Bernie’s Transportation Communications Newsletter – March 31, 2009

March 31, 2009 at 6:54 pm

Tuesday, March 31, 2009 — ISSN 1529-1057

2009 Annual Meeting and Exposition Preliminary Program Now Available

The preliminary program for ITS America’s 2009 Annual Meeting and Exposition is now available. The 2009 Annual Meeting is the highly anticipated three-day learning and networking event which will attract the most diverse transportation audience from across the country in one place. This event will take place at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, MD – inside the Washington, DC metropolitan area – from June 1-3.  This is a critical time for our industry to demonstrate how ITS technologies can improve safety, mobility, and the environment while optimizing transportation dollars and helping to finance the future of our transportation system. Don’t want to miss this valuable opportunity to find answers to your toughest transportation challenges, meet your legislators on Capitol Hill, see ITS solutions in action and take home ideas for implementation, and learn from your peers.  To view a copy of the program, please click here.  For further information, please visit:


1) EU Adopts Air Traffic Management ‘Master Plan’

Link to story on EurActiv:

2) American Airlines to Expand In-flight Web Access

Link to AP story:

3) On NextGen, Everything Clear Except Who Pays for It

Link to column in The Dallas Morning News:


4) Apple Filing Details Safe Touch-Screen Navigation System

Link to story on AppleInsider:

5) Smart Sat-Nav and Cruise Control Arrives

Link to story on RoadTransport:


6) Georgia Could Require Drivers to Take Test in English

Link to AP story:

7) Interview with Anne Jensen, MEP and Rapporteur on the ITS Action Plan

Link to interview from ERTICO-ITS Europe:


8) US Military Vows to Track 800 Satellites by October 1

Link to Reuters story:


9) Sydney Terrorism Warning System Reviewed After Power Failure

Link to Bloomberg News story:

10) It’s the Drawing Board for Real ID

Link to story on NextGov:


11) Portland Metro Unveils an Online Planning Tool

Build-a-system tool is designed to involve public in transit corridor development.

Link to story in the Daily Journal of Commerce:

12) South Florida’s Tri-Rail Starts ‘Fund or Fail’ Campaign

Link to story in Metro Magazine:

Link to further information from Tri-Rail:

13) The Challenge of Using Public Transport: Descriptions by People with Cognitive Functional Limitations

Link to article in the Journal of Transport and Land Use:


14) New Detroit Traffic Management System All Set to Go

Link to story in The Detroit News:

15) Traffic Management System to be Constructed in Western Massachusetts

Link to story in The Republican:

16) California DOT’s New Monitoring Systems to Speed Traffic Flow

Link to story in Traffic Technology Today:

17) Traffic Safety Through Smart Highways

Link to story in Popular Mechanics:


18) Honda Connects Brain Thoughts with Electronics

Link to AP story:

Link to news release from Honda Motor Company:

News Releases

1) TEN-T 2009 Call for Proposals – Nearly €1 Billion Available in Trans-European Transport Network Funding

2) Tripping with Mr. Solomon – Houston Metro Uses YouTube to Promote Airport Service

3) TransCore Proves Alternative Equipment Choice for IAG-Protocol Reader

4) City of Seattle Launches Construction Coordination Web Site

Upcoming Events

2nd Middle East Parking Symposium – November 9-11 – Abu Dhabi

Today in Transportation History

1774 **235th anniversary** – The Boston Port Act took effect, closing the Boston Port to all ships.  The action was a response to the Boston Tea Party.


The Transportation Communications Newsletter is published electronically Monday through Friday. 

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Questions, comments about the TCN?  Please write the editor, Bernie Wagenblast   

© 2009 Bernie Wagenblast

Hyundai Vs Ford Vs GM: What Car Payment Protection Plan’s Best?

March 31, 2009 at 6:22 pm

((Source: Jalopnik)

The Carpocalypse has forced automakers to try and entice nervous buyers by offering to remove the burden of a car payment should consumers lose their jobs or worse. But which plan’s the best?

Hyundai was first on the “car payment protection” scene with their Hyundai Assurance Program, followed today by Ford and GM with their Ford Advantage and GM Total Confidence plans, respectively.

All three plans on their own are pretty confusing. Combined, all three are just a mess of different offerings of help in case you lose your job. Each offers different results for different scenarios. So, in order to make this understandable, we’ve broken down each plan and their specific option sets to allow you an opportunity to determine which will work best for you.

For starters, all three programs offer some combination of two different types of help for people facing a personal economic crisis: negative equity coverage and payment assistance. Let’s define some of these terms:

Equity: The amount of investment in an asset.

Negative Equity:This is when the amount owed on something is greater than the total value of the asset itself. In terms of cars, this means you owe more on the car than the car itself is actually worth. This is the opposite of positive equity. Positive equity would be when you have a car and you owe $2,000 but it is worth $9,000 on the used car market. In this case, you probably shouldn’t try to turn it in. Instead, if you’re smart, you’ll just sell it.

Negative Equity Coverage: This is a form of coverage that depending on the level provided, allows you to be forgiven up to a certain amount of monies still remaining in payments on the car. Each plan is different, ranging from several thousand dollars to zero.

Payment Assistance: Assuming you lose your job, the automaker will either take over payment for a certain period of time or payback the lender.

Click here to read the wonderful analysis from our friends @ Jalopnik.  

For those who are impatient and wait, the winner is Hyundai (there are a lot of caveats to this selection).  You are better advised to read the whole analysis before starting to agree with the result.  For those who are absolutely impatient and can’t wait to read the elaborate analysis here is the summary of comparision.   

Financial Times: Briefing on Intelligent Transportion Systems

March 31, 2009 at 6:04 pm

(Source: Financial Times)

Published with the support of The European Commission, United Nations, ERTICO and The OECD, The Intelligent Transport briefing was introduced by Eva Molnar Director for Transport UNECE, Antonio Tajani Vice President and Commissioner for Transport, European Commission, Denise Plumpton, The UK Highways Agency, German Minister for Transportation Wolfgang Tiefensee and French Transport Minister Dominique Bussereau.

 The briefing was inserted into and distributed by The Financial Times in March 2009 throughout all European and Scandinavian territories. Government agencies within Europe will account for another 20,000 copiesThe Financial Times with its exceptional business coverage and focus continues to dominate the market for the delivery of c-level executives and decision makers at the highest level and as such provides the perfect home for this briefing. Building intelligence into our vehicles and infrastructures can make a positive long term contribution to resolving the problems society and business face in terms of congestion, reliability, safety security and the environment.  

In the European Union alone, 20 per cent of GDP is generated by the transport sector. This equates to 1,900 billion euros, 16 million jobs, or nine per cent of all EU employment. How do we improve safety and security, and how do we minimise the negative environmental impact of many transport systems? These are not easy questions, but all answers depend not least on putting greater intelligence into our infrastructures and transport systems, in turn helping users make more intelligent choices about their journeys.


Containing more than 30 case studies The 36 page briefing provides a comprehensive source of advice and guidance for board level executives, senior management and Government executives explaining  deployments in a variety of modes and with varying applications. It features real-life examples, case studies and frameworks that demonstrate the successful deployment of solutions and trials across Europe and carefully analyses capabilities, possibilities and particularly advantages.

The briefing explains how EU moves towards a high quality, safer, more efficient and sustainable transport infrastructure in Europe. How we can make travel mass transit and ticketing more efficient (safer, less polluting, cheaper, and better informed).How we can help achieve ‘Best Value’ as a result of greater information gathering and improved decision-making. How we can reduce the effects of pollution from vehicles by better management. How we can reduce the number of accidents by providing drivers with more information about conditions on the roads they are using. How we help drivers find the best route to their destination, and change that route if major incidents occur on it. How we can help improve the security of passengers and staff by providing extra communications, better information and how to improve integration between different management systems, through the use of common databases. The report will gives readers of the Financial Times essential insight into how organisations have approached such implementations and the benefits that have been derived in a number of sectors.

Click here to read more or read/download the PDF file here.  (Image below is the ITS Briefing Supplement’s  cover)

Japanese stimulus: Government subsidizes tollroad travel

March 31, 2009 at 5:12 pm


Japanese tollroads have put into effect discounted tolls under a huge subsidy program from the central government. The discounts came into effect on bridges March 22 and on most expressways March 28. The discounted tolls were a centerpiece of an economic ‘stimulus package’ prime minister Taro Aso announced last October.

The traffic stimulus measure is touted as helping revive highway travel which is down about 4%, and to revive associated spending on gasoline and diesel fuels, car service, hotels, new cars and electronics. However it is also obviously influenced by lobbying and PM Aso’s desire for public acclaim. 

The measure announced as lasting two years and Y500b ($5b) has been set aside in a supplementary Japanese Government budget, but the subsidy program may end up costing a whole lot more. Meanwhile airline and rail interests complain the measure will take customers away from them.

The most spectacular discounts come on the interurban ticket or trip-based toll system run by the three regional expressway companies. Here a maximum toll of Y1000 ($10) is now in effect weekends and holidays for vehicles equipped with a transponder. This greatly encourages long trips by car.

Shinkansen or ‘bullet train’ bookings are expected to drop away.

Tokyo to northern Honshu, for example, a distance of over 400 miles (700km) normally costs about Y14k ($140) for a car but will be tolled the new maximum Y1000 toll or $10 at weekends. There are also major savings on a popular interurban run between Tokyo and Nagoya of 325km (200 miles) on the Tomei Expressway. It usually costs Y7100 ($71) in tolls so there’s a saving of Y6100 ($61) or 86%.

On many urban expressways with a single barrier toll on entry the toll is being reduced from Y700 ($7) or Y800 ($8) to Y500 ($5). Under the crude toll-on-entry ramp the toll paid is already a flat rate regardless of distance traveled. 

The government’s aim in paying for the toll discounts is apparently to generate more travel when roads are relatively uncongested. 

The discounts range in size. Some Tokyo metro area tolls are only discounted at night 10pm to 6am, some Sundays and holidays.

On Sundays and holidays, the Tokyo Metropolitan Expressway will charge Y500 ($5) on several Tokyo routes, down from the current Y700 ($7). The toll on its Kanagawa ‘lines’ will be cut to Y400 ($4) from Y600 ($6), while on the Saitama line will be reduced to Y300 ($3) from Y400 ($4).

Tolls on the Hanshin Expressway in the Osaka region will be discounted on full weekends and national holidays. Hanshin’s east lines will be Y500 ($5) from the current Y700 ($7), and the west and south lines will be Y350 ($3.50) from Y500 ($5).

In April there will be more discounts in the form of credits for tolls paid on other systems for long journeys through multiple toll companies roads. 

Click here to read the entire article.

Brookings Musings: Driving the Auto Industry to a New Place

March 31, 2009 at 4:45 pm

(Source:  Howard Wial, The Brookings Institution)

In announcing restructuring hurdles for the struggling auto industry, President Obama said that he wants General Motors to create “a credible model for how not only to survive, but to succeed in this competitive global market.” The steps that he announced—such as requiring GM to cut the number of brands and reduce its debt if it is to receive further federal assistance, providing federal backing for car warranties, and providing new incentives for car purchases—will help GM survive… in the short term.

So will other steps that the president’s auto task force recommended, such as cutting the number of dealerships.

However, the president’s announcement simply does not go far enough to help GM succeed in the long run. As Susan Helper and I pointed out in a previous Brookings commentary, GM’s long-run problems are primarily problems of quality and innovation, not problems of cost. Neither the president’s statement nor his task force’s analysis addresses those long-run problems.

Improving quality requires adopting world-class production and design methods that tap the knowledge of suppliers and production workers. The federal government should condition further aid to GM and its suppliers on the company’s agreement to implement—in cooperation with the United Auto Workers and suppliers—the recommendations of a federal auto industry manufacturing assistance program patterned after the existing Manufacturing Extension Partnership Program.

Spurring innovation requires doing the necessary research to develop the next generation of alternative-powered cars. Part of any additional federal aid to automakers and suppliers should go to support their participation in a consortium that would perform that research.

Click here to read the entire article.

USDOT: January 2009 Surface Trade with Canada and Mexico Fell 27.2 Percent from January 2008

March 31, 2009 at 4:14 pm

(Source: USDOT’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics)

Tuesday, March 31, 2009 – Surface transportation trade between the United States and its North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partners Canada and Mexico was 27.2 percent lower in January 2009 than in January 2008, dropping to $47.5 billion, the biggest year-to-year percentage decline on record, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) of the U.S. Department of Transportation (Table 1).  The $47.5 billion in U.S.-NAFTA trade in January 2009 was the lowest monthly amount since January 2004. 

 The value of U.S. surface transportation trade with Canada and Mexico fell 10.3 percent in January from December (Table 2).  Month-to-month changes can be affected by seasonal variations and other factors.

Surface transportation consists largely of freight movements by truck, rail and pipeline.  About 88 percent of U.S. trade by value with Canada and Mexico moves on land.

The value of U.S. surface transportation trade with Canada and Mexico in January was up 3.9 percent in the five-year period compared to January 2004, and up 31.6 percent over the 10-year period compared to January 1999 (Table 3).  Imports in January were up 26.4 percent compared to January 1999, while exports were up 38.1 percent. 

U.S. Surface Transportation Trade with Canada

U.S.–Canada surface transportation trade totaled $29.0 billion in January, down 31.1 percent compared to January 2008 (Table 4).  The value of imports carried by truck was 31.3 percent lower in January 2009 compared to January 2008, while the value of exports carried by truck was 27.2 percent lower.

U.S. Surface Transportation Trade with Mexico

U.S.–Mexico surface transportation trade totaled $18.5 billion in January, down 20.0 percent compared to January 2008 (Table 6).  The value of imports carried by truck was 20.5 percent lower in January 2009 than January 2008 while the value of exports carried by truck was 10.7 percent lower.        

Click here to read the entire report in HTML or click here to download the report in PDF.  A read-only version of the PDF file is provided here:

Transportation for America’s Policy Brief on Transportation and Social Equity

March 31, 2009 at 4:00 pm

(Source: Transportation for America)

Transportation for America’s first webinar in a series of them was held earlier this week, and it was a great success. Nearly 100 advocates and supporters signed up for a session on Transportation and Social Equity.

Our transportation system should provide everyone — regardless of age, income, race or disability — with viable transportation options. So there are significant issues with a system that doesn’t extend opportunity to everyone in the same manner.

Judith Bell, president of PolicyLink, led an informative discussion about ways in which transportation policies and programs affect low income, minority, and other often marginalized populations.

Nathaniel Smith, Director of Partnerships for Equitable Development at Emory University and Ron Achelpohl, Assistant Director of Transportation for the Mid-America Regional Council, spoke about local actions in Atlanta and Kansas City respectively to make equity considerations a fundamental part of the transportation planning process. Laura Barrett, National Policy Director for theTransportation Equity Network, discussed advocacy efforts at the national level — particularly around equitable stimulus spending.

Don’t miss the first in a series of policy briefs from Transportation for America available for download now, Transportation and Social Equity: Opportunity Follows Mobility, covers three basic ideas:

  1. The current system is failing low income communities
  2. Transportation is at the center of opportunity.
  3. The nation’s transportation investments can be a powerful force for social and economic equity.

Download it now or view the PDF below and feel free to pass it along to friends and colleagues. And be sure to join Transportation for America to help us tell Congress that our transportation investments should extend opportunity to all Americans — regardless of race, class, or gender.’s Electric Vehicle Podcast – EVcast#208 – Going Global

March 31, 2009 at 2:52 pm
EVcast goes global – Hosts Bo, Ryan, and Kim with special guest hosts Gavin Shoebridge (NZ) and Nikki Bloomfield (UK) as they discuss EVs and the industry in their parts of the world.  Where does the US stand in terms of adoption and acceptance of this technology?

Join your hosts, Bo and Ryan, for a daily dose of the EVcast.  Keep up with top stories and developments as they happen.  Check calendar for scheduled interviews and topics for our special Tuesday editions!

Listen Live! All broadcasts are streamed live for members HERE. Chime in with your opinions and thoughts using our live chat or send your comments ahead of time to podcast at evcast dot com or leave your message on our listener feedback voicemail: 1-888-451-8862

The EVcast is a podcast dedicated to bringing consumers the latest information on electric vehicles in a non-technical, non-political, and entertaining way.  Don’t forget, you can also subscribe to this podcast via iTunes or your favorite podcatcher. Visit

TransportGooru Headline News Aggregator Dispatch – March 31, 2009

March 31, 2009 at 2:31 pm

LA Transportation Blog – Headlines for Tuesday March 31, 2009


Streetsblog – Headlines for Tuesday March 31, 2009

  • Albany Attempting to Fund Transit and Avoid Bridge Tolls (NYTPost)
  • Obama Admin Takes Firmer Approach With GM and Chrysler (NYTNYTWSJYglesias)
  • Brooklyn Bridge Face-Lift Headlines List of NYC Stim Projects (NewsPost)
  • Pols ‘Protest’ MTA Doomsday Measures at City Hall (Bklyn Eagle)
  • Without Rescue Package MTA Would Cut 3,000 Positions (News)
  • Rental Housing on the Rise in the Exurbs (WSJ)
  • How Much High-Speed Rail Does $8 Billion Buy? (MSNBC)
  • CA Bill Would Set the Stage for Mileage Tax (Streetsblog SF)
  • WashCycle Wades Into the Bike PR Debate
  • Albuquerque Getting a Bike Bridge Across Rio Grande (Bike ABQ via


Transport for America – Headlines for Tuesday March 31, 2009

  • Road work in Baltimore will bring some serious congestion downtown. (Baltimore Sun)
  • Colorado’s stimulus-funded roadwork appears to avoid any serious sprawl. (Colorado Independent)
  • The dismal economy pushes road builders to offer some extraordinarily low bids. (New York Times)
  • As dreams of homeownership slip away for millions, renting moves to the mainstream in far-flung suburbs. (Wall Street Journal)

Note:  TransportGooru thanks all the authors for contributing to this headline news summary. This dispatch is made possible by integrating the headline news feeds from the above mentioned sources.  At times, you may encounter a repeat of the same headline news  since they are captured by various individuals working at different organizations.    Please visit the respective source websites if you have any trouble viewing the articles behind the URLs. 


Vehicle Manufacturers Are Leading Intelligent Transportation Systems Efforts with Obstacle Detection Systems Launching in 2009, According to ABI Research

March 31, 2009 at 11:41 am

(Source: Fox Business)

Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) have been under development for more than a decade. While the promise of road-infrastructure based traffic management is still years away, some car manufacturers are moving ahead with autonomous radar-based obstacle detection systems increasing the safety of both drivers and pedestrians.

“Vehicle manufacturers are mainly interested in active safety as a new differentiator,” says ABI Research Practice Director Dominique Bonte. “However, avoiding accidents has a huge impact on traffic congestion levels, the reduction of which remains the primary goal of ITS.”

Toyota is planning to add a millimeter-wave radar system to some of its car models in Japan in 2009. The driver is warned about potential side and front collisions and when a crash is imminent automatic braking, seat belt retraction and air bag deployments are initiated. In the US a similar pre-collision system will be available on the 2010 Toyota Prius as an option. A similar feature was announced by Hyundai at CES. However, the current automotive slump will delay the adoption of active safety as a standard option across all brands.

To realize the benefits of integrated traffic management ITS requires vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication. While many successful tests based on the Dedicated Short Range Communication (DSRCundefined, undefined, undefined%) protocol are ongoing in Japan (ITS-Safety 2010 project), Europe (ERTICO, CAR 2 CAR Communication Consortium) and the US (DoT’s IntelliDriveSM project), full rollout is not expected before 2015.

Click here to read more.