The National Corridors Initiative, Inc.
Destination:Freedom

A Weekly North American Transportation Update

For transportation advocates and professionals, journalists,
and elected or appointed officials at all levels of government

Publisher: James P. RePass      E-Zine Editor: Molly McKay
Foreign Editor: David Beale      Webmaster: Dennis Kirkpatrick

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October 12, 2009
Vol. 10 No. 43

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

Home Page: www.nationalcorridors.org

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

  News Items…
$8B For High-Speed Rail, $1.5B In Transport Stimulus
   Coming This Winter
Brookings: More Airline Delays Coming,
   High Speed Rail Can Help
Florida Makes Formal Commitment To Building
   High-Speed Rail Line
  News From Amtrak…
Nominations For New Board Members
 
  Commuter Lines…
Week-End Rail Service Comes To Montclair
  Selected Rail Stocks…
  Freight Lines…
Rail Volume Off 16.6% In Latest Week
  Publication Notes …


NEWS OF THE WEEK... News Items...  

$8B For High-Speed Rail;

$1.5B In Transport Stimulus Coming This Winter

From Capitol StreetsBlog On The Internet

WASHINGTON, DC, OCTOBER 6 -- The U.S. DOT will waste no time this winter doling out $9.5 billion in grants for clean transportation to the winners of two highly competitive contests for federal aid, reported Elana Schor on the Streetsblog. One is the high-speed rail competition, the other is for TIGER** grants -- **Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery.

Federal Railroad Administrator Joe Szabo announced last Tuesday that his agency would release all $8 billion of the high-speed rail money included in the economic stimulus law by this winter.

The total cost of all 259 submitted applications, according top Szabo, was about $57 billion for both full-scale corridor development and smaller planning projects.

 

STATEMENT FROM FEDERAL RAILROAD ADMINISTRATION (FRA)
ADMINISTRATOR JOSEPH C. SZABO
OCTOBER 6, 2009

“We have received numerous applications from states and groups of states for the development of high-speed and intercity passenger rail programs for grant funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  These include 45 applications from 24 states totaling approximately $50 billion to advance high-speed rail corridor programs. We also received 214 applications from 34 states totaling $7 billion for corridor planning and smaller projects.

Due to the overwhelming response and our desire to lay the groundwork for a truly national high-speed and intercity passenger rail program, we will be announcing all awards this winter. Our selections will be merit-based and will reflect President Obama’s vision to remake America’s transportation landscape. We look forward to further evaluating these proposals and spurring economic development while providing Americans with clean, energy-efficient transportation choices in the years and decades to come.”

Just before Szabo’s announcement, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood told Congress that he would announce the recipients of the $1.5 billion TIGER** grant program by the end of the year. [TIGER ** = Transportation Investment Generating Economy Recovery]

Within the Obama administration, ten teams are evaluating the applications submitted for TIGER, which the U.S. DOT says also total $57 billion. “We think we have a very good evaluation process going on and we have a lot of people in the department working on this,” LaHood told the House infrastructure committee on Thursday.

The TIGER competition is a break in the tradition of funding transportation in separate silos. Rail, ports and roads all vie for this pot of money and sometimes states are partnering in their applications. For example:

  • Maine submitted TIGER grant applications for three rail projects and three ports.
  • Maine and New Hampshire together are applying for a TIGER grant to secure stimulus funds for replacement of the Memorial Bridge and Sarah Long Bridge.
  • In the Seattle area, King County is applying for TIGER funds to save a highway bridge whose foundation is crumbling.

The Senate climate change bill that was released at the end of September includes a proposal for similar inter-modal grants to help states and cities promote clean transportation-based emissions reductions, so the success of the TIGER program could help move the federal government away from its silo-heavy system and towards a more open approach.

A possible future for rail in America


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Brookings: More Airline Delays Coming,
High-Speed Rail Can Help

From Tampa Bay/Venture News Service On The Internet

We thank Kevin Brubaker, Deputy Director, Environmental Law & Policy Center in Chicago for providing this article (www.elpc.org)

“Wake up and good morning,” starts the Blog by Times Business columnist Robert Trigaux. “This may come as no great surprise for those who travel by air regularly, but lengthy airline delays are twice as common now as in 1990 and will get worse as the economy recovers.”

Photo: Tampabay.com  

Airport congestion - only getting worse.
A new report just out by the Brookings Institution documents the crisis of crowding and congestion at the nation’s airports and the serious numbers of delays that result. Throughout the 20th century, American travelers have been enamored by the opportunity of speed and convenience that air travel has provided, but that convenience has almost vanished in the face of frequent delays and lengthy wait times before boarding. A major problem is that so many trips of 500 miles or less are served by air when there should be high-speed rail for corridors of that distance. The Brookings report therefore urges more national investing for high-speed rail.

And here are some key findings based on an analysis at the national and metropolitan levels of commercial air travel patterns between 1990 and 2009:

* Nearly 99 percent of all U.S. air passengers arrive or depart from one of the 100 largest metropolitan areas, with the vast majority of travel concentrated in 26 metropolitan-wide hubs. Between April 2008 and March 2009, 26 metropolitan areas captured nearly three quarters of all domestic travelers, while 20 of these metros landed 94 percent of all international passengers. These extreme shares make these metropolitan hubs the critical links in the nation’s aviation system and reinforce their role as major centers of tourism and commerce.

* Half of the country’s flights are routes of less than 500 miles, and the busiest corridors are between the metropolitan air travel centers. Corridors of no more than 500 miles constituted half of all flights and carried 30 percent of all passengers in the most recent 12-month period starting April 2008.

* The 26 metropolitan centers of air travel and other large metropolitan areas host a concentration of national delays -- and the situation is worsening over time. The concentration within the 100 largest metropolitan areas was especially troubling with congestion-related delays as well as those lasting over two hours. Within the 26 domestic hubs, six experienced worse-than-average delays for both arrivals and departures: New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Miami, Atlanta, and San Francisco. (No, Tampa is not among the worst.)

The current economic recession led carriers to reduce flights, which improved on-time performance. But travelers will increase with the return of economic growth, and that will reduce on-time performance and continue the hyper-concentration of U.S. air travel within major metropolitan areas and on short-haul flights. To ensure that the commercial aviation system runs efficiently while simultaneously improving its environmental record, policymakers must focus aviation and other transportation investments on the metropolitan centers and the heavily trafficked short corridors, thus strengthening the performance of the our nation’s major economic engines, recommends the Brookings report.

Bottom line? The future clogging of air travel is another argument for selective use of high-speed rail. We’ve heard the “lessen the traffic jams on the roads” arguments plenty. Aiding air travel is a newer angle.


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Florida Makes Formal Commitment
To Building High-Speed Rail Line

Florida Files A Formal Application For $2.5 Billion In Federal Stimulus Money For Part
Of A High Speed Rail Line Between Miami And Tampa Via Orlando.

Map: Wikipedia.

Florida Corridor as designated by the Federal Railroad Administration - Florida High Speed Rail is a proposed high-speed rail network in Florida. The first phase would connect Orlando to Tampa (Phase 1 Part 1), with a later extension to St. Petersburg (Phase 1 Part 2). Later phases would extend the network to Miami, Fort Myers, Jacksonville, Tallahassee and Pensacola.
OCTOBER 9-- The findings of the Brookings Institution study are particularly important for Florida where tourism is so critically dependent on air travel. The Miami Herald online, in a story by Alfonso Chardy, reported that the Florida Department of Transportation has formally committed itself to building the first segment of a high-speed rail line from Miami to Tampa -- so long as the federal government awards the state the $2.53 billion it wants for the project.

Competition is intense, but transportation experts said Florida is well positioned -- along with California and Illinois -- to share the $8 billion the Obama administration is offering to develop a national high-speed rail network. Awards will be announced in December.

“It appears that the Florida, California and Midwest corridors have emerged as clear leaders that would be given the most significant consideration,” said Al Maloof, a member of the Miami Dade Expressway Authority and vice chairman of the local, state and federal advocacy group for the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce.

Sonny Holtzman, a Miami consultant on transportation issues, said Florida stands a good chance to get money because the first Tampa-Orlando segment is among the most feasible because it’s among the shortest -- if not the shortest.

This is not the first time Florida rail advocates have introduced a serious high-speed rail project. A proposal for a Florida bullet train had been on the drawing boards since the 1970’s, and in the 1990’s it was presented to then Governor Jeb Bush with a request that the state make a partial investment. It was a $6.3 billion venture. Governor Bush shelved it in 1999 by refusing to spend any more state money on it.

But today, hopes are high that the project can proceed. The Orlando Sentinel reported last week that Walt Disney World has endorsed Florida’s bid and will provide up to 50 acres of land for a station.

The new project draws on much of the engineering and design of the prior plan.

The project will be built in phases: the first, between Tampa and Orlando, is estimated to cost $2.5 billion.

State transportation officials have estimated the eventual cost of the Orlando-Miami leg at more than $8 billion.

Two possible alignments for the Orlando-Miami route have been shown to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA): One would follow Florida’s Turnpike and the other Interstate 95.

Regardless of which route is chosen, trains would run from Orlando International Airport to Miami International Airport, with the MIA terminal being the Miami Intermodal Center now under construction just east of the Miami airport.


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NEWS FROM AMTRAK... News From Amtrak...  

Nominations For New Board Members

From Amtrak and Internet Sources

OCTOBER 6.... President Obama announced his intent to nominate two individuals to the Amtrak Board of Directors:

Anthony Coscia was appointed chairman of the Board of Commissioners of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in 2003 where he has broad oversight responsibility in connection with the Authority’s varied transportation businesses. Coscia is also a partner at Windels Marx Lane & Mittendorf, LLP, one of the New York region’s oldest law firms. He previously served as chairman of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority.

Bert DiClemente has, since 2003, served as vice president of CB Richard Ellis, Inc., the largest real estate company in the world. Previously, he worked at Insignia/ESG and Jackson Cross & Associates as director and associate director. He also served as state director for then-U.S. Senator Joe Biden for 20 years.

If confirmed by the Senate, Coscia plans to continue to head the Port Authority, as he has since 2003. The authority, with a $6.7 billion budget, manages the region’s ports, major airports, and Hudson River bridges and tunnels.

When the nominations are confirmed, DiClemente and Coscia would fill two of the four open seats on the board. The size of the board was expanded to nine members in April in accordance with a provision in the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 (PRIIA).

Once the nominations are officially made, they will require confirmation by the U.S. Senate.


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COMMUTERLINES... Commuter Lines...  

Week-End Rail Service Comes To Montclair

First Sunday Service In 50 Years

By David Peter Alan

New Jersey Transit has announced that weekend rail service is coming to Montclair, beginning November 8th.  That day will mark the first Sunday since 1959 that scheduled rail service ran to the Town of Montclair.  Limited Saturday service lasted until 1966.  Trains ran again, but only briefly, during a bus strike in 1972.

The new trains will originate from Hoboken and proceed west through Newark on the Montclair-Boonton Line, to Bay Street Station, at the eastern edge of Montclair. The service will be minimal; scheduled for every two hours during the day and every two to three hours during the evening.  Transit officials said that the proposed level of service will save on the cost of crews, since the present schedule calls for more than one hour of idle time for trains that provide a shuttle operation between Newark and Hoboken.  The Lackawanna Coalition had complained about the idle time and recommended that these trains go to Montclair instead.  It is this recommendation that will be implemented.


Photo: Adam E. Moreira from Wikipedia

Train 3945 on the Northeast Corridor Line enters New Brunswick.

Rail advocates had hoped that the service would go to Montclair State Station, near the Montclair State University campus.  According to NJT sources, it would take so long to get there that an extra crew and train set would be required. Weekday trains originate and terminate there, except for limited service west to Dover on the Boonton Line.  Most of the service on that portion of the line runs during peak commuting hours.

The proposed schedule calls for a cross-platform transfer at Broad Street Station in Newark between Morris & Essex Line trains running between New York and Dover, and the new service between Hoboken and Montclair.  It is planned that riders on both lines would have access to both terminals, either directly or with a two-seat ride

Rider advocates, including the Lackawanna Coalition and the New Jersey Association of Railroad Passengers, have pushed for weekend service on the Montclair-Boonton Line since the Montclair Connection opened for service in the fall of 2002.  The Town of Montclair and some of its residents opposed the original construction of the Montclair Connection, but Montclair Mayor Jerry Fried brought a delegation of residents from the town to the NJT Board meeting last June to ask for weekend trains.

During the 1990s, Montclair fought against the construction of the connection, a segment approximately one mile long, which was first proposed in 1929.  Rumors have surfaced for the past several years that the town demanded a 7-year moratorium before weekend service would begin.  While town officials and residents have denied this, weekend service is set to begin seven years and one month after the Montclair Connection opened for service.

The Lackawanna Coalition has said that the proposed level of service is insufficient, and that hourly service should operate, at least between Hoboken and the Montclair State station.  Rider advocates continue to hope that this level of service will be offered soon, after riders in Bloomfield, Glen Ridge and Montclair begin to use the new trains and like them.

David Peter Alan is Chair of the Lackawanna Coalition.  That organization has supported construction of the Montclair Connection and daily operation of the line for over 25 years.


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STOCKS...  Selected Rail Stocks...

Source: MarketWatch.com

   This
Week
Previous
Week
Burlington Northern & Santa Fe(BNI)82.1878.85
Canadian National (CNI)51.5647.51
Canadian Pacific (CP)48.0044.85
CSX (CSX)44.4641.65
Genessee & Wyoming (GWR)32.5229.43
Kansas City Southern (KSU)27.5025.12
Norfolk Southern (NSC)46.1643.26
Providence & Worcester (PWX)10.3010.20
Union Pacific (UNP)59.7957.38


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FREIGHT LINES... Freight Lines...  

Rail Volume Off 16.6% In Latest Week

From Internet Sources

OCTOBER 8 -- The Association of American Railroads reported Thursday that total volume on U.S. railroads for the week ending Oct. 3 was an estimated 29.7 billion ton-miles, off 16.6% from the corresponding week last year.

Railroads originated 277,734 carloads, down 17.2%. All 19 commodity groups lost ground, with declines ranging from 2.7% for chemicals to 53.2% for metallic ores.

Intermodal traffic added up 206,293 trailers and containers, down 15.7%. Container volume fell 10% and trailer volume was off 37%.

Regionally, carload traffic was down 16.4% in the West and 18.3% in the East.

Canadian railroads reported volume of 73,377 carloads, down 7.3% from last year, and 43,724 trailers and containers, down 15.6%. Mexican railroads originated 12,597 carloads, down 0.9%, and 7,593 trailers and containers, down 3.4%.

Combined North American rail volume for the first 39 weeks of 2009 on 13 reporting U.S., Canadian, and Mexican railroads totaled 13,204,334 carloads, down 18.8% from last year, and 9,139,639 trailers and containers, down 16.7%.


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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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