The economic news from President Obama's State of the Union address last night is good: "Our economy is growing and creating jobs at the fastest pace since 1999."
In fact, over the past five years, American businesses have created more than 11 million new jobs. That 58-month streak of job creation is the longest on record, and since 2010, we have put more people back to work than all of the advanced economies of the world combined. The economic growth reported for the 3rd quarter of 2014? The strongest in more than a decade. And our federal deficit? Cut by two-thirds.
As the President said, "The verdict is clear. Middle-class economics works. Expanding opportunity works."
Good news indeed, but no one at DOT is confusing that good news as a sign that we can afford to rest. Because we cannot; we can't rest on transportation, and we can't rest on opportunity. As President Obama pointed out, "No one knows for certain which industries will generate the jobs of the future. But we do know we want them here in America..."
Lately, President Obama has hinted at the shape of things to come, saying, "Interesting stuff happens in the fourth quarter." And he is not talking about the Seattle Seahawks.
Tonight at 9pm (ET), the Nation will learn exactly what he has in mind when the President delivers his sixth State of the Union address to both houses of Congress, his Cabinet, and an audience of millions of Americans.
This is a terrific opportunity to hear the President assert his priorities for the coming year. So, many of us at DOT are looking forward to tuning in tonight and hearing what President Obama has to say.
And if you have an interest in transportation, and the future of our country, we encourage you to tune in as well...
This Martin Luther King, Jr., Day, DOT hosted a screening of the movie Selma for Horton’s Kids. They’re a group of local students that DOT folks mentor and tutor every week. And yesterday, before they walked into the theater, I had a chance to chat with them about the film they were going to watch, about Dr. King, and about the legacy of the brave civil rights advocates who marched over that bridge in Selma and across the country.
When I arrived to meet the kids, they were still sitting on the bus that had taken them to the theater. I told them that they weren’t much younger than the young men and women that rode other buses on the Freedom Rides. Nor were they much younger than some of the people who refused to ride the bus in Montgomery during the boycott of 1955-56.
My point was: We tend to think of the civil rights heroes as just that –heroes, figures immortalized in monuments. But we also have to remember that before they were cast in stone and written into history, they were just people. In many cases, just at the dawn of their adulthood. They displayed the courage to stand up for justice and the discipline to do so with a purpose.
Last July, President Obama announced the Build America Investment Initiative, an Administration-wide effort aimed at boosting private investment in our nation’s infrastructure. And on Friday, Vice President Biden announced new steps that federal agencies are taking to bring private sector capital and expertise to bear on improving our nation’s roads, bridges, and broadband networks.
You can read more about Friday’s announcement here. These actions and announcements are the first steps that the Administration is taking as part of the Build America Investment Initiative’s two-year action plan.
These steps highlight important progress within DOT. When the President announced this initiative last July, he also called on this Department to launch the Build America Transportation Investment Center. And over the past six months, DOT, the Department of Treasury, and more than a dozen other federal agencies have worked to stand up this crucial team, which serves as a one-stop shop for investors seeking innovative financing strategies for infrastructure projects. The Center focuses on facilitating access to USDOT credit programs and helping project sponsors improve project development and delivery. After all, the more projects can move toward completion, the better we can address the Nation’s growing infrastructure deficit...
Today, DOT fined Southwest Airlines $1.6 million for violating rules regarding lengthy tarmac delays and ordered Southwest to cease and desist from further violations. This is the largest civil penalty the Department has assessed for tarmac delay violations.
On January 2, 2014 --and extending into January 3-- Southwest failed to give passengers on 16 different aircraft at Chicago's Midway International Airport an opportunity to deplane within three hours of arrival. The airline also failed to have sufficient staff available to implement its Tarmac Delay Contingency Plan...
Transportation access and quality are both important measures of the regional “connectedness” that is central to growth and prosperity. Reliable and affordable transportation is an essential ingredient for strong families and equitable, resilient regions.
Achieving equitable growth depends on having nuanced information about who needs to be connected to opportunity throughout a region. Compelling data revealing who benefits from growth and who pays can help garner support for good, inclusive policy proposals. Data is ubiquitous, but the right data —broken down by race, ethnicity, and geography— is hard to find.
That task has become a bit easier with the creation of the National Equity Atlas, a dynamic, comprehensive online resource. Produced by PolicyLink and PERE (Program for Environmental and Regional Equity), the Atlas makes it possible to track, measure, and make the case for inclusive growth in America’s regions and states, and nationwide...
For automotive enthusiasts, the North American Auto International Show, which began on Monday in Detroit, is an exciting glimpse into the future of performance, styling, and safety.
For NHTSA, it’s our opportunity to visit with industry leaders and reinforce with them our commitment to the safety of the American public and to personally tell auto executives how we will approach our mission of saving lives and preventing injuries...
The focus of the Transportation Research Board annual meeting being held this week in Washington, DC, is the future of transportation. That focus was highlighted on Monday when Secretary Foxx previewed DOT's 30-year framework, "Beyond Traffic," a dynamic, stakeholder-informed vision of what our transportation landscape will look like in 2045.
At DOT, we're excited about this framework. We're also excited about the work we're doing right now to make the transportation of tomorrow a reality today. Just ask our Federal Transit Administration.
On the same Monday, in Louisville, Kentucky, the Transit Authority of River City (TARC) took a ride on the future of transportation when TARC leaders and guests boarded one of the city's new zero-emission transit buses for its maiden trip. The 10 vehicles in TARC’s American-made, all-electric Zerobus fleet replace the city’s diesel-powered trolleys, TARC's highest polluting vehicles. The new fleet will save TARC money in fuel costs and help cut carbon-monoxide emissions in Louisville...
As Fast Lane readers know, safety is the bedrock of everything we do at DOT. And thanks to our efforts, we’ve made impressive strides in our efforts to keep the American traveling public as safe as possible.
This week at the Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting, I had the great pleasure of a moderating a panel featuring a who's who of DOT leaders: FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan, NHTSA Deputy Administrator David Friedman, FHWA Acting Administrator Greg Nadeau, PHMSA Administrator Tim Butters, FMCSA Acting Administrator Scott Darling, MARAD Administrator Chip Jaenichen, FRA Chief Council Melissa Porter, and FRA Chief Safety Officer Bob Lauby.
What brought all of these individuals, representing all forms of transportation, together? An important conversation about safety - the work we're doing as a Department today and the challenges we'll need to tackle in the future...
The challenges facing transportation in America cannot be dealt with piecemeal. They’re tightly connected, and they must be managed as a whole.
For example, we know that populations are shifting and growing now and that 70 million more people will be living in the U.S. in the next 30 years. We know that new technologies like ride-sharing and Unmanned Aerial Systems (you know them as “drones”) are changing the way we travel and how we move freight.
But, we haven’t taken a good look at how one piece affects another. We’re not thinking big enough – or forward enough – to address the issues we’ll need to address if we want to keep our nation moving 30 years from now...