Amtrak train collides with a CSX train


On Feb. 4, Amtrak train 91, carrying 147 passengers, hit a CSX freight train in Cayce, S.C. According to CNN, the Lexington County spokesman Harrison Cahill said that two people were killed and 116 were injured. The train was in route from Miami to New York.

The two individuals that were killed were Amtrak personnel, Michael Kempf, 54, and Michael Cella, 36. The injured passengers were transported to local hospitals. They suffered injuries from scratches to broken bones.

At a press conference Sunday morning in South Carolina, Gov. Henry McMaster said that the crash occurred when the CSX train was stationed on the tracks. Luckily, no one was inside the CSX train. On the Amtrak, the lead engine and some passenger cars were derailed when the collision happened.

According to authorities, CNN reported that because of the collision, 5,000 gallons of fuel were spilled. Cahill, however, reassured the public that the spill would not be a danger to them.

This latest Amtrak crash is not the only one to happen in the past few months. In December, three people were killed when an Amtrak train derailed in Washington. After CNN conducted their own investigation, they surprisingly found “that engineers and conductors had complained to supervisors that they were not adequately trained for the new route before the crash of Amtrak 501.”

In January, an Amtrak train hit an SUV that took the lives of another two people. And just last week, another train carrying members of Congress collided with a truck.

The National Transportation Safety Board is going to conduct an investigation on this latest Amtrak incident in South Carolina, which will take 12 to 18 months.

Irma slows Florida’s transportation


Hurricane Irma caused around 6.3 million people to evacuate from Florida’s coastal and low-lying areas.

“Lifting the tolls cut millions of residents a break before, during and after what became the largest evacuation in Florida’s history,” said Florida Gov. Rick Scott. He lifted the tolls on the Florida Turnpike and other state highways with tolls on Sept. 5 to ease the traffic in order to cause a better flow on the roads.

The result of this hurricane was chaotic, making the highways of Florida unbearable with hours of traffic. As reported by CNN, “Transportation officials said Friday that there were long areas of congestion on segments of I-75 northbound and I-95 northbound.”

There is no surprise that basic necessities like finding gas, water or hotels created more long hours to travel north.  

“We stopped at three places for gasoline. Two places were out,” said Florida resident Carol Lang. The congestion lasted up all the way to I-10 interchange in North Florida.

These stop and gos made Floridians double the time that they had expected.

“The GPS tracker did not change the hours left, which resulted us being on the road for a whole 24 hours,” said Chiara Bruzzi.

There were rest areas throughout the highways that provided food and bathrooms. These rest areas were full, which resulted that some cars and trucks were forced to stay on the sides of the roads.

NYC passengers get ‘ride to remember’


NYC passengers riding the A train Tuesday were on their way to Manhattan when the train came off its tracks, crashed into a subway wall and caught on fire around 125th Street.

Passengers reportedly said they were stuck on the train, which was quickly filling with smoke, for 20 minutes before help arrived. Some passengers had asthma and some were pregnant. Passengers took to Twitter using hashtags like #FixTheSubway to let alert New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the situation.

The loss of power underground halted the A, B, C, and D train service at 125th Street, causing an uproar by riders. Apparently the MTA isn’t new to screwing up with subway service because one customer had this to say: “Yet again @MTA, ‘Going Your Way’ is exactly what you DON’T do… But please, take more of our time & money.”

Passengers on the smoke filled A train were eventually evacuated and had to walk through the subway tunnels to exit. No serious injuries were reported. More information on the story should be emerging soon.

Uber initiative aims to improve


After what seems like months of crises, Uber has implemented a program called “180 Days of Change.” It announced on Tuesday that the initiative is a pledge to make improvements over the next six months.

The first of those will be giving riders the option to tip drivers. This is something Uber has been adamant about not doing since it started the ride-sharing app. The roll out of this new system will begin Tuesday in Seattle, Minneapolis and Houston and expected to expand to all U.S. cities by the end of July.

Uber co-founder and chairman, Garrett Camp, spoke out about the company’s recent scandals and its contentious relationship with drivers, on Tuesday.

“A friend recently asked me, ‘What went wrong?’ and the answer is that we had not listened well enough to those who got us here … our team and especially our drivers,” wrote Camp in a Medium post titled “Uber’s path forward.”

Along with the new tipping feature, Uber will change it’s free-cancellation policy from five minutes to two. Many drivers had complained about the policy, citing that it was too lenient on riders and causes drivers to operate at a loss.

The story has been picked up by several tech sites like The Verge and TechCrunch, all of them speaking favorably about the new proposed changes. All outlets do seem to agree that this is a clear attempt at changing the current image of Uber, which has decreased in popularity due to its recent scandals.

I believe this is a good start for Uber, and hope that its “180 Days of Change” initiative really does change things for the better. Many people depend on the app for their livelihood, it’s about time that they recognize that.

Camp said that while all companies have growing pains, Uber’s were “much more serious” because of how fast the company grew. “We must update our core values, listen better to employees and riders, and prioritize our drivers,” he wrote in the Medium post.

Hackers threaten car computers


With technology embedded into cars, it opens the door for hackers to join the ride as well.

Cyber security is becoming an increasing issue with the automatization and implementation of tech in everyday life. Essentially anything that communicates to the outside world has the possibility of being hacked.

With the fast-approaching reality of driverless cars, problems are mounting on how to prevent hackers from accessing the car’s computer area network (CAN).

Some automakers now install gateways as a buffer between the driver system and the cars CAN network.

According Techopedia, an online resource for technology, “Gateways serve as the entry and exit point of a network; all data routed inward or outward must first pass through and communicate with the gateway in order to use routing paths.”

But it can still be hacked. And it’s been done multiple times with Teslas and Jeeps.

Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek, two security researchers, were able to successfully hack a Jeep Cherokee remotely through a wireless internet connection. They were able to control the brakes, stop the transmission and ultimately paralyze the vehicle on the highway.

But a car’s CAN network is only the beginning. According to The New York Times, “The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has proposed that V2V equipment be installed in all cars in the future. But that channel, and all the equipment involved, open millions more access points for would-be attackers.”

The future of cyber security and cars is uncertain, but research continues to move forward. Uber and Didi are two companies investing in the technology of fully automated driverless cars. But with their investment comes a lot of concern on government regulations and how to prevent physical passengers from hacking vehicles.

It’s time to start considering solutions now, before the mass production of these vehicles enter society at large.