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Highway Trust Fund Ticker

April 22, 2014 Comments off

Highway Trust Fund Ticker
Source: U.S. Department of Transportation

Based on current spending and revenue trends, the U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that the Highway Account of the Highway Trust Fund will encounter a shortfall before the end of fiscal year (FY) 2014.

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National Transportation Statistics Updated (4/18/14)

April 18, 2014 Comments off

National Transportation Statistics Updated
Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) today updated National Transportation Statistics (NTS) – a web-only reference guide to national-level transportation data. NTS, updated quarterly, includes a wide range of national transportation information. NTS consists of more than 260 tables of national data on the transportation system, safety, the economy and energy and the environment, of which 50 were updated today. The next quarterly update is scheduled for July. NTS can be viewed on the BTS website.

CRS — Transportation Spending and “Buy America” Requirements

April 9, 2014 Comments off

Transportation Spending and “Buy America” Requirements (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via University of North Texas Digital Library)

The Buy America Act is the popular name for a group of domestic content restrictions that have been attached to funds administered by the Department of Transportation (DOT). These funds are used to make grants to states, localities, and other non-federal government entities for various transportation projects. Specific sources of funding administered by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), and the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) are covered under various Buy America provisions. Generally, these statutes require applicable agency grant programs and spending to be used to fund projects that only include steel, iron, and/or manufactured products produced in the United States. Each provision includes a series of circumstances under which the agency may issue a nationwide or project-specific waiver to these domestic content requirements. Such exemptions may be based upon a finding that application of the domestic content requirement is not in the public interest, the needed materials are not produced in sufficient quantity and/or quality in the United States, or the cost of using domestic materials is unreasonable, among others.

The Buy American Act, another statute requiring domestic content preferences in federal government procurement, does not apply to DOT-administered grant funds because, while the source of the money is federal, purchases are not made directly by the federal government. For more information on the Buy American Act and other domestic preference requirements, see CRS Report R43354, Domestic Content Restrictions: The Buy American Act and Complementary Provisions of Federal Law, by Kate M. Manuel et al.

2013 Status of the Nation’s Highways, Bridges and Transit: Conditions and Performance

April 4, 2014 Comments off

2013 Status of the Nation’s Highways, Bridges and Transit: Conditions and Performance
Source: Federal Highway Administration
From press release:

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx today announced that a new report on the state of America’s transportation infrastructure, 2013 Status of the Nation’s Highways, Bridges and Transit: Conditions and Performance, confirms that more investment is needed to maintain and improve the nation’s highway and transit systems. Secretary Foxx has highlighted the need for transportation investment in a series of speeches that take aim at America’s infrastructure deficit and identify ways to use innovation and improved planning to stretch transportation dollars as effectively and efficiently as possible.
…..
The Department of Transportation’s Conditions and Performance report, based on 2010 data, estimates all levels of government would need to spend between $123.7 billion and $145.9 billion per year to both maintain and improve the condition of roads and bridges alone. In 2010, federal, State and local governments combined spent $100.2 billion on this infrastructure, including $11.9 billion in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act dollars.

The report also indicates that as much as $24.5 billion is needed per year to improve the condition of transit rail and bus systems. In 2010, total spending to maintain and expand transit systems was $16.5 billion – a spending level also boosted temporarily by Recovery Act dollars.

Total Passengers on U.S Airlines and Foreign Airlines Serving the U.S. Increased 1.3% in 2013 from 2012

April 1, 2014 Comments off

Total Passengers on U.S Airlines and Foreign Airlines Serving the U.S. Increased 1.3% in 2013 from 2012
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 826.0 million systemwide (domestic + international) scheduled service passengers in 2013, 1.3 percent more than in 2012 and the highest total since 2007. The systemwide total was the result of a 0.5 percent increase in the number of domestic passengers (645.6 million) and a 4.0 percent increase in international passengers (180.4 million) (Tables 1, 1A, 5).

NHTSA Announces Final Rule Requiring Rear Visibility Technology

March 31, 2014 Comments off

NHTSA Announces Final Rule Requiring Rear Visibility Technology
Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) today issued a final rule requiring rear visibility technology in all new vehicles under 10,000 pounds by May 2018. This new rule enhances the safety of these vehicles by significantly reducing the risk of fatalities and serious injuries caused by backover accidents.

Today’s final rule requires all vehicles under 10,000 pounds, including buses and trucks, manufactured on or after May 1, 2018, to come equipped with rear visibility technology that expands the field of view to enable the driver of a motor vehicle to detect areas behind the vehicle to reduce death and injury resulting from backover incidents. The field of view must include a 10-foot by 20-foot zone directly behind the vehicle. The system must also meet other requirements including image size, linger time, response time, durability, and deactivation.

On average, there are 210 fatalities and 15,000 injuries per year caused by backover crashes. NHTSA has found that children under 5 years old account for 31 percent of backover fatalities each year, and adults 70 years of age and older account for 26 percent.

Value of 2013 U.S.-NAFTA Freight on Surface Modes Rose from 2012; Declined on Air and Vessel

March 25, 2014 Comments off

Value of 2013 U.S.-NAFTA Freight on Surface Modes Rose from 2012; Declined on Air and Vessel
Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Three of the five transportation modes – the surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline – carried more U.S. trade with North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partners Canada and Mexico by value in 2013 than in 2012 while the value of freight transported by air and vessel decreased, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) (Figure 1 and Table 2).

Trade by pipeline also grew the most from year-to-year, 7.7 percent, partly due to the value of petroleum products, as the overall value on all modes rose 2.6 percent. Smaller increases took place on rail (4.6 percent) and truck (2.2) while vessel trade fell for the second consecutive year (-2.4) and air trade declined for the third straight year (-1.0) (Tables 1, 2).

New From the GAO

March 19, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Report
Source: Government Accountability Office

Whistleblower Protection Program: Opportunities Exist for OSHA and DOT to Strengthen Collaborative Mechanisms. GAO-14-286, March 19.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-286
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/661769.pdf

2013 Status of the Nation’s Highways, Bridges, and Transit: Conditions & Performance

March 7, 2014 Comments off

2013 Status of the Nation’s Highways, Bridges, and Transit: Conditions & Performance
Source: Federal Highway Administration
From Executive Summary:

This edition of the C&P report is based primarily on data through the year 2010; consequently, the system conditions and performance measures presented should reflect effects of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), which authorized Federal highway and transit funding for Federal fiscal years 2005 through 2009 (and extended through fiscal year 2012), as well as some of the impact of the funding authorized under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act). None of the impact of funding authorized under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) is reflected. In assessing recent trends, this report generally focuses on the 10-year period from 2000 to 2010. The prospective analyses generally cover the 20-year period ending in 2030; the investment levels associated with these scenarios are stated in constant 2010 dollars.

In 2010, all levels of government spent a combined $205.3 billion for highway-related purposes, of which $11.9 billion was a direct impact of the Recovery Act. All levels of government spent a combined $54.3 billion for transit-related purposes, including $2.4 billion of expenditures supported by one-time funding under the Recovery Act.

The average annual capital investment level needed to maintain the conditions and performance of highways and bridges at 2010 levels through the year 2030 is projected to range from $65.3 billion to $86.3 billion per year, depending on the future rate of growth in vehicle miles traveled (VMT). Improving the conditions and performance of highways and bridges by implementing all cost-beneficial investments would cost an estimated $123.7 billion to $145.9 billion per year. (Note that these projections are much lower than those presented in the 2010 C&P report, driven in part by an 18 percent reduction in highway construction prices between 2008 and 2010). In 2010, all levels of government spent a combined $100.2 billion for capital improvements to highways and bridges.

2013 Airline Consumer Complaints Down From Previous Year

February 12, 2014 Comments off

2013 Airline Consumer Complaints Down From Previous Year
Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Airline consumer complaints filed with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Aviation Consumer Protection Division during 2013 were down 14.1 percent from 2012, according to the DOT’s Air Travel Consumer Report released today.

The Department received 13,168 complaints in 2013, down from the 15,338 complaints filed in 2012. In December, the Department received 1,114 complaints about airline service from consumers, up 23.5 percent from the 902 complaints received in December 2012, and up 47.5 percent from the total of 755 filed in November 2013.

For the month of December, airlines reported 10 tarmac delays of more than three hours on domestic flights and four tarmac delays of more than four hours on international flights. Most of the reported tarmac delays involved flights that arrived at or departed from Chicago O’Hare Airport on Dec. 8 that were delayed due to a snowstorm. All of the reported delays are under investigation by the Department.

The larger U.S. airlines have been required to file complete reports on their long tarmac delays for domestic flights since October 2008. Under a rule that took effect Aug. 23, 2011, all U.S. and foreign airlines operating at least one aircraft with 30 or more passenger seats must report lengthy tarmac delays at U.S. airports.

Selection of the Next Generation of Air Traffic Control Specialists: Aptitude Requirements for the Air Traffic Control Tower Cab in 2018

February 12, 2014 Comments off

Selection of the Next Generation of Air Traffic Control Specialists: Aptitude Requirements for the Air Traffic Control Tower Cab in 2018 (PDF)
Source: Federal Aviation Administration (Office of Aerospace Medicine)

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) faces two significant organizational challenges in the 21st century: (1) transformation of the current NAS into the Next Generation Air Transportation System (“NextGen”); and (2) recruitment, selection, and training the next generation of air traffic control specialists (ATCSs or air traffic controllers). What aptitudes should be assessed in the selection of future air traffic controllers? This report, the first of three, focuses on the aptitudes required in the air traffic control tower cab. First, the aptitude profile currently required at the time of hire into the ATCS occupation is described based on Nickels, Bobko, Blair, Sands, & Tartak (1995). Second, mid-term (2018) changes in the tower cab are described. Change drivers include increased traffic and the introduction of five decision support tools (DSTs): 1) Airport Configuration; 2) Departure Routing; 3) Runway Assignment; 4) Scheduling and Sequencing; and 5) Taxi Routing (with Conformance Monitoring). Third, the impact of these DSTs on tower cab operational activities, sub-activities, and tasks was assessed. Overall, the activities, sub-activities, and tasks of the controllers in the Ground Control and Local Control positions in the cab will not change with the introduction of these DSTs and associated displays. However, the way the work is performed will change at the keystroke or interface level. Fourth, the impact of the DSTs on aptitudes required of controllers is evaluated. The importance of the following aptitudes will increase in the mid-term: Scanning, across both auditory and visual sources, Perceptual Speed and Accuracy, Translating Information, Chunking, Interpreting Information, Sustained Attention, Recall from Interruption, Situational Awareness, Long-Term Memory, Problem Identification, Prioritization, Time-Sharing, Information Processing Flexibility, and Task Closure/Thoroughness. Two new aptitude requirements were identified: Dispositional Trust in Automation; and Computer-Human Interface (CHI) Navigation. Gaps in current aptitude testing are identified, and recommendations presented for test development and validation to close the gap.

Best Practices and Strategies for Improving Rail Energy Efficiency

February 12, 2014 Comments off

Best Practices and Strategies for Improving Rail Energy Efficiency (PDF)
Source: U.S. Department of Transportation (Federal Railroad Administration)

In support of the FRA Energy, Environment, and Engine (E3) program, this study reviews and evaluates technology development opportunities, equipment upgrades, and best practices (BPs) of international and U.S. passenger and freight rail industry segments for improving energy efficiency (E2) performance and attaining environmental sustainability goals. FRA’s Preliminary National Rail Plan, the High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR) initiative and environmental compliance requirements provide new impetus for renewed rail industry E2 advances. This report presents data on comparative rail energy efficiency, emerging energy efficient technologies, and alternative fuels. Based on a comprehensive literature review and on experts’ inputs, the report presents model corporate sustainability plans, rail equipment upgrade opportunities, system-wide BPs, and success stories that measurably improved E2 performance with environmental and economic benefits for all rail industry segments. Findings and recommendations are tailored to intercity and commuter passenger rail, as well as to freight rail carrier (Class I-III) needs and goals for improved, but cost-effective, E2 and environmental performance. Key opportunities include: public-private partnerships (P3) for R&D, demonstrations and equipment upgrades with Federal agencies (FRA), trade associations (AAR, APTA, AASHTO), international rail organizations (UIC), and regional and State environmental protection agencies for E2 and cross-enterprise sustainability improvements.

U.S. – NAFTA Trade Exceeds $100B for First Time on Record

January 22, 2014 Comments off

U.S. – NAFTA Trade Exceeds $100B for First Time on Record
Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

U.S. trade with its North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partners Canada and Mexico in October 2013 was $103.1 billion, up 4.5 percent from October 2012 and exceeding $100 billion for the first month on record, according to freight data released today by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) of the U.S. Department of Transportation (Table 1).

BTS, a part of the Department’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration, reported that three of the five transportation modes carried more U.S.-NAFTA trade in October 2013 than in October 2012. Total surface transportation trade, comprised of truck, rail and pipeline, was at an all-time high in October, at $85.4 billion. Truck, at $61.4 billion, and rail, at $15.9 billion, also reached record monthly levels (Table 2).

Total surface transportation trade topped its previous high of $81.7 billion set in March 2013. The previous high for truck was $60.0 billion in October 2012, and for rail the previous high was $15.3 billion in May 2013.

Pipelines showed the most year-to-year growth at 23.7 percent. The increase in the value of freight carried by pipelines reflects the rise in prices for oil and other petroleum products, the primary commodity transported by pipelines (Table 3).

Pocket Guide to Transportation 2014

January 14, 2014 Comments off

Pocket Guide to Transportation 2014
Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

The Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), a part of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA), has published the Pocket Guide to Transportation 2014 – a quick reference guide to significant transportation statistics. The 17th annual Pocket Guide covers data on moving people and goods, system use and performance, the economy, safety, infrastructure, and the environment.

NHTSA — Older Driver Traffic Safety Plan

January 3, 2014 Comments off

Older Driver Traffic Safety Plan (PDF)
Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

This report contains a description of NHTSA’s plans to address the following topics:

• Screening and Assessment – Relating to medical providers, families, licensing agencies, law enforcement, and older drivers in all efforts to improve the value of screening and assessment of driving abilities.

• Licensing – Including efforts to improve the validity and value of licensing actions relating to medically at-risk drivers and communications between licensing and others regarding at-risk drivers.

• Medical Providers – Focusing on medical providers and older driver issues outside the scope of screening and assessment, such as medication reviews and revisions of medically-oriented materials.

• Public Education and Program Promotion – Identifying activities to promote and evaluate education programs for older drivers and their families, including driver retraining courses. This area also includes law enforcement.

• Other Activities – Researching topics that are important to explore, but do not otherwise fit into the above categories.

FAA Selects Six Sites for Unmanned Aircraft Research

December 30, 2013 Comments off

FAA Selects Six Sites for Unmanned Aircraft Research
Source: Federal Aviation Administration

After a rigorous 10-month selection process involving 25 proposals from 24 states, the Federal Aviation Administration has chosen six unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) research and test site operators across the country.
In selecting the six test site operators, the FAA considered geography, climate, location of ground infrastructure, research needs, airspace use, safety, aviation experience and risk. In totality, these six test applications achieve cross-country geographic and climatic diversity and help the FAA meet its UAS research needs.

A brief description of the six test site operators and the research they will conduct into future UAS use are below:

University of Alaska. The University of Alaska proposal contained a diverse set of test site range locations in seven climatic zones as well as geographic diversity with test site range locations in Hawaii and Oregon. The research plan includes the development of a set of standards for unmanned aircraft categories, state monitoring and navigation. Alaska also plans to work on safety standards for UAS operations.

State of Nevada. Nevada’s project objectives concentrate on UAS standards and operations as well as operator standards and certification requirements. The applicant’s research will also include a concentrated look at how air traffic control procedures will evolve with the introduction of UAS into the civil environment and how these aircraft will be integrated with NextGen. Nevada’s selection contributes to geographic and climatic diversity.

New York’s Griffiss International Airport. Griffiss International plans to work on developing test and evaluation as well as verification and validation processes under FAA safety oversight. The applicant also plans to focus its research on sense and avoid capabilities for UAS and its sites will aid in researching the complexities of integrating UAS into the congested, northeast airspace.

North Dakota Department of Commerce. North Dakota plans to develop UAS airworthiness essential data and validate high reliability link technology. This applicant will also conduct human factors research. North Dakota’s application was the only one to offer a test range in the Temperate (continental) climate zone and included a variety of different airspace which will benefit multiple users.

Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi. Texas A&M plans to develop system safety requirements for UAS vehicles and operations with a goal of protocols and procedures for airworthiness testing. The selection of Texas A&M contributes to geographic and climactic diversity.

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech). Virginia Tech plans to conduct UAS failure mode testing and identify and evaluate operational and technical risks areas. This proposal includes test site range locations in both Virginia and New Jersey.

Personal Vehicles Entered the United States Nearly 96 Million Times in 2012

December 11, 2013 Comments off

Personal Vehicles Entered the United States Nearly 96 Million Times in 2012
Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Personal vehicles entered the United States nearly 96 million times in 2012, 33.1 million from Canada, and 62.7 million from Mexico, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ (BTS). Border crossings also included 10.7 million trucks, 320 thousand buses, and 37 thousand trains in 2012 (Table 1).

BTS, a part of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration, released the data as part of the ninth annual update of the North American Transportation Statistics (NATS) Online Database. A product of the North American Transportation Statistics Interchange, the NATS Online Database contains comparable transportation-related data available from the United States, Canada, and Mexico in a one-stop online resource.

The database covers the following subject areas: demographics, transportation, the economy, transportation safety, transportation’s impact on energy and the environment, domestic and international freight activity, domestic and international passenger travel, transportation infrastructure, and vehicles. The NATS Online Database is co-sponsored by BTS, the U.S. Census Bureau, and the federal-level transportation and statistical agencies of Canada and Mexico.

Thanksgiving Amtrak Ridership Snapshot

December 3, 2013 Comments off

Thanksgiving Amtrak Ridership Snapshot
Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Amtrak ridership during the days surrounding Thanksgiving has increased 5.3 percent over the last three years. Amtrak travel during this period shows the heaviest travel taking place on the day before Thanksgiving (Wednesdays) and Sunday following the holiday. Wednesday, November 21, 2012 was the single busiest day in the history of Amtrak with 140,691 passengers.

Airline Consumer Complaints Down From Previous Year

November 19, 2013 Comments off

Airline Consumer Complaints Down From Previous Year
Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Airline consumer complaints filed with DOT’s Aviation Consumer Protection Division during the first nine months of this year were down 14.1 percent from the first nine months of 2012, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Air Travel Consumer Report released today.

From January to September 2013, the Department received 10,439 consumer complaints, down from the total of 12,153 filed during the first nine months of 2012. In September, the Department received 1,008 complaints about airline service from consumers, down 6.8 percent from the 1,081 complaints filed in September 2012 and down 23.5 percent from the 1,318 received in August 2013.

The consumer report also includes data on tarmac delays, on-time performance, cancellations, chronically delayed flights, and the causes of flight delays filed with the Department’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) by the reporting carriers. In addition, the consumer report contains information on airline bumping, mishandled baggage reports filed by consumers with the carriers, and disability and discrimination complaints received by DOT’s Aviation Consumer Protection Division. The consumer report also includes reports of incidents involving the loss, death, or injury of pets traveling by air, as required to be filed by U.S. carriers.

Integration of Civil Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) in the National Airspace System (NAS) Roadmap

November 18, 2013 Comments off

Integration of Civil Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) in the National Airspace System (NAS) Roadmap (PDF)
Source: Federal Aviation Administration

A key activity of the FAA is to develop regulations, policy, procedures, guidance material, and training requirements to support safe and efficient UAS operations in the NAS, while coordinating with relevant departments and agencies to address related key policy areas of concern such as privacy and national security. Today, UAS are typically given access to airspace through the issuance of Certificates of Waiver or Authorization (COA) to public operators and special airworthiness certificates in the experimental category for civil applicants. Accommodating UAS operations by the use of COAs and special airworthiness certificates will transition to more routine integration processes when new or revised operating rules and procedures are in place and UAS are capable of complying with them. The FAA has a proven certification process in place for aircraft that includes establishing special conditions when new and unique technologies are involved. This process will be used to evaluate items unique to UAS. In those parts of the NAS that have demanding communications, navigation, and surveillance performance requirements, successful demonstration of UAS to meet these requirements will be necessary.

The process of developing regulations, policy, procedures, guidance material, and training requirements, is resource- intensive. This roadmap will illustrate the significant undertaking it is to build the basis for the NAS to transition from UAS accommodation to UAS integration.

Government and industry stakeholders must work collaboratively and apply the necessary resources to bring this transition to fruition while supporting evolving UAS operations in the NAS. The purpose of this roadmap is to outline, within a broad timeline, the tasks and considerations needed to enable UAS integration into the NAS for the planning purposes of the broader UAS community. The roadmap also aligns proposed Agency actions with the Congressional mandate in the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, Pub. L. 112-95. As this is the first publication of this annual document, the FAA will incorporate lessons learned and related findings in subsequent publications, which will include further refined goals, metrics, and target dates.

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