Valentine's Day brought a snow and ice storm to the northeastern US. Since I live and work here I was able to experience first hand what travel was like. No doubt, this was not a typical winter storm. It wasn't the snow so much, as the ice that created big travel problems.
Two transportation incidents from this storm were big news stories. The first involved JetBlue and several flights which were stuck on the runways at JFK Airport in New York City; some for longer than nine hours. One of the major complaints of passengers was the lack of information on what was happening.
The second story involved a closure of Interstate 78 in Pennsylvania. Snow and ice along a hilly section of the highway led to vehicles being stuck and plows unable to clear the highway. Many people were trapped for over 24-hours. Again, one of the complaints voice by drivers was the lack of information provided. In this case, many were upset that there were no warnings given about the closed highway before they entered, even thought the highway had been blocked for hours before they drove onto it. Once trapped, there was little information available on what was happening and how long they might be stuck.
A week earlier, Long Island Rail Road riders were upset when downed wires stopped trains for hours during the Friday evening rush hour. Again, it wasn't just being trapped on non-moving trains that was upsetting, but the lack of detailed information which was provided to passengers.
I'm not here to throw stones at the agencies or companies involved with these events but I point them out to stress the importance of providing information to travelers as quickly and as thoroughly as possible. In the case of the LIRR and JetBlue, information wouldn't have moved the passengers any faster but it probably would have reduced the frustration of not know what was going on. For drivers headed to I-78, information might have kept them off the highway and provided some options other than sitting in a cold vehicle with no food or water. For those who were stuck, information might have let them know why they were stuck and what was being done to free them.
Hopefully, those involved in transportation will learn some lessons from these incidents. While it's impossible to plan for all contingencies and to avoid disruptions, every effort should be made to get information, through multiple channels, to those who are affected or may be affected.
Transportation Communications Newsletter
Friday, February 16, 2007 -- ISSN 1529-1057
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1) Gridlock? Overturn? Dial 511 to Find Out
Service to debut Wednesday in San Diego County.
Link to story in The San Diego Union-Tribune:http://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20070216/news_1n16traffic.html
Link to companion Web site: http://www.511sd.com
2) Industry Sends US DOT Mixed Message on GPS Backup System
Link to story in Federal Computer Week:
3) New York State Lawmakers Wary of Putting Cameras in Work Zones
Link to story in the Observer-Dispatch:
4) Office of Management and Budget Chief Tells Agencies to Ignore Earmarks Not Written Into Law
Link to story from CongressDaily:
Link to OMB memo:
5) Hundreds of Furious Motorists Stuck for Hours on Pennsylvania Highway
Some drivers upset about lack of warning and information.
Link to AP story:
6) Texas License Plate Law Ensnares Some TxTags
Toll-paying transponders that mount on front bumper could fall under court ruling.
Link to story in The Austin American-Statesman:
http://www.statesman.com/news/content/news/stories/local/02/16/16txtags.html (may require free registration)
7) US Department of Homeland Security Official Defends Effort to Promote Radio Interoperability
Link to story from CongressDaily:
8) Hawaiian Representative Seeks Traffic Control Center for Maui
Link to story in The Maui News:
9) Handset Makers Get in on Location Services
Link to CNET News story:
10) Being Taken for a Ride in Mumbai? Complain Online
Mumbai traffic police establish site to lodge complaints against taxis and auto rickshaws.
Link to Indo-Asian News Service story:
Link to complaint form: http://www.trafficpolicemumbai.org/Complaint%20Form%20aginst%20ART.html
11) New Video Warns of Distracted Driving
Link to story in The Arizona Republic:
Link to further information on Toe Tag video: http://www.toetaginfo.net/movie.htm
12) Washington Metro Testing New Signs at Some Stations
Link to AP story:
Link to news release from the Washington Area Metropolitan Transit Authority:
13) Mitsubishi Shows UWB-Based Location System
Features accuracy within 15 centimeters.
Link to story in Computerworld:
1) EIS Wins Lawsuit Brought by Wavetronix
National Emergency Management Summit – March 4-6 – New Orleans
Ever been aggravated by one of those drivers with a fancy new car who take up two spaces so their precious
vehicle won’t get dinged? Here’s a chance to point them out to the world and see you’re not alone.
This week’s storm in the northeastern US highlighted a couple of transportation communication failures. Click on this link for my comments.
Today in Transportation History
1907 **100th anniversary** - A New York Central train crashes in the Bronx and leaves over 20 people dead.
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