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The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is exploring the use of automation technologies in transit bus operations. These technologies enable systems in which at least one element of vehicle control (e.g. steering or speed control) occurs without direct driver input. This could enable driver assistance features like lane-keeping, precision docking and Automated Emergency Braking. In the future, we may see more flexible and dynamic transit services through fully automated buses.

To help Facilitate automation in bus transit and mitigate the challenges, FTA has developed a Strategic Transit Automation Research Plan that identifies a research agenda and outlines a strategy leveraging the strengths of the public sector, private sector, and academia. The plan emphasizes the following interrelated work areas.

Enabling Research

To accelerate the entry of manufacturers, suppliers, and transit providers into automation by building common understanding of and solutions for foundational challenges.

Integrated Demonstrations

To grow industry and expand knowledge base by demonstrating market-ready technologies in real-world settings. These demonstrations also develop, test, demonstrate, and evaluate new automation capabilities.

Strategic Partnerships

To improve quality of research by others and disseminate findings to the broad community, expanding participation of providers and suppliers.

For more information, visit https://www.transit.dot.gov/automation-research

Bus Graphic with highlighted automation features

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States nationwide are saving time and improving how they manage projects with “e-Construction,” an innovation supported by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) under its “Every Day Counts” program.

e-Construction is the creation, review, approval, distribution and storage of highway construction documents in a paperless environment. These processes include electronic submission of all documentation, electronic document routing and approval (including e-signatures), and real-time management of documents in a secure digital environment accessible through mobile devices and web-based platforms.

This new paperless approach makes it possible to collect twice as much data compared to older, paper-based methods. For example, Maryland deployed its first online bidding pilots last year and is using e-Construction so inspectors and employees responsible for project oversight across all modes can do more work on mobile devices. By making project documentation faster, cheaper and better, e-Construction isn’t just good government – it’s good business.

More than 45 state DOTs and numerous local agencies are making e-Construction a staple of their day-to-day operations.  Learn more at https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/construction/econstruction/peer_exchange/matrix_state.pdf.

Construction workder using mobile device on job site

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The American transportation system is vast and impressive. It serves millions daily – including those who may not own a vehicle or rarely travel. As transportation volumes rise, there will be need for more capacity in the skies, on the roads and rails, and elsewhere in the transportation system.

Strong economic growth in 2017 resulted in record high levels of transportation activity. Freight shipments in the U.S., an indicator of economic growth, climbed to record levels in 2017, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ (BTS) freight index. Meanwhile, other measures of transportation activity tracked by the U.S. Department of Transportation – highway driving and airline passengers – also reached record highs in 2017

The Bureau of Transportation Statistics Annual Report offers these facts and more.

Transportation Network Facts

  • The nation’s transportation assets were valued at about $7.7 trillion in 2016, a 20.6 percent increase over 2010 estimates.
  • BTS’ broadly-based freight shipment index closed the year at a record high – the seventh all-time high it reached during the year.  The index rose 6.1 percent during the year, the biggest annual gain since the post-recession recovery year of 2010.
  • More driving took place on the nation’s roads in 2017 than in any previous year, topping 3.2 trillion vehicle miles, according to the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Traffic Volume Trends. July 2017 was the top all-time month for vehicle miles, followed by August 2017.
  • The number of passengers on U.S. airlines were on pace through November to set a new yearly high in 2017, despite a hurricane-related dip in September. Through November, the number of passengers was up 3.0 percent from the same period in 2016, the previous high. July 2017 was the top all-time month for flying, followed by August 2017 and June 2017.

Tranportation Network miles chart my mode

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Don’t forget to Spring Forward this Sunday, March 11 at 2 a.m., as Daylight Saving Time begins. This is a wonderful time of year to check off a few other housekeeping details, including checking your smoke detector batteries and taking a moment to check for vehicle safety recalls.  The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is reminding motorists that adding this to your spring and fall safety routines keeps you and your family safe all year long. You can also take the opportunity to check for safety recalls for child car seats and tires. To see a list of open recalls, visit NHTSA.gov/Recalls.

How Do I Check for Recalls?

Checking for recalls is simple but essential. Take these three steps toward a safer vehicle.

  1. Find your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). The 17-character VIN is like your vehicle’s Social Security Number. It’s a unique code that identifies a car or truck. It’s on a label inside your driver’s side doorjamb. Or, while standing outside the vehicle at the driver’s side door, look down at where the windshield meets the dashboard. You’ll find the VIN stamped under the glass. You might also find it on your car’s registration or your insurance documents.
  2. Search using your VIN at NHTSA.gov/Recalls. Your search will tell you if there’s an open safety recall affecting your vehicle and what steps to take.
  3. Get your vehicle repaired immediately if you have an open recall. Follow the steps indicated by your VIN search. Your vehicle’s manufacturer is required by law to address your recall—and to do it for free.
  4. Sign up for free safety recall e-mails. Visit https://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/nhtsa/subscriptions and sign up for NHTSA’s recall notifications, which will alert you about recalls for your vehicle, tires, or child car seats. This service is free.

Photo of clock in spring meadow with vin number

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Whether they are emergency responders, city planners, pipeline operators, homeowners, students or just curious neighbors, it’s important for community members to know where pipelines are located so they can be avoided or found, serviced and monitored.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) offers an excellent resource for learning more about local pipelines. The National Pipeline Mapping System’s (NPMS) Public Map Viewer includes interactive maps showing the locations of hazardous liquid and gas transmission pipelines, and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) plants nationwide. Interested individuals can also access information about related pipeline incidents going back to 2002.

Anyone can use NPMS’s Public Map Viewer to access this information and more, one county at a time. For a quick tutorial before using the public map viewer, or for help finding specific information, view the new instructional video on the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s YouTube page, “How to locate pipelines in your area with the National Pipeline Mapping System.”

Screen shot of the National Pipeline Mapping System

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