Yoav Hagler

Yoav Hagler Yoav Hagler is an Associate Planner with the America 2050 program, which is creating an infrastructure plan for the nation's development in the 21st century. In this capacity, Mr. Hagler focuses his research efforts on national transportation policy and is involved in coordinating and planning a series of infrastructure forums titled "Rebuilding and Renewing America" in megaregions across the nation. Mr. Hagler also acts as the coordinator for the Business Alliance for Northeast Mobility, a coalition of more than 30 business and civic groups established to promote improved transportation links in the Northeast megaregion.

Mr. Hagler holds a BA in Economics from Wesleyan University and a Master in Urban Planning from Columbia University where he received the American Institute of Certified Planners Outstanding Student Award.

Recent Commentary

Virgin PendolinoBy Yoav Hagler. Reprinted from RPA's Spotlight on the Region.

My train pulled out of a shabby, non- descript rail terminal operating at capacity in a major world city. This particular train was designed for speeds of up to 140 miles per hour but regularly operates at only 125 mph. An hour and twenty minutes later, I arrived at my destination, a city of a couple of million people about 100 miles away. The railroad right-of-way recently underwent a major upgrade, including electrification and a new signaling system.

Sound familiar? Have you traveled between London and Birmingham on a Virgin Pendolino train recently too? Surprised I wasn't describing my recent trip to Philadelphia out of Penn station? There are great similarities. England is far away from the Northeast and its rail challenges, but the experience and choices made across the water have lessons for us.

The US Department of Transportation would get $72.5 billion for fiscal 2010, a 3 percent increase over the previous year, as part of the Federal budget proposed by President Obama. This funding includes the establishment of a five year, $5 billion grant program to fund high-speed rail projects around the country. This funding is in addition to the $8 billion allocated for high-speed rail as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. In a press statement released by the USDOT, Secretary of Transportation LaHood commented, "This budget is a start toward setting the nation's transportation system on a sustainable path."

From DOT Press Release:

The budget proposal does provide a broad framework that commits funds for sustainable  solutions for surface transportation, explores options to make the nation's communities more livable through increased funding for public transit, supports development of a high speed rail network across the country and supports the Next Generation Air Transportation System to modernize the air traffic control system.

The budget also creates a national infrastructure bank with a funding commitment of $5 billion a year over the first five years.  Details on how the bank would operate were not released.

The total amount of money for transportation held roughly steady at just under $50 billion, about 6 percent of the total price tag of the stimulus bill.  However, in late stage negotiations, the amount allocated for high speed rail increased from the $2 billion proposed in the Senate version to $8 billion.  The Associated Press reports that the push for increased funding for HSR was made by the Administration and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, whose office issued a statement noting that a proposed Los Angeles-to-Las Vegas HSR route might receive a large percentage of that funding.

Highway and transit funding in the bill emerged from the House/Senate negotiations mostly unchanged.  Here are the final transportation figures to emerge from conference committee:

$27.5 billion for highway
$8.4 billion for transit
$1.5 billion for competitive grants to state and local governments
$1.3 billion for aviation
$8 billion for high speed rail
$1.3 billion for Amtrak