You may now exhale

If you've been holding your breath since Nov. 3, it's okay to breathe now.

Photo © Dan Zukowski

The best thing about Nov. 4 is that it brought an end to the incessant political attack ads, robocalls and robotexts. Now we can go back to ordinary spam calls and relentless junk food advertising.

As of this writing, the election everyone wants to end remains undecided. Even if it’s called soon for one or the other presidential candidates, the vote tallies in more than one state could be so close that recounts and court challenges will keep us all in suspense a little longer.

The next best thing about this election is the massive voter turnout. When all votes are counted, estimates are that 160 million voters cast their ballot either in person or by mail even as the nation is in the grips of a deadly pandemic, with daily cases surging to new highs.

On sheer numbers, that would be a record, but it represents just two-thirds of eligible voters. In 1876, 81.8% of American eligible voters participated, but half the U.S. population — women — were still prohibited from voting.

In coming weeks, as results are finalized, we’ll analyze how the presidential and Congressional results could influence and change transportation and infrastructure policy. Subscribe now to stay informed - it’s free.

McConnell open to new relief bill

Following Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s successful reelection bid, he told reporters that he was open to passing new relief spending before the end of the year.

Although the Senate and House are far apart on the size and scope of any pandemic relief measure, both parties would likely want to get something done as a second coronavirus wave threatens the nascent economic recovery. The wild card is President Trump. As he thrashes around Twitter and wails about the prospect of losing reelection, will he agree to any new legislation or will he pursue a scorched-Earth policy on his way out?


Transit agencies rethink future of commuter rail

The pandemic summer of 2020 exposed huge gaps in who needs public transportation and who gets it. Read the full story that I wrote this week for Trains News Wire.

More on hydrogen power

Following my Oct. 2, 2020 story , “No shame for this flight: Airbus eyes clean hydrogen power,” Yale Enviroment360 published a piece on green hydrogen as the key to a carbon-free economy.

Green hydrogen, which uses renewable energy to produce hydrogen from water, is taking off around the globe. Its boosters say the fuel could play an important role in decarbonizing hard-to-electrify sectors of the economy, such as long-haul trucking, aviation, and heavy manufacturing.

Voters give lifeline to Caltrain

New electric trains being tested. Photo credit: Caltrain

With transit agencies struggling to make ends meet in the face of drastic declines in ridership, voters approved three ballot measures on Tuesday to fund transportation. The most-watched, highest-stakes of these was Measure RR in the San Francisco Bay Area to keep Caltrain out of bankruptcy with a one-eighth cent sales tax increase.

Voters in Austin, Texas approved funding for a $7.1 billion plan to build two light rail lines, a downtown subway and added rapid bus routes. Fairfax County, Va. approved a bond measure for a portion of Washington Metro capital projects in the county.

A $7 billion transit measure failed in Portland, Ore., while a Gwinnett County, Ga. referendum that would expand rail and bus service remains undecided, with votes too close to call.