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A few years ago, in one of my first posts here in the Fast Lane, I wrote that, to make American transportation safer and stronger, "we need every tool in the box and a few we haven't even thought of yet."

Well, last Friday, I saw powerful affirmation of that at Texas A&M University, the site of the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Design Competition. At this event, more than a thousand high school and college engineers from all over the world presented their designs for the best Hyperloop pod. And I think that level of turnout and excitement from student innovators is the biggest story emerging from the competition...

Secretary Foxx with team MIT
Visiting with student competitors from MIT.
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Cross-posted from the White House blog.

“It is fitting that with the very first bill I sign…we are upholding one of this nation’s first principles: that we are all created equal and each deserve a chance to pursue our own version of happiness.” —President Barack Obama, January 29, 2009

Seven years ago today, President Obama signed into law his first piece of legislation as President: the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which empowered women to recover wages lost to pay discrimination. While the gender pay gap has narrowed slightly over the past two years, there is much more work to be done to ensure fair pay for all. Today, the median wage of a woman working full-time year-round in the United States is about $39,600—only 79 percent of a man’s median earnings of $50,400. 

Today, the President is highlighting several additional actions that his Administration is taking to advance equal pay for all workers and further empower working families..

Continue Reading Taking Action to Advance ››
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Cross-posted from the U.S. Department of Labor blog.

In the 25 years since the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, we have lived through a technological revolution. We have seen technology empower people with disabilities in all aspects of life. This is especially true in the workplace, as the tremendous advance of technology has been the great equalizer for people with disabilities who are employees or job seekers. The department’s Office of Disability Employment Policy has focused on promoting universal design in information technology, and on increasing the availability of accessible technology for use in the workplace.

But technology isn’t just important at work; it’s essential to getting to work. The best employment program is of little help if people cannot access reliable, independent and affordable transportation. The recent innovation in wayfinding and other technologies has greatly enhanced the ability of millions of Americans with mobility challenges to get to and from their jobs − but we aren’t done yet...

Man in wheelchair boarding a tranist bus

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Throughout last fall, DOT's Volpe, the National Transportation Systems Center, hosted nine distinguished speakers all talking about emerging ways to move America beyond traffic. Advances in communications, connected vehicles, navigation, and automation —coupled with a surge in transportation-related data— are poised to dramatically change how we travel and deliver goods and services; Volpe's speakers took us on a grand tour of that transportation world we might soon inhabit. And last week, Volpe combined the recordings of these nine speakers into one playlist to simplify viewing.

But, even though the Beyond Traffic 2045 series officially ended December 9 with Google's Chris Urmson, you can't say that Volpe has slowed down its exploration of the trends that will transform transportation over the next 10, 20, or 30 years...

Continue Reading Volpe continues exploring ››
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The 2015 St. Lawrence Seaway navigation season ended when the CWB Marquis passed through the US-operated Eisenhower Lock on December 30.

But, with only 2 months remaining until this important binational waterway reopens for the 2016 navigation system, there has been no slowdown in activity; only the focus of activity has changed. Instead of working to keep ships passing through the Eisenhower and Snell locks in balmy summer weather, Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (SLSDC) crews are now working through frigid conditions on critical lock maintenance and upgrades...

Lock work begins
Continue Reading As Seaway locks close, ››
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Last December, we launched our Smart City Challenge to show what's possible when communities use technology to connect their diverse transportation assets into a single interactive network that improves lives through greater safety, ease, efficiency, and reliability. The winning mid-sized city will receive up to $40 million in Federal funding; up to $10 million from Paul Allen's Vulcan to support deployment of electric vehicles and other carbon emission reduction strategies; and fleet-wide installation of Mobileye technology aboard transit buses.

All to demonstrate what a bold, data-driven approach to transportation can achieve.

To describe interest in the Smart City Challenge as "active" would be an understatement. To date, nearly 30,000 people from Maine to Hawaii and Florida to Alaska have viewed our pages more than 63,000 times to learn about this exciting competition. We also had more than 2,000 attendees participate in informational webinars, the Smart City Forum, and/or during our challenge kick-off...

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Last week, the Federal Highway Administration reported that, with the data from November now in, it looks pretty clear that 2015 was a record year for Vehicle Miles Traveled.

By the end of November, U.S. drivers had racked up about 2.88 trillion vehicle miles traveled, with each of the first 11 months of the year showing an increase of between 2.5 and 4.9 percent over the corresponding month from 2014. Even if the December 2015 data show no gain from December 2014, which is unlikely, that would put the 2015 total over 3.1 trillion. That's an increase over 2014 of more than 100 billion miles.

Infographic depicting that for Jan-Nov 2015, VMT was 2.88 trillion miles.

No matter how you slice it, that's a lot of terms of absolute value, and also as an indicator of what kind of volume America's roads are bearing. And, as Secretary Foxx observed on his Facebook page last Friday, that's 2.88 trillion good reasons for America to get #BeyondTraffic...

Continue Reading 2015 likely to have broken ››
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I am pleased to report that we have made very significant progress on our unmanned aircraft system (UAS) registration effort.

In the first 30 days since the registry went online, nearly 300,000 people (295,306) registered their small unmanned aircraft. These owners also took advantage of a $5 registration fee rebate, which ended yesterday.

We're encouraged by the registration numbers and we're committed to continuing our educational efforts to keep the momentum going. We want all drone pilots to know there is a requirement to register by February 19. Registration is simple and easy through our website. You can register an unlimited number of aircraft under one number, and it's valid for three years...

Drone in flight

Continue Reading At 30-day mark, UAS ››
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With the Panama Canal expansion slated for completion later this year and the industry-wide boost in U.S. maritime activity that will likely follow, there is no question that 2016 will be a demanding year for the Maritime Administration.  While the course ahead will be full of new challenges, I wanted to highlight our agency’s 2015 accomplishments and reflect on the opportunities this year offers.

TOTE Maritime LNG-powered vessel under construction

Calendar year 2015 was a truly one for the history books for our agency.  I say that because 2015 was a year in which we literally helped make history!  Last year, MARAD closed the Title XI Federal Loan Guarantee to support the launch of the world’s first LNG-powered containership —a development that will help us in our effort to support industry actions to minimize waterborne transportation’s environmental impact.

However, that's not all we were involved with.  We were also incredibly proud of our work to enable Secretary Foxx to designate three new Marine Highway Projects, which will advance our goal of alleviating pressures on congested landside freight corridors...

Continue Reading MARAD in 2016: Anticipation ››
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Last week, after the 2016 State of the Union address in which President Obama touted the potential power of American innovation to solve pressing challenges, I went to the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit and saw powerful demonstrations of that potential.

I’m not the only one from the Administration who caught a glimpse of the future at NAIAS Detroit; yesterday, President Obama went to Detroit to learn more about the promising automotive technologies on display and to celebrate the revitalization of U.S. automakers...

Auto industry recovery stats

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