Transportation in the United States is facilitated by road, air, rail, and waterways (via boats). The vast majority of passenger travel occurs by automobile for shorter distances, and airplane (or railroad, in some regions) for longer distances. In descending order, most cargoes travel by railroad, truck, pipeline, or boat; air shipping is typically used only for perishables and premium express shipments.
The overwhelming majority of roads in the United States are owned and maintained by state and local governments. Federally maintained roads are generally found only on federal lands (such as national parks) and at federal facilities (like military bases). The Interstate Highway System is partly funded by the federal government but owned and maintained by individual state governments. There are a few private highways in the United States, which use tolls to pay for construction and maintenance. There are many local private roads, generally serving remote or insular residences.
Passenger and freight rail systems, bus systems, water ferries, and dams may be under either public or private ownership and operation. Civilian airlines are all privately owned and financed. Most airports are owned and operated by local government authorities, but there are also some private airports. The Transportation Security Administration has provided security at most major airports since 2001.
The United States Department of Transportation and its divisions provide regulation, supervision, and funding for all aspects of transportation, except for customs, immigration, and security, which are the responsibility of the United States Department of Homeland Security. Each state has its own Department of Transportation, which builds and maintains state highways, and depending upon the state, may either directly operate or supervise other modes of transportation.
Aviation law is almost entirely a federal matter, while automobile traffic laws are enacted and enforced by state and local authorities (except on federal property and in unorganized territory). Economic jurisdiction over tidelands is shared between the state and federal governments, while the United States Coast Guard is the primary enforcer of law and security on U.S. waterways.
|Mode of passenger transport||Passenger-miles
|Highway — total||4,273,876||86.93%|
|Passenger vehicles, motorcycles||3,692,760||75.11%|
|Rail — total||37,757||0.77%|
|All other modes (e.g., ferryboats)||4,156||0.08%|
|Source: 2012 estimates by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics|
Passenger transportation is dominated by a network of over 3.9 million miles of highways which is pervasive and highly developed by global standards. Passenger transportation is dominated by passenger vehicles (including cars, trucks, vans, and motorcycles), which account for 86% of passenger-miles traveled. The remaining 14% was handled by planes, trains, and buses. Public transit use is highly concentrated in large older cities, with only six above 25% and only New York City above 50% of trips on transit. Airlines carry almost all non-commuter intercity traffic, except the Northeast Corridor where Amtrak carries more than all airlines combined.
|Mode of Freight Shipments||2011 Ton miles (in billions)||Percent of Total|
|Air & Air/Truck||11||0.19%|
|Other & Unknown||93||1.60%|
|Source: 2011 estimates by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics|
Freight transportation is carried by a variety of networks. The largest percentage of US freight is carried by trucks (60%), followed by pipelines (18%), rail (10%), ship (8%), and air (0.01%). Other modes of transportation, such as parcels and intermodal freight accounted for about 3% of the remainder. Air freight is commonly used only for perishables and premium express shipments. The difference in percentage of rail's share by ton-miles and by weight (10% vs 38%) is accounted for by the extreme efficiency of trains. A single railroad locomotive may pull fifty boxcars full of freight while a truck only pulls one. Trucks surpass trains in the weight category due their greater numbers, while trains surpass trucks in the ton-miles category due to the vast distances they travel carrying large amounts of freight.
Usually cargo, apart from petroleum and other bulk commodities, is imported in containers through seaports, then distributed by road and rail. The quasi-governmental United States Postal Service has a monopoly on letter delivery (except for express services) but several large private companies such as FedEx and UPS compete in the package and cargo delivery market.
|U.S. passenger fatalities per billion passenger-miles, 2002-2007|
per billion passenger miles
|Passenger car||127,124||15,958,620 M||7.97|
|Light rail||79||9,980 M||7.92|
|Motor bus||399||117,982 M||3.38|
|Commuter rail||105||59,736 M||1.76|
|Heavy rail (subway)||106||86,900 M||1.22|
|Railroad (intercity)||36||33,234 M||1.08|
|Road fatalities, comparison with Europe|
Speed to destination is an important factor in choosing a mode of transportation. In the late 18th century overland transportation was by horse, while water and river transportation was primarily by sailing vessel. The United States population was centered on its Atlantic coast, with all major population centers located on a natural harbor or navigable waterway. Low population density between these centers resulted in a heavy reliance on coastwise and riverboat shipping. The first government expenditures on highway transportation were funded to speed the delivery of overland mail, such as the Boston Post Road between New York City and Boston. Due to the distances between these population centers and the cost to maintain the roads, many highways in the late 18th century and early 19th century were private turnpikes. Other highways were mainly unimproved and impassable by wagon at least some of the year. Economic expansion in the late 18th century to early 19th century spurred the building of canals to speed goods to market, of which the most prominently successful example was the Erie Canal.
Access to water transportation shaped the geography of early settlements and boundaries. For example, the Erie Canal escalated the Toledo War between Ohio and Michigan in the 1830s. The disputed Erie Triangle was awarded to Pennsylvania to give it access to Lake Erie. Most of West Florida was given to Mississippi and Alabama to guarantee their access to the Gulf of Mexico.
Development of the mid-western and southern states drained by the Mississippi River system (Mississippi, Ohio and Missouri Rivers) was accelerated by the introduction of steamboats on these rivers in the early 19th Century. These three rivers (among others) also form the borders of several states. Prior to the introduction of steamboats, transit upstream was impractical because of strong currents on parts of these waterways. Steamboats provided both passenger and freight transportation until the development of railroads later in the 19th Century gradually reduced their presence.
The rapid expansion of Railroads brought the canal boom to a sudden end, providing a quick, scheduled and year round mode of transportation that quickly spread to interconnect the states by the mid-19th century. During the industrialization of the United States after the Civil War, railroads, led by the transcontinental rail system in the 1860s, expanded quickly across the United States to serve industries and the growing cities. During the late 19th century, railroads often had built redundant routes to a competitor's road or built through sparsely populated regions that generated little traffic. These marginal rail routes survived the pricing pressures of competition, or the lack of revenue generated by low traffic, as long as railroads provided the only efficient economical way to move goods and people across the United States. In addition to the intercity passenger network running on Class I and II railroads, a large network of interurban (trolley or "street running") rail lines extended out from the cities and interchanged passenger and freight traffic with the railroads and also provided competition.
The advent of the automobile signaled the end of railroads as the predominant transportation for people and began an era of mobility in the United States that added greatly to its economic output. The early 20th century Lincoln Highway and other auto trails gave way in the 1920s to an early national highway system making the automobile the preferred mode of travel for most Americans. Interurban rail service declined, followed by trolley cars due in part to the advent of motorized buses and the lack of dedicated rights-of-way but also by deliberate efforts to dismantle urban rail infrastructure (see Great American streetcar scandal). The scarcity of industrial materials during World War II slowed the growth of the automobile, briefly reemphasizing much of the nation's declining rail network. In the 1950s, the United States renewed building a network of high-capacity, high-speed highways to link its vast territory. The most important element is the Interstate Highway system, first commissioned in the 1950s by President Dwight D. Eisenhower and modeled after the Italian autostrada and the German Autobahn system.
By 1945, nearly every city in America had at least one electric tram company providing intra-city transportation. There were an estimated 36,377 light rail vehicles in operation. Improved automobile ownership cut this number by 1/3 by 1965.
The airline industry began to successfully compete with intercity rail, which suffered a loss of ridership. As the civil air transportation network of airports and other infrastructure expanded, air travel became more accessible to the general population. Technological advances ushered in the jet age, which increased airline capacity, while decreasing travel times and the cost of flights. The costs of flying rapidly decreased intercity rail ridership by the late 1960s to a point where railroads could no longer profitably operate networks of passenger trains. By the early 1970s almost all passenger rail operation and ownership had been transferred to various federal, municipal and state agencies. Passenger rail came to be heavily subsidized, as it is today.
Freight railroads continued to decline as motor freight captured a significant portion of the less-than-carload business. This loss of business, when combined the highly regulated operating environment and constrained pricing power, forced many railroads into receivership and the nationalization of several critical eastern carriers into the Consolidated Rail Corporation (Conrail). Deregulation of the railroads by the Staggers Act in 1980 created a regulatory environment more favorable to the economics of the railroad industry. In the 1990s, the increase in foreign trade and intermodal container shipping led to a revival of the freight railroads, which have effectively consolidated into two eastern and two western private transportation networks: Union Pacific and BNSF in the west, and CSX and Norfolk Southern in the east. Canadian National Railway took over the Illinois Central route down the Mississippi River valley.
Wartime expediency encouraged long distance pipeline transport of petroleum and natural gas, which was greatly expanded in the middle 20th century to take over most of the domestic long-haul market.
In comparison to some parts of the Western world, both the United States and Canada rely more heavily on motorized transit over walking and bicycling with 86% of American workers commuting to work via private vehicle, costing an estimated additional $1500 per year commuting compared to Western European counterparts. Car ownership is on the decline but still 91% nationally. Car ownership is universal, except in the largest cities where extensive mass transit and railroad systems have been built, with lowest car ownership rates in New York City (44%), Washington, D.C. (62%), Boston (63%), Philadelphia (67%), San Francisco (69%), and Baltimore (69%).
With the development of the extensive Eisenhower Interstate Highway System in the 1950s, both long-distance trips and daily the commute were mostly by private automobile. This network was designed to exacting federal standards in order to receive federal funding. The system, as of 2010, has a total length of 47,182 miles (75,932 km), making it the world's second longest after China's, and the largest public works project in US history.
The Interstate system joined an existing National Highway System (a designation created for the legacy highway network in 1995), comprising 160,000 miles (256,000 kilometers) of roadway, a fraction of the total mileage of roads. The Interstate system serves nearly all major U.S. cities, often through the downtown areas (a point which triggered freeway and expressway revolts in the 1960s and 1970s). The distribution of virtually all goods and services involves Interstate highways at some point. Residents of American cities commonly use urban Interstates to travel to their places of work. The vast majority of long-distance travel, whether for vacation or business, is by the national road network; of these trips, about one-third (by the total number of miles driven in the country in 2003) utilize the Interstate system.
In addition to the routes of the Interstate system, there are those of the U.S. highway system, not to be confused with the above-mentioned National Highway System. These networks are further supplemented by State Highways, and the local roads of counties, municipal streets, and federal agencies, such as the Bureau of Indian Affairs. There are approximately 4,071,000 miles (6,552,000 km) of roads in the United States, 2,678,000 miles (4,310,000 km) paved and 1,394,000 miles (2,243,000 km) unpaved. State highways are constructed by each state, but frequently maintained by county governments aided by funding from the state, where such counties exist as governing entities (mostly every state except the Northeastern). Counties construct and maintain all remaining roads outside cities, except in private communities. Local, unnumbered roads are often constructed by private contractors to local standards, then maintenance is assumed by the local government.
All federal highways are maintained by state governments, although they receive federal aid to build and maintain freeways signed as part of the 46,000 mile (75,000 km) nationwide Interstate highway network. Changes by state initiative may be made with federal approval. A large number of expressways are actually government or privately operated toll roads in many East Coast and Midwestern states. West Coast freeways are generally free to users ("freeways", no toll charged per use), although since the 1990s there have been some small experiments with toll roads operated by private companies.
After the collapse of the I-35W Mississippi River bridge in Minnesota in August 2007, the backlog of road and bridge maintenance across the country became an issue in transportation funding. The collapse prompted a tax increase in Minnesota to speed up bridge repairs, and action in other states, such as the Accelerated Bridge Program in Massachusetts, but after some debate no increase in federal funding. The 2013 I-5 Skagit River Bridge collapse, caused by a collision with an over-height truck, highlighted "fracture critical" bridges in which the failure of only one structural member will lead to complete collapse. According to the National Bridge Inventory, there are at least 600,000 bridges of 20 feet or more in length in the United States, all subject to deterioration in the absence of preventative maintenance. In December 2008, 72,868 bridges in the United States (12.1%) were categorized as "structurally deficient", representing an estimated $48 billion in repairs. President Barack Obama proposed $50 billion of spending on road and bridge repair, plus a national infrastructure bank, but as of 2013 Congress has not acted on these proposals.
Greyhound Lines is the largest intercity bus company in the United States, with routes in all parts of the contiguous U.S. There are also many smaller regional bus companies, many of which use the terminal and booking facilities provided by Greyhound. Intercity bus is, in most cases, the least expensive way to travel long distances in the United States.
Traffic congestion, especially at rush hour, is a problem in many of the country's larger cities. A 2009 study found that traffic congestion costs the United States almost $87.2 billion. The economic costs of traffic congestion have increased 63% over the past decade, and despite the declining traffic volumes caused by the economic downturn, Americans still waste more than 2.8 billion US gallons (11,000,000 m3) of fuel each year as a result of traffic congestion. Motorists also waste 4.2 billion hours annually, or one full workweek per traveler. Moreover, it is estimated that drivers are wasting 6.9 billion hours per year or about 42 hours per driver in traffic congestion as a result of aging infrastructure and poor road conditions.
The trucking industry (also referred to as the transportation or logistics industry) involves the transport and distribution of commercial and industrial goods using commercial motor vehicles (CMV). In this case, CMVs are most often trucks; usually semi trucks, box trucks, or dump trucks. A truck driver (commonly referred to as a "trucker") is a person who earns a living as the driver of a CMV.
The trucking industry provides an essential service to the American economy by transporting large quantities of raw materials, works in process, and finished goods over land—typically from manufacturing plants to retail distribution centers. Trucks are also important to the construction industry, as dump trucks and portable concrete mixers are necessary to move the large amounts of rocks, dirt, concrete, and other construction material. Trucks in America are responsible for the majority of freight movement over land, and are vital tools in the manufacturing, transportation, and warehousing industries.
Large trucks and buses require a commercial driver's license (CDL) to operate. Obtaining a CDL requires extra education and training dealing with the special knowledge requirements and handling characteristics of such a large vehicle. Drivers of CMVs must adhere to the hours of service, which are regulations governing the driving hours of commercial drivers. These, and all other rules regarding the safety of interstate commercial driving, are issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The FMCSA is also a division of the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT), which governs all transportation-related industries such as trucking, shipping, railroads, and airlines. Some other issues are handled by another branch of the USDOT, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).
Developments in technology, such as computers, satellite communication, and the internet, have contributed to many improvements within the industry. These developments have increased the productivity of company operations, saved the time and effort of drivers, and provided new, more accessible forms of entertainment to men and women who often spend long periods of time away from home. In 2006, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency implemented revised emission standards for diesel trucks (reducing airborne pollutants emitted by diesel engines) which promises to improve air quality and public health.
The United States has advanced air transportation infrastructure which utilizes approximately 5,000 paved runways. In terms of passengers, seventeen of the world's thirty busiest airports in 2004 were in the United States, including the world's busiest, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. In terms of cargo, in the same year, twelve of the world's thirty busiest airports were in the United States, including the world's busiest, Memphis International Airport. Private aircraft are also used for medical emergencies, government agencies, large businesses, and individuals, see general aviation.
There is no single national flag airline; passenger airlines in the United States have always been privately owned. There are over 200 domestic passenger and cargo airlines and a number of international carriers. The major international carriers of the United States are Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, and United Airlines. Low-cost carrier Southwest Airlines operates few international routes, but has grown its domestic operations to a size comparable to the major international carriers. There is currently no government regulation of ticket pricing, although the federal government retains jurisdiction over aircraft safety, pilot training, and accident investigations (through the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board). The Transportation Security Administration provides security at airports.
Passenger trains were the dominant mode of transportation until the mid-twentieth century. The introduction of jet airplanes on major U.S. routes and the completion of the Interstate Highway system accelerated a decline in intercity rail passenger demand during the 1960s, resulting in the sharp curtailment of passenger service by private railroads. This led to the creation of National Railroad Passenger Corporation (branded as Amtrak) by the federal government in 1971 to maintain limited intercity rail passenger service in most parts of the country. Amtrak serves most major cities but, outside of the Northeast, California, and Illinois, often by only few trains per day. Amtrak does not serve several major destinations, including Las Vegas, Nevada, and Phoenix, Arizona. Frequent service is available in regional corridors between certain major cities, particularly the Northeast Corridor between Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York City and Boston, between New York City and Albany, around Chicago, and in parts of California and the Pacific Northwest.
Private intercity rail ended in the United States in 1983 with the discontinuation of the Rio Grande Zephyr, until Brightline (now Virgin Trains USA) started in South Florida in 2018. The state-owned Alaska Railroad is the only other intercity passenger railroad still operating. It has only rail ferry connections with other railroads.
The United States makes extensive use of its rail system for freight. According to the Association of American Railroads: "U.S. freight railroads are the world's busiest, moving more freight than any rail system in any other country. In fact, U.S. railroads move more than four times as much freight as do all of Western Europe's freight railroads combined."
Nearly all railroad corridors (not including local transit rail systems) are owned by private companies that provide freight service. Amtrak pays these companies for the right to use the tracks for passenger service. There are approximately 150,000 mi (240,000 km) of mainline track in the United States—the world's longest national railroad network. See List of United States railroads
Rail freight has a major national bottleneck in Chicago and the Midwest (about one-third of the nation's freight trains pass through the region), which is the subject of a $1.5 billion infrastructure improvement project.
With few exceptions, the rail gauge is standard gauge 4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm). The White Pass and Yukon Route from Skagway, Alaska to Whitehorse, Yukon by way of Bennett, British Columbia is 3 ft (914 mm) gauge.
The miles traveled by passenger vehicles in the United States fell by 3.6% in 2008, while the number of trips taken on mass transit increased by 4.0%. At least part of the drop in urban driving can be explained by the 4% increase in the use of public transportation.
Most medium-sized cities have some sort of local public transportation, usually a network of fixed bus routes. Among larger cities many of the older cities also have metro rail systems (also known as heavy rail in the United States) and/or extensive light rail systems, while the newer cities found in the Sun Belt either have modest light rail systems or have no intracity rail at all.
On June 26, 2008, the House passed the Saving Energy Through Public Transportation Act (H.R. 6052), which gives grants to mass transit authorities to lower fares for commuters pinched at the pump and expand transit services. The bill also:
Water transport is largely used for freight. Fishing and pleasure boats are numerous, and passenger service connects many of the nation's islands and remote coastal areas, crosses lakes, rivers, and harbors, and provides alternative access to Alaska which bypasses Canada. Several major seaports in the United States include New York City on the east coast, New Orleans and Houston on the gulf coast, and Los Angeles on the west coast. The interior of the U.S. also has major shipping channels, via the Great Lakes Waterway, St. Lawrence Seaway and the Mississippi River System. Freight on the Mississippi River system is carried on barges pushed by approximately 8000 "towboats" and largely consists of bulk goods, such as petrochemicals, grain and cement.
Many U.S. ports are served by cruise ships. Popular destinations include the Caribbean, the Mexican Riviera, Hawaii and the Inside Passage to Alaska. Automobile ferries operate in many locations where bridges are impractical and in congested metropolitan areas, including New York City and San Francisco Bay.
The United States has 25,482 miles (41,009 km) of navigable inland channels (rivers and canals), exclusive of the Great Lakes. Out of this 12,006 miles (19,322 km) is used in commerce. About 15,000 miles (24,000 km) of the Mississippi River System are presently navigable, although not all is used for commerce. The Saint Lawrence Seaway of 2,342 miles (3,769 km), including the Saint Lawrence River of 1,900 miles (3,100 km), is shared with Canada.
United States ports and harbors include:
Most U.S. exports and imports are on foreign ships. The 1920 Jones Act bars foreign ships from trade within the United States, thus creating a domestic "Jones Act fleet". Deck officers and ship's engineers of U.S.-flagged ships are usually trained at one of the established maritime academies.
The federal military has a dedicated system of bases with runways, aircraft, watercraft, conventional cars and trucks, and armored and special-purpose vehicles. During times of war, it may commandeer private infrastructure and vehicles as authorized by Congress and the President.
As the population of the world increases, cities grow in size and population - according to the United Nations, 55% of the world’s population live in cities, and by 2050 this number is expected to rise to 68%. Public transportation policy must evolve to meet the changing priorities of the urban world. The institution of policy enforces order in transportation, which is by nature chaotic as people attempt to travel from one place to another as fast as possible. This policy helps to reduce accidents and save lives.
A key component of a suitable urban environment is support for pedestrian traffic, including people on foot as well as human propelled vehicles like bikes, skateboards, and scooters. Pedestrian policy is implemented at the state level, but consistent across states is the fact that the pedestrian has the right-of-way. If someone on foot is crossing the street, legally or illegally, any vehicular traffic is required to stop—under no circumstance does a driver have a right to hit a pedestrian. The exact details with respect to when a vehicle has to stop differ between the states, some requiring that all vehicles at an intersection yield to a pedestrian, while others requiring only those vehicles perpendicular to the motion of the crossing to stop. California requires all vehicles at an intersection to yield to a pedestrian walking in any direction.
There are also rules for pedestrian conduct. Though they have the right-of-way, pedestrians are not permitted to leave a curb into a crosswalk close enough to a vehicle to “constitute hazard.” Pedestrians must also yield to mass transit like light-rail cars and trains, as these forms of transportation operate on a schedule and are often moving too quickly to yield to a pedestrian. Pedestrians are also not permitted to delay traffic more than necessary while in a crosswalk. When not using a crosswalk, pedestrians must yield their right-of-way to vehicles who are close enough to constitute hazard. One of the issues with this kind of policy is how vague it is. A pedestrian is expected to determine on the fly what “constitutes hazard,” which can create dangerous situations leading to pedestrian injury or even death. As technology continues to advance, embedded technology like sensors and computer chips in vehicles should be able to process data very quickly and thus prevent collisions, as discussed in the Internet section found below.
A complete street is a roadway that is safe for people of any ability or age utilizing any form of transportation. The concept revolves around the fact that streets are communal spaces, so anyone has a right to access them. In order to ensure universal safety, however, policy exists to ensure that these complete streets are maintained and utilized properly.
Other supporting policies indirectly related to complete streets include parking policies and vehicle restrictions. Complete streets are an important development for urban transportation because they equally support all forms of transportation, enforce safety, and ensure that everyone can navigate the busy city streets to arrive at their destination as fast as possible.
In order to ensure that traffic flow is uniformly dispersed across roadways and does not interfere with existing pedestrian and public transportation infrastructure, traffic flow policy is put in place in order to get everyone to their destination in the most efficient way possible. Traffic flow policy includes everything from how spaced out two cars should be on a highway to which cars have priority at stop signs and street lights to the proper use of bus, taxi, and carpool lanes.
Federal, state, and local tax revenues support upkeep of most roads, which are generally free to drivers. There are also some toll roads and toll bridges. Most other forms of transportation charge a fee for use as they are not given much, if any, tax support by Congress.
Government funding of transportation exists at many levels. Federal funding for highway, rail, bus, water, air, and other forms of transportation is allocated by Congress for several years at a time. The current authorization bill is the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), which runs from 2005 to 2009. A Congressionally chartered committee is considering future funding issues.
Though earmarks are often made for specific projects, the allocation of most federal dollars is controlled by metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) and state governments. Usually "matching" funds are required from local sources. All projects have a sponsoring agency that will receive the funding from the various federal and local sources, and be responsible for implementing the project directly or through contracts. Large projects require a Major Investment Study and both a Draft and a Final Environmental Impact Review. A patchwork of federal laws and accounts govern the allocation of federal transportation dollars, most of which is reserved for capital projects, not operating expenses. Some roads are federally designated as part of the National Highway System and get preferential funding as a result, but there are few federally maintained roads outside of Washington, D.C., and national parks.
State governments are sovereign entities which use their powers of taxation both to match federal grants, and provide for local transportation needs. Different states have different systems for dividing responsibility for funding and maintaining road and transit networks between the state department of transportation, counties, municipalities, and other entities. Typically cities or counties are responsible for local roads, financed with block grants and local property taxes, and the state is responsible for major roads that receive state and federal designations. Many mass transit agencies are quasi-independent and subsidized branches of a state, county, or city government.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT): "Transportation's vital importance to the U.S. economy is underscored by the fact that more than $1 out of every $10 produced in the U.S. gross domestic product is related to transportation activity. This includes all aspects of transportation, including the movement of goods and the purchase of all transportation-related products and services as well as the movement of people". Employment in the transportation and material moving industry accounted for 7.4% of all employment, and was the 5th largest employment group in the United States.
The United States invests 0.6% of its GDP on transportation annually.
Two-thirds of U.S. oil consumption is due to the transportation sector. The "Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007" has a significant impact on U.S. Energy Policy. The United States—an important export country for food stocks—will convert 18% of its grain output to ethanol in 2008. Across the United States, 25% of the whole corn crop went to ethanol in 2007. The percentage of corn going to biofuel is expected to go up. In 2006, U.S. Senators introduced the BioFuels Security Act, which would mandate the production of dual-fuel vehicles and the sale of E85 ethanol fuel. In 2016 transportation became the leading source of greenhouse gas emissions (28.5%), exceeding electricity generation (28.4%).
This article incorporates public domain material from the CIA World Factbook website https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/index.html.
The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) is a standards setting body which publishes specifications, test protocols and guidelines which are used in highway design and construction throughout the United States. Despite its name, the association represents not only highways but air, rail, water, and public transportation as well.Although AASHTO sets transportation standards and policy for the United States as a whole, AASHTO is not an agency of the federal government; rather it is an organization of the states themselves. Policies of AASHTO are not federal laws or policies, but rather are ways to coordinate state laws and policies in the field of transportation.American Public Transportation Association
The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) is a nonprofit group of approximately 1,500 public and private sector member organizations that promotes and advocates for the interests of the public transportation industry in the United States.
APTA is the only association in North America that represents all modes of public transportation, including bus, paratransit, light rail, commuter rail, subways, waterborne services, and intercity and high-speed passenger rail. More than 90 percent of the people using public transportation in the United States and Canada ride on APTA member systems.Amtrak Thruway Motorcoach
Thruway Motorcoach is Amtrak's system of Amtrak-owned intercity coaches, locally contracted transit buses, through-ticketed local bus routes, and taxi services to connect Amtrak train stations to areas not served by its railroads, or stations which are disconnected temporarily due to service delays or track maintenance issues. Train and Thruway Motorcoach tickets are purchased together from Amtrak for the length of a passenger's journey, and the connections are timed for convenient dedicated and guaranteed-reliable transfers between the two services. In addition to providing connecting service to unserved areas, some Thruway Motorcoaches operate as redundant service along well-established passenger rail corridors to add extra capacity.
Due to California state law, tickets for California routes are sold only as part of train journeys.Amtrak establishes temporary Thruway Motorcoach service when normal rail service encounters disruptions.Dollar van
A dollar van (also known as a jitney) is a privately owned type of bus service used to carry passengers in the United States. Dollar vans are typically modified passenger vans, and often operate in urban neighborhoods that are under-served by public mass transit or taxis. Some of the dollar vans are licensed and regulated, while others operate illegally. Passengers may board them at designated stops along their route or hail them as share taxis.
Both common names – dollar van and jitney – originated similarly. Jitney is an archaic term for an American nickel, the common fare for early jitneys. In the late 20th century, when a typical fare was one dollar, the corresponding name came into usage, though "jitney" is still also common.Dollar vans are often owned and used by members of inner-city communities, such as African/Caribbean American, Latino, and Asian-American populations. Travelers cite cost and greater frequency as factors in choosing jitneys over larger bus service, whereas safety and comfort are cited for choosing buses.Federal Transit Administration
The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is an agency within the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) that provides financial and technical assistance to local public transportation systems. The FTA is one of ten modal administrations within the DOT. Headed by an Administrator who is appointed by the President of the United States, the FTA functions through a Washington, D.C., headquarters office and ten regional offices which assist transit agencies in all states, the District of Columbia, and the territories. Until 1991, it was known as the Urban Mass Transportation Administration (UMTA).
Public transportation includes buses, subways, light rail, commuter rail, monorail, passenger ferry boats, trolleys, inclined railways, and people movers. The federal government, through the FTA, provides financial assistance to develop new transit systems and improve, maintain, and operate existing systems. The FTA oversees grants to state and local transit providers, primarily through its ten regional offices. These providers are responsible for managing their programs in accordance with federal requirements, and the FTA is responsible for ensuring that grantees follow federal mandates along with statutory and administrative requirements.Flatboat
A flatboat (or broadhorn) was a rectangular flat-bottomed boat with square ends used to transport freight and passengers on inland waterways in the United States. The flatboat could be any size, but essentially it was a large, sturdy tub with a hull.
A flatboat was almost always a one-way (downstream) vessel, and was usually dismantled for lumber when it reached its destination.Golden spike
The golden spike (also known as The Last Spike) is the ceremonial 17.6-karat gold final spike driven by Leland Stanford to join the rails of the First Transcontinental Railroad across the United States connecting the Central Pacific and Union Pacific railroads on May 10, 1869, at Promontory Summit, Utah Territory. The term last spike has been used to refer to one driven at the usually ceremonial completion of any new railroad construction projects, particularly those in which construction is undertaken from two disparate origins towards a meeting point. The spike is now displayed in the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University.Intracoastal Waterway
The Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) is a 3,000-mile (4,800 km) inland waterway along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts of the United States, running from Boston, Massachusetts, southward along the Atlantic Seaboard and around the southern tip of Florida, then following the Gulf Coast to Brownsville, Texas. Some sections of the waterway consist of natural inlets, saltwater rivers, bays, and sounds, while others are artificial canals. It provides a navigable route along its length without many of the hazards of travel on the open sea. Many species of plants and animals can be seen along the path of the ICW.Limited express
A limited express is a type of express train service. It refers to an express service that stops at a limited number of stops in comparison to other express services on the same or similar routes.Lyft
Lyft, Inc. is a transportation network company (TNC) based in San Francisco, California and operating in 640 cities in the United States and 9 cities in Canada. It develops, markets, and operates the Lyft mobile app, offering car rides, scooters, and a bicycle-sharing system.
Lyft is the second-largest TNC with a 30% market share in the United States, according to Second Measure.Most jurisdictions regulate TNCs and TNCs are banned from operating in some jurisdictions. For more information, see Legality of TNCs by jurisdiction.National City Lines
National City Lines, Inc. (NCL) was a public transportation company. The company grew out of the Fitzgerald brothers' bus operations, founded in Minnesota, United States in 1920 as a modest local transport company operating two buses. Part of the Fitzgerald's operations were reorganized into a holding company in 1936, and later expanded about 1938 with equity funding from General Motors, Firestone Tire, Standard Oil of California and Phillips Petroleum for the express purpose of acquiring local transit systems throughout the United States in what became known as the General Motors streetcar conspiracy. The company formed a subsidiary, Pacific City Lines in 1937 to purchase streetcar systems in the western United States. National City Lines, and Pacific City Lines were indicted in 1947 on charges of conspiring to acquire control of a number of transit companies, and of forming a transportation monopoly for the purpose of "conspiring to monopolize sales of buses and supplies to companies owned by National City Lines." They were acquitted on the first charge and convicted on the second in 1949.PAM Transport
P.A.M. Transportation Services Inc. is an irregular route over-the-road trucking company that is based in Tontitown, Arkansas. Founded in April 1980, P.A.M’s current service area covers the lower continental 48 states as well as the southern parts of Ontario, Canada. In the early 1990s, P.A.M. began providing transportation services to Mexico under agreements with several Mexican trucking carriers.
P.A.M. Transport serves clients primarily in the automotive, manufacturing, and retail industries and its primary freight consists of general commodities, automotive parts, and heating and air conditioning units. According to the Hoovers financial data on this company, P.A.M.’s company name stands for Pretty Awesome Mileage , yet according to the company's own FAQ on their website, P.A.M. is short for the company founder's initials, Paul Allen Maestri. Rail transportation in the United States
Rail transportation in the United States consists primarily of freight shipments, while passenger service, once a large and vital part of the nation's passenger transportation network, plays a limited role as compared to transportation patterns in many other countries.Railroad classes
In the United States, railroads are designated as Class I, II, or III, according to size criteria first established by the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) in 1911, and now governed by the Surface Transportation Board.
There are six US Class I freight railroad companies. Canada has two Class I freight railroads, both of which have trackage in the US. Mexico has two Class I freight railroads, one with trackage in the US. In addition, the national passenger railroads in the US and Canada, Amtrak and Via Rail, are both Class I.Seersucker
Seersucker or railroad stripe is a thin, puckered, all-cotton fabric, commonly striped or chequered, used to make clothing for spring and summer wear. The word came into English from Hindi, and originates from the Persian words شیر shîr and شکر shakar, literally meaning "milk and sugar". Seersucker is woven in such a way that some threads bunch together, giving the fabric a wrinkled appearance in places. This feature causes the fabric to be mostly held away from the skin when worn, facilitating heat dissipation and air circulation. It also means that pressing is not necessary.
Common items made from seersucker include suits, shorts, shirts, curtains, dresses, and robes. The most common colors for it are white and blue; however, it is produced in a wide variety of colors, usually alternating colored stripes and puckered white stripes slightly wider than pin stripes.Transportation in Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, surrounded by rivers and hills, has a unique transportation infrastructure that includes roads, tunnels, bridges, railroads, inclines, bike paths, and stairways.Transportation in the United States Virgin Islands
The United States Virgin Islands (USVI) is the only place under United States jurisdiction where the rule of the road is to drive on the left. However, virtually all passenger vehicles are left hand drive due to imports of U.S. vehicles.United States Secretary of Transportation
The United States Secretary of Transportation is the head of the United States Department of Transportation, a member of the President's Cabinet, and fourteenth in the Presidential Line of Succession. The post was created with the formation of the Department of Transportation on October 15, 1966, by President Lyndon B. Johnson's signing of the Department of Transportation Act. The department's mission is "to develop and coordinate policies that will provide an efficient and economical national transportation system, with due regard for need, the environment, and the national defense." The Secretary of Transportation oversees eleven agencies, including the Federal Aviation Administration, the Federal Highway Administration, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In April 2008, Mary Peters launched the official blog of the Secretary of Transportation called The Fast Lane.The first Secretary of Transportation was Alan Stephenson Boyd, nominated to the post by Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson. Ronald Reagan's second Secretary of Transportation, Elizabeth Dole, was the first female holder, and Mary Peters was the second. Gerald Ford's nominee William Thaddeus Coleman, Jr. was the first African American to serve as Transportation Secretary, and Federico Peña, serving under Bill Clinton, was the first Hispanic to hold the position, subsequently becoming Secretary of Energy. Japanese-American Norman Mineta, who had previously been Secretary of Commerce, is the longest-serving Secretary, holding the post for over five and a half years, and Andrew Card is the shortest-serving Secretary, serving only eleven months. Neil Goldschmidt was the youngest secretary, taking office at age thirty nine, while Norman Mineta was the oldest, retiring at age seventy four. On January 23, 2009, the sixteenth secretary Ray LaHood took office, serving under the administration of Democrat Barack Obama; he had previously been a Republican Congressman from Illinois for fourteen years. The salary of the Secretary of Transportation is $199,700.Anthony Foxx was the 17th US Secretary of Transportation from 2013-2017, when Barack Obama was President. Elaine Chao, who served as Secretary of Labor under President George W. Bush, was nominated by Donald Trump on November 29, 2016. On January 31, 2017, the Senate confirmed her appointment by a vote of 93-6.Zero Milestone
The Zero Milestone is a zero mile marker monument in Washington, D.C. intended as the initial milestone from which all road distances in the United States should be reckoned when it was built. At present, only roads in the Washington, D.C. area have distances measured from it.
Transportation in the United States by political division
Transportation in the Americas