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  • Flight delays are the bane of any traveller. They also have an economic impact, an estimated of $40 billion per year in the US alone, according to the 2008 Report of the Congress Joint Economic Committee. So a better understanding of the nature of flight delays is surely of great interest. Today, Pablo Fleurquin at the Institute for Cross-Disciplinary Physics and Complex Systems in Spain, and a couple of pals, reveal a unique approach to this problem that shows how flight delays spread across the US. Fleurquin and co begin by thinking about the air transportation system as a network in which airports are nodes and the flights between them edges.

    Technology Review
  • First of three stories about airline biofuels.

    There's an old saying in the aviation business: Lift is a gift, but thrust is a must. Behind the truism is a harsh reality for airlines trying to reduce their emissions and slash sky-high fuel costs. It takes a lot of petroleum to get an airplane going, and electrifying the fleet is not an option.

    E&E Climate Wire
  • Dense fog makes san Francisco one of the nation's most challenging places to pilot an airplane or ship. But while jet aircraft have highly sophisticated electronic, computer and communication systems, most oil tankers and other large commercial ships do not, largely because those systems are so expensive.

    Mercury News
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    On weekdays, BART commuters in San Francisco get to play the unwelcome equivalent of a human jigsaw puzzle...while crowding is already an issue, the problem is only going to get worse — total ridership for the entire system could nearly double to hit 750,000 passengers a day in 15 years, a level that would be unsustainable under BART’s current conditions, according to the transit agency....With those factors in mind, the regional rail operator is proposing several changes at the two easternmost downtown San Francisco stations, including removing furniture and payphones, adding surcharges or premium fare prices, and eventually building new platforms at the sites....The transit agency could charge more expensive “premium” fares for passengers arriving at the Embarcadero or Montgomery stations.

    SF Examiner
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    The recovering economy, high gas prices and growing environmental consciousness are driving record ridership on BART. But the surge in riders - about three times the increase that was expected - could also bring problems if the transit district doesn't act to increase its capacity and rejuvenate its aging infrastructure.

    SF Chronicle
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     Times Square, one the most free-flowing public spaces in the world, will be constrained a bit by the addition of dozens of stainless-steel bollards and granite barriers that are intended to prevent terrorists — and drunks — from driving vehicles on to the pedestrian plazas that have been created between West 42nd and West 47th Streets.

    New York Times
  • San Francisco municipal overtime spiked $18 million over budget in the first year of Mayor Ed Lee's administration - with one Muni mechanic raking in an extra $163,856....Last year, 10 Muni supervisors made more than $100,000 in overtime - bringing their pay to $200,000-plus apiece.

    SF Chronicle
  • In China's capital, they're calling it the "airpocalypse," with air pollution that's literally off the charts. The air has been classified as hazardous to human health for a fifth consecutive day, at its worst hitting pollution levels 25 times that considered safe in the U.S. The entire city is blanketed in a thick grey fug that smells of coal and stings the eyes, leading to official warnings to stay inside.

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    Driving around a college campus can be treacherous. Bikes and scooters zip out of nowhere, distracted students wander into traffic, and stopped cars and speed bumps suddenly appear. It takes a vigilant driver to avoid catastrophe. Jesse Levinson does not much worry about this when he drives his prototype Volkswagen Touareg around the Stanford University campus here. 

    New York Times
  • ...Elizabeth Deakin, a professor of city and regional planning at UC Berkeley, said investing in reliable traffic management tools could ease congestion by 5 percent in the region. That’s not a trivial amount — it’s the difference between halting, stop-and-go traffic and free-flowing vehicles, Deakin said. “This isn’t the sort of work that seems to capture the imagination or hold the attention of officials for very long,” Deakin said. “It’s not glamorous, and it’s not rocket science, but it’s just basic day-to-day stuff that we really need to be doing.”

    SF Examiner