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When then Secretary Norman Mineta rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange in 2004 to announce a new monthly transportation index, he kicked off a new era in the use of statistics for measuring transportation. In the decade since, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the DOT’s data agency, has been applying its advanced statistical methods to track the level of transportation activity, issuing an index number every month.

During the past 11 years, the BTS Transportation Services Index (TSI) has shown the changes in transportation activity, including both its low in the 2007-2009 recession and its record highs in recent months...

TSI showing Freight, Passengers, and Total
Transportation Services Index (TSI) Freight and Passengers (Year 2000=100)
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From barges that move coal to vessels that carry vital pharmaceuticals and construction materials to ships that transport military cargo overseas, mariners and marine transportation play crucial roles in our society.  Each year on May 22, we observe National Maritime Day to honor the U.S. Merchant Mariners who have served and continue to serve our nation.

National Maritime Day commemorates those merchant mariners who made the ultimate sacrifice while also highlighting the growing global dependence on maritime services.  It also gives us an opportunity to ensure that we encourage and prepare our next generation of merchant mariners, who will be essential to tomorrow's maritime industry...

MARAD Administrator Chip Jaenichen

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Fast Lane readers know that two recent DOT programs –our Mayors’ Challenge for Safer People, Safer Streets and our LadderSTEP initiative—feature technical assistance as a key element. With those two efforts and the TIGER grant workshops we’ve hosted, we’re reaching out to help communities across America plan better, build better, and move better.

And we’re not alone. Earlier this month, Transportation For America (T4America) –an alliance of elected, business and civic leaders—partnered with TransitCenter—a philanthropy committed to improving urban transportation—to launch the Transportation Innovation Academy.

The year-long academy gathers key leaders from large metropolitan areas that have ambitious plans to expand their regional transportation system. They recognize that world class public transportation is essential to their economic competitiveness and to prosperity for all residents...

Transportation Innovation Academy

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Today we’re taking the next steps to make sure that every American car and truck has air bags that work properly.

Over the last several months, air bags made by the world’s largest manufacturer –Takata– have come under question.  Investigators from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) suspected that the air bag inflators did not work correctly.  And we believe that they have been responsible for at least five deaths in the United States.

But up until now, Takata has refused to acknowledge that their air bags are defective. That changes today.

Today, Takata has entered into a consent order with NHTSA.  The company has agreed to declare that the air bag inflators in question are defective, and that it is recalling the inflators...nationwide.  The consent order also requires Takata's full cooperation with NHTSA going forward...

At the Takata announcement

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Today the House of Representatives voted on its 33rd short-term funding measure for transportation in the past 6 years, and Americans will pay the price.

On the surface, funding transportation drop-by-drop might not seem like such a big problem.  But it is, and the facts are unassailable.  This era of short-term patches and chronic federal underinvestment has crippled America’s ability to build the transportation system we need.

This is not anyone's idea of the preferred outcome.  And while we recognize that Congress needs more time to complete work on what we do want –a long-term bill that increases investment in our nation’s infrastructure, the White House has made it clear that this pattern of perpetual uncertainty must stop...

Overburdened road
The light might be green, but no one's going anywhere.
Continue Reading Let’s Make it Count in 2015 ››
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The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) relies on its partnership with transit agencies and state safety oversight agencies to make a safe industry even safer.  The job of transit safety oversight requires easy and convenient access to the latest training and technical methods and resources.

Earlier this month, the FTA launched its new safety training and resource website, safety.fta.dot.gov, to deliver on our important safety responsibilities...

Screen capture of F.T.A. safety website

Continue Reading New website helps transit ››
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Today -- during National Bike Month -- I am excited to announce the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) new Separated Bike Lane Planning and Design Guide.

What exactly is a “separated bike lane” (sometimes referred to as a “cycle track” or “protected bike lane”)?  In simple terms, it’s a portion of a roadway for bicyclists that is physically separated from motor vehicle traffic.

These lanes are an important tool communities across the U.S. can use to build safe, comfortable, and connected networks of bicycle infrastructure that meet the needs of people of all ages and abilities...

Chicago bike lane

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If you noticed an unusually high number of commuters on two wheels and under pedal power last Friday, that's because it was Bike To Work Day (B2WD).  And while it's not exactly the most widely-observed day on the national calendar --yet!-- it is something to celebrate.

For regular bike commuters, it might just have been another Friday in May.  But perhaps the most interesting aspect of B2WD is the number of not-so-regular bicyclists who come out of the woodwork. 

Bike To Work Day web image

Thanks to B2WD pit stops and other activities that communities across America hosted, many riders who might otherwise drive, walk, or ride transit, learn that bicycling to work is a reasonable option --not mention fun, healthy, and sustainable.  Some communities also encourage new bike commuters by hosting guided rides and ride-buddy programs...

Continue Reading Bike To Work Day 2015 ››
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Fast Lane readers know that public transportation provides support for millions of hardworking Americans trying to get to jobs, a doctor's office, school, and other key places.  For some families, even a routine trip to buy groceries requires multiple transit buses.

And when bus service is less than reliable --a bus breaks down or is even just late enough that you miss the next connection-- it's not just an inconvenience; it's a hardship.  And it's an obstacle to the basic struggle not just of trying to get a little bit ahead, but of simply trying to stay afloat.

So for folks in L.A. who depend on the bus, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (LACMTA) Division 13 Bus Maintenance and Operations Facility, a new, state-of-the-art facility that will significantly improve bus service in the heart of the city, is more than just a garage.

It's a lifeline, and it's exactly the kind of investment in public transportation infrastructure that we need to continue making...

Sec. Foxx with Mayor Garcetti
Photo courtesy @MetroLosAngeles.
Continue Reading Los Angeles bus facility, ››
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The signs of spring are all around: warmer weather, blooming flowers, and the return of America’s pastime, baseball. When the weather heats up, it’s time for us all to step up to protect kids from heatstroke caused by being left unattended in a vehicle.

On an 80 degree day, the temperature inside your car or truck can rise to deadly levels in only 10 minutes, even if the window is rolled down two inches. When a child’s temperature reaches 107 degrees, the child dies.

Since 1998, 636 children have died of heatstroke when left in a car or truck. It happens even when the weather outside isn’t very warm, it can happen fast, and it's 100 percent preventable...

Heat stroke statistics

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