NAVIGATION IN SURFACE TRANSPORTATION / U.S. Coast Guard and Research and Innovative Technology Administration (Volpe Center and Transportation Safety Institute) are considering future users needs of the “Nationwide Differential Global Positioning System – “designed to broadcast signals to improve the accuracy and integrity of [the GPS function] derived positions for surface transportation, as well as other civil, commercial, scientific, and homeland security applications”. Relevance: U.S. Department of Transportation and U.S. Department of Homeland Security investments beyond FY 2016.

“This analysis will be used to support future NDGPS investment decisions by the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Transportation beyond fiscal year 2016. This notice seeks comments from Federal, state, and local agencies, as well as other interested members of the public regarding current and future usage of the NDGPS, the need to retain the NDGPS, the impact if NDGPS signals were not available, alternatives to the NDGPS, and alternative uses for the existing NDGPS infrastructure.” 

April 16, 2013. Notice; Request for Public Comments.

ANNOUNCEMENT / BTS’ National Transportation Statistics Updated. April 12, 2013 the U.S. DOT Research and Innovative Technology Administration located within the “Volpe Center” in Cambridge, Massachusetts issued its updated web-based version of this compendium of information related to the U.S. transportation industry. COMMENT: An authoritative basis for facts relating to safety, transportation systems and their economic characteristics.

Updated compendium available here.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), a part of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA), 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 51 were updated today. NTS also includes 11 modal profiles, compilations of all NTS data related to a single mode or subject. The next quarterly update is scheduled for July. NTS can be viewed on the BTS website.

ANNOUNCEMENT / “Statement from Secretary LaHood on the New International Trade Crossing” relating to Detroit-to-Ontario road connection by a new bridge connecting Detroit to Windsor. COMMENT: Obviously this augments the decades-long reliance on the 1929-built Ambassador Bridge that has in recent decades carried 60-70% of regional truck traffic at this key logistics point.

Announcement available here.   

“The New International Trade Crossing will be much more than just a bridge connecting Detroit to Windsor, Ontario – as those who have worked so hard to move this project forward know, it will be an economic engine for the entire region. That’s why I’m so pleased that the State Department today issued a presidential permit that clears the way for the project to begin, which is great news for the state of Michigan, the United States and Canada. I want to particularly congratulate Governor Snyder for his tireless leadership on this critical project, which will create thousands of jobs, relieve crippling congestion that slows the flow of travelers and goods between our countries, and make our North American auto manufacturing industry more competitive in the global market. We look forward to continuing to work closely with our partners in Michigan and Canada as this key project gets underway.”

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION / Department’s Office of Inspector General – “Top Ten OIG Recommendations for the U.S. Department of Transportation”, to House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Chairman Issa and Ranking Member Cummings, March 5, 2013.

Full text available here. 

“Summary

“On March 5, 2013, the Inspector General testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on the Office of Inspector General’s top 10 recommendations for the Department of Transportation.  The Inspector General focused on how the 10 highest priority open recommendations will impact the Department’s ability to (1) ensure effective stewardship of the Department’s resources, (2) effectively implement transportation infrastructure programs while protecting investments in these programs, and (3) enhance aviation and surface safety.” 

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION / Department’s Office of Inspector General – FAA’s Efforts To Track and Mitigate Air Traffic Losses of Separation Are Limited by Data Collection and Implementation Challenges, requested by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation and its Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety, and Security and the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, February 27, 2013.

Full text available here.

“Summary

“On February 27, 2013, we issued a report on the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) efforts to identify and mitigate risks of air traffic losses of separation—i.e., when two aircraft fly closer together than safety standards permit, due to an air traffic controller operational error, a pilot’s deviation, or other issue. Between fiscal years 2009 and 2010, the number of reported operational errors by controllers increased by more than 50 percent. According to FAA, this increase was mostly due to enhanced reporting through new voluntary and automated reporting programs. However, we found that the increase was linked, in part, to a rise in actual errors, as well as other contributing factors. In addition, we found that FAA lacks an accurate baseline of the actual total number of separation losses that occur. Although FAA has recently instituted new policies and procedures for improving the collection, investigation, and reporting of separation losses, we found that the effectiveness of these procedures is limited by incomplete data and implementation challenges. Finally, FAA has recently developed new corrective action plans to mitigate high-risk separation loss events. However, it is too early to determine the effectiveness of these plans. In addition, the Agency’s corrective action plans do not include all safety risks identified by FAA and will not address all losses of separation that air traffic facility officials consider to be high risk.

“FAA concurred with four and partially concurred with two of our six recommendations to improve the Agency’s policies and processes for identifying and mitigating separation losses….”

U.S. DOT (AVIATION & AIRLINES) / U.S. Department of Transportation fines United Airlines for violating tarmac delay rule.

February 14, 2013 press release available here.

“WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) today said United Air Lines violated federal rules last May by not informing passengers on an aircraft delayed at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport that they had an opportunity to leave the plane as it sat at the gate with the door open.  DOT fined United $130,000 and ordered the airline to cease and desist from further violations. Continue reading