Archive for September, 2012

September 27, 2012

NEW YORK—-Crude oil futures prices rebounded Thursday after hitting two-month lows a day earlier, pulled up by rising gasoline prices.

Traders aggressively snapped up contracts for October-delivery reformulated gasoline blendstock for a third straight day ahead of the contract’s expiration on Friday.

October gasoline jumped intraday to a five-month high of $3.21 a gallon, a level that, if sustained, would translate to a nationwide average of above $3.90 a gallon for regular gasoline at the pump. At that level prices would be the highest since April and about eight cents above prices at the start of this week.

Gasoline futures prices have surged 22.7 cents, or 7.8%, in the last three days, including a 2.1% gain on Thursday, as data from the Energy Information Administration show nationwide inventories at their lowest level since October 2008, while stocks in the Northeast U.S. are at their lowest level since EIA began keeping records in November 1990. EIA said that while outright levels are low, supply isn’t as tight as it appears, since demand has declined.

Andy Lebow, senior vice president for energy futures at Jefferies Bache, said the strength in gasoline spilled over into crude oil futures despite relatively high crude oil inventories in the U.S. He said that refiners returning from shutdowns will need to boost crude processing to boost inventories of refined products.

“The products are very strong,” Mr. Lebow said. “If you are looking for supply tightness, it’s not on the crude oil side.”

Light, sweet crude oil for November delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange climbed $1.87 a barrel, or 2.1%, at $91.85 a barrel, its biggest one-day gain since Aug. 3. November Brent on the InterContinental Exchange gained $1.97, or 1.8%, to $112.01 a barrel.

Crude shook off a mixed bag of U.S. economic data. U.S. August durable-goods orders fell 13.2%, the largest decline since January 2009, the Commerce Department said. Economists had expected a drop of 5.6%. At the same time, Commerce also announced U.S. second-quarter gross domestic product growth was revised down to 1.3%, while economists expected a reading of 1.7% growth.

That data overshadowed a stronger U.S. weekly jobless claims report. New claims fell last week to the lowest level since July, to 359,000, the Labor Department said. Economists had expected 375,000 new claims for jobless benefits.

“We had the good, the bad and the ugly,” said Matt Smith, analyst at Summit Energy. “This shows the economy is still weak and the best we can hope for is that QE-infinity will spur a bit of growth,” he said, referring to the Federal Reserve’s market stimulus plan.

Nymex October RBOB settled up 6.32 cents at $3.1443 a gallon, a one-month high.

October heating oil settled 5.05 cents higher, at $3.1573 a gallon.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390443328404578022692458387994.html

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September 27, 2012

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) recent rider satisfaction surveys found satisfaction with service has rebounded on MTA Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) and MTA Metro-North Railroad after a year of weather-related disruptions.

On LIRR, 86 percent of the respondents said they were “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with overall performance in 2012, an 8 percentage point improvement over 2011, when major storms and service reductions affected rider satisfaction, MTA officials said in a prepared statement.

On Metro-North, respondents provided an overall 93 percent satisfaction rating, marking a return to 2010’s level following a “disappointing” 2011, when the railroad garnered an 89 percent rating, they said.

The survey results also showed improvement in key areas of MTA New York City Transit’s subway service — speediness, usefulness of announcements, overall information and communications, station maintenance, and condition of handrails and escalators — where initiatives to bolster service had been implemented, MTA officials said.

MTA uses the survey results to decide where to devote its resources. The surveys were conducted in June.

http://www.progressiverailroading.com/passenger_rail/news/MTA-ridership-surveys-show-improved-satisfaction–32714

September 26, 2012

New York City transportation and elected officials gathered yesterday to officially open a new transfer point between MTA New York City Transit’s (NYCT) Bleecker Street 6 Station uptown platform and the Broadway-Lafayette Street B D F M Station.

Through a $127 million project, NYCT rehabilitated the Bleecker Street 6 Station, including a new control area, platforms, improved lighting, upgraded communication systems and the installation of five elevators to make the station fully accessible to people with disabilities.

Riders now have access to an escalator that takes them directly from the uptown B D F M platform to the Bleecker Street 6 uptown platform. New artwork was incorporated into the design of the new transfer point, as well.

“The opening of this new transfer marks yet another milestone in our continuing efforts to provide customers with better service through more travel options,” said NYCT President Thomas Prendergast in a prepared statement. “This transfer will benefit approximately 30,000 customers each weekday.”

Work on the project, which was partly funded by the Federal Transit Administration, began in July 2008.

http://www.progressiverailroading.com/passenger_rail/news/New-York-City-Transit-opens-new-subway-transfer–32630

September 27, 2012

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) recent rider satisfaction surveys found satisfaction with service has rebounded on MTA Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) and MTA Metro-North Railroad after a year of weather-related disruptions.

On LIRR, 86 percent of the respondents said they were “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with overall performance in 2012, an 8 percentage point improvement over 2011, when major storms and service reductions affected rider satisfaction, MTA officials said in a prepared statement.

On Metro-North, respondents provided an overall 93 percent satisfaction rating, marking a return to 2010’s level following a “disappointing” 2011, when the railroad garnered an 89 percent rating, they said.

The survey results also showed improvement in key areas of MTA New York City Transit’s subway service — speediness, usefulness of announcements, overall information and communications, station maintenance, and condition of handrails and escalators — where initiatives to bolster service had been implemented, MTA officials said.

MTA uses the survey results to decide where to devote its resources. The surveys were conducted in June.

http://www.progressiverailroading.com/passenger_rail/news/MTA-ridership-surveys-show-improved-satisfaction–32714

September 28, 2012

For the week ending Sept. 22, U.S. railroads originated 292,644 carloads, down 4.1 percent, and 250,253 containers and trailers, up 0.7 percent compared with volumes from the same week last year, according to the Association of American Railroads.

Only nine of 20 carload commodity groups posted increases, led by petroleum products (54 percent), motor vehicles and equipment (13.2 percent), and food and kindred products (11.5 percent). Metallic ores volume fell 33.3 percent, coal loads dropped 12.1 percent and metal carloads declined 10.8 percent.

In the coal sector, railroads have noted that utilities’ inventories are declining, but likely will remain elevated into 2013, said Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc. analysts in their weekly “Rail Flash” report.

“Recent NS commentary [also] noted weaker export coal trends given global macroeconomic conditions,” they said.

Meanwhile, Canadian railroads reported 80,271 carloads for the week ending Sept. 22, a 1 percent increased compared with the same week last year. Their intermodal volume rose 10.1 percent to 57,888 units. Mexican railroads reported 15,280 weekly carloads, up 3.2 percent, and 11,453 intermodal loads, up 11.7 percent.

Through 2012’s first 38 weeks, 13 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads originated 14,213,618 carloads, down 1.3 percent, and 11,268,010 containers and trailers, up 4.6 percent year over year.

http://www.progressiverailroading.com/rail_industry_trends/news/AAR-Yearlong-intermodal-up-carloads-down-trend-continues-in-US–32738

September 27, 2012

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — US Airways flight attendants have voted to reject a proposed contract by a narrow margin, the airline said Thursday.

Flight attendants voted 51-49 percent in favor of rejecting the proposed contract, with about 85 percent of union members voting.

It was the second time this year the flight attendants have rejected a contract with the airline. US Airways had expected an earlier offer to pass, but flight attendants voted to reject it in March.

The contract would have been the flight attendants’ first unified agreement since US Airways and America West merged in 2005. US Airways and America West pilots and flight attendants still work under separate, pre-merger contracts, and have been unable to reach joint agreements.

The March deal contained raises for flight attendants, but in the end, it didn’t go far enough, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants said. Flight attendants voted it down, with 75 percent opposed.

The second joint contract, tentatively agreed to in August, contained further raises, and union leaders threw their support behind ratification.

The Tempe, Ariz.-based airline employs 6,800 flight attendants, who are based in Charlotte, Phoenix, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

“We are disappointed that our flight attendants chose to vote against ratification of a new contract,” US Airways CEO Doug Parker said in a statement.

US Airways is seeking to merge with American Airlines while that carrier is in bankruptcy court. AFA leaders had said ratifying a joint contract would put them in a stronger position to bargain for better wages and work rules if a merger with American were to occur.

Flight attendant union leaders plan to meet and review their options, the AFA said in a statement. The groups remain under their separate contracts, and the negotiations are still under the jurisdiction of the National Mediation Board.

US Airways’ stock closed down 14 cents, about 1 percent, at $10.36 a share Thursday.

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2012/09/27/169943/us-airways-flight-attendants-say.html

September 27, 2012

American Airlines said that 2,835 mechanics, store clerks and fleet service workers have applied for an early-out program and the company said that will lead to fewer layoffs under its Chapter 11 bankruptcy plan.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that American had said it expected to cut 8,500 jobs of Transport Workers Union members, but that number now has been reduced to 2,600 because of the success of the early-out program and other cost-cutting measures.

The early-out program included a severance payment of $12,500 to each worker.

Fort Worth-based American said earlier that the total number of layoffs has been cut from the 14,000 announced in February to roughly 4,000. The success of the early-out program among flight attendants meant that no flight attendants would be furloughed.

http://www.bizjournals.com/dallas/blog/morning_call/2012/09/american-airlines-says-2825-twu.html