Job Alert: Environmental Protection Specialist — U.S. Department of Transportation’s Volpe Center @ Cambridge, MA

August 23, 2010 at 12:48 pm
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The Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) seeks an experienced Environmental Protection Specialist to join the Energy Technology Division at the John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center (Volpe Center). The position is located at the Volpe Center in Cambridge, MA.

RITA coordinates the U.S. Department of Transportation‘s (DOT) research programs and is charged with advancing rigorous analysis and the deployment of cross-cutting technologies to improve our Nation’s transportation system. This is one of eight Centers of Innovation (COI) at the Volpe Center whose function is to undertake transportation policy analysis and research that contributes to a compelling vision of the 21st Century transportation enterprise and supports decision making in the development, management, operation, and financing of an integrated multimodal national transportation system that meets 21st Century mobility needs for goods and people.

Working within the Energy Technology Division, you will lead and collaborate in projects that directly impact the nation’s most important policies and programs related to transportation and energy. As part of our team, you will develop and analyze federal, state, and local policies and programs related to the transportation sector’s roles in energy distribution and consumption, and advise senior decision-makers on related matters; the primary focus of your work will be on the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA), the Clean Air Act (CAA), and Department of Transportation (DOT) authorization and funding acts.

In this role you will lead the development of model policies and programs for adoption and implementation at the state and local levels; lead the development of supporting analyses; and coordinate outreach to agencies through meetings, workshops, testimony, and other means. You will also facilitate negotiations and information sharing with affected industries; with officials from state, local, and international environmental, energy, and transportation agencies; and with environmental advocacy and other nongovernmental organizations.

If you are an experienced professional, and have the expertise and the desire to influence the direction our nation’s policies and programs, then this job is for you!  You must have superb analytical, problem-solving and project management skills, and must be able to work in a collaborative and entrepreneurial environment. Writing samples will be required from all individuals identified as best qualified. (An Annual Financial Disclosure is required each year from the individual in this position.)

This announcement is posted under both Merit Promotion procedures and to the Public on Applications will be accepted from current and former competitive service Federal employees, and people eligible under special hiring authorities.  Please know that Merit Promotion announcements are the vehicle through which Federal employees generally apply for Federal positions.

Informational briefing: Wednesday, August 25, 2010 from 11:00-12:00 p.m., Volpe Center, Cambridge (Conference Room: Building 1-3-45B; conference call no.: 1-877-336-1839; access code 6481986). Ryan Harrington, a senior technical staff member of the Division, will hold an information session at this time to describe the job and to answer any questions employees may have. Elizabeth León from Human Resources will be there to answer questions about the application process.

If you or someone you know has the experience and proven results, I encourage you or them to apply. We are looking for a diverse pool of qualified candidates.

Please contact Elizabeth León at or 617-494-2214 if you have any questions.

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Bottle opener under your butt on a bike? Road Popper is the coolest biking accessory EVER

August 20, 2010 at 4:49 pm

Another marvelous sample of American ingenuity.. This is a must for bike towns like Austin, TX where many folks bike around to find their elixirs of choice from the numerous watering holes littered around the town. Following the manufacturer’s cues, Transportgooru does not condone cycling while under the influence of alcohol.

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Road Popper
The Road Popper is a bike-mounted bottle opener that we developed for our own use and decided afterward to share. We designed it to fasten discreetly to the rails on the underside of the saddle to help keep your bike looking crisp. So far, it’s worked on all the bottle caps we’ve tried it on. Material options are bronze infused stainless steel. Finish options are plain (on the right in the photograph), matte gold, glossy gold, matte antique bronze, and glossy antique bronze. The Road Popper is not intended for alcoholic beverages. Chromoly does not condone cycling while under the influence of alcohol. Read more at

Terror on the tracks – Scientists simulate terror attack on Boston subway

August 20, 2010 at 3:25 pm

The study aims to help researchers understand how toxic chemicals and lethal biological agents could spread through the nation’s oldest subway system in a terrorist attack airflow and also help in studying the characteristics for smoke or unintentional spills of chemicals or fuels.

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BOSTON — Scientists are releasing gases and fluorescent particles into Boston’s subway tunnels on Friday to study how toxic chemicals and lethal biological agents could spread through the nation’s oldest subway system in a terrorist attack.

It’s part of a weeklong study commissioned by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to figure out ways to quickly minimize the impact of an airborne assault on the nation’s 15 subway systems and protect the nation’s infrastructure. U.S. subway systems include 810 miles of track in tunnels and accounted for about 3.45 billion trips taken last year, according to the American Public Transportation Association.

The scientists are monitoring concentration of the gases — which are invisible to the naked eye and nontoxic — and particles as they move throughout the system and then up into the streets above, pushed by turbulence created by trains thundering through the tunnels. Researchers use electronic devices to take air samples at more than 20 Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority stations and in subway cars.

Test results will be used to craft ways to quickly detect an attack so authorities can shut down subways to limit the spread of contaminants.

Federal officials say similar tests were conducted in 2008 in the Washington, D.C., area, serving as an excellent contrast to the Boston study. The Massachusetts subway system, which opened its first tunnels in 1897, is poorly ventilated, while Washington’s is relatively modern and well-ventilated, DHS officials said.



Wanna be skinny & healthy? Forget those crazy diets and take public transportation

August 20, 2010 at 1:57 pm
American Public Transportation Association
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(Source: APTA)

Have you ever wondered what is the key to a good health and long life – I knew that it has to be the public transport.  Look at the Europeans —  healthy & happy– riding their bikes, trains, trams, buses, etc.  If you still don’t believe what I’ve said, you now have the proof.

The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) has released a report that explores ways that public transportation affects human health, and ways to incorporate these impacts into transport policy and planning decisions.

Evaluating Public Transportation Health Benefits, a study conducted for APTA by Todd Litman of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute aggregates the findings of several recent studies and concludes that people living in transit-oriented “smart growth” communities enjoy several health benefits, not seen in other communities, including residents drive less, exposing them to a lower risk of fatal vehicle accidents.

People who live or work in communities with high quality public transportation tend to drive significantly less and rely more on alternative modes (walking,cycling and public transit) than they would in more automobile-oriented areas. This reduces traffic crashes and pollution emissions, increases physical fitness and mental health, andprovides access to medical care and healthy food. These impacts are significant in magnitude compared with other planning objectives, but are often overlooked or undervalued inconventional transport planning.

Various methods can be used to quantify and monetize(measure in monetary units) these health impacts. This analysis indicates that improving publictransit can be one of the most cost effective ways to achieve public health objectives, and publichealth improvements are among the largest benefits provided by high quality public transit andtransit-oriented development.

Some of the key findings from the report are listed below:

  • U.S. Center for Disease Control recommends that adults average at least 22 daily minutes of
  • moderate physical activity, such as brisk walking, to stay fit and healthy. Although less than half
  • of American adults achieve this target, most public transportation passengers do exercise the
  • recommended amount while walking to and from transit stations and stops.
  • The United States has relatively poor health outcomes and high healthcare costs compared with peers, due in part to high per capita traffic fatality rates and diseases resulting from sedentary living. Public transit improvements can improve health outcomes and reduce healthcare costs.
  • Inadequate physical activity contributes to numerous health problems, causing an estimated
  • 200,000 annual deaths in the U.S., and significantly increasing medical costs. Among physically able adults, average annual medical expenditures are 32% lower for those who achieve physical activity targets ($1,019 per year) than for those who are sedentary ($1,349 per year).
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Uncle Sam goes for a pricey “green & clean” image makeover – GSA Offers 5,600 Hybrids (Including 100 Plug-In Hybrids) To Federal Agencies

August 20, 2010 at 11:03 am

(Source:,  Green Car Congress & Federal Times)

Image Courtesy: via Apture

The US government’s General Services Administration (GSA) this summer took delivery of the first of more than 5,600 hybrid vehicles ordered earlier this year, and will make the vehicles—almost all of which are Ford Fusion hybrids—available to various federal agencies under GSA lease agreements as they are delivered.

GSA previously purchased 1,600 hybrid vehicles using revenue from the sale of older vehicles that agencies exchanged last year when they received funds for new vehicles through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) of 2009.

GSA director of Motor Vehicle Management Bill Toth noted, however, that each Fusion hybrid costs $11,214 more than the fleet’s “non-hybrid alternative” sedan, a 2010 Chrysler Avenger.

But due to the $11,214 hybrid premium of the fuel-efficient Fusion, Toth said, he doesn’t “know that we’ll see the numbers we’ve seen in the last two years continue at that pace without some sort of infusion of capital.

“They’re very expensive vehicles and when you look at meeting your mission … and one [vehicle] is $10,000 cheaper than the other, capital’s limited. It’s tough to make that jump,” he said.

Almost all of the hybrids the GSA purchased are 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrids , a mid-sized sedan that’s second in class in fuel efficiency only to the Toyota Prius. The Fusion get 39 mpg in combined city and highway driving and emits 4.8 tons of carbon dioxide annually, or 2.7 tons less than the nonhybrid version.

The vehicles will be placed in clusters near where manufacturers are delivering them to ensure that the vehicles can be serviced by mechanics trained in the new technology, Toth said.

Charging stations will be installed where the vehicles will be housed, and GSA is exploring the potential to partner with industry or other users to share the expense of installing the stations. GSA also hopes to pilot different energy sources for the stations, including solar and wind power in addition to standard electric power, he said.

Click here to read more.

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The American Consumer – US Gasoline Demand Drops 0.03% in July But Total Petroleum Demand Up 3.8%

August 20, 2010 at 10:07 am

Except for 2008, it was the lowest July gasoline demand number since 2003. Don’t you think it has something to do with the sputtering economic recovery? But the interesting contrast comes from the automobile manufacturers with many of them reporting profitable quarters resulting from brisk sales. Increasing fuel efficiency of the newer models should have some impact in this reduction in demand and it should only get healthier from here on as the new vehicles become more stingy with the fuel consumption. I feel that this demand vs. supply equation will start shifting slowly over the next decade as more and more hybrids & fully-electric vehicles creep into the market space.

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At 9.3 million barrels a day, US gasoline deliveries (a measure of demand) fell slightly (0.03%)in July 2010 compared with July 2009, continuing weak deliveries for the first half of the year, according to figures from the American Petroleum Institute (API). Except for 2008, it was the lowest July gasoline demand number since 2003.

Total petroleum demand, on the other hand, rose 3.8% in July over a year ago. This includes a strong 11.6% increase for deliveries of low sulfur distillates, which are primarily diesel fuels used in trucking, and a 6.9% increase in kerosine jet fuel deliveries.



Verdict is in for American Atheists vs. Duncan (08-4061) – Federal appeals court says highways’ crosses are unconstitutional

August 19, 2010 at 5:40 pm

(Source: CNN)

Memorial crosses erected along Utah public roads to honor fallen state highway troopers have been found unconstitutional by a federal appeals court. A three-judge panel of the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that the 14 large crosses would be viewed by most passing motorists as “government’s endorsement of Christianity.”

“We hold that these memorials have the impermissible effect of conveying to the reasonable observer the message that the state prefers or otherwise endorses a certain religion,” concluded the Denver, Colorado-based court. The state of Utah and a private trooper association have the option of appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court.

A Texas-based group, American Atheists, successfully sued five years ago to have the nonprofit memorial project scrapped, and the crosses removed from public property.

At issue was whether the crosses violated the Establishment Clause of the Constitution, by having the government endorsing the Christian symbols, even if indirectly.

Click here to read more about American Atheists v. Duncan (08-4061)

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Bernie’s Transportation Communications Newsletter (TCN) – August 19, 2010

August 19, 2010 at 5:08 pm

Thursday, August 19, 2010 – ISSN 1529-1057

Countdown to the 17th ITS World Congress in Busan, Korea

Mark your calendar to attend the 17th ITS World Congress at the Busan Exhibition & Convention Center from October 25-29, 2010. This year’s theme is ‘Ubiquitous Society with ITS.’ In Busan, Korea’s second-largest city, industry leaders will promote and share the latest, cutting-edge ITS technologies and trends. Register now.

ITS America is once again hosting a U.S. pavilion at the event. As an exhibitor, you’ll gain access to the projected 3,000 potential customers and partners hailing from over 20 countries around the world.  You’ll also take advantage of the pavilion’s prime location in the middle of the exhibit floor. For more information, please contact Patty Del Pozo at 202-721-4238.


1) Medevac Industry Opposing Upgrades Wanted by NTSB

Link to article in USA Today:

Link to news release from the Air Medical Operators Association:


2) Phone Number on Older FasTrak Tranponders May Lead to Surprise

Link to article in the San Jose Mercury News:


3) Data Systems and Travel Survey Methods

Papers explore issues such as missing data from ITS and errors in real-time travel time estimation.

Link to report from the Transportation Research Board:


4) HAWK Lights to Help Reduce Pedestrian Deaths in Metro Phoenix

Link to article in The Arizona Republic:


5) SEPTA Seeks Federal Money for ‘Smartcard’ Fare System

Link to article in The Philadelphia Inquirer:

6) Haredim Oppose Ads on Bus Display Screens for Disabled in Israel

Bus company, Egged, planned to cover costs by selling ads; threats of boycott forced it to back down.

Link to article in The Jerusalem Post:


7) Volkswagen Developing Hybrid Radio with Internet Interface

Link to article in Radio Today:

News Releases

1) VTT Takes Part in Opening South American Logistics Bottlenecks

2) Texas State Railroad Wins Awards for TV Commercial

3) Portland’s TriMet Launches TransitTracker by Text

4) US Transportation Secretary LaHood Announces $13.8 Million for Transportation Research and Education

5) Stanford University Researchers Tapped to Help Make Rules for Commercial Space Travel

6) Tracking Technology Wins Australian Defence Science and Technology Orgaisation Eureka Prize

Bernie’s Notes

Yesterday many subscribers to the TCN received multiple copies.  This was apparently due to a glitch with Google Groups which distributes the TCN.  My apologies for the problem.  I believe the glitch has been corrected.

Upcoming Events

eCoMove Workshop on Green Cooperative ITS – September 15 – Munich

Today in Transportation History

1960 **50th anniversary** Sputnik 5 was launched.  It was the first spaceflight that launched animals into orbit and returned them safely to Earth.


The Transportation Communications Newsletter is published electronically Monday through Friday.

To subscribe (for free) or unsubscribe, please contact me at

TCN archives:

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

© 2010 Bernie Wagenblast

Making a community together… to design a street – Street Films documents London’s Do-It-Yourself Approach to Safer Streets

August 19, 2010 at 4:51 pm

(Source: Street Films)

Recently, our awesome folks at Streetfilms got a walk through of a  successful DIY project — on Clapton Terrace in London.  Called “DIY Streets,” a total of 11 communities across England and Wales benefited through this program, which brings neighbors together to help them redesign their streets in a way that puts people, safety, and streetlife first.  The non-profit Sustrans is pioneering this community-based method to reclaim streets from high-speed traffic and make neighborhoods safer and more sociable places.

Click here to read more.

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NYT’s alternative fuel research round up – Finding New Ways to Fill the Tank – Beyond fossil fuels

August 19, 2010 at 1:31 pm

Whatever be the alternative, it has to get here quickly for two reasons — first is the economic factor (reliance on foreign oil is costing a lot for us) and the second is the environmental impact factor.. Glad to see the public and private sector working hand in hand to bring these solutions to the consumers.. I’m betting big on battery technology, which has the potential to revolutionize the way we travel.

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CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Most research on renewable energy has focused on replacing the electricity that now comes from burning coal and natural gas. But the spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the reliance on Middle East imports and the threat of global warming are reminders that oil is also a pressing worry. A lot of problems could be solved with a renewable replacement for oil-based gasoline and diesel in the fuel tank — either a new liquid fuel or a much better battery.

Yet, success in this field is so hard to reliably predict that research has been limited, and even venture capitalists tread lightly. Now the federal government is plunging in, in what the energy secretary, Steven Chu, calls the hunt for miracles.

The work is part of the mission of the new Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy, which is intended to finance high-risk, high-reward projects. It can be compared to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, part of the Pentagon, which spread seed money for projects and incubated a variety of useful technologies, including the Internet.

The goal of this agency, whose budget is $400 million for two years, is to realize profound results — such as tens of millions of motor vehicles that would run 300 miles a day on electricity from clean sources or on liquid fuels from trees and garbage.