December 17, USA Today – (National) Loopholes in ‘Do Not Board’ list let infected travelers fly. A federal “Do Not Board” list failed at least three times this year to stop travelers with serious, infectious diseases from taking commercial flights, according to information obtained by congressional investigators. Although the “Do Not Board” list is separate from the terrorism “No Fly” list, its purpose is similar: to keep those who might pose a threat to travelers from flying. Its success, however, appears to be limited. From January 2009 until August 2010, nine infectious people on the list tried to board flights, according to information the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provided to Republican staff on the House Energy and Commerce committee. The list proved successful in stopping six of them – including a traveler who was denied boarding three times last December in California in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego. The list failed to stop three others. The CDC said no one was sickened by the three travelers, and a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) spokesman said the loopholes that allowed them to travel have been fixed. The “Do Not Board” list was created in June 2007 after an Atlanta, Georgia man with drug-resistant tuberculosis eluded federal authorities and set off an international health scare flying back to the United States from his wedding in Europe. Source: http://www.usatoday.com/travel/flights/2010-12-17- rw_donotboard16_ST_N.htm
December 16, Washington Examiner – (National) Metro to start random bag searches. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) plans to begin random searches of its riders’ bags in the coming days, the transit agency said December 16, revisiting a plan first announced 2 years ago. The Metro police chief said the coordinated effort with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was not in response to a specific threat but was part of a continuing effort to keep the system safe from explosives. Metro officials would not specify when the first searches will begin, how long they will last, which locations will be targeted, or how many riders’ bags will be searched. The agency planned to start alerting riders with pamphlets and station announcements December 16. The officers will try to “minimize inconvenience to riders,” the WMATA general manager said, with brief inspections of randomly selected riders. Bags will be searched for hazardous materials using ionization technology and explosive-sniffing K-9 units. An earlier proposal involved officers opening riders’ bags and looking inside them. But bags will be not be opened unless they are deemed to need further inspection. Furthermore, Metro officials said, the equipment and dogs are looking for explosives and will not be looking for guns or drugs. Source: http://washingtonexaminer.com/local/dc/2010/12/metro-start-random-bagsearches
December 16, Baltimore Sun – (Maryland) Amtrak, MARC faulted in ‘hell train’ report. The June 2010 breakdown of a Baltimore, Maryland-bound commuter train – which left up to 1,200 people sweltering for about 2 hours and became known as the “hell train” – was worsened by the managerial lapses of MARC and Amtrak, according to a report released December 16. Once Penn Line Train 538 stopped near the New Carrollton station, communications broke down, the Amtrak crew lost sight of passengers’ needs, and MARC managers were slow to respond. The report, based on an investigation coordinated by the Federal Railroad Administration, concluded the June 21 incident reflected “a series of organizational failures at multiple levels.” The breakdown occurred on an evening when the mercury hovered around 90 degrees, and passengers said temperatures on the sealed train became even hotter, until they began evacuating in spite of the crew’s orders. With MARC and Amtrak slow to call in emergency workers, passengers summoned help with calls to 911. The report also exposed a longstanding problem with maintaining power to long, heavy trains in hot weather – prompting MARC and Amtrak to consider running shorter trains at more frequent intervals. Such a move could involve a restructuring of Amtrak’s schedule in the Northeast Corridor and additional spending by the Maryland Transit Administration. Source: http://www.baltimoresun.com/features/commuting/bs-md-marc-report- 20101216,0,1316548.story
December 14, State Journal-Register – (Illinois) Oil-line leak causes Amtrak delays on Chicago-to-St. Louis route. An oil-line leak near tracks used by Amtrak in northeast Illinois forced cancellation and delays on the Lincoln Service route between Chicago and St. Louis, Missouri. A statement from Amtrak December 14 said Trains 300, 302 and 303 were delayed or detoured. Trains 301, 304, 305, 306 and 307 were canceled and alternate transportation would be provided. Trains 21 and 22 were also delayed or detoured. The oil leak was near Lockport, about 35 miles southwest of Chicago. Source: http://www.sj-r.com/breaking/x1167177246/Oil-line-leak-causes-Amtrakdelays- cancellations-on-Chicago-to-St-Louis-route
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