The National Corridors Initiative, Inc.
Destination:Freedom

A Weekly North American Transportation Update

For transportation advocates and professionals, journalists,
and elected or appointed officials at all levels of government

Publisher: James P. RePass      E-Zine Editor: Molly McKay
Foreign Editor: David Beale      Webmaster: Dennis Kirkpatrick

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February 23, 2009
Vol. 10 No. 9

Copyright © 2009
NCI Inc., All Rights Reserved
Our 20th Year

Home Page: www.nationalcorridors.org

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IN THIS EDITION...   In This Edition...

  News Items…
NCI Chairman John Robert Smith, Nation’s Mayors, Meet With Obama
AAR’s CEO Offers Help Growing Commuter Rail
   If Freight Rail Capacity Is Included In The Plan
“Transportation Four America” Kicks Off Thursday
   In Ceremonies At Capitol Hill
  Business Lines…
Boardman: Changes Are Coming To Amtrak
Amtrak Reduces Acela Train Business Fares
Stimulus Bill Includes Funding For Amtrak Capital Programs
 
  Selected Rail Stocks…
  Environmental Lines…
Governor Patrick’s Transportation And Economic Security Plan:
   Green Initiatives
  Across The Pond…
Bangkok Prepares To Open Airport Express Train
Rail Transit Continued Strong Growth During 2008 In Great Britain
  Editorial…
Welcome To The Whig Party, c. 2009
  Publication Notes …


NEWS OF THE WEEK... News Items...
NCI Chairman John Robert Smith,
Nation’s Mayors, Meet With Obama

By DF Staff

WASHINGTON, DC--- National Corridors Initiative Chairman John Robert Smith, who is also Mayor of Meridian, MS, and former Chairman of the Board of Amtrak, met this past week with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden for over an hour at the White House to discuss the new stimulus package and other issues of importance to the nation’s mayors, including transportation.

“The President absolutely ‘gets it’” in regard to the nation’s rail system, Mayor Smith told DF after the meeting, as he headed home to Meridian from Washington via Amtrak’s “Crescent” intercity train.. “He is very much engaged, and he is knowledgeable.”

Mayor Smith was chosen as chairman of a key US Conference of Mayors infrastructure committee late in 2007, to brief the various Presidential candidates. He met with representatives of all the candidates over the course of the campaign, and communicated the mayors’ issue on urban development.

He was then a principal speaker at NCI’s January 2008 “Carmichael Conference on the Future of American Transportation”, and a key drafter of The St. Louis Statement to the candidates created at that conference (see sidebar “The St. Louis Statement”), to which both the Clinton and Obama campaigns responded directly, Obama going so far as to send a detailed written statement to the October 2008 NCI/Southern Rapid Rail Conference in Meridian, MS, supporting the notion of a robust national transportation system in which rail would once again play a significant part.

The President and Vice President both met with the Mayors, then with the Press, and then again with the Mayors at the White House February 20. Here is the White House press office statement of the Vice Presidential and Presidential comments made at that meeting, in full:

Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama address the nation’s mayors

Remarks by the President and Vice President at meeting with nation’s mayors, 2/20/09
THE WHITE HOUSE, East Room
Office of the Press Secretary

 

THE VICE PRESIDENT:

Well, thank you all for being here today, and welcome back to the White House. (applause.) Mr. Mayor, my mayor in the city of Wilmington, Jim Baker -- when I got elected, he assumed that he got an office in the West Wing. (Laughter.) But he has a telephone number that is accessible -- hi, Jim, how are you?

Thank you all for being here. It’s great to be with so many -- so many leaders who are literally, to use that shopworn phrase, on the front lines where the economy lives and dies, and where people are struggling, and you have to deal with it every day.

You know, in a long career in politics, there’s one overwhelming reason why I never ran for mayor, Richie; it’s too hard. (Laughter.) They have got your phone number, and they know where you live, and they come and they use it.

Well, President Obama and I are turning that around. We want you to know you can have our phone number, and you know where we live. (applause.) And we expect you to use it. Already, we’ve met with you and the Conference of Mayors over half a dozen times.

Too often in the past, America’s cities have been neglected, and our mayors haven’t had -- haven’t been able to be heard on the questions of national policy. That’s a story you all understand and know very well. But we know how important cities are -- 65 percent of our nation’s population, as you all know, live in our cities. Our cities are the home of seven out of ten American jobs. And when you’re talking about the "knowledge economy jobs," the number rises to eight and ten -- eight out of ten. Cities are vital to our economy, essential to our recovery, and haven’t been paid much attention to.

Our economy can never reach, in our view, its full potential if we have people who are living blocks away, but worlds away from the bustling downtowns full of opportunity. Our poor transportation systems don’t provide mobility people need to get to the job. Or they aren’t enough police or firefighters in communities to keep the communities safe.

The ST Louis Statement:

(The following document is the official statement of the Carmichael Conference on the Future of American Transportation, organized by the National Corridors Initiative (www.nationalcorridors.org) at the request of former Federal Railroad Administrator Gilbert Carmichael, and held at the St. Louis Hyatt Regency Hotel (Union Station) January 28-29, 2008. If you care about the future of America’s infrastructure and our ability to compete in world markets, if you care about sustainability, sprawl, and the environment, if you care about prosperity and quality-of-life as it affects you and your children, then please use this document to engage your candidate for President, Governor, and any other state/local offices, as well as foundations, media outlets and the Internet.)

To the Candidates for President
and the Party Platform Committees,
we submit:

The St. Louis Statement
on the Crisis in American Transportation
At The Carmichael Conference*

 

The silence of those now running for the office of President on the growing crisis in our nation’s transportation infrastructure is deafening. We have all heard about the crisis in the economy, and changes in the earth’s climate brought on by global warming, but we have heard nothing about one key element that underlies both of those issues: the movement of goods and people, our very freedom of mobility. Yet, few national issues offer a greater opportunity for imaginative change.

We speak to those candidates now, today. We are from both political parties, and from no political party. We are from New England, and California, and Louisiana, and Illinois, and places in between, gathered this day in St. Louis for the inaugural Carmichael Conference* on the Future of American Transportation, to advocate for the renewal of that infrastructure. We respectfully ask each one of you:

  • Do you understand that transportation must be treated as a system, not merely a collection of competing modes, when setting and executing policy?
  • How do you propose to restore our transportation system to health?
  • What are you going to do, specifically, to obtain the funding needed to do that?

As both advocates and professional executives, as both elected and appointed officials from around this country, as American citizens, we call on you to engage this issue, and make it an integral part of your campaign. As former American Airlines CEO Robert Crandall said in his very powerful address to us: “It’s late in the game, and we are far past the time when our national leaders should have laid out, debated, and implemented an integrated, carefully thought-out and effective national plan for developing and deploying an optimized national transportation system.”

The American people need rational choices when it comes to transportation, and those choices must be adequately and intelligently funded and maintained to make it all work. In particular, an efficient transportation system and robust rail, air, coastal/riverine, port, and highway components will sharply reduce both our dependence on foreign oil, and the high price we pay for it. Highly fuel-efficient, environmentally-friendly transportation modes, such as rail, should especially not be overlooked.

You are asking us to select you as the leader of our country. Very well: we ask you to lead. Seize this issue, and make it central to your campaign, as it is to every American’s life. Thus far it has been virtually ignored. We ask that to change, starting now.

* (The Carmichael Conference on the Future of American Transportation was convened by James P. RePass (jprepass@nationalcorridors.org) President of the National Corridors Initiative (www.nationalcorridors.org) with the help and support of the Sierra Club, The National Association of Railroad Passengers, and also the following organizations: American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, American Public Transportation Association, American Road and Transportation Builders, Association of American Railroads, Association for Public Transportation, Bombardier Transit, Connex/Veolia Transportation, InTrans Incorporated: A New Direction in Transportation Advocacy, Midwest High Speed Rail Association, Providence & Worcester Railroad, The Surdna Foundation (online-newsletter development grant) , Train/Riders NorthEast, Victoria Transportation Policy Institute, Virginians for High Speed Rail, and named in honor of former Federal Railroad Administrator Gilbert Carmichael, one of America’s leading transportation advocates who continues actively to champion transportation intermodalism. This statement has also been sent to media outlets across America.)

And that’s why the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act President Obama signed this week I think includes unprecedented investment in American cities. (applause.) Simply stated, that’s the commitment made in this law. Now, the hard part in one sense is up to us. We got to make this work. We got to make it work for our people. We got to make it work for our cities. We got to make it work for all our people.

The American people have trusted their government with an unprecedented -- unprecedented level of funding to address the economic emergency we face. In return, we have to prove to them that their dollars are making a difference in their communities. We’ve already set up a website – www.recovery.com [sic] – which will show where and how the money is being spent. The public can actually go on a web site and see how we’re spending this money.

President Obama has been insistent during his campaign, and from the time we won, on accountability and transparency. All of you know, if we don’t meet that minimum threshold, the likelihood of the public trusting us to do this kind of thing is going to evaporate very rapidly. Transparency is vital, and effectiveness is paramount. These investments are a huge opportunity -- a huge opportunity to create jobs today, and strengthen our economy for tomorrow.

We’ve designed this bill to save and create -- save or create over 3 million new jobs. And we’d like to see it do even better than that. And that’s where your efforts come in. You are -- you’re the ones who know the areas that give us the greatest return on our investment -- you know it better than we do. You’re the ones who know -- you’re the ones who know which projects will crystallize private investment and even greater growth in your cities. And the world is watching -- the world is watching to see how well this is going to work. And we need your help -- we need your help in making it work, and work quickly and effectively.

As of today, we’re one month into this administration -- although I said to the President in the past, it feels like a little longer than that. But we are one month into this administration. And think what the President has already done -- already signed into laws, there’s a Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. We’ve expanded state health insurance -- Children’s Health Insurance Program to cover an additional 4 million children. We put forward -- excuse me -- we put forward a plan to reduce preventable home foreclosures. We’ve won passage of the largest economic recovery effort since World War II -- in a month -- in a month. (applause.)

So the results of the President’s leadership and your help are already there and clear for everybody to see. But it’s been a great privilege to also see how much this President has done behind the scenes to make this happen. I’ve been here for eight Presidents -- for eight Presidents -- you can tell by my look. (Laughter.) Well, I want to tell you something: The hard choices the President has made, the patient outreach he’s done, the firm resolve he’s shown -- the results of this work I think speak for themselves. But I’m pleased to speak about the man who made these results happen.

There is so much more to do –- so much more. But already, President Obama has put our nation on the path toward greater recovery -- not only greater recovery, but greater decency, greater fairness, greater opportunity, along with economic recovery. For years, many of us have hoped for such accomplishments. And in just one month, an incredible new President has made this a reality.

So please join me in welcoming the President of the United States of America, Barack Obama. (applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:

Thank you, everybody. Thank you. Please have a seat. Thank you so much. Whenever I have the opportunity to meet with mayors, I think about how I got my start doing what you do each day: working with folks at the local level and doing our best to make a real impact on the lives of ordinary Americans. And that’s just another reason why I’m so happy to welcome all of you here today.

I want to offer -- take a little personal prerogative here and welcome my own hometown mayor -- my friend, Rich Daley. (applause.) His steady leadership has proven again and again that the American city can be a place of boundless opportunity and a source of solutions to our public problems; he has made a deep and lasting difference in the quality of life for millions of Chicagoans. I’m surprised he’s still talking to me because I stole Arne Duncan from him -- (laughter) -- but I am confident that he will continue to make great strides.

I see friends from all over the place; some old friends -- not old in years, but people who I’ve known a long time. My other hometown mayor, Mufi, it’s great to see you all the way from Honolulu. I’ve got Mayor Riley and others who are in attendance; Shirley Franklin doing great work; and Mayor Villaraigosa and Mayor Dellums from -- we’ve got the California contingent. So I’m grateful to all of you.

And I think all of you understand that we meet at such an urgent time. Last night, I signed an executive order establishing the White House Office of Urban Affairs. (applause.) I’ve chosen Adolfo Carrión to be its first director. Adolfo wrote a real success story in the Bronx as borough president, and now he’s going to be working with all of you to write our next success stories in cities across the country.

He’s going to be responsible for coordinating all federal urban programs, and I’ve asked him to set up an advisory council with mayors and other urban leaders so that we can develop a new metropolitan strategy based on the lessons you’ve learned. Now, rebuilding our economies and renewing our cities is going to require a true partnership between mayors and the White House, and that partnership has to begin right now.

Those of you who have traveled great distances to be here come from different parties and philosophies. You govern very different cities, they’re made up of different citizenries with different demographic makeups. But today, in the face of our common challenges, you’re all hearing the same stories. I know because I’m getting letters from constituents all across the country, in many of your cities.

But you’re on the front lines in our communities. You know what happens when folks get laid off, or they lose their homes or their health care, and they turn to the mayor’s office for help. And just as your services stretch, your classrooms get crowded, and your streets grow less safe, your budgets shrink. You can’t deficit spend, so you face impossible choices: raising taxes; cutting essential services; laying-off teachers, firefighters, police officers.

And that’s why the recovery plan we put into action this week is so important. It’s a plan that will save or create 3.5 million jobs over the next two years; will help those hardest hit by our economic crisis; it will aid state and local governments in hopes you can avoid those excruciating choices.

It provides greater unemployment insurance for nearly 18 million Americans, and protects health care for 7 million who lost their health care along with their jobs. It includes the most progressive tax cuts in our history, spurring job creation and putting money into the pockets of 95 percent of all hardworking families. It invests in what works for our cities by funding programs like the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant and the COPS program, which boost public safety and bring down crime. It rewards responsibility, making sure that if you work hard, you won’t have to raise a child below the poverty line.

But what makes this recovery plan so important isn’t just the jobs it will create or the immediate help it provides; it’s that we are putting Americans to work doing the work America needs done in critical areas that have been neglected for too long. (applause.) So this plan does more to lay a new foundation for our cities’ growth and opportunity than anything Washington has done in generations -- and it will bring real and lasting change for generations to come.

Because we know we can’t build our economic future on the transportation and information networks of the past, we’re remaking our cities with the largest new investment in our nation’s infrastructure since Eisenhower built an Interstate Highway System in the 1950s. Ray LaHood is going to be busy because we’re putting 400,000 men and women to work rebuilding our crumbling roads and our bridges, repairing our faulty dams and levees, replacing our aging water and sewer pipes, and rolling out broadband lines to nearly every community in America. (applause.) We’re going to unleash the potential of all our regions by connecting them with world-class transit systems and high-speed rail, making our metropolitan areas more livable and sustainable in the process.

Because we know education is the single best bet we can make to change the odds of our children and our cities, we are making the largest investment in education in our nation’s history. It will prevent harmful education cuts and save jobs of tens of thousands of teachers -- 14,000 just in New York City. And it will make a historic investment in early childhood education and upgrade classrooms and libraries and labs across America, so that millions of our children are prepared to compete in the 21st century.

Because we know that spiraling health care costs are crushing families and businesses alike, and straining budgets across government, we’re taking the most meaningful steps in years to modernize our health care system. We’re going to computerize America’s medical records while maintaining rigorous privacy standards, saving billions of dollars and countless lives. We’ll focus on prevention, keeping millions of Americans from having to set in the doctor’s office in the first place. Taken together with the earlier enactment this month of long-delayed laws to extend health care to millions more children of working families, we’ve done more in 30 days to advance the cause of health care reform than this country has done in a decade. (applause.)

And because we know we can’t power America’s future on energy that’s controlled by foreign dictators, we’re making an investment that within three years will double the renewable energy output it’s taken us 35 years to reach. (applause.) We’ll provide tax credits and loan guarantees to companies that create this energy, allowing them to expand rather than lay people off. We’ll fund the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant you conceived, saving our cities and our consumer’s money. (applause.) We’ll build a bigger, better, smarter electricity grid that delivers clean energy from communities that produce it to the cities that need it.

So these are the steps we’re taking to help you turn this crisis into opportunity and bring our cities into the future. Now, Washington can’t solve all the problems facing our cities -- and I know you don’t expect us to. Instead of waiting for Washington, many of you have already made our cities laboratories of change, coming up with innovative new ways to solve the problems of our time.

One of the great pleasures of running for President was having a chance to see great work on renewable energy in Des Moines or, you know, seeing what kinds of wonderful companies are being created in Seattle, and hearing about some of the urban planning strategies that are taking place in Charleston. So all of you have already taken the ball and run with it, even when you weren’t getting help from here. But it won’t be bad to get some help because -- (applause.)

You know, instead of debating the existence of climate change, mayors like Greg Nickels in Seattle are leading efforts to make cities greener and more efficient. Instead of just talking about health care, mayors like Gavin Newsom in San Francisco have been ensuring that those in need receive it. Instead of wringing your hands over poverty, you’ve got Antonio in Los Angeles making relentless efforts to alleviate it.

You shouldn’t have to succeed, though, despite Washington; you should be succeeding with a hand from Washington, and that’s what you’re going to get now. (applause.)

Now, what is required in return, what I will need from all of you, is unprecedented responsibility and accountability on all of our parts. The American people are watching. They need this plan to work. They expect to see the money that they’ve earned, that they’ve worked so hard to earn, spent in its intended purposes without waste, without inefficiency, without fraud.

And that’s why I’m assigning a team of managers to ensure that every dollar is spent wisely. And that’s why we’ve created recovery.gov -- so that every American can go online to see how their money is spent, and hold their federal, state, and local officials to the highest standards they expect.

So I want to be clear about this: We cannot tolerate business as usual -- not in Washington, not in our state capitols, not in America’s cities and towns. We will use the new tools that the recovery act gives us to watch the taxpayers’ money with more rigor and transparency than ever. (applause.) If a federal agency proposes a project that will waste that money, I will not hesitate to call them out on it and put a stop to it.

And I want everybody here to be on notice that if a local government does the same, I will call them out on it and use the full power of my office and our administration to stop it. We have asked for the unprecedented trust of the American people to deal boldly with the greatest economic crisis we’ve seen in decades and the privilege of investing unprecedented amounts of their hard-earned money to address this crisis. And with that comes unprecedented obligations to spend that money wisely -- free from politics and free from personal agendas.

On this, I will not compromise or tolerate any shortcuts. The American people are looking to us, each of you, as well as myself and Joe and others in our administration, for leadership, and it’s up to us to reward their faith.

Now, this plan doesn’t mark the end of what we’ll do together. It marks the beginning. My administration has outlined plans to stabilize, repair and reform our banking system, to get credit flowing to families and businesses, to stem the spread of foreclosures and keep families in their homes. Together, we will tackle the urban challenges of our time and foster diverse, creative and imaginative economies that bring opportunity to every corner of our cities.

We’ll do all this because despite the different backgrounds of the mayors in this room, we all share the same vision for our cities -- vibrant places that provide our children with every chance to learn and to grow, that allow our businesses and workers the best opportunity to innovate and succeed, that let our older Americans live out their best years in the midst of all that metropolitan life can offer.

I know this change is possible. I know because I saw it in all those years ago in neighborhoods on the South Side of Chicago, where ordinary Americans came together and worked alongside the mayor’s office to forge a better future. I know because I’ve seen it in cities across this country, where many of you that I had a chance to meet with, I saw how you focused on fresh ideas over stale ideology, and you moved your cities forward. And I know it because I see it in the faces of Americans everywhere who are ready to roll up their sleeves and join in the work of remaking this nation.

So now it falls to us to seize the possibilities of this moment and convert peril into promise; see to it that our cities and our people emerge from this moment stronger than they were before. Starting today, that’s what you and I are going to do -- together. And I’m absolutely confident that our people will benefit and people will look back and say that this was a turning point; this was a moment where, in the midst of great crisis, leadership was shown and we created a new platform for success for all Americans in the future.


Return to index

 

AAR’s CEO Offers Help Growing Commuter Rail
If Freight Rail Capacity Is Included In The Plan

By DF Staff And From The American Association Of Railroads

WASHINGTON, DC --- AAR’s Hamberger this past week had a positive message for the Surface Transportation Board (STB), which rules on issues of national rail importance: Passenger-rail expansion shouldn’t impede freight-rail growth.

“Freight railroads support efforts to expand passenger-rail service where needed, but such expansion should preserve and provide for freight-rail growth,” was the message Association of American RailroadsPresident and Chief Executive Officer Ed Hamberger delivered to the Surface Transportation Board (STB) last week.

During the board’s Feb. 11 hearing on the implementation of the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008, Hamberger urged the STB to take into account the operational realities of the freight-rail system when designing passenger-rail on-time performance metrics.

“There are many constraints on the U.S. freight system that need to be factored when deciding what does or does not constitute a delay,” said Hamberger. “Many segments of the nation’s freight-rail network are today congested due to high volumes of traffic, and such congestion is only going to worsen as future demand for freight transportation skyrockets.”

Any performance measure should identify and separate “avoidable” from “unavoidable” delays, and all delays should be attributed to the responsible party, Hamberger believes.

“When something goes wrong somewhere on the rail network, it often has a cascading effect leading to train delays elsewhere,” he said.

“Hamberger is one of the most widely respected lobbyists in Washington,” said NCI President & CEO James P. RePass. “and I hope that this dialogue will continue and grow as the Obama Stimulus Package is implemented, because freight rail systems need to gain the capacity required for new passenger service, but can not afford to bankroll it. Certainly, NCI, which has been asked to help lead the rail effort of the new Transportation For America Initiative rolling out in the Capitol this Thursday (see separate story) will foster that work.”

Hamberger also urged the STB to establish principles used in track or right-of-way mediation proceedings between passenger and freight rail that further the preservation and expansion of freight-rail service.

He suggested that arrangements be voluntary; freight railroads be fully compensated; commuter authorities provide the additional capacity they need for their operations; freight railroads be protected from liability from passenger operations; and all operating issues be addressed.


Return to index
 

NCI Chairman John Robert Smith To Keynote Event

 

“Transportation Four America” Kicks Off
Thursday In Ceremonies At Capitol Hill

By DF Staff And From Transportation For America (http://t4america.Org)

WASHINGTON, DC --- A major new alliance to push for transportation infrastructure renewal in America kicks off this Thursday at the Capitol in Washington, as “Transportation 4 America,” a joint effort of some major advocacy organizations funded in part by the Rockefeller Foundation, is launched.

NCI Chairman and former Amtrak Board Chairman John Robert Smith will be the keynote speaker of the event, and NCI President & CEO James P. RePass has been asked to help lead the rail efforts of the new initiative.

Two key groups which organized Transportation For America are: Smart Growth America (co-chair) and Reconnecting America  (co-chair), and they have been joined by a broad array of advocacy groups in the environmental, smart growth, and transportation arenas; they include but are not limited to:

The National Corridors Initiative
The Surface Transportation Policy Partnership
PolicyLink
Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety
American Public Transportation Association
Amalgamated Transit Union
America 2050
America Bikes
The American Institute of Architects
America Walks
American Public Health Association
Apollo Alliance
Association for Commuter Transportation
Bicycle Benefits
BOMA International
CEOs for Cities
Center for Neighborhood Technology
Citizens for Appropriate Rural Roads, Inc. (CARR) (IN)
Congress for the New Urbanism
Defenders of Wildlife
Enterprise Community Partners
Environment America
Environmental & Energy Study Institute (EESI)
Environmental Defense Fund
Good Jobs First
Holland & Knight
Housing Preservation Project
Jonathan Rose Companies
League of American Bicyclists
League of Conservation Voters
Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC)
LOCUS: Responsible Real Estate Developers and Investors
Main Street Project
NCB Capital Impact
National Alliance of Public Transportation Advocates (NAPTA)
National Association of Local Boards of Health (NALBOH)
National Association of City Transportation Officials
National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO)
National Association of Railroad Passengers
National Association of Realtors
National Center for Bicycling & Walking
National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity
National Complete Streets Coalition
National Housing Conference
National Housing Trust
Natural Resources Defense Council
National Recreation and Park Association
National Trust for Historic Preservation
National Wildlife Federation
Nelson/Nygaard
New Starts Working Group
Outdoor Industry Association
Project for Public Spaces
The Real Estate Roundtable
Safe Routes to School National Partnership
Sam Schwartz Engineering, PLLC
Stewards of Affordable Housing for the Future
STV Inc
Transportation Equity Network (TEN)
Thunderhead Alliance
Truck Safety Coalition (Nat’l)
Parents Against Tired Truckers
Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways
The Trek to Re-Energize America
Trust for America’s Health
U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC)
U.S. Public Interest Research Group listed under state groups)
Walkable Communities

And the following state, regional, and local organizations:

1,000 Friends of Wisconsin (WI)
1000 Friends of Maryland (MD)
1000 Friends of Minnesota (MN)
1000 Friends of Oregon (OR)
10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania (PA)
Action Committee for Transit (MD)
Adventure Fit Inc (CO, TX)
All Aboard Ohio (OH)
The Associated Students of the University of Montana (MT)
Anchorage Citizens Coalition (AK)
Action! For Regional Equity (MA)
Bike Athens (GA)
BikeDenver (CO)
Bike Pittsburgh (PA)
Bike Sage (CA)
Bike Walk Mississippi (MS)
Bike, Walk Ohio! (OH)
BikeLane Coalition (OR)
b’more mobile (MD)
Cascade Bicycle Club (WA)
Central Maryland Transportation Alliance (MD)
Center for Planning Excellence (LA)
Citizens For A Better Flathead (MT)
Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future (PennFuture)(PA)
Citizens for Progressive Transit (GA)
Citizens for Modern Transit (MO/IL)
CNU New York (NY)
Coalition for Smarter Growth (DC/MD/VA)
Coalition on Regional Equity (CORE)
Coast Starlight Communities Network (CA)
Collective Influence (HI)
Connecticut Fund for the Environment(CT)
Conservation Law Foundation (Northeast)
Conservation Alabama Foundation (AL)
Council of Senior Centers & Services
Dane Alliance for Rational Transportation (DART)
East Coast Greenway Alliance
     (East Coast from Maine to Florida, based in RI)
Elm City Cycling
Environment Colorado (CO)
Environmental Law and Policy Center
Fit City Duluth (MN)
Fresh Energy
FRESC: Good Jobs, Strong Communities
Friedman Group, Ltd. (MO)
Futurewise (WA)
Georgia Conservancy (GA)
Greater Albuquerque Housing Partnership (NM)
Greater Baltimore Committee (MD)
Greater Bridgeport Transit Authority (CT)
Greenbelt Alliance (CA)
Green Millennium
Green Wheels (CA)
Growsmart Maine (ME)
Growth And Justice (MN)
Health by Design (IN)
Hoosier Environmental Council (IN)
Houston Tomorrow (TX)
Idaho Smart Growth (ID)
Joe Urban, Inc. (MN)
LifeSpan Technologies (GA)
Limousine Environmental Partners, Inc. (LEAP)(Northeast)
Livable Communities Coalition (GA)
Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (CA)
Los Angeles Walks (CA)
Maine Transit Association (ME)
Maine Rail-Transit Alliance (ME)
Madison Area Bus Advocates (WI)
Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance (MA)
MassBike (MA)
Metropolitan Planning Council (IL)
Metroplan Orlando (FL)
Michigan Environmental Council (MI)
Michigan Suburbs Alliance (MI)
Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy(MN)
Missouri Bicycle Federation (MO)
Milwaukee County Transit System (WI)
Montana Smart Growth Coalition (MT)
Morris Architects (TX)
Move L.A. (CA)
New Jersey Future(NJ)
Northeast-Midwest Institute (NE & MW States)
Parks & Trails New York (NY)
Parry Transit
PenTrans (Pennsylvanians for Transportation Solutions, Inc.) (PA)
PennEnvironment (PA)
Pioneer Valley Advocates for Commuter Rail (MA)
Plan It (NY)
Public Interest Research Group State Chapters:
PIRG (AZ)
Connecticut PIRG (CT)
Georgia PIRG (GA)
MontPIRG (MT)
Public Interest Research Group of Michigan (MI)
Maryland PIRG (MD)
MASSPIRG(MA)
North Carolina PIRG (NC)
WISPIRG (WI)
RAIL Solution (VA)
The Rapid (MI)
Regional Transportation Authority (Chicago) (IL)
Regional Plan Association (NY-CT-NJ)
Rural Dynamics, Inc. (MT)
Saint Louis Regional Bicycle Federation (MO)
The San Francisco Foundation (CA)
San Luis Obispo County Bicycle Coalition
Seattle Transit Blog (WA)
Smart Growth Partnership
Somerville Transportation Equity Partnership (MA)
Sonoran Institute (Western States)
Southern California Transit Advocates (CA)
Southern Environmental Law Center
SPUR
Storrow Kinsella Associates (Midwest)
Streamingoldies.com (NE region, based in NH)
San Francisco Bicycle Coalition (CA)
Sustainable Pittsburgh (PA)
Tishman Group (West)
TrainRiders/Northeast (ME)
The Transit Coalition (CA)
Transit for Livable Communities (MN)
Transportation Riders United (MI)
TransForm (Formerly TALC)
Tri-State Transportation Campaign (NYC)
Urban Habitat
Vision Long Island (NY)
Washington Area Bicyclist Association (DC)
WALKSacramento (CA)


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BUSINESSLINES... Business Lines...  

Boardman: Changes Are Coming To Amtrak

Ambitious Plans In Store For New Equipment And Refurbishing Old

From An Article By Don Phillips For Trains Magazine

[Editor’s note: Don Phillips, a long time journalist, was awarded NCI’s first ever DON PHILLIPS AWARD, an honor established in his name for excellence in journalism on transportation.]

 

FEBRUARY 18 -- Amtrak president Joseph Boardman, appointed under the Bush administration, said recently in an interview that “the passenger rail system is in worse shape than he thought, and that some people in Amtrak headquarters in Washington are, in effect, burnout cases” wrote Don Phillips.

Boardman, energized by the support for rail under Obama and his team, will aggressively make changes so that the railroad can “transition from a survival mode to a growth mode..” Employees who cannot make that transition “will have to find another job,” he said.

Boardman recognized right away that the present five-year plan was woefully inadequate. It called for seven new high-speed trainsets, which would be used to lengthen Acela trains, 15 new single-level sleeping cars, and some new baggage-dormitory cars. If other cars were needed for new corridor service, they would have to be ordered by the states through Amtrak. This plan, already a joke around Amtrak, was thrown out.

The most urgent need is for electric locomotives, Boardman said, and he put in an immediate request for $1 billion in long-term low-interest government loans. At times, trains on the Northeast Corridor are canceled for lack of power. Since it will take three years to obtain new cars, as many wrecked cars as possible will be refurbished, he said.

Amtrak was somewhat short-changed in the stimulus bill with $8 billion going to high speed rail and another $8 billion going to transit. Nonetheless, Boardman has instilled such confidence among members of Congress and congressional staff members that some effort may be made to make up the shortfall in future legislation. It is too early for any specific plans, especially since Boardman himself is still developing his proposals.

“Boardman has been surprisingly successful in blunting threats by unions to get rid of him,” writes Phillips. Shortly after he was appointed, 12 labor unions made a statement opposing him......... [but] Amtrak’s own unions came to Boardman’s defense and blunted the attacks. Much of Boardman’s union support began on a long Thanksgiving day at the crew room at Washington Union Station, as he and his wife bantered with engineers and conductors. Within hours, he had become almost a hero to Amtrak union employees as word spread around the country. Higher union leadership backed off.”

”In the field, other union officials are waiting for a sign that Boardman means business, and they will not be patient forever.”

With Democrats in control, Thomas Carper, mayor of Macomb, Illinois, was appointed chairman of the board, and the outgoing chair, Republican Donna McLean, was given the vice chairmanship. With Hunter Biden, son of the new vice president and an avid supporter of rail, remaining on the board, this board will be a force to be reckoned with. Their job won’t be easy, says Phillips. They must “convince Obama and Congress that plain old regular rail is slowly approaching a breakdown unless lots of new locomotives and cars are ordered soon, and unless aging basket-case terminals such as Chicago are fixed soon.”

For the complete article, go to: http://seattletransitblog.com/2009/02/18/ceo-boardman-changes-are-coming-to-amtrak/


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Amtrak Reduces Acela Train Business Fares

Fare Cuts Of 25% Come As Demand From Business Travelers Declines

Reed Business Information On The Internet
By Tom Stundza

FEBRUARY 17 -- Amtrak lowered business fares by as much as 25% on its high-speed Acela Express trains between Boston and Washington to offset a 14% decline in January ridership because of fewer business trips. The prices are available for travel from March 3 through June 26 and tickets must be purchased 14 days in advance.

Amtrak will offer one-way nonrefundable Acela business-class tickets for as low as $99 between New York and Washington, down from $133 or more, and as low as $79 between Boston and New York, down from $93 or higher.

The drop in fares come as Acela ridership plunged 14% in January from the same month a year ago, and about 10% for the four months ending in January from the same period last year, a New York-based spokesman tells Bloomberg.

The Acela Express, which started running in 2000, is the only high-speed rail line in the U.S. It carries passengers between Boston’s South Station and Washington’s Union Station at speeds of as much as 150 mph, according to Amtrak’s Web site.


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Stimulus Bill Includes Funding
For Amtrak Capital Programs

Amtrak will receive a total of $1.3 billion as part of the economic stimulus bill that President Obama signed today to create jobs and spur economic activity.

Of that figure, $850 million is designated for projects that supplement capital activities for the repair, rehabilitation or upgrade of Amtrak1s system, assets or infrastructure and for expanding capacity, including the rehabilitation of rolling stock.  Another $450 million is dedicated to investments in security.  The funds must be awarded within 30 days of enactment by the Federal Railroad Administration in the form of grants.

Amtrak has identified 37 capital programs across its system that will create and preserve jobs and/or accelerate progress on Americans with Disabilities compliance, NEC infrastructure, rolling stock, stations, maintenance facilities and yards, customer service, technology and safety.  Fourteen of the programs to be funded are in the Northeast Corridor, while 23 support system-wide initiatives that benefit, or are located in, other regions of the country.  A separate plan is being finalized for the $450 million in security investments.

The capital programs must be completed within two years of enactment. Amtrak is currently seeking FRA approval of its proposed programs through the grant agreement process, and expects to have agreements in place some time in March.  More information on the projects will be forthcoming.

The legislation also makes available $8 billion to states for high-speed rail development or other rail investments, in addition to other grants available for surface transportation projects, including rail.

“I am very happy that Congress has given us the chance to address some of our most pressing capital needs.  The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act affords us an exciting opportunity to make long-term investments in passenger rail by taking on many of our backlogged construction, technology and rolling stock projects while promoting near-term economic activity,” said President and CEO Joe Boardman.  “We will put the money to good use.”

This infusion of funding under the ARRA should not be confused with the annual appropriation Amtrak receives from the federal government and may not be used to augment the company1s regular operating or capital budgets.

Funding Request Submitted to Congress

In other news,Amtrak submitted its annual Grant and Legislative Request to Congress today, outlining funding needs of $1.84 billion for FY 110. The request consists of $975 million for capital improvements, $580 million for operating costs, $264 million for debt service and $21 million for the office of the Inspector General.  The company also seeks an additional $144 million not included in the $1.84 billion for station accessibility improvements under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The request can be found online at Amtrak.com or the Intranet under 3Legislative.2


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STOCKS...  Selected Rail Stocks...

Source: www.MarketWatch.com

   This
Week
Previous
Week
Burlington Northern & Santa Fe(BNI)61.8466.04
Canadian National (CNI)32.8135.74
Canadian Pacific (CP)28.3530.61
CSX (CSX)26.6129.22
Genessee & Wyoming (GWR)21.9323.98
Kansas City Southern (KSU)18.8019.73
Norfolk Southern (NSC)33.9737.73
Providence & Worcester (PWX)13.4513.50
Union Pacific (UNP)40.0243.51


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ENVIRONMENTAL LINES... Environmental Lines...  

Governor Patrick’s Transportation And
Economic Security Plan: Green Initiatives

From www.mass.gov/youmovemassachusetts

A bold plan by Governor Deval Patrick (D-MA) to end the “Big Dig” culture and build a long-term, sustainable transportation base to support job growth and economic development in Massachusetts was announced last week.

The Transportation and Economic Security Plan will make the state’s transportation system more environmentally responsible through “Green” initiatives that encourage more fuel-efficient vehicles and “Buy and Build Green” provisions.

Commitment to Regional Equity: Expanding Public Transportation

Regional Transit Authority services for workers, seniors and others will be significantly increased and expanded outside of Greater Boston

Regional intermodal transit centers will be created throughout the Commonwealth.

Massport will be mandated to participate in public transportation investments serving its facilities throughout the Commonwealth.

MBTA debt will gradually paid down and so revenue from increased ridership can be focused on maintenance and operations for improved reliability.

Encouraging Fuel Efficient Vehicles

A first-in-the-nation “green car” sliding scale for automobile registration fees based on greenhouse gas emissions, will be implemented.

New revenue options will be explored like Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) user fees, with technology that ensures privacy and fairness.

Better Alternatives to Driving

Initiatives in this category will include adoption of “Complete Streets” practices which provide for safe bicycling and pedestrian access when planning roads, implementation of Buy Green and Build Green strategies, studies of effects of particulates on public health, adoption of measures to reduce greenhouse gases, transfer of Charles River Basin and parkways to the sole authority of Dept of Conservation Resources (DCR) and many more.


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ACROSS THE POND... Across The Pond...  

News from David Beale
NCI’s Foreign Correspondent

 

Bangkok Prepares To Open Airport Express Train

Full Services Expected To Start In August

Source: SRT Press Release

BANGKOK - The Suvarnabhumi Airport rail link project is almost complete and will be ready to offer services in mid-August 2009 as planned, Thailand’s Minister of Transport Sopon Zarum affirmed last week.

Presiding at a test-run of a train from Ramkhamhaeng Station to Suvarnabhumi Station, Mr. Sopon said both the infrastructure and operating system are now 98 per cent completed. He said the Airport Rail Link between Suvarnabhumi Airport to the City Air Terminal in the Makkasan area of Bangkok can be fully operational on schedule on the 12th of August.

If the baggage check-in system at the City Air Terminal is not be completed in time, he said, the service would operate for passengers only, without the baggage check-in service. It would operate with full service once the check-in facility is completed, said the minister.

As the Airport Rail Link line will be owned and operated by State Railway of Thailand (SRT), Mr. Sopon instructed the SRT to speed up the plan to set up a subsidiary company to administer the overall operations in order to get ready for the operation in August.

Transport for airport express riders and local commuters will run on the same track with the same equipment, but with a staggered schedule, similar to the 11 year-old Hong Kong Airport line which runs from downtown Hong Kong to the new HKIA airport on Lantau Island, albeit with two types of rolling stock.

Premium-fare express services will run on the hour between Suvarnabhumi Airport and City Air Terminal, while the City Line service would stop at six stations along the route.

The new rail line is built to 1435 mm standard gage, unusual for Thailand and Southeast Asia, where the prevaling track size is meter gage. Thailand has started acquiring Desiro UK EMUs for the route, the EMUs are based on Siemens train sets already in operation in Great Britain, but with certain modifications such as increased capacity air conditioning for the tropical weather in Bangkok.

Bangkok will join a growing list of Asian / Pacific region airports with direct rail links to the cities they serve. Others include Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Seoul, and Shanghai.


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Rail Transit Continued Strong Growth
During 2008 In Great Britain

Trains Enjoy Increasing Passenger Traffic, Passenger Traffic Growth With Automobiles And Busses Stays Relatively Flat

Source: UK Department of Transport

London – a detailed annual report released by the British transportation department this week showed that passenger train travel in Britain continued to increase during 2008. The trend is a continuation of rail transit growth in the country since 2001, as measures and new investments began to come into force to control and alleviate the disastrous effects of the anti-rail transit Conservative (Tory) Government of the 1980s and early 90s and mid-1990s privatization of British Rail.

The report shows that passenger trips by rail transit (excluding the London Underground subway system) increased at an annual rate of 6.5 %. Distance traveled also increased again to 49.5 billion RPK, up nearly 7% in one year and an increase from the 40 billion annual RPK level first achieved in 2003.


Graphics from the British Department of Transport

Rail Transit Passenger Volume in Great Britain

The report also showed that growth in bus travel in Britain (outside of the city of London) remained relatively unchanged. Bus travel in Britain has been slowly decreasing since the mid-1980s. Likewise passenger trips by automobile remained nearly constant in the U.K. during 2008 with an increase of about 1 %. Traffic intensity, a measure of automobile traffic against national GDP, showed another decrease, thus indicating a general decline in automobile use despite increased economic activity.


Graphics from the British Department of Transport

Road / Highway Traffic Intensity in the U.K. adjusted for GDP

The report also showed that rail’s share of freight traffic in the U.K. remained relatively flat and that most freight continues to be hauled via trucks. Similarly, the report shows that while rail’s share of passenger traffic is increasing significantly every year since 2001, the number of passenger trips by rail in the U.K. is still less than 1/8 of those by automobile.


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EDITORIAL... Editorial...  

Welcome To The Whig Party, c. 2009

With the signing of the President’s $787 Billion Stimulus Package this past week, America has put in motion a very large and clearly ambitious attempt to halt the onrushing economic depression, triggered by a criminally unregulated Wall Street, as was the Depression of the 1930’s, in its tracks.

As millions of Americans lose their jobs or face unemployment, it is critical to both protect workers against the ravages of unemployment now, and build a future national human and physical infrastructure as a foundation for the recovery which must and will come. We need to all pull together now, to see that what has been begun has a chance to succeed.

Indeed, this package has strong bipartisan support among the rank-and-file of both parties, as the polls have shown.

But there is one place where support has been less than robust, and that is the realm of the nation’s Republican governors, some of whom hold future Presidential ambitions, and some of whom feel the need therefore to hew to the now-discredited ideological free-market, anti-regulation rigidity of their party, whose blindness helped bring about the crisis we are now in.

While political ambition is normal, and political differences even more so, it would be wise for those GOP stalwarts to remember what happened to the Whig Party in the 1850’s, when Northern and Southern Whigs could not agree on the need to abolish slavery, and therefore destroyed themselves. They also precipitated not only the birth of a new political party, Abraham Lincoln’s Republican Party, but also of the Civil War.

Slavery was certainly a more heinous evil than the economic philosophical differences besetting the Republican Party today, with GOP Governors like California’s pragmatic Arnold Schwarzenegger fighting to save his state against the rigid ideologues of his own party, and other GOP governors threatening to “refuse” stimulus money so as to remain politically viable to the core of their shrunken party.

But it still needs to stop, and now.

We are at the edge of an abyss not seen in this country for 80 years, and we don’t need diehard ideologues accelerating our advance into it for the sake of their own [questionable] political futures. If you have a Governor like that in your state, do him or her a favor: pick up the phone, and tell him/her to get on board the recovery train. It’s not a perfect train, but it is running. And truly, this time, it is leaving the station.


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END NOTES...  Publication Notes...

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