Monday, October 26, 2009

Where's the Beef and the Tolls? Teaching Transportation and Logistics is Never Dull

Teaching my undergraduate transportation and logistics class is NEVER dull. Today, I began my day with a lecture in this class on tolls, unbeknowest to me, that a huge accident had taken place earlier in Weston, Massachusetts at the toll plaza. Several tractor trailers crashed into one another, including one carrying over 46,000 pounds of beef (and that is the one that overturned). A car was also involved in the chain reaction accident. Beef was all over the road (quite frankly, not a pleasant sight)!!!

As our Boston press reported, the "bad" news was that the accident occurred and that the beef was lost to human consumption (let's hope). The "good" news was that for 3 hours, the police just waved through the vehicles and no tolls were collected for them. The Massachusetts turnpike authority had gotten so much flack for horrendous delays on the Pike last Easter that a new rule had been passed and to minimize further delays the traffic is just waved through until the incident is declared cleared up.

Now the state officials are worried about the loss of income due to the tolls that were not paid and are hoping to get compensation through insurance.

Interestingly, I had shared with my students this morning some horror MA tollbooth stories, including one that resulted in the death of a friend's mother.

Indeed, teaching this transportation and logistics class is never dull. Just this week, my students also got to hear about the Northwest flight from San Diego that overshot its destination of Minneapolis by 150 miles (still no complete story as to what exactly transpired in the cockpit during the 90 minutes that no traffic controller could reach them). Even the President was notified as to this very suspicious activity. Interestingly, one week prior many of our colleagues were flying back from the INFORMS conference in San Diego!

Last year, one of the hot topics in the news was the pirates affecting maritime transport off the coast of Africa; now we have wandering pilots and beef spillages at toll booths.