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Monthly Archives: February 2013

Wyoming Fuel Tax

Wyoming just approved a 10-cent per gallon hike in their fuel tax. It had pretty sweeping support… people will actually vote in favor of tax raises for obvious infrastructure needs.

More on Virginia’s Plan

Not only is Virginia placing a levy against alternative fuel vehicles, they are also drastically reforming the funding structure. A few highlights:

  • Dropping the 17.5 cent fuel tax
  • 3.5% wholesale tax on gasoline
  • 6% tax on diesel fuel
  • Boost state sales tax by .3% and shift $200 million a year from sales tax into the highway fund

Kind of interesting. That wholesale tax is just going to get passed on to consumers. And making the fuel taxes percentage instead of fixed means that as fuel prices rise they state will get more revenue… to a point. At some point rising fuel prices triggers a decrease in demand. I’ve not heard of anyone else doing fuel tax by percentage like this.

Etihad Rail

Another “close-to-home” story. Etihad Rail here in the UAE is set to start freight shipments by year end. I saw a couple maintenance-of-way ballast cars being carried on flatbed trucks on my drive to work yesterday. Also, last weekend I went camping in Liwa and saw the right-of-way under construction from Tarif to Madinat Zayed. They look very close to laying rail.

New Doha International Airport

It looks like Doha finally has an opening date targeted for their new airport. Set to open in April, it will officially be called Hamad International Airport. I’ve done some work on this airport, it will be good to see it finally operational.

Photo – Tires

Tires

Does it get more exciting than a picture of tires? I just really liked this shot I took back in 2008 while attending the Brickyard 400 with my father-in-law. He took me with him every year back when I lived in Indy.

787 Airworthiness Directive

Here’s the Airworthiness Directive issued by the FAA regarding the 787 battery issue: FAA AD 2013-02-51.

NTSB 787 Investigation

This is a photo of one of the burnt up batteries from the NTSB investigation of the 787 batteries.

JAL787 APU Battery

This is from the JAL 787 that caught fire on the apron at Logan International Airport in Boston.

You can read all about the National Transportation Safety Board’s investigation into the 787 battery issue on their website. They’ve got some relevant photos as well as interesting documentation.

They’ve even got a quick little primer on Li-ion battery technology.

Boeing Photos…

More Boeing photos at Paine Airport than I know what to do with… so cool!

Fees for Hybrids?

So Virgina just past a transportation bill that will up the fee for registering hybrid, electric, and alternative fuel vehicles. Expect to see a lot more of this.

So many state transportation bills rely heavily on gas taxes, as do federal bills. On the one hand we want people moving to more fuel efficient vehicles but on the other hand a reduction in consumption is a reduction in revenue. People have to pay for their fair share for the wear-and-tear of the infrastructure. The gas tax no longer provides funding that is proportional to use. Technology is to the point where we could easily move to a pure usage tax for the roads. Why don’t we?

Lahood’s Sucess

I’ve been ripping on DOT Secretary Ray Lahood a bit lately for his political brinksmanship. As he’s about to leave his post the Middle Seat Terminal blog takes a look at his record.

Now, airlines face potential huge penalties if they leave people sitting on grounded planes for more than three hours (four hours for international flights). There are exceptions for safety and air-traffic control situations, but the rule has clearly curbed what had been an ugly problem. In 2009, 868 flights were stuck on the tarmac at least three hours. The rule went into effect in April 2010. That year, there were 124 flights stuck three hours or more; in 2011, there were only 86, and in the first 11 months of 2012, only 73, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

This is a significant success and a huge help to the traveling public. Big thanks for this one Mr. Secretary.