BA attacks U.S. airport security demands

From FT BA attacks U.S. airport security demands

The chairman of British Airways has launched an attack on “completely redundant” airport checks and said the UK should stop “kowtowing” to US demands for increased security.

The comments by Martin Broughton reflect broader industry and passenger frustration over the steady accumulation of rules on everything from onboard liquids to hand baggage that have blossomed since the September 11 terrorist attacks.

In remarks at the annual conference of the UK Airport Operators Association in London, he said that the practice of forcing people to take off their shoes and have their laptops checked separately in security lines should be ditched.

Mr Broughton said there was no need to “kowtow to the Americans every time they wanted something done” to beef up security on US-bound flights, especially when this involved checks the US did not impose on its own domestic routes.

The Rest Of The Story On Robot Cars

NetDensity (Brendon Slotterback) The Rest Of The Story On Robot Cars is less sanguine (though still net positive) about the prospects of robot cars, as is Brad Templeton.
I would just note (a) I like cities (by which I mean a dense concentration of activities), (b) I think cities are a nice solution to the accessibility problem, but (c) cities are not the objective, accessibility is.
Also, I am suspicious of the claims about environmental and public health effects of the suburbs, especially after concomitant electrification of vehicles.

Google’s Self-Driving Car

Jean-Louis Gassee on Google’s Self-Driving Car

The hardware and the software will fail, no question. The real riddle is determining the socially acceptable failure rate. Today, there are about 40,000 car fatalities per year. [In the US, actually slightly less — dml] Note the euphemistic “car fatalities” or “car accidents”, as if the drivers weren’t to blame. You can imagine the news headlines when the first self-driving car fatality happens: Killer Robot! Killer Software! (A literal killer app?). Isaac Asimov, the author of the Three Laws of Robotics will spin in his grave.

Public Participation and Planning

Americas Most Wanted Painting“It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”
Steve Jobs, quoted in BusinessWeek, May 25 1998.(Nine years before the iPhone and 12 years before the iPad).
The painting on the right is the satirical product of artists (Komar and Melamid) who set about designing in response to customer’s preferences in art. The survey suggested people like blue, traditional, realistic art of outdoor scenes including bodies of water in autumn. Similar paintings were constructed for multiple countries.

The painting of course is at best cromulent.


The point is, we have gone too far in planning in asking for public input. The public does not have the time or expertise to productively weigh in on most issues, which is why we have representative government, division of labor, and experts.

The public that does weigh in is atypical, often retired, and inherently conservative in their tastes. Trying to adhere to the public’s wishes results in mediocre designs, and an unwillingness to try to new ideas that are unfamiliar (simultaneously opposed because it will be successful and move traffic too well, or failing and result in too much delay).

Portion of Nobles County bridge collapses

From Finance & Commerce

Portion of Nobles County bridge collapses

A bridge in Nobles County is closed to traffic following a partial collapse that occurred while a contractor was working on the bridge deck.

The County State Aid Highway 1 bridge, which extends over Elk Creek near the town of Brewster, was being prepared for bituminous overlay Tuesday when a section of the span gave way under an 80,000-pound milling machine.

‘They were milling the bituminous surface off the bridge deck to get it ready for the bituminous overlay,’ Nobles County Engineer Steve Schnieder said. ‘They had milled off the entire surface’ and were making a final run when the failure happened.

The machine operator escaped without serious injury and no one else was hurt. The operator managed to jump off the machine onto a portion of the bridge deck that stayed intact, Schnieder said.

Study: Flight delays cost fliers billions –

From CNN Flight delays cost fliers billions. The study was lead by Mark Hansen (my Ph.D. advisor).

Air travelers already know the frustration of endlessly waiting for a plane to arrive or depart, but now a new study has put a dollar amount on the economic toll of the problem and it’s big.

Flight delays cost the nation $32.9 billion in 2007, with passengers on the hook for more than half of that amount, according to research released by the University of California-Berkeley’s Institute of Transportation Studies.

“This is the most comprehensive study done to date analyzing the monetary cost of airline flight delays,” said Mark Hansen, the lead researcher, in a statement.

“Flight delay is a serious and widespread problem that places a significant strain on the U.S. air travel system and its customers.”

Here is how the figure breaks down: Air travelers paid $16.7 billion in lost time due to delayed flights, flight cancellations and missed connections, plus expenses such as food and accommodations.

The researchers also recognized that many people spend extra time away from home because they fear and expect flight delays.

“If I have a meeting that begins at 10 a.m. Tuesday in Washington, I would likely fly out from Boston on Monday night rather than early on Tuesday, just to ensure that I arrive on time,” said Cynthia Barnhart, one of the co-authors, in a statement.

Meanwhile, flight delays forced airlines to pay $8.3 billion in increased expenses for crew, fuel and maintenance, according to the study. The carriers also saw almost $4 billion in lost demand due to passengers who avoided air travel because of delays.

The country’s economy as a whole suffered, too, the study found. Since air travel inefficiencies raise the cost of doing business for companies, the U.S. gross domestic product was reduced by $4 billion in 2007, the study said.

The Federal Aviation Administration commissioned the research.

The study authors note that many flight delays, such as those caused by mechanical problems or severe weather, are unavoidable. But they also point out the problem of airspace congestion.

“The results of this study suggest that policies and mechanisms that discourage overscheduling should be considered,” the authors note.
So far this year, more than 18 percent of flights have arrived or departed at least 15 minutes late, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

147 Vehicles and Pedestrians in 4:18


My favorite five-way intersection (Franklin Avenue/East River Road/27th) has now been signalized for over a month. The video was taken on Oct 11 in the late afternoon (I apologize for the poor angle, but I wanted the same position as before as much as possible, unfortunately the sun did not cooperate (or alternatively the clouds did not obscure the sun), also I reduced the resolution for the Web). Other differences to note are that school is now in session.

The intersection was roughly at capacity (as can be seen), in that most conflicting movements were fully served with approaching cars, though I suspect throughput could be a bit higher.

We observe a throughput of about 1948 vehicles per hour (based on my estimate of 147 vehicles and pedestrians and bicyclists in 4:18), which compares favorable with the more chaotic 5-way stop during reconstruction which served about 1600. There seems a long period of lost time that could perhaps be used to improve capacity/lower delay.

The main difference is the extra capacity due to more systematic parallel movements (yielding more than one critical point). Notice the pedestrians just past the 4 minute mark are still quite confused as to whether to go or not.

As a user, the pedestrian timing is still terrible, and I just go whether or not I have the signal, so long as I am unlikely to be flattened like a pancake by oncoming cars.

Troubles at TriMet ?

According to Oregon There’s an implosion heading down TriMet’s tracks

TriMet recently cut service on all light-rail lines and more than 50 bus routes. Agency managers have consistently blamed this on a $27 million revenue shortfall caused by the recession.

But the recent release of TriMet’s audited financial statements casts a very different light. According to the auditors, TriMet’s total operating and non-operating revenues — including money from passenger fares, payroll and self-employed transit taxes, and operating grants — increased by 6.5 percent during fiscal year 2010, which ended June 30.

If revenue is up but service levels are down, where did all the money go? The short answer is fringe benefits for employees. On an actuarial basis, TriMet’s cost of fringe benefits equaled 152 percent of wages for the just-ended fiscal year. That’s the worst ratio among the 20 largest transit districts in the country. Some districts, such as Denver and Miami-Dade County, have fringe benefit costs that are less than 40 percent of payroll. No other district besides TriMet pays more for fringe benefits than wages.

While Wendell Cox notes that Portland saw a drop in Work Transit Mode Share from 6.3 to 6.1% (a drop of 3%) between 2000 and 2009 while the US average over the same period rose from 4.6 to 5.0%, an increase of 9.2%. Of course, as Yonah Freemark notes, Portland saw a huge increase in Bike and small increase in Walk. These don’t of themselves actually help the transit operator.