Thanks to smart phone tools, web applications, and innovations in public transportation technology, the rise of shared mobility concepts, solutions, and innovative on-demand services is transforming how Americans get around.
Secretary Foxx has made clear that shared mobility has the potential to deliver better transit and paratransit service in a more efficient way – but recognizes the importance of balancing innovation with equity.
Last week, the Transit Advisory Committee for Safety (TRACS), chartered in 2009 to provide advice and recommendations to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) on transit safety matters, met in Washington, DC, to discuss their progress on the two safety tasks they undertook in 2016. TRACS meetings provide a valuable opportunity for the FTA to hear firsthand from committee members about the safety issues they see affecting the transit industry, and also provide a chance for FTA to discuss with them our recent activities in safety oversight, rulemaking, and research and innovation, and receive their feedback and questions.
During the two-day meeting, the committee discussed various effects safety culture, safety data and performance management have on the overall safety of a transit system. The FTA asked TRACS to focus on these priority areas because both are critical to the success of Safety Management Systems (SMS). With publication of the Public Transportation Safety Program Final Rule in September 2016, the FTA adopted the principles and methods of Safety Management Systems (SMS) as the basis of its Safety Program. TRACS working groups have devoted months to researching these safety topics and presented their preliminary findings to the entire committee. These reports will be finalized and posted on FTA’s web site in early 2017.
Moving people and goods through our urban cores is critical for a thriving metropolitan area. As the Mayor in the I-4 corridor, a major economic driver of the South, we have struggled to plan our transportation systems as a region. We have too often been operating within a county or city instead of planning as a region that feeds in and out of several different job centers, entertainment districts and the like.
Transportation planning needs to take place at a regional scale – because in today’s America, so many people may live in one city or town but travel to another to work, to go to school, or to take advantage of other opportunities. People do not consider county or city boundaries as they head to work or drop their kids off at school. We need a planning process that is prepared to address the transportation challenges within and between these areas, and that supports efforts to spur economic growth that benefits all Americans.
The Leadership Academy is on the road! After hosting the launch event in Washington, DC, in early October, we wanted to create a similar experience for people in the Midwest and on the West Coast. Yesterday, at the same time we posted the Leadership Academy materials on our website, we were hosting a Regional Workshop in Kansas City, MO, and today we are going to be doing the same thing in Seattle.
Yesterday, more than 50 people came to the USDOT Regional Office Building in Kansas City to attend the workshop. Our own Chief Opportunities Officer Stephanie Jones and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Regional Administrator Mokhtee Ahmad hosted a discussion about what it means to become a transportation leader in your community. They invited feedback about the Academy and fielded questions from participants. During interactive breakout sessions, DOT staff from FTA, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) facilitated learning activities to help participants dig in to the content of the Academy’s feature document: the Transportation Toolkit. Some participants even got first-hand experience making tough decisions during a public meeting role-play.
Did you know that you may already be a potential transportation leader – even if you have no prior experience? Because you travel every day on roads, railways, airways, sidewalks and trails to connect with the places you live, work, and play, you most likely have a lot of ideas for how to make these systems better.
Many people don’t realize that they have an important role in deciding where and how transportation systems get planned, funded, designed, built and maintained. While transportation agencies around the U.S. offer opportunities for public involvement, the process may be confusing and intimidating, especially for people who have never heard of a MPO or a TIP.
Proposed Rule Would Mandate Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) Communication on Light Vehicles, Allowing Cars to “Talk” to Each Other to Avoid Crashes.
Citing an enormous potential to reduce crashes on U.S. roadways, the U.S. Department of Transportation issued a proposed rule today that would advance the deployment of connected vehicle technologies throughout the U.S. light vehicle fleet. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking would enable vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication technology on all new light-duty vehicles, enabling a multitude of new crash-avoidance applications that, once fully deployed, could prevent hundreds of thousands of crashes every year by helping vehicles “talk” to each other.
Today the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) WMATA Safety Oversight Office released our latest in-depth investigation report to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA). Special Directive 17-1 requires the transit agency to complete 47 actions to correct deficiencies in its traction power electrification (TPE) system, which is used to electrify Metrorail trains. The special directive is based on 22 findings from an FTA investigation report into the condition and safety performance of the Metrorail TPE system, also released today.
WMATA has reported more than 70 safety events resulting from electrical arcing in its traction power system since the time FTA took over temporary safety oversight of the Metrorail system in October 2015. These events required an emergency response, and many resulted in the partial or full shutdown of a station or off-loading of a passenger train.
Many of us were shaped by our school upbringing. Experiences that we have in classrooms or on field trips can spur an interest in a career field. Some students become fascinated in science by mixing chemical compounds. Some are fascinated by the stories of history, and go on to become storytellers themselves in classrooms. But rarely do students get an opportunity to learn about transportation and pipeline safety. As we celebrate the Department’s 50th Anniversary, we are striving to open doors to students at a young age to learn more about our multi-faceted transportation industry and inspire them to join us as we work to build a safer, more innovative and inclusive transportation future for all Americans.
To kick-start that process, on December 8, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) collaborated with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and hosted a “Future Leaders in Transportation” event at FAB LAB DC. The FAB LAB is a facility offering the community access to modern tools for invention, and was an idea that began as an outreach project at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for Bits and Atoms and has now spread to a number of cities around the country.
Our release of the draft Beyond Traffic report in early 2015 launched a national conversation around the critical challenges that our country’s transportation system will face over the next 30 years. Our educational institutions are critical to helping us solve these challenges, and today, building on that conversation, I am announcing a call for applications for entities who want to join this effort as officially designated U.S. DOT Beyond Traffic Innovation Centers.
Last year, Congress authorized a new grant program to help fund training for remote and volunteer first responders on how to handle incidents involving shipments of crude oil, ethanol, and other flammable liquids by rail. The Assistance for Local Emergency Response Training (ALERT) program has already helped volunteer first responders overcome limited resources to ensure they have the specialized training necessary to keep the public safe.
The non-profit organizations that received a total of $5.9 million in ALERT grants this year, have already put the money to good use. By developing a combination of in-person and web-based trainings, the grantees are helping train as many remote and volunteer first responders as possible.