Saturday, 21 May 2016

Lucky Lucknow is getting an airport train

India's Lucknow CCS Airport serves 2.5 million passengers a year
Lucknow Chaudhary Charan Singh International Airport (LKO), referred to as CSS Airport by locals, is getting a new airport train.

The sleek new Lucknow CSS airport train
design, as revealed by Railway Gazette
Already under construction, the metro line connecting Lucknow CCS International Airport will cover a distance of 24 kilometres, right through to a new metro station at Munshi Pulia. While most of the line will be elevated, a few kilometres will run underground. A total of 19 stations are planned. The first phase is scheduled to open sometime in 2016.

In 2016, Lucknow Airport was ranked the second best in the world in the small airport category by the Airport Council International. India also took the top spot, with Jaipur International Airport (JAI), being named the best airport serving 2-5 million passengers.

Related resources
Lucknow metro train design revealed - Railway Gazette
Lucknow airport judged second best in small airport category - Times of India
Lucknow Chaudhary Charan Singh International Airport (LKO) transportation guide - IHateTaxis
New Shanghai Pudong electric bus routes
Denver Airport Train glitches
New Tehran Mehrabad Airport metro link
New Manila UBE Express Airport Bus

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

New Shanghai Pudong electric bus routes

Shanghai Pudong
More transportation options arrive at Shanghai Pudong Airport
creative commons image fi_chince on Flickr
This week, Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG) launched 5 new electric bus routes between the airport and central Shanghai.

Designed to serve tourists transferring to 5-star hotels downtown, the new bus routes serve:
  • Hongqiao
  • Jing’an Temple
  • Lujiazui
  • People’s Square
  • Xujiahui
Airport boarding areas are located at Terminal 1 Arrivals (by Exit 9) and Terminal 2 Arrivals (Exit 27). The new buses will operate between 06:45 and 01:00, and adult fares are CNY 68 (roughly USD 10-11).

Note: Complete route information, as well as details on how the new buses integrate with existing services, are not yet known. Once available, we will update the details on the bus page of our Shanghai Pudong Airport transportation guide.

Related resources
New airport bus routes - Shanghai Daily
Huge tour bus hub to serve Shanghai Disney - Travel Daily Asia
Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG) transportation guide
Shanghai Hongqaio International Airport (SHA) transportation guide
Shanghai Layover Ideas and Things to Do in Shanghai - LayoverIdeas

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Denver Airport train glitches

Flaggers out at 10 Denver Airport Train grade-level crossings
After the excitement last month with the opening of the new Denver Airport train, problems on the ground at the line's at-grade crossings are causing delays.

While most modern airport trains are elevated or run as underground subways, the Denver Airport authority decided to build their new line at-grade, presumably for financial reasons.

While the community benefits from infrastructure that is more pleasing to the eye (save the underground option), non-elevated trains pose significant risks. While no-one can prevent a determined soul who wants to go beyond barriers to the tracks, most of the risk is mitigated through automated crossing gates.

That is only true, of course, if those gates operate without a glitch. This week, however, issues began to arise when some gates had not fully closed by the time passing trains came by. Yikes.

As a result, while the trains are still running, each of the 10 at-grade crossings on the line are being staffed with flaggers until the situation is figured out.

It has now been revealed that staff tried to delay the train's opening, due to computer problems. This week, it seems officials are wishing they had listened.

Related resources
Denver airport train faces safety concerns amid crossing gate glitches - The Denver Post
RTD responds to critics' concern over safety of DIA train - Biz Journals
RTD ordered to staff 10 train crossings along Denver International Airport train line - The Denver Channel
New Denver Airport train
Denver International Airport (DEN) transportation guide
Denver Layover Ideas and Things to Do in Denver

Sunday, 8 May 2016

The Uber tip dilemma

You may now see a sign like this in Uber cars
To tip, or not to tip, that is the Uber question.

Corporately, Uber thinks the answer is clear (tipping is not required or expected, and there is no functionality in the Uber app to add a tip).

Drivers and users, not so much.

Many drivers, bless or curse their souls, still crave a tip and will even slip in a scam or 2 to make up for it.

And users... well, many users are just tippers (considering it rude not to), while others "fear" being rated as a lousy ride by Uber drivers, decreasing their chances of getting rides, so tip anyways.

It all creates a hazy quagmire, that doesn't seem to be getting any clearer, despite the outcome of a class-action lawsuit and recent efforts to clarify the company's position. Consider this story posted on the web by Uber last week:

Our approach to tipping - Uber Under the Hood
"Last week, we settled two class-action lawsuits in California and Massachusetts. As part of that settlement, we agreed to clarify our approach to tipping, so here goes. When we started Uber six years ago, we thought long and hard about whether to build a tipping option into the app. In the end, we decided against including one because we felt it would be better for riders and drivers to know for sure what they would pay or earn on each trip — without the uncertainty of tipping. That’s still the case today. Tipping is..." [read the full story direct from Uber on the Under the Hood website]
If that was the end of the story, then that would be that. But take a look at some of these other stories and you'll quickly see that things aren't so black and white in terms of a little green for the good driver:

Uber’s New Tipping Policy Is a Mistake - Harvard Business Review
"Uber recently settled a class action lawsuit brought by drivers claiming unfair wage and labor practices. In addition to paying up to $100 million, the settlement involves clarifying the ride-sharing service’s stance on tipping. Uber has long opposed tipping, claiming riders don’t appreciate the extra hassle of adding a gratuity, as well as citing negative effects including potential racial bias (e.g., customers may leave less for nonwhite drivers). While Uber maintains its policy that “…tips are not included on Uber’s platforms (except on UberTAXI), and that tipping is neither expected nor required” as part of the settlement, it retreats by adding, “…riders are free to offer tips and drivers are welcome to accept them.” Drivers are now allowed to solicit tips by asking passengers or posting signs in their vehicles. An important caveat is that if riders opt to tip, Uber won’t let them do so in its app. Instead, riders will have to ..." [read the full article on the Harvard Business Review website]
That awkward moment with your Uber driver - Boston Globe
"Well, this is uber awkward — I’ve been stiffing my Uber drivers for years, and didn’t even know it. When I first started using the ride-hailing service a few years ago, my tech-savvy partner assured me the driver got 20 percent automatically, or at least that’s what someone told her. In fact, no tip is included in an Uber fare. But the company does not go to great lengths to make this clear to its customers. Its website even says 'there’s no need to tip.'... But the truth about tipping and Uber is out there now, hanging uncomfortably in the space between front seat and back seat. I know from my reporting that some Uber drivers feel their livelihood is marginal, and they badly want a tipping option in the app. But sitting in the back seat while selecting a tip amount or pawing through my backpack for a crumpled bill is exactly the kind of awkward interaction Uber wants to avoid. And judging from the reaction online today, many customers agree with the company..." [read the full article on the Boston Globe website]  
Uber Tips: Why the tipping culture will change - SherpaShare
"One of the non-monetary aspects of the settlement of the class-action lawsuit against Uber was that Uber drivers would now be allowed to put up signs in their cars that tipping wasn’t mandatory but that it would be appreciated. Uber’s rapid growth was in large part prompted by the cashless aspect to all parts of the car hailing experience. However a large part of that was letting passengers believe that Uber had built in a tip into the ride fare. We all know that this is not true. Uber keeps all the fees that they tack on top of the ride and a commission off the fare itself. When Uber first started, rates were 40% higher than they are today. In that sense, adding a tip now can put Uber drivers back at the income level they were first promised when they started driving for Uber. So why has the no-tipping culture been so pervasive with Uber passengers? First, ..." [read the full article on the SherpaShare blog]

Related resources
Does tipping your Uber driver make sense? - Entrepreneur
Uber's New "Tony Soprano-Like" Tipping Policy - Pricing for Profit
Uber got it wrong on tipping! - a reaction from the Uber Driver's Forum
Do I need to tip my driver? -  a suitably vague answer from Uber Help
Exclusive interview with Shannon Liss-Riordan explaining the Uber Settlement - SherpaShare Blog
Why we shelved Uber updates - IHateTaxis
Uber provides the taxi industry a good kick in the pants - IHateTaxis

Sunday, 24 April 2016

New Denver Airport train

Train service to Denver Airport begins at Denver's Union Station
After much anticipation, Denver International Airport's new rail link to the city centre has opened for service.

Operating between a station at the south end of the airport terminal (below the brand new Westin Hotel, via the longest escalator ride in the state) to Union Station in central Denver, the sleek electric train ride takes 37 minutes to cover the 37 kilometre distance.

Onboard, passengers can charge their electronic devices while relaxing during the ride. Trains will run between 4:00am and 1:30am, with service every 15 minutes, and stops at 8 stations. Cars have ample room for luggage.

The adult fare is USD 9. No word yet on discounts for airport staff and commuters.

The Denver Airport train is part of the Denver metro system's Line A (officially, the "University of Colorado A Line").

Related resources
Denver Airport Line opens - Railway Gazette
Denver's new airport train starts service - USA Today
New Tehran Mehrabad Airport metro link
Price slash on Toronto's UPExpress airport train
Denver International Airport (DEN) transportation guide
Denver Layover Ideas and Things to Do in Denver

Friday, 22 April 2016

What I learned from my taxi driver

The Perfect Ride
"The Perfect Ride: a Jewish, Republican Taxi Driver in NYC, from Russia and Israel
with a daughter who lives at Ocean 4 in Miami, Oh...and he Loves Fox News!"
creative commons image clender on Flickr
We love a good story. Especially a good taxi story. Building on our recent Famous fares: Nimoy drives JFK post, here are a few stories of everyday people and lessons learned from inside a taxi.

The Case of the Israeli Taxi Driver - Joel M. Hoffman

"I'll tell you what,” I said to the taxi driver in Haifa who was trying to cheat me. “It’s Shabbat. Whatever price you tell me — that’s what I’ll pay.” It was Friday night, and I was on my way to services at Leo Baeck. As a graduate student at the Technion, I hadn’t yet purchased a car, so I had to rely on public transportation — busses, usually, but taxis Friday evenings and on other occasions when I wanted to treat myself... [read about Joel's experience].

Two lessons I learned from a Taxi driver in Istanbul - Ralf Haberich

Istanbul is a crazy place. Officially this city takes care of 15 Million people, but insiders and locals say this figure easily adds up to 21-22 million if you consider all legally and illegally present inhabitants. If you have never been there you still should be able to imagine the traffic situation. Roughly 12.000 taxis (or as Turkish language says: Taksi) in narrow, hilly, uncoordinated streets blowing their horn for different reasons: warning, information, respect or simply to reach out to an attractive lady walking by. In between fast scooter drivers and now & then luxury Bentleys making their way through the crowded streets... [read Ralf's lessons].

How one Boston taxi driver changed my talk - Collaborative Gain

Yesterday, I had a great and humbling conversation with my taxi driver on my way to my last “Customers Included” book talk of the week in Boston – and it changed what I had to say when I got on stage. Stuart – my driver – was very friendly from the start.... After we put my bags in the trunk and Stuart started us on the trek, I asked him how long he’d been driving. He said he liked his job and had been with this taxi company about a year. When i asked what he did before this taxi company, he started – tentatively at first – to share his life story... [read the lesson].

Related resources
Three Lessons I Learned from a Taxi Driver on How to Get Clients - Nathalie Lussier
Famous fare: Nimoy drives JFK
Dealing with taxi drivers
Do we really hate taxis?
The 420 from PDX

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Moscow has HOW many airports?!?

Moscow has 3 major airports.We recently found a great Russian blogpost that describes the relationship between the 3, and the challenges of moving between them:
Moscow Airport "Infographic" copyright by Andy Frecka
(click to enlarge for full details)
"Moscow has many airports. How many? No one really knows... One time I had a stingy thrifty Dutch friend write me and say that he was flying into Domodedovo (domestic flight) and would then have a departure from Sheremyetovo (International) only 4 hours later. This was to happen during the day. And when I inquired as to his logic, he answered that doing it this way would save him TEN EUROS. Also, he was asking me to pick him up..." [read the rest of this priceless story in Moscow Transfer Travel Travail].
If you enjoy Andy's writing as much as we do, you can follow him on Twitter as @andyfrecka.

But, please, don't call him for a ride.

Resources from
Moscow Domodedovo Airport (DME) transportation options and guide
Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport (SVO) transportation options and guide
Moscow Vnukovo Airport (VKO) transportation options and guide
Moscow Layover Ideas & Things to Do in Moscow

Related resources
An Aeroflot Nightmare: How I Got Placed Under Virtual Arrest in Moscow
Airport nightmare: Russians seize concertmaster’s violin
Hundreds Miss Sheremetyevo Flights Because of Road Work
STUCK: The meaning of the city’s traffic nightmare - New Yorker
Getting around Moscow by metro and public transport

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Piper, the Airport K9

To get a good look at Piper, click the photo above
Meet Piper the Airport K9. The 8-year-old border collie has worked at Traverse City Cherry Capital Airport (TVC) since 2014. A wildlife control "airport K9", Piper's job is to scare birds away from the runway.

Piper became famous this week when he won this year's Shutter Shootout Photography Contest from the U.S. Coast Guard. Read the full story here, including how you can follow Piper in social media.

Related resources
Shutter Shootout 2016 Photo of the Year - Coast Guard Compass
Cherry Capital Airport Dog Wins US Coast Guard Photo Contest - Up North Live
Piper Airport K9 Profile - Traverse City Airport website
Airport K9
Traverse City Cherry Capital Airport (TVC) transportation guide

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Why we shelved Uber updates

Did you know that there's a beer called Hacker?
An interesting thing happened on the way to this month's Uber news update post: Blogger got hacked.  Better said, Blogger posts about Uber got hacked. Something like that.

As there are a lot of Uber stories in the news each month, so about 6 months ago we gave up trying to stay on top of developments (not really our focus anyways), and switched to a monthly summary of the previous month's most notable news, posted on the 1st or 2nd of the month.

About a week ago, I began building the Uber news recap - March 2016, collecting stories, buiding links, and so on.

In the process, I was intrigued to learn the news about Uber's challenge to hackers, offering rich rewards to find bugs and issues in their software. Brilliant, I thought.

As I was gathering links on the best coverage of the initiative, I was dumbfounded to learn that Uber had backtracked, rolling back the amount of the rewards. Whaaatt?!? This was after the programming community had already started to work on the issues, racing each other to compete for the prize(s). Really, Uber? Are you really that stupid? Even I, a relatively non-techie observer on the sidelines was able to put 2 and 2 together: if you are a technology company, who are the last people you want to piss off? Hackers. And how could you make it worse? Draw your flaws to the attention of the hacker community, wave dollars in front of their eyes, then snap the purse shut. SNAP! I picture an alligator's jaws open wide, luring it's prey in, then snapping shut in a flash!

Stupid, stupid, STUPID!

All this while Uber is bleeding millions (or is it billions?) in Asia, chasing a market that's so far eluding it. Maybe Uber's resources would be better spent getting its house in order, maybe it should have honoured its offer to the hackers (jeez, ya think?!?!?).

So, it was with amusement last week that I discovered that my March Uber news recap - once written, with links to stories all about the lure and the misstep - wouldn't save properly. I got an error message, and my post preview looked weird. When I looked at the HTML for the post, I could clearly see it had been hacked. Or maybe there was a virus on Blogger designed to attack posts about Uber, or maybe this story. Whatever it was, the code was a huge, unfixable mess, with links garbled wherever Uber was mentioned. "Ah, and so it begins," I thought.

Hacking a blog website to mess up stories is, I'm sure, child's play to a hacker. But it sure makes me wonder what will, or could, come next for Uber, as it has made itself so vulnerable to its newly created enemies.

Editor: In the end, we decided that our news recaps weren't adding much value, so just decided to drop them, and devote our blogspace to other things, but thought we'd share our thinking, our experince and predictions. And, we're posting this story, sans links, to hopefully be less likely to be hacked.

Thursday, 31 March 2016

New Tehran Mehrabad Airport metro link

As we mentioned in our recent blog post about the opening Masshad Airport's new metro link in February, Iran is investing heavily in transportation infrastructure.

Now, Tehran's Mehrabad Airport (THR) received its own new metro link.

Service started on March 15th, and was inaugurated on March 29th.

A new 3 kilometre (1.5 mile) metro line extension runs southwest from Bimeh station, located between Meydan-e Azadi and Sharak-e Ekbatan stations.

The Bimeh branch line uses short trains with extra luggage space to shuttle passengers to/from 2 stations at Tehran Mehrabad Airport:
  • Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 are served by the first station
  • Terminal 4 and Terminal 6 are served by the second station

Related resources
Tehran Mehrabad International Airport (THR) transportation guide
Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport (IKA) transportation guide
Tehran metro serving Mehrabad Airport - Railway Gazette
Mehrabad airport subway line inaugurated on Tuesday - Tehran Times
Mehrabad International Airport connected to Tehran’s subway system - Real Iran
Mashhad Airport gets metro link - IHateTaxis Blog