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FedEx Chief Opposes Vehicle Mileage Tax (VMT)

February 24, 2009 at 12:15 am

(Source:  trafficworldonline.com)

The CEO of one of the largest U.S. transportation companies opposes replacing the gas tax with a vehicle mileage tax, claiming it would be unfair to many motorists.

Replacing the federal fuels tax with a tax on vehicle miles traveled would be “ill-advised,” said Fred Smith, chairman, president and CEO of FedEx, Memphis, Tenn.

Such a levy would “unfairly penalize parts of the country – Montana, North Dakota -where people” have to travel long distances, Smith said Feb. 23 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., where he promoted the use of electric vehicles.

Click here to read the entire article.

Boston Globe Op-Ed: The transformation of transportation

February 24, 2009 at 12:11 am

(Source: Bostonglobe.com)

In the half-month since the Senate nearly slashed mass transit from the stimulus bill, yet more locales broke ridership records from coast to coast. The New York City subway system moved 1.62 billion people last year, the most since 1950. Combined with buses, the city moved 2.37 billion people, the most since 1965. The Metro-North rail that services the suburbs outside New York carried a record 84 million passengers.

In the Midwest, the Madison, Wis., bus system recorded 13.4 million rides last year, the highest since 1979. Chicago’s suburban bus system carried 40 million riders last year, the highest since 1991. Minneapolis/St. Paul’s suburban bus system carried a record 2.6 million riders.

In the Pacific Northwest, the Amtrak Cascades line from Portland to Seattle set a new record with a 14.4 percent increase. In the South, ridership for the Piedmonttrain between Charlotte and Raleigh was up 30.8 percent last year.

Click here to read the full article.

As Revenue Falls, M.T.A.’s Deficit Could Rise by $650 Million

February 24, 2009 at 12:06 am

(Source: NYTimes.com)

Plummeting tax and fare revenues that have been depressed further by the ailing economy could increase the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s budget deficit this year by $650 million, according to a new estimate made public on Monday. If the doomsday forecast is borne out, the authority’s deficit this year could grow to nearly $2 billion.

Subway ridership fell 2 percent in January compared with last year.

The authority has already proposed a steep increase in fares and deep service cuts if it does not get a state bailout. But if its finances worsen significantly, it could be forced to take even more drastic measures.

“This is obviously breathtaking,” Gary Dellaverson, the authority’s chief financial officer, said as he presented the projections to a meeting of the authority board’s finance committee.

Click here to read the full article.

Ford, UAW reach deal on health care trust

February 24, 2009 at 12:00 am
(source: USAToday.com)
DETROIT — Ford Motor (F) and the United Auto Workers union reached an agreement Monday to modify the payments on its health care trust, which could pave the way for similar agreements with General Motors and Chrysler and remove a significant stumbling block in the automakers’ attempts to comply with federal loan obligations.

At issue was how the automakers would fund a Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association, or VEBA. Millions in cash payments were due next year, but the cash-strapped automakers were hoping to talk the union into taking equity in the companies in lieu of real green dollars.

Although the details will differ, the fact that the UAW agreed to take on stock as part of the health care trust at one automaker makes it likely the union will do the same for the other two. The UAW generally gives all three domestic automakers about the same level of concessions to ensure one company is not more financially competitive than the other two.

Under the agreement, which still has to be ratified by union members, Ford has the option of issuing up to 50% of the payment in stock rather than cash. “The agreements, if finalized, will allow Ford to become competitive with foreign automakers’ U.S. manufacturing operations, and are critical to our efforts to operate through the current deep economic downturn without accessing government loans,” says Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s group vice president of labor affairs.

Click here to read the full article.

Prospects Dim for Marine One Upgrade

February 23, 2009 at 11:55 pm

(Source: WashingtonPost.com)

The prospects for building a new fleet of high-tech presidential helicopters darkened yesterday, after the new commander in chief called the costly Bush administration effort an example of military procurement “gone amok” and said he thinks the existing White House helicopter fleet “seems perfectly adequate.”Marine One in Chicago.jpg

President Obama’s remarks at the opening of a meeting with lawmakers on fiscal responsibility did not rule out finishing the program, now expected to cost more than $11.2 billion, or nearly twice the original estimate. He joked that he has not had a helicopter before, so perhaps “I’ve been deprived and I — I didn’t know it.”

But Obama’s disclosure that he had asked Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates to conduct a “thorough review of the helicopter situation” amounted to a shot across the bow of large defense contractors such as Lockheed Martin, the helicopter’s manufacturer. In recent years, contractors have experienced multiple cost overruns — totaling $300 billion on the 95 largest military programs, according to the Government Accountability Office — without incurring substantial penalty.

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Tax-by-the-mile rejected by Arizona transportation experts

February 23, 2009 at 9:04 pm

(Source: KTAR.com)

Taxing motorists on how many miles they drive instead of how much gas they buy is an idea that wouldn’t fly in Arizona, according to transportation experts.

The idea was floated by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood last week, but quickly rejected by President Barack Obama.

LaHood said gas taxes can no longer be expected to fund highway and bridge construction.

Linda Gorman of AAA Arizona said she doubts the idea would have much support in Arizona.

“For Arizona, I would be very surprised, because while, in many instances the country has gone more liberal, Arizona has stayed a little bit more conservative, so it’s typically not a discussion that bodes well in this environment.”

Click here to read the entire article.

IBTTA’s Workshop on Managing in an Era of Changing Economic Times, April 19-21, 2009

February 23, 2009 at 7:59 pm
Register Today and Prepare for the Approaching Recovery: IBTTA’s Workshop on Managing in an Era of Changing Economic Times, April 19-21, 2009 in San Francisco, CA 
 Join IBTTA in San Francisco for power-packed educational sessions and walk away with a world of knowledge on better managing your organization today and preparing for the approaching economic recovery. Learn how global issues are affecting your organization and the toll industry, the goals and efforts of the U.S. stimulus program, how to build a cost-conscious culture and make tough decisions, how to position your agency for unique opportunities during this slowdown, solid financing strategies and more. This is one meeting you don’t want to miss! Visit IBTTA’s website to view the preliminary agenda, make your travel arrangements and register today!

 

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Bernie’s Transportation Communications Newsletter – Feb 23, 2009

February 23, 2009 at 6:28 pm

Transportation Communications Newsletter

 Monday, February 23, 2009 — ISSN 1529-1057

Register Today and Prepare for the Approaching Recovery: IBTTA’s Workshop on Managing in an Era of Changing Economic Times, April 19-21, 2009 in San Francisco, CA .

Join IBTTA in San Francisco for power-packed educational sessions and walk away with a world of knowledge on better managing your organization today and preparing for the approaching economic recovery. Learn how global issues are affecting your organization and the toll industry, the goals and efforts of the U.S. stimulus program, how to build a cost-conscious culture and make tough decisions, how to position your agency for unique opportunities during this slowdown, solid financing strategies and more. This is one meeting you don’t want to miss! Visit IBTTA’s website to view the preliminary agenda, make your travel arrangements and register today!

AVIATION

1) Ryanair to Offer Mobile Phone Calls on Board

Link to Reuters story:

http://www.forbes.com/feeds/afx/2009/02/19/afx6069941.html

Link to news release from Ryanair:

http://www.ryanair.com/site/EN/news.php?yr=09&month=feb&story=gen-en-190209-2

2) FAA Often Takes Years to Carry Out Lessons from Air Crashes

Link to story in The New York Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/23/nyregion/23safety.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&pagewanted=all

3) FAA Faces Rising Trainee Numbers in Controller Ranks

Link to story in Aviation Week:

http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story.jsp?id=news/aw022309p3.xml&headline=FAA%20Faces%20Rising%20Trainee%20Numbers%20in%20Controller%20Ranks&channel=awst

4) Air Traffic Control Center in Riyadh is Operational

Link to story in the Saudi Gazette:

http://www.saudigazette.com.sa/index.cfm?method=home.regcon&contentID=2009022330161

5) Calculating the Most Efficient Air Traffic Routes

Link to story in Flight International:

http://www.flightglobal.com/articles/2009/02/23/322771/calculating-the-most-efficient-air-traffic-routes.html

GPS / NAVIGATION

6) Vermont State Police Warn GPS Directions Sometimes Deceptive for Winter Travel

Link to AP story:

http://www.wptz.com/news/18775619/detail.html

PARKING

7) Turning to Parking Meters to Reduce Traffic

Link to story in the San Francisco Chronicle:
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/02/22/MN6H15VC8L.DTL

RAILROADS

8) Michigan Officials Say Amtrak Needs to Improve Communications

Link to story in The Grand Rapids Press:

http://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2009/02/michigan_officials_say_amtrak.html

ROADWAYS

9) All Signs Point to Drivers’ Confusion

New parking signs in Spokane, Washington lead to some head-scratching.

Link to story in The Spokesman-Review:

http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2009/feb/23/all-signs-point-to-drivers-confusion/

10) As Suspension Bridges Age, a Search for Failures

Sensor systems being developed to spot problems.

Link to story and audio report on NPR’s Morning Edition:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=100947959

SAFETY / SECURITY

11) Transportation Security Administration Checks Out Systems for Airport Waiting Time Data

Link to story in Washington Technology:

http://fcw.com/articles/2009/02/23/tsa-wait-time-data.aspx

TRANSIT

12) Shanghai Transit Stations Offer Transport Info Downloads

Link to story in Traffic Technology International:

http://www.traffictechnologytoday.com/news.php?NewsID=10848 

TRAVELER INFORMATION / TRANSPORTATION MANAGEMENT

13) ‘City Drive Live’ a Needed Brake from the Bad News

City of New York broadcasts rotating traffic camera images on HD television channel.

Link to story in the Daily News:

http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/tv/2009/02/23/2009-02-23_city_drive_live_provides_a_needed_brake_.html

 

News Releases

1) New Web Site Offers Information about Emerging Transit Technology

2) US DOT Seeks Innovative Research Proposals from Small Businesses to Address Transportation Challenges

3) SITA Predicts Brave New World of Hassle-Free Travel as It Marks Its 60th Anniversary

4) Road Dog Trucking Radio Channel Expands on Sirius XM

5) AT&T Expands Wireless Coverage on SEPTA

 

Upcoming Events

ITS Michigan Annual Conference – May 12-13 – Novi, Michigan

http://www.itsmichigan.org/AnnualConf2009/ITS_I_Attendee.pdf

 

Today in Transportation History

1909 **100th anniversary** – The AEA Silver Dart made its first flight in Nova Scotia.  This was the first flight in Canada and the British Empire.

http://www.flightofthesilverdart.ca/ 

=============================================================================================

The Transportation Communications Newsletter is published electronically Monday through Friday. 

To subscribe send an e-mail to:  TCNL-subscribe@googlegroups.com

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TCN archives: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/transport-communications

 

Questions, comments about the TCN?  Please write the editor, Bernie Wagenblast at i95berniew@aol.com.   

© 2009 Bernie Wagenblast

 

 

US Airways to reinstate complimentary beverages

February 23, 2009 at 1:44 pm

(Source: Reuters – UK)

US Airways Group (LCC.N) on Monday said it would stop charging for nonalcoholic drinks in its coach cabin, a practice that drew the ire of customers and put the airline at a competitive disadvantage.

US Airways’ retreat from the fee also may show that there is a limit to how far cash-strapped carriers can push travelers who have suffered fee after fee for items and services that once were complimentary.

Starting March 1, US Airways will no longer charge for in-flight soda, juice, tea, water and coffee. But the airline said it remains committed to its so-called “a la carte” model, which is now common throughout the industry.

“US Airways was the only large network carrier to charge for drinks, and that put us at a disadvantage,” Chief Executive Doug Parker said in a statement.

Click here to read the full article.

Obama’s Auto Industry Task Force Drives Imports Like Everyone Else

February 23, 2009 at 1:35 pm

(Source: Jalopnik.com

Of the 10 members of President Obama‘s Auto Industry task force, only two are known to own American cars, two don’t own a car, and at least one has a French car in the family.

The majority of the task force, tasked with saving the auto industry, drives Hondas, Mazdas or Volvos. Many of the Honda vehicles are actually built in the US and both Mazda and Volvo are, technically, owned by Ford. Despite the rather bland choices, there are two revelations we couldn’t help but appreciate as car fans:

1. Our Vice President owns a 1967 Corvette, which he probably puts few miles on given his love of Amtrak.

2. Diana Farrell, the deputy National Economic Council director, is currently without a car but her husband has a 1985 Peugeot 505 S, which we take to mean a Peugeot 505 Turbo S and not the crappy gas/diesel 505 S. If it’s the S Turbo we’re talking about a crazy gearhead. If it’s an S we’re talking about someone who doesn’t want to part with an old car. Or maybe it is a base S with an SR20DET swap (we look for hope where we can find it).

Click here to read the full article.