Bernie’s Transportation Communications Newsletter (TCN) – August 24, 2009

August 24, 2009 at 5:24 pm

Monday, August 24, 2009 – ISSN 1529-1057


1) Alaska-Tested Capstone System Improves State’s Air Traffic Safety

Link to article in The Alaska Journal of Commerce:

2) Streaming Offers New Option for Flight Data

Link to CP article:

3) Southwest Airlines Plans to Expand Inflight Wi-Fi

Link to AP article:


4) Redflex Considers Solar Speed Cameras

Link to article in The Arizona Republic:


5) Map Reveals Hotspots on the Tube

Link to BBC News article:


6) Malaysian Motorists Urged to Use ETC Cards

Link to Bernama article:


7) New York City Taxi GPS is a ‘Lost & Found’ Lifesaver

Link to article in the New York Post:


8) Dealers Seek More Time as Clunker Web Site Chokes

Link to article in the Detroit Free Press:

9) European Commission Transport Web Site Redesigned

Link to site:

10) Your Client Along America’s Roads

Reaching travelers through adopt-a-highway programs.

Link to article in Media Life:


11) SAFESOT Targets Better Road Safety

Link to article from the European Commission:


12) Multitasking by Drivers Raises Liability Concerns

Link to article in Business Insurance:

13) US Fire Administration Releases Research on Emergency Vehicle Visibility

Link to article in Government Technology:

Link to report:


14) Setbacks Bedevil San Diego’s Compass Card

Link to article in The San Diego Union-Tribune:

15) Millions of Passengers Manage to Find the AirTrain

Despite complaints of confusing signage, AirTrain JFK manages to draw five million passengers a year.

Link to story and audio report on WNYC Radio:

16) Who Owns Transit Data?

Link to column on CNET News:


17) Mississippi DOT Opens $1.5 Million Traffic Management Center in Hattiesburg

Link to article in The Clarion-Ledger:–1.5M-traffic-management-center-in-Hattiesburg

18) Stimulus Money to Ease Truckers’ Wait in Colorado

Link to AP article:


19) Police Find Data from Black Boxes Helps in Investigations

Link to article in The Detroit News:

20) Malta Reticent on EU-wide ‘eCall’ Car Safety System

Link to article in The Malta Independent:

21) Ricardo’s Intelligent Car

Link to article in AutoSpeed:

News Releases

1) CITE Announces Fall 2009 Blended Course Offerings

Job Postings

–  Planner 3 (ITS Specialist) – TranSystems – Boston, Massachusetts

Upcoming Events

FAA International Runway Safety Summit – December 1-3 – Washington, DC

Today in Transportation Hiarticle

1909 **100th anniversary** – The pouring of concrete begins at the Gatun Locks during construction of the Panama Canal.


The Transportation Communications Newsletter is published electronically Monday through Friday.

To subscribe send an e-mail to:

TCN archives:

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

© 2009 Bernie Wagenblast

Sliding Air Travel Makes for Fewer Delays This Summer; Smoothest summer travel in years for fliers (except for those poor souls who spent 6hrs onboard Continental Express 2816 on the tarmac at Rochester, Minnesota)

August 24, 2009 at 11:16 am

(Source: USA Today)

A marked decrease in airline travel has made this summer the smoothest in years for fliers accustomed to lengthy delays and snarled traffic.  Overall, it has been a remarkably pleasant summer season for air travelers, who had gotten used to big delays this time of year.

The aviation system is suffering significantly fewer delays than the past two years, according to government data and aviation experts. The lengthiest delays — which cause people to miss connecting flights and trigger the most havoc — are down even more steeply. In May, June and July, delays longer than two hours dropped by more than 25% compared with 2008 and 2007, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The nation’s aviation system is still far from immune to thunderstorms, congestion and unexpected problems: Several jets in recent months were stranded on the ground for hours, prompting angry complaints by passengers. New York’s three airports, which remain more clogged than average, continue to drag down performance across the country, the data show.

Overall, traffic at large airports is down 9% this year compared with last, according to the FAA. Airline restructuring in recent years has been so drastic that airports such as Pittsburgh and St. Louis have seen traffic drop by as much as two-thirds, turning them into veritable airport ghost towns amid the economic downturn. Here are some interesting highlights from the USA Today article.

  • There has also been a 9 percent decreaes in overall traffic at large airports, thanks to the high prices of fuel last year and the economic downturn. That trend is expected to continue through Labor Day, when approximately 3.5 percent fewer people are expected to fly compared to last year.
  • Cincinnati, which had more than 500,000 arrivals and departures in 2003, is on pace for fewer than 200,000 this year.
  • Of the nation’s busiest 31 airports, only two have not improved through June this year compared with a year earlier, according to the federal Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International, one of the few airports that has not seen a significant decline in flights, and Newark Liberty International, plagued by that region’s congestion, saw slight increases in delays, according to the data.
  • The biggest improvement in on-time performance occurred at O’Hare. Last year through June, only 61% of flights arrived on time at O’Hare. This year, 78% arrived within 15 minutes of their scheduled arrival times.

Click here to read the entire article.

Indian State of Bihar Earns Deadly New Reputation By Setting Trains on Fire; India’s Railway Minister: “Such things happen”

August 23, 2009 at 10:46 pm

(Sources contributing to this hybrid report:  BBC, Rediff, & Economic Times)

A group of students travelling without tickets in an air-conditioned railway coach in the northern Indian state of Bihar were recently asked by the ticket examiner to vacate their seats.

burning train,25-april-2009

Image Courtesy: via

Nothing unusual about that, but, in this case, the students took umbrage, and set four coaches on fire.

Panic-stricken passengers on the train travelling between the Indian capital, Delhi, and Rajgir in Bihar, ran out with their bags at Bihta station while the police and railway security looked on helplessly.

Railway authorities totted up the losses: each air-conditioned coach costs eight million rupees ($161,000; £98,000) to manufacture, and the losses from the Bihar incident cost the railways nearly $650,000.

The Economic Times reports that students’ grouse was that one of them had been beaten up by members of the Railway Protection Force when he refused to vacate the AC coach for which he did not have a ticket! The TV footage showed uninjured students proudly proclaiming their ‘achievement’ of setting fire to the train.

“Such things happen” was the reaction of Union railway minister Mamata Banerjee who had stated that no action would be taken against those who had set a train ablaze when it did not stop at their home town in Bihar a few weeks ago. The latest incident where a train was set on fire by students who were not allowed to travel with-out tickets in the AC coaches only demonstrates how a casual ministerial attitude to the destruction of public property encourages more and more mindless mayhem.

The minister needs to pause and think whether her casual attitude to the repeated burning of railway coaches contradicts the oath she took to preserve and protect the nation, its people and property. Her commitment should at the least match that of the RPF personnel who insisted on August 18 that reserved coaches be occupied only by those who bought tickets.

The footage on TV channels of burning trains would have convinced not just Indians but foreigners that India is not a safe place to travel in. A few months ago, when the Australian tennis team refused to play a Davis Cup tie in Chennai in the wake of 26/11, the Union sports minister condemned Tennis Australia for what he perceived as a slur on India’s reputation.

More recently, the Union home minister bought a ticket for the World Badminton Championship in Hyderabad and sat in a non-VIP stand to make the point that the British team was not justified in pulling out of the tournament. “My blood boiled,” he was quoted as saying while reacting to the British team’s stand that it was unsafe to play in India.

Those passengers of the Shramjeevi Express who had to flee on August 18 would be justified in wondering why the Union home minister’s blood did not boil when he saw the footage of the burning train.

In Bihar, people routinely hop on to trains from such illegal “halts” where trains are forced to stop.

Last October, a mob burnt down two air-conditioned coaches of an express train connecting Bhagalpur with New Delhi at Barh railway station.

But why do people in Bihar vent their ire on trains and set them on fire?

A senior police official, Neelmani, says people think authorities will take note of their grievances if they burn important public property like trains.

“When you target railways, you disrupt movement of trains for several hours and then your voice reaches the concerned authorities,” he said.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is dismayed by the train burning spree in his state. “Railways are our lifeline and a government asset. I have asked my officials to go through station video footage and arrest the vandals,” he told the BBC.

The Danapur-Buxar rail section and Danapur-Mokama rail section witnessed five train burning incidents between June 1 to August 18. On the day the Shramjeevi train was burnt, a mob of students set fire to the Kiul Gaya passenger train at Lakhisarai railway station.

In first incident on June 1, students had torched four bogies of two trains at Khusrupur, 32 kilometres east of Patna after the railways withdrew a stop for the Shramjeevi Express there. On July 14 local people set ablaze an AC coach of the Kosi Express at Athamgola railway station.

Earlier this month, students protesting the murder of an owner of a private teaching institute ransacked the Lakhisarai railway station and disrupted the movement of trains.

In fact, trains are attacked in Bihar over every other issue.  Then there is the problem of illegal “halt stations” where trains are forced to stop by local people – there are more than 100 of them in the state, many with actual names: some are named after local politicians and one even after a former president.

And yet while rail travel is unsafe in Bihar, seven federal railway ministers have come from the state.

Click to continue reading the BBC article or the Economic Times Opinion piece.

Stiff Upper Lips Open! Britons Lash Out Against “Cowboy Clamping” calling it Legalised Mugging; British Automobile Association Wants To Make Abusive Parking Enforcement Practices Illegal

August 23, 2009 at 12:08 pm

(Source: Daily Mail, UK)

Millions of motorists are being ‘legally mugged’ by cowboy clampers whose antics are ‘out of control’, a damning report by the AA reveals today.

Growing parking enforcement in private car parks and the huge amounts of money being taken from drivers has reached ‘epidemic’ level, says the AA. More than one in 10 drivers say they have been issued a private parking ticket over the last year* and tens of thousands of people have had their car clamped or removed from private car parks.

An ‘epidemic’ has seen nearly £1billion being taken from half a million drivers a year in private car parks by an army of 2,000 clampers.

Motorists routinely pay in excess of £500 to retrieve their clamped and towed away cars with no way to challenge the fines independently except expensive battles in a county court.

Private parking enforcement is riven with ‘bad and immoral’ wheelclamping practices that are ‘frightening and often bordering on criminality’, says the AA, with women motorists in particular feeling ‘menaced’ and intimidated.

The organisation adds that anyone may set himself up as a parking enforcer and ‘start to cash in’.

Alarmingly, clampers are allowed to exploit the Government’s supposedly confidential DVLA database to get drivers’ names and addresses at £2.50 a time.

The AA wants the Government to make it illegal in England and Wales to clamp on private land, as it is in Scotland where it has been considered ‘extortion and theft’ since a 1992 court ruling.

About one in 17 motorists have been clamped, says the RAC Foundation, which also believes the law to be ‘suspect’ and open to legal challenge.

The Government estimates there are between 100 and 200 clamping companies. Some 1,900 individuals have valid licences from the Security Industry Association (SIA). Since May 2005 only 16 have been revoked and 233 refused.

The AA’s Press Release points to some recent incidents, some of which are shocking nonetheless unacceptable to any motoring public (unless, you are not from a civilised part of the world, where anything and everything goes):

The prevalence of bad and immoral practices is now shocking and unacceptable. Whilst the AA accepts that some enforcement is justified, the scale of private enforcement and level of punishment meted out by an army of private enforcers is frightening and often borders on criminality.

In recent examples:

  • An elderly pensioner and her sick husband who were wrongly ‘doubled charged’ £370 by a clamper/tower (who belonged to the ‘trade association’ and breached its code despite having declared it would abide by its rules) – they have now recovered their cash after threats of legal action.
  • A lady who stopped, literally for seconds, heard a noise at the rear of her car. Someone said ‘I won’t be a moment’ and clamped her car while she sat in it with the engine running – before ‘double-charging’ her £300.
  • A lady who was given a ticket in a free car park for straddling lines. The ticket could not be paid as there were no details on it, and then she was sent a ‘£100 Charge Certificate’ after the parking firm obtained her details from DVLA despite inadequate signing in the car park
  • A lady, on her own, whose car was clamped and removed in Enfield at night and was charged £527 to get her car back – the clamper belonged to the ‘trade association’ and breached its code despite having declared it would abide by its rules.

Private enforcers can either wheel clamp and remove or issue ‘parking tickets’, usually by accessing the car owners name and addresses from the DVLA’s vehicle database.

Read more at Mail Online.  Also click here to read the entire AA press release.

TransportGooru Musings: It would be in the best of the Government and the Transportation officials to take a look at the interesting results from the online poll published on the Daily Mail’s website, which has almost 87% of the public showing their dislike for this practice.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the “Aviation Airheads of the Millenium Award” goes to Mesaba Airlines! U.S. Government’s Preliminary Investigation Docks Mesaba for not helping stranded passengers of the Continental Express 2816 ‘nightmare’ flight situation

August 22, 2009 at 12:05 am

(Source articles contributing to this hybrid report: Business Week, CNN, Star Tribune)

A Continental Express pilot tried fervently to get her passengers into the Rochester, Minn., airport on Aug. 8 after being diverted from Minneapolis-St. Paul because of bad weather, according to federal transportation officials. The request was denied by Mesaba Aviation, a unit of Delta Air Lines (DAL), the 47 passengers were stuck on the small regional jet for more than six hours.

Mesaba, based in Eagan, Minnesota and owned by Delta Air Lines, was the only carrier able to assist Continental Flight 2816, which was on its way from Houston, Texas, to Minneapolis, Minnesota, when it was diverted because of strong thunderstorms, LaHood said. The flight’s 47 passengers described crying babies, overflowing toilets and cramped conditions.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said a representative of Mesaba Airlines improperly refused requests by the plane’s captain and crew to let passengers off the plane. They remained stuck on the tarmac in Rochester on August 8 from 12:38 a.m. to about 6 a.m. with nothing but pretzels to eat, LaHood said.

“We have determined that the Express Jet crew was not at fault. In fact, the flight crew repeatedly tried to get permission to deplane the passengers at the airport or obtain a bus for them,” U.S. Dept. of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in an Aug. 21 statement. “The local representative of Mesaba Airlines improperly refused the requests of the captain to let her passengers off the plane. The representative incorrectly said that the airport was closed to passengers for security reasons, which led to this nightmare for those stuck on the plane.”

“There was a complete lack of common sense here,” LaHood said in a written statement. “It’s no wonder the flying public is so angry and frustrated.”

In audiotapes released by the Transportation Department, the unnamed captain of the aircraft can be heard pleading with an airline dispatcher to find a way to get the passengers off the plane. According to transcripts of transmissions from the cockpit released Friday, the pilot grew frustrated during the course of what she called a “ridiculous” ordeal, in which passengers on the nearly full plane had virtually nothing to eat, and the toilet and babies on board began to smell.

ExpressJet has posted audio files of conversations between the company and airport officials about how to resolve the problem. “There’s nobody willing to do anything,” an ExpressJet official tells the pilot in one phone call. “We have to do something… I just want to get people off the plane if we can’t fly,” the unidentified captain responds. In a later call, the pilot notes that “they’ve had lawsuits about this kind of stuff.”

“I just can’t sit here any longer,” she radioed to ExpressJet dispatchers in Houston. “… There’s no food, and [the passengers are] just getting really unhappy. … We’re stuck here with no lavs, no nothing. … There are lawsuits about this kind of stuff.”

According to a Department of Transportation preliminary report, Mesaba’s representative refused to help passengers off of the plane, incorrectly saying the airport was closed to passengers for security reasons.

The government is also soliciting public comment on whether it ought to mandate a limit on how long people may be left on planes during extended tarmac delays. A final rule from DOT is expected this fall, and the Continental Express-Mesaba imbroglio will figure into the decision, the agency says.

Mesaba is a wholly owned subsidiary of Northwest Airlines, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Delta Air Lines.

“Mesaba respectfully disagrees with the DOT’s preliminary findings as they are incongruent with our initial internal review of the incident,” CEO John Spanjers said in a written statement. “Because Continental Express Flight 2816 diverted to an airport where they have no ground handling service, Mesaba offered assistance as a courtesy during this delay.

Delta CEO Richard Anderson said in a statement Friday that he has contacted Continental Chairman and CEO Larry Kellner to “ensure we fully understand the facts of this unfortunate incident. Delta is working with Mesaba to conduct an internal investigation, continue our full cooperation with the DOT and share all the facts with Continental.”

TransportGooru Musings: Amidst this rabid finger pointing exercise, the poor passengers are the ones who are left begging for justice at this juncture! Glad that USDOT is taking a serious look at this issue. MESABA AIRLINES = BIG FAIL!

Australian Intelligent Transport Systems Summit 2009 (ITS 09) – November 18th-20th, 2009 @ Melbourne, Australia

August 21, 2009 at 10:37 pm

The Australian Intelligent Transport Systems Summit 2009 (ITS 09) will showcase the latest in transport technology in Australia together with new innovations from around the world. In addition to the Summit being a fantastic opportunity to learn from leading experts and discover new ideas, the program will also provide delegates the unique opportunity to be part of discussions and decision-making to take ITS for Australia into the next generation.

Road safety, congestion and sustainability are just some of the challenges facing, transport networks around Australia (and the world). Meeting these challenges requires close consultation from all state and federal governments, as well as the systematic implementation of intelligent transport systems technology (ITS).

ITS technology helps our transport and road users to utilise infrastructure more effectively and efficiently. It is the link that will help all state, territory and federal governments meet their transport challenges. This was the pre cursor in establishing Australia’s first ITS Summit. Improving road and rail safety.

  • Speakers that will present case studies on local and international developments in ITS and innovative applications of ITS
  • Panel discussions and debates on appropriate directions, policy development and actions
  • Facilitated workshops and/or working group sessions


  • Improving road network management
  • Providing better travel and traveller information
  • Improving public transport operation
  • Facilitating a more efficient freight industry
  • Reducing environmental impacts
  • Improving security, safety and emergency planning

The program will include:

  • Speakers that will present case studies on local and international developments in ITS and innovative applications of ITS
  • Panel discussions and debates on appropriate directions, policy development and actions
  • Facilitated workshops and/or working group sessions

Click here to learn more about the ITS Summit 2009

As the last California auto plant awaits its fate, workers and state lawmakers hold a rally to show support

August 21, 2009 at 7:04 pm

(Source: NPR &

Several hundred auto workers rallied near New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. in Fremont Thursday afternoon in support of an incentive plan, backed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, designed to persuade Toyota to keep building cars at the plant.

The rally drew local business leaders and elected officials who are working with the governor’s office and state legislators, as well as with the Port of Oakland and PG&E, on a plan that includes tax breaks, improved transportation facilities, and lower electricity costs to make it economical for Toyota to stay in Nummi.

During the boom years of the U.S. car business, California was dotted with auto plants. Now the sole survivor may be on the verge of closing.

The New United Motor Manufacturing Inc., or NUMMI, was a unique joint venture between General Motors and Toyota, but the partnership is now history, and thousands of jobs are on the line in Fremont, which can’t afford to lose them.

The NUMMI plant sits in the middle of Fremont, a bedroom suburb of San Francisco. It has cranked out cars such as the Toyota Corolla and, until recently, the Pontiac Vibe for the past 25 years.

It is a point of pride among members of the United Auto Workers that their plant, which can produce abut 400,000 vehicles a year, is known for its high-quality cars. NUMMI began as an experiment tying unionized U.S. workers with Japanese management practices.

“It was a big question for both sides,” says Harley Shaiken, a labor expert at University of California, Berkeley. “The result was NUMMI, and the result was an extraordinary success story.”

Toyota could now decide, however, that the cost of going it alone is too much to bear.

Ever since GM went bankrupt, Toyota has been left negotiating with what’s left of the U.S. automaker. News reports in Japan say that Toyota is ready to pull out, though the company insists no decision has been made.

NUMMI is Toyota’s only unionized shop in the U.S. and also the only factory in North America where Toyota would have to deal with the UAW, and industry observers have suggested that union concessions would have to be part of any deal to keep the plant open and is widely believe that this fact could affect Toyota’s decision.

Click here to read the entire article.

Congratulations, Washington, DC Metro Riders! You will soon be surfing the web wirelessly! Kudos to DC’s Metro Rail System for the efforts!

August 20, 2009 at 10:09 pm

(Source: Transit Wire & Progressive Railroading)

Amidst the flurry of negative publicity surrounding Washington, DC’s Metro rail system, there was some good news shining like a lone star in the dark sky! Metrorail passengers will soon be able to go online while underground. Four major cell phone providers have started to install the hardware that will enable riders to make calls, surf the Web, or send text messages from many of the Washington (DC) Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s busiest stations starting in October.

Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel, AT&T and T-Mobile recently began installing hardware at the 20 below-ground stations and expect to complete work by Oct. 16. According to the WMATA press release, during the next two months, the companies will install a wireless network at the following Metrorail stations: Ballston, Bethesda, Columbia Heights, Crystal City, Dupont Circle, Farragut North, Farragut West, Federal Triangle, Foggy Bottom-GWU, Friendship Heights, Gallery Pl-Chinatown, Judiciary Square, L’Enfant Plaza, McPherson Square, Metro Center, Pentagon, Pentagon City, Rosslyn, Smithsonian and Union Station.

The companies will build, operate, maintain and own the new wireless network, as well as establish a second wireless network that WMATA will own, operate and maintain. The wireless contract will generate a minimum of $25 million during the initial 15-year term and an additional $27 million during renewal terms, according to the transit agency.

Customers at those stations will begin to see large, cabinet-like enclosures that will house the hardware at the ends of station platforms or on mezzanines, in areas that will not impede the flow of customers or impact the safe operation of the Metrorail system. New cables and antennae also will be installed as part of this work, which will take place late at night when the Metrorail system is closed.

“This is the first phase of Metro’s effort to bring expanded cell phone carrier service to the entire Metrorail system by 2012,” said Suzanne Peck, Metro’s Chief Information Officer. “After we complete the first 20 stations this fall, the carriers will install service at the remaining 27 underground stations by the fall of 2010. Customers will be able to use these carrier-provided wireless services in tunnels between stations by October 2012.”

Riders can now receive cell phone service from multiple providers at above ground stations, but the current underground wireless network only supports Verizon customers and Sprint phones that roam onto the Verizon network. In 1993, Metro agreed to allow Bell Atlantic Mobile Systems, which later became Verizon Wireless, to build and maintain the current wireless network. In exchange, Verizon built a public safety radio communications system for Metro. Verizon also pays annual fees to Metro.

“Customers have been asking for expanded cell phone and Internet access in the Metrorail system for a long time,” said Metro General Manager John Catoe.  And now they are finally getting what they pleaded, fought and begged for years!

Hurry Up! Going Out of Business Sale – Government Gets Ready to Pull the Plug on Cash for Clunkers; Program slated to go offline @ 8PM on August 24, 2009

August 20, 2009 at 9:01 pm

(Source: Washington Post, New York Times, Bloomberg, The Detroit NewsAutoblog)

The federal government’s Cash for Clunkers program began with a bang on July 24th and, despite the original plan having it last until Labor Day, will officially end next Monday night (August 24th) at 8PM. The end date was announced today by U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and takes into account what he calls conservative sales estimates that have the pot running dry sometime over the weekend.

“This program has been a lifeline to the automobile industry, jump-starting a major sector of the economy and putting people back to work,” LaHood said in the statement.

As of today, C4C has recorded 457,476 sales worth $1.91 billion in rebates. The feds estimate about $400 million worth of rebates have yet to be submitted and are reserving another $100 million for administrative costs. That leaves $600 million left for what should be a very busy weekend on dealer lots.

After just a week, the program, which began July 24 and was expected to last until Nov. 1, ran out of the $1 billion originally appropriated by Congress. An additional $2 billion was approved two weeks ago, and it was supposed to last until Labor Day. Now that’s almost gone, too.

With the end in sight, many dealers are preparing for a flurry of last-minute customers over the weekend, and some are calling and e-mailing customers who were on the fence, perhaps threatening a surfeit of business.

“It’s not clear at all if there’s enough of the $3 billion to last through the weekend,” said John McEleney, chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association. “My concern is if we go past the $3 billion between now and Monday.” He said, however, that he had been assured that the government has done calculations to make sure there is enough money left to get through the weekend.

In the days leading up to Thursday’s announcement, dealers and dealer groups said that uncertainties about the program’s ultimate conclusion were creating financial hardships and confusion. Among the organizations pressing for a resolution to the program was the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), which warned its members that “dealers who accept additional ‘clunker’ deals face a growing risk that they may not be reimbursed.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, asked LaHood in a letter today to speed up payments, saying “dealers have been forced to effectively finance the CARS vouchers for buyers until the dealers are reimbursed by the federal government, placing a strain on dealers’ balance sheets that, if prolonged, could eventually offset some of the benefits of the program.”

More than 1,000 people are processing the applications, LaHood said yesterday. That compares with fewer than 200 when the program began. The agency is training more of its staff and is using Citigroup Inc. contractors to handle the paperwork.

Also late today, Chrysler Group LLC joined General Motors Co. in announcing they will advance funds to dealers who are awaiting payment from the government for clunkers deals. The administration disclosed that it has paid just $145 million of the $1.9 billion in vouchers submitted — or less than 10 percent of the funds requested.

LaHood has been holding two or three meetings daily on the progress of the program in an effort to ensure an orderly shutdown.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the trade association that represents General Motors Co., Chrysler Group LLC, Ford Motor Co., Toyota Motor Corp. and seven other automakers, praised the government’s handling of the program.

Click here to read the entire article.

Bernie’s Transportation Communications Newsletter (TCN) – August 20, 2009

August 20, 2009 at 8:10 pm

Thursday, August 20, 2009 – ISSN 1529-1057

Countdown to IBTTA’s 77th Annual Meeting & Exhibition, September 13-16, 2009 in Chicago — Register Today!

IBTTA’s 77th Annual Meeting & Exhibition is the most significant gathering of toll industry professionals in the world. Attend this meeting and interact with the most influential experts and decision makers from around the globe and discuss ideas and solutions about transportation financing strategies, the future of tolling and paying for mobility, AET and Interoperability, new ideas for the new economy and sustainable transportation. Featured speakers include Stuart Varney, Business and Financial Journalist; Mark Shields, Syndicated Columnist and Political Analyst; Robert Atkinson, President, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation and Chairman, National Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing Commission; and General (Ret.) Barry McCaffrey, Retired U.S. Army General, News Commentator, and Business Consultant. Register by August 21 and receive a $100 discount off your registration fee. This meeting is hosted by the Illinois Tollway and will be held at the Hyatt Regency. For information on registration, hotel reservations, exhibiting or sponsorship, visit IBTTA’s website at


1) Wi-Fi on Planes is Growing, if You Can Find the Right Flights

Link to story in Computerworld:

2) American Airlines Expands In-Flight Internet Access

Link to AP story:

Link to news release from American Airlines:


3) The Big Draw of a GPS Run

GPS drawing allows runners and bikers to create art through their travels.

Link to story in The New York Times:


4) Judge: Defunct Airport Fast Pass Company Can’t Sell Customer Data

Link to IDG News Service story:

5) New Award Will Honor Transportation Safety Contributions

Link to story on AVweb:


6) Taiwan Targets Auto Electronics

Link to story in Automotive DesignLine:;jsessionid=QJV050E1K2XJHQE1GHPCKH4ATMY32JVN


7) UK Government: Smart Ticketing Could Save Cash and Carbon

Link to story in eWeek Europe:–smart-ticketing-could-save-cash-and-carbon-1645

8) SEPTA Postpones ‘Smart-Card’ Fares

Link to story in The Philadelphia Inquirer:

9) Home, James – Public Transport Gets Personal

CyberCars2 developing technologies to make road-based automated transport a reality.

Link to story on PhysOrg:

10) Minnesota Transit Agency Unveils New Marketing Campaign Aimed at Texters

Link to story in Metro Magazine:


11) SUNA Traffic Channel Expands to Canberra

Link to story on iTWire:

12) Transit, Call Centers, and 511: A Guide for Decision Makers

Link to report from the Transportation Research Board:

Upcoming Events

Innovations in Pricing of Transportation Systems: Workshop and Conference – May 13-14 – Lake Buena Vista, Florida

Today in Transportation History

1989 **20th anniversary** – The pleasure cruiser Marchioness and the dredger Bowbelle, collided on the River Thames.  Fifty-one people died.


The Transportation Communications Newsletter is published electronically Monday through Friday.

To subscribe send an e-mail to:

To unsubscribe send an e-mail to:

TCN archives:

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

© 2009 Bernie Wagenblast