Department of Transportation, FAA, Coast Guard Ready For Y2K

July 7, 2008 - 7:02 PM

( - The US Department of Transportation, (DOT), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the US Coast Guard(USCG) are confident they will meet the challenge of Y2K.

With the first of the year coming in just a matter of hours, Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater told a Washington news conference, "The facts are clear. We have done our job. We have met the deadline and we have done it well below cost projections. We are confident that our transportation sector is also ready for a new century and a new millennium. This effort represents the greatest management challenge that the world has faced in more than 50 years."

However, Slater emphasized that not every transportation system in the United States has been fixed for Y2K. Some systems that have been fixed and tested may still experience breakdowns and/or glitches, but Slater is confident the Department of Transportation (DOT) is prepared to meet those challenges as well with contingency plans.

"This would be true, and it's important to underscore this on any New Year's Eve of any year, not withstanding our Y2K challenge. Safety is President Clinton and Vice President Gore's top transportation priority. It is the top priority for the Department of Transportation as well. It is the "north star" by which we'll be guided and by which we're willing to be judged," Slater said.

Deputy Transportation Secretary Mortimer Downey said the department is confident that the American public will travel safely despite the possibility of any Y2K glitches and breakdowns.

"Every public transit agency in America has certified to the Federal Transit Administration that they are ready for Y2K. As always on New Year's Eve, the nation's transportation systems will be out in front in moving Americans to and from their celebrations and Y2K should not stop them," Downey said.

But Downey explained that many public transit systems, including AMTRAK, the nation's railroad system will be taking precautions on Y2K.

"Many systems, including AMTRAK, will be holding trains at stations at midnight so that, if anything does go wrong, either with their own systems or power or communications, trains would not caught in tunnels or on elevated structures.

AMTRAK and the commuter railroads indicate that their systems are Y2K ready as well. Grade crossings, safety signals are not date driven, they are event driven, so they should operate well as should other railroad signaling, dispatching and telecommunications systems," Downey said.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) also is receiving reports from some of America's freight railroads that those railroads plan a fairly extended rollover period, according to Downey.

"They will be stopping their freight trains, not AMTRAK or commuter, before midnight and a couple of them plan a full weekend to bring the full system back up to full operations, and that they should be ready in full swing Monday morning," Downey said.

The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA), according to Downey, have received assurances from the major American automobile manufacturers that their vehicles possess no known Y2K safety problems in automobiles.

The Federal Railroad Administration hired an independent consultant to perform an in-depth, on-site review of the preparations of the four major freight lines. The consultant said the FAA is ready.

Jane Garvey, administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said the nation's aviation system is ready for the New Year.

"The FAA systems are fully Y2K compliant. All of our air traffic systems were repaired about 15 months ago with the final installation of these repairs completed almost six months ago. They are up and running now, continuously and safely and they'll make a smooth transition (Friday) evening," Garvey said.

Garvey also said the FAA has surveyed all 565 United States airports that are served by commercial airlines and believes they are all ready to meet the Y2K challenge on January 1st. She also will be airborne on New Year's Eve to prove that those airports have met the Y2K challenge.

"I'll be flying cross-country on New Year's Eve at midnight, Zulu time, 7 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, when the aerospace system makes the transition to the New Year. I'll be at 30,000 feet, and I am looking forward to an extremely rewarding, safe and uneventful flight." Garvey said.

Rear Admiral George Naccara, Director of Information and Technology for the United States Coast Guard (USCG), said the Coast Guard is ready "in every respect" for Y2K.

"We have prepared our ships, our aircraft and our supporting systems with great care so that we can be sure that Y2K will not disrupt our ability to perform our missions. As the clock rolls into the 21st century, we are testing every ship, aircraft and search and rescue boat underway or at the dock to make sure our people and our equipment are ready to perform our mission," Naccara said.

Summarizing, Naccara said he believes, "the maritime industry has taken the Y2K threat seriously. They have prepared their systems and equipment and they have exercised realistic contingency plans. We are prepared and in a high state of readiness in our headquarters and throughout the country, just as we always are in the US Coast Guard. We will monitor events, domestically and internationally. I'm very optimistic about the situation in our ports and waterways. That's the Coast Guard way."

In summary, Boyd said, "Y2K has been a challenge but its one the transportation community has met. We have a transportation system that is ready to operate safely on the first day of the 21st century."

Social Security recipients shouldn't have to worry about the Y2K situation either, according to John Koskinen, Chairman of the President's Council on Y2K.

"Social Security payments will be made on the normal day, which is the first day of the month, which, in this case, will be Monday, January 3rd. The fact that the tapes are already being provided to the Federal Reserve Board and that checks have already been cut and are being moved through the system (tells us that) is what normally happens. By being able to move those processes through in the ordinary course of business, they (Social Security officials) were increasingly confident that there would be no difficulty with payments to be received on Monday. But, we would just like to stress that access to those funds for those receiving direct deposits will be on Monday, January 3rd, as normal. Checks will be delivered by the Postal Service on Monday, January 3rd as normal, " Koskinen said.