WBEZ | Department of Transportation http://www.wbez.org/tags/department-transportation Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Chicago's Divvy bike program expanding, could become nation's largest bike share system http://www.wbez.org/news/chicagos-divvy-bike-program-expanding-could-become-nations-largest-bike-share-system-109101 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Divvy.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago&rsquo;s Divvy bike program is expanding, thanks to federal funding which officials say could make it the largest bike-share system in North America. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>There are currently 300 Divvy <a href="http://divvybikes.com/stations">stations </a>up and running around Chicago, with 100 more stations in the works to be installed by next spring. Officials from the Chicago Department of Transportation said Wednesday they&rsquo;ve secured a $3 million federal grant to build 75 additional stations next year, bringing the total to 475 by next year. The grant comes from the US Department of Transportation&rsquo;s Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program.</p><p>So far, the U.S. DOT has provided $25 million dollars in federal grant funding toward the Divvy bike share program.</p><p>There&rsquo;s been some <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/divvy-blues-bike-share-program-leaves-some-behind-107893">criticism </a>that Divvy stations are concentrated downtown, and don&rsquo;t serve the south or west sides of the city. CDOT Commissioner Gabe Klein, speaking to alderman at his department&rsquo;s city budget hearing Wednesday, said they&rsquo;ll bring Divvy to Englewood by spring, and with this grant, they&rsquo;ll be able to expand the program farther in all directions.</p><p>&ldquo;Just like when you&rsquo;re building the CTA or a bus network, you have to start in one place, usually the densest area like the Loop where all the CTA rail is,&rdquo; Klein said. &ldquo;But we&rsquo;re gonna grow it out to the entire city overtime.&rdquo;</p><p>When asked by alderman how much revenue Divvy has brought to the city, Klein said he couldn&rsquo;t give an estimate until the bike share program had run for an entire year. But he says CDOT is close to signing an &ldquo;eight-figure&rdquo; sponsorship deal for the bikes by the end of this year. Klein says Divvy won&rsquo;t lose its name or brand in the sponsorship. In New York, the bike-share system is sponsored by Citibank, and is called citibike.</p><p>In other Divvy news, Klein says two suburbs - Oak Park and Evanston - have submitted their own federal grant applications to put bikes in their neighborhoods.</p><p>Wednesday likely marked Klein&rsquo;s last budget hearing in Chicago&rsquo;s City Hall. He said this month that he&rsquo;ll be stepping down from his post by Thanksgiving after serving for two and a half years. Klein&rsquo;s said he&rsquo;s stepping down for family obligations and plans to return to the private sector.</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/laurenchooljian" target="_blank">@laurenchooljian</a></em></p></p> Wed, 06 Nov 2013 18:11:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicagos-divvy-bike-program-expanding-could-become-nations-largest-bike-share-system-109101 Airline fined for keeping passengers on Chicago tarmac http://www.wbez.org/content/airline-fined-keeping-passengers-chicago-tarmac <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-14/AP Photo Stephan Savoia.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>WASHINGTON (AP) - The Department of Transportation said Monday it has fined a regional affiliate of American Airlines $900,000 for keeping hundreds of passengers cooped up for hours on planes in Chicago earlier this year, a clear warning to airlines on the eve of the holiday travel season that similar incidents won't be tolerated.</p><p>American Eagle Airlines had tarmac delays of more than three hours on 15 flights arriving at O'Hare International Airport on May 29, the department said in a statement. A total of 608 passengers were aboard the delayed flights.</p><p>The airline must pay $650,000 of the fine within 30 days, the department said. But up to $250,000 can be credited for refunds, vouchers, and frequent flyer mile awards provided to the passengers on the 15 flights, as well as to passengers on future flights that violate the three-hour rule, the department said.</p><p>The department implemented a new rule in April 2010 limiting tarmac delays on domestic flights to three hours. After that, airlines must either return to a gate or provide passengers who wish to leave planes with some other means of safely getting off. Airlines that violate the rule can be fined as much as $27,500 per passenger.</p><p>The rule has since been extended to international flight delays, which are capped at four hours.</p><p>"We put the tarmac rule in place to protect passengers, and we take any violation very seriously," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement. "We will work to ensure that airlines and airports coordinate their resources and plans to avoid keeping passengers delayed on the tarmac."</p><p>American Eagle blamed the delays on airport congestion caused by a slow-moving weather system. The airline said it has apologized to passengers and provided either travel vouchers or frequent flyer program mileage credit.</p><p>"We take our responsibility to comply with all of the department's requirements very seriously and have already put in place processes to avoid such an occurrence in the future," American Eagle President and CEO Dan Garton said in a statement.</p><p>American and American Eagle are owned by AMR Corp. of Fort Worth, Tex. AMR is in the process of spinning off American Eagle into a separate company.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>The airline is the first to be fined for violating the three-hour rule since it took effect 20 months ago. The fine also represents the largest penalty to be paid by an airline in a consumer protection case not involving civil rights violations, although airlines have paid much higher fines for violating federal safety regulations.</p><p>The rule was prompted by a series of incidents in which passengers complained of being kept virtual prisoners on planes in sight of an airport terminal. In one famous incident on Valentine's Day 2007, snow and ice in the northeast led to JetBlue Airways stranding hundreds of passengers on 10 planes on the tarmac at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport for up to 10 1/2 hours.</p><p>In August 2009, 47 people were stuck overnight aboard a cramped Continental Express plane with a stinking toilet and crying babies after an employee for another airline refused to let them inside a closed airport terminal in Rochester, Minn., where the plane was diverted due to thunderstorms.</p><p>LaHood has hailed the three-hour delay rule as a success. Between May 2010 and April 2011, the first 12 months after the time limit was in effect, airlines reported 20 tarmac delays of more than three hours, none of which was more than four hours long. In contrast, during the 12 months before the rule took effect, airlines had 693 tarmac delays of more than three hours, and 105 of the delays were longer than four hours&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>But airlines, which opposed the three-hour limit, say passengers have paid a price. In order to avoid steep fines, airlines are more likely now to cancel flights than risk a fine by pushing up against the three-hour limit to see if they can get passengers to their destination.</p><p>A recent Government Accountability Office report confirmed that has been the case: "As our analysis has shown, the rule appears to be associated with an increased number of cancellations for thousands of additional passengers - far more than DOT initially predicted - including some who might not have experienced a tarmac delay."</p><p>And lengthy delays haven't entirely disappeared. A freak October snow storm and trouble with landing guidance systems at two New York-area airports recently caused more than 20 flights to be diverted to Bradley International Airport in Hartford, Conn., overwhelming the smaller airport. Passengers on at least three JetBlue planes and an American Airlines plane were stranded on the tarmac for seven hours or more.</p><p>The captain of one of the JetBlue flights could be heard pleading over his radio with authorities for help getting passengers, some of whom were becoming unruly, off the plane. The ordeal continued after they were eventually let off and had to spend the night on cots and chairs in terminals.<br> &nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 14 Nov 2011 13:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/content/airline-fined-keeping-passengers-chicago-tarmac Chicago lands millions for high speed rail projects to St. Louis and Detroit http://www.wbez.org/story/chicago-lands-millions-high-speed-rail-projects-st-louis-and-detroit-86249 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/archives/images/cityroom/amp_091028_CAF-obama-high-speed-rail-plans_large.png" alt="" /><p><p>The U.S. Department of Transportation announced Monday that it's giving Amtrak $404 million to expand high-speed rail service in the Midwest.&nbsp;</p><p>The dollars will go toward making upgrades along the Chicago-St. Louis corridor and to constructing new segments of 110 mph track between Chicago and Detroit.&nbsp;</p><p>Once completed, the two projects are expected to reduce travel times and improve safety.&nbsp;</p><p>The Chicago-to-Detroit enhancements are expected to shave 30 minutes off of passenger travel times between the two destinations, and the government claims the construction phase of the project will create 1,000 jobs.</p><p>The money was part of $2 billion originally earmarked for high-speed rail links between Tampa and Orlando, Florida.</p><p>But <a href="http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/02/16/2069844/florida-gov-rick-scott-rejects.html">Florida Governor Rick Scott canceled the project earlier this year</a>, making the money available to be used in other parts of the nation.&nbsp;</p><p>The Department of Transportation targeted rail projects in 15 states to receive the additional funds.&nbsp; 24 states, the District of Columbia and Amtrak had all applied for the dollars.</p><p>The largest share of the money - nearly $800 million - will be used to upgrade train speeds from 135 mph to 160 mph on critical segments of the heavily traveled Northeast corridor.</p><p>"The investments we’re making today will help states across the country create jobs, spur economic development and boost manufacturing in their communities,” said Transporation Secretary Ray LaHood.</p><p>Advocates of high-speed rail are scheduled to go to the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield on May 19th to lobby state officials to support enhanced passenger rail service in the state.<br> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 09 May 2011 15:07:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/chicago-lands-millions-high-speed-rail-projects-st-louis-and-detroit-86249 LaHood calls for national ban on cell phones while driving http://www.wbez.org/story/cell-phone/lahood-calls-national-ban-cell-phones-while-driving <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/73433730.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The U.S. Secretary of Transportation has a couple of priorities he wants the new Congress to work on when it convenes next year. Ray LaHood said getting a transportation bill passed by the August recess is at the top of his agenda. The current one has been extended for two years.</p><p>The Peoria, Illinois native and former congressman said there are a lot of unmet transportation needs across the country.</p><p>&quot;If it were up to me, I would outlaw cell phone use while driving. I just think it's just dangerous,&quot;&nbsp;LaHood said. &quot;You don't have both hands on the wheel, you don't have both eyes on the road and you can't drive carefully when you got a cell phone in your ear. You're not only distracted by the fact you don't have both hands on the wheel, you're distracted by the conversation. You lose track of what's around you while you're driving a 5,000 pound car.&quot;</p><p>LaHood said he also wants to work with lawmakers to approve a nationwide texting ban. Thirty states have already passed anti-texting legislation. LaHood said 5,500 people died last year as a result of distracted driving while more than 450,000 were injured.</p></p> Tue, 28 Dec 2010 12:30:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/cell-phone/lahood-calls-national-ban-cell-phones-while-driving