Transportation statistics and the people who collect and organize them don’t often make the front page. But the fact is, solid, relevant data is a critical part of building a 21st century transportation system.
After all, you can't make data-driven decisions if you don't have data.
The Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) is the data arm of DOT, responsible for collecting a wide variety of information about airlines, border crossings, freight movement, maritime trade, household travel, and much more. BTS was founded to help us understand the health of our nation’s transportation systems and infrastructure and how they impact our economy and way of life.
And yesterday we celebrated its 20th anniversary.
From founding Deputy Director Bob Knisely and his original co-worker Rolf Schmitt --yes, when BTS started, the two of them comprised the entire Bureau-- to the current Director Patricia Hu, Deputy Research and Innovative Transportation Administrator Greg Winfree, and a roomful of BTS employees, there was plenty to celebrate.
Since 1992, BTS has truly been an asset to DOT, to the transportation community at large, to our nation’s leaders, to businesses, and most importantly, to the American people. It addressed a huge gap in our nation’s transportation data--giving us the knowledge we needed to back-up our policy decisions.
It's one thing to collect important statistics, but it's quite another to transform that data into useful information. BTS excels at making statistics accessible for policymakers, elected officials, business decisionmakers, travelers choosing carriers, and students working on school projects. And I encourage everyone to visit the BTS website and see the treasure trove of information these folks make available.
Whether it's helping us focus on performance safety measures in our new transportation bill or ensuring that we have the information needed to reduce tarmac delays, everything we do here at DOT comes back to good data derived from real-world experiences. Without the hard work being done at BTS, we wouldn't be able to do our jobs improving safety for travelers, building and maintaining infrastructure, and investing in America's future.
My sincere congratulations go out to everyone at the Bureau of Transportation Statistics for 20 years of service. I look forward to seeing their work continue to inform the future of American transportation.