Friday, October 29, 2010

Airline workers seek union

Flight attendants at Allegiant Air have filed a petition with the federal National Mediation Board, seeking union representation with the Transport Workers Union of America.

The Las Vegas-based low-cost carrier that links Medford to Arizona, Nevada and Southern California has about 420 flight attendants. Allegiant attendants would become the first employee group at the airline with a union contract if they vote in the Transport Workers Union.

TWU has more than 9,400 flight attendants at Southwest Airlines and that number will be bolstered by an additional 2,200 flight attendants who now work at AirTran once the announced acquisition of AirTran by Southwest becomes final.

"We love our company and we are proud to be a part of the Allegiant success story," said Loren Edge, an Allegiant Air flight attendant in a statement released by the TWU. "We are not anti-company; we are pro-flight attendant."

Allegiant Air flight attendants filed their petition for a union election on Wednesday with The National Mediation Board, which supervises union representation elections at commercial airlines and railroads. Federal law requires an election be scheduled within 45 days.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

White House stokes high-speed rail

The U.S. Department of Transportation today announced an additional $2.4 billion in grants for high-speed rail projects throughout the country.

In 2009, the DOT provided $8 billion of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act money for high-speed rail projects. The funding announced today by DOT Secretary Ray LaHood will go to 54 rail projects in 23 states.

The funding is part of the Obama administration's commitment to develop America's first nationwide program of high-speed intercity passenger rail service, federal officials said.

Currently, the "Acela Express" of Amtrak, which runs between Boston and Washington D.C., is the only high-speed rail line in the U.S.

DOT's Federal Railroad Administration received 132 applications from 32 states totaling $8.8 billion, more than three times the $2.4 billion available. During the first round of awards in the fall of 2009, applicants submitted more than $55 billion in project proposals for the initial $8 billion, officials said.

"Demand for high-speed rail dollars is intense and it demonstrates just how important this historic initiative is," said Secretary LaHood. "States understand that high-speed rail represents a unique opportunity to create jobs, revitalize our manufacturing base, spur economic development and provide people with an environmentally friendly transportation option."

More than 30 rail manufacturers and suppliers, both domestic and foreign, have agreed to establish or expand their bases of operations in the United States if they are hired to build America's next generation high-speed lines, a commitment the Obama Administration secured to help ensure new jobs are created here at home, LaHood said.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Canada Follows U.S. Lead on Fuel Efficiency Standards

As expected, Canada has announced plans to follow the U.S. lead in developing CO2 emissions standards - fuel economy standards - for medium and heavy vehicles.

Jim Prentice, Canada's Environment Minister, released a consultation document outlining the proposed elements of the future regulations to decrease greenhouse gas emissions from new heavy-duty vehicles.

"Canada and the United States have had great achievement in working together to reduce emissions from new light-duty vehicles, and we are looking forward to doing the same for heavy-duty vehicles," said Prentice.

The Regulatory Framework consultation document outlines the major elements of the planned regulations in order to seek early views from stakeholders, which will be taken into account in developing proposed regulations which are expected to be available in mid-2011. Canada's heavy-duty vehicle regulations will be aligned with those of the United States.

Canadian truckers are concerned that if Canada adopts U.S. standards word for word, the targets will not be met by sectors hauling heavier loads than is presently the practice. Canada allows combinations of eight axles or more with gross vehicle weights exceeding 140,000 pounds in some cases. The U.S. proposed standards appear designed for 80,000-pound, five-axle combinations.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Rail strikes hit German regional, local transport

Walkouts have affected rail journey in the states of North Rhine-Westphalia, Bavaria, Saxony-Anhalt and Lower Saxony, unions GDBA and Transnet said, adding that the temporary warning strikes would hit almost all of Germany's other states.

The unions have said the action will maintain during the week to back their demand that national operator Deutsche Bahn and private operators improve their offers in wage negotiations that have reached an impasse.

They are demanding wage agreements to be set across the industry so that operators cannot utilize lower pay to boost their competitiveness in bids to win lucrative rail contracts.

They say private operators pay up to 20 percent less for the similar work.

Monday, October 25, 2010

U.S. to propose first fuel standards for trucks

Future tractor-trailers, school buses, delivery vans, garbage trucks and heavy-duty pickup trucks must perform better at the pump under first-ever fuel efficiency rules coming from the Obama administration.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Transportation division are moving ahead with a proposal for medium- and heavy-duty trucks, beginning with those sold in the 2014 model year and into the 2018 model year.

The plan is expected to seek about a 20 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and fuel consumption from longhaul trucks, according to people well-known with the plan. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they did not want to speak publicly before the official announcement, expected Monday.

Overall, the proposal is expected to seek reductions of 10 percent to 20 percent in fuel consumption and emissions based on the vehicle's range. Large tractor-trailers tend to be driven up to 150,000 miles a year, making them ripe for improved miles per gallon.

The rules will cover large rig tractor-trailers, "vocational trucks" such as garbage trucks and transit and school buses, and work trucks such as heavy-duty versions of the Ford F-Series, Dodge Ram and Chevrolet Silverado.

The White House has pushed for tougher fuel economy standards across the nation's fleet as a method to reduce dependence on oil and cut greenhouse gas emissions tied to global warming.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Mitsubishi's electric vehicles to be tested in Canada

Transport Canada is joining with Mitsubishi Canada to test two of the Japanese group's i-MIEV (innovative electric vehicles) in government facilities and also in real-world situation.
Road handling, performance and range results will help experts to assess the environmentalbenefitsof e-vehicle technologies in Canada.
Mitsubushi said it already has test agreements with Hydro-Quebec, the city of Boucherville, BC Hydro and the city of Vancouver, and federal government support is an important step toward achieving a cleaner environment.
The Mitsubishi e-vehicle seats four people and has a 330-volt lithium-ion battery powering a 63-horsepower electric motor. The battery can be recharged on standard household 110-and 220-volt sockets or commercial quick charger. Its maximum range is 120 kilometres on a single charge.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

London transport prices to rise next year

Mayor of London Boris Johnson yesterday quietly confirmed that from 2 January 2011, fares on London's tubes, buses, London Overground, Docklands Light Railway and trams will rise.

The Mayor was quick to add that the rise will be at the level signalled last year and is the minimum to secure investment in London's transport network.

It will rise at an average of RPI (retail price index inflation) plus 2%, opposed to the RPI plus 3% on Britain's railway network.

Basing this on July's RPI figures of 4.8%, this represents an average 6.8% fare increase across TfL services and oyster pay as you go.

But in some cases, costs could go up more quickly. Products like the zone 2-6 one day travelcard will be permanently withdrawn.

This means travellers, who usually buy this type of travelcard, will have to buy a 1-6 zone travelcard instead – meaning a jump from £8.60 to £15 during peak times. That's an increase of 74%. Off-peak, it's a rise from £5.10 to £8.00 – a jump of 57%.

This could also mean a double whammy for rail commuters who also only use the tube for zones 2-6 – they will meet the tube increase and the rail increases, which could add a significant amount to the price of their annual ticket.

On the buses, Oyster pay as you go fares will increase again, this time by 10p to £1.30 for a single journey - cash fares will go up from £2 to £2.20.

The cost of purchasing an Oyster card is also set to rise, from £3 to £5.

It comes as the spending review yesterday axed the transport budget by 21%. This means Department for Transport's (DfT) budget has been reduced by £2.17bn in total over the four years. But the Mayor is adamant that key London transport projects will remain.

Approximately one-third of TfL's funding comes from a direct grant from the DfT.

TfL claim that the rises are necessary to upgrade of the Tube and construction of Crossrail, which together TfL say will add 30% capacity to London's rail transport network and provide a £78bn boost to the UK economy.

Boris Johnson said: 'Last year, I made it clear that when setting fares my priority is to protect the elderly, the young, the poorest and disabled Londoners and this fares package will continue to do so, particularly at a time when many need that protection.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Mitsubishi Motors and Yamato Transport Start Light Commercial Electric Vehicle Field Testing for Collection/Delivery Operations

Yamato Transport Co., Ltd. (Yamato Transport) and Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) announced that they have started field trying for parcel collection and delivery operations with the use of a prototype light commercial electric vehicle (EV) built by MMC.

Yamato Transport is working to decrease environmental burden in all areas of its express home delivery operations through a series of initiatives which include: restricting the size of its delivery vehicle fleet; introducing low-emission delivery vehicles; promoting eco-friendly driving habits; reducing driving distances and promoting modal shift*.

The Yamato Transport fleet comprises around 45,000 vehicles moreover the company is intent on contributing to the realization of a low-carbon society through the active introduction of next-generation eco-friendly vehicles. (As at the end of March 2010, the fleet included 11,538 low-emission vehicles, of which 4,659 use hybrid propulsion systems.)

MMC is the pioneering manufacturer in the field of mass-produced electric vehicles. The company launched the i-MiEV new-generation electric vehicle to the Japanese market in July 2009 targeting corporate, government and local authorities. In April of this year MMC started sales of i-MiEV to individual owners.

The EV is the ultimate eco-car because its zero CO2 tailpipe emissions allow it to effectively address such environmental issues as air pollution, global warming and the shift away from oil. By adding a light commercial vehicle to its EV lineup - which, unit for unit, clock longer life-cycle driving distances than passenger cars - MMC is aiming to do its part to quickly make possible a low-carbon society.

Yamato Transport has been studying the use of commercial EVs which, of all next-generation vehicles, hold high promise for making possible a low-carbon society, and together with MMC, which has been pushing ahead the development and manufacture of electric commercial vehicles, has agreed to work in conducting a program of collection/delivery field tests using a light commercial EV.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

'Fat' Blackpool bus drivers dispute resolved

Talks began on Monday and ended on Tuesday with Blackpool Transport and the drivers' union Unite saying it would not create any further comment.

The men had been suspended on complete pay after being told they needed to lose 7lbs (3kg) in the next four weeks.

The firm had said it was performing in the interests of passenger safety.
Unite had warned that if the men were not reinstated it could ballot members for industrial action.

A statement from Blackpool Transport said: "After extensive negotiations the issue relating to the two individuals concerned has been resolved amicably.

"The trade union and management wish to ensure the confidentiality and dignity of those involved and have no further comment to make."

Blackpool Transport is an arm's length body of Blackpool Council and provides transport on the Fylde Coast.

Unite says it has 400 members at the company.

Monday, October 18, 2010

London 2012 transport plans come under scrutiny

London Assembly Members are to investigate the ability of the capital’s transport network to cope with the expected half a million Olympic spectators, in addition to getting Londoners around town and to work as common.

Visitors to the 2012 Games are to be “encouraged” to use public transport which will increase pressure on Transport for London’s services with the bus and Tube networks.

The committee’s findings will used to “inform” the third edition of the Olympic Delivery Authority’s 2012 Transport Plan which is due for publication next spring.

As part of their investigation, AMs on the Assembly’s Transport Committee will hold two public meetings in November and January and take evidence from the ODA.

AMs will also examine plans to create an ‘Olympic Route Network’ which will restrict the use of some roads and routes to athletes, officials and media.

Transport Committee Chair Val Shawcross AM said: “The transport network will come under a lot of pressure – and the international spotlight – so we need to get it right to ensure the success of the London 2012 Games.”

Friday, October 15, 2010

Australia Asks US To Approve Delta, Virgin Blue Airline Pact

The Australian government has formally asked U.S. officials to reverse their opposition to an alliance between Virgin Blue Holdings Ltd. (VBA.AU) and Delta Air Lines Inc. (DAL).

The U.S. Transportation Department last month said it planned to deny an application for antitrust immunity that would have allowed the airlines to cooperate on pricing, revenue management and marketing on trans-Pacific routes.

Australian competition officials approved the tie last December. The country's deputy transport secretary, Andrew Wilson, this week asked the Department of Transportation to approve the application, according to a regulatory filing.

Wilson said it was "extremely rare" for such applications to be rejected, and said the Delta-Virgin plan was consistent with the open-skies aviation treaty between the countries.

The case is being closely watched as it involves an airline outside of the three global alliances that dominate the global airline industry. Regulators have approved numerous antitrust applications involving members of the SkyTeam, Star and Oneworld groupings.

Delta is a member of SkyTeam, and has antitrust immunity with a number of European and Asian alliance partners, while Virgin Blue is unaffiliated.

U.S. officials said last month that the carriers hadn't demonstrated that the proposed alliance would produce sufficient public benefits, such as lower fares and increased capacity, to justify an exemption from U.S. antitrust laws.

Delta and Virgin Blue this week submitted additional information in support of their application.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Tarmac delays improved in August

Airlines in the US have slashed tarmac delays in August.

Figures released from the Department of Transport show that US airline delays dropped sharply in August compared to a year ago.

In August 2009, passengers stranded on runways when 66 flights with passengers on board were stranded for more than 3 hours of waiting time.

In August 2010, there was only one such incident, according to the DOT, even though there was no change in the rate of cancelled flights.

There is now a DOT maximum for tarmac delays.

A new rule says passengers must be allowed off the plane if it is delayed for 3 hours or more.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Qatar Gas Transport Profit Rises 50% as Vessel Revenue Doubles

Qatar Gas Transport Co., the liquefied natural gas transporter known as Nakilat, posted a 50 percent gain in third-quarter profit after revenue from vessels it owns more than doubled.

Net income for the third quarter rose to 172.2 million riyals ($47.3 million) from 114.5 million riyals a year earlier, based on Bloomberg calculations. The mean estimate of two analysts surveyed by Bloomberg was for a third-quarter net income of 209.5 million riyals.

Nine-month profit rose to 501.9 million riyals, or 0.91 riyal a share, from 347.9 million riyals, or 0.63 a share, the company said in a statement posted on the Qatar Exchange today. Third-quarter earnings were calculated by subtracting first-half profit from the nine-month figure.

Revenue from wholly owned vessels rose to 1.99 billion riyals from 952 million riyals a year earlier. The company took delivery in July of Rasheedaa, a Q-Max liquefied natural gas tanker, and the last of 54 vessels on order including 25 wholly owned LNG tankers.

Chief Executive Officer Muhammad Ghannam said last year his company would be able to transport 18 percent of the world’s LNG volumes when all ships are in operation. The company is also venturing into ship construction and dry-dock operation.

Qatar, the world’s biggest producer of LNG, plans to increase its annual capacity to 77 million tons by early next year with the start of the last two of 14 liquefaction plants. LNG is gas cooled to a liquid for transport by ship.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Air Transport Association to Participate in Fourth Annual Energy Day

The Air Transport Association of America (ATA), the industry trade organization for the leading U.S. airlines, along with members of the Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA), are uniting today for Energy Day 2010.

This year's Energy Day, the fourth of its kind, will be a sustainability forum in which CEA affiliates, industry stakeholders and leading experts discuss how their respective sectors have advanced initiatives aimed at boosting energy efficiency, conservation and sustainability.

ATA participation in Energy Day provides another opportunity to highlight the airline industry's latest sustainability efforts. U.S. airlines remain committed to an ambitious list of goals to address climate change, including:

* Improving fuel efficiency by an annual average of 1.5 percent per year through 2020
* Achieving carbon-neutral growth from 2020 (subject to industry and government support for critical aviation infrastructure and technology)
* Reducing CO2 emissions by 50 percent by 2050, relative to 2005 levels

"ATA applauds CEA for hosting Energy Day 2010, which continues to advance energy-efficiency, sustainability and conservation goals – goals that are shared by the airlines," said ATA President and CEO James C. May.

ATA member airlines have improved their fuel efficiency by 110 percent since the late 1970s – saving more than 2.9 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide, the equivalent of taking approximately 19 million cars off the road each of those years. Additionally, ATA continues its role as a founding and leading member of the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI), a consortium of airlines, manufacturers, airports, energy producers, researchers and government agencies dedicated to the development and deployment of environmentally preferred, affordable alternative fuels.

In conjunction with Energy Day 2010, CEA will be releasing its 2010 sustainability report, "Private Sector Leadership in Energy Efficiency, Conservation and Sustainability." This report outlines the need for sustainability to be incorporated into a rational energy policy, and advocates increased domestic energy production and greater use of renewable and alternative energy. The CEA report is available online at "Sustainability Report 2010: Private Sector Leadership in Energy Efficiency, Conservation and Sustainability"

CEA is a coalition of agriculture, manufacturing, trucking, airline (including ATA), small business, energy producers and municipal governments focusing on sustainability and promoting an "all of the above" approach in developing American energy security.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Commercial electric cars replace transport pods plan

Masdar, the Abu Dhabi Government's clean energy company, has put its plan for futuristic transport pods on the back-burner and will instead turn to commercial electric cars, executives said yesterday.

The personal rapid transport (PRT) system, a network of driverless electric vehicles, is in use at the Masdar Institute, the first stage of the city that was completed last month. But the technology would require further development to meet the needs of later stages of the city, said Dr Sultan al Jaber, the chief executive of Masdar.

"We're big believers in this technology," he said. "But today does it meet our requirements moving forward? No, not as it is today. "Has the PRT matured over the past three years? Absolutely. But the way to get it from where it is today at the Masdar project to where we want it to be, is going to take a little bit more time than our own design."Today we have access to electric vehicles that have developed very quickly over the past three years."

The emerging electric vehicle industry has accelerated, with the release of two battery-powered cars, the Chevrolet Volt and the Nissan Leaf, due before the end of the year. Dr al Jaber confirmed that Masdar had begun talks with Daimler to co-operate on electric cars and said it would make use of developments by other UAE-based companies focused on clean technology, including Aabar, the Abu Dhabi National Energy Company, known as Taqa, and IPIC. Alan Frost, the director of Masdar City, said the project ought to make use of these mass-market technologies instead of developing its own networks. "For Masdar to be a true learning experience it needs to be innovative but it also needs to be tapping into what's available in all the rest of the world," he said.

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Friday, October 08, 2010

RAAF to get new Airbus tanker, capable of carrying cargo, troops or refuelling

The RAAF has provisionally accepted one of a five-aircraft order with two more of the advanced tanker planes to be delivered by mid-November, a spokesman for Australian Aerospace told The Australian Online.

The wide-body aircraft have been specially modified for air-to-air refuelling and personnel transport.

To be known as the KC-30A, the latest addition to the RAAF's fleet will be able to carry 45 tonnes of cargo or 300 troops, in addition to refuelling fast jets using two underwing hose and drogue pods.

“This is an enormously gratifying moment for all. It confirms the A330 MRTT has satisfactorily demonstrated its global military airworthiness and the maturity of all its systems, and its full readiness to enter service with its customers,” Airbus Military said in a statement.

The aircraft, regarded as the most advanced of its type in the world, has also been ordered by the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Britain.

Aircraft delivery was delayed due to a non-contract request by the RAAF for the installation of two interior consoles for the boom operators.

One other hurdle has to be overcome - installation of the plane's self-defence measures, work the US government says must be done in America due to sensitivity about the cutting-edge technology.

Defence hopes that like Britain, the federal government will be able to convince Washington to have the installation work completed in Australia.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Vehicle safety bill moves ahead

A private member's bill that would amend and strengthen the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and give Transport Canada the power to recall vehicles received a boost from all federal parties Wednesday night.

The Conservatives, Liberals, NDP and Bloc Québécois unanimously voted to send Bill C-511 to the standing committee on transport, infrastructure and communities.

The bill would also force companies to submit more safety-related information to Transport Canada in the form of quarterly reports and would spell out what constitutes a defect — a definition that is lacking in the present legislation.

Liberal MP Joe Volpe, the bill’s author, said the parties came together to support the bill because consumer safety trumps politics.

“I’m hoping that now that we’ve got all-party agreement on the principle of the bill that it will move along quickly and that everybody will see the wisdom of putting this legislation into effect as quickly as possible,” Volpe said. “It’s about consumer protection. And I can’t imagine that the government of Canada will not want to be associated with a bill that says consumers are first.”

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Transport companies to be affected by Aarto

"Companies transporting hazardous chemicals and other dangerous goods have until April next year to prepare for the implementation of the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) system -- or they could face losing their licences and permits," CAIA said in a statement.

The Aarto legislation would implement a point demerit system in which motorists would be penalised or lose their driver's licences after a certain number of traffic offences.

The Road Traffic Management Corporation announced this week that Aarto would be implemented in 2011 but did not give an exact date.

The CAIA said it was expected to happen in April.

The CAIA statement said, under Aarto, penalties would levied to vehicles "carrying goods not safely contained within the body of the vehicle, securely fastened to the vehicle, [or] properly protected from being dislodged or spilled".

This would carry a fine of R1000 and three demerit points, with both the driver and operator being charged.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

London transport to take contactless credit cards from 2012

Transport for London (TfL) has shelved the idea of letting commuters use NFC-enabled mobile phones to pay for travel on the capital's public transport network - but it's got its eye on using the technology in contactless debit and credit cards instead.

NFC is a short-range wireless technology that allows users to pay for goods or services by swiping their credit card or mobile phone over a reader. The payment is made without the need for contact between the device and the reader, making it a quicker and easier alternative to paying with cash.

TfL said it is in discussions with American Express, MasterCard and Visa with the aim of letting commuters use contactless debit and credit cards to pay for travel as early as 2012.

Such contactless cards would not replace the existing Oyster smartcard system but would stand alongside it as an alternative payment method for visitors to London who might not be familiar with TfL's contactless ticketing system or don't have an Oyster card of their own.

The number of contactless credit and debit cards has been ramping up in recent years, with some nine million now in circulation in the UK, according to TfL.

Barclays bank has been issuing replacement debit cards with contactless functionality as standard since March last year and estimates its entire debit card estate will be contactless by the end of next year. Retailers have also been getting on the contactless bandwagon, with food retailers including Co-op, Eat, Little Chef, Pret-A-Manger and Yo Sushi all having rolled out contactless payment terminals.