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RechargeIT.org: Google’s plug-in hybrid initiative

February 22, 2009 at 1:19 pm

(Source:  Google.org)

RechargeIT is a Google.org initiative that aims to reduce CO2 emissions, cut oil use, and stabilize the electrical grid by accelerating the adoption of plug-in electric vehicles. We have a demonstration fleet of plug-ins at our headquarters in Mountain View, and we’re collecting and posting data on plug-in performance, investing in innovative technologies, and advocating for the passage of important legislation. Our vision is that one day thousands of cars will be plugging into a greener grid.

We’ve had our RechargeIT plug-ins on the road for about a year now, collecting data when driven by Google employees in our free car-share program. But we wanted to see how they would perform in a controlled test. The results of our seven-week driving experiment are in – and the plug-ins did great, getting as much as 93 MPG average across all trips, and 115 MPG for city trips! See the full results to explore detailed data from the experiment. (And check back often as we’ll be posting even more comprehensive data from our test over the next few weeks.)

RechargeIT Driving Experiment

Electricity usage for plug-in vehicles: 
Ford Escape Plug-In 133.2 Wh/mi, Toyota Prius Plug-in 139.6 Wh/mi
    See full results »    

Click here to explore this on-going Google Initiative.

Reality Check on Plug-In Hybrids

February 22, 2009 at 1:13 pm

(Source:  Seattle Times)

Remember last spring, when Seattle’s mayor rolled out the city’s first car that could be “filled at the plug instead of the pump?”

It’s called a plug-in hybrid. They are all the green rage — “possibly the most sought-after technological innovation since Captain Kirk first flipped open his communicator,” says The New York Times.

You may have seen the city’s cars around town, painted with an eye-catching claim on the rear bumper: “This plug-in hybrid gets 100+mpg.”

Also, a greener boast: “150+City MPG!”

Not exactly, it turns out. Not even close.

Try 51 miles per gallon, city and highway combined. Not counting the cost of the electricity.

It’s what 14 plug-in Priuses averaged after driving a total of 17,636 miles. The pilot project is one of the few in the nation to subject plug-in hybrid cars to regular motor-pool duty, as opposed to being driven by hypermilers or alt-energy enthusiasts.

Click here to read the entire article.

Ford’s new Fusion hybrid stuns the automotive press, topping even the popular Toyota Prius.

February 22, 2009 at 11:55 am

(Source: Yahoo Autos)

If you’re in the market for an ultra fuel-efficienthybrid that makes a convincing family sedan, your best choice has always been a Toyota — until now. Toyota’s Camry Hybrid and Prius have been the only realistic alternatives for many. Most American-built hybrids simply haven’t matched their fuel economy, and the Nissan Altima Hybrid remains rare and hard to find.

A new entrant in the contest, however, may have knocked the Toyotas from their lofty perch.

The automotive press has begun testing the all-new 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid in recent weeks. Two prominent publications have now published comparisons pitting the Fusion Hybrid against its Toyota competition, and the Ford has won both.

Click here to read the entire article.

Truck lanes pick up speed

February 22, 2009 at 12:27 am

(Source: stltoday.com)

interstate 70, westbound, montgomery county, view

The decades-old battle between cars and rigs on Interstate 70 could come to an end if the Missouri Department of Transportation has its way. After a yearlong study, the agency is recommending that $3.9 billion be spent to rebuild 200 miles of I-70 between Lake Saint Louis and Independence. Under the plan, two lanes each direction would be for semis, and two lanes each way would be for the rest of traffic. I-70 has some of the heaviest truck traffic in the country, leaving drivers of smaller vehicles feeling intimidated. Separating cars and semis would improve safety for both, according to the study.  "The No. 1 thing we heard from the public was the issue of trucks," said Kathy Harvey, state design engineer for the transportation department. "A lot of times they said, just put them on their own road." 

Urban legend about Verrazano Bridge debunked: You still gotta pay

February 22, 2009 at 12:21 am
The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.  

(source: silive.com)

Once the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge was paid for, motorists would be free from paying a toll to cross it.

So goes the urban legend, repeated for nearly half a century and believed by countless Islanders who fervently evoke it at toll-hike hearings, in letters to the Advance, or in casual conversation when the E-ZPass bill arrives.

But like the one that claims feeding Alka-Seltzer to a pigeon will cause the bird to explode, consider this myth debunked. 

According to Joyce Mulvaney, a spokeswoman for MTA Bridges & Tunnels, which operates the bridge, “We have searched our archives and can find no documentation for the statement and, given the structure of our bonds, as backed by toll revenue, it doesn’t make sense that anyone would make such a statement — now or then.”

Click here to read the full article.

Reforming Georgia’s transportation system

February 22, 2009 at 12:15 am


Source: TiftonGazette.com

Over the last six years, Georgia has invested heavily in transportation improvements, yet commuters are still stuck in traffic and economic development corridors still have not been expanded. As frustrating as it is to acknowledge, we have not achieved the value that we believe Georgians deserve because of a lack of focus, transparency and accountability at the Department of Transportation.

We share a commitment to do better.  As the three people most accountable to Georgians, we announced a proposal this week that would completely transform the way we think about delivering transportation solutions in our state and dramatically improve the way transportation projects are planned, constructed and maintained.

The basic premise of this proposal is simple – transportation policy decisions should be made in a strategic manner by people who are representing the best interests of the entire state.  And the decisions these people make should be executed in a manner that provides for transparency and accountability to the legislature and the people of Georgia.

Click here to read the entire article.

On-time Performance Soars for U.S. Airlines

February 22, 2009 at 12:12 am

(Source: stltoday.com)

Believe it or not, you had a better chance of reaching your flight destination on time last year than in 2007 because major airlines are cutting back their schedules.

Passengers flying in and out of Lambert-St. Louis International Airport benefited as well, according to annual numbers published this month by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Slightly more than 77 percent of inbound flights reached Lambert on time in 2008, compared to just under 75 percent in 2007. Nationally, about 76 percent of flights operated by the 19 largest airlines landed on time last year.

Slightly less than 70 percent of flights left St. Louis on time in both years — with a slight improvement in 2008.

Flight cancellations also dropped last year compared to 2007.

Click here to read the full article.

GPS-Monitored Vehicle Fees: Change You Can’t Believe In

February 22, 2009 at 12:07 am

(Source: InsideGNSS.com)

One change that apparently won’t happen under the Obama administration is replacing the federal gasoline tax with a GPS-monitored mileage fee.

In an interview with the Associated Press last week, U.S. Department of Transportation (DoT) Secretary Ray LaHood had suggested that his agency should look at a “vehicular miles program where people are actually clocked on the number of miles that they traveled.”


It was one of the shortest flights of a trial balloon so far this year.

When asked at his February 20 news briefing about the mileage fee concept and whether President Obama had “weighed in” on the subject, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said, “I don’t believe the President has. I can weigh in on it and say that it is not and will not be the policy of the Obama administration.”

Click here to read the entire article.

Full Steam Ahead for California Bullet Train

February 21, 2009 at 11:54 pm

(Source AFP via Yahoo.com)

One hundred and forty years after a transcontinental railroad linked California to the world, trains are being hailed as integral to the state’s growth in the 21st century.

This time, state officials are preparing to spend billions of dollars on high-speed rail lines modeled in part on Japan’s Shinkansen bullet train and France’s sleek TGV systems.

Supporters say an 800-mile (1,200 kilometer) system of trains running at up to 220 mph (350 kph) will cost about half of the 100 billion dollars that otherwise would have to be spent on new highways and airport runways.

They say it will reduce environmental damage, lessen the state’s dependence on foreign oil, create 450,000 jobs and give a huge boost to California businesses. They envision a system, to be completed by 2030, that will carry 90 million passengers a year.

“We need a high-speed rail. Our rail system in America is so old, we are driving the same speed as we did 100 years ago,” said California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Click here to read the full article.

Editorial: Reform and revenue for transportation

February 21, 2009 at 5:22 pm

(Source:  EnterpriseNews.com)

For more than a year, Gov. Deval Patrick has been promising a response to the state’s ever-worsening transportation woes. Friday he delivered a proposal that includes most of what the situation requires.

Patrick starts with reform, as he should. His plan would finally put the much-despised Mass. Turnpike Authority out of business, merging it, along with the MBTA, MassPort and the Registry of Motor Vehicles, into a single, more accountable, transportation agency.

Patrick also vows to do away with the administrative redundancy and unjustifiable perks that have grown over the decades in these transportation fiefdoms. The MBTA contract, for instance, allows union workers to retire after just 23 years on the job and immediately begin collecting healthy pensions, with the state providing health insurance for the rest of their lives. With the “T” burdened by more than $5 billion in debt, such excesses are inexcusable.

Click here to read the full article.