It’s here, finally! ZipCar’s iPhone App debuts a cool new feature that let’s you honk from your phone

September 30, 2009 at 11:33 pm

(Source:  Autoblog green)

Image Courtesy: Autobloggreen

If nothing else, the big news of the day is that your iPhone can now make cars honk. The key fob would, of course, work just as well, but it’s not as flashy as using your phone.

The horn honking feature is part of the newly-released Zipcar App, which makes finding, reserving and controlling your Zipcar possible through the iPhone (and, over WiFi, the iPod touch). The app wont’ be able to unlock any car in the system – you still need to scan your Zipcard to start the reservation; only then is the app able to honk that horn. The App is free and available now in iTunes. You can take a tour here.

National Labs Developing Methodology for Estimating Real World Fuel and Electricity Consumption of Plug-in Hybrids

September 30, 2009 at 11:14 pm

(Source: Green Car Congress)


Click here for more details

Researchers from the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Idaho National Laboratory (INL) and Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) are cooperating to develop and test a method for predicting the real-world fuel and electricity consumption of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) by adjusting dynamometer test results. After examining data on the only PHEV currently available in large numbers, the new adjustment method shows promise for reasonably predicting PHEV average fuel and electricity use, despite differences in design.

Current rules for conventional vehicles do not work for plug-in hybrids because the vehicles run on both electricity and gasoline; industry debate centers on the rules for estimating miles per gallon. This was highlighted by the reaction to GM’s announcement that the Chevy Volt would attain 230 mpg in the city cycle, given a single charge per day, along with combined cycle electricity consumption of 25 kWh/100 miles, based on a draft EPA methodology. (Earlier post.)

PHEV testing is further complicated by the fact that these vehicles operate in two different modes based on the distance they are driven (initially depleting energy from the large vehicle battery, and eventually sustaining the battery charge for longer distance driving). Consensus is building on techniques to handle these first two complications, but one question that remains is how to adjust raw certification cycle test results to best predict a PHEV’s average real-world energy use.

Click here to read the entire article.

Bernie’s Transportation Communications Newsletter (TCN) – September 30, 2009

September 30, 2009 at 10:51 pm

Wednesday, September 30, 2009 – ISSN 1529-1057


1) Airport Consortium Works on Developing Industry Standard for Biometric Access Control

Link to article in Security Technology Executive:

2) Airline Industry Gets Smarter with Bags

Link to article in The Wall Street Journal:

3) Web Site Helps Travelers Avoid Ground Transportation Scams at Airports

Link to article in The Vancouver Sun:

Link to site:


4) Maryland Drivers Catch on Fast When a Speed Camera Goes Up

Link to article in The Washington Post:


5) US Senators, Associated Press Want More Government Info Made Public

FAA’s reluctance to release bird strike database cited as example.

Link to AP story:

6) School Bus Radio Program Plays Its Last Tune

Link to article in U.S. News & World Report:


7) Distracted Driving ‘a Menace to Society’

Link to AP article:

8) Emergency Preparedness: Improved Planning and Coordination Necessary for Modernization and Integration of Public Alert and Warning System

Link to GAO report: (testimony) (results of survey)


9) Massachusetts to Hold Transportation Conference, Developers Challenge

Link to article in Mass High Tech:

10) Edmonton Transit Control Center Monitors Delays, Crime

Link to article in Metro Edmonton:–ets-draws-up-intergraph-to-monitor-delays-crime

11) Iowa System Offers Paratransit Riders Cell Phones

Link to article in Metro Magazine:


12) Aha Mobile Launches New Version of Traffic and Road Entertainment iPhone App

Link to article on TechCrunch:


13) An iPhone Gets Zipcar Drivers on Their Way

Link to article in USA Today:

News Releases

1) Washington State DOT Installs Infrared Traffic Cameras at Snoqualmie Pass for Nighttime Viewing

2) New iPhone Application Promotes Traffic Safety

3) Norfolk Southern’s Focuses on the Benefits of Partnerships and Rail Corridors

4) Halmstad University wins the CVIS Application Innovation Contest

5) Chicago Transit Authority Launches Searchable Vendor Database Via Web Site

6) Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers Alliance Presents Recommendations at DOT Distracted Driving Summit

7) EC Takes Action to Make Urban Travel Greener, Better Organized and More User-Friendly

8Technology Demonstration Participants Sought for 18th World Congress on Intelligent Transport Systems

Upcoming Events

People Tracking and Location 2009 – December 2-3 – Amsterdam

Today in Transportation History

1949 **60th anniversary** – The Berlin Airlift officially came to an end.


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 at

© 2009 Bernie Wagenblast

Event Alert: Pricing Transportation Infrastructure Executive Program — November 16-18, 2009 @ Northwestern University, Evanston, IL

September 30, 2009 at 11:58 am

Northwestern University Transportation Center

Funding of transportation-related infrastructure is at a crossroads. Traditional funding mechanisms, such as general and specific tax revenues, are proving to be insufficient to maintain existing facilities and fund expanded capacity. Infrastructure providers and operators are looking to users to make up for the shortfall. Transport-related infrastructure offers an exceptional opportunity for raising funds to establish and/or sustain such infrastructure while providing an attractive return on investment to both public and private investors. Key to achieving such returns are the prices charged to users. But how should user charges be set?

  • Should every user pay the same fee?
  • Is it practical, commercially worthwhile, and socially acceptable to charge differential prices?
  • How should the price be set relative to the cost of alternatives modes or routings?
  • How are these pricing principles changed when the facility is congested?
  • Can pricing be used to reduce the problems of congestion?
  • How does private operation of a facility change the pricing objectives?
  • How might the public sector regulate prices?

These questions and more will be addressed in this two-and-half day course offered by the Transportation Center at Northwestern University.

Click Here for a Full-Brochure of the Program.

View Faculty

Facilities & Location

Registration & Fee*Registration

Program Fee (after 10.5.09) $2,700
Early Registration Fee (before 10.5.09) $2,160
Government & academic rate $2,160

Who Should Attend

The course is aimed at professionals who currently, or might in the future, set user charges; financial personnel; and engineers and project managers who oversee facility maintenance and new construction. It is also applicable to consultants to infrastructure providers, and those who finance infrastructure projects.

Course Format

Program content will be thoroughly integrated by the course faculty, so that participants will emerge with a comprehensive understanding and perspective of transportation infrastructure pricing strategies.  The focus of the course is on the economics of pricing. Some prior knowledge of economics, such as might be obtained from an introductory college level microeconomics course, will be useful.

Topics to be covered include:Full Program Schedule

  • Basic economic principles of pricing
  • Competitive price-setting
  • Congestion pricing
  • Demand responsive pricing
  • Differential prices across users
  • Auctions to allocate capacity
  • Social acceptability of pricing infrastructure
  • Political implications of infrastructure pricing
  • Pricing in a public/private partnership
  • Public regulation of private-sector pricing
  • Evaluating investments in capacity enhancement
  • For additional information please visit the Northwestern University Transportation Center website or contact: Ms. Diana Marek, Program Registrar – 847-491-2280;

    Attention transportation policy-makers! Updated version of the GTZ Sourcebook module on “Intelligent Transportation Systems” is now available for download

    September 30, 2009 at 11:14 am

    Will a city need all the latest technology and they will solve the traffic problems? If not, then what are the correct choices.

    Technology has been playing an important role in promoting vehicular safety, reducing driving stress, comfortable travel and increased  efficiency of the whole transport system. These technologies applied in a package are called “Intelligent Transport System (ITS)”. When carefully applied the ITS will create an efficient, safe and comfortable transport system.

    Often, policy-makers are in a situation where they are not properly informed on the right technological choices. The GTZ Sourcebook module  on “Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS)” focuses on the choices for a city and also informs the reader of the various viable ITS options, their function and advantage. (German Technical Cooperation Agency (GTZ) is a member of the Sustainable Urban Transport Project (SUTP – ASIA).  The project is carried out in cooperation between German Technical Cooperation Agency (GTZ), the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), CITYNET, UNHABITAT and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA). The office is based in Bangkok (Thailand).

    The focus of this module on ITS is on ITS applications that support the concept of sustainable transport by encouraging the following desirable outcomes which can be expected to find general acceptance:

    • Equitable access and improved mobility and including reduced demand for motorised private transport; and improve the modal split in favor of walking, transit, and cycling;
    • Improved transport efficiency and productivity;
    • Improved safety and security; and
    • Reduced environmental impact and improved ‘liveability’, especially in congested city centres.

    The module was written by Mr. Phil Sayeg and Prof. Phil Charles and updated by the authors. The authors also wrote ITS Australia’s Intelligent Transport Systems Hand- book that was published in 2003 and edit their quarterly Members’ Information Pack. They are currently contributing to the development of the first ITS Strategy for Bangkok, Thailand.

    More information on the updated module (3.15 Mb) and download links are available from the Sustainable Urban Transport Project (SUTP) website.

    Bernie’s Transportation Communications Newsletter (TCN) – September 29, 2009

    September 29, 2009 at 6:12 pm

    Tuesday, September 29, 2009 – ISSN 1529-1057


    1) Should Airlines Let Passengers Make Calls via Wi-Fi?

    Link to article in USA Today:

    2) Local South Carolina Officials Question 2-Hour Delay in Crash Alert

    Link to article in The Sun News:


    3) Traffic Camera Ballot Fight Heads to Ohio Supreme Court

    Link to article in the Chillicothe Gazette:


    4) GPS Safety, Part 1: Texting, Part 2?

    Link to article on TechNewsWorld:

    5) SISTER at the 16th ITS World Congress

    Link to further information:


    6) Inside the US Navy’s Command Center of the Future

    Link to article and video on CNET News:


    7) Driver’s Ed Gets 21st-Century Update

    Link to article in USA Today:

    8) Illinois DOT Putting More Info About Projects on Web

    Link to article in the Journal Star:


    9) High-Tech System Keeps Trucks Moving on Virginia’s I-64

    Link to article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

    10) Sheriff’s Signs Don’t Fly with Tennessee DOT

    Link to article in The Tennessean:


    11) US Transportation Secretary Seeks Roadmap to Remedy Distracted Driving

    Link to ABC News story and video:

    12) India Transport Ministry to Use Tweeting to Bring Down Accidents

    Link to Press Trust of India article:

    13) Wisconsin Not Told of Stolen Plane’s Intrusion

    Link to AP article:


    14) Bus CCTV Could Predict Assaults

    Link to BBC News story:

    Link to news release from CSIT:


    15) Electronic Recorder Rule Sent to US DOT

    Link to article in Light & Medium Duty Truck:

    16) Volvo Ready to Bring Cars to a Full Stop in an Emergency — Without Any Help from the Driver

    Link to column in USA Today:

    News Releases

    1) Australian Communications and Media Authority to Host Tune-Up on Transport-Related Spectrum Issues

    2) GTZ Sourcebook Module on ‘Intelligent Transport Systems’ Updated (scroll down)

    3) The World’s First Commercial ITS Verification Test Carried out in Changchun City, China

    4) AT&T and Garmin Announce a New Mobile Navigation Era with nüvifone, The Navigation Phone

    5) Distracted Driving a Factor in Railroad Crossing Crashes, Says Rail Safety Group Operation Lifesaver

    Upcoming Events

    IntelliDrive Working Group Meeting – October 29-30 – Detroit

    Today in Transportation History

    1909 **100th anniversary** – Wilbur Wright made the first long over-water flight in America.


    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 at

    © 2009 Bernie Wagenblast

    Volvo takes the evolutionary leap in vehicle safety, again! Adds technology that can bring cars to a full stop in an emergency – without any help from the driver

    September 29, 2009 at 4:34 pm

    (Source: USA Today; Carkeys, UK)


    Image Courtesy: USA Today

    Automobile technology has exploded over the past two decades and todays cars are far more “intelligent” than the cars of the 70 and 80s.  These days there are more computers and sensors (collectively captured under the term Intelligent Vehicle, a terminology that is more familiar to those involved in Intelligent Transportation Systems) operating side by side with the driver to ensure that the vehicle operates at optimal efficiency while managing the safety of the vehicle by avoiding or alerting/warning about impending collisions.   The state of the art technology deployed in some cars can even slow down the vehicle by applying brakes without driver’s assistance, just to minimize the impact of the crash.  Now, that will soon become yesterday’s technology, thanks to vehicle safety pioneers at Volvo who are hard at work to deploy “full auto brake” and “pedestrian safety” functions.   USA Today reports on this latest vehicle technology development at the Volvo shop.

    By now, collision avoidance systems that automatically apply the brakes to a speeding car have become pretty common. But while cars will suddenly slow if they detect an accident is about to happen, automakers have been hesitant to bring them to a sudden and full emergency stop.

    Volvo is about to change all that. With the launch of the S60 next year, Volvo will introduce a “full auto brake” and “pedestrian safety” function. Cars will come a full stop at speeds less than about 15 miles an hour if their radar systems detect they are about to strike a car or a person. If the car is going faster, the car will try to come as close to a full stop as possible.

    “If the car is traveling faster, the aim is to reduce the impact speed as much as possible. In most cases, we can reduce the collision force by about 75%,” says Thomas Broberg, Volvo’s safety expert. “Considering the large number of pedestrian fatalities that occur, if we manage to reduce the fatality risk 20 percent, this new function will make a big difference.”, a British website reports that this effort is part of Volvo’s 2020 vision, which has two goals – firstly, that nobody will be killed or injured in a new Volvo and, secondly, that the average CO2 emissions of the entire range will be below 100g/km. As part of addressing this first goal, the first step forward from the current situation regarding safety is the introduction of Collision Warning With Full Auto Brake and Pedestrian Safety, both of which will be introduced in the new S60, due to be launched next year, and Volvo is also upgrading its Adaptive Cruise Control so that it now maintains a gap to the vehicle in front at speeds right down to zero, rather than the present 18mph minimum.

    Further development depends on vehicles being able to communicate with each other – the idea being that they recognise it and take steps to avoid a collision regardless of what the drivers are doing – and this in turn will require a suitable infrastructure. “We believe that the key is to use systems that are already available for other purposes,” says Jan Ivarsson, Volvo’s Head of Safety Strategy. “The air around us is already charged with communication, most of it used for pleasure or convenience.

    “Adding traffic safety communication to this existing architecture is a far more sensible route than trying to invent and agree on a completely new ‘language’ for communicating in the traffic environment.”

    Fifty years ago, Volvo introduced seat belts, which are now a “standard” in all vehicles entering the market(s) and has been credited for saving millions of lives world over since its introduction.  Hope this new introduction can repeat the magic for the 2nd time and further cut the vehicle-related fatalities and crashes.  Click here to read the entire article.

    Chinese Rail Investment Gathers Pace! 80 very high-speed trains (236 mph) purchased for $4 billion

    September 29, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    (Source: Tree Hugger)

    Reassuring Reliability

    Image Courtesy: Bombardier

    Low Energy Consumption

    Image Courtesy: Bombardier

    Tree Hugger reports that the estimated $4 billion US (or 2.7 billion euros) is only part of China’s grand $300B dream. Another recent article on  TreeHugger outlined the grand plan to invest over $300 billion in high-speed rail through 2020, in a bid to speed ahead of the rest of the world’s train systems. Here are some excerpts from today’s interesting TreeHugger article.

    The Chinese Ministry of Railways has announced that it will buy 80 “very high speed trains” from Bombardier’s Chinese joint ventre Bombardier Sifang to add to China’s fast-growing network of high-speed rail. The ZEFIRO 380 trains are both very efficient (more on that below) and very fast, and should help make transportation in China greener, especially if train trips displace plane trips.

    The order is for 20 eight-car trainsets and 60 sixteen-car trainsets, for a total of 1,120 cars.

    The ZEFIRO 380 has a maximum operating speed of 380 kilometers per hour (236 miles per hour) and is designed for efficiency:

    The Bombardier press release notes ” The new trainsets will be an integral part of an evolving high speed rail capability in China, which is developing more than 6,000 km of new high speed lines to create one of the most advanced high speed rail networks in the world. The trains, with maximum operating speeds of 380 kph, are based on Bombardier’s next-generation ZEFIRO high speed rail technology, and powered by a highly energy efficientBOMBARDIER MITRAC propulsion and control system.

    Exceptional Operational Flexibility

    Image Courtesy: Bombardier

    The ZEFIRO 380 trainsets will also incorporate Bombardier’s advanced ECO4 energy saving technologies to create best-in-class energy and operating efficiencies. Bombardier launched its ECO4 technology package in 2008 as part of an ongoing focus to extend rail’s position as the most sustainable form of transportation in the world. Bombardier is first in the industry to create a new formula for total train performance with a portfolio that can create substantial overall energy savings of up to 50%.”

    The ZEFIRO 380 trains will be manufactured at Bombardier Sifang (Qingdao) Transportation production facilities in Qingdao, China. Engineering will take place in Qingdao and at Bombardier centers in Europe with project management and components provided from sites in Europe and China.

    What the heck is USA doing?

    If you are wondering what is the status of the US high-speed rail development program, here is your answer.  We are waaaaaaaay behind many of our counterparts that are already engaged in the HSR programs .  The Europeans (French with their TGVs  & Germans with their ICE trains) and the Japanese have been at the forefront of HSR for decades and have built excellent systems that are capable of traveling at ~250MPH speeds.  New comers such as Spain and China have blazed new paths and surged ahead of the US and have embarked on ambitious plans, backed by huge  government funding commitments.  Heck, even the oil-rich Saudi Arabia is forging ahead with its development of brand new HSR lines cutting across the sandy deserts connecting major cities.  Recently, the Russians also got on this track and have quickly sought Spain’s help in building their HSR lines.  While the rest of the world is surging ahead, the US Government is still wrangling over its plans of where to invest the $8Billion funding. The US HSR Association states “Our vision is for a 21st century, 17,000 mile national high speed rail system built in 4 phases, for completion by 2030″.  Realistically speaking, this goal seems far fetched at this point, especially with the glacial pace of activity at the Federal level.

    Click here to read the entire article. Also, click here to see more pictures of these new toys China is buying from Bombardier.

    You think you can drive? Wait till you watch this one! Insanely Awesome Drifting Video Showcases Mad Driving Skills

    September 29, 2009 at 10:51 am

    The art of drifting has gone a long way these days from Ametuer exhibits on an open stretch to a serious motor sport involving mega bucks and powerful cars. The internet has a gazillion videos showing serious drifters & wanna be drifters showing off their driving skills (or the lack of it, in some cases) .  But here is one that will make your jaw drop.   The dude behind the wheel is in absolute control, while drifting along effortlessly around corners and performing some Hollywood-esque stunts (fireworks included).   Shot in a warehouse setting inside the Port of Los Angeles, the film’s professional editing coupled with racy camera angles and ridiculous slow-motion shots make it worthy of a view.   Buckle up for ride that may toss you off the edge of your seat (Hat tip to Sakthi for sharing this awesome video).

    Bernie’s Transportation Communications Newsletter (TCN) – September 28, 2009

    September 28, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    Monday, September 28, 2009 – ISSN 1529-1057


    1) FAA Steps Closer to NextGen Navigation with Naverus Approval

    Link to article on AVweb:

    Link to news release from Naverus:


    2) UAZ Begins Serial Production of Cars Equipped with GLONASS System

    Link to article on Autostat:

    3) Taxi GPS Devices Raise Surveillance Concern in Beijing

    Link to article on Alibaba:


    4) Poll Finds Broad Support for a Ban on Texting at the Wheel

    Link to article in The New York Times:

    5) Truckers Insist on Keeping Computers in the Cab

    Link to article in The New York Times:

    6) Transparency Directives Transform Privacy at US Department of Homeland Security

    Link to article in Homeland Security Today:

    7) National Communications System Provides Programs for Priority Calling, but Planning for New Initiatives and Performance Measurement Could be Strengthened

    Link to report from the US Government Accountability Office:


    7) New York MTA Easing Its Strict Approach to Outside Web Developers

    Link to article in The New York Times:

    9) Official Los Angeles Metrolink System Records Contain Errors, Inconsistencies

    Link to article in the Los Angeles Times:,0,6452604.story

    10) Kalamazoo’s Metro Transit Getting Smarter

    Link to story on WKZO Radio:

    11) UC Davis Bus Service Offers Real-Time Information

    Link to article in Metro Magazine:


    12) Abu Dhabi Looks at Tokyo Traffic Management System to Tackle Its Traffic Nightmare

    Link to article in The National:

    News Releases

    1) Ericsson CEO Advocates Technology-Driven Climate Agenda at UN Leadership Forum on Climate Change

    2) European ‘CVIS’ Project Shows the Cooperative Way to Mobility

    3) Viajeo: Towards Efficient Travel and Transport Planning

    4) Chapel Hill Transit Joins the Regional Information Center

    5) Boeing Advances Security Upgrade for GPS Ground Control System

    6) States and US Territories Receive $40 Million in Grants to Improve 911 Services

    7) TomTom, AT&T to Deliver LIVE Services on Connected GPS

    8) Clemson Researchers Study Energy Savings with Electric Cars and IntelliDrive Technology

    9) Xerox to Acquire Affiliated Computer Services

    Upcoming Events

    Digital Ship USA 2009 – October 7-8 – Stamford, Connecticut

    Today in Transportation History

    1994 **15th anniversary** – The MV Estonia sank in the Baltic Sea claiming 852 lives.


    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 at

    © 2009 Bernie Wagenblast