Posts Tagged ‘Anthony Foxx’

FMCSA establishes national drug and alcohol testing clearinghouse

FMCSAThe U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced a final rule, Friday, Dec. 2, that establishes a national drug and alcohol clearinghouse for commercial truck and bus drivers. The clearinghouse database will serve as a central repository containing records of violations of FMCSA’s drug and alcohol testing program by commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders.

“An overwhelming majority of the nation’s freight travels by truck, and millions of passengers reach their destinations by bus, so creating a central, comprehensive, and searchable database of commercial motor vehicle drivers who violate federal drug and alcohol testing requirements has been a departmental priority,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “This system will be a new technological tool that will make our roads safer.”

Once the clearinghouse is established, motor carrier employers will be required to query the system for information concerning current or prospective employees who have unresolved violations of the federal drug and alcohol testing regulations that prohibit them from operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV). It also requires employers and medical review officers to report drug and alcohol testing program violations.

The drug and alcohol clearinghouse final rule annual net benefits are an estimated $42 million, with crash reductions resulting from annual and pre-employment queries by FMCSA-regulated motor carriers.

“This is a major safety win for the general public and the entire commercial motor vehicle industry,” said FMCSA Administrator Scott Darling. “The clearinghouse will allow carriers across the country to identify current and prospective drivers who have tested positive for drugs or alcohol, and employ those who drive drug- and alcohol-free. Drivers who test positive for drugs or alcohol will no longer be able to conceal those test results from employers and continue to drive while posing a safety risk to the driving public.”

The final rule requires motor carriers, medical review officers, third-party administrators, and substance abuse professionals to report information about drivers who:

  • Test positive for drugs or alcohol;
  • Refuse drug and alcohol testing; and
  • Undergo the return-to-duty drug and alcohol rehabilitation process.

Additionally, motor carriers will be required to annually search the clearinghouse for current employees, and during the pre-employment process for prospective employees, to determine whether a driver violated drug or alcohol testing requirements with a different employer that would prohibit them from operating a CMV.

Federal safety regulations require employers to conduct pre-employment drug testing and random drug and alcohol testing. Motor carriers are prohibited from allowing employees to perform safety-sensitive functions, which include operating a CMV, if the employee tests positive on a DOT drug or alcohol test.

In accordance with the Privacy Act of 1974 (5 U.S.C. § 552a), a driver must grant consent before an employer can request access to that driver’s clearinghouse record and before FMCSA can release the driver’s clearinghouse record to an employer. After registering with the clearinghouse a driver can review his or her information at no cost.

Congress directed FMCSA to establish a national drug and alcohol clearinghouse as mandated by the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21).

The national drug and alcohol clearinghouse Final Rule goes into effect in January 2020, three years after its effective date.

To view the drug and alcohol clearinghouse Final Rule, click this link.

To learn more about the drug and alcohol clearinghouse, click on this link.

N.Y. State Comptroller DiNapoli urges Feds to increase oil train safety

oil-train-railTimesunion reported that New York State comptroller Tom DiNapoli has written a letter to U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, urging for increased oil train safety measures and warning how oil train spills could threaten state funds. Read the entire story here. Read more about DiNapoli’s letter to Foxx on the N.Y. State Comptroller website here.

DOT releases draft national freight strategic plan

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Foxx

SEATTLE – Because the future of our economy rests on a strong transportation system to move materials and products, today, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx released the draft National Freight Strategic Plan, which offers specific policy proposals and solutions to address the growing challenges of moving freight in this country. Now open for public comment, the draft Plan is an essential step for continuing to support the nation’s economy through the efficient movement of goods, while recognizing and responding to future infrastructure challenges. He was joined by Senator Maria Cantwell at Seattle Public School Headquarters. 

Every day, millions of trucks, trains, aircraft, and ships move across the United States, transporting and delivering materials and products that are essential to our way of life and our economy. According to the most recent data released from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, freight shipments last month reached an all-time high and were 30.4 percent higher than the recent low in April 2009 during the recession. While this increase in freight traffic is good news for our economy, concerns remain that our infrastructure cannot accommodate continued growth: in the next 30 years the population of the United States is expected to grow by 70 million people, and freight traffic is expected to increase by 42 percent by 2040.

“With an increasingly competitive and complex global marketplace and a deteriorating transportation infrastructure that is unfortunately showing the effects of age and underinvestment, the need for us to have a national freight plan could not be more urgent,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx.

This draft Plan is a first-of-its-kind document that takes a comprehensive look at the Nation’s freight needs and future challenges and offers a roadmap for improvements. It proposes solutions and strategies to address the infrastructure, institutional, and financial bottlenecks that hinder the safe and efficient movement of goods. It also identifies many successful programs already in place to improve freight planning and investment, and proposes new programs and ideas that could make more progress possible. Importantly, it also recognizes the benefits of establishing a strong freight program in the next reauthorization bill.

“Congestion on rails, surface streets, and at our ports across the Pacific Northwest costs businesses billions of dollars a year and gives an edge to competitors around the globe. The National Freight Strategic Plan means places like Seattle and Tacoma will be part of our national strategy to quickly move products through traffic congested areas,” said Senator Cantwell.

These strategies include efforts to reduce congestion and increase efficiency while improving safety and reliability, and reducing adverse impacts on the environment and communities.  This will include incorporating new technologies allowing for better quality data collection and faster analysis of freight routes, travel times, and infrastructure capacity. It also means breaking down institutional impediments, such as conflicting priorities at the Federal, State and local levels, and unnecessarily complex and lengthy permitting and approval processes.  Building on existing efforts to improve coordination and synchronization across various levels of government, the draft Plan presents opportunities and potential pathways to enhance freight planning.

Specific strategies include:

  • Ensure dedicated freight funding: The draft Plan emphasizes the importance of a dedicated freight program that would improve the movement of freight and meet regional economic demand and would require or incentivize State Freight Advisory Committees, State Freight Plans, and cross-jurisdictional/cooperative planning. The GROW AMERICA Act would provide $18 billion over six years through two dedicated, multimodal freight grant programs for targeted investments.
  • Identify major trade gateways and multimodal national freight networks/corridors: U.S. DOT is releasing a draft Multimodal Freight Network (MFN) map to inform planners, private sector stakeholders, and the public about where major freight flows occur and where special attention to freight issues may be most warranted. U.S. DOT and the U.S. Department of Commerce have monitored and analyzed major trade gateways and freight corridors for decades, but the draft MFN combines the most critical modal components and shows the connections between them.
  • Facilitate multijurisdictional, multimodal collaboration and solutions: U.S. DOT will continue its work to support local, State, and interagency collaboration, including close cooperation with port authorities, private sector stakeholders, and agencies in Canada and Mexico; sharing best practices for freight planning; supporting advisory committees and public forums with stakeholders; and encouraging effective use of funding available at the national level.
  • Ensure availability of better data and models: U.S. DOT will continue to develop and deploy newer and more advanced freight data resources to the planning community and advance the measurement and analysis of transit times for different commodities from a multimodal, origin-to-destination perspective. Congress could enhance U.S. DOT’s authority to collect intermodal freight data by giving U.S. DOT’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics the authority to assemble intermodal freight movement data under the Intermodal Transportation Data Program, as proposed in the GROW AMERICA Act.
  • Improve safety and support the adoption of new transportation technologies: U.S. DOT is undertaking new and innovative efforts to improve freight transportation safety. The Department recently announced the formation of a National Coalition on Truck Parking to improve commercial driver safety. U.S. DOT will also efforts to adopt new and exciting transportation technologies, including autonomous vehicles that promise to allow for safer and more reliable freight transportation.
  • Develop the next generation freight transportation workforce: U.S. DOT is committed to promoting economic opportunity through high-quality transportation jobs as part of the President’s Ladders of Opportunity Initiative. Efforts include developing freight skills for State transportation agency and MPO staff through a growing body of resources and guidance on freight planning, and pushing for greater authority to develop workforce plans.

The most recent surface transportation reauthorization law, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), directed the U.S. Department of Transportation to develop a National Freight Strategic Plan laying out a course of action to meet National Freight Policy goals designed to improve the movement of freight in the U.S. The Department welcomes the public to provide feedback and comment on the draft National Freight Strategic Plan. To submit your thoughts and to learn more about the draft plan, visit www.transportation.gov/freight.

DOT announces loan for CATS Blue Line extension

Charlotte_CATS_logoWashington – U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx today announced a $180 million Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan to the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) for construction of the LYNX Blue Line light rail extension. The TIFIA loan will support the expansion of the popular light rail system from Center City Charlotte to the UNC Charlotte Campus.

“This project is already catalyzing economic growth and opportunity by connecting the city’s financial, high tech and cultural centers with the thriving UNCC campus and giving commuters an alternative to sitting in traffic on I-85 and U.S. 29.  The project also connects and will help revitalize many historically underserved neighborhoods,” said Secretary Foxx.  “The Blue Line extension is an important piece of the overall transit system that Charlotte needs in order to thrive in the 21st Century.”

CATS officials estimate that the light rail extension will create approximately 7,600 jobs during construction with total light rail ridership at more than 18,900 additional riders each weekday when the extension opens in 2018. The 9.3 mile extension will add service along what will become an 18.6-mile light rail corridor in Northeast Charlotte and will help to reduce congestion along Interstate 85 and US Route 29, where commercial and residential growth is expected to continue.

“The LYNX Blue Line extension is critical to the City of Charlotte. The TIFIA loan reduces financing costs to ensure that CATS can complete this project and have a more robust capital plan going forward,” said Lana Hurdle, DOT Deputy Assistant Secretary for Budget and Programs.

In addition to the $180 million TIFIA loan, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is providing $580 million for the $1.16 billion project through FTA’s Capital Investment Grant Program. The remaining cost is covered by state and local funding.

“For residents and visitors alike, Charlotte’s transportation system provides a lifeline to jobs, attractions, events, and all that Charlotte has to offer,” said FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan. “With this project, CATS, the City of Charlotte, and the State of North Carolina  continue to make the critical investments in modern infrastructure that riders expect and deserve.”

The TIFIA credit program is designed to fill market gaps and leverage substantial non-federal investments. Each dollar of federal funding can provide up to $10 in TIFIA credit assistance and support up to $30 in transportation infrastructure investment. Since its launch, the TIFIA program has helped 54 projects turn more than $22 billion in U.S. Department of Transportation assistance into more than $81 billion in infrastructure investment across America.

As part of the President’s Build America program, the Department has revamped the TIFIA website with a cleaner design, helpful tools, and interactive map that make it easier than ever to learn about how TIFIA helps projects get built using innovative financing. The new site is located at www.transportation.gov/tifia

The Obama Administration has proposed the GROW AMERICA Act to expand financing options under the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA), which leverages Federal dollars by facilitating private participation in transportation projects and encouraging innovative financing mechanisms that help advance projects more quickly. The Act will provide $6 billion over 6 years, which is estimated to result in $60 billion of direct loans. In addition, the Act increases the accessibility of the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing Program by reducing the cost of obtaining a loan for short line railroads and increases the availability of Private Activity Bonds by raising the existing $15 billion cap to $19 billion.

USDOT to study future southeast railroad network

DOT_Logo_150pxRALEIGH, N.C. — USDOT Secretary Anthony Foxx announced last month that a federally-led regional study will be conducted to develop a shared, workable vision for a Southeast passenger rail network. Secretary Foxx noted that:

“A world-class passenger rail network in our fastest-growing regions is no luxury; it’s a necessity.
[The US Department of Transportation] will undertake a … planning effort to create a shared, workable vision for a Southeast passenger rail network that connects Washington, DC to Richmond, to Charlotte, to Raleigh, and to Atlanta. These are cities that –like their Northeast Corridor counterparts– are business and population centers between which people need a travel option beyond crowded highways and airplanes.”

The planning process will help establish a common, long-term vision for intrastate and regional passenger rail services based upon existing conditions, projections of future travel demand, and the optimal role for the rail network with multi-modal connections.

The study was awarded in response to a Statement of Interest submitted to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) by the N.C. Department of Transportation on behalf of the District of Columbia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. The study will build upon work already completed by these partners as well as the Virginia-North Carolina Interstate Rail Compact. 

The study will be led by FRA and a consultant team with input from multiple stakeholders including state departments of transportation, state and regional economic development organizations, chambers of commerce, Class I, regional, and short line railroad operators, regional and select local planning organizations, select regional and local transit operators, and rail advocacy groups. 

Through stakeholder dialogue and engagement, the study will develop an implementable vision for the role of rail in providing transportation options between growing business and population centers, and in promoting economic development in the Southeast.

Foxx announces grants to promote transit jobs

FTAlogoLOS ANGELES – U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx today announced $9.5 million in grants to 19 projects in 13 states selected to help train a new generation of skilled workers and support long-term careers in the public transportation industry. The announcement was made at the Los Angeles Trade-Technical College (LATTC), and the grants are provided through the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Innovative Public Transportation Workforce Development program.

“The public transit industry offers good-paying careers that can lift Americans into the middle class or help them stay there, and more of these careers will be available in the future,” said Secretary Foxx. “These grants will help us overcome skills gaps and provide more young people with the training, apprenticeships, and educational opportunities they need to gain entry into these careers.”

Yesterday, the U.S. Departments of Transportation, Education, and Labor today released a joint report entitled “Strengthening Skills Training and Career Pathways across the Transportation Industry.” The report details the future growth areas or employment “hot spots” in transportation by industry subsectors, occupations, career areas, and geographic areas.

Secretary Foxx was joined by FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan, executives from LATTC, Community Career Development, Inc. (CCD), the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), and state and local officials. Students from LATTC’s Transportation Technologies program were also on hand to speak about their experiences and demonstrate the skills they have learned at LATTC.

“The demand for skilled transit workers will continue to grow as new projects are planned, built, and come on line and as ridership continues to expand in cities like Los Angeles and other communities across the country,” said FTA Acting Administrator McMillan. “And we are committed to making careers in transit a real ladder to opportunity by helping provide education and financial security, especially for those in disadvantaged communities.”

Two organizations in Los Angeles were selected in this latest round of FTA workforce development grants: LATTC will receive funding to establish the Institute for Advanced Transportation Technology Training – the first program of its kind in a community college in the country; and CCD will receive funding for its Moving Employees into Transit Related Opportunities (METRO) program, which will partner with organizations like LA Valley College to recruit and train low-income individuals, women, veterans, minorities, and others from communities throughout Metropolitan Los Angeles.

FTA’s workforce development projects will develop or expand strategic partnerships with transit agencies, labor unions, nonprofits, and academic institutions, and some will also support small businesses in the transit sector owned by women and minorities. In addition, several projects will serve as scalable models that can be applied to future projects throughout the United States.

Among the projects selected nationwide:

  • The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA) will receive funding for the Career Pathways Program, which will address all aspects of the transit workforce by leveraging partnerships with Cuyahoga Community College, Cleveland State University, and El Barrio Workforce Development Center.
  • Intercity Transit in Olympia, WA, will receive funding for its innovative Village Vans program, which aims to serve as a national model for rural transit agencies with large service areas. Like many rural agencies, Intercity Transit relies on volunteer drivers to meet its operational needs, and Village Vans provides volunteers free workforce training that prepares them for potential employment with Intercity Transit or other positions related to vehicle operations.
  • The Grand Gateway Economic Development Association in Northeast Oklahoma will receive funding to establish the N2N Automotive University. This program will identify and train participants, including those from impoverished Native American communities, in automotive repair skills that can be applied to transit vehicles as well as a range of automotive careers. This project will use an innovative Nation-to-Nation (N2N) recruitment strategy.

Eligible applicants included public transportation providers at the state, local, and regional level, Metropolitan Planning Organizations, Native American tribes, non-profit institutions, and institutions of higher education. A list of selected projects is available online.

Demand for FTA’s workforce grants far exceeded available funds, as FTA received a total of 50 applications requesting over $27 million. The Obama Administration’s GROW AMERICA Act would provide $478 billion over the next six years to help build the transportation workforce of the future, providing consistent long-term funding for transportation and infrastructure.

These grants come at a crucial time in the transportation industry. According to the Strengthening Skills Training report, employers will need to hire and train a total of 4.6 million new workers – 1.2 times the current transportation workforce – due to expected growth, retirements, and turnover in the transportation industry from 2012 to 2022.

It is projected that 417,000 of these positions will be created as a direct result to increased demand on our transportation systems, and the highest percentage of these jobs will be in transit and ground passenger transportation.

Is Northeast Corridor at breaking point?

NJ TransitU.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx, in the light of problems affecting tens of thousands of NJTransit and Amtrak riders between New Jersey and New York Penn Station of the last eight days, has called respective Govs. Chris Christie and Andrew Cuomo to meet with him sometime before Aug. 10.

Christie (R) while campaigning for the Republican Presidential nomination in New Hampshire July 28, said that his staff is working with Foxx’s counterparts for a meeting date. Cuomo (D) the same day said that he too will join Christie and Foxx, added that the federal government must chip in more than the $3 billion Uncle Sam has first offered to fund Gateway’s estimated $12 billion cost.

“If the federal government can make a significant contribution,” said Cuomo in a Tuesday interview, “then let’s go. I mean we have shovels – we need it.”

Read more from Local Talk News

Substantial demand shows need for TIGER grants

TIGER 2015 applications totaled $9.8 billion, far exceeding the $500 million for the program

DOT_Logo_150pxWashington, D.C. – U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx today announced that applications to the U.S. Department of Transportation for its seventh round of Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants totaled $9.8 billion, almost 20 times the $500 million set aside for the program, demonstrating the continued need for transportation investment nationwide. The demand for infrastructure investments from across the nation, and for all types of transportation projects, has been overwhelming.  Among the 625 applications received this year, 60 percent are road projects, 18 percent are transit projects, and 8 percent are rail projects; with port and bicycle-pedestrian applications each representing 6 percent of the total. The Department received 625 eligible construction applications from all 50 states and U.S. territories. There were 565 such applications in 2014.

“The consistent number of high quality projects we’re unable to fund through TIGER every year demonstrates the need for Congress to act to give more communities access to this vital lifeline,” Secretary Foxx said. “That is why we proposed doubling TIGER in the GROW AMERICA Act.”

Earlier this year, the Department reintroduced an improved surface transportation reauthorization bill, the GROW AMERICA Act.  The bill would provide $7.5 billion in funding over six years for the TIGER grant program. Under the GROW AMERICA Act, the TIGER grant program will be available for another six years, extending a proven track record of helping communities coordinate innovative, multi-modal transportation projects that serve the diverse travel needs of their residents and businesses in the 21st Century.

The highly competitive TIGER program, which began as a part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, offers federal funding possibilities for large, transformative multi-modal projects.  These federal funds leverage money from private sector partners, state and local governments, metropolitan planning organizations and transit agencies.  The $584.1 million awarded under TIGER 2014 supported 72 capital and planning transportation projects in 46 states and the District of Columbia.

Congress provided the most recent funding as part of the bipartisan Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015, signed by President Obama on December 16, 2014.

Since 2009, the TIGER grant program has provided a combined $4.1 billion to 342 projects in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.  Demand has been overwhelming, and during the previous six rounds, the Department received more than 6,000 applications requesting more than $124 billion for transportation projects across the country.

More information about previous years’ TIGER grantees as well as this year’s application process can be found at http://www.transportation.gov/tiger.

FRA announces final rule to prevent runaway trains

FRA_logo_wordsWASHINGTON, D.C. – The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today issued a final rule to prevent unattended trains that carry crude, ethanol, poisonous by inhalation (PIH), toxic by inhalation (TIH), and other highly flammable contents from rolling away.  Railroad employees who are responsible for securing a train will now be permanently required to communicate with another qualified individual trained on the railroad’s securement requirements to verify that trains and equipment are properly secured.  

“Today’s rule is part of the Department of Transportation’s comprehensive effort to bolster the safety of trains transporting crude oil and other highly flammable contents,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.  “Verifying that a train has been properly secured is a common sense solution to prevent accidents.”

The final rule will go into effect 60 days from publication in the Federal Register. Exterior locks on locomotives will also be required by March 1, 2017, and must be utilized when a locomotive has been left unattended.

Today’s rule requirements include:

  • A qualified and trained railroad employee to properly secure the equipment and verification of the securement with a second trained and qualified employee;   
  • Additional communication, including job briefings among crew members responsible for the train securement;
  • Properly installed and utilized exterior locks on locomotives;
  • The setting of sufficient handbrakes;
  • Removal of the train reverser; and
  • The proper use of train air brakes.

The rule applies to the following trains left unattended on a mainline, siding, and rail yard:

  • Trains carrying any poisonous by inhalation (PIH) and toxic by inhalation (TIH) hazardous materials; and
  • Trains carrying 20 or more cars of other high-hazard flammable materials.  

“Where the Federal Railroad Administration can take smart steps to quickly raise the bar on safety, it will, and that is exactly what we are doing today.  Requiring that an additional, trained individual double check that the handbrakes have been set on a train will help stop preventable accidents,” said Acting Administrator Sarah Feinberg.  “While today’s rule came out of a lesson learned from the Lac-Mégantic derailment, FRA will not hesitate to take additional actions to keep the rail system in the United States safe.”

On July 6, 2013, an unattended 74-car freight train carrying Bakken crude oil rolled downhill and derailed in Lac-Mégantic, Canada.  Forty-seven people died and many more were injured.  While the Canadian government found that there were nearly 20 causes of the accident, a major cause was that the engineer of the train did not properly secure the train.

Since the Lac-Mégantic derailment, DOT has taken more than 30 actions, including regulations, emergency orders, and safety advisories, to prevent train accidents and improve the safety of high-hazard flammable trains.

To view a copy of the Final Rule, click here.

FTA highlights public transportation accessibility

FTAlogoBethesda, Md. – Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Acting Administrator Therese McMillan was at a bus stop just north of Bethesda Maryland to highlight the success of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) on the landmark legislation’s 25th anniversary. The Acting Administrator spoke about the great advances that have been made since the Act was passed, most notably that nationwide, 99.8 percent of transit buses are accessible to and usable by people with disabilities, thanks to features like lifts and ramps.

“The Obama Administration is committed to ensuring that everyone, including people with disabilities, can fully access the transportation services they need to get to work, to school and to live their lives,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “I commend the public transportation industry for its hard work to make subways, light rail, buses and other transit services increasingly accessible.”

In spite of the large percentage of facilities that are compliant, many bus stops, typically maintained by local government agencies, remain a challenge to accessibility. To address that, Maryland’s Montgomery County embarked on a comprehensive rehabilitation program of the county’s 5,340 stops. At the North Bethesda bus stop today, McMillan and Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett highlighted how the county’s $11 million Bus Stop Improvement Program brought the county’s stops into ADA compliance. Since 2006, the county has improved safety and increased accessibility at 89 percent of its bus stops, in part with ADA-accessible paths for passengers to get to and from bus stops.

“We congratulate Montgomery County for improving its bus system, which provides a lifeline to people who don’t drive,” McMillan said. “We know that many people with disabilities travel by bus, and we want to be sure that they can travel anywhere public transportation is offered across the country.”

People with disabilities are relying increasingly on buses to participate in daily activities rather than paratransit. A 2013 Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) report studied seven transit systems across the country and found that ridership on fixed-route transit by persons with disabilities was two to six times greater than ridership on paratransit. A TCRP nationwide survey of people with disabilities found that one-third of respondents indicated they wanted to take public transportation, specifically fixed-route buses.

All rail transit systems built since 1990, many of them light rail, are required to meet ADA regulations for accessibility and are inspected by FTA for compliance as a condition of federal funding. DOT’s Reasonable Modification Rule, which went into effect last week, clarifies that public transportation providers are required to make reasonable modifications to their policies, practices and procedures to ensure programs and services are accessible.

While the rail transit industry has ensured compliance with an ADA requirement that at least one car per train is accessible, many transit systems struggle to retrofit older, often space-constrained stations.

“We need to do more to ensure that people with disabilities have reliable access to public transportation, which is why we are seeking additional investments in our nation’s transportation infrastructure,” McMillan said. “Older stations remain challenging for people in wheelchairs to traverse, and elevators frequently go out of service, leaving them with few or no options.”

FTA supports transit agencies nationwide through a combination of annual formula funds and grants for transit projects. Montgomery County’s bus program receives approximately $10 million a year through FTA’s Urbanized Area Formula Grant program.

As part of the celebration of ADA-25, the Department of Transportation is co-hosting an “ADA: 25 Years of Disability Civil Rights” exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History that demonstrates accessibility at home, in the workplace and in transportation. The exhibit will run Friday-Sunday on the National Mall behind the American History Museum as part of a slate of ADA-25 commemorative activities.

Secretary Foxx says no to privatization of FAA

faa_logoTransportation Secretary Anthony Foxx threw cold water Wednesday, July 8, on a Republican plan to privatize large portions of the nation’s air traffic control system.

House Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) is expected to call for the creation of a new non-governmental agency that would take over air traffic control from the Federal Aviation Administration in a forthcoming funding bill for the agency.

Foxx said Wednesday, during a meeting with reporters at the Transportation Department’s headquarters that he did not see the need to remove the federal government from the airplane navigation process.

Read more from The Hill.

FTA proposes rule to improve testing safety of buses

FTAlogoWASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (PDF) that would improve the process for testing the safety and reliability of new transit buses funded with federal dollars. The proposed rule would establish minimum performance standards, a new pass-fail grading system for bus testing, and a weighted scoring process that would better assist local transit agencies in purchasing an appropriate vehicle.

In addition, the proposed rule would clarify and improve verification of two Departmental regulations: the Buy America requirements that have stimulated American manufacturing of transit vehicles, components and related technology; and the rules that support businesses owned by women and minorities (Disadvantaged Business Enterprises) throughout the supply chain.

“Millions of riders depend on transit buses every day to get to work, school, healthcare, and home again,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “While buses are already a very safe mode of travel, transit customers deserve to know that the buses they ride on are as safe and reliable as possible.”

The proposed rule would require new buses meet minimum thresholds in structural integrity, safety, maintainability, reliability, fuel economy, emissions, noise, and performance. The rule would refine and streamline the existing standardized procedures used by the FTA Bus Testing Facility at Pennsylvania State University’s Larson Transportation Institute in Altoona, Pa.

“When the FTA helps local transit agencies purchase new buses, it is imperative that those vehicles are a high-quality investment,” said FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan. “This proposed rule would help ensure buses are long lasting and low maintenance, saving transit agencies valuable resources and reducing the frustrating delays that riders endure when buses have to be removed from service unexpectedly.”

The proposed bus testing rule was developed following extensive outreach to FTA’s partners across the transit industry, including transit vehicle manufacturers, component suppliers, public transit agencies, and state departments of transportation. Public outreach efforts will continue throughout the comment period to solicit feedback from these and other stakeholders.

The proposed rule was directed by Congress in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21). As FTA continues to implement its statutory safety authority under MAP-21, the proposed bus testing rule will be coordinated with FTA’s other safety initiatives.