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TMA Bucks Teen Driver Safety Video PSA Challenge is underway

TMA Bucks announced during National Teen Driver Safety Week that it is once again challenging Bucks County high schools to submit videos for its Teen Driver Safety Video PSA Challenge powered by Comcast. The contest is part of TMA’s Bucks County High School Seatbelt Safety Challenge.

“We understand this school year is incredibly unique for students and teachers and just like last spring we will once again offer Bucks County high schools the opportunity to create video PSAs to create positive change in their school communities,” said TMA Bucks executive director Stephen Noll.

All Bucks County high schools have the opportunity to produce and submit a 30-second video PSA on teen driver safety. It can deal with any aspect including seatbelts, texting, distracted driving, speeding, etc. The school selected as the winner will get a $500 cash grant and their video will play on Comcast networking.

Videos must be uploaded to YouTube with the link emailed to dave@bctma.com by April 1 to be eligible to win.

While the Teen Driver Safety Video PSA Challenge will definitely take place, the current school situation makes the Bucks County High School Seatbelt Safety Challenge contest status less clear.

“It is extremely difficult to plan ahead when we have no idea what this school year will look like month-to-month due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” said David Walter, TMA Bucks deputy director and manager of the Seatbelt Challenge. “We will do everything we possibly can to administer our Seatbelt Challenge contest for the 2020-2021 school year if and when it is possible for us to do so safely and fairly.”

There are many more factors to weigh with regard to the Seatbelt Challenge, since this program focuses on students driving to and from school. This will be something the TMA will monitor closely, and would likely and realistically need all schools in the area to be operating as normal with full student bodies in order to fairly hold the contest.

“Even if we can’t have the contest portion of the challenge, we have let our participating schools and teachers know that we will still provide the educational component to their students because teen driver safety needs to be a focus no matter what is going on in the world,” said Walter. “Just like last spring, we will work closely with the schools using virtual presentations to provide educational resources to teachers and students to help make our teen drivers safer.”

AAA Mid-Atlantic is the premier sponsor again for this year’s challenge. Additional sponsors are Automotive Training Center (Warminster campus), Bucks County Community College, Bucks County Courier Times and Intelligencer, Fred Beans Family Of Dealerships, Jefferson Bucks Hospital, McMahon Associates and Sen. Tommy Tomlinson.

“We can’t thank our sponsors enough for continuing to support this great program despite the ongoing challenges businesses and organizations have been faced with these past few months,” said Noll. “Their support makes this program flourish.”

Visit tmabucks.com for more information.

Wolf announces plan to phase out gas tax

Gov. Tom Wolf announced a commitment to phasing out Pennsylvania’s gas tax, which he said is becoming an unreliable source for funding Pennsylvania’s vast transportation network. He signed an executive order establishing the Transportation Revenue Options Commission, which will develop comprehensive funding recommendations for Pennsylvania’s large and aging infrastructure.

“Our economy, our communities and our future rely on a strong transportation system that supports our safety and growth. We have more than $9 billion in annual unmet needs across our state-maintained transportation system alone. At the same time, Pennsylvania is relying too much on outdated, unreliable funding methods, and the federal government hasn’t taken meaningful action in decades,” said Wolf. “Phasing out the burdensome gas tax, coupled with seeking long-term reliable funding solutions that will keep pace with our infrastructure needs, deserves a close examination. Forming this bipartisan commission will bring multiple, bipartisan voices to the table to ensure that we can examine reliable, sustainable revenue solutions to address both near-term and long-term funding needs.”

Pennsylvania has one of the largest state-owned transportation networks in the country, with nearly 40,000 miles of roads and over 25,400 bridges under its direct purview. PennDOT also oversees aviation, rail freight, public transportation, ports, pedestrian and bicycle programs. 

In 2019, the Transportation Advisory Committee identified major risks to transportation funding such as reduced fuel revenues, unpredictable federal funding and legislative changes to reduce commitments.

PennDOT’s latest assessment places the annual gap of its needs in all modes and facilities at $9.3 billion, growing to an annual $14.5 billion gap by 2030.

Further, as more fuel-efficient cars and technologies are created, reliance on the gas tax for state revenue is less and less dependable, said Wolf. Any phase out of the gas tax will need to be coupled with new or replacement revenue. 

The Transportation Revenue Options Commission is comprised of transportation, economic and community stakeholders from both the public and private sectors, including majority and minority leaders from the House and Senate Transportation and Appropriations committees. PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian will serve as commission chair. 

The commission will have its first meeting by March 25, and a report of commission activities and funding options will be submitted to the governor before Aug. 1.

“I am grateful to all the commission members for contributing their time and expertise to this critical issue,” said Gramian. “We must work together to find sustainable, future-focused funding solutions that will keep Pennsylvanians moving.”

PennDOT seeks feedback on winter services

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is seeking the public’s feedback on winter services through an online survey found at surveymonkey.con/r/PDWinter2021

“PennDOT is proud of our winter operations and communications,” said PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian. “The results from this survey will help us measure public expectations and identify education opportunities.”

The survey is available through April 6 and should take about five minutes to complete. All responses are completely anonymous. 

The 12-question survey asks respondents about their timeline expectations for safe and passable roadways, how they rank snow-removal priorities, and how they rate PennDOT’s winter services. 

Respondents are also asked how they receive PennDOT roadway information, and whether or how they use the state’s 511PA traveler information services. During the winter, 511PA.com offers its standard traffic and incident information while adding PennDOT plow-truck locations, winter roadway conditions and other services.

TMA Bucks helps bring electric vehicle charging stations to Middletown 

Middletown Township, in partnership with TMA Bucks, announced that the Middletown Township Municipal Center, located at 3 Municipal Way, Langhorne, and Department of Public Works, 700 Veterans Highway, Levittown, now feature ChargePoint electric vehicle charging stations.

Both charging stations are now open for public use at the rate of $0.18/kWh. As a service to the community, the township does not profit from the charging stations.

The charging station at the Municipal Center is located in the parking lot outside of the Police Department, and the charging station at the Department of Public Works building is located outside of the main entrance.

“Middletown Township is extremely proud to join the growing network of charging stations for electric vehicle drivers and support clean energy solutions to protect our environment,” said Stephanie Teoli Kuhls, Middletown Township Manager.

TMA Bucks assisted Middletown Township with securing a grant from the Driving PA Forward program and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

“Reducing emissions is an important tool for improving the air we breathe,” said TMA Bucks executive director Steve Noll. “We were extremely happy to work together with Middletown Township on this project that will help contribute to cleaner air and lower emissions in the area.”