Conference Report on H.R. 22, Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2015by Representative Sheila Jackson Lee
Posted on 2015-12-03
JACKSON LEE. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the Conference
Report to H.R. 22, the ``Surface Transportation Reauthorization and
Reform Act of 2015,'' a bill to authorize Federal Funding for highways,
highway safety programs, and transit programs.
I thank Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Shuster, Ranking Member DeFazio and the House and Senate Conferees for their work in bringing the Conference Report for the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act to the floor for a vote.
It is good to see the spirit of bipartisanship return to the process of funding our nation's transportation needs.
As the former Ranking Member of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation Security, I am well aware of the importance of our nation's transportation system.
A well-functioning transportation system is critical to the nation's prosperity.
Whether it is by road, transit, aviation, rail, or waterway, we rely on our transportation system to move people and goods safely, facilitate commerce, attract and retain businesses, and support jobs.
Houston is the fourth most populous city in the country; but unlike other large cities, we have struggled to have an effective mass transit system.
Over many decades Houston's mass transit policy was to build more highways with more lanes to carry more drivers to and from work.
The city of Houston has changed course and is now pursuing mass transit options that include light rail.
This decision to invest in light rail is strongly supported by the increased use by Houstonians in the light rail service provided by previous transportation appropriations bills.
The April 2014, Houston Metropolitan Transit Authority report on weekly ridership states that 44,267 used Houston's light rail Service-- representing a 6,096 or 16% change in ridership in April of last year.
This increase in light rail usage outpaced ridership of other forms of mass transit in the city of Houston: metro bus had a 2.3% increase over April 2013; metro bus-local had a 1.3% increase over April 2013; and Metro Bus-Park and Ride had an 8.0% increase over April 2013.
On February 5, 2013, the Houston Chronicle reported on the congestion Houston drivers face during their daily commute to and from work.
The article reported that Houston commuters continue to experience some of the worst traffic delays in the country, according to the 2012 urban mobility report. Houston area drivers wasted more than two days a year, on average, in traffic congestion, costing them each $1,090 in lost time and fuel.
Funds made available by the legislation will be available for the construction of the University rail line and support of local government decisions by the Houston Metropolitan transit Authority and the city of Houston to expand rail service.
More needs to be done to address the transportation needs of our nation from rural communities to major metropolitan areas.
I appreciate that two Jackson Lee Amendments are included in the underlying bill.
The first Jackson Lee Amendment ensures that the goals of improving transportation efficiency and safety take into consideration the topic of public safety, a rest stop, and public parking that is funded by this bill.
The Jackson Lee Amendment requires the Transportation Secretary to report to Congress on the security of locations that are intended to encourage public use of alternative transportation, as well as personal transportation parking areas.
An essential part of the success of public transportation usage is the ability of automobile drivers to park their vehicles in safety.
More than 1 in 10 property crimes occur in parking lots or garages.
The report will provide an opportunity for Congress to do more to enhance the safety of parking areas that are used by students, women, seniors, disabled, and other vulnerable members of the public.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics provides a detailed report on the place of occurrence for violent and property crimes from 2004 through 2008.
For example, purse snatchings and pocket pickings typically occur away from home.
According to Bureau of Justice Statistics 28.2% of purses snatched occur in open areas such as the street or on public transportation.
The inclusion of this Jackson Lee Amendment will lead to enhanced safety of car pool parking lots, mass transit parking; local, state, and regional rail station parking; college or university parking; bike paths, walking trails, and other locations the Secretary deems appropriate.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that victimization and property crimes occurring between 2004 and 2008 in parking lots and garages include: 213,540 victimization crimes that occurred in noncommercial parking lots and garages; and 864,190 property crimes.
The Bureau's report on victimization crimes that occur at public transportation or in stations was 49,910 and property crimes was 132,190.
The Jackson Lee Amendment will make surface transportation travel safer.
More importantly, it will increase safety of the traveling public, especially women, seniors, students, disabled persons, and children.
The second Jackson Lee Amendment included in the Conference Report provides a report to Congress from the Secretary of the Department of Transportation on the ``Internet of Things'' (IoT) and its potential to improve transportation services to the elderly and persons with disabilities as well as assist local, state and federal transportation planners in achieving better efficiencies and cost effectiveness, while protecting privacy and security of persons who use IoT technology.
The IoT refers to the wireless environment that will support networking of physical objects or ``things'' embedded with wireless electronic components, software, sensors, and network connectivity technology, which enables these objects to collect and exchange data on people, places and things.
[[Page H8999]] The IoT will introduce the functionality of computing into physical space as computing technology is integrated into devices and systems.
It will also challenge the privacy and security of users of the technology if precautions are not taken to ensure that information on these devices is not protected.
This Jackson Lee Amendment will allow Congress to take into consideration how IoT technologies can be used to make public transportation, safer, more convenient to the elderly and disabled, and how it may improve mass and personal transportation efficiency.
The ability to include wireless technology into physical things or support communication among digital devices that may be nearby or at distances will offer many benefits to consumers.
IoT products are already being deployed for personal, recreational, city planning, public safety, energy consumption management, healthcare, and many other applications.
Today, local governments are working to incorporate IoT services into transportation; garbage pickup, as well as the provision of wireless connectivity for their residents.
The Jackson Lee Amendment will help ensure that we harness the benefits of the ``Internet of Things'' for the travelling public and minimize the threats to privacy and cybersecurity presented by this new and exciting technology.
This is a good bill and I encourage my colleagues to support its passage.