If you think Freddy Krueger is scary, take a look at the state of our transportation system. Much of the blame should be directed at the politicians who have let the austerity zombies win. If these facts don’t make your skin crawl, we don’t know what will.
Skeleton Crew Running Freight Trains?
Here’s a bone-chilling tale to tell around the campfire: 19,000-ton freight trains carrying hazardous materials being operated by a single crew member. Unfortunately, for some railroads this isn’t a tale – it’s a plan they’re pushing. The good news is that other than a few rail execs very few Americans think this is a good idea, and for good reason. Too many tragic accidents prove that it takes two qualified crew members to safely operate freight trains.
Haunted by Rough Transit Commutes?
You’re not alone. Public transit is as popular as ever, but politicians don’t seem to care. They’re too busy shrieking over bogus issues while our buses and trains wither to the moans and groans of unhappy riders. Years of woefully inadequate funding by Congress have forced transit systems to delay repairs and expansion, take a chainsaw to jobs and impose frightening fare hikes at a time when too many working people are still hurting.
Air Traffic Control System Older Than “Night of Living Dead”
You read that right. The 1968 horror classic, Night of the Living Dead, is actually newer than the technology used to run our air traffic control system. The good news? FAA and airline employees have kept our system the world’s safest. At some point, however, the zombies in Washington need to pour billions into aviation if we’re serious about building out a “Next Generation” air traffic control system.
Bridges Literally Fall Down
Remember that famous horror movie about bridges falling down? Ooops, it isn’t a movie – it actually happens. Dilapidated bridges dot our nation – about 70,000 are structurally deficient, which means they’re in scary shape. Congress has spent years bickering over long-term funding and while they’ve bickered bridges have collapsed. Who knew that in 2015 we’d have bridges so long in the tooth (yes, a bad pun) that they predate Dracula, the 1931 horror classic?
Ghouls Out to Privatize Transportation Security Officers
Word is out that ghosts from years past, who think we should employ a private Transportation Security Officer (TSO) workforce at our airports, have been spotted in the halls of Congress. You see, during the pre-9/11 days, private security contractors were used to screen our nation’s airports—but that system was haunted by lousy pay, poor training, low morale and shocking turnover rates. Still, some want to take us back to those days. We shouldn’t unleash private monsters again. Instead, we need to support the federal TSOs and chase away pro-privatization ghosts before they take us back to their ghastly ways.
Hair-Raising Drug Tests
No, those aren’t monsters descending on Washington. They’re truck industry lobbyists peddling a hocus pocus method for drug testing bus and truck drivers: hair specimen testing. The problem? Because hair is porous, it absorbs substances that people come into contact with through the environment. Labs performing hair tests are currently incapable of distinguishing between drugs that drivers are exposed to and those which they actually ingested. In other words, a Ouija Board might be better at determining test results, since the scientists say this kind of testing isn’t reliable to declare a positive test. If this isn’t frightening enough, there’s also a racial bias to this method of testing because some drugs bond at greater rates to hair that is darker and more porous.
Take a Meat Cleaver to Amtrak?
For some in Washington the meat cleaver is the utensil of choice. When they aren’t trying to hack Social Security or Medicare, they turn their attention to Amtrak. Here’s what makes this proposal particularly gruesome: Amtrak is growing and its ridership is at an all-time high. That’s why Americans across America are saying they want more passenger trains and believe cutting Amtrak funding is just plain scary.
Government Shutdown, the American Horror Story
In September, Congress narrowly avoided another government shutdown by passing a last-minute funding bill. That’s the good news. The frightening news? Too many politicians think that it’s okay to shut down the government, idle critical services and use federal employees as political pawns. We’ve seen that movie and it is truly a horror show: it frightens Americans, leaves too many vulnerable and as we saw in 2013, threatens our transportation system.
Transportation Workers Can’t be Up All Night like Ghosts
Is that a zombie or a fatigued worker over there? Hmmm, take a closer look. Workforce fatigue is plaguing America’s transportation employees, including bus and truck drivers, rail and aviation employees, TSOs and more. Low wages, frightening policies and grueling employer demands routinely force these working people to choose between proper rest and a paycheck.
Chainsaw to Longshore Workers’ Rights?
If corporate interests have their way, this fight would be an all-out blood bath. One corporate-backed legislative proposal after another seeks to mutilate the collective bargaining rights of port employees by just about any means available. One idea would use U.S. government port metric data to blame workers and their unions for all productivity problems before, during and after port contract negotiations. Another proposal would transfer special powers reserved for the President of the United State to sitting governors. Is your skin crawling yet?
Frankenstein-Like Vessels Invading our Ports
No country has more ships coming into its ports than the U.S. But only 2 percent of them are U.S.-flag vessels, meaning Frankenstein has gone global. Just as a mad scientist used many different parts to create a walking, talking monster, mad corporations are piecing together merchant marine ships and crews, all in a frightening race to the bottom. There is a smarter way forward but we need lawmakers to take action before it’s too late. A monster has been created and it’s destroying the jobs of American workers and threatening our national security.
So You Thought it Was Safe to Walk to Your Mailbox?
Sometimes the most horrifying ideas are those that hurt the most vulnerable among us — and that’s exactly who would be affected if Saturday mail service were to be slashed. Populations who don’t always have access to fast, reliable internet, including our nation’s poor, elderly, disabled and those in rural areas, would be disproportionately affected by some in Congress who keep bringing back this ghastly postal reform legislation.
First Responders Wandering in the Dark
Imagine a fire fighter receives an emergency call in the middle of the night that a hazmat train has crashed and is engulfed in flames. Crews show up only to realize they haven’t been trained in how to respond or may not know what’s burning. This isn’t the plot for a cult horror movie – it’s a frightening real life scenario for fire fighters working in localities where budget shortfalls have taken a bite out of hazmat response training programs. Reforms we are pushing for will make hazmat transportation safer and ensure first responders are appropriately trained.