Yesterday, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority (WMATA) formally introduced its new train cars at Metro's National Airport station.
The new "7000 Series" cars --made right here in the U.S.-- were not there to pick up passengers (that happens today!). WMATA had the new cars on hand to showcase their next generation features, many of which were designed with the input of WMATA customers and train operators.
The 7000 Series will provide a safer, more reliable ride for millions of passengers and help WMATA expand the Metrorail system’s capacity. That’s why the Federal Transit Administration has contributed more than $100 million to support this important upgrade...
It’s in everyone’s best interest for us to have a great transportation system. It’s how we get around, and how our goods get from place to place.
Yet our transportation infrastructure is in very poor shape. More than half of our roads are rated in less than good condition, a quarter of our bridges languish in the same category, and public transportation is falling behind. The last time the Federal Transit Administration tallied up the backlog in transit repairs and maintenance, it came to over $86 billion. And it’s growing.
Many people long for more and better public transit options to get to work, school or the doctor, while those fortunate enough to have transit access can all relate stories about service disruptions. That’s to say nothing about future transit users. In the next 30 years, the U.S. will be home to 70 million more people. To keep America moving, we will need a strong, reliable public transit system.
I was invited, along with federal, state and local officials, to attend today’s Stand Up for Transportation rally in Philadelphia to talk about some of these challenges and potential solutions. SU4T rallies were held in dozens of cities across America in a daylong show of support for transportation. We spoke before hundreds of transportation supporters and interested citizens who stood up outside historic City Hall at Dilworth Park, a public square and transit center renovated partially with DOT funds, to demonstrate their commitment to our efforts to climb out of our infrastructure hole.
I’m pretty excited about the productive week we've had here at DOT, and I'd like to share that sense of achievement and --more importantly-- promise with Fast Lane readers.
On Monday, we jumped out of the gate by sending a revamped GROW AMERICA Act to Congress. GROW is our legislative proposal for surface transportation that provides six years of funding certainty, increased investment in infrastructure, and smart policies that ensure taxpayers get more bang for their buck and that communities can enjoy the benefits of projects sooner. Experts all agree that America's transportation system needs more than a few potholes filled and bridges repaired. But we also need to start getting ahead of the curve like the world leader we have been since George Washington began supervising construction of a canal along the Potomac River. And GROW will help us do that.
In fact, all of this week's highlights point back to the GROW AMERICA Act...
Today, it is my absolute pleasure to announce the availability of $500 million for DOT's 2015 TIGER grants for innovative transportation projects across the country.
Over the past six rounds, funds from our Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery program have helped launch projects in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico --many of which would still be on the drawing board without TIGER. The highly competitive program offers one of the only federal funding possibilities for multi-modal projects that often are not suitable for other federal funding sources.
Like its preceding rounds, this seventh round of TIGER will fund projects that create jobs, foster regional partnerships, advance new technologies, spur economic and community development, and strengthen the transportation infrastructure of this great country...
I do not know who the Secretary of Transportation will be in the year 2045. But 30 years from now, if that person were to go to Michigan and speak at the Detroit Economic Club –as I did yesterday– he or she might be able to tell the audience:
“Detroit is the new Silicon Valley. You all manufacture a great invention of the 21st century: a car that drives itself. This vehicle has prevented nine out of every ten potential car accidents. No one dies because of drunk driving anymore. And no one has to circle the parking lot again looking for a space. The thing even parks itself, too.”
Of course, our Beyond Traffic: Trends and Choices study tells us that autonomous vehicles are just one of the many technologies with the potential to revolutionize our transportation system; we have the chance to build a country where mobility is as cheap and plentiful as fast internet and running water.
And my message to Detroit yesterday was that we can make this vision a reality only if we start thinking about our challenges today...
Today, Congress has one new message in their inbox – and it is marked urgent: A new and improved GROW AMERICA act awaits their review.
America is in the midst of a growth spurt, and the problem is: our roads, rails, and transit systems do not automatically grow along with our country.
It is not news to Fast Lane readers that – come May 31st – federal funding for transportation will expire, right at the start of construction season.
This crisis, our readers know, is not new, either. It’s six years – and 32-short term funding measures – in the making.
On top of that, for more than a decade now, federal transportation funding has been stuck at a level below what is needed to merely keep the transportation infrastructure we have in good shape.
Well, on Monday, I met with the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ (USCM) Cities of Opportunity Task Force: two dozen mayors who, like us, want to see real change happen in transportation.
From left: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Transportation Deputy Secretary Victor Mendez, and Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh at a Cities of Opportunity Task Force meeting in Boston. Courtesy of U.S. Conference of Mayors/@usmayors.
Led by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh, the task force was asked by USCM President Kevin Johnson to find ways to reduce income inequality in America’s cities and metros. To do this, Johnson has said, requires building a “community and economy that works for everyone.” And to do that, we know, requires cities to invest in transportation systems that leave no one behind.
Yesterday, I moderated a panel discussion of business leaders and policy wonks, including my friend, Governor Hickenlooper of Colorado.
The venue? The Department of Commerce’s SelectUSA Conference.
The topic of discussion? How to bring more private sector dollars to America’s streets – and also bridges, waterways, airports, subways, and rails.
Fastlane readers know that our transportation system is screaming for more investment. The United States is on track to underinvest in transportation by about one trillion dollars by the end of the decade, and this is happening at a time when demand for transportation is increasing. America will be home to 70 million more people by 2045, and we will have to move 45 percent more freight.
Yesterday, we dared to write a blog post celebrating data. Today, we are unapologetically following that with a post celebrating wireless technology. The transportation connection? With DOT support, vehicle-to-vehicle communication is coming to the automobile market, and it will make our lives safer and help us go Beyond Traffic.
As we wrote here last month about this game-changing technology, "when a car can see what a driver can't, yours could warn you of a potential crash or icy roads ahead; advise you of a traffic jam ahead and automatically recalculate your travel route; or even help you locate an available parking space."
And it appears that the editors of MIT's Technology Review were listening. Because when the Review released its list of "10 Breakthrough Technologies for 2015" in late February, Vehicle-to-Vehicle Communication was right there. Listed among the key contributors were our very own National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as well as the University of Michigan, where we launched our first large-scale V2V pilot program. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Office of Research Technology (OSTR) here at DOT have also been instrumental...
It is hard to overstate America’s reliance on a safe and efficient freight network. This network is the circulation system that fuels our economy health and helps secure our Nation, and the Obama Administration has consistently emphasized the importance of improving our infrastructure.
That is exactly what brought me to Quincy, IL, earlier this month. With $12 billion in goods transported to global markets each year through Quincy by road, rail, or river, this community is a domestic and international economic hub.
Because our population will grow by 70 million during the next 30 years --and to support that population our freight volume will have to increase by 45 percent-- community leaders in Quincy are working with DOT's Build America Transportation Investment Center (BATIC) to develop a port that can support the region’s expected freight growth...