Bernie’s Transportation Communications Newsletter (TCN) – October 19, 2009

October 19, 2009 at 5:40 pm

Monday, October 19, 2009 – ISSN 1529-1057

Register Now for INRIX’s Free Webinar on How Crowdsourcing GPS Data Is Radically Changing the Traffic Information Landscape

INRIX is the leading provider of traffic and navigation services, and an innovator in crowdsourcing technologies and techniques. INRIX crowdsources real-time traffic information from over 1.3 million commercial and consumer vehicles and GPS-enabled smartphones across North America and Europe. Each driver in the INRIX Smart Driver Network sends anonymous “GPS probe” data to INRIX servers, which intelligently combine the information with billions of real-time speed data points from other drivers in the network and road sensor information from DOTs across the country. INRIX VP of Marketing Scott Sedlik will discuss the company’s breakthrough crowdsourcing technologies, methods, and business models for providing drivers instant access to the most comprehensive and reliable traffic and routing information available.

Register now at

Date: Thursday, October 22, 2009 Time: 10:00AM-11:00AM (PDT); 1:00PM-2:00PM (EDT)


1) Free Wi-Fi for the Holidays on Virgin America

Link to CNET News column:


2) Sierra Hikers Overuse GPS Gizmos

Link to article in The Fresno Bee:

3) GPS Confused in Israel

Israeli army asks map company to differentiate between Israeli and Palestinian settlements.

Link to AFP article:

4) Inrix Claims 1.3 Million Traffic Probes in the US

Link to article in GPS Business News:

5) Global Impositioning Systems

Is GPS technology actually harming our sense of direction?

Link to article in The Walrus:


6) Future of Electronic Navigation Mapped Out in Singapore

Link to article on Seatrade Asia:


7) A Lesson in Traveling in the Dark

Minnesotans who are deaf, blind or both are helping officials see the barriers that transportation poses for them.

Link to article in the Star Tribune:

8) Fugitive Killer Alerts Don’t Make It On Highway Signs

Link to story and video on KWES-TV:


9) Illinois Tollways: New Markers to be Posted Every Quarter-Mile Instead of Half-Mile

Link to column in the Chicago Tribune:,0,1822413.column

10) UK Road Signs Could Also Show Metric to Stop Foreign Lorry Drivers Wrecking Bridges

Link to article in the Daily Mail:


11) Security Cameras Come to Boston Trolleys

Link to article in The Boston Globe:


12) High-Tech Vigil for 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi

Link to article in The Times of India:

13) How High-Tech Tools Can Improve Commutes

Link to blog from Washington State DOT:

14) Latest Edition of Traffic Technology International Now Online

Link to magazine:


15) California ‘Cool’ Car Rules Could Affect Radios, Phones

Link to article in The Detroit News:–car-rules-could-affect-radios–phones

News Releases

1) EU-Funded Project Runs an Experiment on Collaborative Air Traffic Decision Making

Job Posting

–  Transportation Operations Supervisor – Stanford University – Stanford, California

Upcoming Events

ID World International Congress – November 3-5 – Milan, Italy

Today in Transportation History

1917 – Love Field in Dallas opened.


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 at

© 2009 Bernie Wagenblast

Bernie’s Transportation Communications Newsletter (TCN) – October 16, 2009

October 16, 2009 at 6:41 pm

Friday, October 16, 2009 – ISSN 1529-1057

1) A Better View of the Gulf of Mexico
The coast is a blind spot for air traffic controllers. GPS is about to change that.
Link to article in the Houston Chronicle:
2) Honda Bicycle Simulator to Go On Sale In February
Link to article on Ubergizmo:
3) Camera Companies OK with Some Changes to Tennessee Law
Link to article in the Knoxville News Sentinel:
4) Transportation Security Administration and Massachusetts Ferry Agency to Test New Explosives Screening Technology
Link to article in The Martha’s Vineyard Times:
Link to news release from the TSA:
5) Judge: BNSF Engaged in ‘Staggering’ Pattern of Misconduct
Says railroad covered up its role in deaths at railroad crossing.
Link to article in the Star Tribune:
6) Kids May Be Barred from ‘Nude’ UK Airport Scanner
Link to Sky News story:
7) NTSB Urges Better 911 Coordination by Pipeline Operators
Link to article in Occupational Health & Safety:
8) Delphi’s Frank Ordoñez Says the Electronics Revolution is Upon Us
Link to interview in Aftermarket Business:

9) Illinois Bus Driver Suspended for Wearing Pink Tie for Breast Cancer Awareness
Link to article in The State Journal-Register:
10) Public Needs to Know About Long Island Rail Road Near-Misses
Link to editorial in Newsday:
11) Washington State DOT ‘Smarter Highways’ Plan: 300 Signs Over 40 Miles
Link to article in The Seattle Times:
12) Traffic System Aids Travelers at Hongqiao Airport
Link to article in the Shanghai Daily:

News Releases

Upcoming Events
Transportation Policy & Finance Summit – December 13-15 – Washington, DC

Friday Bonus
Poling on the River: He’s the Last of the Ferrymen
Today in Transportation History
1909 **100th anniversary** – DELAG (Deutsche Luftshiffahrt Aktien-Gesellschaft) was founded as the world’s first airline.  It carried passengers via airships.
The Transportation Communications Newsletter is published electronically Monday through Friday.
To subscribe send an e-mail to:
Questions, comments about the TCN?  Please write the editor, Bernie Wagenblast
© 2009 Bernie Wagenblast

Electric Brammo Goes To Washington DC on $4; Wants to Shock Barack! Do you know anyone who “knows” Barack?

October 16, 2009 at 6:36 pm

(Source: Autoblog)

Earlier this week, Brammo’s director of product development Brian Wismann along with Dave Schiff of Crispin Porter Bugosky, began a ten-day journey meant to take them from Ann Arbor, Michigan to Washington, DC. The 520 mile trip, which is being chronicled on the site, is intended to raise awareness of the company’s new electric motorcycle, the Enertia, and electric vehicles in general.

The trek began at Zingerman’s deli in downtown Ann Arbor, MI, which just happens to be a a few blocks from this blogger’s office. Brian and Dave swung by the office for a visit to show off the bike – which they prefer to call a powercycle – and chat about what it can do. Along the route to the capital, they’ll be making plenty of similar stops, partly to demonstrate the bike but mostly out of necessity. While the Enertia is undoubtedly a neat ride, it underscores two of the major problems with EVs. They are expensive ($11,995 for the Enertia) and have limited range. This bike only has a 42-mile range and then takes four hours to charge. That means plenty of short hops to cover the 520-mile distance to DC.

The Brammo team has built a nice website that has a plenty of brilliant ideas to get the community involved (not just transportation geeks and gear heads with greasy finger nails). Here are some ways you can help the  Brammo team achieve their goals:

  • Share an Outlet (to charge their battery packs)
  • Spare a Couch (The team says: “If you live along the route and we can crash on your couch or floor let us know. We’d be genuinely happy to meet and hang out with you, and we’d be considerate guests in your home. You can email us or use or use”)
  • Help them meet Barack (The team says: “If you know Barack Obama, or you know someone who knows him, or you’re friends with someone who knows someone who knows him, please contact us. We’d be grateful for any help you can give us in meeting him.”)

So, are you ready ShockBarack (Oh man, won’t the republicans would die for that chance?)? If yes, just visit the team’s website to follow their progress. As we speak, the Google Map shows they are somewhere near Aurora, OH.   The team’s video logs of the journey are quite interesting and it is nice to see what all they endure as they make their way to Washington, DC battling some really nasty weather.  At least they will have a great story to tell their grand children someday, if not to Barack.

NOTE: Guys, Transportgooru would love to have a cup of coffee with  you when you arrive here in DC .  That is what you will be craving for before you even shake hands with Barack after driving in this damp & cold miserable weather (Tweet me @transportgooru).

Webinar Alert: Transit Operations Decision Support Systems (TODSS): A USDOT Pilot Expert System for Transit Bus Fleet Management

October 16, 2009 at 5:49 pm

Webinar Overview

Transit Operations Decision Support Systems (TODSS): A USDOT Pilot Expert System for Transit Bus Fleet Management

Date: October 21, 2009
Time: 1:00–2:30 PM ET
Cost: All T3s are free of charge
PDH: 1.5. — Webinar participants are responsible for determining eligibility of these PDHs within their profession.

Register On-line
Contact the T3 Administrator

T3 Webinars are brought to you by the ITS Professional Capacity Building Program (ITS PCB) at the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) ITS Joint Program Office, Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA). Reference in this webinar to any specific commercial products, processes, or services, or the use of any trade, firm or corporation name is for the information and convenience of the public, and does not constitute endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by U.S. Department of Transportation.

Session Description

Many transit agencies have implemented automatic vehicle location (AVL) / computer-aided dispatch (CAD) systems to manage real-time bus operations. These systems generate large quantities of data, and dispatchers typically do not have sufficient time to digest the data for decision making in a normal operating environment or are unable to recognize patterns of operational problems. A solution to this problem is decision support tools for dispatchers or “Transit Operations Decision Support Systems (TODSS).” TODSS are expert systems designed to support dispatchers in real-time bus operations management in response to incidents, special events, and other changing conditions in order to restore service when disruptions occur.

To support the development of TODSS, the USDOT worked with the transit industry to develop core requirements and then, via a cooperative agreement, worked with Pace Suburban Bus Service and Continental Corporation to develop and demonstrate a TODSS prototype based on the core requirements. The TODDS prototype became operational in April 2009.

This T3 Webinar will discuss the results of the USDOT sponsored TODSS project and provide a demonstration of the pilot TODSS. Specifically, Yehuda Gross of the RITA ITS Joint Program Office and Steve Mortensen of FTA will discuss the background of the TODSS development effort, followed by David Jackson of Booz Allen Hamilton who will give an overview of TODSS and discuss the types of incidents that the system addresses. John Braband and Tariq Khan from Pace Suburban Bus Service will then provide a live demonstration of TODSS, followed by Bill Hiller of Logged On Transit and Dan Spinks of Continental Corporation who will discuss TODSS benefits and highlight some of the key lessons learned to date. Yehuda Gross will wrap up the webinar by identifying USDOT potential next steps for TODSS.


Transit agency bus operations managers and practitioners, and transit ITS vendors and consultants interested in learning about the functionality, capabilities, and value of transit bus fleet management expert systems such as TODSS.

Learning Objectives

  • Greater awareness of the transit industry developed core TODSS requirements
  • Greater awareness of TODSS functionality, applications, capabilities, and value
  • Results of the USDOT sponsored TODSS Demonstration project including the key lessons learned
  • Potential next steps for TODSS

Federal Hosts:

Yehuda Gross, ITS Joint Program Office

Yehuda brings with him close to 40 years of experience in engineering technologies with 27 of them applied in the transportation field. He joined the US Department of Transportation approximately nine years ago and is responsible for all elements of transit ITS in the Joint Program Office. Currently he is leading a federal effort that introduced a coordinated transportation service approach in nine federal government departments with the intent to eliminate redundancies and enhance service.

Yehuda received his education and engineering degrees from the City College of New York, NYU and Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute.

Steve Mortensen, Federal Transit Administration Office of Research, Demonstration & Innovation

Steve Mortensen is a Senior ITS Engineer with the Federal Transit Administration Office of Research, Demonstration and Innovation. Mr. Mortensen represents FTA in the USDOT management of the multimodal Integrated Corridor Management (ICM) initiative and Urban Partnership Agreement (UPA) evaluations. Steve also manages several transit ITS research projects, including the Caltrans and SANDAG Vehicle Assist and Automation (VAA) demonstrations and evaluations, Transit Operations Decision Support Systems (TODSS) demonstration, and Chattanooga SmartBus evaluation.

Prior to FTA, Steve worked at Noblis providing ITS program technical and management support to the ITS Joint Program Office and FTA in the areas of traveler information, rural transit, human services transportation coordination, electronic payment, and rail transit. Prior to Noblis, Steve worked at PB Farradyne developing ITS deployment and implementation plans for several metropolitan regions.

Mr. Mortensen has a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering and a Master of Community and Regional Planning degree from Iowa State University. Steve is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP).


John Braband, Pace Suburban Bus

John is the Project Manager for the Transit Operations Decision Support System (TODSS). He was formerly the Project Manager for the implementation of the Pace Intelligent Bus System (IBS) which rolled out in 2005. As manager of Bus Operations, John oversees a fixed route system consisting of over 700 buses. John has over 34 years of transit experience.

William Hiller, LoggedOn Transit

Mr. Hiller provides technical support and planning for public transit Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) through his consulting company LoggedOn Transit. Mr. Hiller most recently spent four years as an associate at Booz Allen providing consulting services in the areas of ITS Data Analysis, ITS Transit Design, ITS Transit Implementation and Field Operational Testing. Mr. Hiller brings a strong background in bus operations and IT from over 33 years of transit experience. Mr. Hiller started his career as a bus operator at the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority (AATA) and became the IT Manger responsible for agency-wide project management for all technical and ITS projects. After leaving AATA, Mr. Hiller spent five years at Siemens in several capacities including creating and managing the Transit CAD/AVL Owner Services group, product line management, and technical sales support. Mr. Hiller has a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from Eastern Michigan University.

David Jackson, Booz Allen

Mr. David Jackson has been leading Information Technology (IT) and Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) engagements over the last seven years with Booz Allen. Mr. Jackson specializes in operations technologies including CAD/AVL Systems, IT and ITS system infrastructure design, and development of ITS system architecture to support operations and planning activities.

Tariq J. Khan — Pace Suburban Bus

Tariq is responsible for maintaining and troubleshooting IBS program software, hardware and communications (LAN & WAN). He has 25 years of experience in software engineering, including 20 years in transportation.

Dan Spinks, Continental Corporation

Dan has been directing software product development efforts for Continental Corporation over the last 4 years and also directed the project house for over 40 mass transit CAD/AVL integration projects for 3 years. He and his team of software engineers led the innovative development approach to TODSS by working very closely with PACE and the FTA. He has over 20 years of software development experience with a third dedicated to integrating transit solutions.

Additional Resources

Please view the core TODSS requirements document on the Electronic Document Library website

Webinar Alert: National ITS Architecture Update: New Features of the Latest Version of the National ITS Architecture (Version 6.1)

October 16, 2009 at 5:31 pm

Webinar Overview

National ITS Architecture Update: New Features of the Latest Version of the National ITS Architecture (Version 6.1)

Date: October 27, 2009
Time: 1:00–2:30 PM ET
Cost: All T3s are free of charge
PDH: 1.5. — Webinar participants are responsible for determining eligibility of these PDHs within their profession.

Register On-line
Contact the T3 Administrator

T3 Webinars are brought to you by the ITS Professional Capacity Building Program (ITS PCB) at the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) ITS Joint Program Office, Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA). Reference in this webinar to any specific commercial products, processes, or services, or the use of any trade, firm or corporation name is for the information and convenience of the public, and does not constitute endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by U.S. Department of Transportation.

Webinar Description

The Architecture provides a common framework for planning, defining, and integrating intelligent transportation systems. It is a mature product that reflects the contributions of a broad cross-section of the ITS community (transportation practitioners, systems engineers, system developers, technology specialists, consultants, etc.). The National Architecture is required on ITS projects receiving funding in whole or in part from the Highway Trust Fund, including the Mass Transit Account.

This T3 will focus on new features found in Version 6.1 of the National ITS Architecture and the new Version 4.1 of the Turbo Architecture Software. This T3 Webinar is not an overview of the National ITS Architecture but will address some history and background. All transportation professionals are welcomed to attend but participants familiar with the National ITS Architecture will benefit most from the content being presented.

Resources for the use of the ITS Architecture will be discussed. Visit the FHWA Office of Operations for ITS Architecture Implementation Program for a list of resources for new and experienced users of the National ITS Architecture.

A top-level architecture interconnect diagram, which depicts the subsystems for full representation of ITS and the basic communication channels between these subsystems.


Anyone involved in planning, implementation, and operation of ITS systems, including Federal, State, and local transportation professionals, Metropolitan Planning Office staff, systems engineers, system developers, technology specialists, and consultants.

Learning Outcomes

  • Ability to identify areas of the National ITS Architecture affected by changes to the framework.
  • Understanding of new features available in Version 6.1 of the National ITS Architecture and their affect on the overall Architecture.
  • Understanding of the deployment support and resources available to state and local agencies to aid in ITS implementation and support Rule 940 requirements.
  • Understanding of new features in Version 4.1 of Turbo Architecture Software.


Emiliano Lopez, ITS Deployment Program Manager, FHWA Headquarters

Emiliano is currently the ITS Deployment Program Manager for ITS Regional Architectures and Systems Engineering in Washington DC. Prior to his assignment in Headquarters, Emiliano worked in the FHWA Resource Center providing technical expertise and assistance on ITS project development, review, deployment and operations/maintenance. He also provided expertise and assistance on ITS Standards. Before joining FHWA Emiliano worked at both the state and local levels with agencies such as the Virginia Dept. of Transportation, and the Cities of San Diego and Anaheim. Combined public agency work Emiliano brings over 20 years of experience to the agency. He has a Masters in Public Administration from Central Michigan University, and a B.S. in Civil Engineering and minor in Electrical Engineering from San Diego State University.

Emiliano provides training, outreach and technical support for the National ITS Architecture and Systems Engineering programs. He co-chairs FHWA’s Architecture Field Support Team, and FHWA’s Operations Council architecture and systems engineering working group.

Emiliano is a certified instructor for NHI. He teaches courses in ITS Software Acquisition, Systems Engineering and National ITS Architecture.


National ITS Architecture Team:

Cliff Heise, Iteris

Cliff has over 25 years of experience in the areas of project management and systems and software engineering throughout all phases of program development. He has been the Program Manager of the National ITS Architecture Program for Iteris since 1996 and has been involved in all aspects of the program’s outreach, maintenance, and management. Cliff has also managed the development and implementation of ITS Architectures at the state and local levels, most recently in Virginia, and has experience with the challenges and policy issues surrounding the application of the National ITS Architecture. Cliff is the Vice President of Federal and Research Programs for Iteris in Sterling, VA. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics from Oklahoma State University.

David Binkley, Lockheed Martin

David Binkley is a Senior Systems Engineer at Lockheed Martin. He has 19 years experience in all aspects of Systems Engineering for government and commercial projects. He joined the National ITS Architecture Team in 1995 and has served as the program’s Principal Investigator / Chief Engineer for the past 6 years. Today he directs the maintenance updates to the National ITS Architecture. He is currently involved with testing the next release of Turbo Architecture and participating in numerous Deployment Support activities. David has a Bachelor’s in Electrical Engineering from Georgia Tech.

Click here to register.

Senate resuscitates Hydrogen Car Project with $187M funding approval

October 16, 2009 at 12:10 pm

(Sources: Washington Post, Fuel Cell Today & Huliq News)

The hydrogen car may have legions of fervent fans, but Energy Secretary Steven Chu apparently is not among them. Earlier this year, the Nobel prize-winning scientist essentially zeroed government funding for the clean vehicles and came close to mocking their potential, saying the technology needs four “miracles” before it can become widely adopted.

“Saints only need three,” he cracked in a magazine interview.

But the hydrogen car is back. On Thursday, the Senate agreed to restore nearly all the money for hydrogen car research that the administration had proposed to cut.

The measure, part of an appropriations bill previously approved by the House, is expected to be signed by President Obama.

“It’s the right set of priorities,” said Sen. Byron L. Dorgan (D-N.D.), a leader in the effort to fund the technology. “If you discontinue the research, you shortchange the future.”

This year’s revival of government funding is unlikely to end the broader dispute over hydrogen cars, however. Before the cars can become much more than an experiment on American roads — it is estimated that there are fewer than 200 operating in the United States — the industry may need as much as $55 billion more in government support over the next 15 years, according to industry sources and a National Research Council report last year. That money would pay for more research and subsidies to build fueling stations.

By comparison, the amount appropriated Thursday is meager: $187 million. But even that level of government support has critics, who say the possibilities and benefits of the technology have been wildly exaggerated. In a press release published on the Fuel Cell Today, the USFCC said ” The bill approved by Congress is a significant win for fuel cells overall. The Obama administration requested $68 million for the EERE program. Under the final Congressional compromise, funding for fuel cells and hydrogen will receive $174 million, or $106 million higher than the Obama administration’s request.”

Funding for research into production of the hydrogen car is highly controversial. There are currently less than 200 of these cars operating in the United States.

The issue is the additional funding that will be required to establish fueling stations across the country to support these vehicles. It is currently estimated that an additional $55 billion of government support could be required to make that a reality.

Nevertheless, hydrogen cars might represent the future for automobiles in this country. These cars are fueled with hydrogen gas which combines with oxygen in the air. The only byproduct of this fuel is water vapor. This means that hydrogen fuel cell cars may provide the best means of reaching the goal of emission-free vehicles.

The reality of hydrogen powered vehicles is really not such a stretch. In Iceland, the first country to begin making a truly concerted effort to break free from the constraints and costs of fossil fuel, hydrogen powered cars and ships are already a reality. Iceland has been working on this technology for years, and does have an advantage over many other countries in the world because so much of the energy sources in Iceland are from renewable sources, such as geo-thermal and hydro-electric power.

The governments of Norway, Japan and Germany also are investing hundreds of millions in the technology, with the Germans aiming to build 1,000 stations by 2015, according to auto industry sources.

Here are some articles on the investments around the world:

Click here to read more.

Bernie’s Transportation Communications Newsletter (TCN) – October 15, 2009

October 15, 2009 at 6:33 pm

Thursday, October 15, 2009 – ISSN 1529-1057

Register for IBTTA’s Toll Road Summit of the Americas — November 15-17, 2009 in São Paulo, Brazil

Join the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association at the Toll Road Summit of the Americas and examine an array of methods to design, finance, operate and maintain user financed surface transportation facilities. The second day of this meeting will be held in conjunction with TranspoQuip 2009, Latin America’s biggest event for the transportation infrastructure industries in Latin America. Featured speakers include Cesar Queiroz, Consultant, Roads and Transport Infrastructure, World Bank, and Roberto Lucas, Jr., Author and Urban Planning Consultant. Meeting hosted by ABCR and CCR. For registration, hotel, travel and visa information, or to view the preliminary agenda, visit


1) Federal Investigators Issue First Recommendations Following Hudson River Crash

Link to CNN story:


2) Google Bike Routes – Almost Here?

Link to blog on Streetsblog New York:


3) Laws for Traffic Cameras Debated in Tennessee

Link to article in the Knoxville News Sentinel:

4) Crash Demonstrates Value of Cameras on Boston T Buses

Link to article and video in The Boston Globe:


5) TSA Still Keeps Wraps on Congressman’s Airport Video

Utah lawmaker says he was singled out for additional screening.

Link to article in The Salt Lake Tribune:

6) Dallas Company Working on Tomorrow’s Technology

Link to story on WTVT-TV:


7) Indian Railways Could Soon Have Its Own Dedicated TV Channel

Link to Press Trust of India article:


8) Ambassador Bridge Owner Loses Bid to Keep Inspection Secret

Link to article in the Detroit Free Press:


9) More Driver Distractions Ahead

Link to commentary in RCR Wireless News:


10) Cleveland RTA to Install Audible System on Buses to Warn Pedestrians at Crosswalks

Link to article in The Plain Dealer:

11) Cell Phone Service Expands on DC Metro

Link to article in The Washington Post:


12) Watching Traffic with Navteq

Link to CNET News article:

News Releases

Airports Survey Finds Atlanta Top of the Table in Passenger Self-Service

ATX Teams with Peugeot to Offer In-Vehicle Alerts on Speed Camera Locations

City of San Jose’s New Intelligent Transportation Network Uses Ethernet Over Copper Solutions from Actelis Networks Debuts in Toronto to Ease Daily Commutes

National and State Efforts Draw Attention to Teen Driver Safety

Governor Honors Missouri DOT for Technology, Customer Service

Upcoming Events

2010 International Airport Security Conference – February 15-17 – Queenstown, New Zealand

Today in Transportation History

1939 **70th anniversary** – New York Municipal Airport, later renamed LaGuardia Airport, was dedicated.


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 at

© 2009 Bernie Wagenblast

Do Your Bit to Reverse Climate Change Today! Blog Action Day 2009 – October 15, 2009

October 15, 2009 at 6:03 pm


One of my favorite websites for all things Social Media,, got my attention today with their blog post about the Blog Action Day.  Today (October 15, 2009) is the third annual Blog Action Day, a yearly event in which thousands of blogs around the web pledge to write about a single global issue in an effort to focus global attention.

Raise Your Voice

Two years ago, the inaugural Blog Action Day tackled the environment, last year blogs across the world wrote about poverty, and this year over 8,800 blogs from 148 countries are uniting today to write about an issue of global importance: climate change.

You may ask what difference does it make by simply dropping a blog post on Climate Change? The possibilities are endless..Your one post can inspire someone else to write about this issue..The more people write about, the more people will get to read, and thus we create an awareness about the on going problem.. In the cacophony of today’s world, too many people have no time to even stop and think about this very important issue that threatens our very existence on this planet.  If your blog can divert the attention of someone – a friend on Facebook, or a random reader from Timbuktu who has subscribed to your blog’s RSS – even for a moment and make them think how they have contributed to this generations effort to save the planet, you have done your bit.  Trust me — that’s how we all make a difference in this world – in our own little ways.

For me there is a bit more close to heart on this issue.  Being a transportation engineer/nerd/nut/practitioner/wonk, etc, etc, I’ve first hand knowledge about the impact of fossil fuels on our planet.  In 2006, the world used 3.9 billion tons of oil. Fossil fuel usage in 2005 produced 7.6 billion tons of carbon emissions, and atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide reached 380 parts per million.  These numbers have continued to rise over the years and is expected to grow rapidly unless we curb the use of fossil fuels.

So what have I done personally towards mitigating this growing threat of Climate Change?

  • First, I made some lifestyle choices that have immensely reduced my carbon footprint.  It all started with moving to a house that’s closer to a train station.  Now I take transit (trains and buses) to work and walk a lot when I don’t have these options.
  • These days I drive a maximum of 20 miles in a whole week (primarily for groceries & other routine errands  that I need to do on weekends).  Just by doing that, I not only reduced my fuel consumption (which directly contributes to the reduction in Green House Gases which other wise may have come from my driving) but also saved a bunch of money on car insurance.  Now seriously thinking about going the “ZipCar” way, which means no insurance charges at all.
  • I started making it a habit to car pool if I know I am going to be in a place with some of my friends.
  • Starting to schedule my networking events (Happy Hours, Meetings, etc) at locations that are closer to the Metro rail stations.  (Hey, that way I can have an extra drink without having to worry about getting a DUI or DWI).
  • I encourage people in my network to think about leaving their darned cars at home at least for a day at work.
  • I recycle like crazy these days.
  • Stopped buying bottled water. PERIOD.
  • Stopped using plastic spoons, knives and forks as much as I can.
  • Buying products that are environmentally friendly (biodegradable).   I’m very determined to not buy products from companies that are not supportive of environmental initiatives (Here I must applaud Apple & Nike for sticking to their stands on the going green initiatives and walking away from the US Chamber of Commerce).
  • Hmmm..What else? Ah,   I encourage myself to publish more articles that talk about the various environmental initiatives related to transportation here on

I already hear some of you growling that all these are possible because I live in an urban area or because I have a choice to do so due to my socio-economic status.  I agree with you – only to a degree.  Location matters only on issues such as transportation.  For the rest of the stuff to happen, I have to personally feel the need to do them.  I feel the urgency to act NOW and not tomorrow or the day after.  We already have a lot of  grim news about how fast we are spiraling downwards into a horrible environmental mess, thanks to the mainstream media and the  awesome social media networks.  For example, today there was a report on the possibility of no ice cover in the Arctic region by 2030.

Every generation had its challenge and they stood up to address them issues when they were called into action (World Wars, Pandemic Diseases, Natural Disasters, etc).  For our generation, I consider the Climate Change as the biggest challenge and truly believe that we will stand together and fight this battle to save this planet.  Someday in the future I do not want to hear the children and grandchildren tell us “Your generation screwed us royally by plundering the earth and ignored all the warning signs”.  Here I am doing my little bit, trying to make a difference and I hope you will join me in this fight to preserve the Earth that we all call HOME.   Now, you can go blog about your little bit if you already have a blog or a website.  If you don’t have one, I encourage you to start one and start talking about how you want to save this planet.  If you can’t do that, at least go change your light bulbs to something that is more energy efficient or recycle that trash that you have piled up in the corner of your basement.  Oh, if you are a US citizen, write to your congressman/congresswoman/Sentor telling them how you want the US to contribute towards the Climate Change efforts during the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen (December 2009) . Just do your little bit, that’s all.

Click here to read more and Click here to Take Action.

Bernie’s Transportation Communications Newsletter (TCN) – October 14, 2009

October 14, 2009 at 7:46 pm

Wednesday, October 14, 2009 – ISSN 1529-1057


1) FAA Approves Helicopter-Warning System

Link to AP article:

Link to news release from Honeywell:

2) Garmin: Innovating Through Tough Times

Link to article in Flying:


3) Some States Forgo Road Signs on Stimulus Program

Link to article in The New York Times:


4) New York: Tougher Penalties for Truckers Who Hit Bridges

Measure would require trucks to use GPS specifically meant for commercial vehicles, noting where those vehicles are not permitted.

Link to article in The Journal News:

5) Should Radar-Detecting Phone Apps be Illegal?

Link to article in The New York Times:


6) Support in US Senate for Cell Phone Driving Ban

Link to article in the Los Angeles Times:,0,4546212.story

7) Boston to Pilot Solar-Powered Evacuation System

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Link to news release from the Boston Mayor’s Office:

8) How Dow Chemical Trains Towns to Handle Hazmat Situations

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9) European Regulators Seek to Harmonize M2M-Based Projects

Link to article in Telecommunications:


10) NJ Transit Upgrades Web Site

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11) Roads and Traffic Authority ‘Did All It Could’ for Crash

Link to article in The Coffs Coast Advocate:

12) Interview with Head of Product Management for BMW Group’s Telematics Program ‘ConnectedDrive’

Link to interview in Telematics Update:


13) Hybrid Cars May Include Fake Vroom for Safety

Link to article in The New York Times:

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Today in Transportation History

1939 **70th anniversary** – The British battleship, HMS Royal Oak was sunk by a German U-boat with a loss of 833 lives.


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Getting paid to watch the Taliban have sex with goats – Esquire goes deep into the world of UAVs!

October 14, 2009 at 4:50 pm

(Source: Esquire)

In a brilliant article, Esquire’s Brian Mockenhaupt goes deep into the world of UAVs (aka Drones) and those who operate them for the US military.   Here are some interesting excerpts from this lengthy, 5-page article, which is a MUST READ material if you are a tech junkie or an aviation nut..

unmanned aircraft

Image Courtesy: Esquire - Dan Winters: The Predator's big brother, the Reaper, is a third bigger, flies three times as fast, and carries a much bigger payload

At this very moment, at any given moment, three dozen armed, unmanned American airplanes are flying lazy loops over Afghanistan and Iraq. They linger there, all day and all night. When one lands to refuel or rearm, another replaces it. They guard soldiers on patrol, spy on Al Qaeda leaders, and send missiles shrieking down on insurgents massing in the night. Add to those the hundreds of smaller, unarmed Unmanned Aerial Vehicles being flown over the two countries by the Army, the Marines, and coalition countries, and a handful of missile-laden planes owned by the Central Intelligence Agency circling above Pakistan. Efficient and effective, the planes have fast become indispensable assets, transforming today’s battlefields just as profoundly as the first airplanes transformed warfare during World War I.

Every so often in history, something profound happens that changes warfare forever. Next year, for the first time ever, the Pentagon will buy more unmanned aircraft than manned, line-item proof that we are in a new age of fighting machines, in which war will be ever more abstract, ever more distant, and ruthlessly efficient.

The Air Force now has 138 Predators and 36 Reapers. The military’s overall UAV inventory has swollen to seven thousand, from hand-launched Ravens to jet-powered Global Hawks, which can fly twelve miles high and monitor a swath the size of Kentucky in a day. And the revolution has just begun. Within the next twenty years, the Air Force envisions unmanned planes launching tiny missiles in hypertargeted strikes, swarms of bug-sized UAVs, and squadrons of networked unmanned fighters, bombers, and tankers, many of which will fly autonomously. And the enemy will have unmanned planes, too. More than forty countries currently fly them. In February, an American F-16 shot down an Iranian drone flying over Iraq. And Hezbollah has used them to spy on Israel and attack a ship during fighting in 2006. They can be built cheaply, with off-the-shelf software and hardware, a natural progression for insurgents who have been building increasingly sophisticated bombs.

Much of the U.S. Air Force Predator and Reaper fleet for Afghanistan is maintained out of a small cluster of buildings and tents next to the runway at Kandahar Airfield. It is here that I saw the planes up close for the first time. Where fighter jets are at once sleek and muscled, these planes look emaciated. Rap a knuckle on a rib cage and hear the hollow reply. It’s hard to see how this is the plane that’s revolutionizing warfare. Perched on twiggy landing gear, it looks less like a piece of deadly, cutting-edge military hardware than an oversized version of the windup balsa-wood planes boys build from kits. Twenty-seven feet long, with a forty-nine-foot wingspan, the Predator weighs just twelve hundred pounds without fuel or missiles. A four-cycle snowmobile engine mounted in the rear propels it with a high-pitched whine. The Reaper, a third bigger than the Predator, seems far sturdier, and with a larger engine it flies at three hundred miles per hour, three times faster. The next generation will be jet-powered with a three-thousand-pound payload. Yet even the wispy Predator has a menacing quality. Glass-bubbled cockpits remind us that man controls the killing machine.

The planes are also much cheaper to buy and fly. A Predator costs about $4 million and a Reaper $11 million, half as much as an F-16, one of the Air Force’s workhorses. In Iraq and Afghanistan, jets and UAVs are often called on for similar missions that support ground troops. The drones can’t do strafing runs or intimidate with a low, fast, ear-splitting flyover, but they use a fraction of the resources, a moped instead of a monster truck. F-16’s, which fly in pairs for safety, burn about a thousand gallons of fuel an hour. At that rate, they can stay over a target for about an hour before they must swap out with other planes or fill up at an aerial tanker. A Predator carries a hundred gallons of fuel with which it can stay aloft for twenty-four hours. As the Air Force likes to point out, a bomb from an F-16 killed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, but the final strike against the Iraqi insurgent leader came after Predators had gathered six hundred hours of surveillance footage in the hunt for him and his associates. Keeping two F-16’s in the air that long would require about 120 tanker trucks’ worth of fuel.

Although they have never set foot in Afghanistan, Nelson and Anderson make effective counterinsurgents. They have spent hours watching the same roads, the same villages, the same people. “You gradually gain a better understanding of who they are and how they live,” Nelson says. He felt the same during his Mormon mission to the Dominican Republic, after his sophomore year at the Air Force Academy. For two years he walked or rode his bike on unpaved roads through villages and talked to people twelve hours a day. There he saw homes made of coffee cans and palm fronds. Now he gazes at houses made of mud bricks. To balance out the lack of human interaction, he has taken Afghanistan-familiarization courses offered by the Air Force. “You can picture them more as a people and a civilization,” he says.

Indeed, they see many things meant to be secret, like men having sex with sheep and goats in the deep of night. I first heard this from infantry soldiers and took it as rumor, but at Bagram I met a civilian contractor who works in UAV operations. “All the time,” he said. “They just don’t think we can see them.” Which sums up a major allure of UAVs: Though they should know better by now, many insurgents still feel safe working in darkness or in the shelter of distant mountains and valleys, so they are exposed again and again. The unmanned planes have eroded their freedom of movement and simple early-warning systems, two of their few assets when outmatched in weapons, technology, and resources. Helicopters can be heard a mile or more away. Spotters watch vehicles leave bases and follow the slow advance of dismounted patrols. Surprise is a rarity for U. S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. The insurgents almost always know they’re coming, with at least several minutes’ notice. So they toss weapons behind a rock and become, in an instant, civilians. But with a camera parked three miles overhead, last-minute subterfuge doesn’t work.

Enter the Betas, the future armchair fighter jocks. The Air Force is now training a first-ever test group brought straight into the Predator program. After six months of screening and basic flight instruction, the Betas started a nine-week initial qualification course at Creech, the same taken by pilots, which includes forty hours in a simulator and nine or more actual flights. The eight Beta students were still in the academics phase when I visited Creech, but the nonpilots, who came from jobs like military police, civil engineering, and acquisitions, had so far performed as well as trained pilots, Gersten says. For this type of work, how they grew up might be more important than whether they’ve logged a thousand hours flying supersonic. “This generation, where were they when 9/11 started? They were in junior high and high school,” Gersten says. “And they grew up with the very technology that we fly with here.” Those who dreamed of being fighter pilots might never get the chance as the skies unman, but America’s pool of gamers, texters, and TV watchers is certainly vast and deep. The Betas’ progress is being closely tracked by the Pentagon, which can build plenty of planes if it has the people to fly them.

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