Transportation and the Economy

As noted in the President's Technology for America's Economic Growth, A New Direction to Build Economic Strength, a competitive, growing economy requires a transportation system that can move people, goods, and services quickly and efficiently. To meet this challenge, each transport sector must work effectively both by itself and as part of a larger, interconnected whole. Technologies that increase the speed, reliability, and cost-effectiveness of the transportation sector also will increase the economy's competitiveness and ability to create jobs.

Today, one of the greatest challenges we face is to rehabilitate and properly maintain the huge stock of infrastructure facilities already in place. Providing a world-class transportation sector will require the Nation to meet the challenges posed both by increased congestion in many parts of the transportation system and by the need to rebuild and maintain a public capital stock valued at more than $2.4 trillion.

The Federal Government is committed to leading an effort to realize the vision of "sustainable" transportation, with the goal of balancing different modes of transportation while taking into account performance, cost, resource use, and social impact.

Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles

President Clinton and Vice President Gore have joined with the Big Three American automakers General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler in an historic new partnership to strengthen U.S. competitiveness by developing technologies for a new generation of vehicles up to three times more fuel efficient than today's. It is a technological venture as ambitious as any America has ever attempted and is a model for the new partnership between government and industry envisioned by President Clinton. It is an all-out effort to ensure that the U.S. auto industry leads the world in technology. It will expand economic opportunity, preserve jobs, protect the environment, and strengthen our economic competitiveness.

The long-term goal of the partnership is the development of affordable, safe, attractive, and dramatically more efficient automobiles. Groundbreaking research and development goals for industry and government engineering teams will be launched in three categories:

Led by Under Secretary of Commerce for Technology Mary Good, the project will be managed by an interagency team consisting of representatives from the Departments of Commerce, Defense, Energy, and Transportation; the Environmental Protection Agency; National Aeronautics and Space Administration; and the National Science Foundation. This interagency team is preparing an inventory of government programs that can help meet the partnership goals, as a first step in rapid development of a coordinated R&D strategy.

Electric and Hybrid Electric Vehicles

The Defense Department's Advanced Research Projects Agency has selected six regional coalitions in Hawaii, Sacramento, Los Angeles, Indianapolis, Atlanta, and Boston to work on electric and hybrid electric vehicle technology and infrastructure. The projects will focus on conversion or replacement to electric or hybrid of small pickup trucks and medium-sized buses on military bases and installation of the vehicle support infrastructure; conversion or purchase of electric or hybrid vehicles for commercial use in the community, including infrastructure; research to advance the state-of-the-art on one or more components or systems for electric or electric hybrid vehicles or for their support infrastructure; and support activities.

Research and Technology Outreach Seminars

DOT also has begun a series of outreach seminars entitled "Promoting Transportation Applications in Defense Conversion and Other Advanced Technolo- gies." Held in Ann Arbor, MI; Davis, CA; Cambridge, MA; and Austin, TX, the seminars are bringing together representatives of academia, State, and local governments, and private industry to discuss transportation and the environment, infrastructure rehabilitation and maintenance, and new vehicle technology. DOT will use the information gathered in these meetings to shape its Transportation Research and Technology Strategic Plan.

Intelligent Vehicle/Highway Systems (IVHS)

DOT has initiated studies aimed at having a prototype demonstration of an automated highway system by 1997. To foster improvements in IVHS user services, DOT has begun a 3-year process to establish the overall IVHS system architecture. DOT plans to make maximum use of defense-oriented firms' developments in sensor technologies, high-speed computing, communications, human factors, display technologies, and autonomous vehicle control systems. Working with Montgomery County, MD, which is installing 200 video cameras along its roads, the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology is evaluating automatic vision-based surveillance to determine the types of useful traffic information the system can obtain and how to quickly extract, analyze, and translate the information into traffic management decisions that ease congestion and avert safety hazards.

Global Positioning System (GPS)

GPS is a space-based positioning, navigation, and time distribution system designed for worldwide military use. In May 1993, the Secretaries of Transportation and Defense established a joint task force to examine the possibilities for expanded civil participation in the implementation, operation, and support of the GPS. A DOD-DOT team is working to identify and resolve issues related to augmentation of the current system and funding to provide civilian users with the necessary accuracy and integrity. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) defined the technical standards for GPS receivers to be used in civilian aviation and approved supplemental use of the GPS for all phases of flight. NASA and the FAA are testing the GPS system to investigate ways to improve navigation and collision avoidance. Full operation of GPS is expected in FY 1995.

Climate Change Action Plan

As part of the climate change action plan released in October, the Administration is conducting a year-long process to identify and implement policies in the transportation sector to reduce the projected growth of greenhouse gases. This process will involve all relevant stakeholders and will consider, among other issues, policies to increase the fuel efficiency of new personal vehicles.

Magnetic Levitation (MagLev)

High-speed magnetically levitated ground transportation is a new mode of surface transportation in which vehicles glide above their guideways, suspended, guided, and propelled by magnetic forces at speeds of 250 to 300 miles per hour or higher. The Administration is publishing the results of the 3-year national MagLev initiative, a cooperative interagency effort of the Department of Transportation and its Federal Railroad Administration, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Department of Energy. While questions remain about the commercial viability of MagLev, the Administration should proceed with the development of a program. In FY 1994, $20 million was provided to continue research and analysis of MagLev.

Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991

The Intermodal Surface Transportation Act offers increased flexibility in how states spend their resources, thus allowing for greater flexibility and innovation. The Clinton Administration has further increased state options by expanding opportunities for states to use Intelligent Vehicle Highway Systems and telecommunications strategies to meet their Clean Air goals. In July 1993, DOT published the Surface Transportation Research and Development Plan to develop a range of technologies needed to produce convenient, safe, and affordable modes of surface transportation by the mid-1990s and to maintain a long-term advanced R&D program for next-generation systems. DOT published Intermodal Technical Assistance Activities for Transportation Planners in August 1993 and is actively seeking feedback to improve the quality of its assistance programs.


For decades, the United States led the aviation revolution every step of the way, and America ruled the skies. Today, the aeronautics industry is one of the largest in the country employing nearly 1 million people in high-quality jobs, generating almost $100 billion in annual sales, and producing tens of billions of dollars in exports.

Today's aeronautics environment, however, is extremely dynamic foreign competition, economic deregulation of the airline industry, the end of the Cold War, and the growing concern for the global environment have all changed the aviation industry. The Administration is committed to making the changes required to strengthen civil aviation in the United States. NASA is addressing the technology needs of civil aviation by expanding its investments in high-speed research, advanced subsonic technologies, and high-performance computing and communications. The plans for these programs have been developed and will be refined. By working closely with industry and government agencies, NASA aims to ensure that design, manufacturing, and operations issues are addressed early in the technology development process and to maximize its investments through effective and timely technology transfer.

High-Speed Research (HSR)

NASA is developing the technologies that industry needs to design and build an environmentally compatible and economically competitive high-speed civil transport (HSCT) for the 21st century. As currently envisioned, an HSCT aircraft would carry 300 passengers at Mach 2.4 on transoceanic routes over distances up to 6,000 nautical miles at fares comparable to subsonic transports. An HSCT would reduce flight times from California to Japan to about 4 hours, and from California to Australia to about 7 hours. Such an aircraft will be essential for capturing the valuable long-haul Pacific Rim market. Market studies indicate that the successful development of a domestic HSCT will result in $200 billion in sales and 140,000 jobs for U.S. industry.

Before industry can develop this type of aircraft, environmental concerns, such as aircraft noise, sonic boom, and atmospheric contaminants, must be addressed. An HSCT must meet not only the current regulatory standards but also those anticipated for the early part of the next century. NASA is sponsoring an independent, international scientific assessment to determine globally acceptable levels of engine emissions and noise. In FY 1994, NASA will focus on technologies required to make an HSCT economically feasible and competitive. In close cooperation with U.S. industry and the university research community, NASA plans to develop and validate technologies for an HSCT, including advanced propulsion systems, new structural materials, improved aerodynamic designs, and state-of-the-art flight control and display systems.

While NASA is concentrating its investments in the early, high-risk stages of development, the aircraft manufacturing industry has indicated that it is willing to make a substantial investment in this program as the technological risk decreases. The High-Speed Research program aims to produce an industry HSCT prototype around the year 2000.

Advanced Subsonic Technology

Subsonic airliners will continue to be a vital element of both long-haul and domestic air travel for the foreseeable future, and the Administration and NASA are accelerating investments in this key area through the Advanced Subsonic Technology Program. In partnership with U.S. industry, NASA is developing lightweight, highly reliable optical systems; lightweight, low-cost composite structures; highly efficient turbofan engines; and integrated wing design techniques. These R&D efforts are intended to increase airline profitability through increased aircraft productivity, lower ownership costs, and reduced direct operating costs, resulting in increased economic valuation of the aircraft relative to foreign competitors.

In a collaborative effort to increase safety, FAA and NASA have successfully flight tested three types of sensors that increase warning times to airline pilots. They also are evaluating a four-dimensional Aircraft Traffic Management System known as the CENTER/TRACON Automation System, or CTAS, that will enable more on-time arrivals and departures and cut fuel consumption. By early in the next century, the combination of CTAS, GPS, and other navigation and display technologies could provide a significant improvement in the efficiency of our national airspace system and create a market for new products.

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