Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016

Bringing Federal Travel Into The 21St Century

Representing 2.8% of the U.S. GDP, travel and tourism are becoming more expensive for consumers each year. If you work for the federal government you most probably travel more frequently than the typical American for a mix of business and leisure jaunts. To make this easier, the U.S government has passed two bills allowing the use of not so traditional types of transportation.

The federal government is extremely behind the times with old-fashioned strategies that strangles modernization and opposes 21st Century progress (say some people, not all). The result is a government that honors old technology and pays more than it should for fundamental services such as Federal Travel.

Bringing federal travel into the 21st century

Let’s take a look at the Metro system as an example. Metro’s competitive and unprecedented overhaul of its railway system has sent shock waves across the whole of Washington. In the next coming months, all Metro’s six rail lines will be changed at different occasions, this will range from outright closures to single-tracking for several days at a time. A system that many government and particularly federal government workers use.

In preparation Metro officials have asked that its users avoid using the Metro system as much as possible and to find other ways of traveling during the expected shutdowns.  (real helpful)

A bill was passed recently in the House that would allow it to be easier for federal workers to use innovative service companies like Uber and Lyft.  At least this is an immediate answer to Metrorail’s SafeTrack plan.  SafeTrack is an accelerated work strategy to address security recommendations and rehabilitation of the Metrorail system to enhance security and dependability.

This new law is called the Government Travel Modernization Act (5625 Bill). This bill will permit federal workers to use bike and car sharing facilities if traveling for a governmental organization. The bill is being introduced by Representatives Darrell Issa of California, Will Hurd of Texas and Seth Moulton from the District of Massachusetts. The H.R. 5625 bill, will allow for compensation to be given to federal workers for the use of “modern travel services.”  Modern travel services such as car sharing and bikes, haha.

About The H.R. 5625 Bill

tru-edMany of the regular, arbitrary postponements on the Metro made federal workers late for appointments, meetings, or loss of valued work time. This bill will enable these workers to expand their commuting choices. And will also permit federal workers who receive transportation system benefits to use with ride share services.

The lawmakers say it would give workers greater flexibility by having the capacity to summon a ride via a smartphone. Also, the law would save taxpayers money and bring federal travel authorities into the 21st century to allow for compensation of the other services rather than merely conventional ones, including taxi cabs.  Discounted federal travel utilizing more efficient means of transportation and saving time for government workers as well as tax payer money is a great idea.

This new measure also has the support of the Consumer Technology Association, the technology politicization group that represents Lyft, Uber, and more than 2,200 other technology companies. CEO Gary Shapiro stated the new laws would give federal workers the options they should have and taxpayers will also save money.

Some advocates of this bill, argue that the federal government should not favor one transport system over another and that federal workers should be able to select the most cost effective and suitable means of transportation whenever they’re traveling.

The bill allows for a rather expansive interpretation of what services would have the ability to qualify for transportation system benefits. Commuters must use a transportation network business, which is either a Corporation, Limited Liability Company, Partnership, Sole Proprietor, or any other entity. This transport provider will use advanced mobility technology to provide transportation services.

Under the proposed law, federal workers would simply have the ability to use transportation system benefits to pay for car sharing services if they agree that they are not going to also use the tax-free parking grants for commuting to work.

What is the impact of this bill?

Taxis, notably, are excluded from the statement. Although the District bureau that controls the city’s taxi fleet started a cab-hailing app of its own early this year to help out cabbies that have lost much of their revenue to Uber and Lyft.

Meadows’s and Connolly’s bill would apply to federal workers who live in Prince George’s, Montgomery, and Federick counties in Maryland; and Arlington, Loudoun, Fairfax, Alexandria, and Prince William counties in Virginia. Below is a summary of the impact of this Bill on federal workers:

• The bill would extend to any service that uses advanced mobility technology to offer transportation, including bike share, carpool, car share or vanpool and other creative jobs.

• The bill would permit federal workers to use their transportation system benefits on travel modes aside from Metro for the duration of the transit agency’s SafeTrack repair program.

• The bill will affect other apps apart from Uber and Lyft. Apps like Zipcar and Car2go, and Capital Bikeshare and other public transportation services.

This is not the first-time Congress has introduced legislation designed to support using ride-sharing services. In 2015, Rep. David Schweikert of Arizona presented a bill that will necessitate some federal agencies selling automobiles that they possess and later encourage federal workers to use ride-sharing firms to get around town.

The federal government is generally enlarging its view of public transportation from train and buses to modes that have mostly emerged in only the previous decade. While ride-hailing apps and car sharing firms have already made their marks on residential and consumer behavior; this change can ingrain those services into the definition of transportation system infrastructure, even if it doesn’t survive beyond the SafeTrack itinerary.

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