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If you're not a datahead, you might have missed this news.  Last month, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported that, "U.S. airlines and foreign airlines serving the United States carried an all-time high of 848.1 million systemwide (domestic and international) scheduled service passengers in 2014."

Sure, 848 million is a lot of passengers, and more often than not, that would be interesting enough.  But today we want to go one better than the absolute number of enplanements; we want to talk about the "all-time high."  Because the previous record high was reached in 2007, and that means that, after the brutal recession, air travel --and the economy-- are truly back.

Want to see the relationship between economic activity and air travelers without pesky numbers getting in the way?  Thanks to BTS, the Bureau of Economic Analysis, and a little spreadsheet wizardry, you can:

Air passengers and GDP by year

Continue Reading Record 2014 airline ››
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Fast Lane readers know that we've been talking about the Obama Administration's GROW AMERICA surface transportation proposal since we sent it to Congress last month.  But a lot of Americans don't know what GROW does and why this nation needs it.  So today, we've got a fresh out of the box explainer video to share.

If passed by Congress, the GROW AMERICA Act will provide 6 years of transportation funding certainty, increase investment in our transportation system, and implement smart policies that ensure taxpayers get a bigger bang for their buck.

We think those long-overdue benefits are worth 101 seconds of your time, and we hope you'll agree...

Continue Reading New video answers key GROW ››
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Maritime history plays a central role in our national narrative, and DOT has a responsibility to protect and promote this rich legacy.  That’s why the Maritime Administration (MARAD) has partnered with the National Park Service (NPS) to use proceeds from MARAD’s Federal Ship Disposal Program to support the .  And today, MARAD and NPS announced the award of $2.6 million for 35 maritime heritage preservation and education projects.

Our agencies established this partnership to promote public awareness and appreciation for the Nation’s maritime heritage, and the projects we're awarding this year are exactly what we envisioned in 2013 when we entered into a Memorandum of Agreement with the National Park Service...

Photo of 1889 tugboat Arhtur Foss

Continue Reading Maritime history woven ››
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As readers probably know, Wednesday was our 45th Earth Day celebration. Earth Day offers all of us us an opportunity to showcase our nation’s efforts to protect the planet. For those of us in transportation, it’s also a chance to celebrate the Earth-friendly transportation planning practices going on in all corners of the United States.

So we at the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) used the occasion to announce our latest Environmental Excellence Awards, FHWA’s highest honor for those committed to protecting the environment through state-of-the-art transportation-related innovation.

This year’s winners have three things in common: creativity, passion, and imagination. And these qualities fueled their cutting-edge advances in environmental sensitivity and helped strengthen the balance between humans and nature without sacrificing mobility...

FHWA environmental award logo

Continue Reading FHWA Celebrates ››
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Earth Day offers all of us an opportunity to consider how the decisions we make today affect not only the quality of our air, land, and water, but also our quality of life. Our nation’s mix of transportation options, and how we keep them running, will help determine whether our nation can maintain that quality of life even as our population and our economy grow.

The essence of sustainability is making decisions today that will allow our nation to continue growing in the future while also preserving our quality of life.

And as “Beyond Traffic” makes clear, there are urgent reasons to make sustainability our byword and transit a key part of achieving that goal...

Non-diesel transit bus

Continue Reading Expanding transit options ››
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Through transportation, we can help ensure that the rungs on the ladder of opportunity aren’t so far apart —and that the American dream is still within reach for those who are willing to work for it.

I have seen the truth of this first-hand in my own family and as mayor of Charlotte, and I've been seeing it for the past two years as Secretary of Transportation.

Now, we can't give everyone a new car, of course. But we can help communities build projects that create ladders of opportunity.

Which means we can support them as they design and build projects in a way that connects people to job centers and to education, that revitalizes economically distressed neighborhoods, and that creates pathways to good jobs...

Secretary Foxx announces LadderStep in Indianapolis
Photo courtesy Sean Northup, Indianapolis Metropolitan Planning Organization.
Continue Reading DOT helping cities build a ››
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If you've been reading the Fast Lane this week, then you already know about the Maritime Administration's work to reduce the emissions of waterborne shipping and NHTSA's continued effort to pursue rigorous CAFE standards for both light and heavy vehicles on America's roadways.

For me, Earth Day is a reminder of how proud I am to lead a Federal agency that has as part of its mission reducing the footprint of our transportation system even while we work to make it safer and more efficient...

Continue Reading Every day must be Earth Day ››
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Forty-five years ago tomorrow, the world celebrated the very first Earth Day. Borne out of U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin’s call for a day of education about threats to our air, land, water, and public health, Earth Day helped ignite the global environmental movement.

Today, while the environmental challenges have changed, Earth Day is as relevant as ever, particularly in light of the threat of global climate change.

At NHTSA, we’ve taken up President Obama’s call to confront the climate crisis. Working with our partners at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), we’ve set fuel efficiency standards for cars, light trucks, and heavy duty vehicles that will greatly reduce transportation-related carbon emissions that contribute to global climate change. We’ve also worked to make healthier and environmentally friendly transportation options, such as biking and walking, more attractive to more Americans by making them safer...

David Friedman addresses crowd at NHTSA Earth Day event

Continue Reading NHTSA celebrates Earth Day ››
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Every year, car buyers and auto enthusiasts await the release of Detroit's new models. It's an exciting moment to see what some of America's most innovative design and engineering teams can produce. But unlike cars, new models of American-made shipping vessels don't roll out every year.

From idea to service, new ships are usually 20 years in the making. So you can imagine how excited the maritime community is to see what rolled off the NASSCO shipyard line in San Diego this past weekend: the world's first Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) powered container ship.

Isla Bella rolls into water

The launch of this next generation of American-made vessels, commissioned by TOTE Maritime, was financed in part by a $324.6 million Title XI Loan Guarantee from the Maritime Administration (MARAD).  The new 764-foot Isla Bella includes a number of innovative technological advances. The key feature, of course, is that by burning LNG instead of diesel, it will significantly reduce harmful emissions...

Continue Reading With DOT support, American ››
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Please note that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has also published a blog post today on their site: Crude Oil Transport: Working Together to Protect Public Health and Safety.

Since 2013, more than two dozen derailments of trains transporting large quantities of crude oil have occurred, including four this year alone. As DOT pursues a comprehensive rulemaking designed to strengthen tank cars, implement appropriate operational controls, and improve emergency response, we are also taking other actions today that will have an immediate impact on safety.

The boom in crude oil production, and transportation of that crude, poses a serious threat to public safety. The measures we are announcing today are a result of lessons learned from recent accidents and are steps we are able to take today to improve safety. 

Our efforts in partnership with agencies throughout this Administration show that this is more than a transportation issue, and we are not done yet...

Oil train

Continue Reading DOT adds Crude-By-Rail ››
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