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.
On Monday, four new, modern train cars rolled out of a railyard in Greenbelt, MD, and made the short trip to the station platform. They weren’t there to pick up passengers; instead, they were providing a first look at an entirely new generation of rail cars, designed --in part-- with the input of Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Agency (WMATA) customers and train operators.
They are the first of more than 500 new "7000 Series" cars --all made in the United States-- that will provide a safer, more reliable ride for millions of passengers and expand the Metrorail system’s capacity overall.
In 1977 –the year after I began my railroading career– 48 railroad employees lost their lives in switching accidents. That’s four lives every month in switching accidents alone. That's more than a statistic to me. My father is a retired switchman; I switched box cars; and five of my friends have been killed on duty during my railroading career.
More than three decades later, we have made significant progress. In 2013, only one employee died during a switching operation. And while we still see this as one too many, it shows us what’s possible when the Federal Railroad Administration, the rail industry, and rail labor come together to form safety partnerships and eliminate risks.
Photo courtesy joeknowsphoto
Tired of sitting in traffic jams near road work zones? Watch the video below to learn how the Federal Highway Administration uses Accelerated Bridge Construction to help states build bridges faster while minimizing—or even eliminating—traffic jams, detours, and delays. Trust us, it only sounds like magic.
Accelerated Bridge Construction is just one of the innovations that has emerged from FHWA's Every Day Counts (EDC) initiative. If EDC sounds familiar to Fast Lane readers, it's probably because we published a post here just yesterday from FHWA Deputy Administrator Greg Nadeau asking readers to submit ideas for the next round of EDC innovations--EDC3. We think watching the video will help inspire you to give EDC3 some thought.
Pipelines are an important part of our transportation infrastructure. They span 2.6 million miles nationwide, moving energy products like natural gas and petroleum from wells to refineries to consumers like you.
DOT's Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration safeguards these pipelines by, among other things, issuing and enforcing regulations. Two years ago, the Pipeline Safety Act of 2011 was signed into law. That Act gave PHMSA the ability to hold pipeline operators more accountable by authorizing the agency to double maximum penalties for violations. It also required us to meet 42 mandates to strengthen pipeline safety and oversight. By the end of 2013, PHMSA had completed half of those mandates.
Because the more you know, the safer you are, PHMSA remains committed to transparency. That's why, last year, we published a Pipeline Safety Act progress chart, where anyone can track our implementation progress section by section.
Attention Fast Lane readers: the Federal Highway Administration needs your assistance identifying the next wave in cutting-edge technologies and tools to help states save time, save money, and save lives.
Today, FHWA announced a request for help as we build EDC3, the next wave of Every Day Counts (EDC) technologies -- at www.fbo.gov.
EDC3 builds on the efforts that Victor Mendez launched in 2010 as FHWA Administrator to promote strategies and technologies that provide state and local governments with innovative solutions that can save them both time and money.