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Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: Making DC More Ped-Friendly, Roil in the Mass DOT, and Faster Airport Screenings?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Yarn-bombed tricycle on Prince Street, Manhattan (Photo by Kate Hinds)

How to make the DC area more pedestrian-friendly: discuss. (Kojo Nnamdi Show/WAMU)

The TSA will pilot an expedited security screening program this fall (Atlanta Journal Constitution.)  Meanwhile, Donald Rumsfeld got the pat-down treatment at Chicago's O'Hare (MSNBC)

Another Massachusetts transportation secretary is quitting. "No other Cabinet position has had as much turnover," writes the Boston Globe.

TN's Matt Dellinger talked carmageddon on The Takeaway; listen to the conversation below!

Iowa Senator Tom Harkin wants an ADA-compliant Taxi of Tomorrow. (New York Daily News)

New York is adding surveillance cameras to 341 more buses. (NY1)

Streetsblog looks at emails about the Prospect Park West bike lane, says the only people referring to the lane as a "trial" were the lane's opponents, not the DOT or city officials.

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Transportation Nation

Sen. Paul: TSA "Clueless" on Passenger Pat-downs

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Conservative Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) lashed out once again at the Transportation Security Administration Wednesday, calling the agency "clueless" when it comes to its often-ridiculed policy of random pat-downs.

Paul told TSA administrator John Pistole in Senate hearings that his agency was "wasting its time" by using random pat-downs at airport security checkpoints instead of using more intelligence-drive risk-based methods of passenger screening.

Paul objects to the pat-down policy both on privacy and efficiency grounds. He recalled the case of Selena Drexel, a 6-year-old who in April was patted down by TSA agents before boarding a flight in New Orleans. Drexels's parents, who live in Kentucky, video-taped the pat-down and posted the video online. After it went viral, and the parents appeared on Good Morning America and elsewhere, they Selena became the poster child for TSA reform among privacy advocates and libertarians.

On Wednesday, Paul said the Drexel case is symbolic of what he sees as lacking at TSA. "It makes me think you guys are clueless that you think she's going to attack our country and you're not doing your research on the people who would attack our country."

Paul argued the "police work" would be a more effective security tool than random pat-downs, which he decried as a "politically correct" attempt to be fair to all travelers. He noted that Faisal Shazad, the accused Times Square bomber was allowed to board a flight at New York's JFK airport despite being on a terrorist watch-list.

"I think you ought to get rid of the random pat-downs. The American public is unhappy with them. They’re unhappy with the invasiveness of them, the Internet's full of jokes about the invaseiveness of your pat-down searches. And we ought (to) really just consider, is this what we’re willing to do," Paul said.

Pistole, who was on the Hill to testify on rail and mass transit security in front of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, told Paul that the Drexels' much-publicized search was not really random at all.

"This of course is something that is done based on intelligence gathering from around the world,” he said. Pistole stressed that the search of Drexel had nothing to do with the 6-year-old in particular but with concerns that children could be used by adults as unwitting weapons. "Unfortunately we know that terrorists have used children under 12 years old as suicide bombers,”  he said.

Pistole said TSA and the Department of Homeland Security are working on a program using passenger manifests and other voluntarily-provided information to speed passenger screening and to let agents reduce their focus on non-threatening travelers.

Paul called for a privately-run frequent traveler program to speed screenings. “Lets turn it over. Lets have a frequent flyer program you can voluntarity participate in," he said.

In 2009 TSA terminated a private frequent traveler program that operated in 19 airports. It has not sought to renew the program.

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: Christie Likes #7 Extension Idea, and London's Double Decker Bus Gets Revamped

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

NJ Governor Christie says extending the #7 subway across the Hudson is “a much better idea” than the ARC tunnel, but he hasn't yet spoken to Mayor Bloomberg about it. (AP via New York Times)

Traffic fatalities in NYC are at an all-time low, but pedestrians make up the majority of those killed. (NY1)

NYC transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan is one of Esquire Magazine's "15 Genuises Who Give Us Hope."

Talk about paving roads with good intentions: as BART extends to San Jose, "construction crews plan to use at least 250,000 old tires, ground up into 3-inch chunks and laid under large sections of the tracks, to act as shock absorbers, reducing vibration and noise along the route." (San Jose Mercury News)

London's iconic bus--the Routemaster--is getting updated. "The new bus has three doors: joining the single rear entrance are a front and a side door. There are also two staircases, solving a major congestion problem, and a source of missed stops on full buses." (Wired - Autopia)

Do electric cars spell cash or calamity for utility companies? "Plugged into a socket, the Nissan Leafs and Chevrolet Volts can draw as much energy from the grid as a small house." (The Takeaway)

NYC deputy mayor Steven Goldsmith is on today's Brian Lehrer Show.

With all the news about new TSA screening procedures, the Washington Post has assembled a good, sober guide of what to actually expect at the airport.  This Saturday Night Live video takes a more...whimsical approach:

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