During the last few months, working families have shouldered the extra burden of expensive gasoline. President Obama understands that Americans are feeling a great deal of pain at the pump these days. And we will continue doing everything we can to alleviate these burdens now while laying the groundwork for a secure and sustainable energy future.
Yesterday, I traveled to California, where Congressman Mike Thompson and I toured some projects that are putting Americans to work building a less oil-dependent transportation system. It was a fitting way to mark National Transportation Week because we visited four completely different ways of moving goods and people where they need to go.
First,we toured the headquarters of the California Fuel Cell Partnership. This innovative facility is the nerve-center for California’s state-of-the-art fuel cell development. I also had the opportunity to see their hydrogen refueling station and a fuel cell bus already in passenger service for Alameda-Contra Costa Transit. These buses not only get 60 percent better fuel economy than their diesel predecessors; they are also more reliable.
DOT investments are helping this technology gain a foothold in California. These clean buses have already carried more than 850,000 Bay Area passengers more than 350,000 miles. And the Golden State has more hydrogen stations than any other region in the world.
After touring the Fuel-Cell Partnership, Congressman Thompson and I toured the Port of West Sacramento. A few short years ago, the port had fallen on hard times. But thanks in part to a $30 million DOT TIGER grant, the port has been transformed.
These dollars went toward new facilities and equipment that will help workers move more container cargo, including agricultural products and consumer goods. The port is now completely powered by solar energy. The grant also helped launch a container barge service among the ports of West Sacramento, Stockton, and Oakland.
As we're celebrating National Maritime Day today, I want to point out that moving cargo by water is the most fuel-efficient way we have to get freight to markets. A thriving Port of West Sacramento will ease congestion on area roads and keep commerce moving on this marine highway—a great way to keep costs down as fuel prices rise.
That’s why I was pleased to be able to see the Napa Valley Vine Trail firsthand. When completed, the pedestrian and bicycle trail will connect five municipalities, serve as the spine for many existing trails, and allow Californians to get around while leaving their cars at home.
Congressman Thompson and I ended our day with the groundbreaking for a new glideslope system at Napa County Airport. The new system will allow pilots to land safely in bad weather, helping avoid rerouting to congested Bay Area airports. It will also make it easier for residents, tourists, and business travelers to get in and out of Napa.
The innovations I saw yesterday demonstrate that the future of American transportation is promising. We know energy security can’t happen with the flip of a switch, but, with our investments in new transportation options, the United States can—and will—build a 21st century transportation system that benefits our wallets, health, and the environment.