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 The Cause
Help NCI Help You!

September 22, 2008
Vol. 9 No. 40

Copyright © 2008
NCI Inc., All Rights Reserved

Home Page: www.nationalcorridors.org

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

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

  News Items…
Governors, Canadian Premiers To Focus On Regional
   Transportation Collaboration
  Expansion Lines…
A Push To Revive Amtrak’s Pioneer Route Across The West
  Selected Rail Stocks…
  Across The Pond…
Tragic Collision In California Sends America A Clear Signal
 
  Events…
RailTrends 2008 - Sept 30 – Oct 1 - New York
  Opinion…
Can A Bad Example Discredit A Great Idea?
  We Get Letters…
  Publication Notes …


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

Breakthrough At Bar Harbor

 

Governors, Canadian Premiers To Focus
On Regional Transportation Collaboration

 

BAR HARBOR, MAINE --- Governors from the six New England states and premiers from the five eastern-most Canadian provinces gathered at Bar Harbor September 16 in a wide-ranging summit that was the best attended --- by the senior elected leadership of the Northeast --- in at least 15 years.

Every New England Governor, including Connecticut’s Jodi Rell who had never before attended the annual event, was present, as were four of the five Canadian premiers; only a death in the political family prevented Prince Edward Island’s premier from attending, and he sent a senior representative.


Three Photos: NCI

Maine Governor John Baldacci (center) meets with conference attendees at the New England Governors/Eastern Canadian Preimiers Conference in Bar Harbor, Maine

A highlight of the conference at Bar Harbor’s spectacular Bar Harbor Club was the unanimous adoption of a joint resolution calling for the creation of a permanent task force on transportation, with a charge to report back to the Governors and Premiers before the next NEG/ECP conference in 2009, potentially with a strategy for creating a permanent region-wide entity that will survive the periodic changes in elected and appointed officials that invariably interrupt, sometimes fatally, regional attempts to collaborate on large infrastructure projects such as transportation and energy.

NCI President James RePass, who was invited to attend the conference by Maine Governor John Baldacci, called the resolution “the most important single vote by this conference in perhaps two or three decades.”

Connecticut Governor Jodi Rell (left) with Destination: Freedom Editor Molly McKay.

Bar Harbor, a beautiful location and spectacular weather for the Governors’ and Premiers’ 32nd Conference.

“Gov. Baldacci, who proposed and championed this resolution, has performed an enormous service for all New England and the Northeast, not only Maine, by insisting on this step,” said RePass. “NCI has sought such a vote by the Governors and Premiers since 1993, when it was first presented to the conference by NCI during the Administration of Massachusetts Governor, later Ambassador to Canada, Paul Cellucci.

“The six New England states and five Eastern Canadian provinces, with their small size and/or discontinuous and frequent election cycles, have found it impossible to respond meaningfully to reverse the slow economic decline of the region caused by our old and deteriorating transportation and other infrastructure,” said RePass. “This can be a breakthrough of enormous significance to the economic and environmental future of the Northeast, and lead to the reversal of our slow but steady decline in population, economic strength, and working-age residents.”

This Northeast region, which has extraordinary natural beauty and still attracts the best and brightest, is nevertheless suffering from loss of jobs and population, some of the highest energy costs in the nation, and a gridlocked transportation system that is driving away businesses.

“No single state or province can thrive on its own” was the overriding theme of the conference: solutions must be studied and analyzed according to what will work best for the entire region, while respecting individual jurisdictional needs. Recommendations were made to improve energy transmission, to adopt more efficient security measures to cut delays in border crossings, to find a mechanism for establishing uniform weight limits for trucks, and to find new ways of funding transportation that does not rely on gas tax revenues.

Climate change is a major concern of the NEG/ECP Transportation and Air Quality Committee

Much discussion focused on the commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), the majority of which come from the transportation sector. The goal is to reduce GHG emissions to 10% below 1990 levels by 2020, and to reach levels by 2050 that would eliminate any dangerous threat to our climate, a tall order by any measure. It was noted that the Conference of New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers have maintained a long-standing interest in the effects of human activity on the regional environment as evidenced by the Acid Rain Action Plan (1998), the Mercury Action Plan (1998), and the Climate Change Action Plan (2001).

Strong support was expressed by the governors and premiers for cap-and-trade agreements. Through this approach, some polluters would pay for the right to create more emissions than others as long as the total amount of emissions by all polluters does not pass a certain limit. This system has proven successful as a means to reduce air pollution while generating revenues to fund transportation investment focused on reducing vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and GHG emissions.

California LEV Standards

Several of the member states and provinces spoke about their agreement to adopt the Low Emission Vehicle standards of California whereby the goal is to reduce tailpipe greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent within the next eight years. Jean Charest, premier of Quebec, encouraged his fellow premiers and the New England governors to endorse the same standards. Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell, Nova Scotia Premier Rodney MacDonald, Vermont Governor Jim Douglas, Rhode Island Governor Donald Carcieri and Maine Governor John Baldacci each indicated that they support implementing the California standards.

Making transportation work as a system:

A crucial part of the resolution was the charge to invest in multi-modal transportation and, in so doing, to improve coordination between modes of transport. How frustrating is it to arrive at an airport and have no way to get to your destination except by renting a car. Where is the high speed train or subway to take you directly to the heart of the city? Where is the bus connection to downtown when you arrive at a train station?

This resolution calls for the “efficient movement” of goods and people, which can only be accomplished by a well-integrated system, not modes that are funded in separate silos.

Commitment to regional collaboration and cooperation:

The major breakthrough in working together regionally was the resolution that commits each member state and provincial government to “direct the proper departments and ministries to work together, including with counterparts” in the other states and provincial governments as appropriate to finalize recommendations of the Northeast CanAm Connections study, and then to “establish procedures for working together to address the recommendations, and report back to the 33rd annual conference” in 2009.

While this resolution does not specifically state there would be a permanent regional entity that would outlast the tenures of governors, the discussion that led to this resolution did focus on that necessity.

A transportation study presented to the Conference:

The Northeast CanAm Connections study by the Wilbur Smith Associates Team, (www.CanAmConnections.com) was commissioned in 2005 motivated by the concern that the Northeast CanAm Region was lagging behind the more robust economic growth occurring in other areas of North America, such as southeastern and southwestern United States and the Toronto, Canada, region.

The purpose of this study was to examine the extent to which better east-west transportation links across the border and in the states and provinces could help bolster the CanAm Region’s economic growth. The study examined surface transportation - highway, rail, ports and waterways, Atlantic and Continental Gateway initiatives, and truck harmonization. Among the recommendations were:

  • Develop an interim plan for improving east-west short-line service
  • Invest in a high-speed intermodal east-west rail corridor
  • Invest in a limited-access, truck-friendly southern east-west highway

Strengths of the region noted in the report were:

Some major disadvantages to the region’s competitiveness:

The consultant who spoke at the conference, Glen Weisbrod, noted that the main highways in the region run north south, and that, by 2020, there could be “scary” bottlenecks where these highways converge in large metropolitan areas such as Boston and New York. The recommended east-west highway, which would most likely traverse the northern New England states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont could have a total cost of between $5 billion and $8 billion. “A good chunk of money, but the benefits are three-to-one for the region,” Weisbrod said.

 

[ Editors note: “Scary” bottlenecks in New York and Boston already exist and are driving away businesses that can’t get their products transported efficiently. A new highway traversing northern New England could take 20 years or more by the time necessary studies and permits are completed, or it could be defeated all together after years of controversy. It is difficult to see how it would have a “three-to-one” benefit for the region. East-west rail infrastructure already exists. It should be upgraded and put to use – a far less costly and quicker solution than a new highway. ]

 

Other recommendations include:

The Island Explorer – Maine’s success story

An excellent example of how transportation can be funded from new sources is the Island Explorer bus system on Mount Desert Island. Twenty entities, many of them government agencies at different levels, help fund the free bus system. One of the biggest providers is the outdoor retailer L.L. Bean, which has contributed more than $1 million to the system’s costs.

Attendance:

This year’s conference boasted an almost perfect attendance - the first ever since the NEG/ECP Conference was established: Only one member, Premier Robert Ghiz of Prince Edward Island, was absent. But he sent a representative in his place. As noted above, Mr. Ghiz had to attend a funeral for former PEI Premier Bennett Campbell who had recently died from complications of cancer.

Next year’s conference is scheduled for September 15-17 in Saint John, New Brunswick.


Return to index
EXPANSION LINES... Expansion Lines...

A Push To Revive Amtrak’s Pioneer Route Across The West

From Jackson Hole Star Tribune, And New West.Net, The Voice Of The Rocky Mountains, On The Interment

A congressional delegation from Idaho, spearheaded by Republican Senator Mike Crapo and Representative Mike Simpson, would like to see Amtrak’s Pioneer train return to the region.

From 1977 to 1997, the Amtrak Pioneer passenger train ran through Idaho, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. The line connected Seattle and Chicago, meandering through Salt Lake City, Denver and the Interstate 80 corridor in Wyoming.

It was discontinued in 1997 so that enough equipment could be made available to run the Amtrak California Zephyr in daily service.

Today, the Idaho congressional delegates who want the service are encouraged by a bill recently passed in the Senate which would give Amtrak a boost in funding, $11.4 billion, spread out over several years. Senator Crapo was successful in including an amendment which would require Amtrak to study the reinstatement of the Pioneer train.

The House also approved a version of the bill, and now the two chambers need to reach a compromise. But Oklahoma Republican Tom Coburn has blocked the appointment of Senate negotiators to work with the House on a new bill.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg, a New York Democrat, sponsored the Amtrak measure and says that good intercity rail service is essential to cope with traffic congestion and high gas prices.

U.S. Senators Mike Enzi and John Barrasso, R-Wyo., are reluctant to support the Pioneer train revival, saying that Amtrak has not shown it can cover its expenses in the past, and taxpayers should not be burdened with subsidizing the railroad. This opinion is not unusual among lawmakers who see Amtrak as a special interest rather than a necessary part of the nation’s transportation system.

With gas prices rising and ridership on Amtrak increasing exponentially, many other western lawmakers see the revival of this rail service as more of a necessity than a nostalgic wish to bring back the past.

Today, timing and economics could finally be on their side.

“For many rural Americans, this route represented the only major intercity transportation link to the rest of the country,” said the letter, which was also signed by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Reps. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., and Greg Walden, R-Ore.

This link is all the more important since rising gasoline prices have the effect of making small-town America feel more remote than ever before.

An editorial in the Idaho Statesman supports the plan as a practicality in today’s world and a relief from the stress of driving:

“Intuition suggests researchers will find increased demand for passenger rail - driven not by starry-eyed romanticism but by sharp-eyed pragmatism. We would think, given the opportunity, Idaho travelers would be more interested in an option that allows them to avoid the cost and the hassle of driving.

“The Pioneer line lost $20 million a year before Amtrak shut down the route. It may not be realistic to expect this route to turn a profit or even break even. Then again, we subsidize all forms of transportation, from rails to roads. It’s certainly worth studying to see if the taxpayer cost of passenger rail is in line with the benefits.”

Below is a list of some of the scenic areas that passengers on the Pioneer train would view en route.

One blogger had this opinion: “There are a number of reasons to believe that the revival of the Pioneer in the future is not totally impossible. Amtrak’s expanding express shipping business may create a demand for a revival of this route. Some people have been pushing for Amtrak to create a new in-land route between Los Angeles and Seattle via Las Vegas-NV, Salt Lake City-UT, Ogden-UT and Boise-ID by combining the discontinued segments of the Pioneer and the Desert Wind.” [Desert Wind was a passenger train route operated by Amtrak from October, 1979, to May, 1997. When it first entered service, it ran from Los Angeles, California to Ogden, Utah, passing through Salt Lake City.]


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

Source: www.MarketWatch.com

   This
Week
Previous
Week
Burlington Northern & Santa Fe(BNI)100.71101.84
Canadian National (CNI)52.9052.59
Canadian Pacific (CP)57.3757.13
CSX (CSX)59.3761.61
Florida East Coast (FLA)62.5162.51
Genessee & Wyoming (GWR)45.2840.65
Kansas City Southern (KSU)51.1747.22
Norfolk Southern (NSC)70.3667.97
Providence & Worcester (PWX)16.0516.84
Union Pacific (UNP)76.7377.90


Return to index

ACROSS THE POND... Across The Pond...

View From Europe

 


An Opinion Piece By David Beale, NCI European Correspondent

 

Tragic Collision In California Sends America
A Clear Signal

Design Features Making Vehicles Safer During Collisions Are Perhaps Good – Preventing Collisions Is Far Better

Back in August 2007, I asked in a D:F editorial why certain industries and technical fields in the USA have to continued to use different standards in a whole range of areas starting with cellular telephones, paper size, temperature, weight and volume measurements, TV video signals, continuing all the way through to such areas as highway and railway safety. I focused on the traditional approach of “collision proofing”, which the U.S. Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has followed over the past several decades. In order to reduce casualties and property damage during train collisions the FRA requires passenger rail cars to be significantly beefed-up structurally to absorb the energy of a major frontal or rear-end impact. This approach seems to have had far more priority in the American railroad industry over the parallel approach of using existing technology to prevent train collisions from happening in the first place.

The tragic and unnecessary collision of a Metrolink commuter train with a freight train in California last week was a significant test of the FRA’s existing regulations. With the driver of the Metrolink train and 24 passengers now dead and over one hundred other passengers injured (some very seriously), I would say, that this collision of an FRA approved passenger train with an oncoming freight train strongly suggests that the FRA’s traditional approach of “collision proofing” utterly failed this test.

The traditional approach of the U.S. FRA has been to require, with mandatory regulations, some well-intended but very challenging and expensive design standards regarding structural strength, mechanical deformation and energy absorption during a collision between two trains. In Europe and elsewhere around the world there are similar standards and requirements, which stipulate crashworthiness design and collision performance of rail vehicles. But the FRA is unique in the absolutes of these requirements. The consequence is that passenger rail vehicles authorized for use on mainline rail systems in North America are far heavier and typically more expensive than equivalent rolling stock in Europe due to the collision strength and crash energy absorption regulations. That means that most rolling stock in use on Europe’s mainline rail network would not be allowed by the FRA to operate in America.

In much of Europe, and indeed in many countries around the globe, regulators and industry leaders long ago realized the futility of attempting to make railroad rolling stock, which weighs many tons per car and travels at speeds of 100 km/h (63 mph) or faster, collision-proof in a head-on crash. Instead, the focus has been on preventing collisions from happening in the first place. There are many different technical solutions available to achieve this goal:

Let us look more deeply at the last example. In Germany, much of the rail network is equipped today with a system called PZB (the German acronym for point-source train override system) which is coupled to the conventional red/yellow/green signal light masts or semaphore signal masts adjacent to the tracks. PZB uses a system of induction coils mounted by the tracks and on the locomotive or multiple-unit rail vehicle to indicate to the signaling system when a train has past a signal and to indicate on-board the train the status of the signal which it is approaching or which has just past. Without going into a lot of heavy technical detail and explanation, the main purpose of the PZB system is to automatically slow or stop a train which has gone past a red signal.

The PZB system has been in existence in various versions prior to World War 2 up to present day. On many rail lines in Germany, Austria and Spain, it is supplemented by a second system called LZB, which provides a continuously variable target speed and not-to-exceed speed limit to the train driver and train protection system. Similar to PZB, when a train exceeds the speed limit information transmitted via LZB, the train’s traction power will automatically be reduced and its brakes automatically applied to slow the train below the not-to-exceed speed limit calculated by the LZB system. Eventually (in perhaps one or two decades) most rail lines in Germany will be converted over to ETCS, a European-wide standardized signaling and train protection system which is now in the early stages of operational deployment on a number of rail corridors in about a half dozen countries, with many more coming on-line in the next few years.

In other countries around Europe there are other systems with different names and with different technology or operational details. In the USA there are also analogous systems in use on various rail lines around the country since the 1950s or earlier. In the end, they all serve one purpose, to stop trains via automatic means if the train driver intentionally or unintentionally passes a red signal. These systems are collectively termed in European railroading “train protection systems.” These train protection systems quite simply take the human factor out of the equation the instant the train violates a red signal by automatically applying the brakes. Of course these systems will not prevent a train collision when the track signals themselves are not set correctly, but in the collision in California, all indications from the investigation so far show that the track-side signals were operating properly.

This approach of using mechanical (or electronic) devices to step in when humans fail is not new. Again I look to the aviation industry, with which I am familiar. In the past two decades nearly all airliners have been equipped with Ground Proximity Warning System (GPWS), a device that alerts the flight crew with direct audio and visual warnings that they are about to fly into the side of a mountain or collide with trees, the roofs of buildings, or other objects in the approach path if the aircraft deviates below the predetermined landing glide path or minimum altitude. GPWS resulted from a number of deadly accidents in the 1960s through early 1980s whereby various jet liners flew into terrain because the flight crew was either distracted by unrelated technical problems or not paying attention to the flight or had miscalculated their position during the approach and landing. In some newer aircraft models, GPWS is even linked to the flight control system so that the thrust will be increased and the aircraft placed automatically into a climb if the flight crew does not react in a timely manner to the audio and visual warnings.

A newer system which began appearing in airliners and other aircraft in the early 1990s is the Terminal Collision Avoidance System (TCAS). This system is perhaps more relevant to the railroading world, since the function of TCAS is to warn of impending collision with another nearby aircraft. Although mid-air collisions prior to implementation of TCAS were relatively rare, the constant increase in air traffic density around many airports made mid-air collisions between airliners ever more likely. The result of TCAS implementation so far has been a near total absence of mid-air collisions between large aircraft in the past decade.


Two Images: David Beale

Induction coils for the PZB train protection system can be seen here just outboard of the rails in close proximity to signal lights on the Hannover – Minden mainline near Haste, Germany. If a train passes these coils when they are excited at a frequency corresponding to a red signal, the corresponding induction coil on the locomotive or multiple unit passenger train will then cause the train protection system to automatically and instantly apply brakes and reduce propulsive power.

A tragic confirmation of TCAS’s ability to correctly avoid mid-air collisions came in the summer of 2002, when a DHL Boeing 757 collided with a Russian airliner (a Tupolev Tu154 tri-jet) over southern Germany. In that collision, investigators determined that the flight crew of the Russian aircraft incorrectly decided to follow the directions of an air traffic controller in Switzerland who told the Russian airliner to descend in order to avoid a collision, instead of the TCAS installed in the Tu154 jet, which gave the crew a warning to immediately climb. Investigators believed that the collision would most likely have been avoided if the Russian airliner had climbed, as the automated TCAS warning in the Tu154’s cockpit instructed.

From my vantage point of many thousands of miles away, it looks to me that a regime of ever more complex and costly requirements to collision-proof passenger trains in the hopes of reducing casualties in a head-on or rear-end train collision will never be totally effective. This approach assumes failure, failure which the Metrolink train collision in California clearly demonstrates is not acceptable any more. As average train speeds gradually creep upwards in the coming years, as track conditions improve and commuter rail systems attempt to provide faster and more convenient service to their customers, the enormous amount of energy released in such collisions will increase dramatically and non-linearly. There is simply no way to prevent death and serious injuries by ever more “collision proofing” of the train’s car structure and major frames as speeds increase past 60, 70 and 80 mph. As additional vehicle weight resulting from ever more “collision proofing” of passenger trains also increases momentum and energy in a collision, this is a losing battle.

The additional costs and resources used to design and produce heavy-weight passenger trains in order to comply misguided FRA regulations are being wasted. Instead, these resources must be re-directed to fund on-board train protection systems which automatically inhibit trains from running past red signals and to fund positive train control systems such as the European Train Control System (ETCS), which ensure that the track signals themselves are properly set so that they absolutely prevent a green signal being displayed when a train enters a track section that is already occupied by another train.

Designing vehicles, such as trains, to minimize injuries in collisions is a worthy goal. But this approach in the American passenger rail industry increasingly creates ever more negative consequences and unintended side effects. It will never prevent loss of life and limb as effectively as existing technologies which can prevent these collision from happening in the first place. Let the investment in collision prevention begin.

Let us hope the FRA moves away from a policy of designing for inevitable train collisions to an all-out effort to engineer and design for collision prevention. This lesson has already been learned and applied here in Europe; there is little reason not to adopt the same policies in the USA. There is no need to re-invent systems and standards in this field that have already been proven elsewhere. Let us leverage the technologies, experience and standards already developed and are in everyday use elsewhere in this world.


Return to index

 

 

EVENTS... Events...

RailTrends 2008

Financing Capacity and Growth in the Railway Industry.

A two-day summit that examines key rail financing issues and trends.

September 30 – October 1 - New York

Affinia Manhattan Hotel, New York, NY

Attend the truly unique two day event, RailTrends 2008, and meet the most influential industry experts accelerating the pace towards market transformation.

Presented by Progressive Railroading magazine.

This two-day summit is designed specifically for the needs of Railroaders, Suppliers, Equipment Lessors, Finance Institutions, shippers and others with an interest and stake in the growth of the industry.

RailTrends 2008 will provide industry executives a comprehensive overview of the railroad industry as well as detailed, critical insight on leasing and finance from industry experts, analysts and investors, and rail shipper perspectives.

Make reservations online via reservations@affinia.com or by calling 1-866-233-4642.

Be sure to identify yourself as a RailTrends attendee.

Affinia Manhattan Hotel
371 Seventh Avenue
New York, NY 10001
Phone: 212-563-1800

Three Easy Ways To Register:

  • Register online today at www.railtrends.com or Call 1-800-727-7995 ext. 458
  • Mail your registration form with payment to arrive by September 14 to:
    Amy Brown, 2100 W. Florist Ave., Milwaukee, WI. 53209
  • Fax your registration form and credit card information to: 414-228-1134


Return to index

 

OPINION... Opinion...

Can A Bad Example Discredit A Great Idea?

By: David Peter Alan

There is a political scenario playing out in New Jersey that presents a dilemma for us in the rail advocacy community, even though the effects it will have on New Jersey Transit’s rail riders have not hit the front pages. Our governor, Jon S. Corzine, a Democrat, is at the center of the controversy. He has proposed an increase in vehicle tolls on the Garden State Parkway and New Jersey Turnpike, the revenues from which would be used for widening those highways and for a new rail tunnel named ARC (Access to the Region’s Core) which NJT proposes to build into Manhattan.

Legislative action for the plan would not be required, so Republicans in the Legislature are sharply criticizing Corzine for going behind their backs to find a new source of revenue for State projects at a time when the State is short of money. They claim that dedicating toll revenue toward a non-highway project is beyond the purview of the Parkway and Turnpike Authorities.

In our opinion, the ARC tunnel is greatly overpriced and, we believe, will not help riders get to where they want to go. Although we approve the principle behind the governor’s plan for raising money, we are disturbed that it is slated for a transit plan that we feel is deeply flawed.

The “ARC” tunnel, with its dead-end, deep cavern terminal far beneath Manhattan’s streets, will not connect in any way with Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor mainline into Penn Station. It will leave riders 175 feet (about 20 stories) below street level and eliminate the convenient connections that riders on NJT’s Morris & Essex and other lines now enjoy at the existing Penn Station. Trains would be diverted from that line eight miles to the west, and there would be no connections between the proposed deep-cavern terminal and the existing Penn Station. Riders will not gain new access to Penn Station, and many riders will actually be evicted from there and dropped far below Manhattan’s sub-basements. According to NJT, it should take about seven minutes for riders to travel vertically between platform level and street level. In addition, the currently-proposed design for the new terminal will effectively preclude future access to the East Side of Midtown. This project is estimated to cost $l0 billion, $2 billion of which will go to building the deep cavern terminal at the Manhattan end of the proposed tunnel.

NJT is prepared to spend billions of dollars on this tunnel, while the same management claims that they cannot afford to run mid-day and evening trains because the price of fuel is too high, and they have made drastic reductions in rail, light rail and bus service. We wonder where the state will get its component of this multi-billion dollar project and when will our reduced services get back up to their former levels.

Also, while New York is planning to spend billions of dollars to give Long Island riders access to both the East and West Sides, and Connecticut wants its riders to have access to Penn Station, as well as Grand Central Terminal, New Jersey riders on the proposed ARC line will not have access to either.

Through-running between New Jersey and the territory served by Metro-North and the LIRR would make much more sense. It would eliminate the need for the proposed new NJT deep-cavern terminal and provide a far more efficient means for moving trains and passengers to, from and through Midtown Manhattan. In Penn Station and Grand Central Terminal combined, there are already 45 platform tracks in Midtown. It is difficult to see how more could be needed.

The rail advocacy community in the New Jersey and New York region, have united in opposition to the proposed deep-cavern terminal. The Lackawanna Coalition, the New Jersey Association of Railroad Passengers (NJ-ARP), the Empire State Passengers’ Association (ESPA) and the Regional Rail Working Group (RRWG) have joined in opposing the proposed project, and the National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP) has joined in the effort on the national level. The Rail Users’ Network (RUN) has also expressed its opposition to the project. Even Amtrak, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) have expressed concerns about it.

Looking toward the future, we are concerned that this proposed project could become a symbol for waste and inefficiency by government in a misguided effort to improve transit. It could someday rank with Congressman Don Young’s proposed “bridge to nowhere” in Alaska as an expensive project whose utility is questionable. A project like this could call into question the principle of using highway-generated funds for transit projects.

This political drama unfolds against the backdrop of service cuts that are severely curtailing the mobility of New Jersey’s transit riders, especially those who depend on transit for their basic transportation needs. There is no doubt that NJT needs sufficient funding to provide the former level of service and expand service to fulfill the needs of riders of the future. Some of that money must come from increased motor fuels taxes and highway tolls. We strongly encourage the principle of an increased contribution from motorists and truckers toward improved transit, both on the capital and operating sides of the budget. However, we are concerned that the project at issue is the wrong example.

David Peter Alan is Chair of the Lackawanna Coalition, a Director of NARP and RUN, and a member of NJ-ARP and the Regional Rail Working Group. The opinions expressed are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of any other individual or organization.


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

Dear Editor:

Expounding upon David Peter Alan’s excellent opinion in your September 14 E-Zine, another example of inadequate transit to resort areas, Cape Cod is the poster child for how not to do it right.

A highway project, known as the Sagamore Flyover was completed over a year ago to replace the rotary at the Sagamore Bridge. This highway made it easier for motorists to drive to the Cape, thus increasing traffic even more than it was. Back-ups of several miles are common in the summer on weekends, just as before the project was built.

Virtually no transit improvements were made on the Cape, and rail service remains elusive as ever, with the ‘Commonwealth’ of Massachusetts recycling the same old excuses that it has ‘no money’ for rail service on our rail line that has already been upgraded at cost to tax payers. Yet it can find money for more roads.

We have a possible theory about why this situation exists here as well as on Jersey Shore: In a resort area, gasoline prices tend to be higher than in other areas, and parking is generally for a fee, and not free. With the overall increase in gas prices and parking fees, the states have a good thing going. Why should they encourage more transport options that attract people out of their cars, and thus possibly depriving them of the gas tax and parking revenues? In this scenario, marginalizing those without cars would be of little or no consequence.

We also must push hard to change transportation policy from one that benefits special interests to one that benefits the public-at-large, as well as the environment, common sense, and the economy.

Better and expanded rail services will benefit these areas and has been shown to benefit bus services, not drive them out of business.

We must take a tough stance especially in this election year, regardless of who is elected, in order to shape a more common-sense based transportation policy.

Albert Pisani
Cape Cod Passenger Rail Coalition
20 Perry Avenue, #2-A
Buzzards Bay, MA.02532
Tel.: 508-759-2984
email:
apisania@hotmail.com

[ NCI Foreign Editor David Beale Comments: - I have to second the opinion of Mr. Pisani and Mr. Alan regarding the access to Cape Cod. I noticed exactly the same thing. The new interchange at Rt. 6 and the bridge to Cape Cod has had the effect of simply moving the traffic jams to other locations in the region.

My family and I visited Cape Cod for the first time in October 2003, then again in August 2008, so last month I received a kind of back-to-back comparison of the effect of that new highway interchange. Both bridges to Cape Cod appear to be very old and approaching the end of their useful lives (if not already past them). Might be time to spend money on a state-of-the-art passenger rail connection from Cape Cod to Boston as well as to Providence, New Haven and New York, which will be operational before the two current road bridges will need to be taken down and replaced with new bridges. The environment of an island or semi-island, such as Cape Cod, can not sustain evermore automobile and truck traffic indefinitely, there is a finite limit. I would say that the limit was already reached some time ago. ]


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

Copyright © 2008 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.