September 9, 2016

Recently I was speaking with a gentleman from Berea - one of our state's most beautiful communities. This person, a transit advocate, and I began to discuss the benefits of having a strong transit network. We both agreed that transit provides personal mobility for people from every walk of life - regardless of age, class, or gender. We also agreed that transit provides access to work, school, medical services, or social activities. We also both agreed that having a transit system encouraged economic development. In fact, many of Kentucky's transit systems provide route services to major employers, helping ensure a reliable work force.

He and I both anticipate more Kentuckians will need to access Kentucky's transit services as the baby boomers, our state's largest population, age.

And we both agreed that, even though we have a statewide transit network, we still have transit needs in the state of Kentucky.

My new friend has travelled both at home and abroad. He, like many people, is fond of Europe's transit system. He is also fond of subways, light rail, connected by buses.

I think all those things are great too - but today, that just isn't a reality.

According to AASHTO's 2016 Survey of State Funding Report for Public Transportation, the state of Kentucky budgets nearly $2 million per year for public transportation. That is $2 million per year from the state - in total.

Those state funds are used to meet the match requirement for obtaining federal dollars. Those federal dollars are used to help update and upgrade equipment - and provide some services.

When you are talking about your personal bank account, $2 million sounds like quite a bit of money. But when you are talking about a statewide transit network that covers each county, $2 million isn't very much.

In fact, it is about  $0.42 per person. That is a total per Kentuckian per year. That isn't much. I can't even buy a commemorative penny at the zoo for $.0.42.

Our transit network provides an incredible service to so many Kentuckians today - literally for pennies on the dollar. More than 31 million trips were taken last year using Kentucky's transit network. Most of those trips were to school and work.

So we've done lots with the little state money we've had. But the reality is we need more money to provide more services.

As Vicki Bourne has stated many times, transit is the heart of a strong transportation system.  We already have a strong transit network in place to move our people to jobs, school, medical care, and anywhere else they need to go. And we will need to make improvements to our transit network - and that includes improving the system we have - but it will take more than $0.42 per person to get us there.

KBT's Mission Statement
Kentuckians for Better Transportation educates and advocates for all modes of transportation to promote a safe, sustainable transportation network that brings economic growth and improved quality of life to all Kentucky Communities.
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Via ABC Police Losing Battle to Get Drivers to Put Down Phones

State troopers in Chattanooga, Tennessee, have been known to patrol in a tractor-trailer so they can sit up high and spot drivers texting behind the wheel.

In Bethesda, Maryland, a police officer disguised himself as a homeless man, stood near a busy intersection and radioed ahead to officers down the road about texting drivers. In two hours last October, police gave out 56 tickets.

And in West Bridgewater,  Massachusetts, south of Boston, an officer regularly tools around town on his bicycle, pedals up to drivers at stoplights and hands them $105 tickets.

Texting while driving in the U.S. is not just a dangerous habit, but also an infuriatingly widespread one, practiced both brazenly and surreptitiously by so many motorists that police are being forced to get creative - and still can't seem to make much headway.

"It's everyone, kids, older people - everyone. When I stop someone, they say, 'You're right. I know it's dangerous, but I heard my phone go off and I had to look at it,'" said West Bridgewater Officer Matthew Monteiro.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates nearly 3,500 people were killed in crashes involving distracted drivers in the mainland U.S. and Puerto Rico in 2015, up from almost 3,200 in 2014. The number of deaths in which cellphones were the distraction rose from 406 in 2014 to 476 in 2015.  More here
AAR: Excluding coal, August carloads down only 1%
The  Association of American Railroads (AAR) released August monthly figures with this nugget: Exclude coal, and the industry's carloads were down only 1% in August 2016 from August 2015, or 8,703 carloads.
Include coal, and traffic in August totaled 1,347,989 carloads, down 6.6% or 95,341 carloads from August 2015. U.S. railroads also originated 1,327,274 containers and trailers in August 2016, down 4.8% or 66,889 units from the same month last year. For August 2016, combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations were 2,675,263 down 5.7% or 162,230 carloads and intermodal units from August 2015.
In August 2016, eight of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with August 2015. These included: grain, up 24.7% or 23,857 carloads; waste and nonferrous scrap, up 25.4% or 4,182 carloads; and chemicals, up 1.1% or 1,699 carloads. Commodities that saw declines in August 2016 from August 2015 included: coal, down 16.1% or 86,638 carloads; petroleum and petroleum products, down 25.1% or 17,650 carloads; and crushed stone, gravel and sand, down 6.9% or 8,913 carloads.
"While August showed improvements in some categories, the big story in terms of rail traffic last month was the continuing surge in carloads of grain," said AAR Senior Vice President of Policy and Economics John T. Gray. "Railroads, along with barges and trucks, are a critical part of the grain logistical chain. The fact that this chain generally functions smoothly is a testament to the tremendous efforts that transportation providers, including railroads, put forth in support of their grain-related customers."
For the week ending Sept. 3, 2016, total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 703,721 carloads and intermodal units, down 4%. To read the full report, click here.

Energy 101: Sustainable Public Transportation

TARC Zero buses featured in video. 

BTS Releases First-Ever National Transit Map Data

The U.S. Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) September 1st released National Transit Map data, a geospatial database containing the information from 270 transit agencies that provides open, machine-readable data about their stops, routes, and schedules.

The national, openly available map of fixed-guideway and fixed-route transit service in America will allow the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to demonstrate the importance and role of transit in American society and to identify and address gaps in access to public transportation. It will also support research, planning and analysis on the benefits of transit, such as the economic impacts of transit on a community's economic development, or on reducing poverty in low-income neighborhoods.

The national Transit Map can be used to support DOT's Ladders of Opportunity (link is external) initiative to promote the use of existing transportation networks to connect residents to jobs, education, health, government, and other essential services.  More here
Abraham Lincoln Bridge Wins National Award

Recognized for Quality of Life and Community Development
White Sulphur Springs, W. Va. (Aug. 30, 2016) - The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has earned a regional award in the 2016 America's Transportation Awards competition. The Abraham Lincoln Bridge is the winner in the Quality of Life/Community Development - Large Category.1

The award recognizes a transportation project that has contributed to the general quality of life and economic development of local communities. Priority was given to projects that enhance transit, demonstrate community involvement and illustrate the public benefit for users.

The Abraham Lincoln Bridge is the centerpiece of the Downtown Crossing, part of the Louisville - Southern Indiana Ohio River Bridges Project. The project, which is scheduled for substantial completion late this year, is improving safety and cross-river mobility. A study prepared for the Indiana Finance Authority found the Bridges Project would have an economic impact of $87 billion and support 15,000 new jobs over the next 30 years.

"We know the many benefits of the Bridges Project," said Andy Barber, deputy state highway engineer and KYTC project manager. "We're already seeing new development and new opportunities. This project is a game changer for our region, and every day drivers will be enjoying a faster and safer commute. That's a win in my book, but it's awfully nice to see the recognition for the Lincoln Bridge and the many men and women who helped build it."  More here
U.S. Senate Leader Mitch McConnell Moves for Senate Passage or WRDA

On Monday, September 12th, the Senate will resume consideration of S. 2848, the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). At 5:30PM, the Senate will hold a cloture vote on Inhofe substitute amendment #4979 (60 votes required to limit debate).
Yesterday, Leader McConnell also filed cloture on the underlying bill with the intent of bringing the bipartisan WRDA bill to final passage next week. 

KBT appreciates the work of Senator McConnell on this important issue. 

Transportation TV Special Report: Sea Change--America's Ports in Transition
Transportation TV Special Report: Sea Change--America's Ports in Transition

Air airways

WASHINGTON - Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Michael Huerta today announced the implementation of the first operational rules for routine non-hobbyist use of small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS or "drones"). The regulations on June 21, 2016 officially take effect today.

"People are captivated by the limitless possibilities unmanned aircraft offer, and they are already creating business opportunities in this exciting new field," said Secretary Foxx. "These new rules are our latest step toward transforming aviation and society with this technology in very profound ways."

"The FAA's role is to set a flexible framework of safety without impeding innovation," said Administrator Huerta. "With these rules, we have created an environment in which emerging technology can be rapidly introduced while protecting the safety of the world's busiest, most complex airspace."

The provisions of the new rule - formally known as Part 107 -are designed to minimize risks to other aircraft and people and property on the ground. A summary is available here:

Effective today, the FAA has several processes in place to help users take advantage of the rule:
*             Waivers. The agency is offering a process to waive some of the rule's restrictions if an operator demonstrates the proposed flight will be conducted safely under a waiver. Users must apply for these waivers at the online portal located at
The FAA is issuing more than 70 waivers today, based on petitions for Section 333 exemptions. These waivers will be posted on September1. The majority of the approved waivers were for night operations under Part 107.
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