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This weekend, I landed in South Africa for the second time in my life. When I was last here, I was a sophomore in college and spending a semester studying abroad. This was in 1991, and although apartheid had been lifted, South Africa hadn’t yet transitioned into a democratic government. 

Needless to say, much has changed in South Africa. And today, South Africa and the United States not only share a commitment to democracy and equality; we share a future, and we share a strong connection in the global economy.

A survey of the 89 U.S. companies currently operating in South Africa found that more than 200,000 South Africans are benefitting from American enterprise. And we’re here to encourage even more trade and business development...

Secretary Foxx in South Africa

Continue Reading The U.S. and South Africa, ››
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Keeping Americans safe on the road is NHTSA’s mission, which is why we’ve worked hard to keep Americans informed of the Takata air bag recall, to help them identify whether their vehicle is affected, and to let them know what steps to take to protect themselves and their families.

Last week, we took another step forward in this effort by announcing that all vehicle identification numbers (commonly referred to as VINs) affected by the Takata recall are now loaded into NHTSA’s VIN search tool at safercar.gov so that consumers can quickly and easily check if their vehicle has been recalled as part of the Takata air bag case...

Screen capture of VIN look-up function on safercar.gov

Continue Reading Takata Update: All VINs Now ››
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This week, as Congressional committees met to discuss ways to keep our country's Highway Trust Fund (HTF) solvent, Secretary Foxx urged them to adopt a long-term transportation bill with increased funding:

“The state of our nation’s infrastructure is not a partisan talking point; it is a problem facing all Americans. So I am encouraged that Members of Congress are asking the tough questions about how we will find solutions together. As I have said many times, we cannot build tomorrow's transportation system with yesterday's policy and yesterday's funding; I look forward to working with both parties to pass a long-term bill that aggressively boosts investment and changes outdated policies so we can build for the future.”

With a shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund approaching, cash management steps are not far away.  Because the HTF supports critical roadwork by State DOTs, these cash management procedures will slow improvements and basic repairs on roads across the U.S. 

To keep Americans informed, we've posted on our website the projected cash flows for the HTF's Highway Account and Mass Transit Account.

HTF Highway Account

Highway Account cash flow graph

HTF Mass Transit Account

Transit account

Continue Reading Highway Trust Fund ››
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When President Obama entered the Oval Office, he set an aggressive agenda to combat global climate change and cut America’s reliance on foreign sources of energy. Today, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency took another positive step forward by proposing new standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, the vehicles that work in our communities and transport goods all over our country.

The new standards we’re proposing today are expected to cut fuel costs by about $170 billion, lower CO2 emissions by approximately 1 billion metric tons, and reduce oil consumption by up to 1.8 billion barrels over the lifetime of the vehicles sold under the program. These reductions are roughly equal to the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with energy and electricity use by all U.S. residences in one year. The oil savings would exceed U.S. imports from the Oil Producing and Exporting Countries (OPEC) each year.

Once upon a time, to be pro-environment you had to be anti-big-vehicles. This rule will change that. In fact, these efficiency standards are good for the environment – and the economy. When trucks use less fuel, shipping costs go down. It’s good news all around...

Infographic showing fuel saving from proposed rule

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For most of my life, the U.S. relationship with Africa has been focused solely on what type of aid we could provide. Thankfully, this is changing. Through President Obama’s "Doing Business in Africa" Campaign, the United States has been looking for opportunities to invest in African countries instead.

The trade mission we launched today in Mozambique reflects this vision. On the surface, it would seem that our countries are worlds apart –that perhaps we have very little in common. But we live in an age, as President Obama has said, “when the boundaries between people are overwhelmed by our connections.” 

Because we both participate in the 21st-Century global economy, our prosperity and future are very much intertwined. And the focus of our trade mission is to strengthen these connections we have with Mozambique, and Southern Africa...

Tete in Mozambique

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It's easy for a Chief Data Officer at DOT to feel invested in an event called Transportation Datapalooza. And it's easy for the data scientists, transportation planners, and app developers who presented their work on Tuesday and Wednesday to feel a similar investment. After all, the goal of our Datapalooza --improving the collection of transportation-related data, improving the tools to analyze that data, and improving the transportation decisions informed by that data-- is what these men and women are all about.

But I can assure you that even Fast Lane readers whose eyes roll at the very mention of "big data" actually have a big investment in the projects and developments discussed here at DOT Headquarters over the past two days.  Because transportation touches the lives of every single American, the improvements that Datapalooza is designed to nurture also touch the lives of every single American.

Whether the data advances we're talking about lead to more focused road maintenance investments or more efficient bus transit routes, in the end it's all about using limited resources to get Americans where they need to go and moving American freight more efficiently, more sustainably, and --most of all-- more safely...

Portland, Oregon bus

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Cross-posted from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Today, in a major step to advance the President’s Climate Data Initiative and the Climate Resilience Toolkit, the Obama Administration is providing data and tools that will help ensure our nation’s transportation systems are more resilient to the effects of climate change.

In the United States, transportation systems are designed to withstand local weather and climate. Transportation engineers typically refer to historical records of climate, especially extreme weather events, when designing transportation systems. For example, bridges are often designed to withstand storms that have a probability of occurring only once or twice every 100 years.

However, due to climate change, historical climate is no longer a reliable predictor of future impacts...

Transportation and climate data together

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Today, in its first ever use of its new safety authority, as granted by Congress in MAP-21, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced the findings of its Safety Management Inspection (SMI) of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s (WMATA) Metrorail and Metrobus system.

FTA evaluated WMATA’s operations and maintenance programs, safety management capabilities, and organizational structures. The report identifies serious safety lapses, organizational deficiencies, and operational concerns.  You can read more about those findings on our website.

The ability to investigate safety concerns in the nation’s rail and bus systems, and to make concrete recommendations to improve their safety cultures, is essential to making a safe way of travel even safer.  Because this is the first inspection FTA has conducted using our new safety authority, it provides a template for how we will perform this type of safety oversight in the future. It’s taken a lot of groundwork to get to this point, and we will continue to build on that groundwork...

WMATA 7000

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Today, I landed in Ghana, kicking off my first trip to Africa while in office, and I can see that the President was right. Ghana is doing big things. Their economy is growing fast. Their capital is populated by young, educated leaders. They’re even spending a higher percentage of their GDP on infrastructure than we do in the U.S.

In many ways, Accra is not just leading the way in Ghana; it’s leading the way in the entire continent.

And, in particular, Ghana is leading the way in aviation...

In Ghana

Continue Reading Safe Skies over Ghana ››
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A Roll Call Commentary published on June 12, 2015.
Cross-posted courtesy Roll Call
.

Pass by a bus stop in downtown Los Angeles and you’ll see the faces of those waiting to use public transportation are diverse. Women, seniors, college students, African-Americans and Latinos take various forms of public transportation to get to work, school or even just to get connected to society.

Latinos rely especially heavily on public transportation.

1.7 million Latinos use public transit to commute to work.

3 million Latinos carpool.

And a combined 1 million Latinos bike, use a motorcycle or walk to work according to census data.

Public transportation is a critical lifeline for the Latino community. Like most Americans, we depend on it for economic and social mobility. When I was in college and law school, I relied on public transportation to get to class. I didn’t have a car and lived too far from campus to walk. I depended on the BART at the University of California, Berkeley and at UCLA Law School, I took the 1 bus from Santa Monica to downtown Los Angeles.

As we move forward, it’s important to remember the Latino community has a big stake in the transportation conversation...

Continue Reading Transportation Matters to ››
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