China’s transportation business leaders weigh in on Covid-19 influence

The coronavirus pandemic could boost newer modes of transport in China, such as making autonomous driving more mainstream, a panel of industry leaders told CNBC.

The Covid-19 outbreak accelerated the commercialization of autonomous aircraft – or driverless drones – used to transport goods, medical supplies and even passengers in and out of quarantine zones, Edward Xu, chief strategy officer at the Chinese drone maker Ehang, told Arjun Kharpal during the virtual CNBC Evolve Global Summit On Wednesday.

Headquartered in Guangzhou, the company made headlines in 2016 when it announced: Passenger drone concept. self-driving cars drive on a road during a test run on February 1, 2018 in Guangzhou, China.

VCG | Visual China Group | Getty Images

“In the future, we will be working with … Chinese government officials to expedite the commercialization of our product,” said Xu, adding that the company had two meetings with regulators and intends to have its passenger drones certified within two years.

The Chinese driverless car start-up has sent some of its unmanned vehicles to transport medical personnel to Covid-affected areas and to transport urgently needed goods. It showed people how new technologies can be used to fight a pandemic, according to founder and CEO James Peng.

“We can imagine that after the post-pandemic era people will become more familiar and comfortable with fully driverless vehicles and we are ready to move that forward,” he added.

Growing demand in urban mobility

While the pandemic made many commuters suspicious of public transportation, some turned to personal mobility devices for their travels.

Chinese electric scooter manufacturer Niu technologies According to CEO Yan Li, saw “great demand for individual urban mobility devices”. He said the company was about to deliver 150,000 units of e-scooters in the first quarter.

Read more about electric vehicles from CNBC Pro

Even after the pandemic, the trend should continue, according to Li. He said people in China would likely continue to commute on scooters as they offer more freedom compared to public transportation.

“We don’t see the trend of people using public transport again. A lot of people are starting to get used to these custom mobility devices and I think that’s a good trend for us, ”added Li.

Future challenges

According to industry leaders, the general adoption of autonomous vehicles faces a number of challenges. boss Peng listed three topics: technical progress, regulation and consumer acceptance.

It takes time for customers to get used to and understand that autonomous driving is indeed a safer and more convenient way of getting around.

“I think from a technical point of view we have made leaps and bounds in the last few years,” he said. Peng added that the company has received a fully driverless test permit in California and will soon also be granted in China.

Driverless vehicles have come a long way over the years as companies have repeatedly tested their technology to fix potential problems and prevent accidents. Still, public and regulatory safety issues remain a major hurdle on the road to mainstream adoption.

According to Xu from EHang, regulation is the “biggest bottleneck” for unmanned passenger drones.

An Ehang 216, a two-seat autonomous aircraft from the drone manufacturer EHang, can be seen at its presentation in Vienna on April 4, 2019.

Leonhard Föger | Reuters

“Because there is no regulation so far. There is no precedent in the past that allows the AAV to fly over the city area,” he said.

“Right now the situation is getting more and more convincing because we have carried out the test flights over 43 cities in 8 countries with more than 4,000 flights carried out,” added Xu.

Convincing passengers to take either driverless cars or autonomous passenger drones also remains a major obstacle.

“On this front, it takes time for customers to get used to how it feels (and understand) that autonomous driving is actually a safer and more convenient way to get around,” Peng said.

Transportation museum reopens Could 16 | Leisure

WEST HENRIETTA – The New York Transportation Museum, 6393 East River Rd., Will reopen May 16 with a new schedule of events and trolley rides.

To comply with COVID-19 regulations, trolley ride days and special event days are limited and reservations are required. Masks are required in the museum and on the drive. Special event dates and days on which trolley rides take place are listed on the museum’s website.

The museum is home to a collection of 14 trolley cars, several highway and horse-drawn vehicles, three model trains, the Midtown Plaza Monorail, and numerous exhibits celebrating the region’s transportation history. In the gallery, a video showcases the Rochester Underground in color, and a gift shop caters to the needs of all ages and interests.

On days with trolley rides and special events, visitors experience the interurban era a century ago as their trolley winds its way through the scenic landscape on a 20-minute round trip. The air whistle and the click of the rails are reminiscent of a time when trolley cars provided fast and clean service to cities in New York State.

Admission is $ 5 for adults ($ 10 on trolley ride days) and $ 4 for teenagers ages 3 to 12 ($ 6 on trolley ride days). Admission for seniors is $ 9 on trolley ride days. Admission prices vary on special event days.

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With extra ‘hope cash’ from feds on the horizon, South Dakota’s transportation fee OKs changing 31 bridges

“We know we have a number of bridges in disrepair,” said Tammy Williams, SDDOT program manager, during a meeting of the South Dakota Transportation Commission Thursday, April 29th. But Williams told the commission that federal grants could be in excess of $ 30 million annually for the next four years.

When asked how reliable this funding could be, she replied, “However, we are programming for it … and we just hope.”

“Hope money,” interjected Commissioner Mike Vehleto laugh at.

The bridges of the state of South Dakota are more sobering, however.

A national trade group released a report Earlier this year, South Dakota was found to have the fourth worst rating of structurally weak bridges in the country.

And while the congress is debating duel infrastructure approaches – President Biden announces he plans to spend more than $ 2 trillion while Republicans of the Senate have proposed a reduced $ 500 billion plan – South Dakotans, who depend on federal dollars for bridge funding, listen.

State officials said that on Thursday deteriorated conditions are not largely found in the inventory of around 1,800 directly owned by the state.

“Our government structures are in pretty good shape,” SDDOT’s chief bridge engineer Steve Johnson told the commission.

However, conditions are becoming more precarious for the 3,900 buildings in counties or cities where the average bridge age (51 years) is seven years older than the national average (44). On Thursday, Williams said that 25% of that inventory is classified as “in poor condition” by the state.

“The county system came a little earlier,” Williams said, noting that roads and associated bridges were built from the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s, decades before the highway system on which many state structures rest. “Many of the local structures date from this time.”

But she said they are “making progress”.

Last year, a federal-local program funded the repair of 49 structures. On Thursday, the commission unanimously approved the approval of $ 21.5 million 31 Replacing structures – and remove another 11 – currently in the public inventory of the bridges and place them in the coming year Planning budget.

“It’s good business,” Williams commented.

The bridges, she said, were selected by a scoring system that awarded applicants points based on the condition of the bridge and its “impact on the user”. The bridges awarded include a number that crosses the various waterways, which state officials in certain areas of South Dakota have identified as a constant challenge.

“If you look at the east side of the state, you can actually see the major rivers that flow through South Dakota and the tributaries that flow into them,” noted Mike Behm, director of the planning and engineering division who provided the commission on Thursday with a structure condition report summarizing the conditions of the 5,700 public bridges in South Dakota that cover 82,000 miles of carriageway.

Of the 31 bridges to be replaced, four cross Wolf Creek in rural Hand County, while others include structures that span the Big Sioux and Miller Creek in Spearfish.

Freeway infrastructure: Obama stimulus has classes as Biden proposes transportation cash

With President Biden planning a far larger $ 600 billion program in transportation spending, Maryland Road highlights what critics have cited as flaws in the earlier program: It was too small, not geared towards reshaping the country’s road network, and theirs Benefits were difficult to measure. Experts say the post-recession effort compares best to the Biden government’s proposals – and can expose pitfalls that should be avoided 12 years later.

New Hampshire Avenue is now riddled with cracks and potholes. Sidewalks put pedestrians close to cars passing at 40 mph.

The Maryland State Highway Administration said the road is about two-thirds of its life and that while some cracking and deterioration is expected, it is in good condition.

Rep. Peter A. DeFazio (D-Ore.), Who as chairman of the House Transportation Committee will play a key role in attempting to steer Biden’s package through Congress, voted against the 2009 legislation, disappointed with the size of its infrastructure component.

“They resurfaced highways and bridges that were falling apart,” he said. “It wasn’t an infrastructure bill.”

The Department of Transportation reviewed the program at the end of Obama’s second term and concluded that the quality of roads and bridges improved following the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and that a new grant fund and money for bullet trains boosted investment . The money improved 42,000 miles of road and repaired 2,700 bridges. In addition, 12,000 buses and 700 wagons were purchased and 800 airport projects financed, the department said.

Ray LaHood, Obama’s first transportation secretary, said the money did what it was supposed to do. He said Biden’s role in overseeing the 2009 spending as vice president prepared him to follow up on the new package.

“He was so closely involved in the last bill and the chair of our task force that we met every week,” said LaHood. “He really kept his thumb on the process.”

Even so, LaHood acknowledged the disappointment of some Congressmen that the Obama administration hadn’t done more. He recalled bringing the news to lawmakers that the government would not support a gas tax-funded proposal for highways and transit.

But this time Lahood said things are different.

“There will be an enormous amount more money,” he said. “It’s going to bring a tremendous amount more people to work and really attack the dire state of the infrastructure.”

Beyond the size of the proposed spending, there are other significant differences between the Funding of the Redevelopment Act and what the White House is currently pursuing. The focus today is less on injecting money into the economy immediately, as Congress has already approved trillions of short-term spending to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Instead, the plan describes efforts to modernize existing roads, build networks that are more resilient to extreme weather conditions, and eliminate longstanding racial injustices in the design of urban roads.

In 2009, the federal highway administration and other agencies pumped money through existing programs that federal and state officials were familiar with. Achieving Biden’s goals would likely need to establish new rules that could potentially slow the financial burden on the economy while prioritizing road safety and the environment.

For Beth Osborne, director of the Transportation For America advocacy group, setting goals to bring the road network up to date is critical.

“Our existing program didn’t clear the backlog, and it wasn’t because there wasn’t enough money,” Osborne said, adding that money was being used to upgrade roads rather than repair them. “If we really want to fix things, we have to be clear about it.”

When reviewing the program in 2011, the Government Accountability Office found that the transportation department had not done enough to track the benefits. Officials told the Congressional Guard it was next to impossible to separate the effects of restoration funds from other transportation dollars.

“DOT will not be able to report results such as reducing travel time,” the reviewers wrote.

The money was essentially offered to states for free, as opposed to typical federal road funds that require states to pay one dollar for every four dollars they accept. However, the law asked states to pledge not to cut their own transportation spending. A regulation that 21 states did not follow, according to the GAO review.

Bill Dupor, an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, completed Despite a $ 28 billion increase in federal highway funding, the system “found no significant improvement.” The reason could be that federal money “displaced” government spending: Dupor’s analysis showed that each additional federal dollar only increased total spending by 19 cents.

But Dupor said the situation is different today. Public finances have been hit by the coronavirus pandemic but have recovered faster than in the previous recession. The challenge for states now could be to manage the size of the new proposed package, although Dupor said that would likely be a short-term problem as it progresses.

Shoshana Lew, who served as Treasurer of the Transportation Department in overseeing Recovery Act money, now heads Colorado’s Transportation division. She said the experience she and many of her colleagues had from the last recession prepared them to put in a new infusion of money.

“The Recovery Act created some muscle memory for spending stimulus dollars,” she said.

Truth Examine: Claims that TCI cash will go into the Particular Transportation Fund usually are not correct

In a March 11th op-ed For the Connecticut Post, Senator Christine Cohen, D-Guilford wrote, “All receipts [Transportation and Climate Initiative] will be deposited in the locker of the Special Transportation Fund to be invested in reducing transport emissions. “

Similarly, Energy and Environment Commissioner Katie Dykes said in an interview with that the STF’s constitutional locker protects TCI funds from legislative raids CT mirror.

However, given the legislative language or the governor’s budget proposal, these claims are not entirely accurate.

The transport and climate protection initiative would oblige gasoline producers and wholesalers to purchase carbon credits at auction. The proceeds of the auction will be passed on to participating states to invest in green energy, climate justice and public transportation.

The state expects the program to raise between $ 80 million and $ 110 million annually, but the funds will not be put into the special transportation fund, according to the governor’s proposed budget and legislative language.

TCI funds are deposited into a separate dedicated fund set up under the umbrella of the Transportation Grants and Restricted Funds Account.

According to the approval invoice, TCI funds are paid into a transport and climate account that “has been set up by the Comptroller as a separate non-expiring account within the Transport Grant and Restricted Accounts Fund”.

According to State statuteThe Fund for Transportation Grants and Restricted Accounts contains all transportation funds that are restricted, not available for general use and previously reported in the Special Transportation Fund as “federal and other grants”. The Comptroller is authorized to make the necessary remittances to ensure that, notwithstanding any provisions of the general bylaws, all transportation funds that are restricted and not available for general use are included in the Transportation Grant Fund and Restricted Accounts Fund. “

The enabling legislation – Governor’s Bill 884 – expressly points out that income from TCI auction sales are “not considered as pledged income” to the STF.

In the governor’s transport budget, TCI funds are not listed as income in the special transport fund, but as a cost reduction, as TCI funds would be used to supplement the costs of public transport.

From the governor’s budget proposal

Starting in 2023, Lamont’s budget shows a spending reduction of $ 24.3 million, increasing to $ 69 million by 2026. No changes in income due to the inclusion of TCI funds are listed in the STF.

The TCI revenues are invested by both the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Energy and Environmental Protection with the approval of the Office of Politics and Administration.

On the recommendation of an equity advisory board, 35 percent of the TCI funds are invested “in such a way that communities that are overloaded by air pollution or are undersupplied by the transport system are ensured”. The Equity Board consists of stakeholders selected by the commissioners of DOT and DEEP.

The law also stipulates that a maximum of 5 percent of the proceeds will be used for government administration costs to help Connecticut meet its goal of reducing emissions to 80 percent below 2001 levels by 2050.

Why it matters

Claims that TCI proceeds go to the Special Transportation Fund are intended to reassure the public that the money they are paying for higher gasoline costs is actually being used for the intended purpose of lowering vehicle emissions and other climate protection initiatives.

The money in the special transportation fund is protected by the constitutional locker approved by voters in 2018 and prevents lawmakers from sweeping funds out of the STF to fill budget gaps in the general fund and ensure the money is spent on roads, bridges, and transportation infrastructure becomes .

However, the locker does not prevent the diversion of funds to flow into the STF, as demonstrated by Governor Lamont’s Redirecting sales tax revenue from the STF in 2019 and 2020.

Connecticut’s long history of sweeping money from earmarked funds to fill budget gaps is well documented and gives cause for concern that TCI funds are also being used for things that are outside of their intended purpose.


TCI earnings are not pledged to the Special Transportation Fund, but rather transferred to a new dedicated account. A significant part of the proceeds will be used for environmentally and climate-friendly goals, while the remaining funds will offset the costs of public transport.

According to state law, money in the STF is “spent exclusively for transport purposes”. Since the TCI proceeds are not used exclusively for transport purposes, the funds have their own account. The Connecticut Department of Transportation states that the Transportation Grant and Restricted Fund account has the same locker protection as the STF.

However, as has been shown in the past, the STF’s locker protection can be bypassed by diverting funds from a future governor or lawmaker. The fact that the transport and climate account has locker protection also means that it is subject to the same loopholes.

Duke Well being program gives meals, transportation, cash to assist individuals survive pandemic ::

– In the past six months, a Duke University health system program has helped support more than 30,000 people with COVID-19 who have been exposed to the coronavirus or are at high risk for the virus.

Duke Health’s COVID-19 social assistance program ensures they have food. Masks, gloves and other protective equipment; Access to medical appointments and vaccination appointments; and money to pay their bills.

“Many of the people we serve come from historically marginalized populations who are very distressed and in a desperate situation,” said Fred Johnson, vice president of Duke’s Division of Community Health.

Duke works with several community organizations – La Semilla, El Centro, Durham County’s Project Access, Gang Free, Slice 325, PEACH, and TRY – to provide services that help people take the right steps, such as: B. Isolate after exposure without worrying about how they eat or pay the bills.

“M.Each of them was an essential worker. Many of them were hourly workers with whom they had to make choices [not] To isolate or not to receive income, “Johnson said.” We believe this program has enabled them not to make this an either / or choice. “

To date, the program has provided 62,000 ready-to-eat meals, more than 10,000 boxes of PPE, and $ 2.5 million in funding.

“Entitled [individuals] had to isolate. So they could only get services that were roughly 14 days, which is the quarantine time, “Johnson said.

Jermaine Barnes drives seniors to and from medical appointments as part of the program.

“With most of these disabled and elderly people, in the pandemic, they have a hard time getting out and going around and doing things. They’re tired of sitting in their house and just doing nothing. So, getting them out to see.” their doctors, get vaccines, everything, it’s heartwarming, “said Barnes.” Without a program like this, I hate to say it, but I think there would have been a lot more deaths. “

The program was launched in September with $ 3.2 million CARES Act funding channeled through the state Department of Health and Human Services. It initially served Counties Durham, Vance and Granville and was later expanded to include Counties Wake, Franklin, Warren and Nash.

Johnson said the program was only supposed to last three months, but another $ 4.2 million government grant kept it going. However, this funding will expire at the end of March.

He hopes the health insurers will take over the funding so that it can continue.

“W.We know this [DHHS] secretary [Dr. Mandy] C.Fire and some of the major insurers have shown a clear interest and plan to introduce interventions and payments for interventions related to social health drivers, “he said.

Senate confirms Pete Buttigieg as Transportation secretary

Pete Buttigieg speaks at the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation nomination hearings to review his awaited nomination for Secretary of Transportation in Washington.

Ken Cedeno | Reuters

The US Senate confirmed Pete Buttigieg as Secretary of Transportation on Tuesday and presented the former presidential candidate with a host of challenges – from the President Joe BidenEnvironmental priorities of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, got approval last week following largely approval from the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation friendly listening. He was asked about issues related to Covid-19, the much-needed improvement in infrastructure, and strengthening the powers of the Federal Aviation Administration if he were to lead the DOT, which has 55,000 employees.

In the first two weeks, Biden’s government has already taken strict measures regarding transportation measures to contain the spread of Covid-19. Biden extended an entry ban for most non-US citizens who have recently been to Brazil, the UK and much of Europe. On Tuesday, the US government asked passengers to wear masks on planes, trains, buses, ferries and other means of transport.

Buttigieg’s DOT could become a driving or limiting force in the adoption of new technologies, especially autonomous and electric vehicles.

Biden has already directed federal agencies to consider revising the Trump administration’s lowered fuel emissions standards. He also said he plans to replace the government’s fleet of cars and trucks with U.S.-assembled electric vehicles

The 39-year-old will be the first openly gay person to hold a cabinet position and one of the youngest ever.

– CNBC’s Michael Wayland contributed to this article.