In the 1960s, public transit was in critical condition. The way people travelled and where they lived had changed; transit systems nationwide were facing declining ridership and an inability to adapt on their own. But in 1964, a new law was enacted that would change all that by providing federal support to strengthen transit. It paved the way for the later creation of a small federal agency that, over the decades, would create a partnership with state and local governments to stabilize transit and finally lead it to a full recovery. Thanks to the work of the Urban Mass Transportation Administration (UMTA) – later renamed the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) – the demand for transit is growing and ridership is on track to exceed 10 billion trips annually for the seventh year in a row.
Last week, I had the great pleasure of moderating a panel at the Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Urban Mass Transportation Act. The panel was made up of each of the living, Senate-confirmed UMTA and FTA administrators, save one. And even the one absentee sent in written remarks that I shared as part of the discussion. It was a great privilege to share the dais with so many of my capable and accomplished predecessors.
Los Angeles, California, is our nation's second largest city, with a population of 3.8 million people. But the L.A. Metropolitan area is actually home to more than 12 million people, and if we cast our net just a bit wider to cover what's called the Greater L.A. Combined Statistical Area--the 3rd largest CSA in the world after New York and Tokyo--we're talking about nearly 18 million people. And the region continues to grow.
You don't have to be an engineer to know that creating a transportation system that can move that many people safely, reliably, and efficiently is an enormous challenge.
At DOT, we’ve been proud to support a number of transit projects in Los Angeles, from the Regional Connector Project to the Westside Subway Extension. And on Tuesday, I was proud again to join U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, and others to help break ground on another piece of the Southland's transportation puzzle: the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority's Crenshaw light rail line.
Yesterday, we concluded the Maritime Administration's first National Maritime Strategy Symposium, and we're pleased that it included so many leaders who work every day providing for the economic and national security of our nation’s waterways.
The U.S.-Flag commercial fleet, crewed by U.S. merchant mariners, provides safe, reliable, and environmentally-responsible transport of cargo to support economic activity –both domestically and internationally. Maritime trade is a critical part of our country’s economy.
That’s why the three day symposium was so important. More than 250 people representing shippers, operators, labor, academics, and government agencies participated in roundtable discussions, panel sessions and presentations, all focused on developing a national maritime strategy.
Between Communities, Across Modes
Each year, the Transportation Research Board's Annual Meeting brings thousands of professionals to Washington, DC, to discuss an extraordinary range of transportation topics from the 30,000-foot policy view down to the minute details of pavement performance data. It's a real highlight of the calendar for many in the transportation community, including a lot of us here at DOT.
If you attended TRB this week, you probably heard the words "partnership" and "collaborate" more than once. And if you work in transportation, you'll probably be hearing a lot more of them.
Today I spoke at the Transportation Research Board’s Annual meeting about a deficit that is threatening our country and the priorities I’m proposing to counter it.
In recent years, we've been a nation careening from crisis to crisis, keeping our foot on the brakes of economic growth, and creating uncertainty because we can’t agree on how to fix a deficit. Except that the deficit most people think of --the fiscal deficit-- is not the one I mean.
I spoke today about our infrastructure deficit.
While the fiscal deficit has been shrinking, the infrastructure deficit is growing every year.
For the past few years, it is has been my privilege to see firsthand a dramatic change in government culture: the public availability and application of data. This rapid increase of Open Data is not valuable in and of itself; its value lies in the ability of data to tell a story, guide how we direct our resources during a disaster, and help consumers make more informed decisions.
At DOT, we've been leaders of Data.Gov's Safety community. And yesterday, at the second annual Safety Datapalooza, innovators from government and the private sector shared some of the achievements in public safety made possible by this revolution in Open Data.
In the transportation sphere, leaders of two startups using safety data --Keychain Logisitcs and Bustr--shared how they've taken the data DOT makes publicly available and created useful apps for consumers as well as business owners.
Motorcoach travel provides mobility and connectivity for millions of Americans of all ages. In fact, last year, buses carried nearly three quarters of a billion passengers around the country. Motorcoaches help us meet our enormous energy and environmental challenges by removing cars from our roadways and reducing congestion. They are a major part of a vibrant national transportation network.
They also provide one of America's safest forms of transportation. But our job at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is to make it even safer. DOT and FMCSA are committed to the vision that passengers should enjoy the same standard of safety regardless of whether they are traveling by car, bus, train, or plane.
That's why my message to the American Bus Association's Bus Industry Safety Council yesterday was unequivocal: In 2014, FMCSA will be relentless in our pursuit of one level of safety for all bus passengers.
When you get a bunch of transportation people in a room to talk about highway operations--like we did yesterday at the Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board--interesting things are bound to happen. Okay, it might not appear to be an exciting topic, but roadway operations really can make a big difference in our everyday lives.
What exactly do we mean by operations? Keeping our highways open and flowing at the speed a growing economy requires...
It was a real honor to help kick off the North American International Auto Show this morning in the auto capital of the world, Detroit.
And especially at this moment, as the auto industry continues its dramatic comeback and the City of Detroit launches one of its own.