A busy season

Between election results and a crucial FCC decision, much has recently transpired for this industry

Tim Bruns / November 24, 2020 / 3 minute read
Tim Bruns

This month has been rather eventful in terms of the potential impacts to the intelligent transportation systems, traffic management, traffic safety, and transit industries.

Earlier this month, voters from across the country overwhelmingly supported public transit measures in record numbers. U.S. voters approved 15 out of 18 public transit ballot initiatives on election day, adding to the 32 public transit measures already passed by voters this year, bringing this year’s total to 47 out of 52 wins for public transit—a 90% win rate, according to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA).

APTA also expressed enthusiasm to work with the incoming Biden-Harris administration, saying President-elect Joe Biden has been “a tireless champion for public transit and passenger rail over his many years of public service.” The Biden-Harris campaign promised infrastructure plans that included providing every American city with 100,000 or more residents with high-quality, zero-emissions public transportation options through flexible federal investments—ranging from light rail networks to improving existing transit and bus lines to installing infrastructure for pedestrians and bicyclists. An adviser to the Biden-Harris team also told the media that he expects a Biden administration to adopt a national framework for autonomous vehicles and would prioritize transit opportunities.

APTA also released a survey this month showing that 77% of American voters want to see emergency funding for public transportation and 74% approve of the new administration and Congress taking action to fix public transportation infrastructure. The association has called on Congress to provide $32 billion in federal support to enable the public transportation industry to survive the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

ITS America and other leading transportation associations have spoken out against the FCC decision to adopt new rules for the 5.9 GHz safety spectrum band to make new spectrum available for unlicensed uses, such as Wi-Fi. The FCC says the new band plan designates the lower 45 megahertz for unlicensed uses and the upper 30 megahertz for enhanced automobile safety using Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything (C-V2X) technology. ITS America says the move will “likely render the entire band useless for safety,” and joined in with other associations to stress the importance of preserving the entire 5.9 GHz safety spectrum band for V2X technologies.

Finally, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced this week that the agency is seeking public comment on the potential development of a framework of principles to govern the safe behavior of automated driving systems (ADS) in the future. Though the agency says wide-scale deployment of ADS-equipped vehicles is likely years away, NHTSA and others have identified elements of a framework necessary for objectively defining and assessing ADS competence. The rulemaking is meant to help address public concerns about safety, security, and privacy regarding the development of ADS. 

With so much on the horizon, this month’s edition of Traffic & Transit brings two new features for your reading pleasure over the holiday. First up to bat is “The Future of Transportation is Intelligent,” which details the work in Southern Nevada in the testing of new technologies that can improve traffic flow and safety. This includes the region’s launching of the nation’s first fully self-driving shuttle to operate in mixed traffic, which transported more than 32,000 passengers on nearly 5,000 trips in downtown Las Vegas. Building on its success, the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada and the city of Las Vegas are developing an autonomous shuttle project called GoMed that will connect downtown Las Vegas to a growing medical district. 

The second article featured this month is “The Shape of Rural and Local Road Safety,” which explores Ohio’s work with roundabouts and smart mobility research for safer roadways. This fall, the Ohio DOT opened six roundabouts to through traffic in Henry and Lucas counties. This series of openings was declared “Roundabout-palooza,” and the department is expected to both build and promote the implementation of more roundabouts in the state. This feature also discusses the state’s work with the DriveOhio initiative, which was founded to further the goals of smart mobility. The initiative will focus on operating self-driving vehicles along rural roads while recording information on how well they perform in remote areas.

From all of us at Traffic & Transit, we wish our readers a safe and healthy Thanksgiving holiday. Happy reading!

About the Author

Bruns is associate managing editor of Traffic & Transit.

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