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News Digest 125-15

FMCSA Launches Online Unified Registration System that Strengthens Safety and Improves Efficiency.  On Dec. 12, 2015, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) launched a new, simplified online registration process that truck and bus companies, freight forwarders, brokers, intermodal equipment providers, and cargo tank manufacturing, inspection, and repair facilities use as new applicants for USDOT registration.  The first phase of the Unified Registration System (URS) combines multiple “legacy” reporting forms into a single online “smart form” that streamlines the registration and renewal process, improves efficiency, reduces errors, and, most importantly, strengthens safety for the motoring public.  When fully implemented in 2016, URS will enable FMCSA to more readily identify unfit carriers and detect unsafe truck and bus companies seeking to evade agency enforcement actions, including civil penalties, by attempting to regain USDOT registration by registering as a purported different, unrelated business entity.  FMCSA estimates that URS will ultimately reduce costs to industry by approximately $9 million in time saved and fees incurred over a 10-year period.  For more information about URS, visit: http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/urs.  Contact:  Troy Green:  (202) 366-9999.

FTA Issues Safety Directive 16-2 to WMATA Metrorail.  The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) this week issued Safety Directive 16-2 to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) requiring the transit agency to take corrective action to resolve 217 open safety findings.  These safety findings were previously issued by the Tri-State Oversight Committee (TOC), the existing State Safety Oversight Agency for WMATA Metrorail, but will now be under FTA’s direct safety oversight.  Once WMATA develops, and FTA approves, a corrective action plan, these items will be added to a tracking chart that lists the status of each required action so anyone can monitor WMATA’s progress in addressing safety deficiencies.  Contact:  Steve Kulm at 202-366-9260.

Federal Transit Administration Launches Comprehensive Effort to Improve Transportation for Seniors, People with Disabilities. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has opened a technical assistance center that will offer guidance and support to transportation providers, advocacy groups and individuals to help expand travel options and promote the availability of FTA funding that improves mobility for older adults and individuals with disabilities. The need for accessible transportation continues to grow in the U.S. Our over-65 population is projected to increase by 77 percent by the year 2045, and about one-third of people over age 65 has a disability. 

The National Aging and Disability Transportation Center (NADTC) will encourage specialized transportation services that maximize the reach of FTA’s Enhanced Mobility of Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities grant program and other transit investments.  Contact: Valerie Berton, 202-366-2581.

DOT Advises Air Travelers and Colleges About Tour Packages to College Bowl Games.  The U.S. Department of Transportation issued earlier this week two notices concerning tour packages to college bowl games.  The first notice reminds air travelers going to this season’s college bowl games and other special events not to make a payment for a special event air tour package without obtaining either the ticket to the bowl game or other special event or a written confirmation that a ticket to the event is included.  The second notice advises colleges and other organizations on how to properly arrange charter flights to bowl games, basketball tournament games, or other special events.  Both notices can be found online at http://www.dot.gov/airconsumer/latest-news.  People may file complaints about college bowl tour operators that advertise tickets, but do not provide them, or other violations of the Department’s rules on special event tours by contacting the Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings at www.dot.gov/airconsumer/file-consumer-complaint, by voicemail at (202) 366-2220, or by TTY at (202) 366-0511.  Contact for news media:  Caitlin Harvey:  (202) 366-4570.

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Friday, December 18, 2015
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