01 September, 2008

SHOOTING FOR THE MOON IS LIGHTER THEN AIR!


So here we are in Jacksonville, more then once the home of lost causes. First we align with Mexican Pirates and declare ourselves the independent Republic of Florida, against the will of both the new US Nation and the Spanish Landlords. Next big deal was our attack on the federal invasion fleet some 15,000 men strong by 6 citizens of the local Confederate Signal Corps. We found a "cure" for yellow fever by burning sulfur and shooting off cannons, with some success, mosquito's don't like concussions and sulfur stinks. Next big adventure was to sell out our streetcar system so we'd become the "only" big GM distribution center on earth. When the results became apparent, we formed JTA to save us. Meanwhile we bought into "Floating Off-Shore Nuclear Power Plants". Screw the tropical storms, we had the corner on the market. Leap forward and we are the master jet base of the whole US Navy - no? Too much success in that. So another great idea. We'll take our former Jet Base and turn it into a SPACE PORT just like every other abandoned military airport, in every other state, but shhhhh! We think we're the only ones here.

Meanwhile in California, the future is being pioneered by the Zeppelin Corporation with the new NT airship. A giant leap backwards? Don't bet on it. Even in the tragic Hindenburg crash of the 1930's most passengers walked away from it, try that with a Skybus or 757. Lift, LTA (lighter then air) aircraft can adopt to the new era in aviation making up for a half a century of slumber.

They don't need runways. They can use modern power. They all use the latest electronics and avionics. Their air speed is about equal to High Speed Rail on land. Best of all, they can cross the Atlantic with the same amount of fuel that a 747 burns in the taxiway from the gate to the take-off point. With fuel costs soaring, a devoted few large companies, working with international governments, including our own have quietly gone about the re-birth of the great zeppelin era. Perhaps for the first time in our history, Jacksonville has the opportunity to jump on another idea that isn't tied down too tight. Odds are, this time we win. LETS LTA JACKSONVILLE!

Meanwhile, take a look at Southern California's own government secret as it floats up and out of the box.

SAN BERNARDINO - THE SUN

Blimp could revolutionize travel
Company hangars in San Bernardino
Ben Baeder, Staff Writer
Article Launched: 08/31/2008


BLOGGER NOTE: The newspaper story incorrectly identifies the air-ship as a "blimp". Blimps do not have frames or ribs. A rigid airship is called a Zeppelin and either can correctly be called dirigibles (French for steerable aircraft).

Tucked in a warehouse along the Rio Hondo River in Montebello, one of the world's few blimp companies is building a bulbous-looking, super- light flying cruise ship that company officials say could revolutionize air travel.

Called the Aeroscraft, the ship would be capable of flying 3,000 miles at 110 mph, hovering in place, and lifting 3 to 4 tons of cargo.

"Nothing like this has been done before," said Edward Pevzner, business development manager at Worldwide Aeros Corp., the company working on the Aeroscraft.
"We're still thinking of all the different ways we could use it," he said.
Larger versions of the craft in the future could transport 60 tons and hold hundreds of people, he said.

Founded by Igor Pasternak, a flight specialist from the former Soviet Union, Worldwide Aeros claims to produce some of the world's most advanced blimps, building electronically-controlled ships that need only one pilot for operation. Blimp companies are so rare that, at any given time, there are only about 20 in the world, company officials said.

With hangars in San Bernardino and its headquarters in Montebello, Worldwide Aeros has permission from the Federal Aviation Administration to operate its "Sky Dragon" blimp and is working on getting a certificate for a new version of that blimp, according FAA spokesman Ian Gregor.

But the rigid Aeroscraft is an entirely new concept in flight.

weight would be supported by helium kept in a compartment at the top of the craft. That cuts in half the amount of power needed to keep the Aeroscraft airborne compared to a conventional jet, Pevzner said. The rest of the lift would come from the force of air moving against the Aeroscraft, like an airplane.

The ship could cruise, hover, or move straight up and down, he said.
The Aeroscraft's ability to self-adjust its buoyancy is what makes it unique, Pevzner said. Typically, blimps cannot carry much cargo, because it is too difficult to adjust the amount of helium in the craft when the payload changes. But the Aeroscraft would be able to quickly adjust its buoyancy, sucking helium in and out of containers and using air as a ballast.

The idea for the ship - which is scheduled to be in operation in about two years - is causing a stir among technology buffs. Web sites about flight and technology are buzzing with comments from fans and skeptics.

"This is not a Blimp," wrote journalist Joshua Tompkins on the Web site popsci.com. "It's a sort of flying Queen Mary 2 that could change the way you think about air travel."

Research for the craft was funded by the government, which was looking for a way to transport cargo to areas without runways, according to statements from the company.

The company is now translating that research into civilian use.

The Aeroscraft could be used by oil companies in transporting equipment to remote regions, as a flying mansion for billionaires, or for corporate travel to places without major airports.

Aeros Worldwide caught the eye of Rep. Grace Napolitano, D-Santa Fe Springs, who noticed the company had moved to her district about 10 months ago from the San Fernando Valley.

The company relocated to Montebello to be closer to suppliers and FAA offices, and because the new building had a warehouse large enough to hold 150-foot-long deflated blimps. Most of the aircraft frames are handmade at the facility.

"I'm very excited about the technology they're bringing out," Napolitano said. "The application for moving air cargo impressed me. We're always looking for things that are innovative and environmentally friendly."

IF JACKSONVILLE LIFTED IT"S SKIRT

From the top Right to the Bottom Left of the photo - Asphalt - Brick - Cross Ties - Ballast - A Pipe - More Cross Ties - Bricks - Asphalt
Okay, every red blooded guy knows that rush when the beautiful woman exposes a bit of the under-skirt flesh. But what happens to the same guy's if they are Transit Advocates and happen to be in love with a city and it's history. What if the City lifted it's skirt to give us a small window on what is beneath her coverings? Behold, Tropical Storm Fay performed that feat in Riverside, on Oak Street. A lucky shot into the hole, reveals a pattern of beautiful pavement brick, and the abandoned streetcar tracks of the Jacksonville Traction Company. Who says we have no heritage?

JACKSONVILLE PARKS MONORAIL SYSTEM?

FOOD FOR THOUGHT - SOMETHING TO DO IN THE RIVER CITY BY THE SEA

Located in Japan, yet another mini-monorail system that would hold fantastic opportunities for our parks or our "Riverwalk". Imagine being able to take the family down to this thing and tour the waterfront with more ease then a bicycle ride. In this case - steel wheel on steel rail = almost no friction. The function could be not unlike the New Zealand system, and perhaps without the glass pod, heat would not be a problem in the summer.

We shall continue to watch for inexpensive ways to improve the quality of life in Jacksonville through advanced transit and mobility ideas, so keep watching for future posts.

37 YEARS TO KILL THE SYSTEM AND NOW IT'S AMTRAK TO THE RESCUE!

FEMA Announcement of new Amtrak Partnership

Greyhound, Amtrak routes canceled as city takes over transit station
Saturday August 30, 2008, 11:10 AM
CHRIS GRANGER / THE TIMES-PICAYUNE

With Hurricane Gustav barreling toward Louisiana, Greyhound bus and Amtrak train service heading out of New Orleans from the Union Passenger Terminal this weekend has been canceled to accommodate the city's free evacuation program, leaving an unknown number of travelers holding worthless tickets out of town.

New Orleans city officials informed the transit firms all routes out of the downtown station would have to cease at 6 p.m. Friday, spokespeople for the companies said. "It's not our choice," spokeswoman Abby Wambaugh said. "It's what we had to do." Greyhound routes to and from Mobile, Houston and Baton Rouge are canceled until further notice, according to the company's Web site. An Amtrak spokesman said several train routes are suspended through early next week. The city owns the terminal, which is being used as a staging site for the city's free evacuation program. A city spokesperson could not immediately be reached for comment. City buses began shuttling around designated pickup sites in New Orleans at 8 a.m. today, ferrying residents to the Union Passenger Terminal. There, they can board state-chartered buses to shelters in north Louisiana and Tennessee. Elderly and infirm residents who arrived at the transit station can board Amtrak trains to Memphis. Similar programs were in place in Jefferson, St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes Wambaugh said passengers holding canceled bus tickets may use redeem them for face value at any time within the next year. She did not know how many tickets were purchased for travel out of New Orleans this weekend. Amtrak officials called passengers scheduled to travel from New Orleans on Friday and notified them of the change, according to the firm's Web site. Refunds are available.


BLOGGER NOTE: As of Monday morning, Amtrak and the buses along with the highways have managed to evacuate 95% of New Orleans. While regular train and bus service was suspended, outbound trains and buses stood in lines. One Amtrak train to Memphis alone carried over 1,200 citizens. Buses were lined up 40 vehicles deep. Certainly a true case of Mass Transit at it's best.

PLAYING IN THE TROLLEY WIRE - STUPID IS AS STUPID DOES???

August 31, 2008

Trespasser Tries to Zap Amtrak Back with Lawsuit

An Astoria man is suing Amtrak because they "should have known that people trespassed" in the area of a Boston station where he was severely electrocuted two years ago. After a night of drinking in July 2006, 25-year-old Brian Hopkins went down to Boston's South Station at 2 a.m. after telling friends that he "wanted to get back to New York." There he tried to force his way inside an Acela and climbed on top of a parked train car when he was jolted by 27,500 volts from arcing overhead wires. He suffered third-degree burns over 85 percent of his body, and doctors have since amputated his left hand and leg. In the suit, his family claims that Amtrak should have taken more precautions to keep trespassers out of the potentially dangerous area.
BLOGGER NOTE: Jacksonville Streetcars or LRT would likely use
either 1,200 volt AC which is newer and has less moving parts (but is more
costly) or the standard 600 volt DC which lasts an eternity but will still turn
a human into a french fry in a flash. As I recall when the Kennedy Funeral Train made it's way along the electrified railroads of the Northeast, several persons were killed or seriously injured climbing on top of standing train cars to get a better view.
Fact is, the view is great from HEAVEN! Railroads, Streetcars or LRT are NOT PLAYGOUNDS.

HAVE CORRINE BROWN AND FDOT BYPASSED JACKSONVILLE ON AMTRAK?

One of the Last of the old school streamliners was the City of Miami, a often full train left out of the Amtrak System between Miami-Jax-Birmingham-Memphis-Chicago/St. Louis. Here we see her pulling away from us at speed on a cold Jacksonville morning. Symbolic? I hope not.

I Want To Know Where Jacksonville Terminal Station Fits Into This Plan!


By LINDSAY PETERSON
The Tampa Tribune

TAMPA - As passengers settle into the wide, reclining seats, the train pulls out of Union Station at the edge of downtown Tampa. After rolling through Ybor City, the silver locomotive picks up speed, whizzing past Brandon subdivisions and Plant City farms until it rolls into Lakeland 40 minutes later. The next stop is Kissimmee, 16 miles from Disney World, then downtown Orlando.

This isn't someone's vision of the kind of rail service they'd like to see. It happens every day on the Silver Star, an Amtrak train that stops in a dozen cities across Florida. There's one problem: You might not get back home the same day you leave, because Amtrak runs so few trains to these cities. But state and federal lawmakers want to change that. They're working with Amtrak and the state Department of Transportation to create a service that commuters can use.

The discussion began last month, when the state's plan to create a commuter rail system in Orlando stumbled in the Legislature. Lawmakers began looking for other ways to bring more passenger rail service to the state - especially after supporters of the Orlando plan said that its failure would doom efforts to bring commuter rail to Tampa.

Weeks earlier, Amtrak officials had visited Florida to talk about its efforts to run more trains on its established routes. Amtrak probably can't take the place of the multiple-stop system planned for Orlando, but it could add trains to its routes connecting Tampa, Lakeland, and several cities in the Orlando area and South Florida. It uses the same tracks that officials had planned to use for the Orlando system and would share several stations along the way.

Several lawmakers and state Department of Transportation officials met with Amtrak representatives in Tallahassee this month. Amtrak Vice President Anne Witt told the group that the agency had no interest in running commuter trains, but it could link several cities' commuter and light rail systems.

"It's all very preliminary," said state Sen. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, "but I think people got very excited thinking about what's possible."

With gas topping $4 per gallon, people are ready to give up their cars, said U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, who recently voted with the majority in the House to reauthorize Amtrak for the first time since 1997. The measure included $2.5 billion for improvements to its intercity routes across the country.

"I see a great potential for Amtrak to take off in Florida," she said.
Already, dozens of people take the Silver Star out of Tampa every day - retirees, college students, families traveling to Orlando, Miami and other cities along the train's East Coast route to Boston.

Michael Durham, 22, of Altamonte Springs, rode the train from Orlando to Tampa on Wednesday to meet his family vacationing in Indian Rocks Beach. The train was running three hours late because of work on the tracks north of Orlando. "Other than that, it wasn't bad. It was cheap," he said. A round trip between Orlando and Tampa costs $18. If there were more trains, "I'd probably use it to come over here to see my friend on the weekend. It'd be great for that."

The Cost Of Expansion
About 22,000 commuters leave Polk County every day to work in the Tampa or Orlando areas, according to the Central Florida Development Council, a group that promotes business in Polk County. About 7,000 travel from the Tampa area into Polk.

As things are now, they wouldn't all be able to take the train. "The trick is, how do you get from the train station to where you want to go?" marketing manager Jim DeGennaro said.

Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio and others with the new Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority are working on that part of the problem in Tampa, mapping out a light-rail system linking downtown with the West Shore area, Tampa International Airport and the University of South Florida.

"I'm very optimistic," said Dockery, who helped organize last week's meeting with Amtrak.

But expanding Amtrak service in Florida won't be easy. It means negotiating agreements with the company that owns most of the state's freight rail lines, CSX Transportation. The Jacksonville-based freight company has said it doesn't want more passenger trains on that line between Tampa and Orlando, not without financial help from the government to expand the line's capacity.

The state took a different approach in its effort to bring commuter rail to the Orlando area. About two years ago, it began negotiations with CSX to buy 61 miles of track between DeLand and Poinciana. The deal ended up with a $649 million price tag, which included the cost of helping CSX expand a parallel set of tracks into a hub it plans to build in Winter Haven.

Several state lawmakers questioned why it cost so much to buy just 61 miles of railroad tracks. Dockery also worried about the additional freight trains that would come through Lakeland on their way to and from the Winter Haven hub.

What finally killed the deal in the Legislature, at least for this year, was a CSX demand that the state take liability for any accident involving a passenger train, even an accident caused by a CSX freight train on the tracks.

As lawmakers who favored the deal began working to revive it for next year, Dockery and state Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Lakeland, began talking to Amtrak.

The Amtrak Alternative
It's not the first time state officials turned to Amtrak as an alternative. In 2000, the DOT put together an intercity rail plan using Amtrak instead of a high-priced proposal for statewide high-speed rail.

The high-speed system would have connected Tampa and Orlando first, using the state-owned right-of-way along Interstate 4. Promoted by Dockery's husband, C.C. "Doc" Dockery, the effort ultimately failed in a statewide referendum.

The state's 2000 Amtrak plan also named the Tampa-Orlando route as one of the busiest, projecting that by 2010, more than 16 million people per year would travel the 90 miles between the two cities. It estimated that more than 15 million per year would travel the 230 miles between Orlando and Miami.

"I don't know why we abandoned that plan," Paula Dockery said. DOT spokesman Dick Kane said the plan had not been abandoned but that Amtrak doesn't typically operate commuter systems like the one Florida envisions in the Orlando area. Amtrak "will definitely be part of the study parameters" as the state develops its intercity rail plan, Kane said.The advantage of working through Amtrak is that federal law gives it the right to use existing freight lines, as long as its use doesn't interfere with freight train traffic.

It might not be as expensive as buying the lines, but increasing the number of Amtrak trains connecting Tampa, Orlando, Miami and Jacksonville will still cost money, Dockery said. It may require building a set of tracks next to the existing ones, which could cost tens of millions of dollars.

A possible source of money emerged this month when Congress reauthorized Amtrak. "We'll need to fight for the money through the appropriations bill," Castor said. "But we have people who believe in rail in the appropriations committee."

The bill also includes money to study the restoration of the Sunset Limited, which used to run through Florida to New Orleans but was discontinued after Hurricane Katrina.

A Liability Study
Castor said that if the bill gets final approval, Florida will have a good shot at a grant because one of its House members from Jacksonville, Corrine Brown, a Democrat, is head of the Transportation Committee's subcommittee on railroads, pipelines and hazardous materials.

Brown wants to see more Amtrak service in Florida, she said, but her first choice of routes is the one between Miami and Orlando because of tourist travel between the two places. Also, she said, Florida stands a better chance of getting federal money if it gets commuter rail going in Orlando.

"The state needs to show its commitment," Brown said.

Castor is trying to help solve the liability hang-up, she said. She and three other House members have asked the U.S. Government Accountability Office to study the liability agreements of all passenger rail agreements between government agencies and freight rail companies. One of the three is U.S. Rep. James Oberstar, D-Minn., head of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Another state, Massachusetts, is in a battle with CSX over its demand for liability protection in a track purchase deal similar to Florida's. Amtrak has given CSX liability protection in several of its contracts with the freight carrier and has had to pay millions to resolve liability cases.

The request asks the GAO to review court cases involving the type of liability agreement CSX wants and what the agreements cost states and other rail agencies, such as Amtrak.

It also asks that the review be completed by Dec. 9, before Florida's next legislative session.

TAKE A FREE TOUR OF THE JACKSONVILLE SKYWAY

The arguments rage to this date, "Should have never been built," "waste of taxpayer money," "Doesn't go anywhere," "Nobody rides it..." etc. Bottom line is we have it, and it is finally showing signs of life. Simple extensions to the Stadium, San Marco, and the area of Blue Cross in North Riverside would turn this little train around. Addition of Park and Ride garages and multimodal transit terminals at the end points would bring on the crowds. The video must have been shot on a Sunday Morning, as downtown is certainly as packed with life as any other major City on weekdays. Jacksonville is a city of Bikes, joggers, walkers, buses and cars, one almost wonders how the photographer managed to find this quiet moment.

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