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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May 26, 2009
Vol. 10 No. 23

Copyright © 2009
NCI Inc., All Rights Reserved
Our 10th Year

Home Page: www.nationalcorridors.org

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

  News Items…
House Clean Energy Act Falls Short On Importance
   Of Public Transportation
Millar’s Comments Emphasize Need For Stronger
   Clean Energy Bill
  Environmental Lines…
Ethanol-Powered Locomotive Touted As A Promising ‘Green’ Concept
  Political Lines…
Workers Praise Confirmation Of Peter Rogoff As FTA Administrator
 
  Off The Main Line…
A Message From Joe Boardman, President Of Amtrak
  Selected Rail Stocks…
  Commentary…
Report From The Midwest
A Little Satire From The Advocate’s Corner…
  Publication Notes …


NEWS OF THE WEEK... News Items...

House Clean Energy Act Falls Short On
Importance Of Public Transportation

 

Climate Change Legislation Misses Opportunity To Use One Of The Most Powerful Weapons
To Reduce Carbon Dioxide Emissions – Public Transit

Letter And Comments By William Millar, President And CEO Of APTA

Reprinted With Permission

 

May 18, 2009

The Honorable Henry A. Waxman
Chairman
House Committee on Energy and Commerce
2125 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman Waxman:

The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) is very disappointed that H.R. 2454, the “American Clean Energy and Security Act” (ACESA), as introduced last week provides investment and transition assistance to numerous private industries, while the energy savings and emissions reductions from public transportation systems across America are completely overlooked. APTA strongly supports the efforts of your committee to develop comprehensive energy and climate change legislation, and we do not question the need to provide transition assistance to consumers, particularly low-income households, and critical domestic industries. However, ACESA in its present form fails to direct emission allowances to the transportation sector in an effective and sustainable manner. Congress shouldn’t miss this opportunity to make a long-term investment in a sustainable future by expanding public transportation services.

Public transportation use last year prevented the emission of more than 37 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. Those emissions savings are equivalent to the electricity used by 4.9 million households. Our nation’s transportation system produces one-third of all carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the U.S., and transportation is the fastest growing domestic source of greenhouse gas emissions, yet public transportation receives zero allowance value in ACESA.

In contrast, the electricity sector will receive up to 35 percent of ACESA annual allowances.

Public transportation use in America saves 4.2 billion gallons of fuel each year and helps Americans reduce their commuting costs by escaping the high costs of gasoline and car ownership. In fact, riding public transportation can save an individual an average of $8,691 a year based on recent average gas and parking prices, yet public transportation receives zero allowance value in ACESA.

In contrast, oil refineries will receive up to 2 percent of ACESA annual allowances.

Expanding public transportation is a proven strategy to make our transportation system more efficient and our roads less congested. Transit use saves more than 541 million hours in travel time and hundreds of millions of gallons of gasoline by preventing congestion each year. According to the Center for Clean Air Policy, growth in vehicle travel will negate much of the emission savings from improved vehicle economy and new fuels. Even with a fully electrified transportation system, public transportation will be needed to fight congestion and expand mobility, yet public transportation receives zero allowance value in ACESA.

In contrast, the automotive industry will receive up to 3 percent of ACESA annual allowances to develop advanced automobile technologies.

APTA applauds the inclusion of emissions reduction goals for the transportation sector (Sec. 222, Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reductions Through Transportation Efficiency). However, new planning requirements will be hollow without significant investment in emission-reducing transportation infrastructure that complements energy-efficient community design.

A cap-and-trade program with investment in public transportation will produce more emissions savings and greater domestic job creation. Every $1 billion invested in federally aided public transportation capital projects supports approximately 30,000 jobs. We hope that future versions of ACESA will include substantial new investment in public transportation.

We appreciate your consideration of our views on ACESA, and we look forward to working with you as the Committee advances this vital legislation. If you have any questions, please have your staff contact Homer Carlisle of APTA’s Government Affairs Department at (202) 496-4810 or email hcarlisle@apta.com.

Thank you.

Sincerely yours,
William Millar
President
cc: Members of the Committee on Energy and Commerce

APTA
1666 K Street, N.W., 11th Floor
Washington, DC 20006
Phone (202) 496-4800 FAX (202) 496-4324


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Millar’s Comments Emphasize Need
For Stronger Clean Energy Bill

Statement By William W. Millar, President,
American Public Transportation Association.

MAY 19 -- “One of the most powerful tools an individual may have to reduce their daily carbon dioxide emissions – the use of public transportation -- is not part of the new climate change legislation. Despite the facts that show providing greater access to public transportation may be the most effective weapon for combating climate change, there are no allowances from the cap-and-trade program for public transportation in the current climate legislation H.R. 2454 entitled the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACESA), which is being considered by the House Energy and Commerce Committee this week.

We are very disappointed by this glaring oversight. A long-term investment in public transportation is a long-term investment in combating climate change. The 4,800 pounds of carbon emissions a year that an individual can save by taking public transit instead of driving far exceeds the combined efforts of other carbon reducing activities such as changing light bulbs, weatherizing homes and replacing appliances. Overall, public transportation use last year prevented the emission of more than 37 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. Those emissions savings are equivalent to the electricity used by 4.9 million households.

It is unfortunate that this bill does not provide an opportunity to increase the number of Americans who could ride public transportation and thereby reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In contrast, the bill provides investment in transition assistance for numerous private industries such as the oil refineries and the electric utilities.

ACESA in its present form fails to invest in the transportation sector in an effective and sustainable manner that recognizes the role of public transportation and other strategies that provide Americans with more choices in our transportation system.

APTA hopes that future versions of ACESA will include substantial new investment in public transportation. On behalf of the public transportation industry and the millions of additional people who could take public transportation, I call on congressional leaders to ensure that public transportation is a vital part of this important climate change legislation. It is the right thing to do.

Beyond helping to reduce our nation’s carbon footprint, public transportation use in America saves 4.2 billion gallons of fuel each year and helps Americans reduce their commuting costs by escaping the high costs of gasoline and car ownership. In fact, riding public transportation can save an individual an average of $8,691 a year based on recent average gas and parking prices.

Expanding public transportation is a proven strategy to make our transportation system more efficient and our roads less congested. Transit use saves more than 541 million hours in travel time and hundreds of millions of gallons of gasoline by helping to prevent traffic congestion each year. In the future, growth in vehicle travel will negate much of the emission savings from improved vehicle economy and new fuels. Even with a fully electrified transportation system, public transportation will be needed to help reduce traffic congestion, expand mobility, and reduce commuting costs, yet public transportation receives zero allowance value in ACESA.

A cap-and-trade program with investment in public transportation will produce more emissions savings and greater domestic job creation. Every $1 billion invested in federally aided public transportation capital projects supports approximately 30,000 jobs.

Congress shouldn’t miss this opportunity to make a long-term investment in a sustainable future by expanding public transportation services.


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ENVIRONMENTAL LINES... Environmental Lines...  

Ethanol-Powered Locomotive Touted
As A Promising ‘Green’ Concept

Research Reveals Complexity Of Environmental Problems
In Trying To Find Clean Energy Sources

By DF Staff

From Internet Sources And Book “Coming Clean: Breaking America’s Addiction To Oil And Coal ” By Michael Brune, Executive Director, Rainforest Action Network (RAN)

An ethanol-powered locomotive holds promise to bring clean energy to railroading, say the proponents who are developing a market for this bio-fuel.

But a little research reveals that this “green” initiative could create more problems than it solves.

Ohio entrepreneur Tom Mack is developing an ethanol-powered locomotive and plans to tap into the emerging ethanol markets as a fuel source. Mack has raised about $350,000 for the R&D project through his firm, Alternative Hybrid Locomotive Technologies. The company plans to develop a locomotive that can run on heavy-duty electric batteries and ethanol, and vastly reduce air emissions.

Mack’s company has attracted funding from venture capitalists and corn growers and is ready to start production of its first prototype for testing.

The federal government’s newfound interest in alternative fuel technologies has helped Mack land a concept-presentation meeting with the U.S. Department of Transportation and Federal Railroad Administration later this month. In addition, some railroads have expressed an interest in testing the prototype, according to Alternative Hybrid Locomotive Technologies.

The locomotive would be a medium-horsepower unit, generating 2,500 horsepower or less. There are about 12,000 locomotives in service today in the United States and railroads will need to begin replacing them because many of these units were built more than 20 years ago, and few new ones have been built, according to Mack.

An affordable locomotive that meets “green” standards -- that’s what Mack is striving for, but there is a down side to using ethanol if it is done on a “mass production” scale.

Problems surrounding the production of ethanol raise doubts of its worth. It may produce less energy than is used to grow and process it; it could indirectly cause an increase in greenhouse gases, and threaten food supplies for the poor.

Will it reduce greenhouse gas emissions? Ethanol emissions out of the tail pipe are clean but the process to produce ethanol is not. With demand so high worldwide, large areas of rainforest are being cut down to raise the corn. Rainforests play a huge role in mitigating climate change because carbon is stored in trees, plants and soil. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 20 percent of annual greenhouse gas emissions on average come from agriculture because deforestation of tropical rainforests leaves areas stripped of their capability to absorb these gases.

What about food supply? If demand for biofuels such as ethanol remains high, farmers will continue to make more money raising food for fuel than for populations to eat. The poor will be hurt the most. Food prices escalate, causing even more malnutrition and starvation in the marginalized populations. If the U.S. increases ethanol production on the scale now being projected by 2020, acreage devoted to corn would increase so much it would crowd out soy, wheat and other crops. Retail food prices for cereals, eggs, milk, meat and other essentials could increase by more than $14 billion.

Filling up one tank of an SUV with 100 percent ethanol just once requires more than 450 pounds of corn. That’s enough calories to feed one person for a year!

Pollution: The economic incentive to raise corn for ethanol stops the farmer from following the frequent rotation practices which help keep soil fertile without chemical fertilizers. Run-off from chemical fertilizers causes “dead zones” in waterways where oxygen has been depleted by algae blooms. Fish die. Once more, food supply is threatened.

Negative net energy balance: Studies have shown that the production of ethanol uses more energy (fertilizers, tractor diesel, transport, etc) than the fuel produces. This is complicated by the fact that ethanol contains 33 percent less energy than gasoline, so you need more of it to get the same power. Recently, production of ethanol has become more efficient, but there is disagreement among researchers. Some still believe this biofuel has a negative energy balance.


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POLITICAL LINES... Political Lines...  

Workers Praise Confirmation Of Peter Rogoff
As FTA Administrator

File Photo: Peter Rogoff
WASHINGTON, DC – Edward Wytkind, President of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO, issued the following statement in reaction to U.S. Senate confirmation of Peter Rogoff as Administrator of the Federal Transit Administration:

“As we enter into new era of public transportation in America, a new champion for mass transit has arrived. Transportation unions congratulate Peter Rogoff, a leader with the right experience at a time when the future of our federal transit and highway programs is being debated in Washington.

“Mass transit agencies across the country face counterintuitive budget shortfalls despite the fact that ridership is at a record high. Rogoff’s many years of experience in the field of transit funding and finance will be invaluable as transit systems and their employees navigate these difficult times and seek ways to prevent damaging service and job cuts.

“Transportation labor looks forward to working together with Peter Rogoff and the FTA to deliver first-class mass transit service for the American people.”

The Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD) is a Washington, D.C.-based labor organization representing several million workers in the private and public sectors of the aviation, mass transit, rail, trucking, highway, long-shore, maritime and related industries.  There are 32 member unions in the organization. TTD is the transportation policy and legislative arm of its parent organization, the National AFL-CIO, which represents 10 million workers in the United States.  Edward Wytkind has been president of TTD since 2003; prior to that, he served as executive director for 13 years. Wytkind oversees TTD’s daily legislative, public policy, and regulatory programs and initiatives, serving as transportation labor’s chief spokesman.


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

A Message From Joe Boardman,
President Of Amtrak

MAY 22, 2009

Dear Co-workers,

With Memorial Day upon us, I’m writing to extend a sincere “thank you” to all the men and women within the Amtrak family who have defended our great nation through military service.

At our board of directors meeting this week, Chairman Tom Carper and I had a chance to reflect upon our own military service in Vietnam and share stories of the bravery and honor we were fortunate enough to witness in so many of our fellow soldiers. On behalf of Mr. Carper and myself, I want to express how appreciative and grateful we are for the sacrifice of everyone who has served our nation.

I know many of you have family members and friends fighting overseas right now. Our thoughts are with them and we pray for their safe return. I encourage all of you to relax and enjoy this holiday weekend. Spend time with your families and have fun. But at some point, please take a moment and reflect on the service and sacrifice of those who have put themselves in harm’s way to give us our freedom.

Corporately, we will pay tribute to all our servicemen and women by sounding train horns at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day, which will be followed by a moment of silence.

Thanks and have a great holiday.

Sincerely,

Joe Boardman
President and Chief Executive Officer

AMTRAK is a registered service mark of the National Railroad Passenger Corporation.

File Photo: Joseph Boardman

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STOCKS...  Selected Rail Stocks...

Source: MarketWatch.com

   This
Week
Previous
Week
Burlington Northern & Santa Fe(BNI)68.1767.14
Canadian National (CNI)41.3939.09
Canadian Pacific (CP)37.6334.99
CSX (CSX)28.1627.67
Genessee & Wyoming (GWR)27.3426.13
Kansas City Southern (KSU)15.7714.79
Norfolk Southern (NSC)35.2135.08
Providence & Worcester (PWX)11.5012.35
Union Pacific (UNP)46.1646.58


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COMMENTARY... Commentary...  

Report From The Midwest

By David Peter Alan

Ridership on Amtrak’s Midwest Corridor lines is increasing, but the endpoints of three of those lines are in trouble. These are the primary observations which this writer made during ten days of travel during the early part of May. The itinerary included all Midwest Corridor lines, with extensive travel on the lines from Chicago to Detroit, St. Louis and Quincy, Illinois.

Amtrak’s ridership numbers for the Midwest region are encouraging, and casual observation confirms this. The trains are more crowded then they were a few years ago, and much of the credit goes to the trains that Illinois added to the St. Louis, Carbondale and Quincy lines in the fall of 2006. Even without expanded service, the Wolverine trains in Michigan are drawing increased ridership. It is time to think about adding trains in Michigan and again in Illinois.

It appears that many of the new riders come from intermediate stops along the lines, such as Battle Creek, Kalamazoo, and Ann Arbor, and go to Chicago. It does not appear that this rising tide of ridership has floated the boats for the endpoints of Detroit, St. Louis and Quincy.

Photo from Flickr.Com: Jim Frazier (www.jimfrazier.com)

The original Quincy station building
Instead, these places tell the story of faded glory of another era. It clearly appears that time has passed these places by. The few classic office buildings still in use in Detroit and St. Louis testify to the past greatness of those cities. In Quincy, a few beautifully-restored Italianate office buildings and a Carnegie-era library (now an architecture museum) preside over run-down and boarded-up neighbors. St. Louis and Detroit also contain entire blocks of similarly boarded-up and run-down homes and commercial buildings that attest to the current degraded state of these once-great cities.

Of course, there still remain some beautiful neighborhoods of well-preserved houses in these cities: Indian Village in Detroit, Lafayette Square and Soulard in St. Louis and the Maine (not Main) Street area in Quincy. Unfortunately, these neighborhoods are the exceptions, not the rule.

What Detroit, St. Louis and Quincy have in common is the lack of a strong transit system. Detroit has no rail transit, except for the small “People Mover” that makes a one-way loop in the downtown area. Even Woodward Avenue, the city’s main thoroughfare, has only buses to take people between the train station and downtown. There have been proposals for light rail on Woodward Avenue, and city leaders are talking about it now. With the “Big Three” auto makers in a weakened condition, Detroit may finally see some rail transit.

St. Louis has MetroLink, a light rail line. However, the city recently endured drastic cuts in transit service. The magnificent Union Station from the 1890s has been preserved, but it has not hosted a passenger train since 1978. The current station, which opened last year, is small and difficult to find, although it does connect with local transit.

Quincy has a small city-operated bus system that, to its credit, even runs on Sundays. However, the buses do not run when the morning train leaves for Chicago or the evening train arrives from Chicago, and the train station (only a waiting room) is located more than four miles from downtown and three miles from the city’s best residential area. Visitors arriving in Quincy on the morning train from Chicago must wait for nearly an hour for the local bus to take them to downtown, and there is a 40-minute wait for the train back to Chicago after the arrival of the connecting bus.

The lack of strong local transit in these cities discourages people from traveling to them by rail. Transit-dependent people will make do with the transit they have available, and rail fans will always ride a train just for fun. However, these two constituencies cannot provide enough ridership to make a rail line or a destination viable. The trains are packed with riders going to Chicago, where there is plenty of access to the city and its suburbs on the CTA and Metra, and the heart of downtown is a short walk from Union Station.

Are there steps that can be taken to improve the viability of these cities as destinations for rail travelers? Better transit is the key. If the City of Quincy ran a shuttle bus to connect with the two train arrivals and departures each day, people could connect easily between downtown and residential neighborhoods, and the Chicago train. St. Louis and Detroit need significant upgrades to their transit systems to become viable destinations. There is a move in the Missouri Legislature to fund the restoration of some transit in St. Louis, and in Detroit there is again talk of a light rail line on Woodward Avenue and other transit improvements. These steps would provide a start, but true urban revitalization would require a significant change in overall transportation policy.

Another step that would bring more passengers to St. Louis and Detroit would be the addition of trains that would arrive early in those cities and leave them in the evening. Chicago rail advocate Fritz Plous has proposed that two new trains leave the midpoint of Kalamazoo early in the morning and arrive in Chicago and Detroit for the start of the business day. He also proposes that trains leave Chicago and Detroit in the evening for late-night arrival in Kalamazoo. This proposal makes sense, as would a similar service to Chicago and St. Louis from Springfield. Noontime departures would also serve to fill a significant gap in service on the Illinois line.

Many cities in the Midwest have suffered in recent decades; often from the general decline in industry and a population that has moved to the Sun Belt. Some, like Detroit, bet their future on a single industry and are now losing the gamble. As many American cities seek to reinvent and revitalize themselves, one element in their strategy must be to rebuild a viable transit network that will take people where they want to go once they step off the train.


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A Little Satire From The Advocate’s Corner….  

George Will wrote an interesting column in Newsweek, May 25 issue. For those who wish to read it, you can find it at
http://www.newsweek.com/id/197925

For all, for a laugh, here is my reply.

 

To:     George F. Will, Insufferable Twit
From:      Jim RePass, Transportation Advocate
Re Your Column:     “Ray LaHood, Transformed Secretary of Behavior Modification”
As published in:      Newsweek, May 25
Message:      Enough Already

Dear George:

You have been pontificating about transportation and especially your favorite bête noire, Amtrak --- disguised in this particular Newsweek column as the [dreaded] proposed “high-speed intercity rail,” for as long as I can remember, and frankly I have just plain had it.

Aside from your overbearing superciliousness and tedious attitude grounded solely, as far as I can see, in your own deeply felt sense of entitlement, your fact-free bloviating has never in my memory shown any real understanding of the subject of transportation – although that has certainly not prevented you from expressing an opinion.

Please allow me to suffuse you with the warm glow of truth:

Ray LaHood, a pragmatic Republican Congressmen before the pragmatic Democratic President Barack Obama appointed him Secretary of Transportation, is attempting to institute the kind of common-sense, balanced transportation system you and your ideological mates in the no-tax, no-infrastructure, no new-ideas wing of the GOP have successfully thwarted for most of the last 50 years, funded primarily with the lavish financial help of the deeply self-interested oil lobby, which has, until now, gotten its greasy way.

America’s new balanced approach to transportation, common in Europe and the developed Asian countries for 50 years while we ploddingly built nothing but highways, includes high speed rail, commuter rail, solid urban transit, and, yes, highways, but in a systems-based approach.

America’s mono-modal, highways-only approach to ground transportation, whose passing George Will laments, has, predictably, resulted in the warped and bloated transportation system that we now have, which serves only the suburban America it helped to create, while isolating, and damaging terribly, the less affluent urban cores of the American city, to the point, for places like Detroit, of economic near-death.

All that has now changed, and yes, George, that IS transformational… and not a moment too soon.

Obama’s program for a balanced transportation system, which does indeed include high speed rail corridors between city pairs currently served by nothing but highways in most cases --- which follows I am happy to say the corridor-based program my bi-partisan, yes bi-partisan, organization, the National Corridors Initiative, has promoted for the past 20 years --- isn’t about “communitarian moments on mass transit,” It’s about freedom, and choices, and a transportation system accessible to all Americans, not just those who can afford, or want, to drive a car. I know it seems unfair to plutocrats like you, George, who have had their way for so long they feel…entitled to it. Take a deep breath, George, and try to get used to it. It doesn’t actually hurt to sit next to Those People taking public transit. Just try it some time. Voluntarily, of course. You may even learn something --- not that I want to interfere with future columns by you. Not if they are about baseball, anyway, where you actually DO know what you are talking about.


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END NOTES...  Publication Notes...

Copyright © 2009 National Corridors Initiative, Inc. as a compilation work and original content. Permission is granted to reproduce content provided acknowledgements to NCI are given. Return links to the NCI web site are encouraged and appreciated. Color Name Courtesy of Doug Alexander. Content reproduced by NCI remain the copyrights of the original publishers.

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