In an effort to reduce spending in the recently passed $109 billion highway finance reauthorization bill, the Senate dropped a provision for a National Travel Data Program which would have required the collection of national passenger and freight travel data to guide transportation operations, policy, and investment decisions.
Johanna Zmud, director of the RAND Corporation's Transportation, Space, and Technology program, argues in an editorial on StreetsBlog.org that smart, competitive transportation decisions need comprehensive, timely, and accurate data. Zmud asserts that such information will not only guide decisionmakers at the federal, state, and local levels but also enable people and industry to use transportation systems more effectively.
Zmud's editorial further contends that making the best use of funds allocated by the federal government from motor fuel tax dollars is especially important in the current economic climate. The authors argue that eliminating the National Travel Data Program to save money at the expense of informed transportation decisions is pennywise but pound foolish, considering that the annual cost of the program was only nine cents per driver annually.
The editorial, which Zmud coauthored with collaborators on a special study conducted through the Transportation Research Board, can be read in full at www.rand.org. If you have further questions or would like to discuss transportation and infrastructure data with Johanna Zmud, please contact me at Matthew_Dicker@rand.org, (703) 413-1100 ext. 5320.
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