Entries in Transportation (8)


Lines Abound in NY, NJ, as Resources Run Low

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- As residents of New York and New Jersey await recovery in the wake of Superstorm Sandy they are finding that, more often than not, they need to wait in line.

The needs may be power, gas, pay phones or public transportation. Regardless, get in line.

In Hasbrouck Heights, N.J., drivers waited in their cars in lines that stretched half a mile long on Route 17 South just to inch closer to a Shell station, hoping for the big pay-off: the honor of forking over money to fill up their tanks or put fuel in their generators before gas ran out.

Some even waited on foot with gas cans in hand. The station owner told ABC News that a $30 limit was imposed, but it wouldn't be enough to help everyone in line.

After waiting for hours, many left empty-handed.

Even though 10 counties of New Jersey have been granted federal aid, New Jersey Sens. Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez wrote a letter to the president Thursday requesting that the critical shortages plaguing residents be supplemented further.

"We are dealing with a crisis on the ground with rescue and recovery where millions are without power and without basic necessities," the senators wrote. "Furthermore, our constituents are sitting in lines up to a mile long waiting to fuel their vehicles, tying up local resources that are managing traffic conditions in these areas.

"You have shown extraordinary leadership helping us cope with this terrible storm," they wrote, "and we urge you to use the full force of the federal government, including using military assets, to bring this needed help to our state."

Even if people were able to get gas, it was highly unlikely that they could travel very far without getting stuck in traffic. While many bridges are open in New York and New Jersey, they are clogged with traffic as the reality of shuttered public transportation systems sinks in.

Newly imposed carpool rules forbidding cars with less than three passengers from entering Manhattan are intended to relieve congestion in the city. But they only seemed to add to the long lines. Checkpoints were set up on the highways to enforce ridesharing.

With subway lines out of commission, the swarms of people waiting for buses outside venues like Brooklyn's Barclays Center also had to wait their turns.

ABC affiliate WABC reported that more than 1,000 people waited just to hop aboard, lines stretching for blocks. As the stream of buses slowed down, many were left without rides.

"Where are the buses?" one man was overhead saying.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


GAO: FAA Needs to Act to Improve Aviation Safety

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The number of runway incidents and controller errors are up at the nation’s airports, and the Federal Aviation Administration should do more to improve safety, according to a new report by the Government Accountability Office.  
The GAO says, although the FAA has met some of its goals in reducing runway incursions (where planes and vehicles get too close), the overall trend is on the upswing. In 2004 there were 11 incursions per million operations, and by 2010 that rate increased to 18 incursions per million operations (70 percent of the most serious incursions involve general aviation planes, not commercial jets).
Controller errors are up too -- errors involving close calls in the air nearly doubled from the first three months of 2008 to the same period in 2011.
The GAO says it’s hard to know if these are actual increases, or changes due to new and better reporting requirements. They say that’s part of the problem -- that the FAA can’t be sure if safety is getting worse, or not.
So what should the agency do? According to the GAO, the FAA needs to expand the incidents it keeps track of -- to include runway overruns, and mishaps in the ramp area. The FAA should also categorize all incidents according to how risky they were. The FAA does this now with some types of mishaps, but not all. The GAO also says the FAA needs to a better job sharing information about incidents.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Los Angeles Gears Up for 'Carmaggedon'

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- "Carmaggedon" is almost here -- and Los Angeles is on pins and needles.

The much-ballyhooed shutdown of a 10-mile stretch of the key 405 freeway -- used on a typical weekend by half a million motorists -- starts at midnight Friday and continues until early Monday. In a city where walking is considered weird and public transportation an afterthought, the closure has sparked anxiety and generated huge publicity.

It has its own Facebook page, the I-405 Sepulveda Pass Widening Project, and Twitter-savvy celebrities like Ashton Kutcher and Tom Hanks have tweeted to warn drivers to stay home.

County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, whose district includes the closure area, has a countdown clock on his website anticipating the shutdown to the second. He is planning on spending much of the weekend in the emergency operations center downtown. "I think the preparation has gone extremely well," he said. "Most people understand that the guaranteed way to avoid aggravation is to not be in your car."

He said LA residents are organizing block parties and barbecues and are stocking up on DVDs for a weekend staycation. "Everybody's going to do it their own way."

The 53-hour closure -- which will happen again in 11 months -- is part of a $1 billion highway improvement project that involves constructing a northbound carpool lane and reconstructing the Mulholland Bridge.

Officials have been grave about the prospect of misery ahead. "There's gridlock on the 405 virtually any time of the day, but particularly during the rush hour, and if you think it's bad now, let me just make something absolutely clear: On July 16 and 17, it will be an absolute nightmare," LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said at a recent press conference.

But on Wednesday, Yaroslavsky was more upbeat. "Now it's up to the people," he said, adding: "I have confidence in Los Angeles motorists."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Stun Gun Found on Plane

Scott Olson/Getty Images(NEWARK, N.J.) -- The Transportation Security Administration is investigating a case involving a stun gun found on a JetBlue plane last Friday.

According to JetBlue officials, the device was found while cleaning crews were aboard the plane from Flight 1179, after it landed at Newark Liberty International Airport at 10:00 p.m. from Logan Airport in Boston.

The device was found in a seat pocket.

It is unclear how it made it onto the plane. It is also unknown during which flight the stun gun was brought onboard.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Al Qaeda Documents Raise Concerns About Rail Safety

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- With the revelation that al Qaeda was considering targeting U.S. rail lines, transportation officials and experts are concerned that not enough is being done to ensure that train travel is safe.

Sen. Charles Schumer of New York said on Sunday that there should even be a "do not ride" list for Amtrak, similar to the no-fly lists that are part of the airline security effort.

Train bombings overseas, such as those that occurred in Madrid and London, are evidence of what terrorists are capable of, but the documents found in last week's raid on Osama bin Laden's compound indicated that the more likely mode of attack would be on the rails themselves, rather than a terrorist trying to get on a train with a bomb.  By tampering with the rails, the intelligence indicated, al Qaeda was hoping to send a whole train tumbling off a bridge or into a valley.

With so much of the train lines running through the wide open spaces in the U.S., there could be attractive terrorist targets.  Forty percent of the rail lines in the country have no automatic monitoring systems.  Those lines are supposed to be inspected at least twice a week, but that still can leave long stretches of track unwatched for long stretches of time.

There are 140,000 miles of freight and passenger track in the United States, not counting subway systems and light rail, as well as 3,100 train and transit stations.  There were more than four billion passenger rail trips last year from commuters rushing to work, students heading to school and families on vacation.

On any one day, 78,000 people ride Amtrak, 660,000 step on the elevated trains in Chicago, and eight million ride the New York City subway system.

In recent years, anti-terrorism deterrents have been introduced, such as additional bomb detection equipment and new vapor wake detection dogs trained to smell every possible component of explosives, which the Department of Transportation announced in late October.

A most recent record to step up the nation's rail security was seen in July when Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano launched the first phase of the agency's "See Something, Say Something" campaign, requesting the public play a role in pointing out potential railway threats.

The effort is part of a series of events called Operation Rail Safe, which includes local, state and federal efforts to increase occasional security presence onboard trains, canine sweeps, and random passenger bag inspections at unannounced locations.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Freight Train Collision, Derailment Near Tacoma Narrows

Photo Courtesy - KOMO-TV Seattle(UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash.) -- Police in Washington State say more than a dozen freight cars derailed Saturday night after two trains reportedly collided near the Tacoma Narrows.

Hazardous material teams were on the scene of the accident, which occurred along Puget Sound on the BNSF Railway at Chambers Bay Golf Course. The contents of the train cars, however, has not yet been determined.

No one was injured in the derailment. Police say the cause of the accident is still under investigation.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Amtrak, N.J. Senators Plan New Tunnel Across the Hudson

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(TRENTON, N.J.) --  Amtrak executives and New Jersey senators Monday will announce a plan to build a new, trans-Hudson tunnel after a similar plan was not approved by Gov. Chris Christie last year, reports The Star-Ledger.

The tunnel, known as the Gateway, would be similar to the ARC Tunnel Christie turned down last year, but would have connections to new tracks at Penn Station. The previous plan was criticized for its lack of connections to other transportation hubs in Manhattan.
"I’m in my late 60s, and I was just hoping and praying I’d see the day when there would be another Hudson River tunnel," New Jersey transportation expert Martin E. Robins told The Star-Ledger. "My hopes have been rekindled."

Before the project can go forward, however, officials will have to figure out a way to pay for the $10 billion tunnel. Amtrack is also expected to ask for federal funding to conduct a study on the plan.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Cities With the Worst Traffic Nightmares

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(PORTLAND, Ore.) -- For years we have been hearing about the notorious traffic jams of Los Angles, the worst in the nation. But now a new study is saying hold on -- Nashville, Tenn., actually has the worst traffic, and L.A. is all the way down the list at number 17.

Today's new report, backed by supporters of non-car based transportation, suggests that traffic engineers have been looking at congestion problems wrong for 25 years. The problem with traffic isn't just congestion but the total distance that people have to travel. So cities with suburban sprawl -- such as Nashville, Oklahoma City, Birmingham, Ala., Richmond, Va. and Raleigh, N.C. -- top the list.

The report, by a group called CEOs for Cities, was written by a Portland, Ore. firm and paid for with the help of the liberal-leaning Rockefeller Foundation. The group calls it a "dramatic critique of the 25-year-old industry standard created by the Texas Transportation Institute's Urban Mobility Report, often used to justify billions of dollars in expenditures to build new roads and highways."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio