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High Speed Rail To Leave the Station in U.S.? And...Are Air Traffic Controllers Overworked?

Thursday, April 14, 2011 - 03:47 PM

A Military Air Traffic Controller

Two interesting Transportation Nation stories on The Takeaway today.

One of President Obama's signature policy initiatives has been to connect 80 percent of Americans to high speed rail within 25 years. However, the 2011 budget allocates no further funding to high speed rail projects. Furthermore, in states like Florida, Ohio, and Wisconsin, Republican governors have returned money for high speed rail projects, which was given to them as part of the stimulus. Is high speed rail dead?

Florida Governor Rick Scott rejected $2.4 billion on ideological grounds, saying the state cannot afford a major infrastructure project. Now Congress will only allow the Department of Transportation to redistribute $2 billion of that money. John Hockenberry breaks it down with Transportation Nation's Andrea Bernstein.

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After another incident of an air traffic controller falling asleep while on the job alone, the FAA announced yesterday that it will now post an extra staffer on overnight shifts in 27 control towers across the country. The incident in Nevada early Wednesday morning is the sixth time this year an air traffic controller has fallen asleep while working alone during a night shift.

Reading about the story on Transportation Nation, a commenter named "Matt," who identified himself as an air traffic controller had this to say:

It is not surprising that one of my fellow controllers succumbed to the issues at hand… Most facilities across the nation can barely staff the day shift, much less the overnight shift. I have been working 6 day weeks just to fill our staffing levels. While 6 day weeks might not sound bad, it has a devastating effect mentally on controllers.

Are air traffic controllers indeed overworked? Barbara Peterson, senior aviation correspondent for Conde Nast Traveler, says they are and it's only getting worse.

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