The package, which also includes some extra automotive fees, is expected to raise more than $5 billion a year for transportation projects, most of which are aimed at catching up on long-delayed maintenance work.
That’s one of the tricky aspects of the situation. To build public support, backers of the package hinted—but did not promise—that it would do something about the state’s worst-in-the-nation roadway congestion, but in fact it will do little, if anything, to relieve traffic jams.
Most of the proposed improvements won’t be obvious, like expanding a freeway would be, and motorists may wonder whether they are getting something tangible for the extra money they are paying.
Port officials said the plan seeks to accelerate pollution reductions while remaining sensitive to the economic effects of transforming the complex, which handles about 40% of U.S. imports and support hundreds of thousands of jobs across Southern California. Though the volume of shipments moving through the L.A.-Long Beach ports has tripled since the mid-1990s, they face increasing competition from East and Gulf Coast ports, which have less stringent environmental mandates.
By adopting the plan, the ports are expecting businesses and taxpayers to foot the bill. They are also sending a signal to manufacturers that there will be demand for cleaner trucks and freight-moving equipment, and, eventually, models with no tailpipe emissions.
Ships nearly three times as large as the ones crossing before the expanded locks opened in June of 2016 are bringing tens of millions of additional dollars in tolls and a trading boom to U.S. East Coast ports, allaying some fears that investments to cater to the bigger vessels wouldn’t see enough returns.
Since the start of the year, transiting tonnage at the Panama Canal has increased by nearly 23%, canal executives say. Last week marked the 2,000th transit of a ship that wouldn’t have fit through the old locks.
. . . The widened waterway means importers as far inland as Tennessee could find it cheaper to bring in Asian goods to ports like New York, Savannah, Ga., and Charleston, S.C., rather than move them by rail and truck from West Coast ports, which handle about two-thirds of Asia-to-Americas trade.
Working at home continues to grow as a preferred access mode to work, according to the recently released American Community Survey data for 2016. The latest data shows that 5.0 percent of the nation's work force worked from home, nearly equaling that of transit's 5.1 percent. In 2000, working at home comprised only 3.3 percent of the workforce, meaning over the past 16 years there has been an impressive 53 percent increase (note). Transit has also done well over that period, having increased approximately 10 percent from 4.6 percent.
. . .The same is true of Los Angeles. Despite spending more than $15 billion (2016$) building and opening an extensive urban rail and busway system, not only has working at home recently passed transit, but ridership on the largest transit system has fallen from before opening the first line.
The data show that, nationwide, transit’s share of travel grew from 5.03 percent in 2006 to 5.49 percent in 2015. This growth was at the expense of carpooling, as driving alone’s share also grew. In 2016, however, transit’s share fell to 5.36 percent while both driving alone and carpooling grew. Among major urban areas, transit’s share of commuting grew from 2015 to 2016 in Pittsburgh, Salt Lake City, Seattle, and–amazingly–San Jose. But it declined in far more regions: Austin, Boston, Charlotte, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Honolulu, Houston, Los Angeles, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland, Sacramento, San Francisco-Oakland, and Washington DC. It was flat (changed by 0.05 percent or less) in Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Miami, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and New York.