« PreviousContinue »
more detailed and comprehensive financial (and possibly employment) information on highways, mass transit, airports and marine terminal facilities. The definitions of the items should also be made consistent with other data sets collected in the Highway Statistics Program, FARE system and other data systems. Although some redundancy exists, the Census data on State and local governments serves as a consistent and comprehensive benchmark for other more detailed and specialized data sets.
Truck Inventory and Use Study (Census)
This survey, which is part of the quinquennial census of transportation, should be expanded to include other vehicles in addition to registered trucks and trailers. Specifically, the survey population should include buses (including school buses) and truck and bus vehicles owned and/or operated by Federal, State and local governments which are not registered.
National Highway Performance Monitoring (FHWA). Many of the key statistics now collected for highways, such as vehicle miles of travel, system description, congestion, and so on, are generated by State highway agencies and other units of government. However, the statistical methodology varies from State to State, and are noncomparable between States. Some key data items are not collected because of the burden imposed by the current data collection procedures.
This program could rationalize the existing data collection of highway statistics and develop a system of national sampling to be implemented by State highway agencies. Procedures would also be included for supplementing the system for individual States that have requirements for data at the State and substate level. These would include the adoption of standards in all States which would make local area data consistent throughout the Nation. Frequency of data collection would vary depending on the nature and use of the statistics. The work under the National Highway Performance System would be coordinated with that required under the Urban Transportation Reporting System.
Aviation Accident, Incident, and Violation Information (FAA)
Although some accident, incident, violation data are automated, much of the data collected and maintained by FAA Flight Standards related to flight safety are kept manually, resulting in nonidentification of some potential problem areas. There is a need for a project designed to integrate these sources. This would facilitate the assessment of the safety impact of the certification, surveillance,
and investigation/enforcement programs. Computerized data identifying the type of aircraft, pilot qualifications, type of flying, and location of the accident are presently maintained by the Federal Aviation Administration for safety analysis and evaluation of air agencies, airmen, aircraft, and so forth. Interchanging of data among the areas would make the existing system more responsive to the information requirements of the accident prevention programs.
Aircraft Statistical Information
Much aircraft information is collected as part of the annual aircraft registration process. Some statistical sampling techniques can be used to collect the data, thereby reducing the public reporting burden and the agency's cost in handling large volumes of data. The Federal Aviation Administration has designed a project to develop sampling techniques, the procedures, and the system needed to assemble and analyze the results. This program should be implemented.
The goal of a comprehensive airmen information system has not been achieved by the present certification and recordkeeping process. The Federal Aviation Administration has a project designed to make recordkeeping more efficient and effective. As a result of this project, airmen information supplied would be more valuable for use in planning, safety analysis, and other statistical purposes.
Aviation Activity Information
Aviation activity information is obtained both internally, from the FAA air traffic facilities, and externally, from aircraft owners and operators, the aviation community, and special studies. Two separate projects are underway to address problems encountered in each of these data areas. For internally generated information, ways are being considered to update collection procedures by eliminating the collection of data no longer needed, by reducing manual workload required for data entry and error correction, and by eliminating duplicate data collection and processing in the FAA regions and at FAA headquarters. For externally generated data, a project is underway to edit and store non-FAA aviation activity data and to provide the processes and controls necessary to consolidate it with data collected internally. The data will be related to records in the airport data base and made consistent with the Air Traffic Activity System, thus permitting merged data analyses.
Aviation Forecast Information
A study of FAA aviation forecasting activity identified a need for forecasts of air carrier activities by trip purposes and commodity classification, measurements of cost of different types of activity, temporal peaking at major airports, general aviation activity by aircraft type, and general aviation activity by State. To meet these needs, the study recommended operational changes (e.g., automated generation of forecasts, and revision of forecasting models as new data become available) and methodological changes (e.g., more use of causal models to forecast cargo, trunk and local air carrier, and commuter and air taxi activities; use of State level forecasts in national and terminal areas forecasts; and development, separately, of major hub forecasts).
FAA Aircraft Management Information
The new FAA jet fleet of flight inspection aircraft requires additional aircraft management information not required of the former non-jet operation. A project is underway to augment an information system that will provide more efficient aircraft maintenance scheduling; more efficient scheduling of flight operations; more timely labor, cost, and other management information; and information to support a responsive aircraft reliability analysis program.
FAA Facilities Information
There are many data systems, required by FAA management, which furnish much needed information on facilities within the National Airspace System. A project is underway to eliminate redundant data and improve the relevance of this information for decisionmaking. This project will provide an interface with accounting, logistics, and aircraft program management information systems.
Federal Airports Program
The Federal Airports Program includes information on the physical characteristics of airports, on the National Airport System Plan (NASP), on grants for airport planning and development, and on airport ground safety and security. Various projects are underway to address data problems in each of these program areas. To provide physical characteristics information, many different manual and mechanized data processing systems are presently in use. A project is underway to integrate the various systems to reduce recordkeeping tasks, eliminate duplication, and reduce the degree of manual involvement. A related problem in the
characteristics area specifically concerns the National Flight Data Center's airport information system. Because of its present computer hardware and software configuration, this system cannot be readily interfaced with other data systems; a project is underway to correct this situation. In the NASP program area, amendments to the Airport and Airway Development Act of 1970, together with deficiencies in the current computer support system, have prompted support system redesign efforts. Amendments to the same act have also affected the airport grant system. This has produced a number of short-term projects designed to conform the existing system to the provisions of the amended act, and to improve editing, validation, and timeliness of grant support data. In the area of airport security, much information is kept in manual files that do not facilitate systematic analysis or dissemination. A project is underway to develop an automated system.
Hazardous Materials Accident, Incident, and
The Office of Hazardous Materials Operations (OHMO) of the Research and Special Programs Administration is currently reviewing its incident reporting system with a view toward receiving better information. No provision has been made for attempting to determine commodity flow information since OHMO does not have the capability of gathering such information at the present time. The coding difficulties encountered earlier have been resolved, however, and the OHMO is now in a position to go ahead with a contract to the Bureau of Census to obtain commodity flow information. No other data collection programs are contemplated in this area. Primary emphasis is being placed on evaluation and modification of existing programs.
Planning has been initiated with respect to the Department's responsibilities for providing data and assistance to law-enforcement and firefighting personnel in dealing with transportation emergencies involving hazardous materials. This program is still in the early stages of development.
National Transportation Needs Studies (OST)
Two comprehensive surveys have been conducted to date by the Department of Transportation on State and local government transportation plans and programs, that is, the 1972 and 1974 National Transportation Needs Studies (NTNS). More recent programs, particularly the FARE Reporting System and the National Urban Transportation Reporting System have been (or are being) established, and
these cover much of the historical and current data on system physical state, demand and performance which were reported in NTNS surveys. However, two elements of the NTIS-the projected capital improvement and funding requirements (including operations) of the public-sector-have not been included in these more recent programs.
Information regarding the State and local government multimodal 5-10 year transportation programs and 10-20 year plans is an important input to the development of new major legislation affecting transportation assistance programs to State and local governments. Also needed is comprehensive information on major policy issues related to Federal transportation programs that must be resolved by State and local government officials. The modified national transportation needs studies would be conducted approximately every 2 or 4 years to coincide with the development of major legislation affecting Federal transportation assistance programs.
State and Local Transportation Planning Data (FHWA)
Although large amounts of Federal planning grant funds are provided, instrumentalities use nonuniform definitions and survey procedures in collecting essentially comparable data. If the data collected for State and local planning purposes were made consistent on a national level, it could potentially obviate the need for certain data which is now collected separately by the Government. Therefore, the Department of Transportation should undertake to establish a cooperative Federal-State program through which survey standards and procedures would be developed for use by State and local governments.
The data resulting would be more uniform than is now the case and therefore might also fill unmet needs which are prohibitively expensive for the Federal Government to undertake alone.
It has been suggested by Members of Congress, industry, and the executive agencies that the gathering of transportation statistics could be greatly improved. In response to the widely distributed activities described above, many of these suggestions focused on organizational changes, and/or reassignment of statistical program responsibilities. The current decentralized nature of the Federal transportation statistics program is attributable to the fact that much of the data collection is interwoven into the administration and conduct of the various promotional and regulatory program responsibilities
of the many Federal agencies. Therefore, any proposal toward the improvement of the gathering of transportation statistics has to take into account the total impact on the efficiency and effectiveness of each Federal transportation program. On the other hand, the existing system does not and appears incapable of exploring transportation-wide issuesparticularly those involving questions of modal shares. Moreover, the current system is expensive, creates both gaps and overlaps and makes it very difficult to analyze the statistical data list as collected. In addition, given declining response rates to voluntary surveys of all types it is imperative that new approaches toward minimizing collection and maximizing the utility of the available data be found.
A significant movement toward achieving the goal-a step that would by itself improve the government's ability to combine data from many sources and to analyze intermodal relationshipswould be the combining of the Department of Transportation's statistical organizations into a single statistical center.
Serious consideration should be given to the establishment of a Department of Transportation statistical center. Such consideration should start with further evaluation of the data needs of the Department and its operating units, the interrelationship between the data needs of the various units, and the relative efficiencies of collecting data through a center or through individual operating units. If such a center is to be established it could be responsible for the collection of all statistical data for DOT. It should be responsible for all ongoing DOT statistical survey operations and could also be the service agency through which all DOT elements would obtain statistical data. It should not, however, be responsible for the collection of administrative data but should get such data from the collectors subject to the strictest rules of confidentiality and disclosure.
The center would be in an ideal position to combine data from various sources in response to specific inquiries. This ability could reduce the need for new survey research. The center, if it had an analytic unit associated with it, could perform intermodal analysis that cannot be done by a modal agency. If this approach, or some modification of it, were adopted, the modes would continue to specify their research priorities and would continue to analyze the data from their modal perspective. However, the centralization of the collection effort and the building of comprehensive data bases would provide for economies of scale, strengthened statistical support for the Department and all its modes, and provide for intermodal analytic
capability. Of course, the DOT statistics center would be expected to fully utilize the expertise in survey design and collection methodology that already exists, for example, in the Bureau of the Census by contracting with them for the conduct of household surveys and for other work where the Census has existing capability.
The creation of the center outlined above could be a significant step towards improving the Federal Government's statistical capability in the transportation field. If such a center were created, some subsequent consideration should be given to:
1. Provide for the transfer of administrative data collected by other agencies, such as the ICC, CAB, FPC, and CAB, among others, to the DOT statistics center for statistical purposes only and with the assurance that data so transferred would not be released in identifiable form to any person or organization.
2. Transfer of the responsibility for conducting the census of transportation from the Bureau of Census to the Department of Transportation. The census of transportation historically has not been conducted as a
census, but as a statistical sample of travelers, shippers and truck owners. The DOT could undertake to conduct these surveys with its own resources or in conjunction with the Bureau of the Census. The principal advantage of such a transfer would be the control over the statistical content of the survey by the agency with the primary interest and responsibility for providing leadership in the development of transportation statistics. An alternative and possibly first and only step to this approach would be to provide for the transfer of microdata from Census to the DOT statistical center if that center had an appropriate confidentiality law. This may be the only viable approach given that many of the data elements needed to calibrate the census of transportation data are only available at the Bureau of the Census.
3. After the center has been established and is operating satisfactorily, consideration should be given to assigning it the responsibility for the collection of all nonregulatory transportation statistics required by an executive branch agency.