The National Corridors Initiative, Inc.

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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Vol. 10 No. 33

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

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

  News Items…
NCI Chairman John Robert Smith Named Reconnecting America
   President And CEO
‘Moving Cooler:’ Bundling Strategies Works Best
Cut Carbon Emissions By “Moving Cooler”
  Political Lines…
Senate Bill (Draft) Reduces Funding For High Speed Rail
  Selected Rail Stocks…
  Commuter Lines…
Riders, Lawmakers Try To Keep MBTA Ferry Boats Afloat
  News From Amtrak…
Amtrak Could Restore Service Between New Orleans and Orlando
  Off The Main Line…
Long Island Rail Road Celebrates 175th Anniversary In Style
  Publication Notes …

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

NCI Chairman John Robert Smith Named
Reconnecting America President And CEO

Four-Term Meridian, Miss., Mayor Recognized For Initiatives To Promote Sustainability, Affordability, Livability

John Robert Smith

John Robert Smith
Mayor John Robert Smith of Meridian, Mississippi, has been named President and CEO of the national nonprofit Reconnecting America. He has served on Reconnecting America’s board for five years, and was a founding partner and board member of Reconnecting America’s predecessor organization, the Great American Station Foundation, voting to expand its mission and change its name in 2004.

Smith will replace Shelley Poticha, who has been appointed Senior Advisor for Sustainable Communities at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

John Robert Smith was elected mayor of Meridian in 1993 and was re-elected three times before deciding this year not to seek re-election to a fifth term. He has been an active member of the U.S. Conference of Mayors and has served Amtrak as both Chairman and as Board member.

Mayor Smith was an early practitioner of transit-oriented development, having successfully renovated Meridian’s historic downtown train station, a project that helped leverage the revitalization of Meridian’s downtown. That experience made him a passionate advocate for the power of station renovation projects to link transportation and community revitalization.

“John Robert Smith brings real-world hands-on experience to the work that Reconnecting America does. He has initiated and managed the kind of projects that Reconnecting America has long advocated,” said Reconnecting America Board President Janette Sadik-Khan, Transportation Commissioner of the City of New York. “He understands how transit-oriented development can breathe new life into communities and help generate lasting public and private returns.”

While in office Mayor Smith oversaw a number of development projects to boost investment in Meridian’s downtown and several declining inner-city neighborhoods, including the redevelopment of the historic Union Station, the construction of a new performing arts center and restoration of the Grand Opera House, and the development of a HOPE VI mixed-income housing project. He has been a longtime advocate for the performing arts and raised significant arts funding for Meridian. He also built a coalition that was successful in restoring daily Amtrak service from Atlanta to New Orleans, and has been an influential advocate at the national level for investing in and improving the national passenger rail system.

“I have been involved in transportation on a national level for many years, due to my passion for inner-city and urban revitalization,” Mayor Smith said. “With the next-generation transportation bill being crafted by Congress now, it is vital that the voices of those who believe in a connected, multi-modal approach to transportation are heard. Transportation touches every aspect of life in cities of all sizes and I am looking forward to working with our nation’s leaders at all levels to incorporate smart urban planning and connections to people across the United States.”

John Robert Smith has worked closely with the National Corridors Initiative since 1994, and was appointed to its Board by NCI founder and President James P. RePass in 1995. In 1997, he was elected chairman by unanimous vote of the Board.

“It is hard to imagine a better choice for the Presidency of Reconnecting America than John Robert Smith,” stated NCI founder, President and CEO James P. RePass. “He has worked with us for more than 15 of our 20 years as an advocacy group, and is the first President of Reconnecting America to actually have had the hands-on experience of rebuilding and re-invigorating the downtown of an important and historic American city, Meridian, MS. All of us at NCI are tremendously proud of John Robert, and excited by this important step forward in the revitalization of the downtowns of America's cities and towns, of which Reconnecting America will be a vital and active part with John Robert Smith at the helm.”

Reconnecting America provides an impartial, fact-based perspective on development-oriented transit and transit-oriented development. Reconnecting America manages the Center for Transit-Oriented Development, the only national nonprofit effort funded by Congress to promote best practices in transit-oriented development.

John Robert Smith’s keynote address Feb. 26, 2009, at Transportation For America launch can be found at

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‘Moving Cooler:’ Bundling Strategies Works Best

From American Public Transportation Association’s
Online News Report –“Passenger Transport”
By John R. Bell, Program Manager-Communications

A groundbreaking report on how the United States can move toward a more sustainable transportation strategy was introduced by several members of Congress and representatives of nonprofit organizations at a July 28 event in Washington, DC, attended by more than 200 people.

Moving Cooler: An Analysis of Transportation Strategies for Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions shows that an expansion of public transportation, coordinated with combining travel activity, land-use development, road pricing, and operational efficiencies, can reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) levels by 24 percent.

It estimates that the annual savings in vehicle costs to consumers would exceed the cost of enacting these strategies by as much as $112 billion.

In addition, the report finds that, from 1996 to 2006, growth in U.S. transportation GHG emissions accounted for nearly half the increase in total such emissions. Therefore, reducing the transportation sector’s GHG emissions is key to reducing those of the nation. The research conducted by Cambridge Systematics, analyzed strategies and their impact through 2050.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) embraced the report’s findings, saying he was “very excited about what you have done to set the stage” for a greener transportation sector. He mentioned the climate change bill that the House recently passed as an opportunity to make greater investments in public transit, adding: “I hope that the Senate goes far beyond what the House did, and there seems to be some indication” that this may happen. The House narrowly approved the bill to contain GHG emissions, which has moved to the Senate for its consideration.

Deputy Secretary of Transportation John Porcari emphasized that no one “magic bullet” exists for the transportation sector to solve climate change. “There is no single strategy that can be pursued to help us turn our corner,” he said. “We need to look at a number of options.”

“This particular study really gives us what we need more than anything else—and that is the hard facts,” said Peter Rogoff, administrator of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). He said the report gives “not just options, but also bundles of options,” which would have a “multiplier effect” when used together. For instance, he talked about how enhanced public transportation, combined with smart growth, will provide greater access for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Rogoff cited the federal Transit Investments for Greenhouse Gas and Energy Reduction (TIGGER) program as an example of how public transportation systems have eagerly embraced their role in addressing climate change.

Also at the event, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman James Oberstar (D-MN) called for immediate passage of the new transportation authorization legislation, citing an APTA white paper finding that a 10 percent mode shift from automobiles to public transit would eliminate the equivalent of all oil the U.S. currently imports from Saudi Arabia—550 million barrels per year.

“An integrated, multi-strategy approach would make the right moves, make the right choices, and move us in the right directions,” Oberstar said. “You’ve come along at the right time, with the right message, with the right initiative. Let’s move,” he said, “and let’s move cooler.”

Moving Cooler provides a good database from which to start in building America’s future transportation system, said APTA President William Millar. “This study confirms that to be effective in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector, we must move beyond thinking about individual modes,” said Millar. “With comprehensive and systematic changes in how we approach transportation and land use, public transit and other strategies can play a significant role in addressing climate change. It is time for all of us in the transportation industry to do our part.”

In responding to a question about public transit’s ability to thrive only in traditional Northeastern enclaves, Millar noted that there is no area of the nation where public transit cannot flourish. “Dallas is underway with the biggest light rail project in the nation,” he said, “and 15 years ago people didn’t think Texans would take public transit.” The same has been true of Denver and Salt Lake City, he said—both of which have thriving, expanding public transit systems.

Sens. Tom Carper (D-DE) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) also spoke and urged stronger action on climate change.

Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) Executive Director Peter Lehner said the report “shows that we can align our transportation, climate, and energy policies to reduce oil consumption, cut heat-trapping pollution, and increase savings for consumers.”

The report was sponsored by APTA, the Urban Land Institute, FTA, Federal Highway Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, NRDC, Shell Oil Company, Rockefeller Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Surdna Foundation, Kresge Foundation, Intelligent Transportation Society of America, and Environmental Defense Fund.

A presentation of the report will be made Aug. 4 in Salt Lake City as part of APTA’s Sustainability Workshop.

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Cut Carbon Emissions By “Moving Cooler”

By DF Staff And From The Urban Land Institute On The Internet
Additional Details About The Report:

Moving Cooler: An Analysis Of Transportation Strategies
For Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Since the transportation sector caused over half the increase in greenhouse gas emissions in the ten years from 1996 to 2006, this report focuses on the effectiveness of reducing GHG’s by reducing car use. A wide variety of strategies that require major changes in zoning rules, building codes, and transportation regulations will be needed. We must revert to the “old-fashioned” neighborhood design where people were far less dependent on a car because they lived close enough to downtowns, schools, libraries, offices, recreation areas, and other homes. Sidewalks on each side of the street with grassy buffers and trees made walking pleasant and far safer than it is today. It will not be easy to retrofit sprawling subdivisions and revitalize our paved over, bleak cities, but it can and must be done. We spent the 20th century designing on the scale of the automobile. We must spend the 21st century undoing this damage.

Moving Cooler: An Analysis of Transportation Strategies for Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions, by Cambridge Systematics, Inc. based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was prepared to inform various federal, state, and local proposals and plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from all sectors of the U.S. economy by more than 80 percent of the 2005 level by 2050.

Sponsors include the American Public Transportation Association, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Intelligent Transportation Society of America, the Kresge Foundation, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Shell Oil Company, the Surdna Foundation, the Funders Network for Smart Growth, as well as a number of federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Highway Administration, and the Federal Transit Administration.

The report ( is the most comprehensive look to date at transportation strategies that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save consumers money.

Key study findings:

The study found that improving fuel-efficiency and car technology without reducing car-use would not be effective. The increase in vehicle miles traveled (VMT) would offset the gains.

Therefore, changes in land use are essential to reduce how much people drive. Land use strategies focus specifically on the relationship between housing density and miles traveled, with higher density correlating to a reduction in both the number and length of vehicle trips. The land use density assumptions are grouped into three levels of implementation that have varying degrees of impact in cutting carbon emissions:

“Expanded current practice,” in which 43 percent of new housing built between 2015 and 2050 is in areas with five or more units per acre;

“Aggressive deployment,” in which 64 percent is built in areas with five or more units per acre; and

“Maximum deployment,” in which 90 percent is built in areas with five or more units per acre.

Cost is another way to reduce driving:

Moving Cooler points out that economy-wide pricing measure—such as an increase in the gasoline tax, carbon pricing, and pay-as-you-drive insurance—would produce the most significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, due to the likelihood of substantial shifts in driving behavior mandated by the high costs. However, outside of these pricing measures, the land use strategies produce the most emission reductions of any of the other strategies analyzed. Moreover, the costs of implementing such changes in development patterns are offset by the substantial savings in the cost of vehicle ownership and maintenance, the report adds.

The findings cite multiple benefits derived from combining concentrated, mixed-use land development strategies and non-motorized transportation strategies to reduce auto dependency: “The combined effect of more compact land use, improved transit service and improved bicycle and pedestrian conditions would be to improve mobility by non-automobile modes...Increased opportunities for walking and biking will lead to improvements in public health, and exercise and activity levels increase. Finally, denser development can lead to energy and greenhouse gas savings through decreased building use, in addition to transportation efficiencies.”

Comments of the Fresh Energy Blog:

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POLITICAL LINES... Political Lines...  

Senate Bill (Draft) Reduces Funding
For High Speed Rail

From Congressional Quarterly
By Colby Itkowitz

WASHINGTON, DC, JULY 20 -- A $122 billion spending measure for housing and transportation programs, which came out of the House with $4 billion for high speed rail, has substantially less for rail - $1.2 billion - in the Senate version, reported Colby Itkowitz in a story for the Quarterly. The draft Transportation and Housing and Urban Development appropriations was approved by voice vote and is slated for a full committee markup on Thursday, August 6.

The House bill (HR 3288) provides that the Transportation Department could transfer $2 billion of the funding for rail to a national infrastructure bank if such a bank is authorized before the end of fiscal 2010.

The infrastructure bank, which is supported by President Obama, is proposed in the draft six-year transportation bill approved last month by a House Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee.

The Senate bill does not include any money for a national infrastructure bank. The Transportation-HUD Appropriations Subcommittee’s ranking Republican, Christopher S. Bond of Missouri, said panel members agreed that they need to “find out what it is and how it is going to be used before we put money into it.”

Other features of the bill are similar to the House version:

The markup is scheduled for 3 p.m. Thursday in 106 Dirksen.

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STOCKS...  Selected Rail Stocks...


Burlington Northern & Santa Fe(BNI)78.5978.89
Canadian National (CNI)48.7845.93
Canadian Pacific (CP)44.4940.35
CSX (CSX)40.1240.72
Genessee & Wyoming (GWR)27.2929.18
Kansas City Southern (KSU)20.3120.35
Norfolk Southern (NSC)43.2544.84
Providence & Worcester (PWX)11.5011.50
Union Pacific (UNP)57.5257.99

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COMMUTER LINES... Commuter Lines...  

Riders, Lawmakers Try To Keep
MBTA Ferry Boats Afloat

The Patriot Ledger

Map of Commuter Boat Service South of the City of Boston

BOSTON, JULY 30 –Commuters are anxious about losing their boat to Quincy, according to a story for the Patriot Ledger by Nancy Reardon. “A visitor, waiting with others at Boston’s Long Wharf for the 4:30 pm boat, remarks, ‘This is such a great service they have here.’ He is unaware of the news that’s been hanging over South Shore ferry commuters for months: that the boat service could soon disappear.” The MBTA has been saying for a while that the service is too costly at $4.5 million a year to run five boats, including the one to Logan Airport and the Charlestown Navy Yard.

Lawmakers are starting to mobilize commuters who rely on the boats every day to speak out against service reductions.

The MBTA will hold three public hearings in August for feedback on its proposed fare increases and cutbacks for subway, bus, and commuter train and ferry services.

Rep. Garrett Bradley wrote a letter to MBTA General Manager Daniel Grabauskas to voice his opposition to any cuts.

A development project at Hingham shipyard is counting on the continued boat service. Retail businesses that were attracted to the area assuming that the commuter boat service would operate would be devastated.

“Once this project is completed, there will be many residents from the development who would use the boat to go to and from Boston every day,” Bradley wrote. “This will be an increase in ridership which is not reflected in the current use estimates.”

Commuter boats took nearly 1.3 million people from the South Shore to and from Boston between July 1, 2008, and June 30, 2009, according to the MBTA.

The MBTA is considering raising fares a little more than 20%, and even then, there may be cuts in service.

Stan Wasserman, 58, of Quincy Point called the proposed cuts “narrow-minded and short-sighted,” as he walked his bike off a commuter boat at Long Wharf on Wednesday.

Wasserman, who said he’s a volunteer with the New England Aquarium and involved with its plan to open a fish tank at the Fore River shipyard, called the boats a “vital part of the whole community of Quincy Point.”


Three public hearings are scheduled to discuss the proposed elimination or reduction of service for commuter boats.

Aug. 10 in Boston
State House, Gardner Auditorium, 4 to 7 p.m.

Aug. 12 in Braintree:
Thayer Public Library, 
798 Washington St., 
5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Aug. 27 in Boston:
State Transportation Building, 10 Park Plaza, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Departing Boston on the Commuter Ferry

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AMTRAK... News From Amtrak...  

Amtrak Could Restore Service Between New Orleans and Orlando

Don Adams Reporting

July 28 - Amtrak has made a number of proposals to Congress that could restore service between New Oeleans and Orlando. Officials with the national passenger rail service initially evaluated 12 alternates for restoring service. Those were narrowed to three preferred options, based on revenue, operating exoense, and operating loss.

One option would return the Sunset Limited between Orlando and Los Angeles. “Three days a week across the panhandle of Florida from New Orleans down to Orlando,” says Amtral spokesman Marc Magliari. The second option would extend the daily ‘City of New Orleans’ service, a train that travels between Chicago and New Orleans. That service would continue into Florida and terminate in Orlando. The third option would implement daily stand-alone overnight service bwteen New Orleans and Orlando.

That’s thought to be the least likely scenario. Each option assumes that the 19 stations between New Orleans and Orlando would be serves by th etrains. It is now the job os federal and state policy makers to decide whether th epassenger service should be restored and if so, which option is preferred. also needed is the additional funding for capital and operating expenses. “It’ll be up to those who would be doing the funding and the decision-making. We’d be running any of these services id, indeed, they are funded,” says Magliari. Under any plan a return of the rail service to Florida is more than a year away.

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

Long Island Rail Road Celebrates
175th Anniversary In Style

By David Peter Alan

The Long Island Rail Road celebrated its 175 Anniversary on Saturday, July 25th in a manner reminiscent of a former era of railroading. The railroad ran a special excursion train to Greenport, at the end of its Main Line.

The special train ran as part of a continuing celebration, which began on April 24th. The company was granted a charter on April 24, 1834, and is the oldest railroad in the nation which still operates under its original name. The LIRR was a subsidiary of the Pennsylvania Railroad from 1900 until 1966, and has been a part of New York State’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) since that time.

The “special” consisted of four bi-level coaches which the railroad uses on its non-electrified lines and a dual-mode locomotive on each end. Each engine sported a special drumhead sign that proclaimed the 175th anniversary of the railroad. Of the 239 persons aboard, some were railroad officials, others were rail fans from the New York area, and still others were tourists enjoying a day trip with a difference. Members of the LI Sunrise Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society served as docents for the trip, telling stories and answering questions about the LIRR.

The train originated at Jamaica; passengers coming from Penn Station or Brooklyn took a connecting train to get there. Although the railroad historically operated through trains from Jamaica to Greenport, such a train is an extremely rare occurrence today. A “scoot” (the railroad’s name for a shuttle) between Ronkonkoma and Greenport replaced the through operation in 1999. The excursion included a stop for 90 minutes in Riverhead to tour the Railroad Museum of Long Island. The highlight of the museum was a ride on the 16-inch-guage train, the type seen in amusement parks, which ran at the New York World’s Fair in 1964-65. The excursion train then proceeded to Greenport, where the train set parked for the afternoon. Everyone had almost five hours to explore Greenport.

LIRR Birthday

All Photos: Gary R. Kazin

Happy Birthday To You!

The route of the special train is the “Main Line” of the LIRR, even though the line to Montauk on Long Island’s south shore is longer. It took until 1844 for construction of the line to Greenport and the start of service, which was then a segment of a “fast” route from the New York area to Boston. Passengers would take a ferry from Manhattan to Brooklyn (then an independent city) and board a train for Greenport. Steamers met the trains at Greenport and took passengers to Stonington, Connecticut (the town east of New London), where they boarded trains to Boston on the line now used by Amtrak. The trip took eight hours, but the route was rendered obsolete when through trains began operating on the Shore Line (now Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor Line) in 1850. The 1840s trip is still possible today, except that the ferry to New London leaves from Orient Point, which can be reached by a local bus (the S-92) from Greenport. The trip still takes about eight hours if there are no missed connections, but the local bus does not run on Sundays.

Greenport is a historic maritime town which features several attractions: a maritime museum in the former LIRR passenger station, the other location of the Railroad Museum of Long Island in the former freight house, a history museum, another miniature railroad, a ferry to Shelter Island, a blacksmith shop, an antique carousel in the park, and many Victorian houses and historic commercial buildings that can be seen as part of a walking tour. Some businesses founded during the height of Greenport’s maritime era still survive, including Preston’s Marine Supply and Claudio’s, a seafood restaurant that has been in operation since 1870. This writer joined a party of rail fans for lunch there, which provided an opportunity for an extended discussion about Long Island’s railroad history.

The special train is part of the LIRR’s “One-Day Getaway” program that offers day trips to various attractions on Long Island, as well as trips into Manhattan for Long Islanders. Normally, these packages use regularly scheduled trains. LIRR Media Relations Manager Michael Charles and his colleague Susan McGowan spearheaded the planning for the special trip. According to Charles, the trip was the culmination of a planning effort that began last summer.

LIRR Birthday LIRR Birthday

The celebration of the railroad’s anniversary continues with an exhibit about the history of the LIRR, which will run through September 13th at the NYC Transit Museum in Brooklyn Heights. There is also a video highlighting the railroad’s history on their web site,, or the MTA site,

The trip was a resounding success, and everyone appeared to enjoy the day. As the railroad’s Michael Charles said: “People were friendly and they enjoyed themselves. We had a nice full day and the weather cooperated.” He also said that he was happy to see that so many people had ridden the special train. Samuel Berliner III, a docent on the trip, said he is looking forward to a similar excursion to celebrate the railroad’s 200th anniversary in 2034. “I’ll be 101 then, and I expect to be on board for it,” he said.

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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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In an effort to expand the on-line experience at the National Corridors Initiative web site, we have added a page featuring links to other transportation initiative sites. We hope to provide links to those cities or states that are working on rail transportation initiatives – state DOTs, legislators, government offices, and transportation organizations or professionals – as well as some links for travelers, enthusiasts, and hobbyists. If you have a favorite link, please send the web address (URL) to our webmaster.

Destination Freedom is partially funded by the Surdna Foundation, and other contributors.

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