The number of United States transportation vehicles in the air, on land and in the water.
The number of United States transportation vehicles in the air, on land and in the water.  

Related "Issue of the Day" Entries

Metro Crash Worst in 33 Year History
Published Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

On Monday, Washington DC Metro experienced a collision between two above-ground commuter trains, resulting in 7 deaths and 76 people taken to hospitals, including two in critical condition. The crash site is still being treated as a rescue scene because there may still be bodies uncovered. In Metro’s 33 year history, there were 2 other major crashes—one in January 1982 where 3 were killed and a crash in 2004 that left many injured. In a report, issued by the National Transportation Safety Board in 2006, the Washington Transit Authority was warned about some of the cars that were involved in the Monday crash calling for either retrofitting or phasing them out. Recently, two crashes in Boston and Los Angeles occurred because of cell phone use. As a result, Los Angeles banned transit workers’ cell phone use while on duty.

In the last 13 years, the number of commuter rail transit mileage has increased 3 times from 4150 miles to 7000 miles in 2006. With President Obama’s energy plan calling for new construction projects and a greater emphasis on using mass transit as a way to cut greenhouse emissions, that number is expected to increase with the plan’s approval from Congress. Accidents with transit rail, even with the extra mileage, have remained relatively constant at about 3,000 separate incidents annually, ranging from minor to major, since 1985. The rate of accidents for rail continues to be the second safest mode of transport behind commuter air travel.

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Public Transit Use on the Rise as Miles Trend Downward
Published Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

According to the Department of Transportation and the American Public Transportation Association, the number of miles traveled by vehicles in the United States fell by 3.6% in 2008, the number of trips taken on public transit increased by 4.0%. The total estimated number of miles driven in 2008 is 2.922 trillion, down from 3.030 trillion in 2007. This is a reduction of nearly 115 billion miles. The biggest drop was in the rural areas, as driving in these areas dropped by 4.2%, followed by urban areas which dropped by 3.2%. The increase in public transport usage may be attributed to the gradual 14 month decrease in miles driven by U.S. drivers.

Overall, transit ridership reached an overall 52 year high as U.S. residents took 10.7 billion trips on public transportation. In fact, light rail increased the greatest at 8.3% due partly to new and expanded services in Charlotte, North Carolina, and restored services in New Orleans, Louisiana. As for the other mass transit modes, Commuter Rail increased by 4.7%, subway ridership increased by 3.5%, bus ridership increased by 3.9%, and on-demand transit increased by 5.9%. Many of the transportation vehicles have not actually risen with demand, only the Bus services have slowly increased its fleet. As a part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), the President has given $8.4 billion to invest in public transit “to move us towards our long term goals of energy security and a better quality of life.”

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Gas Mileage Wars Rage as EPA Considers State Limits
Published Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

Gas mileage wars are heating up between California and Detroit as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held public hearings on the possibility of California imposing its own limits on Fuel-Economy Standards, which until now has been the work of the EPA. This move to reconsider California’s request comes as a campaign promise President Obama made to the state, in that he would ask the EPA to reverse the Bush-era rulings. California wishes to enact 43 miles per gallon on average by 2016, which is far higher than the 35 miles per gallon by 2020 target of the Energy Act of 2007. Thirteen other states have adopted California’s rule and several other states are considering its adoption. Car makers, even the foreign makers, argue that if granted, the new standard will require a totally new engine, which in this economy is unrealistic as cash for innovation and research is just not there.

According to the Department of Transportation, the average miles per gallon for passenger cars is 22.4 mpg and the SUVs, after remaining quite flat, have risen to an average of 18 mpg. The average annual mileage for the approximately 243.3 million cars, trucks and SUVs on the roads was actually steady, until 2006 when US drivers averaged 300 more miles driven in a year. According to the Department of Energy, the US dependance on foreign oil has cost us about $1.9 trillion from 2004 to 2008.

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The National Safety Council is a nonprofit, nongovernmental, public service organization dedicated to protecting life and promoting health. The NSC is a membership organization, founded in 1913 and chartered by the U.S. Congress in 1953. Members include more than 48,000 businesses, labor organizations, schools, public agencies, private groups and individuals.