WBEZ | Transportation http://www.wbez.org/news/transportation Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Like Millennials, More Older Americans Steering Away From Driving http://www.wbez.org/news/millennials-more-older-americans-steering-away-driving-114809 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/594830977-47edb03ad5a30e956497a3e9db74c33e0d704fe2.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A growing number of Americans are driving less and getting rid of their cars.</p><p>The trend is gaining traction in middle-aged adults, to the point where fewer of them are even bothering to get or renew their driver&#39;s licenses, but it&#39;s been prominent among younger adults &mdash; millennials &mdash; for years now.</p><p>&quot;Honestly, at this point, it just doesn&#39;t really seem worth it,&quot; says 25-year-old Peter Rebecca, who doesn&#39;t own a car or have a driver&#39;s license. &quot;I mean, I live in Chicago, there&#39;s really good access to, you know, public transits for pretty cheap.&quot;</p><p>The student at Harold Washington College downtown lives just a couple of blocks from a rail stop on the Northwest side. In the warmer months, Rebecca says, he uses a bike.</p><p>&quot;I&#39;ve got a bunch of grocery stores in walking distance, and even then I can use the bus if I have to get further,&quot; he says.</p><p>Rebecca is hardly alone, especially among young adults in urban areas.</p><p>&quot;Over the past several decades, particularly for the youngest age groups, there&#39;s been a pretty large decrease in the number of people who have been getting driver&#39;s licenses,&quot; says Brandon Schoettle, a researcher at the University of Michigan.</p><p>He led&nbsp;<a href="http://www.umich.edu/~umtriswt/PDF/UMTRI-2016-4_Abstract_English.pdf">a new study published&nbsp;</a>by University of Michigan&#39;s Transportation Research Institute that studied the proportion of people with driver&#39;s licenses over the years.</p><p>According to the study, only 69 percent of 19-year-olds have a driver&#39;s license in 2014, compared with almost 90 percent in 1983. The percentage of 20-somethings with driver&#39;s licenses has also fallen by 13 percent over the past three decades, and fewer Americans in their 30s and 40s now have driver&#39;s licenses.</p><div id="res466332451"><div id="responsive-embed-drivers-licenses-20160210"><iframe frameborder="0" height="829px" marginheight="0" scrolling="no" src="http://apps.npr.org/dailygraphics/graphics/drivers-licenses-20160210/child.html?initialWidth=774&amp;childId=responsive-embed-drivers-licenses-20160210&amp;parentUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.npr.org%2F2016%2F02%2F11%2F466178523%2Flike-millennials-more-older-americans-steering-away-from-driving%3Fft%3Dnprml%26f%3D466178523" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border-width: 0px; border-style: initial; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: inherit; line-height: inherit; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;" width="620px"></iframe></div></div><p>Susan Schell might soon be one of them. The manager of a Starbucks on Chicago&#39;s northwest side says her driver&#39;s license is up for renewal this month, yet she doesn&#39;t own a car.</p><p>&quot;I used to. I got rid of it just because it&#39;s too much of a pain in the butt to have in Chicago, and we kept getting tickets and I just didn&#39;t want to deal with it,&quot; Schell says.</p><p>In addition to living in a city that is relentless in doling out parking tickets, Schell says, there&#39;s the cost of insurance, gas and maintenance on top of the cost of the car itself. Her husband recently let his driver&#39;s license expire because they take public transit to work, and they have other options for shopping.</p><p>&quot;We use services like Instacart a lot,&quot; she says. &quot;... If we&#39;ve done, like, a big trip at Target or something, we just call an Uber. There&#39;s so many options when you live in a city.&quot;</p><p>&quot;For some of the oldest age groups, which had seen relatively large increases in licensing over the past few decades, finally seemed to have peaked and have started to show some small decreases in licensing,&quot; he says. &quot;And so, for the first time in the series of reports that we&#39;ve done, we&#39;ve kind of seen a decrease in the percentage of people with a license across all age groups.&quot;Schoettle says now this trend is not just limited to teenagers and those in their 20s.</p><p>Forty-eight-year-old Raul Chavez hasn&#39;t renewed his driver&#39;s license since it expired more than a year ago &mdash; and he keeps his car parked.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s quite a bit expensive, because you have to have insurance,&quot; he says. &quot;The latest two years, I use public transportation and I really enjoy it because it&#39;s cheap and it&#39;s reliable everywhere you&#39;re gonna go.&quot;</p><p>Schoettle says that&#39;s one of the main reasons more Americans of all ages are going without driver&#39;s licenses.</p><p>&quot;There&#39;s been a shift publicly for people to move to things like public transportation that just wasn&#39;t there back in the &#39;80s and &#39;90s, partly because there&#39;s sometimes better public transportation in certain areas than there was a few decades ago, and a little more concern about the environment,&quot; he says.</p><p>Schoettle says he&#39;ll be watching to see if cheaper gas might now reverse the trend.</p><p><a href="http://www.npr.org/2016/02/11/466178523/like-millennials-more-older-americans-steering-away-from-driving?ft=nprml&amp;f=466178523"><em>&mdash; via NPR</em></a></p></p> Thu, 11 Feb 2016 15:06:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/millennials-more-older-americans-steering-away-driving-114809 Why People Freaked Out When the U.S. Wanted to Change the Font on Highway Signs http://www.wbez.org/news/why-people-freaked-out-when-us-wanted-change-font-highway-signs-114797 <p><div><p>Last week, the US&nbsp;government made a big graphic design decision without much fanfare.</p></div><p>The Federal Highway Administration&nbsp;<a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2016/01/highway-fonts-clearview-gothic/431619/" target="_blank">quietly withdrew</a>&nbsp;its approval of Clearview, the typeface that&rsquo;s been showing up on highway signs around the country over the past decade or so. In its place, the FHWA is bringing back Highway Gothic &mdash; a typeface that went&nbsp;unchanged for 60 years, and one whose legibility problems Clearview was designed to fix.</p><div><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="http://cdn1.pri.org/sites/default/files/styles/original_image/public/Highway2.jpg?itok=QNmHGhnv" style="height: 386px; width: 540px;" title="Clearview, on the right, made signs easier to read without increasing in size from their Highway Gothic versions, seen on the left. (Don Meeker)" typeof="foaf:Image" /></p><div><p>To understand why this is such a big deal, you have to go back to the 1950s. As the Eisenhower administration unveiled the interstate highway system, the government needed a standard typeface for its road signs. As graphic designer Don Meeker explained&nbsp;<a href="http://www.studio360.org/story/110141-design-real-world/" target="_blank">in a story</a>&nbsp;about the design of road signs, Highway Gothic was based on a print lettering font, blown up to giant size.</p></div></div><p>&ldquo;The astonishing thing is that [Highway Gothic] has lived for 58 years,&rdquo; Meeker&nbsp;<a href="http://www.studio360.org/story/110141-design-real-world/" target="_blank">told us</a>&nbsp;in 2011. &ldquo;If computers were regulated like highway signs, we&rsquo;d still be living with vacuum tubes.&rdquo;</p><div><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="http://cdn1.pri.org/sites/default/files/styles/original_image/public/4330137551_b10a903a59_o.jpg?itok=ImGjjibu" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="When the interstate system expanded in the 1950s, it needed a standard sign typeface. Highway Gothic fit the bill. (Doug Kerr/Flickr)" typeof="foaf:Image" /></p><div><p>By the late 1980s,&nbsp;it was clear that Highway Gothic had problems. It was&nbsp;notorious for an effect&nbsp;known as &ldquo;halation,&rdquo; in which bright reflections turned letters into an illegible white blur at night.</p></div></div><p>As the driving population aged and baby boomers&rsquo; eyesight deteriorated, traffic&nbsp;engineers&nbsp;saw Highway Gothic&rsquo;s halation as a potentially deadly design problem in need of a typographic&nbsp;solution.</p><div><p style="text-align: right;"><img alt="" src="http://cdn1.pri.org/sites/default/files/styles/original_image/public/Highway1.jpg?itok=Kwpv1rAD" style="height: 150px; width: 310px; float: right; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="Halation can make Highway Gothic signs a blurry mess at night. (Don Meeker)" typeof="foaf:Image" /></p><div><p>Meeker helped bring highway signs back into focus with Clearview. It eased the tight internal spaces of lowercase letters like &ldquo;a&rdquo; and &ldquo;e,&rdquo; which in Highway Gothic tended to trap light and look like &ldquo;o&rdquo;s at night. Clearview aimed to improve legibility,&nbsp;<a href="http://clearviewhwy.com/ResearchAndDesign/_articles/TRB_Paper.pdf" target="_blank">and it did</a>, according to research conducted at&nbsp;Penn State and Texas A&amp;M.</p></div></div><p>Clearview made signs easier to read at highway speeds from farther away, without having to increase the size of the letters or the signs themselves. Starting in 2004, roughly 30 states adopted the font.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/clearview_tests.jpg" style="height: 304px; width: 540px;" title="In the 1990s, researchers from Penn State tested Clearview's legibility against Highway Gothic. (Don Meeker)" /></div><p>So why is the FHWA putting&nbsp;Clearview in the rear view? According to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.citylab.com/commute/2016/01/official-united-states-highway-sign-font-clearview/427068/" target="_blank">CityLab</a>, an FHWA spokesman cited unpublished research that calls Clearview&rsquo;s legibility into question. But Meeker has calls this claim baloney.</p><p>&ldquo;Helen Keller can tell you from the grave that Clearview looks better,&rdquo; Meeker told CityLab. He suspects the about-face is personal. &ldquo;This is a burr in somebody&rsquo;s saddle,&rdquo; he said, adding, &ldquo;They don&rsquo;t understand design.&rdquo;</p><div><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="http://cdn1.pri.org/sites/default/files/styles/original_image/public/ClearviewGothic_620.jpg?itok=-IBDlzMQ" style="height: 270px; width: 540px;" title="Highway Gothic, on the left; and Clearview, on the right, in the field. (Don Meeker)" typeof="foaf:Image" /></p><div><p>Still, even if this new policy holds, you&rsquo;ve still got plenty of time to appreciate the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.studio360.org/story/110141-design-real-world/" target="_blank">glories of Clearview</a>&nbsp;&mdash; it will be decades&nbsp;before all the signs bearing the new typeface&nbsp;get replaced. When that day comes, some fancier&nbsp;<a href="http://www.aaroads.com/forum/index.php?topic=1411.0" target="_blank">message boards</a>&nbsp;may start tracking the last remaining examples of this once-promising innovation.</p></div></div><div><div><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="500px" scrolling="no" src="https://surveymonkey.com/r/P2HZ9RB" style="box-sizing: border-box;" width="620px"></iframe></div></div><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.studio360.org/story/reversing-direction-highway-fonts/"><em> via Studio 360</em></a></p></p> Wed, 10 Feb 2016 16:01:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/why-people-freaked-out-when-us-wanted-change-font-highway-signs-114797 O'Hare to Get 6th Runway, but Without Expanded Terminals, Delays May Continue http://www.wbez.org/news/ohare-get-6th-runway-without-expanded-terminals-delays-may-continue-114654 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/ohare.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="storytext"><p>Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has reached a long sought-after agreement with two major airlines &mdash; United and American &mdash; to build a new runway at O&#39;Hare airport. The $1.3 billion project will increase capacity at the congested airfield in hopes of reducing delays.</p><p>However, the deal does not include an agreement with the airlines to increase terminal space and add new gates, which some travel industry experts say is critical to reducing congestion at O&#39;Hare, an airport notorious among frequent fliers for delays.</p><p>The new runway will complete a modernization project that began more than a decade ago, changing O&#39;Hare&#39;s configuration from several intersecting runways to a configuration of six parallel, east-to-west runways and two diagonal runways.</p><p>&quot;This new runway that will now be built is one of the final steps in realizing a fully modernized and efficient O&#39;Hare International Airport,&quot; said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta at a Sunday news conference at O&#39;Hare announcing the agreement.</p><p>&quot;When runway 9C/27C is completed, it will allow for arrivals and departures to operate on different runways in the north half of the airport,&quot; Huerta said. &quot;And this will enable more on-time operations and greater safety margins for incoming and outgoing aircraft.&quot;</p><div id="res465102107" previewtitle="Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announces an agreement to build a sixth runway at O'Hare International Airport, flanked by FAA Administrator Michael Huerta (left) and United Airlines President and CEO Oscar Munoz."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announces an agreement to build a sixth runway at O'Hare International Airport, flanked by FAA Administrator Michael Huerta (left) and United Airlines President and CEO Oscar Munoz." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2016/02/01/img_3401-2-_sq-90c417e5b13f5efe81a37e77d5df1a1309fe2d59-s400-c85.jpg" style="height: 310px; width: 310px; float: right; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announces an agreement to build a sixth runway at O'Hare International Airport, flanked by FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, left, and United Airlines President and CEO Oscar Munoz. (David Schaper/NPR)" /></div><div><div><p>The building of the new runway and decommissioning of a diagonal runway will allow for construction of a new, more direct taxiway to O&#39;Hare&#39;s terminals, eliminating a long, circuitous and time-consuming journey that many planes now make after landing to get to their gates. The project also calls for constructing deicing pads away from the gates, so planes no longer have to remain at and tie up gates while being deiced in snowy weather.</p></div></div></div><p>Mayor Emanuel acknowledged that the city in the past has often been too focused on whether O&#39;Hare would surpass Atlanta&#39;s Hartsfield-Jackson International as the nation&#39;s busiest airport. &quot;The measure going forward from now on,&quot; Emanuel said Sunday, &quot;is not whether we are the busiest but whether we are the best.&quot;</p><p>&quot;So today, we&#39;re not only laying the groundwork for a 21st-century airport, but it will power a Chicago for the 21st-century economy,&quot; the mayor added.</p><p><strong>A Welcome Distraction For The Beleaguered Mayor</strong></p><p>For Emanuel, the agreement allowed him to shift away from the rising tensions in the city and continuous controversy over his administration&#39;s handling of the release of dash-cam video showing the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald by a Chicago police officer.</p><p>And Emanuel is hoping to spread the wealth from the $1.3 billion infrastructure project to underserved communities in the city.</p><p>&quot;We&#39;re going to do something different with this investment,&quot; he said in laying out how the city will establish contracting rules to allow minorities to gain a significant share of the estimated 5,000 construction and professional services jobs expected to be created by the project.</p><p>&quot;We&#39;re going to do it in a way where O&#39;Hare is no longer an island ... and make sure that everybody from every part of the city of Chicago participates in the growth of O&#39;Hare.&quot;</p><p>Shari Runner, president and CEO of the Chicago Urban League, said with projects like this one, &quot;communities of color in our great city often ask, what is that going to do about jobs for me, and what is that going to do about investment in our businesses that are struggling?</p><p>&quot;So it&#39;s important to us ... to make sure that this is going to be not only a diverse workforce, but a diverse contracting opportunity for our businesses and bring some income back into our communities.&quot;</p><p>But the airport expansion project is not without controversy itself. Many city and suburban residents who live near the airport have been complaining about increased jet noise under recently adopted east-west takeoff and landing patterns, and some of their elected representatives fear even more disruptive noise from the new, sixth runway.</p><p>&quot;We believe that prioritizing the construction of yet another east-west runway without first addressing the significant increases in noise that our constituents have endured since the implementation of the O&#39;Hare Modernization Program comes at the expense of our constituents&#39; health and property values,&quot; U.S. Reps. Mike Quigley, Tammy Duckworth and Jan Schakowsky, all Democrats, said in a joint statement.</p><p><strong>Still No Terminal Expansions</strong></p><p>Despite the city spending $10 billion since 2005 building new runways and shifting to the east-west configuration to increase capacity and reduce delays, O&#39;Hare still has some of the longest delays among large airports nationwide.</p><p>And some travel industry experts say what O&#39;Hare really needs is more terminal space and additional gates.</p><p>&quot;The shortage of gates is a serious issue that has to be addressed,&quot; travel industry analyst Henry Harteveldt of San Francisco-based Atmosphere Research Group told the&nbsp;<em><a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/politics/ct-emanuel-ohare-new-runway-met-20160129-story.html">Chicago Tribune</a></em>. But United Airlines and American Airlines, which both have major hubs at O&#39;Hare and dominate the air and gate space there, have long opposed additional gates that could allow low-cost competitors, including JetBlue, Virgin America and Spirit, to add flights and gain greater market share. &quot;That borders on anti-competitive behavior,&quot; said Harteveltd.</p><p>Chicago Aviation Commissioner Ginger Evans says the deal brokered to build a new runway is a first major step toward new gates, saying, &quot;This is the key to being able to do what we&#39;ve all been waiting for for so many years, which is to add gates to the main terminal complex at O&#39;Hare.&quot;</p><p>Evans says the next step is negotiating new use and lease agreements with American and United. Current deals expire in 2018.</p><p>The city expects to break ground on the new runway in May, with completion expected by 2020.</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/02/01/465101435/ohare-will-get-a-sixth-runway-but-without-expanded-terminals-delays-may-continue?ft=nprml&amp;f=465101435"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 01 Feb 2016 11:37:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/ohare-get-6th-runway-without-expanded-terminals-delays-may-continue-114654 Jury Convicts ex-Chicago Official in Red-Light Camera Case http://www.wbez.org/news/jury-convicts-ex-chicago-official-red-light-camera-case-114622 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/redlight.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>CHICAGO&nbsp;(AP) &mdash; A federal jury convicted a former&nbsp;Chicago&nbsp;transportation official on Tuesday for taking bribes to steer $100 million in red-light camera contracts to a Phoenix company.</p><p>Jurors returned with guilty verdicts on all 20 counts against John Bills, the former second-in-command at&nbsp;Chicago&#39;s&nbsp;Department of Transportation. Bills was accused of accepting envelopes stuffed with cash, along with gifts &mdash; including condos in two states and a Mercedes &mdash; to help Redflex Traffic Systems obtain contracts in a decade-long scheme.</p><p>During closing arguments Monday, U.S. Attorney Zach Fardon detailed hotels stays, golf trips, an Arizona condominium, a&nbsp;Chicago&nbsp;apartment and a Mercedes given to Bills for his efforts.</p><p>Defense attorney Nishay Sanan told jurors in his closing arguments that the money actually went to &quot;lobbyists who funneled it upstairs,&quot; tossing out names including Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan,&nbsp;Chicago&nbsp;Mayor Rahm Emanuel and&nbsp;ChicagoAlderman Edward Burke, the&nbsp;Chicago&nbsp;Tribune reported.</p><p>&quot;You don&#39;t give that kind of money to a guy like John Bills. You give it to people who can get things done,&quot; Sanan told jurors, who began deliberating Monday.</p><p>No elected officials have been implicated by prosecutors in the scheme. Fardon called Sanan&#39;s contention &quot;malarkey,&quot; and prosecutors showed emails in which Bills described his efforts for Redflex.</p><p>&quot;The idea that lobbyists were paid to funnel money to people like Mike Madigan and Ed Burke and Rahm Emanuel is pretty grandiose, but there is not one single shred of evidence that supports any of it,&quot; Fardon said.</p><p>Martin O&#39;Malley, who was hired as a Redflex consultant, testified that he passed envelopes stuffed with thousands of dollars in cash at a time to Bills at a restaurant. O&#39;Malley has pleaded guilty to his role in the scheme.</p><p>&quot;Sometimes there would be other people there with us, but they couldn&#39;t tell what was happening,&quot; O&#39;Malley told jurors during the trial.</p><p>O&#39;Malley said he collected about $2 million in bogus commissions during the 10-year conspiracy. He said Redflex paid him a commission every time a new camera system was installed in&nbsp;Chicago.</p><p>Former Redflex executive Karen Finley also has pleaded guilty to related charges. She is scheduled for sentencing this year.</p><p>Emanuel canceled Redflex&#39;s contract in 2013 following the&nbsp;Chicago&nbsp;Tribune&#39;s reports about the alleged bribery scheme. Bills retired from his job as&nbsp;Chicago&#39;s&nbsp;managing deputy commissioner of transportation in 2011. He was charged in 2014.</p></p> Tue, 26 Jan 2016 14:35:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/jury-convicts-ex-chicago-official-red-light-camera-case-114622 In The Battle Between Lyft and Uber, Focus is on Drivers http://www.wbez.org/programs/all-things-considered/2016-01-19/battle-between-lyft-and-uber-focus-drivers-114510 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/gettyimages-485214396-a144d23b33860d51856ada896df191f9e3b8c77b-s1200.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Hundreds of thousands of people drive for Uber in the U.S. The ride-hailing company has had high-profile fights in courts and city halls over the status of these drivers: Are they employees or contractors? Can they unionize?</p><p>A fight that&#39;s gotten far less attention &mdash; one that may affect drivers far more &mdash; is the competition between Uber and its main rival, Lyft.</p><p>Competition for drivers is so great that, about a year ago, Uber sent covert operatives into Lyft cars &mdash; to recruit.</p><p>Isabella Dure-Biondi was one of these covert operatives.</p><p>&quot;I don&#39;t really care Lyft versus Uber,&quot; she says. &quot;But I had the chance to make money and I was getting free Lyft rides.&quot;</p><p><strong>A Dramatic Tactic</strong></p><p>In November 2014, a woman who worked for Uber told Dure-Biondi she could make cash quick. They met at the Arbor Cafe in Oakland, Calif.</p><p>&quot;She had a laptop, and then she had me sign some&quot; papers, Dure-Biondi says.</p><p>By the end of 2014, Uber had hired hundreds of people across the country for this very grass-roots job. For its part, Lyft says it offers bonuses to current drivers who sign up new ones.</p><div id="con463491489" previewtitle="Related"><div id="res463491022"><div><div>&nbsp;</div></div></div></div><p>Dure-Biondi got Uber training on the spot.</p><p>&quot;We took a couple of rides together, and she kind of showed me how to&quot; get Lyft drivers to switch to Uber, Dure-Biondi adds.</p><p>The recruiter, who independently verified these details with NPR, gave Dure-Biondi an iPhone. For two months, Dure-Biondi would order Lyft cars, hop in and start chatting up the driver: How are you doing? How&#39;s your day?</p><p>&quot;Oh, where are you from? Asking nice-people questions. Just being nice,&quot; Dure-Biondi says.</p><p>And then, she&#39;d casually slip in: &quot;Why&#39;d you decide to drive for Lyft? Oh, yeah, that&#39;s really interesting. Well, would you ever consider driving for Uber? Why did you decide Lyft over Uber?&quot;</p><p>At this point in the conversation, Dure-Biondi would reveal that she&#39;s an Uber ambassador, and if the driver signs up right now, they&#39;ll each make hundreds of dollars.</p><p>Interestingly, only one guy agreed. Dure-Biondi says the big bonus wasn&#39;t enough: &quot;A lot of people chose Lyft because of the morals of it versus Uber. It was more of a friendly company.&quot;</p><p><strong>Drivers Compare The Services</strong></p><p>Scott Christopherson drives for both Lyft and Uber. &quot;Yeah, I think that there is a difference in the relationship between passengers and drivers in the two platforms,&quot; he says.</p><p>NPR spoke with two-dozen people who decided to work for both companies. And consistently, these drivers say: In Lyft there are fewer expectations. It&#39;s more touchy-feely.</p><p>Passengers are supposed to hop in the front seat and be friendly because, as the motto goes, the driver is &quot;your friend with a car.&quot;</p><p>&quot;I have very few problems with Lyft passengers,&quot; Christopherson says. &quot;They&#39;re generally very nice. Or if they&#39;re not nice, they&#39;re quiet.&quot;</p><p>Uber started as a luxury brand. Its motto is &quot;everyone&#39;s private driver.&quot; So, Christopherson says, for people like him &mdash; people who drive super-part-time, who have other jobs &mdash; it&#39;s not a great feeling when passengers expect a chauffeur.</p><p>&quot;They don&#39;t really kind of care about what you think of them. And so it&#39;s a little more fraught,&quot; he says.</p><p>Driver Jennifer Rose agrees there&#39;s a difference, but doesn&#39;t think it&#39;s a bad thing. On days when she&#39;s high on life, has great news about her kids, she can really enjoy a chatty Lyft passenger. Other times, she likes the quiet. &quot;I can appreciate the person who wants to talk the whole trip or the person who just wants to sit there and take a ride,&quot; she says.</p><p>Financially, there are differences too. NPR examined drivers&#39; payment statements. Lyft takes 20 percent of fares. Uber takes 20 to 25 percent on the standard service, and 28 percent on the SUV service.</p><p>Most drivers say these percentages are fairly comparable. It&#39;s another line item that stands out: &quot;The one thing that Lyft does and Uber doesn&#39;t is tipping! Did you notice that looking at the [statements]?&quot; Christopherson says.</p><p>Lyft says its drivers earned about $58 million last year &mdash; on top of fares &mdash; through tips.</p><p><strong>Lyft</strong><strong>: Mission Is Different</strong></p><p>Lyft Chief Marketing Officer Kira Wampler says the company is more focused on driver well-being than Uber is because Lyft has a different mission.</p><p>While both companies want to improve transportation, Lyft explicitly has an environmental goal: having fewer cars on the road and filling empty seats.</p><p>&quot;You can&#39;t fill every seat in every car unless the people in each car treat each other well,&quot; Wampler says.</p><p>Uber declined an interview to discuss driver benefits. But in an email, Faryl Ury, a company spokeswoman, says it&#39;s misleading to just say that Uber takes a bigger cut from drivers. Driver earnings depend a lot on how many rides they get, and in most markets Uber has more passengers calling. On tipping, Ury says, research shows tips are not really based on quality of service, so drivers could be rewarded or dinged unfairly.</p><p>Ryder Pearce, co-founder of&nbsp;<a href="https://www.sherpashare.com/">Sherpashare</a>, a site that tracks wages and expenses for on-demand drivers, says competition is an &quot;enormous benefit&quot; for workers. When Uber or Lyft announces a new perk, the other follows, thereby pushing up the floor.</p><p>For example, both companies recently announced short-term car rentals for drivers who don&#39;t have their own wheels or insurance.</p><p>&quot;Uber and Lyft both recognize that if they don&#39;t keep rates competitive, and add more driver perks &mdash; and both have very large teams working on this &mdash; they will lose out on drivers,&quot; Pearce says.</p><p>Sherpashare data indicate many drivers work for more than one service. Pearce says they don&#39;t have a strong incentive to be loyal because the differences between companies are not that stark. Drivers&#39; bottom-line concern: &quot;They just want to log in and have passengers to pick up,&quot; he says.</p><p>If one company won and got all the business, he says, drivers would lose out.</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2016/01/18/463473462/is-uber-good-to-drivers-it-s-relative?ft=nprml&amp;f=463473462" target="_blank"><em> via NPR</em></a></p></p> Tue, 19 Jan 2016 11:17:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/all-things-considered/2016-01-19/battle-between-lyft-and-uber-focus-drivers-114510 Hydrogen-Powered Cars Cant Make it Without These '4 Miracles' http://www.wbez.org/news/hydrogen-powered-cars-cant-make-it-without-these-4-miracles-114511 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/IMG_5586.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Battery-powered cars and trucks seem to be winning the day as the way forward to increase fuel efficiency and to cut carbon pollution.</p><p>But there was a time when we heard a lot about fuel cells. The cells convert hydrogen into electricity that can then power a car or truck.</p><p>That hype died down as people realized there are significant barriers to powering our vehicles with hydrogen.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em><u><strong><a href="http://michiganradio.org/post/hydrogen-powered-cars-cant-make-it-without-these-4-miracles#stream/0">Listen to the Story</a></strong></u></em></p><p>One year ago, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk&nbsp;spoke at a news conference on the subject.</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t want to turn this into a debate on hydrogen fuel cells because I just think that they&rsquo;re extremely silly,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s just very difficult to make hydrogen and store it and use it in a car.&rdquo;</p><p>(Scroll to 10:20 in this&nbsp;<a href="https://youtu.be/Y_e7rA4fBAo">video&nbsp;</a>to hear his statement.)</p><p>And he hasn&#39;t been the only one to say using fuel cells to power vehicles isn&#39;t the best idea. In 2009, then U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu said it would take &quot;four miracles&quot; to make fuel cells in cars work.</p><p>His statement was captured by&nbsp;<a href="http://www.plugincars.com/energy-secretary-chu-opening-his-mind-hydrogen-121603.html">MIT Technology Review</a>:</p><blockquote><p>&quot;Right now, the way we get hydrogen primarily is from reforming gas. That&#39;s not an ideal source of hydrogen...The other problem is, if it&#39;s for transportation, we don&#39;t have a good storage mechanism yet. What else? The fuel cells aren&#39;t there yet, and the distribution infrastructure isn&#39;t there yet. In order to get significant deployment, you need four significant technological breakthroughs. If you need&nbsp;four miracles, that&#39;s unlikely. Saints only need three miracles.&quot;</p></blockquote><p><strong>But hydrogen is not dead.</strong></p><p>I decided to check in with a few automakers at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. I asked several of them where their fuel cell programs are today.</p><p>It seems like a lot of car companies still have their toes in the fuel cell game, but some are pushing ahead faster than others &mdash; especially the Japanese automakers like Honda and Toyota, and Korean automaker Hyundai.</p><div><a href="http://mediad.publicbroadcasting.net/p/michigan/files/styles/x_large/public/201501/fcv_honda_hydrogen_pfleger.jpg?_ga=1.207434771.1416796484.1452271812"><img data-interchange-default="http://michiganradio.org/sites/michigan/files/styles/default/public/201501/fcv_honda_hydrogen_pfleger.jpg" data-interchange-large="http://mediad.publicbroadcasting.net/p/michigan/files/styles/large/public/201501/fcv_honda_hydrogen_pfleger.jpg" data-interchange-medium="http://mediad.publicbroadcasting.net/p/michigan/files/styles/medium/public/201501/fcv_honda_hydrogen_pfleger.jpg" data-interchange-small="http://mediad.publicbroadcasting.net/p/michigan/files/styles/small/public/201501/fcv_honda_hydrogen_pfleger.jpg" src="http://mediad.publicbroadcasting.net/p/michigan/files/styles/large/public/201501/fcv_honda_hydrogen_pfleger.jpg" style="height: 206px; width: 310px; float: right; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="Honda's FCV Clarity concept at last years Detroit auto show in 2014. (PAIGE PFLEGER / MICHIGAN RADIO)" /></a><div><div>One of the concepts I&#39;ve seen displayed at past auto shows is the Honda FCV Clarity. &nbsp;</div></div></div><p>Honda executives say they&#39;re planning a limited release of&nbsp;the&nbsp;<a href="http://automobiles.honda.com/fcx-clarity/">Clarity</a>&nbsp;in California later this year. They say the car will roll out in Japan sooner.</p><p>I asked John Mendel, executive vice president of American Honda, why the company is investing in fuel cell technology when people like Elon Musk are calling it silly to do so.</p><p>&ldquo;Well, for the same reason that Elon talks about fuel cells being silly &mdash; we don&rsquo;t think they&rsquo;re silly,&quot; he says. &quot;We think, you know, hydrogen is still the most abundant element in the universe. And that technology is rapidly changing.&rdquo;</p><p>Mendel says his company, Honda, and Musk&rsquo;s company, Tesla Motors, are on the same page in that they both believe in &ldquo;electrification.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s just, where do you get your electricity?&rdquo; he says.</p><p>He&rsquo;s saying there&rsquo;s a shared belief between the companies: that electric motors are the future of the industry. The difference between the companies is that Honda believes fuel cells can be a technology used to power those electric motors. Musk is all-in on batteries, so that&#39;s where&nbsp;<a href="https://www.teslamotors.com/gigafactory">his investments are</a>.</p><p>Mendel says Honda is working on all these technologies simultaneously: Batteries in hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and, yes, fuel cells.</p><p><strong>What about American car companies?</strong></p><p>Of the big three, GM has been the biggest player in the hydrogen fuel cell field.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><div><a href="http://mediad.publicbroadcasting.net/p/michigan/files/styles/x_large/public/201601/GM_FC_Equinox.jpeg?_ga=1.207434771.1416796484.1452271812"><img data-interchange-default="http://michiganradio.org/sites/michigan/files/styles/default/public/201601/GM_FC_Equinox.jpeg" data-interchange-large="http://mediad.publicbroadcasting.net/p/michigan/files/styles/large/public/201601/GM_FC_Equinox.jpeg" data-interchange-medium="http://mediad.publicbroadcasting.net/p/michigan/files/styles/medium/public/201601/GM_FC_Equinox.jpeg" data-interchange-small="http://mediad.publicbroadcasting.net/p/michigan/files/styles/small/public/201601/GM_FC_Equinox.jpeg" src="http://mediad.publicbroadcasting.net/p/michigan/files/styles/large/public/201601/GM_FC_Equinox.jpeg" style="height: 242px; width: 310px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: right;" title="A GM hydrogen-powered Chevrolet Equinox. A fleet of these test vehicles launched in 2007. (STEVE FECHT / GENERAL MOTORS)" /></a><div>Several years ago, it seemed like the company was betting fuel cells would be the future of electric cars, but now they&rsquo;re really pushing their battery-powered cars and they&rsquo;re not saying much about their fuel cell program.</div></div><p>I caught up with Mark Reuss at the Detroit auto show. He&#39;s the head of Global Product Development for GM.</p><p>He says the company still has a hydrogen program; it just doesn&#39;t know where exactly it&#39;s going with it.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve worked very hard over the years to have leadership technically in the fuel stacks and the fuel cell program, and we believe we have that,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;So we&rsquo;ve got an open book on what we do with our fuel cell, but we&rsquo;ve got a great technology here, so we&rsquo;re very excited.&rdquo;</p><p>Reuss said their program is moving forward. He says the&nbsp;<a href="http://media.gm.com/media/us/en/gm/home.detail.html/content/Pages/news/us/en/2015/nov/1119-tardec.html">U.S. Department of Defense plans to test</a>&nbsp;some of their fuel cell technology in the field.</p><p><strong>So where are we with the &quot;four miracles&quot; Secretary Chu talked about?</strong></p><p><strong>&quot;Miracle&quot; no. 1: Infrastructure for hydrogen</strong></p><p>Of the companies I spoke with, this seems to be the biggest hurdle. If you have a hydrogen fuel cell car, where do you get your hydrogen gas?</p><p>GM&#39;s Reuss&nbsp;told me infrastructure is a big reason for why GM is holding back on a commercial release of fuel cell vehicles. That&#39;s why the more aggressive fuel cell&nbsp;carmakers, like Honda, are planning limited commercial releases in California - that&#39;s where most of the hydrogen fueling stations are in the U.S.</p><p>You can see a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.afdc.energy.gov/fuels/hydrogen_locations.html">map of hydrogen</a>&nbsp;stations here.&nbsp;Los Angeles has the most. And the U.S. Department of Energy says California has a plan to build 100 more hydrogen stations in the next seven years.</p><p>More from a statement from the Department of Energy:</p><blockquote><p>In addition, the governors of eight states&mdash;California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont&mdash;signed a memorandum of understanding committing to having 3.3 million zero emission vehicles on the roads in their states by 2025.&nbsp; FCEVs are an important part of this portfolio.</p></blockquote><p>But as of now, fueling stations are definitely not widespread, so automakers are not likely to pursue hydrogen unless they see more investments in infrastructure.</p><p><strong>&quot;Miracle&quot; no. 2: Fuel cells are expensive to build</strong></p><p>Here&#39;s a basic explanation of how they work:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="448" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/yowRvfFtMgQ" width="663"></iframe></p><p>Platinum is the dominant material used in the catalyst of these fuel cells (the cathode and anode portion of the fuel stack).</p><p>Platinum: as expensive, if not more expensive, than gold.</p><p>The DOE tells me that over time, they&#39;ve been able to reduce the amount of platinum required in fuel cells:</p><blockquote><p>DOE-funded research has reduced automotive fuel cell cost to $53/kW projected at 500,000 units/year and $60/kW at 100,000 units/year. This is more than a 50% cost reduction since 2006. Cost reductions reflect numerous individual advances in key areas, including a five-fold reduction in the platinum content of fuel cell catalysts and the development of durable membrane electrode assemblies with low platinum group metal content.</p></blockquote><p>The DOE says the durability of fuel cells has also been improving.</p><p><strong>&quot;Miracle&quot; no. 3: How do you make the hydrogen?</strong></p><p>To get hydrogen gas, you have to make it. Right now, the cheapest way to get the gas is by reformulating natural gas. So right away, you&#39;re using a carbon-based fuel to get the stuff - not ideal.</p><p>Another way to get the gas is from water. Using electrolysis you can capture the gas from water. The question becomes: where do you get your electricity to do this? There&#39;s more research being done on how to do this with solar energy. And just like the fuel cells themselves, the DOE says the cost of doing so is coming down:</p><blockquote><p>If produced at high-volume, the cost of hydrogen from renewables/ electrolyzers could be around $5/gge even using today&rsquo;s electrolyzer technology. The cost of hydrogen from renewables will decrease even further using longer term approaches (e.g., direct solar photo-electro chemical conversion). We&rsquo;ve also reduced the cost of producing hydrogen from renewables by decreasing the cost of electrolyzers by 80% since 2002.</p></blockquote><p>And even if natural gas remains as the cheapest way to get the gas, the DOE contends that &quot;because a fuel cell is more than twice as efficient as an internal combustion engine, an FCEV travels farther on that tank of hydrogen than a traditional car would on a tank of gasoline.&quot;</p><p>Honda says it&#39;s also looking at purchasing the hydrogen by-product from refineries around the U.S. &nbsp;</p><p><strong>&quot;Miracle&quot; no. 4: The hydrogen gas tank challenge</strong></p><p>To store enough hydrogen on a vehicle to get the 200 to 300 mile ranges we are accustomed to, the gas has to be pressurized.</p><p>High-pressure tanks that can do the job often end up being quite heavy, which starts to affect the car&#39;s fuel economy (the heavier the car, the less efficient it often is).</p><p>To make a tank that can do the job, carbon fiber is often used, and, once again, we&#39;re using an expensive material. The DOE responds that progress is being made here too:</p><blockquote><p>Based on the latest assessment, the cost of high-pressure hydrogen storage systems are projected to be less than $15/kWh (equivalent to $2,800 for the system) compared to the 2020 target of $10/kWh (equivalent to $1,860).&nbsp; Long term materials based approaches for low pressure hydrogen storage are still being pursued.</p></blockquote><p>So, the long and short of it is that progress is being made, but there&#39;s still a lot of work to be done for us to get to full commercialization of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.</p><p>Carl Brauer, an auto analyst with car valuing and research company&nbsp;<a href="http://www.kbb.com/">Kelley Blue Book</a>, says when it comes to batteries and hydrogen fuel cells, it&rsquo;s not an either-or.</p><p>&ldquo;I always try to tell people that there isn&rsquo;t a silver bullet when it comes to personal transportation,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;Instead, there&rsquo;s seven or eight bronze bullets. We&rsquo;re going to have different technologies that work under different circumstances. And I definitely think there will be a place for hydrogen fuel.&rdquo;</p><p>Brauer says where that place is, and how mainstream it becomes, is still in question. As of now,&nbsp;Hyundai has started leasing its Tucson FCEV, Toyota announced it will sell its Mirai FCEV, and Honda plans to roll out the FCV Clarity later this year. These will all be limited releases, but it&#39;s a start toward a test of the hydrogen-based economy.</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://michiganradio.org/post/hydrogen-powered-cars-cant-make-it-without-these-4-miracles#stream/0" target="_blank"><em>via Michigan Radio</em></a></p></p> Tue, 12 Jan 2016 11:27:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/hydrogen-powered-cars-cant-make-it-without-these-4-miracles-114511 Old Driver's License? You Can Still Fly for Two More Years http://www.wbez.org/news/old-drivers-license-you-can-still-fly-two-more-years-114432 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/AP_303285908140.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Fliers who don&#39;t have the latest driver&#39;s licenses will have a two-year reprieve before their IDs are rejected at airport security checkpoints.</p><div><p>Many <a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2016-01-07/soon-il-driver%E2%80%99s-license-may-not-get-you-plane-114409" target="_blank">travelers had been worried that the Transportation Security Administration would penalize them </a>because of a federal law requiring newer, more stringent IDs at the start of this year.</p><p>But late Friday afternoon, the Department of Homeland Security said passengers could continue using their current IDs until Jan. 22, 2018. Some would have until Oct. 1, 2020.</p><p>After those dates, passengers without the proper driver&#39;s licenses would have to use other federally-approved forms of ID such as a passport.</p><p>The Real ID Act, approved by Congress in 2005, set minimum standards for licenses in response to security concerns following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Enforcement of those requirements has repeatedly been delayed.</p><p>For a license to be compliant with the Real ID Act, the state issuing it must, for example, incorporate anti-counterfeit technology into the card, verify the applicant&#39;s identity and conduct background checks for employees involved in issuing driver&#39;s licenses.</p><p>Currently, 23 states and U.S. territories have complied with the act and 27 states and territories have been granted an extension. Five states &mdash;&nbsp;Illinois, Minnesota, New Mexico, Missouri and Washington &mdash; and American Samoa have not complied and have not been granted an extension.</p><p>Those states oppose requirements in the law that include storing images of documents that driver&#39;s license applicants present as proof of their identity, such as birth certificates. State officials say that information could be breached and could be used to track law-abiding U.S. citizens.</p><p>They also oppose the U.S. government unilaterally setting standards in an area traditionally handled by the states.</p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 08 Jan 2016 16:28:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/old-drivers-license-you-can-still-fly-two-more-years-114432 Why Won’t Anyone Talk About The (Other) Rideshare Tax? http://www.wbez.org/news/transportation/why-won%E2%80%99t-anyone-talk-about-other-rideshare-tax-114150 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Uber tax (APJeff Chiu).jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">When Chicago City Council voted to allow drivers for companies like Uber to pick up passengers at O&rsquo;Hare and Midway airports as part of a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-city-council-approves-emanuels-challenging-budget-113540">budget deal</a>, the debate was heated.</p><p dir="ltr">Taxi drivers protested, saying that airport access for transportation network providers (TNP) would eliminate one of the few remaining exclusive privileges they have in commercial passenger services. City officials touted their decision as a compromise, because it also levied a $0.52 per ride tax on all TNP fares, as well as a $5 fee on rides beginning or ending at the airports, McCormick Place and Navy Pier.</p><p dir="ltr">Weeks later, there was much less publicity when an additional tax was slapped onto TNP rides.</p><p>&ldquo;They need to pay the fees that everybody else does,&rdquo; said Peter Enger, secretary of the United Taxidrivers Community Council, a group that lobbies for cabbie rights.</p><p dir="ltr">According to Enger, it was the UTCC that turned the McPier board&rsquo;s attention to the question of whether TNPs would be required to pay an additional $4 tax on each ride that leaves the airport. &ldquo;We inquired whether the TNPs would be allowed to pick up without paying the tax, or whether there was any plans to require them to pay the tax.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">On November 16, the board of the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority &mdash; more commonly known as McPier &mdash; unanimously approved an amendment to its &ldquo;airport departure tax&rdquo; ordinance. It extended the $4 charge to include TNPs, with the tax effective immediately upon passage.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I knew nothing about it,&rdquo; said Mattia Nanfria, who drives roughly 50 hours a week on both the Lyft and UberX platforms. &ldquo;And I think it&rsquo;s pretty safe to say none of us really know anything about it.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">McPier has declined to comment about the tax, and WBEZ was forced to file a Freedom of Information request simply to view the language of the amended ordinance. A request to both the city&rsquo;s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection and the Department of Aviation was answered by a spokesperson who directed WBEZ to ask McPier about it. Uber has not responded to requests for comment. A Lyft spokesperson indicated that the company was aware of the tax, but did not answer questions about whether the company intends to pay.</p><p dir="ltr">Under the ordinance, &ldquo;it shall be the duty of each transportation network provider to collect the tax&hellip; and to remit the tax&rdquo; to McPier. The amendment also specifies that &ldquo;the tax becomes due and is payable on the 10th day of the calendar month following the calendar month in which the tax accrues&hellip;.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;If I had to be honest, I don&rsquo;t think there is a $4 fee coming out of these fares,&rdquo; said Nanfria, who frequently picks passengers up at O&rsquo;Hare. &ldquo;Their fares are already low. If you&rsquo;re talking about they&rsquo;re taking another $4 out of already-low fare, it just doesn&rsquo;t seem sustainable to me.&rdquo; Nanfria said she has seen no indication in the charges that she or her passengers view on their smartphone screens that a $4 tax is charged to either the driver or passenger.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We are sure that it is not being collected at least from the drivers of the TNP vehicles, nor from the passengers,&rdquo; said Enger. &ldquo;I actually took an UberX car, myself, from the airport to a local hotel, just to test the system, and I was not charged an airport departure tax. So I know passengers are not paying it.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I would love to know if there&rsquo;s another tax that the TNCs are supposed to be paying,&rdquo; said Nanfria. &ldquo;Just something doesn&rsquo;t sit right with me about it if it&rsquo;s not being listed above-board and very transparently.&rdquo;</p><p style=" margin: 12px auto 6px auto; font-family: Helvetica,Arial,Sans-serif; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 14px; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; -x-system-font: none; display: block;"><a href="https://www.scribd.com/doc/293055408/Airport-Departure-Tax-Ordinance" style="text-decoration: underline;" title="View Airport Departure Tax Ordinance on Scribd">Airport Departure Tax Ordinance</a></p><p><iframe class="scribd_iframe_embed" data-aspect-ratio="undefined" data-auto-height="false" frameborder="0" height="600" id="doc_51095" scrolling="no" src="https://www.scribd.com/embeds/293055408/content?start_page=1&amp;view_mode=scroll&amp;show_recommendations=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><em>Odette Yousef is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 11 Dec 2015 16:19:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/transportation/why-won%E2%80%99t-anyone-talk-about-other-rideshare-tax-114150 Flying For Thanksgiving? Distract Yourself With the Mystery Of Airport Codes http://www.wbez.org/programs/here-and-now/2015-11-25/flying-thanksgiving-distract-yourself-mystery-airport-codes-113941 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/0401_airport-codes-624x406.png" alt="" /><p><div id="attachment_81327"><img alt="Lynn Fisher and Nick Crohn created the website airportcod.es, which links hundreds of three-letter airport codes with a pretty picture and a brief story about the airport. (Screenshot from airportcod.es)" src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/media.wbur.org/wordpress/11/files/2015/04/0401_airport-codes-624x406.png" style="height: 403px; width: 620px;" title="Lynn Fisher and Nick Crohn created the website airportcod.es, which links hundreds of three-letter airport codes with a pretty picture and a brief story about the airport. (Screenshot from airportcod.es)" /><p>Lynn Fisher and Nick Crohn, two web designers from the Phoenix area, love airport codes. They launched the website&nbsp;<a href="http://airportcod.es/" target="_blank">airportcod.es</a>&nbsp;in March that links hundreds of those three-letter codes&nbsp;with a pretty picture and a brief story about the airport &ndash; enough to keep you busy while <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/myth-busy-thanksgiving-airport-113935" target="_blank">you&rsquo;re waiting in line at one of those airports</a> this week.</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2015/11/25/airport-code-stories" target="_blank"><em>via Here &amp; Now</em></a></p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 25 Nov 2015 14:13:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/here-and-now/2015-11-25/flying-thanksgiving-distract-yourself-mystery-airport-codes-113941 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