WBEZ | Transportation http://www.wbez.org/news/transportation Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en 5 Things To Know: FAA Task Force Recommends A Drone Registry http://www.wbez.org/news/5-things-know-faa-task-force-recommends-drone-registry-113895 <p><div style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/gettyimages-487540612-b9423ce88eebeafd0b64745bf69d24002f645deb-s400-c85.jpg" style="height: 404px; width: 540px;" title="A drone flies above Old Bethpage, N.Y. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)" /></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><p>The Consumer Technology Association forecasts that 400,000 drones will be sold in the United States this holiday season. That&#39;s not to mention the commercial drones being developed&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2015/11/02/453982952/not-to-be-out-droned-google-plans-to-deliver-packages-by-air-in-2017" target="_blank">by Google</a>&nbsp;(now known as Alphabet), Amazon, Walmart and others.</p><p>In the face of this drone proliferation, the Federal Aviation Administration called a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.faa.gov/news/updates/?newsid=84125" target="_blank">special task force</a>&nbsp;to develop a way to get a grip on all the drones in the sky.</p><p>The task force&nbsp;<a href="http://www.faa.gov/uas/publications/media/RTFARCFinalReport_11-21-15.pdf" target="_blank">is now recommended</a>&nbsp;that the government set up a simple registration system for anyone who owns an unmanned aircraft heavier than 250 grams, which is about half a pound.</p><p>Here are a few key things about the recommendations and recreational drone flying:</p><p><strong>1. These aren&#39;t the rules yet.</strong></p><p>The recommendations came from the FAA&#39;s task force, co-chaired by FAA drone chief Earl Lawrence and the head of Google&#39;s drone project, Dave Vos. It also included 24 other drone, aeronautics and aviation experts from Amazon, Best Buy, GoPro, Walmart and numerous industry groups and associations.</p><p>The FAA will now take the task force&#39;s recommendations, combine them with a bunch of public comments they&#39;ve been collecting on the subject and eventually propose formal rules. Some reports have suggested that the rules were expected before Christmas, but the FAA on Monday said it didn&#39;t have a specific timeline.</p><p><strong>2. The recommendations focus on registering the owner, not each drone.</strong></p><p>Google&#39;s Vos explains: &quot;What we&#39;re are recommending at this point is that each owner has a registration number and if that owner owns one airplane or a hundred airplanes the same registration number can be used on all the airplanes that that owner owns.&quot;</p><p>Basically, if you made or bought a drone between 0.55 pounds and 55 pounds in weight, you&#39;d have to go online or use an app to submit your name and where you live to the government in exchange for an identifying number. You would then need to put that number on all of your drones.</p><p><strong>3. Name and address are recommended as the only requirements.</strong></p><p>Well, there is also a recommendation for a minimum age requirement of 13 years, but only name and physical address are suggested for registration.</p><p>Sharing email addresses, phone numbers or mailing addresses would be optional (for instance to receive education materials or other information from the FAA). Information on citizenship or residence status would not be required</p><p>Some drone makers may start using serial numbers for identification of their drones and the FAA&#39;s Lawrence says a drone may be allowed to be marked either with a serial number or the owner&#39;s registration number.</p><p><strong>4. Avoid registration scams.</strong></p><p>Some scammers have already set up&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcworld.com/article/3005536/legal/dont-fall-for-drone-registration-scams-warns-faa.html" target="_blank">fake drone registration</a>&nbsp;websites where they offer to register your flying devices for a fee. But of course, the FAA has yet to even set its rules for such a registry. Plus, it&#39;s expected to be free.</p><p>The task force certainly recommends that the registration should be at no cost or, if the FAA is forced by some statute to charge the registrants, the task force says the fee should be $0.001.</p><p><strong>5. All the other rules stand until further notice.</strong></p><p>The FAA is working on several comprehensive rulemakings, including one for recreational drone fliers and another for commercial drone operators.</p><p>For all you home-made or store-bought drone fliers,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.faa.gov/uas/publications/media/27231_FAA_KBYF_lores.pdf" target="_blank">the FAA&#39;s guidance</a>&nbsp;for now remains the same: keep your drones under 55 pounds in weight; fly them within your line of sight and below 400 feet; stay at least 5 miles away from an airport; avoid flying near stadiums or crowded places; take some drone classes or join a club for extra safety.</p></div><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2015/11/23/456699696/5-things-to-know-faa-task-force-recommends-a-drone-registry?ft=nprml&amp;f=456699696" target="_blank"><em> via NPR</em></a></p></p> Mon, 23 Nov 2015 12:33:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/5-things-know-faa-task-force-recommends-drone-registry-113895 How do public transportation maps help fight climate change? http://www.wbez.org/news/how-do-public-transportation-maps-help-fight-climate-change-113776 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/4535321030_3374544a0f_o.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>One guy certainly thinks so. His name is Mark Ovenden. He&rsquo;s an expert in transit maps and the author of &ldquo;<a href="http://www.amazon.com/Transit-Maps-World-Mark-Ovenden/dp/0143112651" target="_blank">Transit Maps of The World</a>.&rdquo; So he&rsquo;s a *little* biased. But after looking at his book, you can&rsquo;t help but agree.</p><p>It&rsquo;s a design history book that&rsquo;s brain candy. You keep flipping from page to page, looking at transit systems all across the globe.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><div><img alt="The Beijing transit map." src="http://cdn1.pri.org/sites/default/files/styles/original_image/public/beijing.gif?itok=ZCDK3qoB" style="height: 488px; width: 620px;" title="The Beijing transit map. (City of Beijing)" typeof="foaf:Image" /><div><p>&nbsp;</p></div><div><p>The colors are amazing.</p></div></div><p>There&rsquo;s a uniform look. You can picture yourself traveling through the cities,&nbsp;or getting lost in Tokyo.</p><div><img alt="Transit map of Tokyo." src="http://cdn1.pri.org/sites/default/files/styles/original_image/public/ToktoMetroMap_en.gif?itok=PtwC2kUu" style="height: 438px; width: 620px;" title="Transit map of Tokyo. (City of Tokyo)" typeof="foaf:Image" /><div><p>These iconic displays of information have evolved in the last decade, and they&nbsp;show&nbsp;an important change.</p></div></div><p>&ldquo;Since we put the original book together more than a decade ago, there are so many more metro, light rail, streetcar, subway systems around the world,&rdquo; says Ovenden.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><div><img alt="Transit map of Moscow. " src="http://cdn1.pri.org/sites/default/files/styles/original_image/public/moscow.gif?itok=jDdcc9ZU" style="height: 709px; width: 620px;" title="Transit map of Moscow. (City of Moscow)" typeof="foaf:Image" /><div><p>And all of this gets to the bold statement: transit maps fight climate change. Ovenden argues it this way. &ldquo;Obviously, anyone using public transport and not using their car is contributing to less pollution and helping save the planet,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;Good transit map design gets people to use a system, to recognize that it&rsquo;s a great system and it&rsquo;s easy to use.&rdquo;</p></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 13 Nov 2015 11:30:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/how-do-public-transportation-maps-help-fight-climate-change-113776 Chicago council committee OKs drone regulations http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-council-committee-oks-drone-regulations-113770 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/16645905601_b866e073ac_z_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A committee has advanced regulations for the piloting of drones in Chicago, including no-fly zones around both of the city&#39;s airports.</p><p>The City Council Aviation Committee approved the rules on Thursday. The proposal will head to the full City Council later this month.</p><div>Alderman Scott Waguespack says the number of small devices being flown, many with attached cameras, is growing and city officials should regulate certain aspects.<p>The proposed rules prohibit where the drones can fly, including a no-fly zone of 5 miles around both O&#39;Hare and Midway international airports. The devices are also prohibited from being piloted over schools, hospitals, churches, near electric generation facilities or other property not owned by the drone operator.</p><p>Violators could face fines of $500 to $5,000 and possible jail time.</p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 13 Nov 2015 10:55:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-council-committee-oks-drone-regulations-113770 How a folding electric vehicle went from car of the future to 'obsolete' http://www.wbez.org/news/how-folding-electric-vehicle-went-car-future-obsolete-113679 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/63861601_h16654603_wide-ce3e65aa2b314b688b16253cc291b8ecf6ee1b59-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res454709501" previewtitle="There was a lot of excitement in 2012, when the Hiriko car was unveiled at this event at European Union headquarters in Brussels. At the time, the then-president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, hailed the car as a trans-Atlantic &quot;exchange between the world of science and the world of business.&quot;"><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="There was a lot of excitement in 2012, when the Hiriko car was unveiled at this event at European Union headquarters in Brussels. At the time, the then-president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, hailed the car as a trans-Atlantic &quot;exchange between the world of science and the world of business.&quot;" src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/04/63861601_h16654603_wide-ce3e65aa2b314b688b16253cc291b8ecf6ee1b59-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 348px; width: 620px;" title="There was a lot of excitement in 2012, when the Hiriko car was unveiled at this event at European Union headquarters in Brussels. At the time, the then-president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, hailed the car as a trans-Atlantic &quot;exchange between the world of science and the world of business.&quot; (Zhou Lei/Xinhua/Landov)" /></div><div><p>This story is the latest in&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/series/155914958/npr-cities">NPR&#39;s Cities Project</a>.</p></div></div><p>A few years ago, engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology debuted a design, a decade in the making, for a car that would transform urban transportation.</p><p><a href="http://www.technologyreview.com/news/408982/a-carbon-free-stackable-rental-car/">They called it the CityCar</a>. It&#39;s a small, electric two-seat pod, with &quot;robot wheels.&quot; It looks like a futuristic Volkswagen Beetle.</p><p>With zero tailpipe emissions, the idea was that it would not pollute. With four wheels that maneuver 120 degrees individually, it could turn on a dime. The door is on the front. So, when parked front-end-in, drivers and passengers could avoid stepping into traffic. And the whole car would fold up &mdash; such that seven vehicles could fit into two normal-sized parking spaces.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ojqAI33YBN4?rel=0" width="560"></iframe></p><p>The cars would be shared, not owned &mdash; parked at train stations where people could pick them up, as people do with a bike share. The goal was to give people more options to avoid owning a car.</p><p>Kent Larson, director of&nbsp;<a href="http://cities.media.mit.edu/about/initiative">MIT&#39;s City Science Initiative</a>, told NPR the CityCar was a complete rethink of the automobile, aimed at making cities more livable.</p><p>&quot;I have seen estimates that in New York City up to 40 percent of the energy consumed by automobiles is by people circling the block looking for a parking space, so you eliminate all of that wasted energy, all of that wasted time and you remove vehicles off of the street,&quot; Larson said.</p><p>There was a tremendous amount of excitement about the design, and in Europe some leaders saw the CityCar as the solution to many urban ills.</p><p>The rise and fall of the CityCar illustrates the challenges of inventing the transportation of the future.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/MONIa4zdLdY?rel=0" width="560"></iframe></p><p><strong>The Production Phase And Public Money</strong></p><p>In 2008, a consortium of small companies in Spain got together to transform the CityCar into a commercial reality.</p><p><a href="http://www.un.org/esa/dsd/susdevtopics/sdt_pdfs/meetings2012/statements/espiau.pdf">The Hiriko project</a>&nbsp;promised to create green jobs at a time when Spain&#39;s manufacturing sector was hemorrhaging. It had the power to transform economically depressed fishing villages in the Basque Country into hubs of high-tech creativity, its backers said.</p><p>They renamed the car &quot;Hiriko,&quot; which means &quot;urban&quot; in the Basque language, Euskera. Entrepreneurs created a nonprofit parent company, Afypaida, to manage public money pouring into the project.</p><p>At the height of Spain&#39;s economic crisis, the Spanish government pledged some $16 million, and the Basque local authorities gave about $2.2 million. The European Union also devoted millions from a European social fund, for a total Hiriko budget exceeding $80 million.</p><div id="res454710174" previewtitle="The then-president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso (left), and Jesus Echave, the Spanish chairman of a consortium of seven small Basque companies, sit together in a prototype of the Hiriko car, during a 2012 event in Brussels."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="The then-president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso (left), and Jesus Echave, the Spanish chairman of a consortium of seven small Basque companies, sit together in a prototype of the Hiriko car, during a 2012 event in Brussels." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/04/gettyimages-137639876-ca9196f0c0b7bc38f27b077587a53bb864d36710-s400-c85.jpg" style="height: 225px; width: 300px; float: right; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="The then-president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso (left), and Jesus Echave, the Spanish chairman of a consortium of seven small Basque companies, sit together in a prototype of the Hiriko car, during a 2012 event in Brussels." /></div><div><div><p>&quot;This is a small, folding and smart electric car, but it is also much more than that. It is European social innovation at its best,&quot; said the then-president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso,&nbsp;<a href="http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/25/m-i-t-citycar-renamed-hiriko-is-headed-to-production/?_r=0">at a 2012 event debuting the car</a>&nbsp;in Brussels. He heralded it as a trans-Atlantic &quot;exchange between the world of science and the world of business.&quot;</p></div></div></div><p>Barroso climbed into the car and got a demonstration from Jesus Echave, the Spanish chairman of the Hiriko consortium. Cameras clicked and both men beamed.</p><p>That was 2012.</p><p><strong>How The Project Fell Apart</strong></p><p>Now three years later, Echave and six associates have been placed under formal investigation for alleged misuse of public funds and falsifying documents. Afypaida ceased operations in April 2013, and laid off all of its employees, some of whom are now suing for severance pay. The company is currently in receivership, with its assets frozen.</p><p>Ex-employees of Hiriko have since come forward to say that pieces of the prototype debuted in Brussels were held together with Velcro and superglue.</p><p>NPR reached out to all seven officials under indictment, either directly or through their companies or lawyers. All either refused to comment, or did not respond to multiple requests.</p><div id="res454704584">&quot;They&#39;re politically well-connected businessmen with no prior experience building electric cars. They used this public money to line their own pockets,&quot; says Igor Lopez de Munain, a member of the Basque parliament who has been investigating the Hiriko case. &quot;I believe they never had plans to bring these cars to market. It was all theater!&quot;</div><p>But one of the project&#39;s chief engineers, Carlos Fernandez Isoird, told NPR that all of the money did indeed go to the project, and was not embezzled for personal use.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s expensive to bring a car from design to commercial viability. Ask GM or any of the big companies, and they&#39;ll tell you it takes more than 10 times the budget we had!&quot; he says.</p><p>Fernandez Isoird described a web of seven small engineering firms, including his firm, Denokinn, each tasked with producing a different aspect of the Hiriko car &mdash; the exterior body, the robot wheels, etc.</p><p>&quot;There were problems with a lack of unity in vision, and communication, among all those companies &mdash; too many moving parts,&quot; he says. &quot;This wasn&#39;t a normal car. It was a mobility project. But a lot of the conventional engineers didn&#39;t understand that.&quot;</p><p><strong>What Happened To The Hiriko</strong></p><p>People involved with the project tell NPR that several prototypes were built in Spain. We tried to track down the original, which was based on the MIT design.</p><p>Several sources said they had last seen it at a warehouse in an industrial park on the outskirts of the Basque city of Vitoria-Gasteiz.</p><p>Today, the building seems abandoned, a flock of geese nesting at its entrance. Knocks at the door turned up no answer. The whereabouts of the Hiriko car remain a mystery.</p><div id="res454719842" previewtitle="Outside of the abandoned headquarters of Epsilon Euskadi, one of the companies tasked with building the Hiriko car in Spain. The consortium's parent company, Afypaida, went out of business in 2013. Several sources told NPR that the Hiriko prototype was kept here, in an industrial park outside the Basque city of Vitoria-Gasteiz. But the building is empty now."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Outside of the abandoned headquarters of Epsilon Euskadi, one of the companies tasked with building the Hiriko car in Spain. The consortium's parent company, Afypaida, went out of business in 2013. Several sources told NPR that the Hiriko prototype was kept here, in an industrial park outside the Basque city of Vitoria-Gasteiz. But the building is empty now." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/04/hiriko1-2e9ba2bfb11268d05a8a499757f511fd4a562ee2-s400-c85.jpg" style="height: 224px; width: 300px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: right;" title="Outside of the abandoned headquarters of Epsilon Euskadi, one of the companies tasked with building the Hiriko car in Spain. The consortium's parent company, Afypaida, went out of business in 2013. Several sources told NPR that the Hiriko prototype was kept here, in an industrial park outside the Basque city of Vitoria-Gasteiz. But the building is empty now." /></div><div><div><p><strong>MIT Moves On</strong></p></div></div></div><p>Creators of the original CityCar didn&#39;t know where to find the Hiriko either and they emphasize that a firewall limits their involvement with the commercial production of their inventions. MIT is a nonprofit institution.</p><p>But the inventors are not in mourning. In fact, it&#39;s probably for the best, says team leader Kent Larson, because in the time it took to try to manufacture Hiriko, its technology has already become &quot;obsolete.&quot;</p><p>He says autonomous vehicles will make the folding feature of the CityCar unnecessary.</p><p>&quot;It was actually a great thing, because at that point we had all kinds of new ideas we wanted to explore,&quot; he says. &quot;[We&#39;ve] moved on from a vehicle that folds to save space, to one that doesn&#39;t ever need to be parked.&quot;</p><p>Larson is currently developing a new self-driving electric vehicle that would be almost constantly in motion, for people who don&#39;t own a car. It would drive itself &mdash; or you &mdash; around the city.</p><p>&quot;We realized that perhaps the ideal urban vehicle is an ultralightweight one-person, three-wheel vehicle that&#39;s bikelike, not carlike. It operates on bike lanes, not roads ... and uses very inexpensive sensing and processing, rather than very expensive systems on highway-speed autonomous vehicles,&quot; he explained. &quot;If you have a shared fleet of vehicles ... that serves a population appropriately at rush hour, then you have excess vehicles off-peak. So we transform the vehicle to move goods autonomously &mdash; packages.&quot;</p><div id="res454704617">So it could, say, pick you up from work &mdash; or pick up your groceries, without you.</div><p>They call it the PEV &mdash; the&nbsp;<a href="https://slice.mit.edu/2015/10/26/a-vehicle-for-the-future/">Persuasive Electric Vehicle</a>. It would be low cost and lightweight, with three bicyclelike wheels. It looks a bit like a 21st-century rickshaw.</p><p>Larson says this idea &mdash; like the CityCar &mdash; meets three key criteria for a Media Lab project.</p><p>&quot;They need to have the potential of having impact. They need to be unique &mdash; can&#39;t duplicate what others have done or what you&#39;ve done in the past. And they need to have some qualities of magic. They need to excite people and capture the imagination.&quot;</p><p>Larson says MIT will probably test a prototype of the PEV &mdash; a potentially city-changing new vehicle &mdash; in Europe.</p><p>&quot;Our goal right now is to do a test next year ... and if it proves to be as successful as we think it will be, we&#39;ll work with a company to commercialize it or we&#39;ll spin off a startup to commercialize it,&quot; he says.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/FQhkj7ctEzw?rel=0" width="560"></iframe></p><p><em>NPR&#39;s Elise Hu contributed to this story.</em></p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2015/11/05/454693583/how-a-folding-electric-vehicle-went-from-car-of-the-future-to-obsolete?ft=nprml&amp;f=454693583" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Fri, 06 Nov 2015 12:20:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/how-folding-electric-vehicle-went-car-future-obsolete-113679 Export-Import Bank renewal included in House-approved transportation bill http://www.wbez.org/news/export-import-bank-renewal-included-house-approved-transportation-bill-113664 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/AP_221286814508.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>In adopting a six-year transportation bill to fund highway and transit projects Thursday, the House also approved the revival of the Export-Import Bank, which has been idle since its charter expired in June.</p><p>A similar bill has already been approved by the Senate, including a provision that renews the Ex-Im Bank&#39;s charter. Before the legislation goes to President Obama, the two chambers will have to iron out differences between the two bills.</p><p>Titled the&nbsp;<a href="http://transportation.house.gov/strr-act/#top2">Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act</a>, the House measure authorizes up to $325 billion in spending to repair and replace America&#39;s roads, bridges and rails &mdash; but it only provides funding for the first half of the bill&#39;s six-year window.</p><p>NPR&#39;s David Schaper reports:</p><blockquote><div><p><em>&quot;After 35-short term extensions over the last several years, this long-awaited long term transportation spending plan does provide state and local planners with needed certainty that some federal funding will be flowing for the next three years.</em></p><p><em>&quot;But critics point out that with no increase in the federal gas tax and no other new funding sources, this bill just holds spending on highway and transit construction projects flat, even though costs are rising.&quot;</em></p></div></blockquote><p>The House&#39;s version of the bill doesn&#39;t include limitations on the Ex-Im Bank, an entity that had been targeted by conservative Republicans who said it amounted to &quot;corporate welfare,&quot; as&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/10/25/451749399/supporters-in-congress-make-new-attempt-to-revive-the-export-import-bank">NPR&#39;s Jim Zarroli reported</a>&nbsp;last week.</p><p>&quot;Created during the Depression, the Ex-Im Bank provides insurance and loan guarantees to overseas buyers of American products,&quot; Jim said. He added, &quot;The bank also provides guarantees to U.S. companies doing business overseas to ensure they get paid.&quot;</p><p>After its charter lapsed, the Ex-Im Bank posted a note to its website explaining that it would attempt to manage a &quot;$107 billion portfolio of outstanding obligations&quot; until it is back in business.</p><p>When it approved the transportation measure, the Senate did so by a 64-29 vote. The House approved its version by a vote of 363-64, but not before holding votes on more than 80 amendments &mdash; a process&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/house-passes-highway-bill-with-export-import-bank-renewal-1446740235">The Wall Street Journal</a>&nbsp;says was the first test of new House Speaker Paul Ryan&#39;s &quot;inclusive leadership style.&quot;</p><p>Some of the amendments that were defeated,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/11/05/us-usa-congress-transportation-idUSKCN0SU2G320151105#FDTSROlqlSc4uYe6.97">Reuters says</a>, &quot;would have prohibited financing help [from the Ex-Im Bank] for countries with sovereign wealth fund assets of more than $100 billion or involving U.S. exporters whose chief executives earn more than 100 times the median U.S. wage.&quot;</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/11/05/454900331/export-import-bank-renewal-is-included-in-house-approved-transportation-bill" target="_blank"><em> via NPR</em></a></p></p> Thu, 05 Nov 2015 16:43:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/export-import-bank-renewal-included-house-approved-transportation-bill-113664 Black boxes for truckers http://www.wbez.org/programs/marketplace/2015-11-02/black-boxes-truckers-113593 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/GettyImages-1512503.jpg" alt="" /><p><div><div id="file-294416"><img alt="" id="1" src="http://www.marketplace.org/sites/default/files/styles/primary-image-766x447/public/GettyImages-1512503.jpg?itok=8z775rcp" style="height: 362px; width: 620px;" title="Tractor-trailer rigs are parked at the Petro truck stop in El Paso, TX. A new rule requiring truckers to digitally record driving hours is expected to pass this week. (Joe Raedle/Newsmakers)" typeof="foaf:Image" /><div><div><a href="http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/newsroom/dot-proposes-use-electronic-logbooks-improve-efficiency-safety-commercial-bus-truck" target="_blank">A new rule from the Department of Transportation</a>&nbsp;requiring truckers to digitally record the number of hours they drive is expected to pass this week. That means drivers will have to use ELDS, or Electronic Logging Devices, instead of paper logs to track the hours they drive, and, work.&nbsp;</div></div></div></div><div><div id="story-content"><p>If you work as a truck driver today, according to the rules, you only need to keep a paper log of your hours.</p><p>&ldquo;They literally take a pen and a ruler and they fill out their times everyday of when they&rsquo;re driving and when they&rsquo;re on a break,&rdquo; said&nbsp;Bob Costello, chief economist and senior vice president at the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.trucking.org/" target="_blank">American Trucking Association</a>.&nbsp;</p><p>Notes Costello, when the new rule passes, the process will be automated. So companies should have an easier time matching drivers and loads. But in the short run, the new rule could cost drivers.&nbsp;</p><p>&quot;The biggest cost will be putting the device in the truck,&rdquo; he said.&nbsp;</p><p>Said Neal Kedzie, president of the Wisconsin Motor Carriers Association, the new devices can cost up to a couple thousand dollars per truck. While many big fleets have already invested in the equipment, smaller operators have been holding off.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;A larger number of the small fleet operators that have been hesitant&nbsp;&mdash;&nbsp;wanting to make sure that what they purchased would be the right type equipment,&quot; he said. Not an expensive piece of hardware that would quickly become obsolete.</p><p>Then there&#39;s the issue of cheating. Drivers staying on the road for more hours than allowed and misreporting their numbers. The number of drivers who do that, said Costello, is very low. And the new devices will all but make that impossible. At the same time, a little flexibility can be helpful. Say you&rsquo;re a driver at a truck who&#39;s just started his or her day. Suddenly you run into a traffic jam.</p><p>&quot;You take 15 minutes to get down the road and you&rsquo;re like, &#39;you know what, I&rsquo;m going to get off&nbsp;&mdash;&nbsp;there&rsquo;s no sense in setting in this,&#39;&quot; he said.&nbsp;</p><p>Drivers are allowed no more than 11 hours behind the wheel a day, and to work no more than 14&nbsp;&mdash;&nbsp;including loading and unloading time.&nbsp;But, noted Costello, with the new electronic devices, pulling off the road, and waiting 15 minutes for a snarl to subside; something that could be fudged on paper will no longer be possible. With an electronic tracking device, starting, then stopping your day just a few minutes later &nbsp;is not an option.&nbsp;</p><p>&quot;There&rsquo;s not going to be that flexibility when you have an electronic log,&quot; he said.&nbsp;&quot;Once you start that truck and turn it on and move it, boom, your day starts counting down.&quot;</p></div></div><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.marketplace.org/topics/tech/black-boxes-truckers" target="_blank"><em>via Marketplace</em></a></p></p> Mon, 02 Nov 2015 12:04:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/marketplace/2015-11-02/black-boxes-truckers-113593 Uber surge price? Research says walk a few blocks, wait a few minutes http://www.wbez.org/news/uber-surge-price-research-says-walk-few-blocks-wait-few-minutes-113559 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/boston-edit-358435e17dd8fc4c2e585e740dd5a3e219b7a3bd-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res452606685" previewtitle="This map, created by Christo Wilson of Northeastern University, shows Uber surge price areas in Boston."><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="This map, created by Christo Wilson of Northeastern University, shows Uber surge price areas in Boston." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/28/boston-edit-358435e17dd8fc4c2e585e740dd5a3e219b7a3bd-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="This map, created by Christo Wilson of Northeastern University, shows Uber surge price areas in Boston. (Courtesy of Christo Wilson)" /></div></div><div id="res452606429" previewtitle="Christo Wilson has created this map to show Uber surge areas in Manhattan, where he says prices surge 14 percent of the time."><div><div><p style="text-align: justify;">Uber has shaken up what it takes to get from point A to point B in cities across the country with a simple premise: If you need a ride, a driver nearby could pick you up within minutes.</p></div></div></div><p style="text-align: justify;">Behind that idea is an algorithm, which promises to keep supply and demand in constant balance, encouraging drivers toward busy areas and tempering customer requests by increasing the price of each ride. It&#39;s called&nbsp;<a href="https://help.uber.com/h/6c8065cf-5535-4a8b-9940-d292ffdce119" target="_blank">surge pricing</a>.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Those who have used Uber know that surge pricing is a temperamental beast. It changes quickly, varies and seems to be unpredictable, and has gotten heat from&nbsp;<a href="http://mashable.com/2014/12/14/uber-sydney-surge-pricing/#3OzlJCW0HSqf" target="_blank">consumers</a>,<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/13/nyregion/new-york-city-council-discusses-cap-on-prices-charged-by-car-service-apps-during-peak-times.html?referrer=&amp;_r=1" target="_blank">regulators</a>&nbsp;and even&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cnet.com/news/detest-ubers-surge-pricing-some-drivers-dont-like-it-either/" target="_blank">drivers themselves</a>. Uber says without surge pricing, the whole premise of a ride in minutes&nbsp;<a href="https://newsroom.uber.com/2015/09/the-effects-of-ubers-surge-pricing/" target="_blank">falls apart</a>&nbsp;when there&#39;s a crush of demand.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">But how exactly does Uber&#39;s algorithm work? The company doesn&#39;t say. A team of researchers at Northeastern University decided to find out by doing what they call &quot;algorithmic auditing.&quot;</p><p style="text-align: justify;"><img alt="Christo Wilson has created this map to show Uber surge areas in Manhattan, where he says prices surge 14 percent of the time." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/28/manhattan-edit_custom-41a2647b8d43d8dc6fc0e63e52ff44e4d70c1d3a-s400-c85.jpg" style="text-align: center; height: 201px; width: 200px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: right;" title="Christo Wilson has created this map to show Uber surge areas in Manhattan, where he says prices surge 14 percent of the time. (Courtesy of Christo Wilson)" /></p><p style="text-align: justify;">They found that for customers, it pays to be patient &mdash; or to walk a few blocks to a less crowded area.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">&quot;If you go on eBay or Amazon, you can see, these are all the people who are selling the product, these are all different prices,&quot; says Christo Wilson, one of those researchers. &quot;But Uber is different. They have this algorithm, and they say it changes prices based on supply and demand, but it&#39;s a black box. You have to trust that it&#39;s working correctly&nbsp;because you can&#39;t verify. You don&#39;t know how many customers there are, you don&#39;t know how many other drivers there are.&quot;</p><p style="text-align: justify;"><img alt="Uber prices vary in these sections of the Bay Area, as shown on a map created by Christo Wilson. He found differences in surge frequencies by cities, with San Francisco Uber prices surging 57 percent of the time." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/28/bay_area-edit_custom-78dc8ad791af9812599abaedcb8bd5678e2a4a29-s400-c85.jpg" style="height: 218px; width: 200px; float: right; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="Uber prices vary in these sections of the Bay Area, as shown on a map created by Christo Wilson. He found differences in surge frequencies by cities, with San Francisco Uber prices surging 57 percent of the time. (Courtesy of Christo Wilson)" /></p><p style="text-align: justify;">Here&#39;s what Wilson and his colleagues, Le Chen and Alan Mislove, did: In simplest terms, they created 43 Uber accounts and wrote a script that logged into those accounts, pinged Uber&#39;s servers every 5 seconds (as a regular account would) and recorded the information about Uber drivers in Manhattan and San Francisco.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">The team tested their tracking methodology on a public database of New York taxis to make sure they could extrapolate information about the vast majority of cars in the fleet. Then they studied Uber cars&#39; comings and goings, and eventually combined that research with Uber&#39;s publicly available tools and information to analyze how they correlated with surge prices.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">In their paper, presented Thursday at the&nbsp;<a href="http://conferences2.sigcomm.org/imc/2015/" target="_blank">Internet Measurement Conference</a>&nbsp;in Tokyo, they share what comes down to a few big takeaways:</p><blockquote><ul><li style="text-align: justify;">Surge prices do temper demand.</li><li style="text-align: justify;">Sometimes they do entice more drivers to go to busy areas and sometimes they don&#39;t.</li><li style="text-align: justify;">They vary not only by city but also by sections of the city with what appear to be manually created boundaries of each surge area.</li><li style="text-align: justify;">They most commonly last less than 10 minutes and often less than 5 minutes (and prices are updated every 5 minutes).</li></ul></blockquote><p style="text-align: justify;">&quot;[Surge pricing] is working in a sense that it is responding to supply and demand, but I would argue that it&#39;s not working as intended,&quot; says Wilson, who is an&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ccs.neu.edu/home/cbw/" target="_blank">assistant professor</a>&nbsp;in the College of Computer and Information Science.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">&quot;What we see is that demand drops precipitously, cars stop getting booked and drivers are just sitting there. And actually there&#39;s a lot of drivers who drive away from surges ... . If the incentive was working the way it should, you would expect there always to be an incentive for [drivers] to always move in. But in this case, the result is mixed.&quot;</p><p style="text-align: justify;">With that, comes advice to Uber users: When prices are surging, waiting a few minutes or walking a few blocks to a different area may result in a cheaper ride.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Uber doesn&#39;t dispute the existence of predefined surge areas and the super-fast turnaround of surges, and says both allow the app to quickly calibrate supply and demand.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Wilson suggests that it&#39;s the short lifespan of a surge price that may create the mixed response from drivers, not giving drivers enough time to respond to the price surges that effectively reflect the demand from 5 minutes earlier.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Uber spokeswoman Molly Spaeth tells All Tech that the company has heard its drivers&#39; calls for better ways to make use of the surge prices &mdash; to make them work as they are intended.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Uber earlier this month&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wired.com/2015/10/uberredesign/" target="_blank">revealed a redesigned app for its drivers</a>. One of the elements is meant to help drivers predict where the next wave of customers will be located on an even more granular level than the surge area maps that Wilson&#39;s team has figured out, which you can see on this page.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">&quot;People love Uber because they can push a button and get a ride quickly and reliably&mdash;wherever they are in a city. And dynamic or surge pricing helps make that possible,&quot; Spaeth says in a statement.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">&quot;It encourages drivers to go to the neighborhoods with the highest demand, ensuring there&#39;s always a ride available within minutes. Contrary to the findings in this report &mdash; which is based on extremely limited, public data &mdash; we&#39;ve seen this work in practice day in day out, in cities all around the world.&quot;</p><p style="text-align: justify;">&mdash;<em><a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2015/10/29/452585089/uber-surge-price-research-says-walk-a-few-blocks-wait-a-few-minutes?ft=nprml&amp;f=452585089" target="_blank"> via NPR</a></em></p></p> Thu, 29 Oct 2015 14:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/uber-surge-price-research-says-walk-few-blocks-wait-few-minutes-113559 School bus cameras catch drivers who pass illegally http://www.wbez.org/programs/here-and-now/2015-10-28/school-bus-cameras-catch-drivers-who-pass-illegally-113544 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Highline school bus driver Rodger Fowler shows off his stop paddle – and (in the lower-right corner) the camera that captures motorists who ignore the paddle.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="attachment_95035"><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Highline school bus driver Rodger Fowler shows off his stop paddle – and (in the lower-right corner) the camera that captures motorists who ignore the paddle. (Ann Dornfield/KUOW)" src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/media.wbur.org/wordpress/11/files/2015/10/1027_school-bus-624x424.jpg" style="height: 421px; width: 620px;" title="Highline school bus driver Rodger Fowler shows off his stop paddle – and the camera that captures motorists who ignore the paddle. (Ann Dornfield/KUOW)" /></p><p>If you illegally pass a school bus in the Highline District south of Seattle, you&rsquo;ll likely get a $394 ticket in the mail. The district is one of many around the country rolling out new school bus camera systems that help nab drivers who ignore &ldquo;stop&rdquo; paddles.&nbsp;Ann Dornfeld&nbsp;from<em> Here &amp;&nbsp;Now</em>&nbsp;contributor KUOW reports.</p><p><em><a href="http://kuow.org/post/smile-youre-school-bus-camera-if-you-pass-illegally" target="_blank">Read more via KUOW</a></em></p><p><em>&mdash; <a href="http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2015/10/27/school-bus-traffic-cameras" target="_blank">via Here &amp; Now</a></em></p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 28 Oct 2015 16:07:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/here-and-now/2015-10-28/school-bus-cameras-catch-drivers-who-pass-illegally-113544 VW reports first quarterly loss in this century, at 1.8 billion http://www.wbez.org/news/vw-reports-first-quarterly-loss-century-18-billion-113537 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/AP_312916907332.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res452499026" previewtitle="Volkswagen says the fallout from its diesel emissions scandal is still becoming clear, as it reports a large quarterly loss. A car departs from Volkswagen's factory and company headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Volkswagen says the fallout from its diesel emissions scandal is still becoming clear, as it reports a large quarterly loss. A car departs from Volkswagen's factory and company headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/28/gettyimages-493676864_wide-25f955b8f6b7e2a67bc7618382459de2f353fb7b-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 348px; width: 620px;" title="Volkswagen says the fallout from its diesel emissions scandal is still becoming clear, as it reports a large quarterly loss. A car departs from Volkswagen's factory and company headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)" /></div><div><div><p>Reporting its first quarterly loss in at least 15 years, Volkswagen is adjusting its profits forecast for 2015. The company says its sales revenue rose &mdash; but that costs related to an emissions-cheating scandal overwhelmed earnings to finish at a $1.8 billion loss.</p></div></div></div><p>That $1.8 billion figure represents the after-taxes loss claimed by Volkswagen in&nbsp;<a href="https://www.volkswagen-media-services.com/en/detailpage/-/detail/Volkswagen-Group-generates-operating-profit-before-special-items-of-EUR-102-billion-EUR-94-billion-by-the-end-of-September/view/2838955/7a5bbec13158edd433c6630f5ac445da?p_p_auth=7unGoKd3">its new quarterly statement.</a>&nbsp;The carmaker&#39;s loss before taxes was far higher: $3.8 billion.</p><p>Volkswagen says the losses came along with only a modest drop in sales for the quarter, down 3.7 percent from the third quarter of 2014. We&#39;ll remind you, the tally includes all of VW&#39;s divisions, such as Audi, Bentley and Porsche. Comparing September of 2015 with the previous year, sales were down 1.5 percent.</p><p>&quot;The figures show the core strength of the Volkswagen Group on the one hand, while on the other the initial impact of the current situation is becoming clear,&quot; said the company&#39;s new CEO, Matthias Müller. He added, &quot;We will do everything in our power to win back the trust we have lost.&quot;</p><p>In addition to a damaged reputation, Volkswagen also faces possible fines and legal actions stemming from last month&#39;s revelations that the company had for years&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/09/29/444426362/vw-says-it-will-retrofit-diesel-cars-to-fix-test-cheating-module">used software to cheat emissions tests</a>&nbsp;on its diesel-powered cars.</p><p>VW is also working on ways to fix the cars so they no longer turn off emissions controls during normal driving and activate only during official tests.</p><p>&quot;The company says it still faces considerable costs related to the scandal for which the company has set aside nearly $7.5 billion,&quot; NPR&#39;s Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reports from Berlin. &quot;But some financial analysts predict the scandal could cost the German automaker a lot more.&quot;</p><p><a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/10/28/us-volkswagen-results-idUSKCN0SM0QB20151028?feedType=RSS&amp;feedName=topNews&amp;utm_source=twitter">Reuters</a>&nbsp;reports, &quot;Volkswagen confirmed the loss it reported on Wednesday was its first quarterly loss in at least 15 years but, due to accounting changes, was unable to say precisely when the last loss occurred.&quot;</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/10/28/452497981/vw-reports-first-quarterly-loss-in-this-century-at-1-8-billion?ft=nprml&amp;f=452497981" target="_blank"><em> via NPR</em></a></p></p> Wed, 28 Oct 2015 12:12:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/vw-reports-first-quarterly-loss-century-18-billion-113537 Emanuel: Springfield lawmakers “have to” break stalemate, help Chicago http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-springfield-lawmakers-%E2%80%9Chave-to%E2%80%9D-break-stalemate-help-chicago-113486 <p><div>Another agency in Chicago is looking to deadlocked Springfield for help balancing its books, but Mayor Rahm Emanuel said that&rsquo;s OK, because state lawmakers will eventually come through on their obligations.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Chicago Transit Authority officials say their 2016 budget will be balanced, but only if they get the normal level of funding from the state.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t think I&rsquo;m usually seen as an optimist or keep hope alive is my operating theory,&rdquo; Emanuel told reporters at the Addison CTA Blue Line stop. &ldquo;Look, they have to and will in the end of the day resolve their problem. And their breakdown. They&rsquo;ll have to pass their budget and they&rsquo;ll have to meet their responsibilities.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Emanuel joined CTA president Dorval Carter Jr. Thursday to announce the details of the agency&rsquo;s budget proposal. Carter said the CTA would not increases fares or cut services to balance their $1.475 billion budget, but it will need state funding to fill about 20 percent of the spending plan as it has in years past.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/IMG_1583.JPG" style="height: 300px; width: 400px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: right;" title="Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. announce details of the agency’s 2016 budget. (WBEZ/Lauren Chooljian)" /></p><div>Carter said he&rsquo;s been in &ldquo;productive conversations&rdquo; with lawmakers in Springfield. But as Illinoisans know well, the state is in its fourth month without a budget.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;I can&rsquo;t speak for the governor or for anyone else in terms of where they&rsquo;re going to go or what they&rsquo;re going to do,&rdquo; Carter said. &ldquo;What I can say is I&rsquo;m managing my budget efficiently.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The budget calls for eliminating 100 positions in what officials call &ldquo;non-customer facing areas.&rdquo; It also projects continued growth in ridership. &nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The CTA isn&rsquo;t the only Chicago agency counting on the state. The Chicago Board of Education<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-board-education-passes-budget-banks-imaginary-money-112740" target="_blank"> unanimously approved a multibillion dollar budget </a>that relies on almost $500 million from Springfield, even though the Illinois General Assembly hasn&rsquo;t agreed to send the Chicago Public School district any additional money.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Meanwhile at City Hall, aldermen are hemming and hawing over whether to support a $543 million property tax increase that relies on Governor Bruce Rauner signing a bill that would lessen state-mandated police and fire pension payments. And an Emanuel supported bill that would double the current homeowners&rsquo; exemption and lessen the blow on homeowners who he said can least afford the additional property tax pain has only passed through one committee.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Aldermen have said that their &ldquo;trust issues&rdquo; with Springfield could affect whether or not they support the mayor&rsquo;s budget.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>Lauren Chooljian covers Chicago politics for WBEZ. Follow her<a href="http://twitter.com/laurenchooljian" target="_blank"> @laurenchooljian</a>.</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Fri, 23 Oct 2015 13:58:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-springfield-lawmakers-%E2%80%9Chave-to%E2%80%9D-break-stalemate-help-chicago-113486