Hazardous materials events by mode, 2000 to 2010

I’ve been fiddling around with the data on serious hazardous materials spills, and I used R to make a graphic that shows the differences in spill frequency by class.

Voila Capture14

The serious spills are distributed among hazardous materials classes similar to the prevalence of their shipping, with one exception. Corrosive materials (Class 8 ) are somewhat more represented in serious spills than in the entire spills record. Because there are so few spills from water transport, those are not illustrated. Infrequent hazardous material classes are also omitted from the figures.

A contrast of the two mosaic plots shows that rail and air modes have caused proportionately more evacuation events than highway shipping for both flammable (class 3) and corrosive materials ( class 8 ). This result is likely due to the volumes that can be transported by these modes, relative to a single truck. The reverse is true for events causing environmental damage, which could be a result of separation of rail and air facilities from other land uses. This separation contrasts with highways, which are more geographically dispersed and come in closer contact with environmentally sensitive areas. Here again, however, corrosive materials are proportionately over-represented among serious spills.

The mosaicplots are made in the R package vcd.

Bringing Siemens back to life?

The Economist has an interesting story on the re-inventionof engineering firm Siemens. One of the issues that has plagued the company (in addition to dishonest practices) concerned the company’s identity crisis. Was it going to be a consumer electronics company, or was it going to the route of a heavy industry?

The decision, under new leadership, is good news for advocates of high-speed rail and new wind energy:

The main purpose of all this has been to build Siemens’s presence in technically advanced infrastructure such as energy and transport, where the barriers to entry are high, or in areas such as health care and energy controls for buildings, where the company can bundle products and services together. This may sound like the tired and unconvincing justifications that conglomerates, including Siemens, have long trotted out for why they have disparate businesses. Yet Siemens does seem to be winning business with bundled offers. It can, for example, audit a company’s energy use and suggest improvements that will then pay for themselves out of savings. Many rivals already do this. But few offer to finance the capital spending and guarantee the energy savings, as Siemens does.

link: Siemens: A giant awakens | The Economist

The rolling stock for HSR or for electric freight engines don’t come from local, organic coops.

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The Impact Project’s Moving Forward Together Conference

When: October 22-23, 2010
Where: Carson Community Center, 801 E. Carson Street Carson, CA 90745

This is a national conference promoted by The Impact Project looking at how to improve the environmental health of whole freight process. Every year, they have some very good speakers, and you find out what is going on with the environmental impacts of freight.

Here’s a look at the Impact Project’s mission. You can cruise around the website and see some of the organization’s accomplishments as well!

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New METRANS Transcast with Dr. Eddy Van de Voorde now available

The following is a link to the METRANS website METRANS TransCast: Eddy Van de Voorde

where we have just posted our newest TransCast featuring Dr. Eddy Van de Voorde, University of Antwerp. In this TransCast, Host Mat Kaplan interviewed Dr. Van de Voorde during the METRANS National Urban Freight Conference in late October discussing transportation issues from an international perspective. Dr. Van de Voorde was the keynote speaker at the conference.

Eddy Van de Voorde teaches at the University of Antwerp (Faculty of Applied Economics). His work deals with Maritime Economics, Port Economics and Air Transport Economics. He is responsible for several new research projects, financed by a number of Belgian and international government institutions and private companies. Extensive research in the field of modeling in the sector of freight transport has resulted in a large number of international transport journals such as Maritime Policy and Management and Transportation Research E. He also is a Visiting Professor at several Belgian and foreign universities. In July 1998, he acted as Vice-President of the 8th World Conference on Transport Research (8th WCTR). In the period 1995-2001, he was Vice-Chairman of the international scientific committee of the WCTRS. Next to this, he acted as Vice-Chairman of the International Association of Maritime Economists (IAME) and Chairman of the Benelux Interuniversity Group of Transport Economists (BIVEC/GIBET).

Christmas Layoffs for Truckers in Houston

From ABC News:

Even though their last checks bounced, former employees consider themselves lucky because they were at least home in Houston when everything collapsed. Hundreds of other drivers are stranded at truck stops across the country.

See the full story here, along with the accompanying video.

I want to say that this is a just a fluke, but trucking and freight stats are indicators of economic health, too, along with housing. This is bad news, and not just for the people directly affected.

TransCast with Michael Onder

From Metrans, a USC research center, comes a new podcast on transportation:

Mike Onder is the team leader for truck size and weight and freight operations and technology in the Federal Highway Administration’s Office of Freight Management and Operations. He has the responsibility for facilitating partnerships with the freight industry and government to collaborate on problems of mutual concern that may be overcome by technology innovation. Mike has served in several capacities with FHWA over the past 15 years, primarily focused on commercial vehicle operations and intermodal freight. He also served in executive and legislative capacities with the State of Florida, and also with the transportation industry in both managerial and technical capacities. Mike is a graduate of Florida State University with a Bachelor’s degree in political science and economics, and a master’s degree in Business and Public Administration.