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

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April 14, 2008
Vol. 9 No. 15

Copyright © 2008
NCI Inc., All Rights Reserved

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

  Conference Summaries…
Remarks, By James Coston, Chairman, Corridor Capital LLC.
  News Items…
Congestion Pricing Plan Dies In Albany
How Congestion Pricing Would Have Benefited New Yorkers
Engineering Group Urges ‘Big Shift’ To Rail In The
   United Kingdom, BBC News Reports
  Environmental Lines…
Yale Climate Conference To Hear Schwarzenegger; Other Governors
   Plan To Attend New Haven Event
  Commuter Lines…
Desire for Quiet Train Ride Lands Commuter in Court
New Train Station Will Serve White Sox
 
  Selected Rail Stocks…
 
  Freight Lines…
Florida East Coast Railway LLC Announces Appointments
Marijuana Hidden In Rail Cars Seized In Arizona
Freight Rail Volumes: 2007-2008
  Off The Main Line…
Two Very Different Urban Centers Will Be Celebrated
   In Next Week’s DF
  Publication Notes …


NEWS OF THE WEEK... Conference Summaries...

 

Remarks, The Carmichael Conference

By James Coston, Chairman, Corridor Capital LLC, Chicago
At the Carmichael Conference

On the Future of American Transportation
January 28, 2008 at St. Louis

 

[ Publisher’s Note: This is the 11th in a series of addresses --- last week’s was by Todd Todd Litman, Executive Director of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute --- delivered at the Carmichael Conference on the Future of American Transportation held January 28-29 at the Hyatt Regency, St. Louis, MO.

Jim Coston, Chairman of Corridor Capital LLC, has been a rail and transportation advocate for more than 35 years, and a successful executive for much of that time. A critic of the present Amtrak system, he also served on the Amtrak Reform Council. His biography, and remarks, follow: ]

Biography of James Coston

James E. Coston
Chairman, Corridor Capital LLC, Chicago

Email: fplous@costonlaw.com

 

A graduate of Northwestern University and the DePaul University College of Law, a former Amtrak employee, and an entrepreneur who ran a successful rail-travel business in the 1980s, Mr. Coston founded Corridor Capital in May 2004 in order to provide the nation’s passenger-train operators with the capital needed to expand their fleets and fixed facilities.

Mr. Coston was able to organize Corridor Capital because his career has mingled three strains of professional achievement essential to the business: passenger-train operations and marketing; state and national transportation policy; and 26 years of experience in equipment lease-and-finance law, a fast-growing professional concentration in which he is a nationally recognized leader. In 2003 he became the first attorney to be elected president of a nationwide equipment-lease trade association, the National Association of Equipment Leasing.

The first strain in Mr. Coston’s professional development had its genesis even before he graduated from high school at Chicago’s Morgan Park Academy: From 1973 through 1979 he was employed by Amtrak as a relief station agent and reservations/ ticketing agent, serving at Chicago Union Station, Joliet Union Station and the Illinois Central station in Kankakee, Ill. In 1971 he founded the Twentieth Century Railroad Club, which between 1980 and 1986 operated more than 50 special excursion trains chartered from Amtrak.

Mr. Coston’s experience in delivering both wholesale and retail rail travel was interwoven from the start with a deep concern for the role of passenger trains in U.S. transportation policy. As far back as 1969, when he was only 14, Mr. Coston appeared as a witness before an Interstate Commerce Commission examiner in connection with the Penn Central Railroad’s petition to eliminate passenger-train service between Chicago and the East. Mr. Coston’s passenger-train advocacy has never waned. Since 1993, He has testified on passenger-rail policy before the U.S. Congress, has addressed many public-interest and business groups, and his guest columns and letters on rail policy have appeared in publications from the Chicago Tribune to the Washington Post, The New Republic and the Journal of Transportation Law, Logistics and Policy. In 2000, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Thomas Daschle appointed Mr. Coston to the Amtrak Reform Council, where he served until its expiration in December 2002.

In his leadership of Corridor Capital, Mr. Coston has succeeded in combining his belief in passenger trains and his experience in operating passenger trains with his professional ability to raise private-sector money for a fleet buildup in the nation’s publicly funded passenger-train industry. In May 2005 the firm concluded its first such transaction when it teamed with Sumitomo Corporation and Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi to supply $25 million in lease financing for 11 new bi-level gallery commuter cars to be built by Nippon-Sharyo Corporation for Virginia Railway Express.

Remarks

Thank you. I appreciate the chance to address the question of “How did we get here?” 

Rail advocates talk about history a good deal in private, but it doesn’t turn up very often as a subject at conferences.  The attitude of most activists seems to be:  “Why look backward?  Look forward. The past is dead.  Let’s move on.”

But as William Faulker said, “The past is not dead.  It’s not even past.”

And, boy, is that ever true when it comes to American passenger trains.  So let me take a few minutes to explain how the past is still at work inside today’s American passenger-rail system—and still retarding progress.

I call my little talk “The Three Amtraks: Stopped at the Home Signal for 30 Years.”  I want to focus on the gap that opened up between the passenger-rail service that Congress intended when it established Amtrak in 1970 and the three very different types of passenger-rail service that Amtrak finds itself in charge of today.

Let’s start with what Congress originally intended at startup.  I was there—not at the very beginning on May 1, 1971, perhaps--but two years later, when I turned 18 and Amtrak said I was old enough to come to work.  Amtrak hired me in 1973 as a relief ticket-and-reservations clerk and station agent. 

I worked in the Chicago res office, at Chicago Union Station, at Joliet Union Station, and at the Illinois Central station in Kankakee, Ill. 

I was 18 years old, and when I was working at Kankakee and Joliet I was all alone.  I made reservations, sold tickets, handled checked baggage and helped load old ladies and little children and their bulky pieces of luggage onto the train.

You would not know it from what happened subsequently, but Amtrak was popular in those days. 

Passenger loads were large, and Operations was struggling to find extra cars for the trains during peak periods. 

Every night we put out an 18-car Broadway Limited.  The Zephyr and Empire Builder?  Same thing.  Each train had the longest consists the Union Station platforms could hold. 

At the ticket window and over the telephone I turned away hundreds of applicants for coach and sleeping-car space.

Out on the platforms I saw weekend trains leave for Detroit, St. Louis, and Quincy with seven cars or more.  Sometimes Amtrak borrowed extra cars from the commuter railroads around Chicago, something that’s no longer possible now that one commuter agency, METRA, owns the entire fleet.

What was happening was that the American people believed that the federal government was going to save the trains—and grow the train system.  Pre-1971, when Americans saw the railroads eliminating trains, they got the message and stayed away.  Post-1971, when they saw the federal government committing itself to saving trains and growing the service, they started coming back.

I call the Amtrak we knew at that time “Amtrak I.”  This is the period when Amtrak looked the way Congress originally designed it, as a pure Train Operating Company—a single nationwide carrier that owned trains but no tracks and had to rent track space from the privately owned railroads.  .

Shortly after startup, however, on May 17, 1971, the seeds of what I call “Amtrak II” were planted.  That’s when a new player, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, entered the picture. 

Under Section 403 (b) of the Rail Passenger Service Act, Massachusetts agreed to become — not a railroad, or a Train Operating Company—but a “sponsor” of train service. 

This meant the state agreed to pay part of the subsidy for a new train that Amtrak itself otherwise would not have paid for and would not have operated.  The new train was a Boston-New York frequency operating over the so-called “Inland Route” via Worcester, Springfield and Hartford. 

On November 14, 1971, Illinois got into the 403 (b) game by sponsoring the Illinois Zephyr between Chicago and Quincy.

Over the ensuing 36 years 12 more states have jumped into the train-sponsorship game, especially California, which now sponsors 45 daily round trips on five different route segments. 

State-supported trains now account for 158 of the 448 weekday departures in the Amtrak timetable.  They’re now the company’s fastest-growing line of business.

In December 2007, the state-supported trains carried just under one fourth of all Amtrak’s passengers and produced about the same proportion of its revenue.  The state-supported trains represent a sort of mini-empire inside of Amtrak. 

I call this little empire “Amtrak II.”  It’s turning into a big deal.

So what exactly is Amtrak III? 

Amtrak III, as everyone in this room knows, is the Northeast Corridor.  Chronologically, the NEC was the third province to come into the Amtrak domain, but as most of the critics have complained over the years, it was so much bigger and heavier than the other two components that it became an empire in itself and almost completely overpowered the other two Amtraks that were supposed to be its partners, not its subordinates.

How did this all happen?  How did we get here?  Let me first recite the “authorized” history, and then move on to what Paul Harvey calls “The Rest of the Story.”

The authorized history tells it this way: 

When Amtrak started up in 1971, its Northeast Corridor trains operated just like all its other trains, on track slots rented from a privately owned railroad company, in this case the Penn Central.  The Penn Central went bust in 1969 in what at that time was the largest corporate bankruptcy in U.S. history.

Throughout the first half of the 1970s, a federally appointed commission known as the United States Railway Association worked very diligently to figure out how to reorganize and refinance the Penn Central and six other Northeastern railroads that had gone bankrupt.

In 1976 the USRA announced it had finished its job:  Penn Central and the other Northeastern bankrupts would be organized into a single government-owned railroad to be known as “Conrail.”  Duplicative track, yards, shops, staff and headquarters would be closed, underperforming staff would be cut loose and the cream of U.S. railroad management, the senior statesmen of the industry, would be recruited to run the new consolidated railroad.

But the USRA left one big part of the Penn Central out of Conrail—the Northeast Corridor.  The NEC was almost exclusively a passenger railroad, while Conrail was designed to be a pure freight railroad.  Conrail didn’t need the NEC for its freight trains, because the USRA included in Conrail a series of Lackawanna, Jersey Central and Reading lines which when linked up end to end created a parallel all-freight main line across New Jersey and Pennsylvania that made the NEC redundant.

So the USRA in its wisdom gave the NEC to Amtrak.  Actually, Amtrak had to pay $78 million for it, but compared to the NEC’s true value to the communities and states it served, the price was a mere token.  The NEC was given away.

Now Amtrak wasn’t just a Train Operating Company anymore.  It was a real railroad, with an owned-and-operated network of tracks, stations and yards.  And the part of the passenger network that Amtrak now owned was bigger, busier and more expensive than all of its other lines of business and commanded far more of management’s attention, staff and budget. 

Essentially, Amtrak became the NEC, the NEC became Amtrak, and both the company’s behavior and its treatment by Congress and the media have become problematic and fraught ever since.  All of Amtrak’s meager capital budget goes into the investment-hungry NEC.  The long-distance network fails to grow and is even scaled back, while the non-NEC corridors grow only by virtue of state funding.  The NEC tail wags the Amtrak dog.

O.K., that’s the end of the authorized history.  Now let’s play Paul Harvey and revisit “The Rest of the Story.”  It’s never been told before, and it explains why Amtrak’s absorption by the NEC turned out so badly.

Let’s go back to 1967 and the disastrous and doomed Penn Central merger that turned into the nightmarish 1969 Penn Central bankruptcy.

Although the Penn Central was represented as a merger of equals, in fact it was more of an absorption of the smaller New York Central into the much larger Pennsylvania. 

And while the New York Central was a relatively healthy railroad for its time, having been slimmed down and built up to profitability by its dynamic and reform-mind president, Alfred E. Perlman, the Pennsy was a much larger and very troubled railroad, a huge, bloated and sick corporate dinosaur run by the largest collection of brain-dead managers ever assembled in a single American enterprise.

Remember, the Pennsylvania Railroad first lost money in 1946, the busiest year in the history of the U.S. railroad industry. Demobilized soldiers and sailors were jamming the trains to reach home, and industry was returning to peacetime production.  It was virtually impossible for an American railroad to lose money in 1946, yet the Pennsy managed to do it.

AND it kept paying dividends.  This was one big, sick dumb railroad—and as the ‘50s turned into the ‘60s the Pennsy got dumber and sicker.  The Penn Central bankruptcy kept the Pennsy on life support until the mid-70s, but when Conrail was established and staffed with an elite corps of the nation’s top railroad managers, the last vestiges of the Pennsylvania Railroad were expected to go away. 

But they didn’t.  At the very moment when the Pennsy was scheduled to die, the USRA preserved its DNA and injected it into Amtrak.  When the Northeast Corridor was given to Amtrak, a whole phalanx of Pennsy managers and Pennsy thinking went with it, and inside Amtrak they got a whole new lease on life. Or life support.  In effect, Amtrak got a Pennsy transplant.  The dead got up and walked, and because the Pennsy-run NEC was the biggest and busiest part of Amtrak, the whole company became something of a three-headed zombie.

But the real villain here is not the ghost of the Pennsylvania Railroad, nor is it the planners at USRA who shed the corpse of the Pennsy onto Amtrak while they built the world’s most successful freight railroad, or even the Pennsy managers themselves.

The real villain is Congress, and a succession of presidential administrations, both of which, then as now, refused to consider the idea of transportation planning and transportation policy as a national responsibility.

Instead, Congress has focused on starting up individual transportation programs solely as ad hoc responses to particular emergencies. 

  1. The federal highway and waterways programs were started in 1916 because the nation wanted government-owned backup systems after the railroads melted down and had to be nationalized during World War I.

  2. The FAA was created and the modern air-traffic control system developed in the 1970s because during the 1950s and ‘60s too many airliners were crashing during landing or takeoff—or into each other in flight. 

  3. The Interstate highway program was launched in the 1950s because President Dwight Eisenhower was terrified another Depression was coming and wanted to have a massive federal jobs program in place to prevent it.

  4. Amtrak was created in 1970 not to provide the nation with strong passenger rail service, but to relieve the rail industry of the terrible passenger-train deficit that had been contributing to bankruptcies, especially at the Penn Central.

  5. Amtrak was given the Northeast Corridor in 1976 not because it was good transportation policy but because the panel that was solving the Penn Central emergency needed a place to dump a huge asset Penn Central’s successor didn’t need.

Do you see a pattern here?  Emergency -- followed by rescue.  Emergency--followed by rescue.  Emergency--followed by rescue.

Do you see another pattern?  No planning.  No goals or guidelines, just emergency responses which then become institutionalized.  The U.S. develops its transportation resources piecemeal and by accident, as a by-product of trying to solve other, non-transportation problems, like Ike using highways to fend off a depression. 

Someone once said the British Empire was acquired “in a fit of absent-mindedness.”  The U.S. seems to have acquired its “transportation empire” the same way.  

And nowhere have the effects been more serious than in passenger-rail transportation.  Congress created Amtrak to treat one emergency, gave it the NEC to treat another, and never bothered to spell out what exactly it expected Amtrak to do or what kind of a role it ought to play in a balanced nationwide passenger-transportation system—which in any case it also neglected to plan.

As most of you know, I served for several years on the Amtrak Reform Council, which recognized this policy vacuum and addressed it.  In its 2002 Final Report to Congress [brandish copy here], the ARC recommended that Congress create a small administration-and-oversight commission that would develop and implement passenger-train policies and programs.  The ARC said it would be this commission, not the train-operator, which would seek and obtain federal funding and establish budgets for the respective train services.

Had the ARC’s proposal been adopted, Amtrak would have been freed to be what it was designed to be – a rail passenger carrier to run trains and address market demand--rather than a hermaphrodite running trains while trying to make transportation policy. A policy board and its staff would determine routes and levels of service and would become the arbiter of the three Amtraks.

The term the ARC used to identify this missing policy-planning role was “Federal Program Management and Oversight,” and the Final Report called for a “Federal Program Management Agency.”

This suggestion by the ARC’s was never embraced.  The federal government still lacks a transportation-policy development entity, and passenger rail lacks one of its own.

In the absence of such an entity, Amtrak has become the closest thing we have to a national passenger-rail policy commission, a job it clearly cannot do.  Amtrak is unable to prioritize its products—long-distance, commuter, NEC, state-supported corridors,--and it is unable to price its products properly—because there is no public planning commission or oversight board to assign values to its products or to prioritize its initiatives.

You might even say we have an “Amtrak IV,” an unfunded, unappointed and unelected passenger-rail policy commission inside a federally chartered railroad company and struggling to get out.

Amtrak is ill-suited and ill-structured to perform this stealth role.  Because there is no policy office for Amtrak to report to, Amtrak itself has become the default policy-maker, a task that conflicts with its commercial role as a train operator.  Because no other body determines how much funding each of the three Amtraks requires, the boss-dog, the NEC, grabs the choicest cuts first.  Because there are insufficient financial resources to fully fund each, the battle for the last dollar never ends. 

The result of this dysfunctional arrangement?  The Law of Unintended Consequences kicks in: 

  1. State-supported corridor trains are stuck with 4-car reserved consists of antiquated equipment, regardless of demand, because the “best and the brightest” rolling stock is needed elsewhere.

  2. Communities served only by long-distance trains must defend their right to this mobility choice annually, as these trains are continuously in the cross-hairs.

  3. Overnight trains are no longer marketed or viewed as transportation; instead, they are operated as tour trains connecting to other long-distance tour trains and scheduled for the convenience of the Operating Department rather than for the convenience of the short- and medium distance riders who make up most of their market.

  4. New York and Michigan don’t pay a nickel for their major corridors, and Wilmington, Delaware, a town of 80,000, gets to be the best-served medium-sized city in the nation, with 64 weekday departures, or one for every 1,100 residents, for free. (If Springfield, Illinois, were to enjoy this same ratio it would have over 90 departures per day.)

  5. Meanwhile, cities much larger than Wilmington in Illinois, North Carolina, California, Washington, Oregon and Oklahoma can obtain Amtrak service only if their state governments pay for it. And other large cities such as Columbus, Nashville, Knoxville, Phoenix, Scranton, Amarillo and Duluth have no service at all and no federal policy office represent their interests.

So long as Congress retains direct access to and control over Amtrak the operator, receiving no counsel or policy input from a neutral third-party, it will continue to keep Amtrak on a short and twisted leash.   That leash represents Congress’s only tool for assuring the taxpayers that passenger-rail funds are being managed wisely. 

Until passenger rail enjoys an intermediary at the federal level to run interference between the budget-builders and the train operators, there is little likelihood that Amtrak itself will be able to advocate successfully and impartially for all classes of train service, all regions of the country, all types of routes and all types of communities.  These are distinctions and interests that can be reconciled only at the federal policy level—and there is no policy level when it comes to passenger rail.  This is as good as it gets.

What should be done about that?  I will leave that to the other speakers at this conference.  Rick asked me to speak only about “what happened” and “how we got here,” not about how to get passenger rail to a new and better place. 

I look forward to hearing those ideas as the conference unfolds.  But as the various speakers address that topic, I ask that they remember Faulkner’s wise words:  “The past is not dead.  It’s not even past.”

Thank you.


Return to index

 

NEWSITEMS... News Items...

Congestion Pricing Plan Dies In Albany

By DF Staff from NY Times and other Internet Sources

ALBANY, APRIL 7 – Mayor Bloomberg’s ambitious plan to implement congestion pricing in New York City failed to make it to the floor last Monday when Democrats could not muster up enough votes to give it a chance of passing.

Congestion pricing is the practice of charging motorists more to use a roadway, bridge or tunnel during periods of the heaviest use. Its purpose is to reduce automobile use during periods of peak. The mayor’s plan called for an $8 charge to cars driving south of 60th Street on weekdays.

Speaker Sheldon Silver had vehemently opposed the plan even though its passing would have meant New York would receive $354 million from the federal government for traffic mitigation and transit aid.

Mayor Bloomberg denounced the decision, saying that this was “a sad day for New Yorkers and a sad day for New York City.” He said the plan would have cut traffic and pollution, spurred the economy and qualified the city for millions in federal funding.

“It takes true leadership and courage to embrace new concepts and ideas and to be willing to try something,” Mr. Bloomberg said. “Unfortunately, both are lacking in the Assembly today. If that wasn’t shameful enough, it takes a special type of cowardice for elected officials to refuse to stand up and vote their conscience.”

Governor David A. Paterson, a supporter, made a last-minute effort to save the plan, calling an emergency meeting of legislative leaders late in the day, but “they failed to reach a consensus,” Mr. Paterson said. They had until midnight to make a decision but by 6 p.m. they adjourned, and the plan was dead.

The collapse of the plan was a huge blow to Mr. Bloomberg’s environmental agenda and political legacy, and his second major defeat at the hands of House Speaker Sheldon Silver and the Assembly, which in 2005 blocked the mayor’s plan to redevelop the West Side rail yards and allow a big sports stadium to be built there.

Mr. Bloomberg and his supporters — including a vast array of civic environmental organizations, as well as key city officials like the City Council speaker, Christine C. Quinn, and other elected officials — viewed the proposal as a farsighted and essential step toward the city’s future growth. But the plan was strongly opposed by a broad array of politicians from Queens, Brooklyn, and New York’s suburbs, who viewed the proposed congestion fee as regressive and Manhattan-centric.

Environmentalists say that congestion pricing is the most powerful policy tool at the hands of City officials to improve a City’s air quality, and protect quality of life in the city by reducing unnecessary driving, promoting environmentally sound transportation, and financing 21st Century improvements to our aging transportation infrastructure. Congestion charges have proven effective (and popular) in cities around the world.

On his blog “Switchboard,” Rich Kassesl of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) said after the decision was announced, “I will point out that I cannot think of a major environmental issue in New York that was resolved in a single year.  It took seven years to convince the MTA to clean up their buses; more than one City Council speaker had to oversee the revamping of the City’s solid waste plan once the Fresh Kills landfill was slated for closure; and safeguarding the NYC watershed is an ongoing venture that won’t ever be fully completed.  And so on.”

So, I will use a sports analogy to point out that this is just the first inning of a game that will continue in various City and State forums for some time.

The game, of course, is ensuring a sustainable city for the future.


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Annual subway ridership in New York has grown by about 50% since 1992.

How Congestion Pricing Would Have Benefited New Yorkers

 

Four Ways New Yorkers Would Have
Benefitted From Congestion Pricing

 

Potential projects to be funded

  • Two new city bus depots ($320 million)
  • 2nd Ave. Subway ($2.7 billion)
  • MTA state of good repair ($15 billion)
  • Connecting LIRR to Grand Central ($2 billion)
  • Metro North Penn Station Access ($0.4 billion)
1. Congestion pricing is good for transit

New source of funding for transit improvements.

Congestion pricing will provide $491 million in net revenue each year to be dedicated to capital improvements in the transit system. If made permanent, congestion pricing revenue can then be bonded to help finance billions of dollars in needed new transit projects. 

The number of new transit riders going into Manhattan will rise only slightly.

Drivers who switch to transit will amount to fewer than 3 people to a subway car. This is because transit riders already vastly outnumber drivers. So even though congestion pricing will significantly reduce traffic, it will only increase Manhattan-bound ridership by less than 1 percent.

Transit improvements to take place before congestion pricing.

The Metropolitan Transit Authority has recommended a series of transit expansions to take place before pricing is switched on to accommodate the additional riders. Improvements such as 309 new buses will be funded in part by a $354 million grant from the federal government that will be forfeited if the legislature does not act before March 31, 2008.

2. Congestion pricing is good for the environment

Cleaner air, improved health

Congestion pricing will improve our health and reduce harmful pollution by significantly cutting the stop-and-go traffic that produces the most emissions. These reductions extend to each of the five boroughs and beyond. Some areas of Brooklyn and Queens experience especially high reductions due to the large amount of Manhattan-bound traffic in these neighborhoods.

Reduced global warming pollution

On average, a car trip is five times more carbon intensive than a subway ride. Stop-and-go traffic produces even more carbon emissions. Thus, providing revenue for transit, through congestion pricing, helps in the fight against global warming. Investing in transit now is the best way forward if we want to reduce carbon emissions.

3. Congestion pricing is good for business

London and Stockholm have both adopted congestion pricing systems and their examples tell us a great deal about the benefits we can expect to bring to small businesses:

  • Significant traffic reductions. In London, traffic delays decreased by 30%. Businesses in Stockholm were able to make 25 % more deliveries.
  • Cost savings and greater productivity. Retail trade in Stockholm increased both inside and outside the charge zone, while retail sales in London are growing faster than in the rest of the U.K.
  • Approval from business. Most London businesses surveyed (91 percent) in 2003 were either positive or neutral about the congestion charge.
  • No decrease in number of customers. In London, there was no significant change in the number of visitors to central business district.

Reducing traffic through congestion pricing is expected to reduce travel time on New York’s major corridors, allowing for faster deliveries (see map ).

4. Congestion pricing is a fair solution

Transit is used by the majority of New Yorkers with only 5 percent of commuters driving into the central business district. Four out of five of those drivers have access to time-comparable mass transit. Furthermore, those who choose to drive have a median income 30% higher than transit riders.

Nevertheless, the Traffic Congestion Mitigation Commission has also recommended that the state consider a tax credit to safeguard against any unfair impacts on low-income drivers. While the wealthier minority of motorists will pay, the vast majority of New Yorkers will benefit; revenue from congestion pricing will go to transit improvements that ensure more reliable and timely commutes for all citizens.

Congestion pricing is equitable regionally, too, since transit and traffic benefits are widespread throughout each of the boroughs and surrounding areas. The NYC Department of Transportation is currently studying the option of residential parking permits as a solution to combat any park-and-ride activity in the surrounding neighborhoods.


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Engineering Group Urges ‘Big Shift’ To Rail
In The United Kingdom, BBC News Reports

From The Internet and By DF Staff

LONDON --- American’s accustomed to envying the superiority of European Rail systems will be surprised to learn that a key British engineering society has just declared that the UK needs a “modal shift” from road to rail “…if greenhouse gas emissions from transport are to be curbed,” the BBC reported last week.

The UK’s Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE), a worldwide organization with more than 75,000 members, says “changes are needed to government policies on transport pricing, energy and town planning,” reported the British Broadcasting Corporation’s Environment Correspondent, Richard Black. The report’s authors say substantial investment in the railways is also needed.

“A train journey can produce about one tenth of the carbon emissions generated if the same trip is made by air,” reported the IMechE, the BBC said.

Founded in 1847 by a group of mechanical engineers “concerned at the lack of an Institution for their profession,” the first IMechE President was George Stephenson, one of history’s most famed engineers, who designed the legendary Liverpool and Manchester Railway. The Institution has grown to cover the entire range of technologies and industries in which engineers work. It is committed to “technology transfer as well as ensuring the highest professional standards.”

“We have ambitious government targets for transport emissions, but transport emissions are static,” the BBC quoted Cliff Perry, vice president of IMechE’s Railway Division and a former head of Thameslink under British Rail, as saying. “Eighty-five percent of transport emissions come from roads, so if we are serious about doing something, we must hit road transport.”

The full IMECH report on Low Carbon Transport can be found at http://www.imeche.org/media/press/

In a release from IMechE, Cliff Perry, Vice President of the IMechE’s Railway Division also said: “Whilst the report examines areas of technology where we can make a difference, such as regenerative braking, the real issue here is mindset – changing people’s minds and making them aware what their journey is doing to the environment is by far the most effective contribution that the government can make, along with its investment in rail and public transport infrastructure. If 72% of drivers understood that their car journey emissions were unacceptable, what choices would they make?

“Clear marking of tickets with accurate emission figures is a simple way to raise awareness of environmental costs, along with measures that do the same for road journeys.

“Our journey choices today are dictated by convenience and cost. Air travel is seen as an attractive option partly because of cheap tickets and perceived quicker travel times.

The Carbon footprint of such journeys, however, from door to door is often 10-15 times greater than the equivalent rail trip. One return air journey, London to Paris generates the same CO2 as 11 return journeys by rail.”

In a typical journey to London from Paris (291 miles) cost per person is:

Rail = £154 = 22kg C02 per passenger
Air = £85 = 244 kg CO2 per passenger
Car = £171.40 = 58kg CO2 per passenger

The report points out that for the government to achieve a consistent message, a cohesive set of pricing, energy and planning policies will be needed to reinforce, not undermine, the environmental message.

The Need for Societal Change

Bill Banks, Deputy President of the IMechE said: “Currently the number of cars per head of population in the USA is approximately 750 per 1,000 persons (approaching one per person!). In India and China the relevant figure is in the region of 5 to 10 per 1,000 persons. The stunning effect that an increase in car usage by the vast populations of these two countries would have is simply incalculable and unsustainable with present technology.

“We clearly need to make a difference, and that’s what this report is about – this is not just about engineers this is about you, the public and our planet.”

The report makes four specific recommendations to the UK Government “…that are high impact but relatively low cost”:

  1. Government to launch campaign for ‘greener’ transport choices – with low cost - save 3.6 MtC per year by 2020 – a MtC is one Million Tons of Carbon. Research shows this would be 300 times more effective than, for example, making trains lighter.
  2. Revised Travel Pricing Policies should include the external and environmental costs – could be cash generative for public transport investment and save 2.96 MtC a year
  3. Transport Environmental Duty – no capital investment required bar – could save 1.6MtC by 2020

Increased renewable energy source in the UK power generation mix. Commitment for 2020 is already in place under the UK’s Renewables Obligation – saving 0.12 MtC a year for our current electrified railway network. Train companies should consider offering services like wi-fi internet access throughout, and improving catering services so that rail travel becomes something to look forward to.

Whatever changes are made, IMechE considers the “modal shift” will necessitate some investment in infrastructure, including new high-speed lines that can carry more trains significantly faster than the UK’s existing stock, reported the BBC. (Email: Richard.Black-INTERNET@bbc.co.uk --- the full story from BBC NEWS can be found at http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/science/nature/727775

 

(Thanks to Michael Testerman for alerting us to this story. In his note Mike said, with considerable wisdom, “It’s always interesting that most rail studies focus on passenger transport. With most US rail RoW privately owned by the ‘freight railroads,’ for us to be successful, our rail advocacy needs to describe a unifying model for surface transportation policies that encourages the modal shift of BOTH passengers and freight to rail--especially domestic, mid-range, dry van freight, whose performance parameters must match those of higher-speed passenger trains.”)


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ENVIRONMENTAL LINES... Environmental Lines...

Several state governors plan to attend climate conference

 

Yale Climate Conference To Hear Schwarzenegger;
Other Governors Plan to Attend New Haven Event

From The Yale Daily News

NEW HAVEN --- Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell has confirmed that she will attend Yale’s summit on climate change this month, while the University announced four other state governors, including California’s Arnold Schwarzenegger, have made plans to come to New Haven, The Yale Daily News’ Thomas Kaplan reported.

“Among those slated to attend are governors Jon Corzine of New Jersey, Christine Gregoire of Washington and Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas, along with the premier of Quebec, Jean Charest; a dozen other governors are still determining whether their schedules will accommodate the conference,” Yale officials said.

The conference, scheduled for April 17 and 18, will come 100 years after President Theodore Roosevelt summoned the governors to the White House and effectively launched the conservation movement. This time, officials at the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies plan to tackle what they call “…the prime environmental issue of the modern age.”

“Roosevelt showed remarkable foresight a century ago in engaging the states’ chief executive officers to preserve and protect the nation’s natural resources,” Yale University President Richard Levin said. “Now, we face a new and critical challenge — global climate change — and leadership in the United States is coming from visionary state governors.”

Other special guests will include the winner of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, R. K. Pachauri, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrators Christine Todd Whitman and Carol Browner; and Theodore Roosevelt IV, a great-grandson of the president and an environmental activist in his own right,” reported the Daily News.

Rell, a Republican, “plans to roll out Connecticut’s welcome mat for the nation’s governors and climate-change experts,” spokesman Adam Liegeot, himself a Yale graduate, said.

“Governor Rell hopes that this summit will allow leaders from across the country to compare notes and share ideas and solutions,” Liegeot said. “Governor Rell feels that states must speak with a unified voice in urging the federal government to develop a stronger, more meaningful national approach to addressing climate change.”

Indeed, the conference will be structured around the unveiling of a policy statement — agreed upon by governors and state environmental-protection officials from across the country — that “effectively calls for a partnership approach between the federal and state government on addressing climate change,” said Melissa Goodall, the associate director of the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy, which is organizing the event, the News reported.

Schwarzenegger, a Republican, drew worldwide attention two years ago when he signed into law the first statewide cap on greenhouse gas emissions, and several of the other governors who will be attending have made climate change a focus of their administrations.

The summit should be another way to bring attention to an issue that needs it, and one that the federal government has not tackled, said Jim Gardner, a spokesman for Corzine, reported the Yale Daily News.

“Frankly, on the federal level, they seem to have dropped the ball on addressing this problem that impacts every individual in the entire world,” Gardner said Thursday. “Heightening awareness of this — whether regionally, nationally or globally — is an important step to preserving the environment and to reducing something that can ultimately threaten the ecosystem of our plane.”

The conference — which had been kept under wraps as administrators worked behind the scenes to recruit governors for the events — was first reported by the Yale Daily News (www.yaledailynews.com), although it was not announced publicly by the University until a news release was e-mailed to reporters Thursday.

Schwarzenegger and Pachauri are scheduled to deliver public speeches on climate change April 18, although the times of their addresses have not yet been finalized. More details about the summit should be available next week, Goodall said, according to The News.


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COMMUTER LINES... Commuter Lines...

Desire for Quiet Train Ride Lands Commuter in Court

From New York Times

He said all he wanted was a peaceful ride to work. John Clifford, a retired New York City police sergeant, who regularly commutes on Metro North trains from Long Island to Penn Station, finally got fed up with his noisy fellow riders and lashed back with harsh words and a slap, Anemona Hartocollis wrote in a story for the New York Times.

Clifford’s complaints centered mostly on people talking loudly on cell phones, sharing details of their personal lives, inviting friends to social events, putting on full make-up while listening to music, and carrying on loud conversations from different sides of the aisle, the story continues.

Finally, when he lost his patience with someone talking loudly on a cell phone, he shouted an obscenity and slapped the hand of the talker (after she slapped him, he insisted!) At that point, he was arrested.

In court, he compared himself to Rosa Parks, who, he said, stood up for her rights. “And look what happened to her,” he said, pointing out that she was punished for standing up for her rights. “I stand up for my right to be let alone,” he said.

He admitted he had threatened one passenger, “I can make your life hell,” he said.

He faced charges of misdemeanor assault, attempted petit larceny, harassment and disorderly conduct, according to the story. The judge, after admonishing Clifford that his actions had been inappropriate, acquitted him of all charges. He said he had discounted most of the testimony against Mr. Clifford because all but one of the witnesses had “an ax to grind.”


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New Train Station Will Serve White Sox

Metra Looking For Builder

CHICAGO, APRIL 7 -- White Sox fans will soon enjoy riding the train to the ball games.

Metra is planning a station right next to U.S. Cellular Field.

Rail line officials are looking for contractors to build a new station that will serve the ballpark and the Illinois Institute of Technology. The new stop will be located at 35th and Federal streets just east of the Dan Ryan Expressway.

Construction will start this summer and the station is scheduled to open during the 2009 baseball season.


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STOCKS...  Selected Rail Stocks...

Source: www.MarketWatch.com

   This
Week
Previous
Week
Burlington Northern & Santa Fe(BNI)93.1995.94
Canadian National (CNI)48.2451.22
Canadian Pacific (CP)64.3066.46
CSX (CSX)56.3157.29
Florida East Coast (FLA)62.5162.51
Genessee & Wyoming (GWR)33.9535.43
Kansas City Southern (KSU)39.6740.13
Norfolk Southern (NSC)54.9956.80
Providence & Worcester (PWX)19.5019.35
Union Pacific (UNP)130.21133.66


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FREIGHTLINES... Freight Lines...

Florida East Coast Railway LLC Announcements:

 

Blalock Appointed General Manager - Intermodal Operations;
Rountree Appointed General Manager – Transportation

By Florida East Coast Railway, LLC

JACKSONVILLE, FL, APRIL 10 -- Florida East Coast Railway, LLC, (FEC), today announced the appointment of Wayne Blalock as FEC’s General Manager - Intermodal Operations and Tommy Rountree as FEC’s General Manager - Transportation.

Previously, Blalock was responsible for FEC’s operations in South Florida while Rountree handled FEC’s North Florida business. In their new roles, each will have system-wide responsibilities for their respective functions.

Mr. Blalock will be responsible for all FEC intermodal operations including the management of intermodal equipment, all intermodal ramp locations, and FEC Highway Services drayage operations, as well as the company’s Hialeah Automobile Unloading Facility.

Mr. Rountree will have responsibility for all of FEC’s train operations, including road, yard and terminal functions and all transportation employees, as well as service design.

Both will report to Steve Truitt, who recently joined FEC as Vice President. In addition to Mr. Blalock and Mr. Rountree, Chief Engineer Bob Stevens and Chief Mechanical Officer Bobby Hatfield will comprise the Senior Management team reporting to Mr. Truitt.

About Florida East Coast Railway, LLC, and RailAmerica, Inc.

Both FEC and RailAmerica are owned by funds managed by affiliates of Fortress Investment Group, a leading global alternative asset manager with approximately $37.8 billion in assets under management as of December 31, 2007. RailAmerica is a leading operator of North American regional and shortline railroads. RailAmerica operates 41 railroads in 23 states and 3 Canadian provinces and has information available on developable sites of various sizes on each of the railroads it operates. FEC is a regional freight railroad that extends along a 351-mile corridor between Jacksonville, FL and Miami, FL with exclusive rail access to the Port of Palm Beach, Port Everglades (Ft. Lauderdale) and the Port of Miami. Fortress is headquartered in New York and has affiliates with offices in Dallas, Frankfurt, Geneva, Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, Rome, San Francisco, San Diego, Sydney, Tokyo and Toronto. Further information can be found at www.RailAmerica.com, www.feci.com, and www.fortress.com.


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Marijuana Hidden In Rail Cars Seized In Arizona

From Progressive Railroading

NOGALES, AZ -- U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported last week that its officers found large amounts of marijuana on three trains about to enter the United States from Mexico through Nogales, Ariz., in the previous week.

The biggest seizure occurred March 29, when the officers noticed an unusual structure attached to a rail car filled with grain. When they looked inside the compartment of the structure, they found it was carrying 517 pounds of marijuana.

On April 1 they seized two bales of marijuana weighing 48 pounds near some rail cars, but the people who put them there had fled.

Later the same day, a drug-sniffing dog used by the Customs officers discovered five bales of marijuana weighing more than 90 pounds under cement in a rail car.

The value of marijuana seized at the Nogales port of entry since March 29 is estimated at $377,000, according to the National Drug Intelligence Center. Since Oct. 1, about 3,000 pounds of marijuana has been seized at Nogales in 15 smuggling attempts.


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Freight Rail Volumes: 2007-2008

From Railway Age

U.S. railroad handled an estimated 34.3 billion ton-miles of traffic in the week ended April 5, 4.6% more than in the corresponding week of 2007. Carload freight was up 3.6% to 330,371 cars, while intermodal volume declined 1.1% to 216,609 trailers and containers. In Canada, carload traffic in the week ended April 5 totaled 70,008 cars, down 0.4% from last year, with intermodal volume up 3.8% to 48,079 units. On Kansas City Southern dé Mexico, carload traffic was up 9.0% to 11,032 cars in the latest week, and intermodal volume increased 45.6% to 5,047 units.


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OFF THE MAIN LINE... Off The Main Line...

Two Very Different Urban Centers Will Be
Celebrated In Next Week’s DF

Denver, Colorado

On Friday, April 11, invited by Connecticut House Speaker Jim Amann, Mr. Cal Marsella, Director of the Denver Transit District, gave a presentation about how the City of Denver re-invented itself from a congested, polluted urban center into a vibrant, thriving city that is a magnet for growth that attracts new businesses, jobs, young people and visitors.

Next week, DF will feature Mr. Marsella’s presentation describing the changes in Denver.

Lowell, Massachusetts

How a small New England mill town re-invented itself from a “moribund” industrial city to a hot spot for young professionals, artists, and entrepreneurs: that will be the other success story in this newsletter.


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END NOTES...  Publication Notes...

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