The EPA has found that some of the water served on airplanes is contaminated, and are advising people to be cautious. (Photo by Lester Graham)
New data suggest you might want to think twice before drinking coffee or tea on an airplane. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Christina Shockley explains why:
New data suggest you might want to think twice before
drinking coffee or tea on an airplane. The Great Lakes Radio
Consortium’s Christina Shockley explains why:
The water on airplanes is tested by the Environmental Protection Agency. Recently, researchers found water that contained coliform bacteria on about one in six of the planes they tested.
The bacteria is usually harmless, but can signal the presence of other, more dangerous organisms.
Cynthia Bergman is with the EPA. She says there’s no need to panic, but concerned passengers should choose other options on board.
“Canned or bottled beverages or bring bottled water onto the flight, and they shouldn’t be shy about asking the flight attendant if the water used for the coffee or tea was made with bottled water, or if it was brought to a boil.”
Bergman says the EPA has not seen any major outbreaks of illness from airplane water. She says symptoms could include nausea and stomach pains. Researchers don’t know yet where the bacteria is coming from, but twelve major airlines have agreed to test the water and disinfect their planes more frequently.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Christina Shockley.
Ferries on the Great Lakes are getting faster; but some ferries are not experiencing the same speed in their ticket sales. (Photo by Anne-Marie Labbate)
Two high speed ferries that began operation on the Great
Lakes this year have shut down for the winter. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Chuck Quirmbach reports that for each of the boats, the first season did not go according to plan:
Two high speed ferries that began operation on the Great Lakes this year have shut down for the winter. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Chuck Quirmbach reports that for each of the boats, the first season did not go according to plan:
The Lake Express Ferry that crossed Lake Michigan between Milwaukee and Muskegon exceeded predictions and carried more than 120-thousand passengers. But the boat cancelled its November and December schedule because of a low number of bookings. Lake Express President Kenneth Szallai insists the problem is not people being reluctant to cruise the lake in cold weather. He says the company just didn’t do enough to market the late-season service.
“People are used to the traditional ferries ending up in October… and because we didn’t do our part of it… they didn’t realize we’d be operating and so our sales were kind of flat for those two months.”
Szallai says the Lake Express will again carry passengers next spring. Another high speed ferry between Toronto and Rochester, New York abruptly shut down in early September. A Rochester newspaper reports problems include, quote, questionable business decisions, bad luck and lack of cash. It’s unclear when the boat will resume service.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Chuck Quirmbach.
The nation’s first high-speed ferry will soon carry passengers and cars across Lake Michigan between Muskegon and Milwaukee. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Tracy Samilton reports:
The nation’s first high-speed ferry will soon carry passengers
and cars across Lake Michigan between Muskegon and Milwaukee. The Great
Lakes Radio Consortium’s Tracy Samilton reports:
It took six hours to cross Lake Michigan in 1970, the last year a
passenger and auto ferry linked Muskegon and Milwaukee. The new ferry,
the Lake Express, will make the trip in about a third of the time. The
catamaran features a lightweight aluminum construction and four engines
with a combined 12,000 horsepower. Developer David Lubar says the biggest
customers are likely to be vacationing families and people who want to
bypass the Chicago commute.
“People are highly frustrated driving through Chicago, you don’t know if it’s going to take a half
hour or two hours.”
Lake Express is currently under construction and has a launch date of June
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Tracy Samilton.
Another link in higher-speed rail in the Great Lakes region is in place. Railroad officials have begun testing passenger trains at speeds never before attempted. It’s part of an effort to establish Chicago as a hub for cities from Cleveland to Minneapolis. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Willis Kern reports:
Another link in higher-speed rail in the Great Lakes region is in place. Railroad officials
have begun testing passenger trains at speeds never before attempted. It’s part of an effort
to establish Chicago as a hub for cities from Cleveland to Minneapolis. The Great Lakes
Radio Consortium’s Willis Kern reports:
(nat sound train going through station)
A four-car Amtrak passenger train is rolling through the depot in downtown Normal,
(sound of train continues)
Usually, passenger trains stop to pick up passengers. But this one is chugging through,
picking up nothing but speed as it heads north toward Chicago, and eventually, a new land
speed record for passenger trains in Illinois. Never before has a train eclipsed the 110-
mile per hour mark, but that’s what this one is about to do during a five-mile stretch, as
another step toward implementing high speed rail in the Midwest.
Before the train backs up from the Amtrak station in Normal and races forward, it sits
idling while engineers from the state bureau of railroads, Amtrak and Lockheed Martin test
new technology the train will use called Positive Train Control, which is a key component
of making the trains go faster. As it sits at the train station, Steve Gossard, the station’s
lead ticket agent, notes that the twin engines on this train look different than the ones
Amtrak usually push up and down the Chicago to St. Louis corridor.
“Well I guess its a little more streamlined, a more angular kind of thing, and its really
very plain. I guess the aerodynamics has something to do with the style.”
The ‘Bureau of Railroads’ is using two Amtrak engines that have been configured to
operate on what’s known as Class 6 tracks, or those that have been upgraded to support
speeds of 110 miles an hour.
“It’s a very sophisticated piece of equipment.”
Bureau chief John Schwalbach says the testing helps determine the difference between
traditional Class 4 tracks that have been upgraded and the new rails to be used for higher
“Particularly the track guage. That is to say the distance between each of the rails.
That’s a key component and at Class 6, there are certain standards that are tighter
than a class four track. And you’re talking about measuring in the millimeter range
here, or even smaller than that.”
Which makes for a smooth ride for the faster trains. Schwalbach says the engines being
tested today are quite different than the one the state has been testing at the more
conventional speed of 79 miles per hour over the past few months, but it will be a couple
of years, at least, before new high speed diesel train sets are ordered. They will efficiently
get passengers up to speeds of 110 miles an hour. A year ago, state rail officials were
pointing to a December ’02 launch of high speed passenger service. Now, Schwalbach
says that’s not likely to happen until sometime in 2004, mainly because of federal red tape.
“From a regulatory perspective, after Lockheed Martin delivers their finished
product, it of course has to meet or exceed regulatory requirements put upon them by
the Federal Railroad Administration. We expect that process will take us through the
“That may be accurate but it sounds like an awfully slow pace. I guess it assumes
little or no federal support.”
Ross Capon is the Executive Director of the National Association of Rail Passengers. He
talked to us on a cell phone as he rode an Amtrak passenger train from California to
Maryland. Capon says he’s disappointed in the Bush Administration’s attitude toward high-
speed rail. But, he’s confident things on the federal level will improve and states starving
for funding not only for high speed rail, but basic Amtrak service, will get much needed
“The general public is way ahead of the politicians on this issue. That 9-11 has only
reinforced that, and that sooner or later, the administration is going to figure that out
and respond to it.”
(sound of trains)
Meanwhile, the Great Lakes states wait for the federal government to sort out Amtrak and
high speed rail service and it’s commitment to each. Michigan has been testing a stretch of
track between Detroit and Chicago for sometime. Now it’s Illinois’ turn to showcase the
baby steps they’re making in an attempt to get some kind of service up and running as soon
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Willis Kern.