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...
I have great admiration for the women who are pioneers in their chosen field. In my years at the Department of Transportation, first with the Federal Aviation Administration and now with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, I have seen many women with a vision succeed in getting things done. It's inspiring to see women break barriers and succeed in non-traditional industries, and I am proud to recognize them during Women’s History Month.
I'm also excited about my ride-along with Women In Trucking this week and about having the opportunity to see firsthand how women –vastly outnumbered by their male counterparts– navigate the challenges they face at loading docks, on the roadways, at safety inspection sites, at truck stops, and in the maintenance yard...
FMCSA Deputy Administrator Daphne Jefferson (left) preparing to join U.S. Xpress truck driver Angela Jordan, who has been a professional truck driver for 20 years and is approaching 2 million miles of safe driving. Photo courtesy Duane DeBruyne, FMCSA.
In his Presidential Proclamation marking Women's History Month, President Obama reminded us that March will recognize the "countless pioneering women who have called not only for the absence of oppression, but for the presence of opportunity." So it was no coincidence last week that the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) hosted the 7th annual Women on the Water (WOW) Conference in Kings Point, NY.
This three-day event brought together female mariners --from Midshipmen and cadets to captains-- to learn about exciting maritime careers, discuss the transition from academy to industry, and discover a variety of professional development opportunities.
As I delivered the opening remarks and welcomed guests from State Maritime Academies and other maritime organizations across the nation, I was a first-hand witness to the future leaders whose success will honor the women who came before them and widen the path for all who follow...
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.
Who’s responsible for the safety of our nation’s transit systems? The answer is: everyone who works in the transit industry, from front-line transportation workers to our own Federal Transit Administration (FTA). In fact, if you’ve been following the Fast Lane blog, you probably know that FTA’s official oversight of public transportation safety is relatively new, starting two-and-a-half years ago as part of the law known as MAP-21. It is transit agencies themselves, along with state agencies and trade groups, that pioneered the practices that made public transportation one of the safest ways to travel. So from the very beginning, we knew that any progress we made in establishing our national transit safety oversight authority would have to build on that foundation and rely on their active participation. Together, we’ve been working to make a safe mode of travel safer.
Today, I was pleased to join federal, state, and local officials to celebrate the opening of a state-of-the-art transit system that provides Central Connecticut residents with rapid transport to jobs, schools, and community services. CTfastrak will carry passengers almost 10 miles, between the state’s capitol and surrounding suburbs, opening new connections and ladders of opportunity for both the car-less and those who wish to leave their cars behind. For some, CTfastrak will provide their first convenient access to a full-scale grocery store.
CTfastrak buses run in an exclusive lane, offering fast trips primarily because they won’t compete with cars. The system also features off-site fare collection, level boarding platforms, and even wifi. The electric hybrid buses, which are 90 percent cleaner than standard buses, will work a lot like light rail, but on rubber tires. Outside the window, hikers, bikers, and joggers will enjoy a new multi-use trail.
I was thrilled to join Governor Dannel Malloy, U.S. Representatives John Larson and Elizabeth Esty, and other State and local officials, for the inaugural ride from Hartford to New Britain. Federal transportation sources, including FTA, contributed 80 percent toward the project’s $567 million price tag.
One of the trends anticipated in our Beyond Traffic study of the challenges we face in the next 30 years is an increase in extreme climate events. And when disaster strikes, natural or man-made, getting an accurate and timely assessment of critical infrastructure damage is critical for restoring the free flow of people and goods – and doing so safely.
What if there was a way to get a bird’s eye view immediately after a disaster, but without putting ground crews in danger, and at a lower cost than using traditional aircraft surveillance? The first 24 hours following an earthquake, hurricane or tornado are critical in terms of damage assessment, and search and rescue. Further still, how can disaster response engineers capture and compare structures to what condition they were in prior to a disaster?
If can be difficult – if not downright impossible – to board a bus when there’s sidewalk construction or snow or an illegally parked car or some other obstacle in the way. Now imagine that you’re in a wheelchair, or need other help getting around. You might expect, and will often find, that the bus driver will be able to make some reasonable accommodation, but that’s not always the case. To make sure everyone has equal access to public transportation, the U.S. Department of Transportation has developed what we believe is a fair solution to address situations such as these.
Snowy Boston metro stop. IMAGE VIA TRACY MARSHALL ON TWITTER
We recently published a Final Rule clarifying that public transportation providers are required to make reasonable modifications to their policies, practices, and procedures to avoid discrimination and ensure programs and services are accessible. It applies to public entities providing fixed route, dial-a-ride, and complementary paratransit services.
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.