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Summary 2014 U.S.-Based Airline Traffic Data

March 27, 2015 Comments off

Summary 2014 U.S.-Based Airline Traffic Data
Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported today that U.S. airlines and foreign airlines serving the United States carried an all-time high of 848.1 million systemwide (domestic and international) scheduled service passengers in 2014, 2.5 percent more than in 2013 and 1.2 percent more than the previous record-high of 838.4 million reached in 2007. The systemwide increase was the result of a 2.6 percent rise in the number of passengers on domestic flights (662.3 million) and 2.3 percent growth in passengers on U.S. and foreign airlines’ flights to and from the U.S. (185.8 million) (Tables 1, 1A, 5).

New Data Show U.S. Drivers Topped 3 Trillion Miles Last Year

March 26, 2015 Comments off

New Data Show U.S. Drivers Topped 3 Trillion Miles Last Year
Source: Federal Highway Administration

New estimates released today by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) show that Americans drove nearly 3.02 trillion miles in 2014, the highest point since 2007 and the second-highest since data collection began 79 years ago, fueling calls for greater investment in transportation infrastructure to accommodate growing volumes of traffic.

2014 North American Freight Numbers

March 20, 2015 Comments off

2014 North American Freight Numbers
Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Four of five transportation modes – truck, rail, pipeline, and vessel – carried more U.S. freight with North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partners Canada and Mexico by value in 2014 than in 2013 as the overall value of freight on all modes rose 4.5 percent in current dollars to $1.2 trillion, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) (Figure 1 and Table 1).

In 2014 compared to 2013, the value of commodities moving by pipeline grew the most, 12.5 percent, despite a decline in cost per unit of petroleum products, due to the increased volume of freight. Truck increased 4.5 percent, rail increased 1.5 percent, vessel increased 0.2 percent, and air decreased 0.2 percent.

Highways in the Coastal Environment: Assessing Extreme Events

March 15, 2015 Comments off

Highways in the Coastal Environment: Assessing Extreme Events (PDF)
Source: Federal Highway Administration

The US transportation system is vulnerable to coastal extreme event storms today and this vulnerability will increase with climate change. Hurricane Sandy caused over $10 billion in damage to coastal roads, rails, tunnels, and other transportation facilities in New York and New Jersey (Blake et al. 2013, NOAA 2013). Hurricanes Ivan (2004), Katrina (2005), Ike (2008), and other storms have also caused billions in damage to coastal roads and bridges throughout the Gulf Coast. Portions of California State Route 1, the Pacific Coast Highway, have been relocated away from the ocean in response to bluff erosion threatening the highway. Costs of lost business when critical transportation services are interrupted after coastal storms have also been significant.

This vulnerability will increase as sea levels rise. Many projections of future sea levels suggest accelerated rise rates resulting from global climate change. Higher sea levels will combine with future extreme events to increase the vulnerability of coastal highways, bridges, and other transportation infrastructure. Thus, damage from coastal hazards such as hurricanes, high waves, tsunamis, and extreme tides will increase in cost, frequency, and magnitude. It is estimated that over 60,000 roadway miles in the US are exposed to coastal storm surge (FHWA 2008). The degree to which that exposure, and resulting vulnerability, will increase as a result of climate change is currently unknown.

The transportation authorization act, MAP-21 – the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, lists “protection against extreme events” as an eligible project purpose for federal funding of construction, replacement, rehabilitation, or preservation of bridges (P.L. 112-141: Section 119 (d) (2) (B)). The FHWA guidance memo entitled “Eligibility of Activities to Adapt to Climate Change and Extreme Weather Events under the Federal-Aid and Federal Lands Highway Program” (FHWA 2012a), provides more specific information on the use of federal highway program funds in the planning, design and construction of highways to adapt to extreme events considering climate change. This memo stressed that “consideration of extreme events, their impacts on highways and transportation systems, and development of adaptation strategies should be grounded in the best available scientific approaches.” Adaptation activities need to be based on the current understanding of weather patterns affecting the location of a project or region, as well as projected changes in climate.

Thus, there is a need for technical guidance in assessing the exposure and vulnerability of highway infrastructure in the coastal environment that will be impacted by extreme events including considerations of the effects of climate change. This publication is intended to be technical guidance grounded in the “best available scientific approaches” to vulnerability and risk assessment and climate change.

State Transportation by the Numbers Profiles

March 3, 2015 Comments off

State Transportation by the Numbers Profiles
Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) has released the State Transportation by the Numbers Profiles 2014 – two-page collections of transportation information for each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The profiles include information on infrastructure, safety, freight transportation, passenger travel, registered vehicles and vehicle-miles traveled, economy and finance, and energy and environment. The profiles present highlights of more detailed tables found in BTS’ State Transportation Statistics. State-by-state data can be viewed in the United States Transportation Facts and Figures mapping application.

DOT and FAA Propose New Rules for Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems

February 15, 2015 Comments off

DOT and FAA Propose New Rules for Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems
Source: U.S. Department of Transportation and Federal Aviation Administration

The Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration today proposed a framework of regulations that would allow routine use of certain small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in today’s aviation system, while maintaining flexibility to accommodate future technological innovations.

The FAA proposal offers safety rules for small UAS (under 55 pounds) conducting non-recreational operations. The rule would limit flights to daylight and visual-line-of-sight operations. It also addresses height restrictions, operator certification, optional use of a visual observer, aircraft registration and marking, and operational limits.

The proposed rule also includes extensive discussion of the possibility of an additional, more flexible framework for “micro” UAS under 4.4 pounds. The FAA is asking the public to comment on this possible classification to determine whether it should include this option as part of a final rule. The FAA is also asking for comment about how the agency can further leverage the UAS test site program and an upcoming UAS Center of Excellence to further spur innovation at “innovation zones.”

Mobility Challenges for Households in Poverty

February 13, 2015 Comments off

Mobility Challenges for Households in Poverty (PDF)
Source: Federal Highway Administration (National Travel Survey)

The NHTS team has released a news brief concerning the mobility challenges for U.S. households in poverty. As the second highest household expenditure, transportation costs can have a disproportionately negative impact on lower income households. As a result, 2009 NHTS data has revealed that low income households have higher rates of carpooling, biking and walking. Additionally, low income households have lower rates of vehicle ownership as well as a shorter average daily radius of travel.

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