SEARCH

Entries in App (2)

Monday
Apr302012

Ethnic Profiling by TSA? 'Fly Rights' App Made for Complaints

FlyRights.org(NEW YORK) -- Thanks to smartphones, airline passengers have been able to pay for baggage, check in for flights and pull up boarding passes all with the swipe of a touch screen. Now, with the tap of an app, they can also fire off complaints about airport security screenings conducted by the Transportation Security Administration.

The Sikh Coalition, which released the Fly Rights app Monday, claims that the 11 TSA screening complaints investigated during the first half of 2011 were woefully unrepresentative of how many fliers were actually being pulled aside for their race, religion or ethnicity.

"I would say that some of our board members have more than 11 complaints in a quarter," said Sikh Coalition program director Amardeep Singh. "With the app, what we are trying to do is say, 'No, there are more people out there that have issues with the screening procedures than you think.'"

"I'm feeling optimistic that we are going to put them [TSA] at their paces and that it will significantly, perhaps even exponentially, increase the number of complaints filed," Singh told ABC News.

The number of complaints has nearly tripled from the first half of 2011 to 2012, according to the Department of Transportation's April Air Travel Consumer Report. The complaints were investigated by Department of Homeland Security Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, which oversees TSA's civil rights complaints.

About 30 airport passengers called or emailed the TSA to complain about screening procedures in February, fewer than the 36 complaints recorded in January and the 31 filed in December.

While Singh said the TSA "never opposed" the Fly Rights smartphone app, the agency said in statement Monday that it encourages travelers to "contact TSA directly" with any complaints.

"TSA does not profile passengers on the basis of race, ethnicity or religion," the agency said in the statement. "We continually engage with community organizations, including the Sikh Coalition, and individuals to help us understand unique passenger concerns and we support efforts to gather passenger feedback about the screening process."

In the hours following Fly Rights' launch on Monday, two complaints had already been filed through the mobile app, Singh said.

And while the app began after members of the Sikh religion said they were singled out because of the turbans they wear, the first actual complaint sent through the app was from a non-Sikh woman who said she was unfairly profiled for traveling with breast milk.

"That goes to show if you create a platform for people that's easy and accessible, they'll use it," Singh said.

The app has already gotten support from Capitol Hill, where Sen. Dick Durbin, D- Ill., commended the app as a way for passengers to "fight profiling."

"The vast majority of law enforcement officers perform their jobs honorably and courageously," Durban said in a statement released by the Sikh Coalition. "Unfortunately, the inappropriate actions of the few who engage in racial profiling create mistrust and suspicion that hurts all law enforcement officers."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Mar202012

Worried About Bus Safety? Now There‚Äôs an App for That

Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Ever want to monitor the bus you’re riding in up-to-the-minute fashion? There’s a new app for that, and it allows you to check the safety record of a bus company before booking that summer trip.

The National Transportation Safety Board says discount bus lines are one of the fastest growing modes of transportation, but they are seven times more dangerous than the bus lines that run between traditional bus terminals.

In cities like Washington, D.C., dozens of people can be seen queuing up Friday after work in historic DuPont circle for a $25 trip to New York City, and there are popular discount bus companies operating between numerous other cities, such as Los Angeles and San Francisco or Miami and Orlando.

As the summer months approach and vacations are planned, these lines will undoubtedly get longer and although the app can't tell you where the longest line will be, it can tell you which of the bus companies is the safest.

The safety of these buses came into question last year when two were involved in crashes, one including a fatality.

Tuesday the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) unveiled its SaferBus application, which allows motor coach riders to check the safety record of a bus company before booking their ticket. You can even make a complaint about the bus you are riding, while you are riding it.

“This new app gives Americans the information they need to make smart safety decisions when they book their next bus trip,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement to ABC News.  “As college students, families and tour groups start thinking about spring and summer travel, we encourage everyone to use the SaferBus app to look before you book your next bus trip.”

With gas nearing $4 a gallon and expected to continue moving up into the summer travel season, buses are often used as a cheaper travel method.

“SaferBus is FMCSA’s first step at making our thorough safety data on commercial bus companies available through smartphone technology,” FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro said in a statement to ABC News. “By placing a bus company’s safety record in the palm of your hand, SaferBus encourages riders to think safety first, supports our agency’s commitment to make bus travel as safe as possible, and provides good bus companies a way to highlight their positive safety records.”

The free app, the FMCSA is touting as “first of its kind,” provides safety records for nearly 6,000 interstate commercial passenger carriers operating in the United States today.

This app comes after a report released last October by the NTSB highlighted key safety issues, including high accident rates.

Curbside motorcoach operations are described as scheduled trips that begin or end at locations other than traditional bus terminals.

One key finding of the report showed from January 2005 to March 2011 the fatal accident rate for curbside carriers from was seven times that of conventional bus operations (about 1.4 fatal accidents per 100 vehicles). In addition, the report highlighted that FMCSA is overburdened having only about one inspector for every 1,000 motorcoaches.

“Business and safety practices within the growing curbside bus industry create challenges for enforcement authorities and consumers alike when it comes to separating the safe operators from the unsafe operators,” Hersman said during last year’s press conference.

The app is available for iPhone and iPad users and can be downloaded from the iTunes store or from FMCSA’s “Look Before You Book” webpage.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio