One of the ways DOT is advancing President Obama's vision of an America built to last is by putting safety first. We are working around the clock to make sure that passengers have transportation options that are not only efficient and affordable, but--above all--safe.
That’s why yesterday, I was pleased to join Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff in Miami to highlight our new transit safety mission.
You see, for the first time, the new two-year transportation bill passed by Congress, MAP-21, gives the FTA the authority to require basic, common-sense safety standards across our nation’s transit systems. It also provides $2.1 billion to rebuild and revitalize our nation’s aging bus and rail transit systems around the country.
Before MAP-21, transit riders depended on a patchwork of local and state safety rules that changed from one system to another. Because of this, safety standards vary widely. But, to maintain a safe and efficient network of transit systems, we need to make sure the highest safety standards are in place--across the nation.
The Obama Administration has been trying to close the transit safety gap since 2009. In December of that year I submitted to Congress a proposal to establish and enforce minimum federal safety standards for rail transit systems. And we've been fighting to secure this authority ever since.
Public transit is one of the safest ways to travel, and the FTA's new safety oversight authority will help ensure an even safer commute for the passengers who use our subways, streetcars, buses, and light rail systems to go about their daily lives
In the meantime, for the third year in a row, DOT is providing more than $700 million to help transit agencies around the country build, repair, and modernize their transit systems. These investments are helping keep people safe while riding buses in communities throughout the country.
For example, in Florida, we are providing $50 million for 14 projects throughout the state, $10 million of which will go to work helping the Miami-Dade transit replace aging diesel buses with new hybrid-electric buses.
These new buses will provide a safe, reliable ride for thousands of passengers. That's good news for the hardworking Floridians who depend on public transit to get where they need to go every day.
All of these provisions make our transportation network safer, but we are far from finished. Now is the time to build a safe and modern transportation network that is the envy of the world. And at DOT, we're working hard to do exactly that.