Monday, March 31, 2014

The EPA welcomes American Lifan to California

According to a press release from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, American Lifan Industry is a former Texas company that has relocated to California.

Now since most of the talk is of companies (and people) moving the other way - from California to Texas - one would expect that this company would come in for a bit of culture shock. I mean, going from a place where the government kills people for sport to a place where you can get life imprisonment for looking at a snail darter the wrong way can be a shock for a company. But in this case, the California state government didn't make life miserable for American Lifan - it was a Federal agency, the EPA, that did so.

WASHINGTON -- American Lifan Industry, Inc., an Ontario, California-based vehicle and engine importer, has agreed to ensure that future imports meet federal emission standards after illegally importing and selling nearly 28,000 highway motorcycles, recreational vehicles, and engines manufactured in China that did not comply with Clean Air Act standards to limit harmful pollution.

The company will pay $630,000 in civil penalties and will also post a $300,000-$500,000 bond to satisfy any future potential penalties related to importation of model year 2014, 2015, and 2016 vehicles manufactured by China Lifan Industry (Group) Co., Ltd or affiliated companies. This is the first time that the EPA has secured such a bond in a Clean Air Act settlement.

More here. H/T the Highland Community News.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Another view of the agricultural district

As time passes, the agricultural district between Ontario and Corona is slowly disappearing. But I recently read a different perspective on it. The story was written by Imranulhaq Khan, a devout Muslim, and concerns events that occurred before and after the death of his father.

One week before his father's death, they went on a drive.

Only a week ago I had taken my father on a drive to purchase birds from the Sunday market near the junction of Highway 15 and highway 60. I could see his eyes sinking. This particular sign was never taught to me as a doctor. Somehow I knew this was his last drive. So instead of the freeway I drove thought the farms and fields. My fathers eyes were fixed on farms and cows in pastures such a magnetic way that is hard to describe. I started to drive the car even slower unusual for me to drive slowly.

I encourage you to read the entire post, including the account of what happend when Imran and his uncle drove to a Riverside mortuary.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

My Yelp review of Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX

And yes, this review is relevant to the Inland Empire, as you will see. I only awarded two stars. The original review is at

DISCLOSURE: I live near Ontario, California, and its airport that is also managed by LAWA, so read into that what you will. Ontario's Terminals 2 and 4 were designed before 9/11, and all of the restaurants and services were placed on the second floor...which meant that after 9/11 took place, they were all behind the security line. Therefore if you're dropping off or picking up someone at Ontario Airport, there is literally nothing to do.

Why is this relevant? Because I wouldn't think that someone would do this intentionally - but that's just what they've done at the Tom Bradley International Terminal.

The last time that I visited the terminal a few years ago, they were starting the renovation process. When I was there yesterday evening, the departure level renovations were nearly completed. Unfortunately, these renovations wiped out all of the restaurants that were on the departure level, so when we wanted to spend some time with our friend before her flight left, we ended up at a dinky place at the arrival leve, eating pre-packaged muffins and bagels.

Perhaps this is a security measure, designed to keep as many people away from LAX as possible and to only have actual passengers at the airport. But it's supremely disappointing. (And for what it's worth, it reinforces my resolve that my local airport should be removed from LAWA control.)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Positive Train Control

Orange County and the Inland Empire share a regional train system, Metrolink. So although I initially learned about this from the Orange County Transportation Authority, it is equally applicable here in the Inland Empire.

Positive Train Control is an innovation that is being implemented on Metrolink trains, as detailed here.

Positive Train Control (PTC) is GPS-based safety technology capable of preventing train-to-train collisions, over-speed derailments, unauthorized incursion into work zones and train movement through switches left in the wrong position*. PTC monitors and, if necessary, controls train movement in the event of human error. PTC may also bring trains to a safe stop in the event of a natural disaster.

The actual implementation is just beginning.

[I]n February 2014, Metrolink received authorization from the Federal Railroad Administration that it could begin operating PTC in Revenue Demonstration Service (RSD) under the authority of the BNSF Railway. On February 17, Metrolink ran the first successful RSD on the 91 Line, and on February 20, the PTC RSD was publically unveiled, with multiple VIPs and news media in attendance.

It is currently anticipated that Metrolink will conduct RSD on the San Bernardino Line in the fall of 2014, and that the entire system will be PTC operational by early to mid-2015, well before the current federal deadline of December 31, 2015.

Sadly, there is a reason why Metrolink has an incentive to implement this before the national deadline.

On Sept. 12, 2008, a Connex engineer operating a Metrolink train failed to stop at a red signal, causing a collision with a Union Pacific freight train. In this tragic incident, 25 lives were lost and another 135 people were injured. California Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein led Congress in adopting the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008, which mandated the installation of PTC by the end of 2015. The Metrolink Board of Directors committed to implementing PTC in advance of the federal deadline to ensure Southern Californians are among the first in the nation to benefit from this life-saving technology.