David Schaper

David Schaper is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk, based in Chicago, primarily covering transportation and infrastructure, as well as breaking news in Chicago and the Midwest.

In this role, Schaper covers aviation and airlines, railroads, the trucking and freight industries, highways, transit, and new means of mobility such as ride hailing apps, car sharing, and shared bikes and scooters. In addition, he reports on important transportation safety issues, as well as the politics behind transportation and infrastructure policy and funding.

Since joining NPR in 2002, Schaper has covered some of the nation's most important news stories, including the Sandy Hook school shooting and other mass shootings, Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, California wildfires, the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and numerous other disasters. David has also reported on presidential campaigns in Iowa and elsewhere, on key races for U.S. Senate and House, governorships, and other offices in the Midwest, and he reported on the rise of Barack Obama from relative political obscurity in Chicago to the White House. Along the way, he's brought listeners and online readers many colorful stories about Chicago politics, including the corruption trials and convictions of two former Illinois governors.

But none of that compares to the joy of covering his beloved Chicago Cubs winning the World Series in 2016, and three Stanley Cup Championships for the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010, 2013, and 2015.

Prior to joining NPR, Schaper spent almost a decade working as an award-winning reporter and editor for WBEZ/Chicago Public Media, NPR's Member station in Chicago. For three years he covered education issues, reporting in-depth on the problems and progress — financial, educational and otherwise — in Chicago's public schools.

Schaper also served as WBEZ's Assistant Managing Editor of News, managing the station's daily news coverage and editing the reporting staff while often still reporting himself. He later served as WBEZ's political editor and reporter; he was a frequent fill-in news anchor and talk show host. Additionally, he has been an occasional contributor guest panelist on Chicago public television station WTTW's news program, Chicago Tonight.

Schaper began his journalism career in La Crosse, Wisconsin, as a reporter and anchor at Wisconsin Public Radio's WLSU-FM. He has since worked in both public and commercial radio news, including stints at WBBM NewsRadio in Chicago, WXRT-FM in Chicago, WDCB-FM in suburban Chicago, WUIS-FM in Springfield, Illinois, WMAY-AM in Springfield, Illinois, and WIZM-AM and FM in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Schaper earned a bachelor's degree in mass communications and history at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and a master's degree in public affairs reporting at the University of Illinois-Springfield. He lives in Chicago with his wife, a Chicago Public School teacher, and they have three adult children.

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This isn't exactly the golden age of airline travel, but it's a pretty good time to fly by a lot of measures. Flying has never been safer. Airfares are historically low when adjusted for inflation. Technology makes it easier to search for fares and book flights while also helping airlines lose fewer bags and improve their on-time performance.

But if there's one thing air travelers still love to complain about, it's the size of economy class seats.

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Sears was once the largest retailer in the United States. The company owned a radio station in Chicago with the call letters WLS, which stood for World's Largest Store. But now Sears is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. NPR's David Schaper reports.

Relief supplies and critical life-saving equipment and personnel are heading into areas of Florida's Panhandle ravaged by Hurricane Michael, but officials say the severity of the storm's devastation is limiting their ability to get into the most heavily damaged areas.

What do you remember about this week, 25 years ago? October 1993. Many of us were watching Seinfeld and the first Roseanne or listening to a Mariah Carey cassette on our Walkman. And one of the top movies that year starred Bill Murray as a TV weatherman, who relives the same day, Groundhog Day, over and over and over again.

"Bill Murray's character [is] getting caught in a time loop," says Carl Davis, research director for the non-partisan Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.

Air travelers frustrated by having very little legroom and narrow seats might finally see some relief under legislation passed Wednesday by the U.S. Senate. A bill reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration, which passed on a vote of 93-6, includes a provision requiring the FAA to set a minimum size for commercial airplane seats, including a minimum pitch, or distance between seats.

Airlines have been shrinking that distance in recent years in order to cram more seats and passengers onto planes and squeeze more revenue out of each flight.

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Many seaports and airports along the southeastern U.S. coastline have been shut down, more than 1,000 flights have been canceled, and some highways and bridges in low-lying coastal areas could close soon, as Hurricane Florence gets closer to making landfall.

Authorities in coastal areas that lie in the path of the massive storm are urging residents one last time to evacuate.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster's message is pretty blunt: If you live in an evacuation zone, hit the road soon.

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The U.S is on pace to record close to 40,000 roadway and highway deaths for the third consecutive year, according to preliminary figures released Wednesday by the National Safety Council. The silver lining in those dark numbers is that the number of people dying each year in traffic collisions nationwide appears to be leveling off after two years of sharp increases.

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If there's one thing veteran Chicago taxicab driver Jay Khawas says he sees a lot of, it's cars with the familiar Uber and Lyft emblems.

"Oh my God. Like, many, many," says Khawas. "They're everywhere."

There certainly are more Uber and Lyft vehicles than taxicabs in Chicago and in most other big cities. Chicago, for example, limits the number of taxicab medallions, or vehicles licensed as taxis, to under 7,000.

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Most of us know the routine of boarding an airplane: First, there's the patient waiting in line at the gate, and then again on the jet bridge, and waiting yet again for fellow passengers to put luggage in the overhead bins, before finally it's your turn to find your seat and do the same.

Now, actually getting into the that narrow window or middle seat is another problem.

The Trump administration's practice of separating children from their parents at the border is not just heartbreaking to other immigrants but also terrifying. Even immigrants who are in the country legally are beginning to worry that their families could be broken apart, too.

The anti-immigrant threats and actions have many Hispanic Americans in particular living on edge.

Tears immediately start streaming down the cheeks of Sarah, a Mexican immigrant, when she is asked about watching recent news stories on TV.

Editor's note: This story contains descriptions of alleged sexual assault.

Teri, a flight attendant for 12 years, says she experienced a disturbing situation on a flight just last week.

"I encountered a gentleman, maybe in his 20s, who was lying across a row of seats on a light flight, inappropriately touching himself, with children sitting around him."

Teri says "his pants were unzipped, he had his hands in his pants and he was touching his genitalia."

She didn't know what to do.

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Chicago is famous for its L, the transit system of mostly elevated trains. Soon it might have the X, a high-speed transit system some are calling Tesla in a tunnel. NPR's David Schaper has more.

National Transportation Safety Board investigators say the driver of a Tesla using autopilot did not have his hands on the steering wheel in the moments before a fatal crash in the Silicon Valley area of Northern California in March.

Investigators also found that the Tesla was accelerating, with the cruise control engaged, when it crashed into a highway barrier. Walter Huang, the 38-year old driver, was killed.

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If you've already tried to get away for the long holiday weekend or are planning on leaving soon, you probably know this: the highways, airports and train stations are packed with like-minded folks trying to get out of town for the unofficial start of the summer vacation season.

Planes, trains and automobiles are overrun with Memorial Day weekend travelers and those who study traffic analytics say even people who slipped out on Thursday to beat the traffic were greeted by gridlock in many cities.

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Interstates and airports are going to be packed with Memorial Day weekend travelers over the next couple days. This weekend kicks off the summer vacation season and NPR's David Schaper is about to tell us it's going to be especially busy this year.

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It's Infrastructure Week again. Since President Trump came into office, it sometimes feels as though every other week is Infrastructure Week. In some circles, this has become a running joke.

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