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
 

Contribute To NCI

August 16, 2010
Vol. 11 No. 34

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

This E-Zine is best viewed at
1024 X 768 screen resolution

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

  News Items…
First American High-Speed Terminal Under Construction
   In San Francisco
Denver Launches Rail Project to Connect Airport
  More Station Lines…
Massachusetts Applies For Federal Funds To Expand
   South Station
  Political Lines…
SEPTA Execs Want More Taxpayer Money For Mass Transit
Ruling on I-80 tolls costs Pennsylvania $472 million
“Act 44” Reality Check
 
  High-Speed Lines…
Southern States Collaborate On Planning
   For High-Speed Rail
  Selected Rail Stocks…
  Rolling Stock Lines…
Metra To Buy New Rail Cars
  Across The Pond…
Trans-Asia ECO Train Travels From Turkey To Pakistan
  We Get Letters…
  Publication Notes …


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

Breaking Ground In California:

 

First American High-Speed Terminal
Under Construction In San Francisco

From Internet Sources And WKGO San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO---The first in what are supposed to be a series of High Speed Rail stations in California, and ultimately across America saw its ground-breaking this week as U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and others broke ground for the Transbay Transit Center, which will be the northern terminus for the California High Speed Rail system, while serving eleven other transit operators and more than 45 million passengers a year.

“Today, in breaking ground on the Transbay Transit Center, we are opening a new chapter in that history of progress,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said. “We are coming together to create jobs and revitalize our economy, and we are laying the first building blocks of a new ‘Grand Central Station of the West.’”

The over-all California High Speed Rail Project is estimated to create more than 48,000 jobs in its first phase of construction, which will last seven years. These jobs include the people who will design, build and operate the facility, the manufacturing jobs created by the materials being utilized in the facility and the businesses providing consumer goods and services to workers and the passengers utilizing the Transit Center.

“This is one of the most important and transformational public transportation projects in America. Once the dust has settled, San Francisco’s skyline will be transformed – as will transportation, housing, and employment choices for people across the Bay area and beyond,” said United States Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. The U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Railroad Administration are proud to contribute to the first phase of this effort.”

The full Phase 1 (Transit Center) and Phase 2 (Downtown Rail Extension) of the project will also increase the gross regional product in the Bay Area by $80 billion.

“This is a historic day for San Francisco and for the entire State,” said Mayor Newsom. “History will write that High-Speed Rail and a new engine for job creation and economic growth in California began today, with the groundbreaking of this project. It is a culmination of decades of planning to fulfill our City’s vision of leading the nation as a transit-first City and a hub of a modern High-Speed Rail system.”

For more than 40 years, San Francisco has been planning for the replacement of the outdated and seismically deficient Transbay Terminal at First and Mission streets. The new one million square foot Transbay Transit Center will serve as San Francisco’s next landmark and will feature a 5.4-acre public park on the roof of the Transit Center.

The five-story Transit Center includes: one above-grade bus level, a ground floor entrance on Mission Street, concourse level, and two below-grade rail levels serving Caltrain and future California High-Speed Rail

“We are very proud of what our facility will do for San Francisco, and we are equally proud of the fact that we will become the first new station on the High-Speed Rail system to move into construction,” said Nathaniel P. Ford, Sr., Chairman of the TJPA Board. “This is a moment in history to be remembered. While we break ground on this significant achievement, we must be proud of the work we’ve done and for the foundation built by those who came before us.”

The $4.2 billion Transbay Transit Center Project is funded by various funding partners including the federal Government, the State of California, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the San Francisco County and San Mateo County Transportation Authorities and AC Transit, among others.

The first phase of the program, which includes constructing the new Transit Center, is fully funded. “Today we deliver to the public the first new High-Speed Rail station in the United States, the first modern regional bus station in more than 60 years, and after more than 100 years, a downtown San Francisco train station,” said Maria Ayerdi-Kaplan, Executive Director, TJPA. “This is truly an important time for our City and our State. We are making a real and lasting investment to improve our public infrastructure system while protecting our environment and creating new jobs.”

TransBay Station Artist Concept Drawing

Image: Transbay.org

Artist rendition of the Transbay Terminal

“Why don’t we have high-speed rail in America? Because we never made the investment, that’s why,” said Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood.

San Francisco has had a plan for high speed rail for years and now Congress and the administration has come up with the money -- $400 million to start.

“We have the money for the project and we have people. I can’t tell you how many people were in the hiring halls, the building trades without work. This is going to put a lot of people to work,” said Transbay project executive director Maria Ayerdi-Kaplan.

“This Transbay Transit Center project is quite simply a bullet train for job creation,” said Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.

The new Transbay Transit Center is scheduled to open in August 2017. For more information, visit www.transbaycenter.org.


Return to index
Denver Launches Rail Project to Connect Airport

DF Staff and Air Transport Intelligence News

[ Editor’s note: Given all the recent attention paid to airport / train connectivity (or lack of) in this newsletter, here’s what sounds like good news for travelers arriving in Denver a few years from now. ]

AUGUST 10 -- Denver International Airport has unveiled an ambitious $650 million redevelopment project that will include a train station, a conference centre and a 500-room hotel.

“With the addition of a rail connection to our city core and the terminal hotel, we will truly be competitive with major international airports worldwide,” said Kim Day, Denver Manager of Aviation. “The design complements the existing iconic architecture and provides enhanced passenger experience while improving the connectivity for passengers and employees alike.”

The project, dubbed the South terminal redevelopment programme, will be funded primarily through General Airport Revenue Bonds that will be repaid through airport revenues.

The hotel is expected to be completed in 2013, followed by a rail bridge and RTD (Regional Transportation District) that will link passengers between downtown Denver Union Station and the airport. The 22.8 mile airport corridor will use larger and heavier cars than most light rail systems.

Denver served 50 million passengers in 2009, with nonstop service to 167 cities provided by 17 commercial carriers. Seven new markets will be added this year.


Return to index
MORE STATION LINES... More Station Lines...  

Massachusetts Applies For Federal Funds
To Expand South Station

Expansion Will Boost Amtrak, MBTA Commuter Rail Service

By DF Staff and MBTA Press Release

BOSTON – As part of the Vision for the New England High-speed and Intercity Rail Network, the Patrick-Murray Administration has submitted a formal application for federal High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail funds for the design phase of the Boston South Station Expansion Project.

The $32.5 million grant application, if approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration, would fund the environmental permitting and design phase of the expansion project, which would include relocating the South Boston US Postal Service distribution facility on Congress Street and add seven new track berths at South Station. The expansion would support a significant increase in Amtrak Acela Express High-Speed Rail service to Boston along with planned MBTA commuter rail service expansion.

“The vision of dramatically improved high-speed rail service in the Commonwealth is on track to become reality, and a lynchpin is the expansion of South Station,” said Governor Deval Patrick.

“Our administration understands the importance of expanding commuter rail service for the Central, Metrowest, and South coast regions,” said Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray.  “This application offers a great opportunity to seek additional funding for infrastructure and design improvements at South Station, and we thank our congressional delegation for their continued support and partnership.”

“This is a unique 100-year opportunity to pursue a rail expansion project of national significance at one of our country’s most important rail hubs and New England’s most significant transportation asset, South Station,” said MassDOT Secretary and CEO Jeff Mullan.  “I applaud the FRA for seeking applications, and thank Governor Patrick, Lt. Governor Murray, and the entire Massachusetts congressional delegation for their attention to the importance of South Station, the Northeast Corridor, and the future of rail in the region.”

The South Station High-Speed Rail Project will:

In the long term, the project will provide for excess capacity to allow further service expansion beyond those currently planned for Amtrak and commuter rail. The project has received strong support from Amtrak and the U.S. Postal Service.

The South Station Project application is part of the latest round of applications under the High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail program and follows earlier successful grant applications by Massachusetts and other New England states.

In January 2010, the Patrick-Murray Administration announced the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded $70 million in High-Speed Rail federal stimulus funds for final design and construction of the “Knowledge Corridor” along the Connecticut River rail line in western Massachusetts.  The $70 million grant award was part of $485 million in stimulus funds invested to improve rail lines in the Northeast Corridor.

In July of 2009, Governor Patrick and all New England Governors, announced plans to work together on a coordinated regional vision for high-speed rail that will connect major cities and airports, and support economic growth throughout the region.  The Vision for the New England High-Speed and Intercity Rail Network lays out key projects to strengthen passenger and freight rail service along new and existing rail corridors.  The goal is to double passenger rail ridership in the Northeast by 2030.

MassDOT is the new, unified transportation organization created in 2009 under the historic reform legislation passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Governor Patrick. MassDOT’s four divisions are focused on delivering safe and efficient transportation services across the Commonwealth.

For transportation news and updates, visit the MassDOT website at www.mass.gov/massdot, the MassDOT blog at www.mass.gov/blog/transportation or follow MassDOT on twitter at www.twitter.com/massdot.


Return to index
POLITICAL LINES... Political Lines...  

SEPTA Execs Want More Taxpayer Money
For Mass Transit

Takes Issue With Investigative Report Revealing Waste Of Taxpayer Money

“The Bulletin” In Philadelphia
Writer Eric Boehm
And DF Staff

PHILADELPHIA, AUGUST 9 --- In testimony to the Senate Transportation Committee two weeks ago, Mr. Joseph Casey, general manager of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), asked for more tax dollars to fund capital projects and defended certain practices uncovered in a recent investigative report.

Casey said SEPTA needs millions more of taxpayer dollars for projects they had to abandon when Act 44 (see sidebar) funding fell through last April.

“Act 44 and the I-80 issue necessitated us carving out $400 million in capital projects from our budget,” said Mr. Casey, who said significant repairs were needed for many of SEPTA’s rail bridges, which have an average age of 78 years. Also on hold is a $100 million planned restoration of Suburban Station beneath Philadelphia City Hall.

Ruling on I-80 tolls costs Pennsylvania $472 million

By Brad Bumsted and Matthew Santoni
PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Wednesday, April 7, 2010

HARRISBURG -- The federal government’s rejection of Pennsylvania’s plan to toll Interstate 80 creates a $472 million hole in the state transportation budget that will shelve hundreds of road and bridge projects, Gov. Ed Rendell said Tuesday.

For complete article go to:
Pittsburg Live News

But Sen. John Gordner, R-Columbia, showed the portions of SEPTA funded by state, local, and federal taxpayers: “In the end, what’s left of Act 44 has more money going to mass transit than to roads and bridges in 67 counties. So, I just encourage you to continue to tighten the belt and look at ways to fund some cost savings and innovate,” said Gordner. He took a considerably cooler tone with Mr. Casey that night than he did two weeks before when he went on the offensive against state-supported mass transit during Gov. Ed Rendell’s appearance before the Senate Transportation Committee.

According to the story, “Mr. Gordner pointed out SEPTA received $664 million in taxpayer funded subsides last year. Of that, $554 million - 85 percent - came from the state and only $75 million - 11 percent - came from local taxes.

“Those totals do not include the more than $7 million which Gov. Ed Rendell “flexed” from the state’s transportation budget to SEPTA last year as part of a deal to end a strike by the Authority.”

Those funds were used to give every SEPTA employee a $1,200 bonus, said Mr. Casey. On average, SEPTA workers make a little more than $24 per hour, for an average annual salary of “about $45,000,” he said.

Mr. Casey was also called on by Sen. John Rafferty, R-Montgomery, Senate Transportation Chair, to explain the use of agency funds for holiday parties and gifts to board members, a practice brought to light by an investigative report by Fox News.

“I thought the whole piece was a new low for investigative reporters,” said Casey. He said the board members do not get paid and felt the end-of-year party was “appropriate,” as was a gift of several hundred dollars presented to a board member who had served for 17 years.

A trip to South Korea by SEPTA was also criticized by the Fox report. Casey said the expensive last minute trip was the result of “critical issues at a manufacturing plant” building SEPTA rail cars.


Return to index
 

“Act 44” Reality Check

From a Blog by Tammy Alonso
April 13, 2010

Last week, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania was hit with the reality that, under federal law, tolls collected on Interstate 80 could not be used to fund other planned highway and transit projects, and the hand-wringing and recriminations began.

But the outcome of the decision should have been no surprise to state lawmakers. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood made it perfectly clear that, under the pilot program that was enacted to allow states to collect tolls on federally funded interstates, all revenue collected was required to be used to improve only the highway being tolled. In Pennsylvania’s case, that would mean that only I-80 could benefit from I-80 tolls.

Lawmakers should have known this back in 2007 when they passed the Act 44 transportation funding bill, essentially pinning their hopes on the idea that Washington would apparently bend the rules and allow them to use the money accrued from the I-80 tolls to pay for any number of road and bridge projects in the state, in addition to funding municipal transit agencies.

They were either woefully misinformed regarding the provisions of the federally-mandated pilot programs, or they were engaging in the same kind of wishful thinking that has gotten so many Americans into so much money trouble: I know I don’t have the money to pay for it now, but by the time the bill comes due, somehow, the necessary funds will magically appear before me.

For the complete blog: http://www.pa2010.com/2010/04/the-act-44-screw-up/


Return to index
HIGH-SPEED LINES... High-Speed Lines...  

Southern States Collaborate On Planning
For High-Speed Rail

Tennessee And Georgia Combine Efforts To Get Federal Funding

From Tennessaen.com Writer Michael Cass

AUGUST 10 –The Departments of Transportation of Tennessee and Georgia have jointly filed an application for $34 million in federal funds to develop high speed rail service from Atlanta to Chattanooga, Nashville, and eventually Louisville, Kentucky. Both states will continue the environmental planning and engineering for the service between Atlanta and Chattanooga. Tennessee DOT would manage the planning process from Chattanooga to Nashville.

In his announcement of this success in inter-state planning, Georgia Transportation Commissioner Vance C. Smith Jr. thanked Tennessee Transportation Commissioner Gerald Nicely and U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp, a Chattanooga Republican, for their support. According to the story by Cass, “Wamp and Georgia’s congressional delegation played key roles in securing nearly $14 million in federal funds last year for the Atlanta-Chattanooga High-Speed Ground Transportation Study.”


Return to index
STOCKS...  Selected Rail Stocks...

Source: MarketWatch.com

   This
Week
Previous
Week
Canadian National (CNI)60.5964.20
Canadian Pacific (CP) 57.3960.55
CSX (CSX)50.3953.40
Genessee & Wyoming (GWR)38.6040.80
Kansas City Southern (KSU)34.4437.75
Norfolk Southern (NSC)54.6857.06
Providence & Worcester(PWX)12.2512.00
Union Pacific (UNP)73.4577.04


Return to index

ROLLING STOCK LINES... Rolling Stock Lines...  

Metra To Buy New Rail Cars

Via Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times on the Internet

CHICAGO, AUGUST 13 --- Chicago commuter rail service, Metra, will buy 160 new cars for its Electric Line at a cost of $560 million, reported the Chicago Tribune online in a story by Associated Press. The purchase will be made with Illinois capital funds.

The current 1970’s-era cars in use, which were powered by DC propulsion, will be scrapped because they will not be compatible with the AC propulsion used by the new cars. About half of the new cars will be equipped with bathrooms — an improvement over the old cars, which had none.

Acting Executive Director William Tupper said Metra already has 26 new Sumitomo cars operating on the Electric Line which serves Chicago’s South Side and the city’s south suburbs.

Chicago- Metra is projecting a $17 million revenue deficit for the year, because of falling ridership, which was down 4 percent between June 2009 and June 2010.

The agency blames local unemployment for the decline in commuting.

Metra at 59th Street Station

Photo: L. Hoon via Wikipedia.Com

A Metra train pulls out of the 59th Street Station.

At a recent board meeting Tupper said they are working on measures to reduce the deficit, including using capital funds for operating expenses. Also, they were able to reduce overtime expenses this past year because it was a less snowy winter, and they will continue to find ways to keep overtime expenses in check.

Metra Chairwoman Carole Doris said they do not want to increase fares and are looking at “other ways to reduce expenses.” A fare increase would be difficult for riders in this economy, she said.

The new cars are similar in design to Metra’s bi-level cars on its diesel-powered trains. They are expected to be in service in 24 months.


Return to index
ACROSS THE POND... Across The Pond...  

Installments by David Beale
NCI Foreign Editor

 

Trans-Asia ECO Train Travels
From Turkey To Pakistan

Rail Freight Route From Europe To South Asia Becoming Reality

via IRNA Iranian News Agency, Pakistan Ministry of Transport and other sources

Tehran, Iran – A second Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) container freight train which originated in Istanbul, Turkey and destined for Iran and Pakistan, pulled into the Pakistani capitol of Islamabad last Friday (13th of August). The inaugural ECO freight train traveled from Islamabad to Istanbul one year ago.

The eastbound train took approximately 11 days to travel 6500 km (4040 mile) route. The time spent at the break of gauge at Zahedan, Iran (just west of the Pakistani border) was cut from 14 hours to 8 hours thanks to transshipment and customs procedures taking place simultaneously. Customs inspections will be transferred to Mirjaveh on the Iran-Pakistan border once the necessary facilities have been completed. The rail networks in Turkey and Iran are predominately of European / North American standard gauge, while the rail network in Pakistan (and neighboring India) are mostly 1676 mm (5 1/2 ft.) broad gauge.

The first ECO container train arrives in Tehran en-route from Islamabad

Photo from ISNA

Turkish delight? The first ECO container train arrives in Tehran en-route from Islamabad to Istanbul back in August 2009.

ECO – Economic Cooperation Organization is an alliance of central Asian countries, founded originally by Turkey, Iran and Pakistan about 25 years ago, but now includes a number of other countries, most of which are former members of the USSR plus new member Afghanistan. The group promotes regional cooperation on matters of trade, investment, economic development and transportation. The concept of the ECO train was proposed at the 18th Regional Planning Council of the ECO held in March 2008 in Islamabad.

The challenges this rail freight route from Europe’s southeastern frontier to Pakistan (and possibly beyond to India) has are numerous: the Pakistani rail network is in poor condition after decades of neglect, and recent record-setting floods are certain to make matters worse for some rail lines in Pakistan. Import and export of any goods with either European or US content into or through Iran has become even more problematic due to new EU restrictions and tougher UN sanctions placed recently on Iran. Also, land commerce between Pakistan and India continues to remain complicated due to decades long political and military tensions between Pakistan and India.

Despite these challenges, pressure continues to build to find a faster and more secure way to ship freight in this part of the world. Aside from the developing route to Pakistan, a re-connected and renewed rail network is coming together on the Arabian Peninsula, which will link much of the booming Middle East to Turkey and central Asia, and from Turkey to Europe via the still under-construction rail tunnels from Asia to Europe in Istanbul. Likewise efforts to improve freight rail transport between Europe and China continue to increase, mostly via the existing Trans-Siberian Railroad in Russia, but also via several alternative rail routes through southeastern Europe and central Asian countries. Increased pirate activity in shipping lanes around the Horn of Africa as well as increasing pirate activity along the coast of West Africa have sent insurance premiums for ocean shipping soaring and are driving shippers in Europe, the Middle East and Asia to look for overland routes on trains.


Return to index
WE GET LETTERS... We Get Letters...  

Dear Editor:

David Peter Alan is correct that airport access varies greatly. While he mentions Baltimore Thurgood Marshall Airport as being near Amtrak, not only does the Airport provide frequent, FREE, shuttle service to the Amtrak/commuter rail station, the Baltimore Light Rail Line which starts at the main Baltimore Amtrak Station ends at the Airport Terminal building.   This much more rider/flyer friendly setup reflects a single state agency in charge of the airport as well as commuter and local rail transit.   LaGuardia and JFK are part of the Port Authority who have no interest in cooperating with the MTA which operates the Subways and LIRR.

David Vartanoff
Oakland


Return to index
END NOTES...  Publication Notes...

Copyright © 2010 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.

Web page links as reproduced in our articles are active at the time we go to press. Occasionally, news and information outlets may opt to archive these articles and notices under alternative web addresses after initial publication. NCI has no control over the policies of other web sites and regrets any inconvenience experienced when clicking off our web site.

We try to be accurate in the stories we write, but even seasoned pros err occasionally. If you read something you know to be amiss, or if you have a question about a topic, we’d like to hear from you. Please e-mail the editor at editor@nationalcorridors.org. Please include your name, and the community and state from which you write. For technical issues contact D. Kirkpatrick, NCI’s webmaster at webmaster@nationalcorridors.org.

Photo submissions are welcome. NCI is always interested in images that demonstrate the positive aspects of rail, transit, intermodalism, transportation-oriented development, and current newsworthy events associated with our mission. Please contact the webmaster in advance of sending large images so we can recommend attachment by e-mail or grant direct file transfer protocols (FTP) access depending on size. Descriptive text which includes location and something about the content of the image is required. We will credit the photographer and offer a return link to your web site or e-mail address.

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.

|| Top of Page || Past Newsletter Editions || NCI Home Page || Contact Us

  || page viewings since date of release.