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All month at the Department of Transportation, we’re highlighting how the past 50 years of innovation have transformed the way in which we move people and goods across the country and around the world. We’re also looking ahead at the ways in which advancements in technology are allowing us to work toward 50 more years of forward-thinking innovation that will continue to keep us on the forefront of game-changing transportation.

But we can’t just talk about it – we must be proactive in our approach, and so we’ve put ourselves to the test. Today at the U.S.-China Transportation Forum in Los Angeles, we launched the Race to Zero Emissions (R2ZE) Challenge. This collaborative and friendly competition encourages transit agencies here in the United States and China to deploy innovative, advanced, non-polluting Zero Emission Buses (ZEBs) with the target of having such buses make up at least 35% of our fleets by 2025. In doing so, we aim to reduce greenhouse gas and emissions while fostering demand for zero emission, heavy-duty vehicle technology. 

Race to zero emissions banner image with secretary Anthony Foxx

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Across the country, millions of students are heading to the podium, taking part in commencement ceremonies at institutions of higher education. These sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, friends and colleagues equate to more than just numbers, they are our Nation’s future.

In addition to their degrees, these graduates hold the key to innovation. Many students spend four or more years working on the “the next big thing” – that cog in the wheel that will turn our present mode of thinking, living and doing into tomorrow’s reality.

Secretary Foxx at the UTA's Center for Transportation Research at the TACC’s Visualization Laboratory
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Transit plays a critical role in connecting Americans to economic opportunity, and that’s why I was proud to be in Columbus, Ohio, this week to announce a federal grant for a new bus rapid transit (BRT) project. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is providing $37.5 million to the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) for its CMAX BRT project. The funds are provided through FTA’s Capital Investment Grant (CIG) Program, the federal government’s primary grant program for funding major transit projects.

COTA’s new BRT line will strengthen and revitalize the communities it serves along Cleveland Avenue, connecting downtown Columbus with the northern suburbs, and improving access to jobs, education and medical care for thousands of residents.

CMAX Stylized Map image

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When it comes to vehicle safety, we often envision protecting the lives of occupants traveling inside a vehicle. But while roadway fatalities have successfully declined in recent years, the number of pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities have increased.

In 2014, there were 4,884 pedestrians killed and an estimated 65,000 injured in traffic crashes in the United States. On average, a pedestrian was killed every 2 hours and injured every 8 minutes in traffic crashes.

As such, I declared pedestrian and bicyclist safety a top priority for the USDOT and the deployment of connected vehicle technology has the potential to yield significant safety benefits for all pedestrians including cyclists, people in wheelchairs, children in strollers and passengers getting on and off of buses.

Image of pedestrians

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As the month of May comes to a close, so too does the annual observance of Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. But that doesn’t mean the end of efforts to make riders, and indeed all road users, safer.

Across the country, decision makers at the local, state and federal levels rely on data and analysis to make important decisions about making the communities we live in, and the transportation system we rely on, safer.

There are clear trends showing that the number of motorcycle fatalities is on the rise in recent years. We know this from compiling and analyzing reams of data points. Our Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), established in 1992, is designed to administer data collection, analysis, and reporting and to ensure the most cost-effective use of transportation-monitoring resources. Our challenge is to develop data and analyses that are relevant, high quality, timely, comparable, complete, and accessible-our strategic goals for transportation statistics.

spotting a motorcycle on the road can be hard image of traffic

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In honor of its 50th Anniversary, the US Department of Transportation has designated June as “Innovation Month.”  But what exactly does that mean?

The word “innovation” gets tossed around so much these days that it has almost lost its meaning.  Everywhere you turn, things are being labelled “innovative” even though they often seem, well… rather ordinary.  As a result, the word “innovation” can start to sound like a hollow buzzword. 

When Secretary Foxx asked me to serve as USDOT’s first Chief Innovation Officer, it wasn’t to bring more buzzwords to government.  My enthusiasm to take leave from Stanford University, where I work as a Professor of Mechanical Engineering, and join USDOT was not because of the trendy title.  It was instead because I saw a huge challenge and a chance to do my part to help meet it.

Image of demonstration of the Microsoft Kinect system at the FAA Academy in Oklahoma City
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As holidays go, Memorial Day is one of America’s most important. It is a time to remember the sacrifices made by those who have died in the service of our country.

It is also the traditional start to summer and, with that, summer driving. Last week, our friends at the AAA announced their estimate that 34 million drivers will travel more than 50 miles from home this weekend, making it one of the most highly traveled weekends in more than a decade.

According to FHWA data, the busiest interstates in the nation are Los Angeles’ I-5, which is used by an estimated 452,600 drivers on a normal day, followed by Atlanta’s I-401, which typically serves an estimated 382,000 drivers each day. You can bet those numbers will be even higher this weekend.

Safety first street sign

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Transportation is our lifeblood. It gets us where we need to be, whether it’s to work, to meet friends, to enjoy our kids’ baseball games or be home with our families.

It’s funny, but when it works best, we almost forget about transportation. It’s always there. It’s reliable. We don’t need to think about it.

Unfortunately, everyday transportation has become even more challenging as our cities grow. Congestion, cost, proximity, or the ability to physically access some vehicles are hurdles. These barriers, like a purchasing or driving a car, are even higher for our most vulnerable communities – the working poor, children, seniors, and people with disabilities.

Image of Secretary Anthony Foxx and representatives at the conference table

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Earlier this month, Kansas City, Missouri celebrated a major first as residents and visitors boarded the city’s first streetcar in over 59 years. A result of a $20 million TIGER grant awarded by the Department of Transportation, Kansas City’s streetcar system came in on time and under budget. As 32,000 people climbed aboard during opening weekend, $1.7 Billion in economic development had already been accounted for along the 2.2 mile route.

During his opening remarks, Mayor Sly James thanked DoT partners who “from the very beginning, understood what this project meant to our residents, our visitors and our future.” He noted that this was not an ending, but rather the beginning of something truly transformative for the people of Kansas City. 

And he was right.

Streetcar and Union Station with Liberty Memorial Image

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The efficiency of freight movement affects the bottom line of businesses nationwide -- from the first mile, when a product is shipped, to the last mile, when it arrives at its destination. For businesses in the Northeast, this means cost – the cost of delivery and, increasingly, the costs of delay. 

In New York City, 80 percent of freight is moved by truck -- leading to some of the worst and most expensive congestion in the country. The myriad of solutions to address the freight congestion in the Big Apple will call for complex undertakings such as the Cross Harbor Freight Program proposed by the Port of New York and New Jersey (the East Coast’s largest port). The project could improve freight movement across New York Harbor by offering a tunnel and various non-highway alternatives, such as rail.

At the same time, easier and proven solutions such as off-peak deliveries, or nighttime deliveries, continue to be part of the answer to freight congestion. There is no question that truck deliveries made when there is less traffic on the highways - can save time and money. With the rise in online shopping and other deliveries -- traditional approaches to freight shipping will change.

Image of trucks on bridge traffic

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