief that NASA should not have a monopoly on space flight when private industry had so much to offer in terms of talent, resources, and innovative ways to meet a growing demand for information and services in the digital age.  Government had retained a monopoly on space flight in the U.S. until President Reagan signed the Commercial Space Launch Act in 1984.  Commercial satellite launches had been prohibited prior to this, but even with the Act’s passage commercial launches proved difficult due to regulation and burdensome processes.  The space shuttle Challenger disaster just two years later forced NASA and the federal government to suspend shuttle flights, and reevaluate the viability of allowing commercial spaceflight to provide these types of services.  The passage of the Launch Services Purchase Act as part of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Multiyear Authorization Act of 1990 effectively ended NASA’s monopoly.  For the first time it required NASA to purchase launch services for its primary payloads from commercial providers with minimal exceptions.  It also required NASA to give required specifications for what it needed accomplished, and not direct specific construction requirements or designs, thus enabling commercial invention and innovation to find the best solution to the problem.

NASA’s Dependence on Russia

After the US retired the Space Shuttle Program in 2004, Russia has been shuttling American astronauts to the ISS in the interim as Boeing and SpaceX develop a shuttle through their Commercial Crew Program (CCP) to transport astronauts to the ISS.  The target date was set for 2015 for NASA to begin an independent shuttle service but between 2011-2015, Congress cut $1 billion from the CCP.  The launch date was subsequently pushed back to 2017. [23] As a result, NASA was forced to renew their contract with Russia.  In 2015, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden wrote a letter to Congress informing members of the renewal.

“I am writing to inform you that NASA, once again, has modified its current contract with the Russian government to meet America’s requirements for crew transportation services.  Under this contract modification, the cost of these services to the U.S. taxpayers will be approximately $490 million.  I am asking that we put past disagreements behind us and focus our collective efforts on support for American industry - the Boeing Corporation and SpaceX - to complete construction and certification of their crew vehicles so that we can begin launching our crews from the Space Coast of Florida in 2017.” [24]  

The United States’ reliance on a foreign nation and former rival to execute its space mission has given urgency to commercial space transportation development efforts. A handful of companies have emerged as early leaders in this arena and are leading the way in research and development. Their activity has centered around resupply services and space tourism, two areas that carry significant potential both for government and private interests.

Commercial Space Industry Advancement

Since 2005, $10 billion in private capital has been invested in space related industries.[25] In 2015 alone, $1.8 billion was invested in commercial spaceflight companies by venture capitalists. This sum represented more investment in spaceflight companies than the previous 15 years combined.[26] It demonstrates a willingness on the part of investors to commit to commercial spaceflight in ways they had never considered previously, and it also shows that investors believe the rewards far outweigh the risks for commercial spaceflight. With so many different companies in the market, and the competition so vigorous, the level of progress moves forward at leaps and bounds. Each success or failure paves the way to build upon shared experience within the industry. SpaceX and Orbital ATK are two such companies that have developed and launched the first commercial spacecraft carrying resupply cargo to the ISS. SpaceX also provides services to launch satellites for commercial communications companies worldwide. Blue Origin is currently developing spacecraft for orbital human space flight that will carry astronauts to the ISS. These companies are currently developing and testing spacecraft that will provide commercial travel vehicles for passengers. These trips would begin in low-earth orbit and progress to Mid-Earth Orbit (MEO) and orbital flights, again building on lessons learned. The long term goal for both companies is outer space flights with trips to the moon and Mars, with the potential to establish long-term colonies on both.

Commercial Resupply Services (CRS)

In 2004, NASA announced it would end its Space Shuttle Program in 2011 and retire its three active space shuttles (Discovery, Atlantis, and Endeavor) that routinely resupplied the International Space Station (ISS). NASA ended the program to allocate additional resources to technology development, scientific research, and exploration missions beyond low-earth orbit to places like Mars. Following the announcement, NASA launched The Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program that would allow private companies to take over operations in LEO, and conduct resupply missions to the ISS. The public to private transition began 2008 when SpaceX and Orbital ATK won commercial resupply contracts that provide cargo launch services to the ISS.[27]

In 2012, the free-flying spacecraft Dragon designed and built by SpaceX became the first commercial spacecraft to deliver cargo to the ISS.[28] In September 2013, Orbital ATK spacecraft Cygnus completed a COTS demonstration mission to the ISS. Directly following this successful demo mission, Cygnus completed its first CRS mission in January 2014.[29]

Space Tourism

The Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act of 2004 allowed the space tourism industry to grow and companies such as Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin are spearheading the space tourism industry. Virgin Galactic's human spaceflight vehicles are the WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo, both of which offer civilians a chance to experience the weightlessness of space in low-earth orbit.[30] SpaceX’s Dragon craft was originally designed to carry humans but is only licensed to carry cargo to the ISS. [31] Currently, there are no U.S. commercial companies using their spacecraft for tourism. SpaceX is conducting manned test flights to ensure all spacecraft are safe and licensed by the FAA before they can carry humans into space.

Where are we now?

With NASA's inability to facilitate all the launches needed by both government and private industry, the door has been opened for the rapid expansion of commercial ventures and innovative entrepreneurship. The shift in government policy from one where NASA was the only producer of spacecraft to one where commercial companies provide a multitude of options to NASA as the customer has brought about great change. Now the commercial space transportation industry can bring to bear their considerable innovative solutions and resources to solve complex problems for the government. There are still many policy debates and technical problems to be solved but if government remains flexible when enacting future policy and regulation, the industry will continue to build upon its successes and move the entire space industry forward.

Clear Identification of Policy Issues[edit | edit source]

Policy Issues

The policy issues surrounding commercial spaceflight are a product of it being such a new industry as well the public-private partnership which is molding it. The government and private companies hold distinct interests in exploiting the opportunities a robust commercial space transport sector offers. Questions remain as to extent of the government’s authority over and responsibility to these private companies. Some of the most pressing of these issues are considered below.

When and How to Regulate Space Crew Safety

The CLSA, in order to promote the growth and development of the commercial space industry, prohibited the FAA from regulating crew and spaceflight participant safety until 2012. [32] This prohibition has since been extended to 2023. [33] The prohibition has created ongoing uncertainty as to what role the government should play regarding space crew safety and how to do so. There is disagreement among government and private industry participants as to how long the prohibition should be in place.

A 2015 report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that “six of nine commercial space launch companies...three experts, the Chairman of the Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee, and the President of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation all recommended that the regulatory moratorium” on crew and spaceflight participant safety be extended.[34] Chief among their reasons for doing so were to allow space tourism the opportunity it needs to continue developing effectively and to allow the industry to figure out the appropriate standards to insure safety. The FAA, in the same report, said it supported allowing the prohibition to expire but had no plans of issuing any regulations regarding space crew safety upon its expiration.

The agency stated that it would prefer to see the commercial space transport companies develop their own industry standards for safety. However, the FAA argues that with a seemingly indefinite rule barring the government from regulating commercial space crew safety, there is little practical incentive for the companies to do so. Removing the prohibition would allow the agency to develop regulations were a systemic issued identified. Under the current rules, they can create regulations only following an accident and the regulation would be limited to whichever design feature, if any, were identified as the cause of the accident.

In 2013, the FAA released a draft guidelines document titled, “Established Practices for Human Space Flight Occupant Safety.”[35]The document borrowed from NASA’s Commercial Crew Program requirements. Under the NASA program, NASA specifies a set of requirements and standards for occupant safety that the private developers of space launch vehicles must meet in order to be used in NASA missions. One of the challenges of this arrangement is striking the right balance between making the vehicles safe enough for NASA users yet affordable enough that they can be used for other commercial purposes.[36]

FAA Licensing

The FAA is responsible for the licensing of commercial space launches as well as NASA’s Commercial Crew Program launches (NASA certifies the launch vehicles). Given that the commercial space transportation sector is a relatively new industry in its early stages, the agency has had to grapple with obtaining adequate resources and developing the expertise needed to issue licenses effectively. The amount of launches has steadily risen from year to year. According to the GAO, “in fiscal year 2015, the FAA licensed and permitted 14 launches and reentries” compared to only seven nearly ten years earlier.[37]That number could increase substantially once NASA’s Commercial Crew Program becomes operational and companies begin launching small satellites into orbit.

The increase in launches has naturally increased the FAA’s workload by requiring the agency conduct more inspections. The inspections include safety checks for pre-launch and reentry activities as well as launch site operations. They conducted 216 commercial launch inspections in fiscal year 2015 compared to only 27 in fiscal year 2006 and an average of 90 inspections between 2006 and 2015.[38] In addition, the FAA is dealing with licensing new types of space launch vehicles. Systems like the SpaceShipTwo blend features of both aircraft and rocket-powered technology and have flight termination systems that do not require human operation.[39] These new systems require more time, resources, and personnel dedicated to not only inspecting the vehicles but gaining the knowledge necessary to understand how the systems will work in real-life situations and anticipating potential hazards they may present.

As with the space launch vehicles, the FAA is also responsible for licensing an increasing number of launch sites.[40] The complexity of these launch sites have increased from the traditional coastal area federal launch facilities. Commercial companies are submitting applications to launch from their own nonfederal sites. Launches from inland raise the risk of interfering with other air traffic and obstructions. The increase in commercial space launches, reentries, and launch sites will increase the government’s exposure to third-party liability claims and federal indemnification.[41] This increased exposure highlights the need for FAA licensing requirements to be thorough enough to insure the safe operation of commercial space launch operations in all its phases.

Currently, the FAA licenses the launch and reentry of commercial space launch vehicles. It does not license their activity when they are operating “in space.” Article IV of the Outer Space Treaty and Section 108 of the Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act (CSLCA) each require the US government to monitor and insure the safety of commercial space activities occurring in space. [42]The agency has yet to release detailed plans as to how it will fulfill this responsibility.

Congestion of airspace and orbital debris

The United States’ National Space Transportation Policy states that the Department of Transportation has “exclusive authority... to address orbital debris mitigation practices for U.S.-licensed commercial launches, to include launch vehicle components such as upper stages, through its licensing procedures.”[43] Orbital debris presents an obvious danger not only to the operation of space launch vehicles and their passengers, but also for inhabitants on Earth following a vehicle’s reentry below low Earth orbit (LEO). Currently, there are few regulations regarding how to mitigate orbital debris. Commercial space launch participants must avoid intentional creation of debris, collision of components of the launch system, and “to passivate the launch vehicle by depleting propellants, pressurant gases, and stored energy in batteries.” [44] There are multiple methods launch companies may consider to passivate the launch vehicle, including passive or augmented passive disposal, controlled deorbit, or using a separate deployer bus.[45]

Besides mitigation, government and commercial space launch companies will need to consider orbital debris remediation. Debris remediation is the prevention of collisions between massive derelict objects. [46] Active debris removal (ADR), the primary means of debris remediation, calls for the removal of orbital debris.[47] According to NASA’s Orbital Debris Program Office, reducing the risk to the current fleet of spacecraft will require the removal of small debris. Long term, however, ADR must focus on large debris such as, “ intact rocket bodies and non-functional satellites.”[48] Collisions of these larger objects present the greatest hazards in the long-term growth of orbital debris and studies show that removing as little as five of the largest objects can stabilize the growth of orbital debris. Government and private companies throughout the world are still in the early stages of developing technology that will reliably detect and prevent the collision of such debris.

As with orbital debris, significant attention has been placed on developing technology to detect the proximity space launch vehicles have to one another and with aircraft below orbit within the United States’ commercial airspace. The Space Data Integrator (SDI) system is the FAA’s primary technology in that effort. It has designed to monitor the movement of commercial space launch vehicles to insure they do not interfere with air traffic, anyone or anything on the ground, or any objects and activities between the ground and space.[49]Specifically, the SDI will “support current and upcoming operational scenarios, including those associated with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, fly back boosters, inland reentries from orbit, and other complex mission designs.” [50]The specific objectives of this system are to automate situational awareness, monitor launches transiting through the National Airspace System (NAS), and detect and respond to abnormal events. The FAA plans to use the SDI in tandem with some of its other air traffic control systems but there are limitations that the agency is still determining whether to resolve or find ways to work around.

National Security Policy

The U.S. today is more reliant than ever on space programs for U.S. National Security, combined with the international community is playing a larger role in space. Space assets provide capabilities that are critical to U.S. National Security and commercial space assets account for many of these capabilities. Defense-industrial initiatives report states, “U.S. Policy needs to be strengthened to address assured access to space for key commercial payloads.”  Commercial satellite launch customers report challenges with obtaining and scheduling launches.[51]

Space capabilities that are key elements of U.S. National Security include satellite capabilities that provide command and control, communications, intelligence gathering and weapons targeting. Space systems are increasingly important for monitoring potential threats, managing military forces and carrying out combat operations. Space is also an essential dimension of the U.S. economy such as stock market data, telecommunications, automated teller machines, and is now an integral part of the daily lives of millions of U.S. residents.[52]

National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD) 40, U.S. Space Transportation Policy recognizes the importance of a healthy commercial space launch industry in supporting U.S. National Security interests. Sustaining U.S. technological superiority in space is a U.S. National Security interest and building and maintaining a strong U.S. industrial base is an important element of developing superiority, which it is stated would be unrealistic while relying primarily on foreign capabilities.[53]

Export Control Policy

The U.S. export control policy ensures control over certain technologies and commodities that are being sold to foreign countries and industry to ensure national security.  Export control policy is a licensing program that controls items regulated under the International Traffic in Arms (ITAR) and Export Administration Regulations (EAR).  The U.S. Departments of State, Defense, and Trade administer the ITAR program, which controls munitions items listed on the United States Munitions List (USML). EAR regulations control items listed on the Commerce Control List (CCL) which have both commercial and military applications. [54]

Many U.S. organizations report that the control of space related commodities under the ITAR puts U.S. companies at a competitive disadvantage in the international space market. [55] Opposition to the policy are in favor of export control falling under the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) and the President’s 2009 Export Control Policy Reform Initiative. [56] Survey respondents to the 2014 U.S. Department of Commerce’s export control policy survey, estimate lost sales opportunities between approximately $988 million and $2 billion from 2009 to 2012 due to the export control policy.[57]

Commercial space transportation advisory committee finds the licensing process under EARS would be quicker, offer more flexibility to the industry and that ITAR carries a stigma within the international space community. [58] Department of Defense raises a national security concern that the export control program under the EAR regulations could provide technologies and systems that have anti-satellite (ASAT) capability to foreign entities. [59]  Critics of the current policy say that more exports would allow U.S. companies to expand markets and increase sales, and with the uncertainty of the U.S. government budget environment organizations may seek additional opportunities to sell the products and services outside of the U.S. to remain profitable and competitive.[60]

Lessons Learned[edit | edit source]

  1. The US government is known for enacting reactive legislation when disaster strikes. However, this is not the case for the commercial space industry. With the FAA extending the “learning period” to 2023, commercial companies can operate at their own risk and develop innovative systems that will help future human space flights. The decision to integrate private companies with government oversight led to the development of a new and more trusting culture that fully supported public-private collaboration.
  2. A balanced government policy approach is critical to creating the right environment for venture capitalist entrepreneurship and commercial success.  Too much regulation restricts innovation and restrains competition.  Too little oversight can lead to lax standards and issues with interoperability of systems.
  3. Some traits common to spacecraft disasters are management failures and pressures to keep up with unrealistic launch schedules coupled with budget constraints. The commercial space industry is new and complex, and in a perfect world disasters could be avoided. When accidents do occur, the industry must vigorously investigate all possible causes in order to prevent them in the future. Building on previous successes and failures enables each subsequent commercial space flight to get cheaper, more reliable, and improves efficiency at an exponential rate.

Discussion Questions[edit | edit source]

  1. What determines the location of a launch site?
  2. Should Congress set an official date to regulate commercial human spaceflight? Or it be based on other criteria?
  3. Would you and your family pay to fly into space?  How much??
  4. Who should be responsible for the safety and success of commercial space transportation?
  5. Do you think the new administration of President-elect Trump will continue to support the growth of the commercial space industry?
  6. What role should the United Nations or other nations have in determining U.S. commercial space policy?

Maps of Locations[edit | edit source]

U.S. Map of Launch Sites and Space Ports - FAA

U.S. Space Transportation Industry Sites and Locations - FAA

3D Map of Space and Satellites -

Satellite Tracker Map -

Additional Reading[edit | edit source]

  1. The World's Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in Space - FastCompany
  2. 2015 An Epic Year for the Space Industry - Space Angel Network
  3. Five things to know about the new FAA drone rules - USA Today
  4. What SpaceX's rocket landing means for commercial space travel - The Washington Post
  5. Commercial space industry seeks regulatory reforms in the Trump administration - SpaceNews
  6. National Space Society Blog

References[edit | edit source]


Gulf carriers vs. U.S. big three carriers and open skies

Summary[edit | edit source]

The top three U.S. Airlines; American, United, and Delta have accused the Gulf Carriers, Etihad, Emirates, Qatar Airlines of unfair competition by utilizing state subsidies to take business from lucrative routes traditionally held by the top three U.S. carriers. The U.S. carriers have asked the U.S. Departments of Transportation, Commerce, and State to open talks under the Open Skies Agreement with the governments who own or fund the airlines, and to cap the service in the U.S. at the current level while discussions are underway.[1] We present the case study to examine the dispute and analyze whether it is a case of unfair competition or an attempt at protectionism.

List of Main Actors[edit | edit source]

U.S. Big Three: The three largest American flight carriers: American Airlines, United Airlines, and Delta Airlines, who claimed that the following three Gulf carriers benefitted from over 40 billion dollars in subsidies over the past two decades. [2], violating the Open Skies agreement. [3]

Gulf Carriers: State-owned flight carriers Emirates Airline, Etihad Airways, and Qatar Airways, accused of receiving over 40 billion dollars in subsidies by their governments. [4]

U.S. Government Agencies: The United States Departments of Commerce, Transportation and State, with the support of the American Congress, [5] who are reviewing the complaints made by the Big Three [6] toward the gulf carriers.

Qatar: Government that fully owns Qatar Airways. [7]

United Arab Emirates: Middle-eastern government that owns Emirates Airline [8] and Etihad Airways [9]

Stakeholders: American companies Fedex, UPS, Boeing, and American airline companies Jet Blue Airways, Atlas Air Worldwide, and Hawaiian Airlines, who did not support the claims raised by U.S. Big Three. [10]

ICAO: The International Civil Aviation Organization, which is part of the UN, regulates air transit, and can be called in to arbitrate disputes between two countries.

Timeline of Key Events[edit | edit source]

Jan-Feb, 2015: The U.S. Big Three, formed by American Airlines, Delta Airlines, and United Airlines, made their claim to the Obama administration, expressing their wish to revisit the open skies agreement, due to unfair competition created by over 40 billion in subsidies. [11] [12]

April 10, 2015: The Departments of State, Commerce and Transportation announced that they had started reviewing the claims that the three middle-eastern state-owned carriers were being subsidized. [13]

April 30, 2015: The U.S. Congress issued a letter to the Department of State and the Department of Transportation, asking for action to be taken and information to be gathered about the claims made by the U.S. Big Three [14]

May 5, 2015" The Department of Commerce issued a notice to all stakeholde