Category Archives: Transportation

[UPDATE] Bus Strike Appears Off

Superintendent of Schools Colleen Palmer just sent this message to Westport families:

  • At midnight tonight the current contract extension of Dattco with its drivers expires, and the drivers have the option of striking without penalty tomorrow.
  • With urging from the District and Dattco, the federal mediator working with this labor issue reached out to the drivers’ union to ask the union leadership to encourage its members to come to work tomorrow.  We have been informed that this did occur and that the union leadership is not promoting a strike.
  • Negotiations are set to continue next Monday, May 1.
  • We will not know the status of the drivers who plan to work tomorrow until shortly after 6 a.m. when they begin to report for work.
  • All schools will be open, no matter how many drivers come to work.  Schools have sent out specific information to their respective families today and will be ready to receive students upon arrival starting 15 minutes earlier than usual.
  • CHANGE OF PLAN FOR BEFORE AND AFTER SCHOOL PROGRAMS – the District will operate all before and after school programs tomorrow as normally scheduled.

Thank you to all of our families for your creativity and resourcefulness in making contingency plans for tomorrow.  I will remain optimistic that the message from the federal mediator has a positive impact on continuity of service, but we have all of our plans in place in the event that we do not have a significant percentage of the driver workforce show up for work tomorrow.

Since there are no negotiations now set for this evening, my next communication to you will be approximately 6:30 a.m. tomorrow morning to update you on the status of our transportation plan for the day.

Colleen Palmer
Superintendent of Schools

——————————————————

Meanwhile, Post Road drivers were surprised to see more than the usual number of buses turning into Dattco’s parking lot opposite Playhouse Square this afternoon.

Stay tuned.

(Photo/Joyce Joiner)

We Have A Very High Bar For Entitled Parking Photos. This Person Surpassed It.

Alert “06880” reader — and downtown employee — Susan Shuldman parked in the Baldwin lot today.

When she returned to her car, she saw this:

Her car is the dark blue one in the center, parked in the yellow spot, facing a similarly legally parked silver vehicle.

And there — 4 inches from Susan’s rear bumper — is another car.

Smack in the middle of the parking lot.

Susan called the police. When the officer arrived, he noticed that the illegally parked car was unlocked. The keys were in the console.

The cop moved the car into a vacant spot. Susan — finally — was on her way.

So this was not somebody who dashed into Serena & Lily to pick up a quick bedroom set or whatever. He (or she) was there for quite a while.

“I guess the driver thought they were being considerate by leaving the keys!” Susan says magnanimously.

I would add something here.

But there are no words.

Sadly, This Einstein Did Not Stick Around Long Enough To Pick Up His “Driver Of The Year” Award

Alert “06880” reader — and gobsmacked driver — Jaime Bairaktaris spotted this scene today on Weston Road, near the Merritt Parkway Exit 42 ramp.

(You can tell it’s the Merritt, because there’s a fairly large “No Commercial Vehicles” sign.)

(Photo/Jaime Bairaktaris)

Let Jaime tell the story:

The truck tried getting onto the parkway northbound, when people began to cut it off and blowing their horns. He decided to keep trying for Truck Driver of the Year award for a while. Finally he made a U-turn to go back towards town.

Let’s hope right now he is far, far away.

On 95.

How The FAA Learned To Love Ryan Felner

Ryan Felner has many interests.

Ryan Felner

The Staples High School sophomore is on the tennis team. He’s taking AP courses. He loves photography, and making and editing videos. For the past 2 years, he’s developed websites for family and friends.

A year and a half ago — when the price of drones dropped and the market soared — Ryan started researching options. His parents agreed to fund half a DJI drone. He agreed to work, and pay back his half.

He followed Federal Aviation Administration rules, registering his drone as a Small Unmanned Aircraft System. He agreed to fly below 400 feet; not fly within a 5-mile radius of any airport, and always keep his drone in sight.

Ryan started taking beautiful photos and creating gorgeous videos, including the beach and — during family sailing trips — the New England coast. (Click here to see his website.)

His photos of his own house — with Compo Beach and the Sound in the background — were fantastic. That gave him the idea to reach out to real estate brokers, offering to shoot for them (free at first).

Word got out. He spent most of last summer taking real estate photos.

Owenoke Park, from Ryan Felner’s drone.

The Norwalk Hour ran a big story — “Student’s Drone Photography Business Takes Off” — last October. He was thrilled…

…until later that night, when he saw the comments. The story had been picked up by drone enthusiast sites. People posted harsh messages, saying what Ryan did was illegal.

Apparently, the FAA had released new regulations a few weeks earlier. To “Fly for Work,” a drone operator had to possess a Remote Pilot Certificate, and be 16 years old.

There were a few supportive comments. Some people noted that — like many operators — Ryan probably did not know about the new rules.

But he was horrified. He woke his parents, who were upset they’d allowed the situation to happen.

The next day, things got worse.

Richard Aarons — a volunteer counselor with the FAA’s safety team — emailed him. He told Ryan to contact him ASAP — and warned him he could face huge fines.

Ryan panicked. He was scared about the money. He worried his reputation was ruined for life. He feared for college, and beyond.

His parents helped him respond. Ryan said he was devastated to be out of compliance with regulations. He promised to cease all commercial operations immediately, and said he’d wait until his 16th birthday to take his pilot’s exam and apply for a proper license.

SAarons’ response was fantastic. He told Ryan he completely understood what happened, and said he was now doing exactly the right thing.

Aarons forwarded the emails to Marilyn Pearson, an aviation safety inspector with the FAA Unmanned Aircraft System division. She’d been working hard to educate drone enthusiasts, while implementing the new regs. She too commended Ryan for the way he’d communicated with the authorities.

Ryan Felner with his drone, on Martha’s Vineyard.

As Ryan’s 16th birthday approached, he contacted Pearson and Aarons. Both offered to help, if there was something he didn’t understand as he studied for his FAA exam.

On Tuesday at Sikorsky Airport, Ryan passed his FAA Remote Pilot Knowledge test with a very high score of 87.

Two days later — yesterday — he turned 16.

And tomorrow at 12 noon, in the Westport Library’s McManus Room, Ryan will give a talk at the Maker Faire. His subject: “Adventures of a 16-Year-Old Drone Pilot.”

But wait! There’s more!

When Pearson heard about Ryan’s speech, she was so excited, she said she’d come down from Hartford for it.

So before his talk — at the 9:45 a.m. Maker Faire opening ceremony, in the Taylor parking lot — she will present him with his Remote Pilot Airman Certificate.

Ryan’s spirits are sure to be sky high.

Right up there with his drone. And the possibilities for his great, professional — and now completely legal — business.

Pic Of The Day #4

Westport train station. (Photo copyright John Videler)

Crazy Donut Idea

Forget CNN. Who needs “Good Morning America”? And don’t even think about Channel 12 News.

At Donut Crazy — the new and very popular breakfast place on the eastbound side of the Westport railroad station — the TV is turned to a static shot of the Greens Farms station.

(Photo/Amy Schneider)

It’s not as random as you think.

As soon as you see your train pull into Greens Farms, you’ve got 3 minutes to get up, scurry through the tunnel, and board your ride to New York.

It’s a genius idea.

Right up there with strawberry cheesecake, cookies & cream and nutella donuts.

The Future Of Saugatuck Might Be In Your Hands

Don’t say they didn’t ask.

As part of the “redevelopment of Saugatuck” — which you may or may not realize is being discussed — a 9-month process guided by the Saugatuck Transit Oriented Design Master Plan Steering Committee will “engage community members and a team of planners, engineers, economic planners and historic preservation experts to establish design standards and a master plan to enhance this important gateway for the Town of Westport.”

They’ve hired consultants.

And that firm — Barton & Partners — has created a survey.

The committee wants to make sure that every Westporter’s voice is heard. You can weigh in (and rank) your priorities, in areas like shopping, dining, neighborhood charm, waterfront access, historic significance, green space, transportation and walkability.

So here’s your chance. Click here to take the survey.

And click here for more information on the master plan process.

Westport artist Robert Lambdin’s “Saugatuck in the 19th Century” (1969) prominently featured the swing bridge. What’s next for the neighborhood?

Tesla To Town?

Tesla is not yet allowed to sell its cars directly to Connecticut consumers.

But if it can — and the electric car manufacturer is pushing the state legislature hard to do so — one of its first dealerships may be at 20 Saugatuck Avenue, right here in Westport.

The site is currently occupied by a large, recently renovated and completely vacant shopping center. It once housed a quick mart, fitness center and AAA.

20 Saugatuck Avenue

Last night, the landlord and Tesla hosted a small event. They told neighbors they plan to ask the town to amend zoning regulations to allow a Tesla service center there.

The language is broad enough that — should Tesla get permission from Connecticut to sell vehicles directly to consumers — they could convert the center to a dealership. Company reps last night did not rule out the possibility.

It’s a 10-year lease. You do the math.

Despite not being allowed to sell directly in the state, there are about 1,300 Teslas registered in Connecticut. Electrek says that represents 62% of the electric vehicles in the state.

Scott Pruitt Will Love This Photo

Alert — and disgusted — “0688o” reader Robert Jacobs was behind this bus the other day, on Old Hill Road:

(Photo/Robert Jacobs)

Schools were off last week, for spring break.

I guess the driver wanted to make sure no one enjoyed the weather.

Metro-North Scores With Hockey Fans

If you ride Metro-North long enough, you see everything.

But until yesterday, Tom Feeley had never seen the Stanley Cup.

The longtime Westporter — whose own sport at Staples High School was wrestling — was heading home on the 4:11. As the train left Grand Central, the conductor said the National Hockey League’s most famous trophy was along for the ride.

Tom thought he was kidding. But sure enough — in Greenwich — a big white-gloved guy walked through, carrying the cup.

It was headed for Stamford. NBC Sports is headquartered there, and they’re promoting the playoffs.

Let’s go to the video!

Most people seem blase. But look closely at the end.

You’ll see Tom touch the Stanley Cup.