Adie Tomer

The Washington Post reported on a recent White House analysis of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. That assessment found “strikingly few claims of fraud or abuse,” according to the article. Well, good! We’ve complained before that ARRA’s welcome emphasis on transparency tilts too much toward curbing this kind of waste and too little on establishing a clear, sensible focus on measuring outcomes, irrespective of the multiplier effects of speedy spending Jon Cohn points out.

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That the Icelandic volcano that has shut down much of Europe’s air travel has ripple effects around the globe is well known. A recent article in the New York Times quotes the Center for Asia Pacific Aviation saying: "The Ash Attack has already affected the travel plans of eight million passengers in Europe and around the world. The total cost for the aviation industry (airlines, airports, suppliers, freight operators, handlers, etc.) could be well over $2 billion." But what U.S. metros are impacted the most? Reports abound about delays from Chicago to Orlando and Miami.

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The DC blogosphere stirred a bit yesterday regarding the DC Office of the Zoning Administrator’s announcement that the commercial neighborhood surrounding 14th and U Streets NW had reached its threshold for bars, restaurants, coffee shops, and carry-outs. Per local law, the maximum share of such establishments in the MidCity neighborhood is 25 percent.

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Finalizing a deal between major auto manufacturers and federal officials, the two sides announced new fuel-efficiency standards for vehicles beginning in 2012. The goal is to increase the fuel efficiency of cars and light trucks sold in the United States, thereby lowering the country’s emissions from the personal transportation sector. The changes have been long overdue. While engine-efficiency technology has continued to improve, the country’s fuel-efficiency standards have not followed suit.

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About a month ago USA Today ran a great series of stories about the new uptick in national driving, measured by vehicle miles traveled (VMT), and changing traffic patterns. My initial reaction to this increase was that, although national driving is up, we’re still driving less on a per person basis. In other words, as long as population goes up more people will drive their cars--but this says nothing about our behavior as individuals.

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It’s a common story in the U.S.

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Now that we’re a full week past the initial high-speed rail announcement, we’ve taken the time to resurvey some of the elements of this massive investment. Demand is one of those elements and it’s critical to projecting ridership. One method we’ve designed to measure HSR demand is corridor air travel. By offering specific boarding information, federal air data provides a stellar source of passenger travel information between any two metropolitan areas. Using the data we published back in October, here is how the corridors receiving at least $200 million stack up.

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With much excitement across the country, this week marked the true beginning of America’s recommitment to passenger rail service.  Eight billion dollars in stimulus funding was doled out to 31 states in every region of the country.  Those investments ranged from a massive down payment on true high-speed rail in Florida to planning grants in Kansas. However, conspicuously absent were concrete investments in the Intermountain West.  Specifically, the peanut-butter spreading missed two of the country’s 10 most traveled air corridors: Los Angeles-Las Vegas and Los Angeles-Phoenix.

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Whispered in July, rumored in December, and nearly shouted earlier this week, today marks the official announcement of Florida’s high-speed rail investment by the federal government.

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In early November we noted some atypically lousy reporting from the Washington Post concerning recovery programming. Unfortunately, it looks like the incredibly shrinking Washington Times also decided to get into the unbalanced reporting on ARRA game. Rather than unfairly characterizing programs, this time the reporting focused on… well, reporting itself. Using data from the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, the Times noted that $375 million in recovery dollars was delivered to nonexistent zip codes. Now, I’m not going to get into the business of defending reporting failures

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