• Monitoring Mexican trucks operating in the U.S.

    The U.S. plan to equip Mexican trucks with electronic recorders for driver logs would be a limited, temporary program undertaken because it is the only way the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FCMSA) can ensure that the Mexican trucks will be monitored, the U.S. government says; under (NAFTA), the United States cannot require Mexican carriers to do anything that U.S. carriers are not required to do, but the government still must provide a way to monitor Mexican carriers for compliance with both the hours of service rules and the cabotage rules that restrict freight hauling between points in the United States

  • OSI Systems to develop advanced cargo screening system

    Rapiscan Systems, the security division of OSI Systems, Inc., was recently awarded a $29 million contract with DHS’ Science and Technology Directorate to develop sophisticated new cargo screening systems; the program is designed to produce the next generation of non-intrusive cargo screening systems that will be capable of automatically detecting and identifying multiple threats and contraband including explosives, narcotics, and chemical weapons in cargo containers entering the United States by air, land, and sea.

  • Lawmakers want cars equipped with alcohol detection devices

    A bill sponsored by nine U.S. senators would provide $60 million over five years to speed up research into devices to detect alcohol on a driver’s breath, through touch on the steering wheel or through other methods; car owners could select the option when buying a new vehicle; the device would prevent the car from starting if the driver is impaired

  • Britain struggles to contain rampant copper thefts

    Britain is struggling to stop thieves that are stealing large quantities of copper from rail yards; the cost of these thefts to the British government has doubled to roughly $1.25 billion a year; the price of copper has hit all-time highs at just over $10,000 per ton, which has driven organized gangs to conduct dangerous raids on rail way stations; the gangs climb on to the tracks and use power tools to cut down all the copper cables they can including train signaling, electricity, and data cables; thefts are expected to increase as the demand from China is projected to push copper prices even higher

  • DHS interested in systems for covert body scans

    DHS has signed contracts for the development of mobile and static systems that can be used scan pedestrians and people at rail and bus stations and special event venues — apparently at times without their knowledge; DHS moved to develop the technology as part of an effort to bolster the ability of law enforcement personnel to quickly detect concealed bombs and other explosives on individuals

  • Maryland wants Florida's high speed rail funds

    As Republican governors in Florida, Wisconsin, and Ohio reject federal funding for high speed rail projects, states like Maryland are clamoring to receive those funds; Maryland Senators Benjamin L. Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski sent a letter to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood requesting that $2.4 billion dollars in high speed rail funding originally designated for Florida be redirected to projects in the Northeast Corridor; each year 250 million rail passengers use the corridor and passenger use is projected to increase by 60 percent by 2030; the White House plans to spend $53 billion on high speed rail projects over the next six years and $8 billion in the coming fiscal year alone

  • Border bottlenecks hamper trade

    Last year, U.S. exports to Mexico totaled $163 billion, and imports from Mexico totaled $229.6 billion; nearly 80 percent of that trade crosses through land border ports on trucks and railcars; the 1.8-million strong Border Trade Alliance says bottlenecks at border crossings hamper this trade and make it more costly to grow it; the Alliance urges Congress and the Obama administration to invest in border ports of entry, including hiring more staff; Obama’s proposed 2011 budget includes only 300 new Customs and Border Protection officers, while Republicans propose shrinking the Border Patrol by 870 agents

  • Studying wait times at modified truck fast lane

    Western Washington University has received $49,000 to conduct field research on wait times and lane reconfiguration at the U.S.-Canada border; the university’s Border Policy and Research Institute will collect and analyze data on wait times as part of a pilot to examine alternative use of the dedicated Free and Secure Trade truck lane at the Blaine crossing

  • High-speed derailment

    Sophisticated high-speed commercial trains such as France’s TGV, Japan’s Bullet trains, and China’s Shanghai Maglev that travel up to 311 mph are leaving the United States in the dust; this week, President Obama proposed a 127 percent increase on public transit spending to create jobs and stimulate the economy despite Republican plans to reduce the $1.5 trillion deficit; Republican lawmakers, governors say the development of high-speed rail should left for the private market

  • Russia spending $1.6 billion to bolster transportation security

    The Russian government announced that it would spend about $1.6 billion over the next three years to beef up transportation security; roughly $410 million will be spent on increasing metro security; Transportation Minister Igor Levitin says the metro is the weakest link in security efforts; there are 300 entrances in the Moscow metro alone; last year two female suicide bombers detonated bombs in Moscow’s busy metro system killing forty people and injuring more than 100; Moscow has the second busiest subway system in the world, second only to Tokyo

  • Dramatic expansion of DC surveillance camera network

    Washington, D.C. is proposing a plan that would add thousands of surveillance camera feeds from local businesses to the city’s homeland security agency existing command center; the city already monitors more than 4,500 cameras placed in its public transportation system and schools; critics say that this is a poor use of resources and violates civil liberties; cities like New York, London, and Baltimore already employ this practice

  • United States susceptible to Moscow-style bombing

    The TSA has invested $212 million to train hundreds of Behavioral Detection Officers (BDOs) in the Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques (SPOT) program; the program is supposed to train security personnel to notice suspicious behavior by people in crowds, but lawmakers and academics question its value

  • China Looks to Invest in California's High Speed Rail

    China looks to add California’s extensive high-speed rail project to its resume; with experience in rail projects both at home and throughout Asia, China can also bring financing to the table as well as project expertise

  • N.Y.-N.J. PATH tunnels bomb-proofed

    If a small explosive — with enough power to blast a 50-foot hole in a tunnel — were detonated, more than a million gallons of Hudson River water per minute would surge into the PATH tubes; the Port Authority is hardening the tubes against terrorist attacks — placing water-absorbing pads around the tunnels, ringing the inside of the tunnels with blast-resistant steel, and building huge floodgates to seal off a tunnel in case water comes gushing in after a blast

  • GPS system keep track of busses

    When we think of the Transportation Security Administration, we usually think of their work done to protect air travel; they are also involved, however, in other forms of transportation, like charter buses; DHS administers a grant to help charter companies install GPS tracking systems in their coaches — and Trailways used to money to equip its 2,000 buses with GPS