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When it’s time to take your car in for a tune-up, you want a shop that’s got the right equipment and can turn the job around quickly so you can get back on the road. America's transit agencies need the same qualities in their bus maintenance facilities.

That's why the Federal Transit Administration helps transit systems modernize their bus shops and keep their fleet in a state of good repair.

Photo of bus maintenance in Austin, TX, courtesy Evan Gearing

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is adding to our road safety message this week (see the October 24 post on Teen Driver Safety Week) with Operation Safe Driver, an all-out effort to combat the number of deaths resulting from crashes involving large trucks, buses and passenger vehicles.

During Operation Safe Driver, our safety partners are stepping up commercial vehicle and non-commercial vehicle traffic enforcement; safety belt enforcement; and driver roadside inspections. They're also increasing commercial driver safety education efforts.

But an equally important part of this campaign is the effort to raise awareness among the public about safe operations around commercial motor vehicles.

FMCSA Administrator speaks at an Operation Safe Driver event in Hartford.
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At the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, as it is throughout the entire Department of Transportation, safety is our highest priority. And when it comes to safety behind the wheel, we are especially concerned about our least experienced drivers, America's teens. 

That’s why on Tuesday, I was pleased to join Dr. Flaura Winston of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for National Teen Driver Safety Week and the launch of NHTSA’s new education campaign directed at the parents and guardians of young drivers: “5 to Drive.”

“5 to Drive” is all about getting parents and guardians to engage in an ongoing discussion with their teens about safe driving. We’re asking parents and guardians to reinforce five basic rules with any young drivers in their family.

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Now more than ever, we're being asked to stretch every transportation dollar as far as possible. One of the most effective ways we're doing that at the Federal Highway Administration is through our Every Day Counts initiative, which is saving State DOT's millions of dollars and delivering the benefits of road and bridge projects to travelers much more quickly.

If you want to see the future of project delivery, just take a look at the winners of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), AAA, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s 2013 America's Transportation Awards Competition and the states that made them happen. These two projects delivered the benefits of better roads, bridges, and highways sooner and more efficiently, using Every Day Counts innovations promoted by the Federal Highway Administration.

Utah's I-15 Corridor Grand Prize-winning project
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You might have noticed that a number of my recent blog posts have reached a similar conclusion:  that rail deserves a predictable and reliable federal funding stream.  The most recent news supporting this comes from Amtrak, which recently announced their 10th annual ridership record in 11 years.  Amtrak carried 31.6 million passengers in Fiscal Year 2013.  And as you can see from this chart below, the railroad’s ridership has grown more than 50 percent since 2000.

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I want to congratulate the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association on 40 years of effective advocacy for road safety, fair treatment of America's truck drivers, and an efficient transportation network. OOIDA has come a long way since its beginnings at a truck stop on I-70. And today, the group is an important partner to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration--particularly on safety issues.

The safety culture that OOIDA has developed among its members has been tremendously important--for commercial drivers, their families, and everyone on our roadways.

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During the government shutdown, we will not be posting new content to the Fast Lane blog, and we will not be approving comments to existing posts.

You can view the DOT 2014 Plan for Appropriation Lapse here.

Employees seeking additional information about their work status should visit www.dot.gov/status.

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The innovations that we need to advance America's transportation system require research --research in new technologies, new materials, and new methods. And DOT is proud to work with educators, students, and researchers across the country to support our nation’s transportation goals.

Over the last 25 years, DOT has supported the crucial work done by students and faculty at America's research institutions through the University Transportation Centers (UTC) program.  And yesterday, the Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) announced approximately $63 million in grants to 33 UTCs to advance research and education programs addressing critical transportation challenges facing our nation, from environmental sustainability to safety. 

The participating universities play a vital role in developing both our transportation system and a professional workforce with the expertise and knowledge to tackle the transportation challenges of the future.

Photo montage of transportation modes

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The economic recovery continues to offer new opportunities for the U.S. maritime industry and the U.S.-flag fleet, and I am excited that our nation’s international shipping community has capitalized on these opportunities and is poised to expand even further.  Recently, at the inaugural Tradewinds Jones Act Forum, I discussed the changes affecting the coastwise U.S.-flag maritime industry -- also known as the Jones Act fleet.

Since its enactment, the Jones Act continues to ensure a level playing field for U.S. vessels moving cargo within the nation. The Act keeps skilled American mariners employed aboard American ships by requiring that products moved between U.S. ports be carried by U.S. vessels manned by U.S. crews.  More recently, the Jones Act has been a catalyst for growth in the maritime industry and also our economy.

Photo of Chip Jaenichen

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The 40th anniversary of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 gives us a chance to reflect on the progress we've made and the challenges that still exist for people with disability in the 21st Century.   As the predecessor to the Americans with Disability Act, the Rehabilitation Act continues to serve as the foundation for enhancing access for all Americans.

Section 504 is the federal law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in programs receiving federal funding.   While many people are familiar with the idea of accessible sidewalks, and buses,  one of the lesser-known keys to achieving transportation progress for people with disabilities is access to travel training.

Learning to navigate the available options safely and confidently can make a big difference not just in your mobility, but in your quality of life and the number of opportunities open to you.

Photo of student in wheelchair on streetcar

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