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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June 28, 2010
Vol. 11 No. 27

Copyright © 2010
NCI Inc., All Rights Reserved
Our 11th Newsletter Year

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

  News Items…
The Future Comes Down To: Where We Live Vs. Where We Work
Former Congressman Al Swift Named Chair Of American
   High-Speed Rail Alliance
  Commuter Lines…
Massachusetts Gets Closer To Better Western Mass Rail Service
  Transit Lines…
New York MTA Imposes Severe Service Cuts, Despite Objections
   From Riders And Transit Advocates
President Of IRUM Testifies Re Service Cuts
 
  Selected Rail Stocks…
  Business Lines…
Railroad Veteran Bill Duggan Named Transportation
   GM –West Division
  Commentary…
Boston Globe Editorial: ‘What Happened’ To Tax Dollars
   In Boston’s Infamous Big Dig
Newark Star Ledger Columnist Unmasks The ARC Boondoggle
  Publication Notes …


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

The Future Comes Down To:
Where We Live Vs. Where We Work

From The Infrastructurist

http://www.infrastructurist.com/2010/06/24/the-future-comes-down-to-where-we-live-v-where-we-work/.

The Infrastructurist was co-founded and is published by Alexander Jutkowitz and Mitch Stoller;
Associate Publisher is Tom Blim; the Editor in Chief is Melissa Lafsky, and
Editor at Large is Jebediah Reed. The Infrastructurist states: Contributors to the Infrastructurist
will include politicians, academics, representatives of major industry and advocacy groups, and journalists.”

A Future Cityscape

Image: The Infrastructurist
This past week, the Atlantic hosted its “Future of the City” conference in downtown D.C. The speaker included a roster of heavy hitters like: Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement, Volkswagen Group President and CEO Stefan Jacoby, the Brookings Institution’s Christopher Leinberger, and the obligatory high-charisma appearance by Richard Florida.

Among the best speakers at the event was Shaun Donovan, Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. He made the crucially simple yet often ignored point that the future of urban living (or any living, really) depends on one thing: We need affordable housing near workplaces.

If anything, he argued, the economic crisis has highlighted that, when Washington fails to address our sprawl epidemic, all the problems that result – obesity, congestion, foreign oil dependence – share a common element: There is a fundamental mismatch between where we live and where we work. Whatever we do to address these problems, he stated, the U.S. must find a way to attach housing to jobs.

The figures he gave to illustrate this point were stark: The costs of commuting to work in the U.S. have gone up 1000% in the past few decades. In Atlanta, the costs of driving totals 61% of family income, while cars eat up to 70% of family budgets in parts of California. Meanwhile, many cities face a huge shortage in affordable workforce housing.

But Donovan didn’t dwell on the depressing figures — he also offered up some solutions and signs of hope:

1. We must continue to recognize that cities and suburbs share an economic future – right now, cities house more than 80% of our population, and have a major economic impact. Chicago produces more than three quarters of Illinois’ GDP, and houses two thirds of the state’s population. Metro areas large and small are where the action is.

2. People are abandoning sprawl by moving back into central cities and inner-ring suburbs — and governments are responding, through measures like expanding transportation options and preserving the affordability of neighborhoods.

3. Challenges we once associated only with cities – like homelessness – have moved to the suburbs, and communities are coming together to deal with them. Recently, the first ever federal strategic plan to reduce homelessness was introduced, and it needs a real movement at the local level in order to be successful — particularly since the economic crisis led to the family homelessness growing 51% in a single year.


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Former Congressman Al Swift Named Chair
Of American High Speed Rail Alliance

From The American High Speed Rail Alliance

http://www.americanhsra.org

WASHINGTON --- A dozen leaders of the transportation industry, chaired by former US Rep. Al Swift (D-WA) were named this past week to the Advisory Board of the recently formed American High Speed Rail Alliance (AHSRA), a new industry-based rail advocacy group headquartered in Washington.

“This diverse group of industry veterans, statesmen and entrepreneurs is chaired by the Honorable Al Swift, former Congressman from Washington State, known as ‘the father of high speed rail’ for his leadership on the Swift Rail Development Act of 1994,” ASHRA stated in its news release.

Former Congressman Al Swift

Image: www.collingswifthynes.com

Al Swift
Swift’s bill was the first to authorize federal funds for corridor planning activities for the establishment of high speed rail service in the United States.

“Advancing intercity passenger rail is an issue that is close to my heart and one that is critically important to our nation’s economic and environmental future,” said former Rep. Al Swift. “I look forward to working with the American High Speed Rail Alliance and the members of the Advisory Board to make higher speed passenger rail a reality in America.”

The newly named members of the Advisory Board will provide guidance to the Alliance on its mission to advocate for the development and implementation of an improved passenger rail network in the United States. The Board will support the Alliance’s policy agenda, participate in strategic planning sessions, maintain a dialogue with stakeholders in the high speed rail industry and help to establish the permanent Governing Board of Directors for the Alliance.

Other members named to the Advisory Board include:

  • Chuck Baker, President, National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC)
  • Brian Caine, Manager, Business Development, Lockheed Martin Corporation
  • Nora Friend, Vice President of Public Affairs, Talgo
  • Lewis Goetz, FAIA, FIIDA, President & CEO, Group Goetz Architects
  • Nicholas Hann, Executive Director, Macquarie Capital Advisors
  • Zach Mottl, Chair, Government Affairs Committee, Tooling and Manufacturing Association (TMA)
  • Paul Nowicki, Assistant Vice President, Government and Public Policy, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway (BNSF)
  • David Soule, Executive Director, Railway Engineering-Maintenance Suppliers Association (REMSA)
  • Marise Stewart, Director of Government and Industry Relations, Electro-Motive Diesel (EMD)
  • George Weber, Chair, Bureau of Railroads, Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT)
  • Jim Wolfe, President & CEO, Knight Infrastructure

“The American High Speed Rail Alliance team is excited to work with the members of the Advisory Board to gain insight from their collective industry experience,” said Mary Ellen Curto, Executive Director of the AHSRA. “The political savvy and business acumen of this group is unparalleled and we look forward to their guidance as we work to advocate for an aggressive policy agenda for high speed rail. As the Advisory Board becomes complete, it will reflect a balanced group of professionals with transportation and rail policy expertise and technical railroading knowledge.”

Policy Agenda

“The American High Speed Rail Alliance supports ensuring sustainable funding sources adequate to build and operate a high speed and regional passenger rail network in the United States. Funding and financing options will include a combination of federal, state and local funding, public/private partnerships, government-backed infrastructure bonds, tax credits, tax incentives and private sector investments. The AHSRA advocates for robust federal investment in building and improving America’s passenger rail network,” the organization stated.

Specifically, the Alliance will leverage its resources and relationships to:

The American High Speed Rail Alliance is a non-profit advocacy organization “…whose members are dedicated to creating and sustaining a clean and energy-efficient advanced national high speed passenger rail system in the United States. The AHSRA works on behalf of, and in partnership with, its members and other like-minded stakeholders to support policies and execute programs that ensure the creation and operation of a world-class high speed rail system that is interconnected with all passenger transportation systems throughout the United States. For more information, visit www.americanhsra.org.”


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COMMUTER LINES... Commuter Lines...  

Massachusetts Gets Closer To Better
Western Mass Rail Service

A Landmark Agreement Will Benefit Passenger And Freight Rail

From Internet Sources And From The Boston Globe

FRAMINGHAM --- A long-sought boost in rail services to the sprawling suburbs West of Boston moved a step closer this week as state and CSX rail officials neared agreement on a $100 million deal that could include adding at least seven rail trips, and improve the on-time performance, for the MBTA’s chronically delayed Framingham-Worcester line.

In a well-researched story written by Boston Globe Correspondent John Dyer, the paper also reported that “the plan presents potential challenges as well, ranging from more trains passing through downtown intersections and greater demand for commuter parking to accommodating a revived freight facility in Westborough. Many local officials consider the agreement a significant step in their efforts to reduce congestion and pollution by persuading people to abandon their cars for public transportation, while making residents’ commutes easier,” wrote Dyer.

If the deal is finalized, at least one train could be added to rush-hour service, and one or two might be diverted to Boston’s North Station, bypassing Back Bay and South Station, said state Department of Transportation spokesman Colin Durrant.

For the complete Globe story see:

http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2010/06/24/100m_pact_could_bring_more_trains_to_western_suburbs/

Improvements to commuter rail service West of Boston have long been a priority of Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray, who has been an active rail advocate for most of his political career, beginning as Mayor of Worcester.

Paying for the new service will be a challenge, observers note, because the Massachusetts commuter rail system, part of the MBTA, has billions of dollars in debt and in deferred maintenance, the result of post-Dukakis anti-rail gubernatorial policies and a transit-hostile Federal government for much of the 1990’s and 2000’s ; government officials and advocates are beginning to look at “Value Capture” plans that use the growth in sales and property tax revenues that inevitably follow infrastructure investment to recapture some of the system’s operating and maintenance costs. A recent text book, “Transit Oriented Development: Making It Happen (Ashgate; 2009; John Renne, University of New Orleans, et al) gives case-by-case examples of how that has been done around the world, and is emerging as a guide to transit and intercity rail planners and advocates around the United States.


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TRANSIT LINES... Transit Lines...  

New York MTA Imposes Severe Service Cuts, Despite
Objections From Riders And Transit Advocates

By David Peter Alan

New York City has gained the reputation over the years as “the city that never sleeps.” From now on, that reputation will be less accurate, as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has implemented major service reductions on subway and bus lines in the city. Particularly hard-hit are bus routes that, until last week-end’s cuts, ran all night. “This is doomsday for the city’s transit,” said Andrew Albert, who is Chair of the NYC Transit Riders’ Council and Vice Chair of the Rail Users’ Network (RUN). According to Albert, the cuts implemented over the past three days are the most severe he has witnessed since he became involved in the City transit scene 35 years ago. At that time, New York City was facing a grave financial crisis. The MTA estimated that 2500 New Yorkers commented on the proposed service cuts at hearings held in March, but the cuts were implemented anyway.

Transit is in trouble essentially everywhere in the nation, and New York is no exception. Even so, according to Albert: “This is an abomination in a city like New York, which has so many transit-dependent people. This is a total failure of government.” Albert placed some of the blame on MTA Chair and CEO Jay Walder, who has refused to use “Stimulus” funds to support transit operations. He could have directed 10% of the Stimulus grants to the purpose, but did not do so. In addition, Albert said that Walder also opposes a proposal now before Congress that would give transit providers emergency operating support.

“This never happens in an election year” said Albert, “but we have a perfect storm: a lame-duck governor, a dysfunctional legislature and no money.” Walder also blamed the State’s economic crisis for the $800-million deficit that the new service cuts are designed to fill. A payroll tax in the counties served by the MTA failed to produce revenue at expected levels. The MTA had also proposed eliminating the practice of giving students free or discounted transportation, but that change was not implemented. Transit riders who are older than school-age are not so lucky. In addition to the service cuts, the base fare is expected to rise to $2.50 next winter. It had been $2.00 until one year ago, and it is now $2.25. Weekly and monthly fares rose commensurately, and are expected to do so again.< P> Two subway lines were eliminated: the “V” along Sixth Avenue and the “W” along Broadway in Manhattan. Both lines began service in 2001 and went to Queens, but to different places. Other service will continue to run on the lines they used, although routed differently. Many riders will also be inconvenienced by a new policy that will widen the headways on subway lines outside of peak commuting hours. The MTA’s policy had been to run enough trains to keep them at 100% capacity; ideally all seats taken and no standees. The new headways will reflect a policy of running trains to 125% of capacity, so one fifth of riders at off-peak hours will stand.

On the bus side, service will be reduced on about 37 lines, some in Manhattan and others in the “outer boroughs.” Some will be eliminated entirely, while the span of service will be reduced (starting later and ending earlier) on the others. Some routes will also be cut back, requiring a transfer to a second bus for what had been a one-seat ride until recently. In particular, only a few routes will still run 24 hours a day, even though all-night transit service was once part of the atmosphere of New York City.

On the commuter rail side, this fall will see the end of week-end service on the West Hempstead Line of the Long Island Rail Road, while week-end service to Greenport (on the North Fork of eastern Long Island) will run only in the summer. Since last November, every commuter rail line in the New York metropolitan area has had service seven days a week. At that time, New Jersey Transit instituted week-end service between Hoboken and Montclair every two hours. If the MTA implements the threatened LIRR cuts, the period of time when all metropolitan commuter rail lines had week-end service will have totaled less than one year.

There are also some unusual service reductions on the bus side. There will no longer be week-end or overnight service on the M50 (a cross-town bus on 49th and 50th Streets) or on the M8 (a cross-town bus in Greenwich Village, a historic neighborhood which New Yorkers refer to as “The Village”). One of the Village residents who will be adversely affected is George Haikalis, a transportation planner and rail advocate who serves as President of the Institute for Rational Urban Mobility, Inc. (IRUM) and as Chair of the Regional Rail Working Group. Haikalis proposed instituting rail service on the Village Cross-town route, due to the neighborhood’s history, community cohesion and large numbers of tourists who flock to the neighborhood. In the future, the tourists who visit on week-ends, as well as local residents, will have no local bus and must make the long walk to 14th Street for cross-town service.

Last year, the MTA planned to eliminate the M8 entirely, but it will still run on weekdays. Haikalis credits community pressure for the retention of some service. “If transit advocates are well-organized, they can do much more than they think,” he said.

In his statement objecting to the service cuts on behalf of IRUM, Haikalis said: “MTA’s approach to service provision is fundamentally flawed. Transit passengers are not ‘customers’ in the traditional business sense of the word, but rather are area residents and visitors who can make use of MTA services for travel to jobs, classes and a whole variety of other activities. The real ‘customers’ are all of us, whether we use the system of not, who benefit from a clean, safe, reliable and passenger-friendly public transit system.”

Andrew Albert expressed a similar opinion about transit in a recent issue of the RUN Newsletter: “I’ve always viewed public transportation as one of the four essential services – right up there with police, fire and sanitation. These cuts will affect the New York way of life.” In the same article, he painted a bleak picture of the City’s future: “The upshot of all of this is that many folks will head back to the automobiles, burning more fuel and tying up more streets. Mobility will be impaired, and New York will have a tougher time pulling out of the recession.”

Elsewhere in the nation, such strong transit-oriented cities as Chicago, San Francisco and Portland, Oregon have cut service or are planning to do so in the immediate future. New York is an iconic American city, in the view of Americans and foreigners alike. When New York makes severe cuts in transit, there can be no more doubt that transit as a whole is in deep trouble.

As Andrew Albert summed up his RUN article: “When are we going to get serious about cutting our dependence on foreign oil, and making transit the logical method of getting around our cities and suburban communities? Let’s hope the choice is made soon – before we have no transit system to fall back on. Because as of right now, they’re dying.”

Albert wrote those words last March, before the Gulf Coast Oil Spill. Now, despite the increased urgency of encouraging transit, New York has implemented the most severe service cuts in decades. It seems safe to assume that many transit managers and advocates are expressing the same concerns as their colleagues in New York City.

David Peter Alan is a member of the Board of Directors of RUN. Albert’s article can be found in the Winter-Spring issue of the RUN Newsletter. The organization’s web site is www.railusers.net.

George Haikalis made the calculation mentioned in this article as part of a statement he delivered at the public hearing related to the MTA service reduction proposal. The IRUM web site is www.irum.org. The specific service cuts are described on the MTA’s web site, www.mta.info.


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President Of IRUM Testifies Re Service Cuts

George Haikalis

George Haikalis - via Facebook

Statement At March 4, 2010 MTA Public Hearing
By George Haikalis
President, Institute For Rational Urban Mobility, Inc.
One Washington Square Village, Suite 5D
New York, NY 10012     212-475-3394
geo@irum.org     www.irum.org

The Institute for Rational Urban Mobility, Inc. (IRUM) is a NYC-based not-for-profit corporation concerned with reducing traffic congestion and improving the livability of dense urban areas.

IRUM calls on MTA to halt its plan to drastically cut service on buses, subways and commuter rail lines. These service cuts will shift riders away from public transit and will result in more car traffic – causing increases in pollution and congestion. MTA should be increasing, not reducing service. Also, MTA should be cutting, not raising fares, or better yet eliminating them entirely. This should be part of a comprehensive carrot-and-stick plan for better public transit by requiring motorists to pay very high cordon tolls for driving into the Manhattan central business district.

MTA’s approach to service provision is fundamentally flawed. Transit passengers are not “customers” in the traditional business sense of the word, but rather are area residents and visitors who can make use of MTA services for travel to jobs, classes and a whole variety of other activities. The real “customers” are all of us, whether we use the system or not, who benefit from a clean, safe, reliable and passenger-friendly public transit system.

The routing and frequency of MTA services must be shaped by their effectiveness in meeting broader regional goals like economic development, social equity and environmental quality. In only a few instances in the current service cut proposal has MTA even attempted to quantify these impacts. For example MTA’s plan to cut off-peak service to raise loads on subway cars to 125% of seating capacity implies a value of travel time of $1.32 per hour. (Calculation attached). This is absurd!

By choosing to ignore their broader impacts, and evaluating service cuts only on the basis of the relatively small number of dollars saved, MTA has walked away from its core responsibility -- to make the best case for provision of transit to serve the many needs of this region.

Perhaps it is time to reexamine the need for a specialized authority like the MTA and to consider shifting the responsibility for the provision of transit service to appropriate units of general purpose government that can be held accountable for their actions.


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STOCKS...  Selected Rail Stocks...

Source: MarketWatch.com

   This
Week
Previous
Week
Canadian National (CNI)60.4762.49
Canadian Pacific (CP) 56.4760.29
CSX (CSX)52.2554.95
Genessee & Wyoming (GWR)38.3139.89
Kansas City Southern (KSU)39.2941.11
Norfolk Southern (NSC)56.6859.09
Providence & Worcester(PWX)12.8011.55
Union Pacific (UNP)72.7276.37


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BUSINESS LINES... Business Lines...  

Railroad Veteran Bill Duggan Named
Transportation GM –West Division

By DF Staff and Amtrak

Railroad industry veteran Bill Duggan has been appointed the Amtrak Transportation department’s general manager of the western division. He will officially start in that capacity on July 12. Duggan will report to the Vice President of Transportation, Richard Phelps. Bill was most recently vice president and general manager of rail operations for New Jersey Transit.

Prior to joining New Jersey Transit, Duggan was vice president of operations and customer service for Amtrak’s Western Region when the company was organized in strategic business units.

Duggan will be based in Oakland, California.

The general manager positions were created to streamline the Transportation department’s senior management structure and allow the vice president to focus more attention on high-level policy and management issues.

VP Phelps has also noted that Safe-2-Safer is now beginning in western divisions and one of Duggan’s early priorities will be to help implement the management training and peer-to-peer observations known as the ‘Behavior Accident Prevention Process,’ or BAPP.

Duggan has been in railroading since 1973. He joined Amtrak in 1974 and has been promoted to various leadership positions in station operations and passenger services in numerous locations including Washington, D.C., Oakland, Seattle, Boston and Chicago.

While at New Jersey Transit, Bill worked for George Warrington.


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COMMENTARY... Commentary...  

Boston Globe Editorial: ‘What Happened’
To Tax Dollars In Boston’s Infamous Big Dig

 

BOSTON --- Readers who may have wondered what impact the Big Dig --- the multi-billion-dollar project to bury the old Central Artery under downtown Boston while keeping it in operation --- had not just on Massachusetts finances but also on the fate of transportation finances since that time, could do worse than read an editorial in this past week’s Boston Globe. While built around the Massachusetts’ governors’ race now underway, the lessons learned from The Big Dig, as outlined by The Globe, are applicable elsewhere:

“MASSACHUSETTS has never fully come to grips with the costly excesses of the Big Dig, which dog the state’s reputation in Washington and limit its ability to make improvements at home. The project may be a boon for Boston, but its construction will always be a case study in public profligacy. This year’s race for governor will force the state to reckon with what went wrong on the Big Dig and how to move past it.

Republican standard-bearer Charlie Baker, who served as administration and finance secretary under Governors William Weld and Paul Cellucci when the project’s finances were restructured, will have to explain his actions more fully. He should tell voters why Weld and Cellucci, in the mid- to late-’90s, chose to tie up future highway funds and state revenues in a two-decade-long financing scheme — rather than tap $1 billion in annual surpluses that could have significantly reduced the burden on today’s taxpayers.

The reason, as the Globe reported last week, appears to be that the governors preferred to present themselves as tax cutters. Baker, it seems, had no objections.

Baker was hardly alone in choosing to quietly feed the Big Dig rather than demand accountability. Governors and legislators of both parties, along with their appointees, all chose to accept the project’s cost as the price of doing business in Massachusetts. The question for today is whether the same ruinous strictures still hold, and whether the Bay State can ever again feel confident about putting shovels in the ground.

The Big Dig proceeded with relatively little political blowback partly because all constituencies were given a piece of the pie. For labor, there was a guaranteed prevailing wage, higher than the market, that was paid to union and non-union workers alike. For politicians, there was a trove of patronage positions as neighborhood coordinators and community liaisons. For business, there was an open-ended contract that allowed the project manager, Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff, to do its own design and then charge up billions of dollars in overruns for its own mistakes. Major property owners or institutions that might be inconvenienced were given mitigation funds. It was a feast for the powerful.”

For the complete analysis see:

http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/editorials/articles/2010/06/20/on_big_dig_governors_race_is_an_overdue_moment_of_truth/


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Newark Star Ledger Columnist
Unmasks The ARC Boondoggle

“Tunnels: Two Plus Two Makes For Billions In Waste”
Published: Sunday, June 20, 2010, The Newark Star Ledger. Used By Permission

By Paul Mulshine/The Star Ledger

Last week, this newspaper carried a brief article stating that Amtrak has plans to build two new rail tunnels under the Hudson River. These tunnels would parallel two other new tunnels to be built by NJ Transit.

Let me translate that into terms that show how this will affect you, the taxpayer:

Amtrak is going to waste billions of your tax dollars duplicating a project by NJ Transit that will waste even more billions of your tax dollars.

And now let me translate that into terms that show how it all affects you, the commuter:

Even after all those billions have been spent, you still won’t be able to catch a train from New Jersey to Grand Central station — the original goal of the tunnel scheme.

That brings up an obvious question, one I will cede to Jeff Tittel of the Sierra Club, who first brought this fiasco to my attention:

“How can the federal government pay for two sets of tunnels going into New York when you only need one set?” Tittel asks.

The answer? Interagency rivalry. Rail service in the New York metropolitan area is provided by a half-dozen competing bureaucracies. Before we spend all this money, we need to end the competition.

To get an idea of how that might work, compare the New York area to the Philadelphia area. Back in 1984, when I used to work for the Philadelphia Daily News, the Southeast Pennsylvania Transportation Authority accomplished what all of the competing New York area authorities still have no plans to do. They connected the lines of the old Pennsylvania Railroad to the lines of its former competitor, the Reading Railroad.

When SEPTA officials made that link, they converted old, inefficient “stub-end” terminals — where trains reached a dead end and had to go back where they came from — to modern stations through which trains can pass with a quick stop. Imagine getting on a train in Trenton or Long Branch and getting off at Yankee Stadium and you can imagine what would be possible if our bureaucrats did as the Pennsylvania bureaucrats did.

Connecting NJ Transit trains to Grand Central was the original goal of the Access to the Region’s Core project when it began in the 1990s. The other goal was to provide more trans-Hudson capacity for Amtrak. The idea was to dig two new tunnels to Penn Station that would connect through to Grand Central, thus killing two birds with one stone.

Alas, those birds flew the coop once the bureaucrats got their hands on each others’ throats. The ARC plan was altered to send the NJ Transit lines to a new stub-end terminal deep under Manhattan, at a cost of $8.7 billion. Since the ARC tunnel connects to nothing, Amtrak now needs to build new tunnels of its own to get more trains into Penn, at an added cost of $5 billion or more.

Michael Doherty

This is shaping up to be the biggest boondoggle on wheels, and it’s roundly denounced right, left and center by those who have studied it. On the right, state Sen. Mike Doherty of Warren County is even more critical of the plan than Tittel. He suggests scrapping the whole idea and instead using the money to give tax breaks that would encourage New York companies to move to this side of the river.

“We can’t afford to make it happen,” said Doherty. “We are going to have to divert billions of dollars needed to maintain our roads.”

That’s assuming we have those billions. The Transportation Trust Fund goes broke next year. Barring a big gas tax hike, we won’t have the money for either highways or the ARC Tunnel project.

If there’s any good news from last week, though, it’s that we can now consider canceling ARC. If Amtrak is going to build those tunnels, then NJ Transit trains can share them, just as Amtrak trains now share the two existing tunnels under the river.

Now all we have to do is add that link between Grand Central and Penn. Brilliant. We’ll have a plan that solves both Amtrak’s and NJ Transit’s problems, improves life for thousands of commuters, and saves us billions of taxpayer dollars.

We’ll also have the plan that the bureaucrats rejected back in the beginning because they couldn’t get along. Well, I’ve got an idea for forcing them to get along. Let’s tell them to think about getting along without our tax dollars.


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END NOTES...  Publication Notes...

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