Midtown-to-JFK train to begin runs this year

Midtown-to-JFK trainto begin runs this year
Kennedy International Airport may be New York's busiest, but getting there by public transit has been more challenging than, say, flying to South Africa.
That should improve late this year, when a light rail system known as AirTrain JFK begins service.
The project is scheduled to open during the fourth quarter, according to the Port Authority of New York & amp; New Jersey.
The new arrangement will carry passengers from Midtown Manhattan to the airport in about 50 minutes. That 50-minute trip will include taking the subway system's A line to the new Howard Beach AirTrain Terminal, then switching to the new train for the final 15 minutes to the Central Terminal Area.
For more information visit www.panynj.gov/airtrain on the Web.
Cruise line to pay$1M fine for violation
Norwegian Cruise Line will pay a $1 million fine for pollution violations by its ship the S.S. Norway after agreeing to plead guilty to a single count of failing to maintain an accurate oil record book prior to May 2000, when NCL was acquired by Star Cruises.
NCL said the violations were discovered during an internal environmental audit after the takeover and that the company reported the discovery to the government and cooperated in its investigation.
NCL said the plea agreement cites the knowing failure to log and report as required the incorrect operation of the oil/water separators on the Norway and the overboard discharge of oily bilgewater over the legal limit of 15 parts per million between 1997 and May 2000.
Web site assesses risk of thrombosis on flights
Deep-vein thrombosis, a malady that researchers say can be aggravated by long periods in confined spaces, has drawn wide attention because of scattered reports of airline passengers' dying from blood clots after long-haul flights. Several studies are under way worldwide to give travelers a better idea of the risks and what can be done about them.
Meanwhile, a British doctor has developed a Web-site questionnaire that lets you check off clues about your physical condition and then assigns a numerical value to your overall risk and provides advice. You enter your age, height, weight and flight length, and provide information on physical condition, medical conditions and heredity. For a 40-year-old male, 6-foot-1, with no medical conditions, on an overnight flight in cramped seating, the risk factor is low. For a similar man currently on chemotherapy, the risk jumps to high.
Whatever the risk level, the calculator provides advice to ensure a safe trip. The deep-vein-thrombosis calculator can be found on the Web site of the Fleet Street Clinic at www.travel-medicine.info.
Shakespeare is bigin Oregon town
Playwright William Shakespeare is having his hottest season in 400 years.
Shakespearean dramas and comedies -- mostly comedies -- have been playing to sell-out audiences from coast-to-coast, often in outdoor theaters, parks or on the beach. Visitors can have their Shakespeare in pure, unadulterated form or updated in a variety of dress.
Shakespeare aficionados have until Nov. 3 to catch at least two of five Shakespearean plays at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, where the whole town is turned into a Shakespearean experience. "Macbeth" plays at the New Theater, which opened this year; "Julius Caesar" is at the Angus Bowmer Theater, and three plays, "A Winter's Tale," "Titus Andronicus" and "As You Like It," can be viewed at the outdoor Elizabethan Stage (which closes Oct. 13).
While the Shakespearean choices are "dark and bloody," the festival has some light comedies to offset it, spokeswoman Amy Richard said.
Check seat availability at www.osfashland.org or call the box office at (541) 482-4331.
Western parks' innshave plenty of room
There is more room at the inns at Western national parks, making it easier to book lodging for fall.
Concessionaires were expecting fewer foreign visitors this summer, a trend accelerated by skittishness after the Sept. 11 attacks. But hopes that Americans might make up the difference were dashed by publicity about wildfires in Arizona and Colorado, officials said.
At Arizona's Grand Canyon National Park, Maswik Lodge had rooms available on most dates through September and virtually all dates in October, the Internet site of concessionaire Xanterra Parks & amp; Resorts, www.xanterra.com, showed recently. Bright Angel Lodge & amp; Cabins had some open dates in September and October and many in November. By contrast, El Tovar -- the high-end lodge traditionally in most demand -- was booked through October.
Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park also reported more available rooms than usual, which officials attributed partly to economic uncertainty and the recent tendency to book at the last minute. Although the luxury Jenny Lake Lodge had only a few nights open through Oct. 5, when it closes, Jackson Lake Lodge had vacancies on most dates in September, according to the Internet site of the concessionaire, Grand Teton Lodge Co., www.gtlc.com.
Tour gets abovethe tropical forest
Tourists who long to indulge their Tarzan fantasies -- or just get a bird's-eye view of the world -- are getting a chance in the tropical forests near the resort town of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
Vallarta Adventure, a 6-year-old tour operator, this summer began offering a "Tree Top Canopy Tour." Suspended from pulleys, participants slide along about 400 feet of cable strung between trees, dangling up to 100 feet above the forest floor. From that vantage point, they can see "a lot of birds and reptiles, including iguanas," a spokeswoman says.
The trip costs $65 for adults and $32.50 for children younger than 12, including beverages and snacks and an hourlong drive to the Sierra Madre site from Puerto Vallarta. You spend about two hours in the trees.
For reservations (recommended), call toll-free (866) 256-2739 or visit www.vallarta-adventures.com on the Web.
Walking tourin New York
Since Sept. 11, visitors to New York have headed for Lower Manhattan to see the site of the terrorist attacks and the city's subsequent effort to rebuild. Another way to learn about the resilience of New York's downtown is a walking tour that does not include the World Trade Center site.
The Downtown Alliance's free 90-minute Wall Street Walking Tour is offered at noon every Thursday and Saturday. The guided tour begins in front of the U.S. Custom House at the Bowling Green subway stop. The narration of Lower Manhattan history includes the many catastrophes in that area.
For more information, call (212) 566-6700 or visit www.downtownny.com on the Web.
Cruise line acquirestwo sister ships
P & amp;O Cruises has acquired two 688-passenger ships formerly operated by Renaissance Cruises, which filed for Chapter 11 reorganization last fall, and plans to deploy them to the Pacific. The sister ships were built in 1999.
The R4, redubbed the Tahitian Princess, will sail year-round out of Papeete, Tahiti, in French Polynesia, the Cook Islands and Samoa. Fares for the debut holiday cruise, leaving Dec. 24, start at $899 per person, double occupancy, with early booking discounts. Fares after that begin at $799 for 10-day sailings.
The R3 will split its time between sailing for Princess and for P & amp;O Cruises' Australian brand in the South Pacific. Itineraries and schedules have not been announced. The R3 will sail as the Pacific Princess after Princess' "Love Boat" of TV fame gives up the name and embarks on its new life as an Italian charter vessel in October.
Medjet will returncycles to homes
Medjet Assistance, an 11-year-old company that provides medical evacuation and emergency medical consultations for travelers, has added a new benefit for motorcycle riders: transporting their bike back home.
The benefit is available to members of the Harley Owners Group and the BMW Motorcycle Owners of America for the standard annual fee that other customers pay for Medjet coverage: $195 for individuals and $295 for a family, a spokesman for the Birmingham, Ala.-based company says.
The company will return customers' motorcycles to a shop or dealership near their home if they cannot ride for medical reasons on trips in the United States (except Hawaii), Canada and Mexico.
For more information, call (800) 963-3538 or visit www.medjetassistance.com on the Web.
Ruling provides relieffor some passengers
Passengers stranded when a bankrupt airline cancels flights are entitled to fly standby on other carriers for no more than $25 each way, the U.S. Department of Transportation has ruled.
The Aug. 8 notice was issued after the department received complaints about the treatment of passengers stranded when Vanguard Airlines filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and stopped flying July 30. The ruling noted that some carriers provided standby or confirmed reservations free to Vanguard passengers, but others charged up to $100.
After the DOT ruling, Delta Air Lines -- which offered Vanguard passengers the choice of an "administrative service fee" of $100 to exchange their Vanguard tickets for standby Delta tickets or buying confirmed seats at a discount -- said it would refund the difference between the $100 fee and the new allowable charge of $25 each way. "If they [customers] can produce the paperwork they will be eligible for the difference," Delta spokesman Anthony Black said recently.
The DOT ruling was designed to clarify a law passed after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Combined dispatches

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