My career in public service has taught me that transportation is something we absolutely must do together. When I was the mayor of Charlotte, I made investments in transportation the center of the Queen City’s job creation and economic recovery, and the U.S. Department of Transportation played a critical role in helping us move forward.
So when President Obama asked me to serve in this position, I was both humbled and thrilled because I knew that the work of USDOT really matters. But I also knew, although we had been able to break ground on some ambitious projects in Charlotte, the larger reality was that projects were being canceled or delayed all over the country. The traditionally strong funding support authorized by the U.S. Congress was in fact at an all-time low. On my first day at USDOT, it had been more than eight years since Congress had passed a long-term surface transportation bill, and my efforts to push hard for a long term bill began immediately.
President Obama had been supportive of investing in first-class infrastructure and on Capitol Hill there was actually strong bipartisan support. But the message we kept hearing was, “let’s do this later.” I worked with my team to develop a campaign to turn the corner from “impossible” to “inevitable.”
So we scheduled hundreds of Congressional meetings. We went on two bus tours and I met with leaders in 43 states to galvanize support. The President and I even twice submitted our own surface transportation bill proposal, the GROW AMERICA Act, to give Congress a clear sense of the certainty, funding levels, and policies we need in the 21st century.
Today we finally broke through. President Obama signed the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act into law, marking the first long-term transportation bill passed by Congress in 10 years...
Wednesday, I sat down with the Washington Post's Lois Romano as part of the Post's inGENuitY forum on Millennials and Entrepreneurship. You can watch or listen to the entire 15-minute interview below, but I have a few selected highlights of my own to share.
First, when Lois put me on the spot with an icebreaker asking, "Tesla or Prius?" I --pretty deftly, I think-- dodged an endorsement by offering a third, unbranded option, "Driverless."
Second, at DOT we're exploring and nurturing some very cutting-edge automobile technologies that will revolutionize the way Americans of all generations drive and ride, and that will improve traffic safety.
Third, there's no question that Gen Y wants transportation options like transit, biking, walking, and on-demand ride-sharing. For many, the availability of those options is a key factor in their choice of jobs and cities...
After 36 extensions, hundreds of Congressional meetings, two bus tours, visits to 43 states, and so much uncertainty, it has been a long and bumpy ride to a long-term transportation bill. It’s not perfect, and there is still more left to do, but it reflects a bipartisan compromise I always knew was possible.
Here's something you don't often hear about in the making of new regulations: negotiation, with interested stakeholders working toward consensus...together. It might sound like someone's fantasy of effective government, but that's exactly what we're exploring at DOT in our ongoing efforts to make flying easier for people with disabilities.
Through our rulemakings, we've removed many restrictions that previously discriminated against air travelers with disabilities. For example, airlines may not refuse transportation based on a disability, and airlines may not limit the number of passengers with disabilities on a particular flight. Airlines must also provide boarding and deplaning assistance for travelers with disabilities if requested, and they must make information that has been made available to other passengers available to passengers with visual and hearing disabilities.
Our latest step is hiring what's called a "neutral convenor" to consider the feasibility of a negotiated rulemaking to develop additional rules toward equal access for all air travelers. We have a number of goals we're pursuing, and our convenor, Richard Parker of the University of Connecticut School of Law, will assist us in determining if they can be achieved through regulatory negotiation...
Courtesy of Transport Topics, it's our pleasure to cross-post this good-news story from www.ttnews.com. Congratulations, John Schank, on your excellent safety record and on completing this important mission!
Lynden Transport driver John Schank has completed his 3,000-mile delivery of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, which will be lit Dec. 2 by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) at 5 p.m. EST.
After a three-week, 10-stop tour that originated in Alaska, the 74-foot Lutz spruce from the Chugach National Forest arrived at the U.S. Capitol on Nov. 20. Schank said he was “elated and felt privileged to be asked to do this.”
Since Schank began driving for Lynden Transport in 1975, he has delivered millions of tons of supplies and materials for the Alaska pipeline construction and Prudhoe Bay oil fields over one of the most treacherous roads in America — the Dalton Highway. Schank holds the record for most miles driven of any driver who has operated a truck on the road from Fairbanks to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska — 5 million, all without an accident...
After a career of nearly 40 years in air traffic control and air traffic management, Steven Lang has retired from his post as Volpe’s director of Air Traffic Systems and Operations. Lang, who started his career in the U.S. Air Force in 1976 and then moved to FAA in 1984, helped change national standards to allow the use of closely spaced parallel runway operations.
The value of annual time and fuel savings from Lang's pioneering work reaches at least into the tens of millions of dollars.
With Lang's retirement, Volpe now seeks its next director of Air Traffic Systems and Operations, another pioneer who will continue Lang's tradition of fostering research that develops transformative solutions in aviation safety and efficiency...
Sixty years ago today, Rosa Parks sat down on a city bus in Montgomery, Alabama. In doing so, she took a stand against an ordinance requiring black riders to surrender their seats to white riders. Her subsequent arrest mobilized the African-American community to boycott the Montgomery city buses and fueled the rise of Martin Luther King, Jr. as the nation’s leading civil rights voice.
The boycott lasted 381 days. Thousands in Montgomery refused to take the bus, opting to carpool or walk to strike a blow to the city’s finances and make a very public demonstration against segregation. A year later, after some 42,000 people had participated, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed a lower court ruling ordering desegregation of the city buses and the city of Montgomery complied.
One notable resident, an elderly woman who had walked to work during the year-long boycott, was asked how she felt in the wake of the changes. “My feets is tired, but my soul is rested,” she said...
Within a single lifetime, the distance that humans could fly grew exponentially—from a few hundred feet with the Wright Flyer to nearly 240,000 miles with Apollo 11. In the early 1950s, the jet age shifted air travel from curiosity to commonplace, with commercial flight connecting previously far-flung corners of the world.
Today, we are again on the cusp of many exciting challenges in transformative aeronautics, according to NASA Director of Airspace Operations and Safety John Cavolowsky. “Being able to define the concept space and the way in which we drive technology is, to me, surprisingly, the biggest challenge that we’ve had to address,” Cavolowsky said. “It’s a field that is evolving so quickly—what is the state of the art right now and how fast can we expect it to go?”
Cavolowsky spoke last month at Volpe, the National Transportation Systems Center, as part of "Beyond Traffic 2045: Reimagining Transportation." Volpe's 9-event thought leadership series closes tomorrow, December 1, with Chris Urmson, director of Google’s self-driving car program. You can join Volpe in person or by webinar for a fascinating look at how self-driving cars will reshape how we live in and move through our communities and cities...
By Sunday morning, the turkey will have been eaten, perhaps a slice or two of pumpkin pie as well. Hours and hours of football will have been watched on television. Store shelves will have been decimated in the annual frenzy known as Black Friday.
And millions of Americans will be hitting the highways to return home from Thanksgiving destinations near and far.
The Sunday after Thanksgiving is a notoriously busy day of highway traffic, and that makes it equally notorious for flaring tempers and aggressive driving. That’s why the U.S. Senate recently passed a resolution designating it Drive Safer Sunday...
With a long-term surface transportation bill being negotiated in Congress, data released yesterday indicating that highway crash deaths declined in 2014, and the rapid advance of connected vehicle technologies, we have a cornucopia of things to be grateful for in transportation this Thanksgiving. But, as promising as these are, they are also abstractions --a stack of paper, a set of numbers, research-- and I find myself instead thinking about people.
On duty this week are men and women keeping America moving while the rest of us pause to celebrate Thanksgiving. Airport and airline workers; commercial truck drivers; transit crews; highway patrol officers; merchant mariners and port staff; railroad engineers, conductors, and station employees.
Then, there are the people behind our efforts to improve all the ways we move people and products. And while they might be taking it easy this week, I'm no less thankful for the innovators whose work has made our roads safer for everyone who uses them; our bridges more easily constructed and durable; and our transit systems better able to serve the riders who depend on them every day...