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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November 29, 2010
Vol. 11 No. 49

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

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

  News Items…
First Trains To TF Green Airport Will Mark Beginning
   Of A New Era
Pollution by Travel Mode: The Thanksgiving Edition
In Los Angeles, Big Step Ahead For Mass Transit
  Funding Lines…
“Best Buy” Places Gadget Machines At ‘T’ Stops
  Selected Rail Stocks…
  Transit Lines…
“Subway To Secaucus” Idea Gathers Momentum,
   But Rail Advocates Are Divided
 
  Across The Pond…
Britain Commits $12 Billion To Rail Transport Updates
Australia Launches “Project Southeast Queensland 2031”
   To Double Rail Transit’s Traffic Share
  Opinion…
More Comments On The “Subway To Secaucus”
  We Get Letters…
  Publication Notes …


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

 

Rhode Island: Gateway To New England

 

First Trains To TF Green Airport
Will Mark Beginning Of A New Era

By DF Staff

WARWICK, RHODE ISLAND --- Final negotiations among the multiple operators and owners who must cooperate to extend passenger rail service on the Northeast Corridor in Rhode Island were completed this past week when Amtrak, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, Rhode Island’s Department of Transportation, and the Providence & Worcester Railroad all signed off on the agreements needed to start regular rail service to Warwick’s New Interlink TF Green Rail Station.

The $267 million station, which is connected directly to Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor and T.F. Green Airport, was the brainchild of the late Senator John Chafee and his son, Lincoln Chafee, at the time Mayor of Warwick. He later succeeded his father in the United States Senate. Lincoln Chafee was elected Governor of Rhode Island earlier this month and takes office in January. The project also received support from outgoing Rhode Island Governor Donald Carcieri, who has been a strong supporter of transit in this highly transit-dependent state.

The project to link Green Airport directly to the major rail line serving the Northeast has been several decades in the making, but began taking real shape when Senator John Chafee, who served as Chairman of the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee, contained an initial $25 million for a feasibility study and preliminary engineering at the site, which sits on the rail line.

The trains, operated by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, will begin with six northbound trips and five southbound trips, weekdays only for the time being. The fare between Providence and T.F. Green will be $2.25 each way, or $8.25 each way to Boston’s South Station.

Amtrak has not yet announced when its intercity trains will begin stopping at T.F. Green. The only other airports that come close to the same-building convenience of T.F. Green for the airline passenger making ground connections are Thurgood Marshall/BWI Airport in Baltimore, which is connected by a 5-minute bus shuttle to the Northeast Corridor main line, and Newark International Airport, connected to the Northeast Corridor via a monorail line serving the airport.


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Pollution by Travel Mode:
The Thanksgiving Edition

The Infrastructurist is found at: http://www.infrastructurist.com/

“In case you missed it yesterday, my colleague Daniel linked to this excellent graphic posted by Matthew Yglesias over at Think Progress. The image was created from a table in the “Vision for High-Speed Rail in America” plan originally presented in April 2009. Of course, the country’s bullet train network has become just a bit more politicized since then. But on a day when nearly everyone in the United States travels somewhere, somehow, it seems appropriate to compare transportation methods.”

CHART

Image: Think Progress via The Infrastructurist

“Yglesias makes a rational economic argument in favor of bullet lines: If airfares were adjusted to include the cost of pollution (say, through a greenhouse gas tax), then high-speed rail becomes a much more competitive alternative to flying:

For example, today there seem to be almost 30 flights daily between Seattle and Portland. Clearly a lot of people are making the trip. If you built a high-speed rail connection, a lot of people would take that. But how many would obviously depend heavily on how the price compared to the price of those flights. And that in turn would have a great deal to do with how we price pollution.”

“According to the “Visions” plan, implementing a true national high-speed rail plan could reduce carbon emissions by 6 billion pounds a year. This figure was pulled from a 2006 study showing that 80 percent of emissions savings come through the cancellation of automobile and airplane trips. And to those who like to argue that many bullet lines currently under consideration aren’t, strictly speaking, high-speed — well it turns out conventional passenger rail is even better for the environment, when measured by emissions per passenger mile:”

TABLE

Via The Infrastructurist

High Speed Rail and Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the U.S.

“That’s another table from that 2006 report, showing that high-speed rail produces half the carbon emissions per passenger mile as car travel, and far less than half of what’s produced by taking a plane. And lo, bus emissions are half that of high-speed rail. Maybe that high-speed bus plan isn’t so crazy after all.”


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In Los Angeles, Big Step Ahead
For Mass Transit

New York Times
Writer Adam Nagourney

LOS ANGELES, NOVEMBER 25 — It appears that a transit-aggressive mayor is doing for Los Angeles what Governor Mike Dukakis did for Boston 20 years ago. Antonio Villaraigosa, 41st Mayor of Los Angeles, ran his campaign on a pledge to build a mass transit system for his traffic-beleaguered city.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa

Image: Via Wikipedia.org   

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa

As NYT writer Adam Nagourney describes, “This auto-obsessed city — a place where people love their cars almost as much as they hate the traffic — has embarked on the biggest expansion of its mass transit system in decades, an effort to change the way people navigate its sprawling and clogged streets and freeways.”

Here’s what is happening:

An 8.6-mile extension of the Purple Line subway, from Koreatown through a crowded corridor of offices, homes, museums, schools and shopping centers in Beverly Hills, Century City and Westwood has been approved. The “Subway to the Sea,” connecting Union Station in downtown to the Pacific Ocean in Santa Monica — is no longer just a plan on the shelf.

An 8.5-mile above-ground light-rail line from the Crenshaw district to Los Angeles International Airport will be built over the next 10 years thanks to a $546 million grant from the federal government.

An 11-mile extension of the Metro Gold Line which began in June and which starts in East Los Angeles will eventually go out to Montclair and will extend to the Exposition Light Rail Line from Culver City to Santa Monica.

These developments have lent credibility to what has become something of a legacy project for the mayor. “This put to rest all this talk of, ‘Will we ever build a subway?’ ” Mr. Villaraigosa said, somewhat triumphantly, in an interview. “This is a big deal. People have been talking about it for years. And they were making fun of me: ‘Where is the subway?!’ ”

“Los Angeles once had a large, intricate and thriving public transportation system,” Nagourney’s article continues, “with so-called Yellow Car trolleys that ran on downtown streets and a vast network of Red Cars, operated by the Pacific Electric Railroad that ran throughout the region. This was dismantled amid the city’s fervent embrace of the automobile (encouraged, in no small part, by oil interests in Los Angeles that realized the economic potential of the car).”

Voters approve tax surcharge

Some describe these projects as a “waste of money in a region that will never embrace mass transit.” But last month, when the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority voted to approve the Purple Line expansion, there is now confidence that these projects will be built. Financing was put in place two years ago by Los Angeles voters who approved a half-cent sales tax surcharge. The tax is expected to raise $40 billion over the next 30 years.

There will still be battles. One section of the Purple Line is slated to burrow under a public high school in Beverly Hills. City officials want the line moved a few blocks north, but that has its own complications. That route would put the subway “cheek by jowl against an earthquake fault that runs down Santa Monica Boulevard.”

“We very much want the Subway to the Sea, but we are very strongly against the high school route,” said Jimmy Delshad, Mayor of Beverly Hills.

Another obstacle may come from the Republican takeover of the United States House this month. A proposal by Mayor Villaraigosa to accelerate construction by getting an advance loan from the federal government against those sales tax revenues may be thwarted by the newly elected House members.

“Let’s face it, after the midterm election we’re in a new world,” said Joel Epstein, a mass transit advocate.

Representative Henry A. Waxman, the Democrat who represents the area, said he hoped Republicans would not block a plan that, he argued, would create jobs, improve the transit system and not cost the federal government a significant sum of money.

“This is the kind of idea that some Republicans may even find attractive,” Mr. Waxman said. “It’s tremendously important. I see that whenever I’m at home and in my car: it’s just terrible traffic.”


Photo: Wikipedia.org

A Metro Gold Line light rail vehicle, a Breda Type P2550, passes through Highland Park Station.

Still, the most intriguing question may be whether the population in Los Angeles, where the car has been “king” for decades, will make such a major lifestyle adjustment. To date, ridership is considerably higher on city buses than on the 79 miles of subway and light-rail lines. In October, daily average of ridership on rail transit was 295,000 vs. 1.2 million on the buses.

Transit experts differ in their views. Some believe more money should be spent on the bus system, since that is the system that riders appear to prefer. But others point out that it depends on the convenience and availability of the service. Robert B. Cervero, Director of the University of California Transportation Center in Berkeley, said that if the subway expansion cut commuting time as promised, it would indeed change ridership habits. Transit officials said the ride from Koreatown to Westwood by subway would take 24 minutes, compared with 50 minutes during the rush in a car or on a bus.

“The science of public transit is not too complicated,” Mr. Cervero said in an e-mail message. “It comes down to how time-competitive transit is with the private car. If it takes two to three times longer to get from Point A to Point B by transit, the vast majority of folks will drive. If it’s faster going by bus or train, then most will forsake their car and ride transit.”

Mr. Epstein said that changing demographics and population patterns — and ever-rising frustration over traffic — would inevitably drive people away from car usage.

“There’s a whole new type of Angeleno who has no cultural opposition to riding,” he said. “The whole old-school L.A. thinking that people don’t ride subways, that’s a thing of the past.”


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FUNDING LINES... Funding Lines...  

“Best Buy” Places Gadget Machines At ‘T’ Stops

Boston Herald On The Internet
Writer Thomas Grillo

BOSTON, NOVEMBER 25 --- A new kind of vending machine will fit gadget lovers or last-minute gift buyers to a ‘T’ and hopefully raise enough revenue to boost the cash-strapped Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA).

The six-month pilot program started on November 24 when Best Buy Express machines - oversized dispensers stocked with electronics such as iPods, cell phones, digital cameras and headphones - were installed yesterday at two MBTA stations, Forest Hills and Alewife. More are on the way next week when two more Express machines go into the Back Bay and Downtown Crossing T stations.


Photo: Via Universalhub.Com

Students and patrons study the new vending machine at Forest Hills Station on the Orange Line Subway
 

Photo by Chitose Suzuki via the Boston Herald

Passenger reviews the new machine at Alewife Station on the Red Line Subway.

MBTA is collecting 7 percent of gross sales during the six-month period. “This is another innovative way to raise non-fare revenue,” said MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo.

The so-called “automated retail stores” have been rolled out to airports and other areas over the past two years, and now Best Buy partner Zoom Systems will see how the machines fare with commuters riding the rails.

Meanwhile, movie lovers who take the T will be happy to see DVD renter RedBox showing up at stations as well.

The red self-serve movie machines, which have become common outside supermarkets and pharmacies, will be installed in the next few weeks at five locations: North Station, South Station, Harvard, Forest Hills and Alewife.

DVD rental machines have also been installed at transit hubs in Chicago. RedBox spokesman Christopher Goodrich said the idea is to attract busy travelers.

“RedBox is expanding beyond grocery and convenience stores,” he said. “We are targeting those busy travelers. And the key benefit for RedBox is our rent- and return-anywhere policy, and that’s why train stations make sense.”


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STOCKS...  Selected Rail Stocks...

Source: MarketWatch.com

   This
Week
Previous
Week
Canadian National (CNI)64.3664.49
Canadian Pacific (CP) 64.7965.40
CSX (CSX)61.6762.44
Genessee & Wyoming (GWR)47.3146.20
Kansas City Southern (KSU)47.8446.90
Norfolk Southern (NSC)60.8461.38
Providence & Worcester(PWX)12.9112.80
Union Pacific (UNP)90.1091.82


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TRANSIT LINES... Transit Lines...  

“Subway To Secaucus” Idea Gathers Momentum,
But Rail Advocates Are Divided

By David Peter Alan

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has expressed interest in a plan to extend they city’s #7 subway line to New Jersey Transit’s Secaucus Station (reported in last week’s edition of D:F). This came as a surprise to Steve Lanset and Ralph Braskett, who proposed the idea five years ago. Lanset is Transportation Coordinator for the New Jersey Chapter of the Sierra Club, and Braskett is a member of the New Jersey Association of Railroad Passengers (NJ-ARP). The surprise increased when New Jersey Governor Chris Christie also expressed interest in contributing funding to the project.

Lanset and Braskett had presented their idea to local rail advocacy organizations, including the Lackawanna Coalition, NJ-ARP and the Regional Rail Working Group, shortly after they first proposed it. Their proposal was received as an interesting thought, but nobody expected that political leaders would embrace it.

Christie killed the “Access to the Region’s Core” (ARC) Project, with a deep-cavern terminal, on October 26th, citing cost overruns that New Jersey cannot afford. He also described the project as “flawed” because Amtrak could not use it, and it would not bring trains to the existing Penn Station or to Manhattan’s East Side. Still, the New York Times reported on November 22d that Christie said New Jersey might contribute funding to an extension of New York’s subway system to the Secaucus Station, a major NJT transfer point. He was quoted as saying “If something is necessary, people find other ideas that are more equitable” on a radio talk show. Christie was also quoted as saying he liked the idea of a project that New York would fund, although he denied having talked with Mayor Bloomberg about the idea.

The #7 line of the New York subway system originates at Times Square on the West Side of Midtown, proceeds under 42d Street with a stop under Grand Central Terminal, goes under the East River into Queens and terminates in Flushing. There have been discussions during the past several years to extend the line southwestward to the Javits Convention Center, located at 34th Street and Eleventh Avenue. The proposal now under consideration would extend the line further west to NJT’s Secaucus Station. Most of NJT’s commuter rail lines go there, so transfer would be available between commuter trains in New Jersey and a subway train that would serve the East Side of Midtown Manhattan. This is the first time that there has been serious talk of bringing the subway system across a state line, although a local bus (the S-89) goes between Staten Island and an NJT light rail station in Bayonne.

Now that Lanset’s and Braskett’s idea has suddenly taken on a new life, reaction from rail advocates has been mixed. Braskett expected this. He was quoted in the New York Times on November 17th as saying: “I received abuse from NJ Transit. I received abuse from the rail nuts. They’d tell me I’m crazy.” [“Rail nuts” is a pejorative term usually applied to rail fans, not to serious rail advocates.] Braskett told this writer that he was referring to “certain NJ-ARP people who denied our proposal in favor of their inadequate, expensive schemes that did NOT enhance Regional mobility and ignored the needs of more numerous (2 to 2.6 million) bus riders.” Braskett continued: “Run trains for people; do NOT run trains for the sake of running trains” (emphasis in original). Braskett remains loyal to the proposal he and Lanset presented on their web site, www.subwaytosecaucus.com, five years ago.

Rail riders from Bergen and Passaic Counties, which lie north of Midtown Manhattan, must either take a train south to Hoboken or transfer at Secaucus for a train to Penn Station. Hoboken is a convenient transfer point for commuters to the Financial District in Lower Manhattan, but not for Midtown riders. They can change to another NJT train at Secaucus, but only a relatively small percentage of commuters work in offices near Penn Station. More commuters have offices on the East Side, and most local transit between Penn Station and the East Side is inconvenient. Many commuters from Northern communities prefer to take a bus to the Port Authority Bus Terminal at 42d Street and Eighth Avenue, and then walk or take a subway or local bus to their offices.

While some rail advocates have embraced the Secaucus proposal enthusiastically, others are not convinced. Joseph M. Clift of the Regional Rail Working Group and former Director of Planning for the Long Island Rail Road, remains focused on a “right-sized” ARC (Access to the Region’s Core) project that would bring new capacity for both NJT and Amtrak into the existing Penn Station, redundancy for the existing line, and future expansion to the East Side. He calls that proposal “a ‘win-win’ for all parties” and pointed out the shortcomings of the Secaucus alternative: “Has it set up the future for GCT [Grand Central Terminal on Manhattan’s East side] access and a one-seat ride to East Side jobs that will help maintain Manhattan as a world-class CBD [Central Business District]? Has it improved NEC [Northeast Corridor, owned by Amtrak] reliability? Has it improved the regional rail network? The answer to all is a clear NO!”

Clift continued: “If you build the #7 extension to Secaucus first, would planners build a four-track line to Penn Station? Yes, because it provides capacity, redundancy and eventual expansion to the East Side. If you had four tracks built to Penn Station, would planners still build a #7 train connection to Secaucus? Absolutely not. They would use some of that money to build a connection to Grand Central. The #7 line is deep under 42d St., which makes transfers difficult. We would still need a four-track NEC to Penn Station that could be extended to GCT. If we had the four-track NEC that reached both Penn Station and GCT, we would not need the subway connection.”

Still, Clift welcomes the discussion of the Secaucus proposal. It keeps the issue alive, and Gov. Christie has come out in support of access to the East Side for New Jersey’s rail riders.

Clift and Richard J. Arena of the Association for Public Transportation observed that the estimated $5.3 billion cost of the proposed Secaucus project suggests that a no-frills ARC project can be built for the $6 billion previously available for the ARC project. At this time, though, New York hopes to get the $3 billion that the Federal Transit Administration would have given to the now-defunct ARC Project from New Starts funding.

Now that it does not appear that a new “ARC” Project will be built and there will not be new tunnels that NJT and Amtrak can both use, Arena seems willing to settle for the Subway to Secaucus. He especially praised the crosstown component of the #7 Line, which allows connections to other subway lines for riders going uptown or downtown.

If the subway line is extended to Secaucus, riders would have an early transfer, but they would not save money on fares, under NJT’s current fare structure. Rail riders from west or south of Secaucus must pay a New York fare to get on or off at Secaucus Station.

If funding were available for both projects, it is still unclear that all advocates would embrace the combination. If both were built, commuters going to offices in the northern part of the East Side of Midtown could take the “E” train to 53d street from Penn Station, as they do today. With the Subway to Secaucus, riders bound for 42d Street could change at Secaucus and have a two-seat ride to their offices. Even so, Clift is not convinced that the combination would be cost-effective and says that the Times Square and Grand Central stations on the #7 line are so deep that transfers are inconvenient.

In this era of tight money and scant funding for transit projects, it is highly unlikely that both projects will be given the financial go-ahead anytime soon. Maybe neither will be funded, and access from New Jersey to Midtown Manhattan will remain the same for the foreseeable future. In the event that one project or the other might receive funding, the question of which project to build could divide the advocates for the region’s rail riders for some time to come. According to the letters published in this edition, the same appears to be true for planners, as well.


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

Installments By David Beale
NCI Foreign Editor

 

Britain Commits $12 Billion
To Rail Transport Updates

New Rolling Stock And Mainline Electrification Cleared For Takeoff

London – The U.K. government has announced that 2100 new passenger rail cars will be ordered for the National Rail network, including 1,200 for Thameslink, as part of an £8 billion (US $12 billion) investment. Other train operators will receive 300 of the new vehicles, although no details have been given of which rail operators will benefit, because the allocation will now depend on ‘commercial negotiations’. The rest of the new rolling stock will be for Crossrail, the new underground east-west rail line currently under construction in London. Bombardier and Siemens have been short-listed to build the Thameslink fleet, and the preferred bidder will be announced in the spring.

Thameslink is an existing north-south rail connector that connects several commuter rail lines on the south side of the River Thames to the Midland Main Line, which is a major rail corridor running from London to several cities in the Midlands region and northern England. A passenger rail service of the same name operates commuter and regional trains from Brighton, on England’s southern coast, to Bedford, a small city on the outer northern edges of London’s suburban area. Dual voltage trains are used on the route, since the southern section of the route from Brighton to the center of London is powered with 750 VDC third rail, and from downtown London northwards the route is equipped with 25 kVAC overhead catenary. The section of the route in central London is currently in the middle of a major billion dollar upgrade project, called Thamseslink 2000, which is upgrading stations, increasing station platform length, removing several vertical and horizontal clearance pinch points and updating signaling and track in order to increase speeds and train frequency.

The 1,200 new Thameslink rail cars, which have now been confirmed, will allow the existing Thameslink (BR Class 319) fleet to be cascaded to commuter routes on the so called “Great Western” rail corridor as well as newly-electrified lines in northwestern England (Manchester – Liverpool and Manchester – Preston – Blackpool) which had already been included in the Chancellor’s Comprehensive Spending Review, however the new Thameslink fleet will not be delivered completely until 2019.

Separately is was announced that 25 kVAC electrification is to be extended on the Great Western Main Line from its current end in the inner western suburbs of London out to Oxford and Newbury, in addition to the new electrification of rail lines in northwestern England. In western Europe, Britain lags nearly all other countries in terms of percentage of its rail network currently electrified. Only Ireland and Denmark have a lower share of rail lines electrified than the U.K.

It was also disclosed that the prime contractor options for new Intercity Express high speed train sets have been narrowed down to just two contenders, one of which is a bi-mode hybrid electric-diesel high speed train set offered by Agility Trains, the other a fully electric train-set, which could be hauled with a yet-to-be-developed new high-speed diesel locomotive through sections of certain intercity routes in the U.K. which have not yet been electrified. This practice has been used in the past by Virgin trains with all-electric Pendilino train-sets hauled by diesel locomotives on certain sections of non-electrified track. The new Intercity Express train sets will replace 30-plus year-old diesel HST train-sets (BR class 43), even though in the last few years most of the power cars of the HST train-set fleet have been overhauled and retrofitted with brand new MTU 4000 series diesel engines to lower fuel costs, exhaust emissions, noise and maintenance costs compared to the original diesel engines fitted to these trains.

Industry watchdog “Passenger Focus” welcomed the announcement, with some reservations. Chief executive Anthony Smith said: “Passengers using crowded trains today and soon paying more for the privilege will want to understand what this means for their train service. This is just what rail passengers want to see – long term, sustained investment. It also gives passengers a clue where some of their fare rise money will be going. However, for those passengers who are not going to benefit from these new investments the industry is going to have to continue to work hard to deliver a value for money service.”


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Image: Government of Queensland

Diagram of proposed expansion of rail transit network.
Australia Launches
Project Southeast Queensland 2031
To Double Rail Transit’s Traffic Share

The Land Down Under Continues Aggressive
Investment In Trains And Track

via State Of Queensland press release

Brisbane – The state government of Queensland announced this past week its visionary proposal to increase rail transit’s share of the ground transportation market, with its market share doubling to a 14% market share compared to 2006. So called “Active Transit”, i.e. travel by walking, biking, roller skates, etc. would also double, while the percentage of trips handled by private automobiles would drop significantly. The primary goal is to improve livability of the state’s cities and towns and to reduce CO2 emissions and reduce reliance on non-renewable energy.

The comprehensive planning document and proposal is now in a public comment period. It includes expansion of existing passenger rail services as well as an ambitious underground commuter / regional rail line through Brisbane, called Cross River Rail. The proposal is the latest of a number of actions and projects implemented across Australia in the past decade to boost energy efficient rail transportation of passengers and freight. D:F readers can review the project’s details at the Queensland Government website: http://www.connectingseq.qld.gov.au


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OPINION... Opinion...  

More Comments On The “Subway To Secaucus”

Excerpts From Letters To Editor Of The New York Times

 

To the Editor:

“Finally, something that never made much sense to me is at least in the talking stages of being addressed,” writes Spero T. Leakas of Rochelle Park, N.J.

Considering that Manhattan is the commercial hub of New York City and the metropolitan region, why would the subway system extend 20 or so miles east of the region’s center into Queens but not extend at all west?

The writer cites the imbalance of the regional transportation system and is happy “to see that this is seriously being discussed.”

Municipal or state boundaries are no excuse for not uniting a region’s populated areas into one cohesive transportation system.”

He also would like to see the subway lines that go to Yankee Stadium extended to New Jersey in order “to benefit us New Jersey-based Yankee fans as much as the No. 7 line would benefit Mets fans with a direct ride to Citi Field.”

 

To the Editor:

Bob Previdi, of Philadelphia, thinks the extension of the No. 7 line is a good idea from a cost point of view since it avoids the huge expense of constructing a deep tunnel and a brand new station under Macy’s. Also, he states that “the other advantage of the No. 7 extension is the connection to Times Square and Grand Central.”

However, adequate ridership could be an issue since Secaucus is not far enough into the New Jersey Transit rail network. He suggests that the line “continue on to Newark, where it can link to passengers from the Morris and Essex and Raritan Valley lines, and Newark Liberty Airport as well, or the tunnel should go to Hoboken.”

Mr. Previdi is a former planner and spokesman at New York City Transit

 

A different view

Michael Rogovin from Teaneck, New Jersey, who did planning work with the Port Authority and New York City Transit in the 1990’s, is intrigued by the idea but thinks that it is “deeply flawed.”

“First, the passenger capacity of trains on this A Division (IRT) line is much more limited because of car length, width and height restrictions than commuter trains or even other subway line trains.

“Second, trains bringing commuters from Queens already discharge huge crowds into stations at Grand Central, Fifth Avenue and Times Square… Adding thousands of New Jersey commuters to the same narrow platforms and limited stairs, ramps and escalators (with little or no chance of expansion at these stations), would create unbearable crowding and a safety nightmare.

He believes ways must be found to expand capacity at Penn Station and then move commuters to the East side efficiently “without worsening an already overcrowded system.”


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LETTERS... We Get Letters...  

[ Editor’s note: My apologies for not publishing this letter more promptly. We appreciate hearing from our readers.]

 

Sent November 8 - Dear Editor

Several points:

Rhode Island’s passing of a transportation bond is hardly a victory for public transportation which comprised only about 5% of the bond, the rest for highways.  Further, it is no real increase for public transit funding; the bonds have to be paid back with interest from our transit authority’s operating budget.  There is no additional subsidy from this bond, which only addresses cash flow.

Second, while Jim RePass’ editorial saying both parties are captured by extremists sounds balanced, that is just plain wrong.  The Republicans have indeed largely been taken over by right-wing anti-tax, anti-environment, anti-rail extremists who no longer see transportation as a bipartisan issue to work on.  To think that the Democrats, with their watered down health plan, financial reform, and stimulus are “extremists” is ludicrous, that plays into the hands of our opponents.   It’s nice to sound balanced but we have to face reality in order to address it properly.

Barry Schiller
Providence RI.


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END NOTES...  Publication Notes...

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