Big D’s Airport is Moving People Around Faster.

Texas is now home to the world’s largest airport automated train system.

Dallas-Fort Worth International opened its new Skylink system in late May. 2005.

The automated people mover, which took more than five years to complete, now connects passengers to four terminals, with hookup to a fifth due by the end of the summer. At that point, Skylink will run 114 cars in two directions at speeds of up to 35 mph and carry roughly 8,500 passengers per direction per hour.

That capacity overshadows other airport transit systems. Chicago O’Hare International Airport’s transit system, for instance, can only accommodate 2,400 people per hour.

Capacity and speed are particularly important at DFW since about two-thirds of its passengers connect to other flights. With Skyline, the airport can guarantee connect -ions to flights less than 30 minutes apart. The speed—average ride about 5 minutes —and frequent runs also mean travelers with longer layovers can visit concessions at various terminals, all of which should boost the airport’s fortunes and the local economy. Some 77,000 new jobs over the next 15 years are expected directly from Skylink and other projects in the airport’s Capital Development Program.

There is one squeaky wheel in DFW’s new system. If the U.S. Congress votes yes on a bill it is considering to repeal the 1979 Wright Amendment— forbidding long- haul flights out of nearby Love Field—the shift in flights and passengers to Love Field could translate into a significant loss of passengers and revenue at DFW, which owes $3.8 billion for its CDP projects.

Jessica Olive


SPUI helps control heavy traffic.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Diamonds may be forever but not necessarily when it comes to traffic interchanges.

In Utah, Florida and Michigan, highway engineers are replacing the traditional diamond interchange with a single point urban interchange, known as SPUI. SPUIs can handle heavier flows of traffic—between 1,500 and 5,500 vehicles per hour—by allowing cars diagonal from each other to make left turns at the same time, and are especially effective where traffic is equally heavy in both directions. “Operationally, they are more simple,” says Mack Christensen, of the Utah department of transportation. “You eliminate one signal, which allows you to control traffic at one point. Therefore, you reduce the number of conflicts and phases.’

SPUIs also take up less space than a traditional diamond interchange: Diamond interchanges require about 1,200 feet of right-of-way space, while SPUIs only need 250 feet.

But there are some problems with the new configuration. Drivers maybe confused when they make a left turn and find that cars coming from the opposite direction are also making a left turn—on their right side. A SPUI is also more expensive to build than a diamond interchange—usually by 30 percent to 50 percent, depending on terrain and existing infrastructure. The greater cost of a SPUI can sometimes be offset by not having to purchase as much land since its requires less space.

----Bern Delman




Veterans must submit their names or loved ones may do it for them — to this national electronic registry of Americans who helped with the war effort. To add a name, go to or call (800) 639-4992.

In a separate effort, the Veterans History Project is preserving veterans’ stories

from World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War, and the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts. The project, supported by the U.S. Congress and Disabled American Veterans Charitable Service Trust, is part of the Library of Congress’ American Folklife Center. For details, go to:

or call (888) 371-5848.


USAA Magazine - Spring 2006.





Want to save money next time you rent a car?

Make sure you pay only for what you want and need

. And do your homework before making a reservation.


 If you thought your auto policy or credit card company’s insurance was enough, dig a little deeper. I Even if your personal insurance extends to a rental car, you may not be off the hook if the rental is damaged. Some rental agencies will collect your deductible and the insurance check, but sell the car at a salvage auction rather than fix it. Then, they’ll go after you for the balance of the car’s value. It’s in the fine print on the contract. To maximize your coverage:

Make sure you have sufficient collision and comprehensive coverage on your auto policy.

                    Pay for the rental car with a credit card that offers additional coverage

                    Check for rental car companies that have an agreement with your

                    insurance carrier to provide additional coverage. For example, USAA

members can get additional coverage for Avis, Budget, and Hertz cars in most locations in the contiguous United States when they rent through USAA’s Alliance Services Company.


Bottom line: Ask your rental agency about coverage agreements

                    and review your auto policy and credit card benefits before renting.


 Most companies let your spouse drive for free . But some charge extra for any relative who drives the car, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Find out before you book. Breaking the rules could negate your insurance protection. That means if your spouse drives the car and has a wreck, you may have to pay for the repairs out of your pocket.



When returning the car, you typically have three options: fill it yourself, prepay for a full tank at a fixed per-gallon rate, or pay an extremely high refueling fee when you bring it back with less fuel than you started with, according to the Better Bus-iness Bureau. (BBB) You might get a better rate if you fill it yourself.


Turn it in where you picked it up, or be ready to pay more. The farther the location , the higher the drop-off charge.


 Be on time . Most agencies give you a one-hour grace period, but don’t test it. Returning a car late can lead to high overtime charges.


USAA Magazine - Spring 2006



The Jetmaker is cruising again after many losses to Airbus.

O N DECEMBER 7, 2003, BOEING EXECUTIVES arrived in Dubai for the city’s biennial air show—and they were hoping fbr some good news.

After all, the company’s profits and stock price were slumping, and with 13 years since the last new-model launch, its product lineup looked stale. But the worst headline was yet to come : by the year-end, Boeing would, for the first time, deliver fewer airplanes than rival Airbus.

What a difference a couple of years makes. Boeing returned to Dubai last week on a roll. On Nov. 10th a long-range 777 flew 13,422 miles in one shot, shattering the distance record for commercial flight. The company s stock price had nearly tripled in the past two years. By Thanksgiving, the Dubai show was over—and, boosted by 138 new sales, Boeing’s order book had swelled to 801, which will likely top its European adversary’s 2005 tally by more than 100 jets.

For a time, Airhus looked too tough to beat, It made a bold bet with its A380, a new double-decker “living cruise ship,” designed to ferry 555 passengers between major hubs. But Boeing believed carriers would move to offer more frequent nonstop flights using smaller jets and avoiding big airports. So it rolled out the 787 Dreamliner, set to enter service in 2008. The 250-seater’s selling point: an ultralight design that lets it fly nonstop from Los Angeles to Sydney and burn 20 % less fuel than other planes its size.

The timing was right. With global passenger traffic rising fast, airlines have gone on a shopping spree—and the high cost of oil is now driving many carriers’ buying decisions. Consider, for example, the companies’ long-range jets. Airhus’s A340 has four engines; Boeing’s 777 has two. The result: the Boeing burns 24 percent less fuel per seat mile (and typically outsells its European counterpart 10-1). According to Boeing exccs, efficiency also explains why its flagship 787 Dream-liner has doubled Airbus’s A380 order total. “There’s no question that the high- fuel-price environment has been extraordinarily good to us,” says Nicole Piasccki, the company’s VP of marketing and business strategy.

Meanwhile, Airbus is losing altitude. In June, the company acknowledged that production difficulties have delayed delivery of the A380 from mid-2006 to early 2007.

What’s more, its direct answer to the 787 , the A350, won’t hit the market until 2010, two years after the Dreamliner. “They’ve got a good mousetrap there,” says Airhus’s chief salesman, John Leahy.

Who will win in the long run? That depends on how you define victory. Boeing once hoped to fill two thirds of all aircraft orders. But now it may celebrate any year it captures more than 50 percent of the market. “Both companies are too good to be permanently eclipsed,” says Ed Greenslet, editor of Airline Monitor. “Some decades, Boeing will have the best products; some dlecades, it’ll he Airhus.” But for now, Boeing is enjoying the wind at its back.



December 5, 2005. (Pg. 45)

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