Today’s Headlines

  • Transpo Professionals Respond to Tom Kaeser’s  Anti-BRT Letter (Sun-Times)
  • Metra Board to Interview 4 CEO Candidates, Including Orseno (Sun-Times)
  • Death of Tollway Worker Exposes Weakness in Trucking Regulations (Tribune)
  • SUV Driver Killed Female Pedestrian in East Side Hit-and-Run (Tribune)
  • 2 Injured in North Park Pileup (Sun-Times)
  • Metra Passengers Stranded on UP West Train for 3 Hours (Tribune)
  • Cold Weather Brings a Spike in Complaints About Dirty CTA Cars (RedEye)
  • This Year Transit & Vanpool Pretax Benefits Drop to $140 Per Month (MPC)
  • Broadway in Uptown Will Be Car-Free for Chinese New Year Parade (DNA)
  • Which Mural Should Be Installed at Thorndale? You Decide (DNA)
  • Video: Pedestrian Chases Taxi After Apparently Being Bumped By Driver (RedEye)

Get national headlines at Streetsblog Capitol Hill

  • duppie

    The problem with Metra is that it acts like a railroad, not a transit agency.

    Railroada traditionally have cared little about their customers. A transit agency on the other hand should be measured how well they serve their customers. I see very little of that at Metra. They still re-order the same 50-60’s design of railcar with a single entry, refuse to electrify lines even if they make sense, and are careless about updating their customers when delays happen. What good is a twitter account, a website, and a train tracker, if all three of them show wrong information?

    So selecting Orseno, the “railroad man”, for CEO would just continue that attitude at Metra.

  • Randy Savage

    The #1 priority of Metra is to protect their insanely bloated, unionized clout based jobs. Anything else is secondary.

  • Fred

    Re Trucking: Seems like there should be some technology that could increase enforcement. Require every interstate truck cab to have a transponder in it and then place transponder readers every 100 miles on every expressway nationwide. The trucks would pass under the readers and a computer would notify the authorities if too many are passed through in the allowed amount of time. I understand this is not a bulletproof system, but we can’t rely on human enforcement for such a huge industry.

  • Please don’t automatically conflate ‘union job’ with ‘horrible customer service’. They’re completely independent variables, and a lot of unions actually train their people to be responsive, good employees and service-providers.

  • rohmen

    FAA has seemingly had a large amount of success in enforcing similar rest requirements for airline pilots–at least I’ve never seen a report that indicates pilots flout the rest rules to the same level. And I know it largely falls on pilots to track their own hours under that system as well.

    Maybe airlines help enforce compliance on their end more than freight carriers do, but it seems like putting pressure on FMSCA to adopt similar enforcement measures/penalties as FAA would at a minimum be a good start.

  • BlueFairlane

    This system largely exists, but it accomplishes nothing unless there are troopers available to enforce it. And honestly, this technology is very easy to get around.

    When I was a kid, you used to see weigh stations all along the interstate highway system that forced truckers to pass through a visual inspection. Trucks would be pulled aside at random for more thorough inspections. They’d examine log books and see for themselves the driver’s condition. It wasn’t full-proof (a log book can be faked, though it took some work to maintain a fake book), but it was better than the system we have now. One of the consequences of nobody wanting to pay for anything is that we’ve dismantled the weigh stations and the safeguards that went along with them.

  • Pat

    Top link is misdirecting to another editorial.

  • Fbfree

    The BRT letter is further down the article.

  • Fred

    Hence the need for an automated solution with minimal labor costs.

    This could also be accomplished with GPS technology, but then you get into other more complicated issues.

  • BlueFairlane

    We have an automated solution in place. It doesn’t work.

  • Fred

    I’m not sure that’s a good comparison. The industries are very different. There are thousands of owner-operator truckers with a company of one. I don’t think any commercial pilot owns the aircraft s/he is flying. Its far easier to regulate larger entities. As the article states, all of the largest trucking companies are already using electronic logs and support their required usage. Its the small independent truckers who are against them as the burden is far greater.

  • Fred

    What is the automated solution currently in place? Serious question.

  • BlueFairlane

    It varies by state (which is part of the problem). Here’s a link to a wikipedia article offering the bare basics. You can follow the trail from there to get more detailed information … http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weigh_station#Electronic_weigh_station_bypass

    Here’s a link to the system used in Illinois … http://www.prepass.com/services/prepass/pages/whatisprepass.aspx

  • rohmen

    FAA also regulates thousands of private charter companies and individual private pilots, so, while I’m sure the number of truckers is still greater, I’m not sure that FAA’s mission is as different in scope as you think.

    My real point is that this probably boils down to as much of a lack of political will to drive the FMSCA to actually properly enforce its regulations (which a powerful trucking lobby factors into for sure) as it does needing to rework the entire tracking system,

  • Fred

    So its not so much that the existing system doesn’t work, its just non-standard and optional. Fixing those 2 things would go a long way.

  • Fred

    I thought the pilot limits were only for commercial pilots, much like driving limits are only for commercial truckers. I can drive my private automobile for a month straight without sleeping, I think I could do the same with a private aircraft. So again, they are not completely the same.

    I agree, the issue is as much about political will as anything else. But the man power required to enforce the existing limits are a non-starter.

  • WestLooper

    I think you’re right, but my faith in this is tested every time I visit the post office or deal with the latest nonsense from my postal carrier.

  • Matt F

    regarding the ped chasing the taxi, here is a video from the taxi #1258: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1d5-0JLep1U

    looks like no contact

  • Just don’t confuse “works a service job where they have to deal with assholes all day and/or have physically grueling work conditions” with “all union workers ever”. :->

    Those fields that have managed to stay unionized are disproportionately full of really, really dragging-you-down type jobs, the kinds of jobs that can destroy your soul, and so you get a lot of people in them, especially if they’ve had the job for over a decade, who have already had a lot of their perkiest skills worn off.

  • Randy Savage

    There are no profits to share, because Metra w/o government support would be a failing business. Their wages are insanely above the market rate, and it will never change. Public sector unions exist to screw over the taxpayer. The taxpayer, who does not even get a seat at negotiations, unlike private sector union negotiations where labor and corporation are represented.

  • It seems there was no contact but it’s still a scary and unnerving situation to be in to when walking across the street and a vehicle gets very close to you.

  • Matt F

    so scary that you should chase them down the street…

  • I think there’s some differences, though, among the lines operated by the actual railroads (UP-N, UP-NW, UP-W, and BNSF) and the remaining lines operated by Metra-employed staff. First, the problems the Tribune has reported seem mostly borne by the railroad lines and not the Metra and Electric lines.

    Wasn’t there something about on-time performance goals recently that said while Metra implements them for the railroad-operated lines that it doesn’t have penalties or incentives to meet them?

  • Jennifer

    That needs to change, but then UP and BNSF could just refuse to run the trains, I guess. The, what, four busiest trains? Oh my…

    Couldn’t the state do something? The state made the railroads allow bikes on board and accept universal fares eventually.

  • duppie

    I really dislike that behavior. This video terms it aggressive yielding. That is an appropriate term. Look at 2:55

  • SP_Disqus

    The state could definitely help with the region’s insufficient capital funding for it’s transit agencies which has a backlog of projects worth 20 billion dollars. The RTA is estimating that over the next decade they will only receive 10% of their capital needs. The state could definitely do a lot there.

  • I’ve been looking for a term like that. The term I want applies to the feeling you get while bicycling and you “feel” the impatience of the person driving their car behind you. They may not be doing anything that could be caught on camera, but it still feels personal.