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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December 13, 2010
Vol. 11 No. 51

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

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

  News Items…
“Acela” Celebrates A Decade Of Service: Ridership Soaring
   On Amtrak’s Premier Train
  Intermodal Lines…
Pioneer Intermodal Trucker J.B. Hunt Cracks The
   One Million-Container Level
  Funding Lines…
Two States’ Loss Reaps Big Gains Elsewhere
  Selected Rail Stocks…
  Freight Lines…
Barring Miracle, Say Goodbye To High Springs’ Railroad Tracks
 
  Across The Pond…
China – Laos High-Speed Corridor Coming
  Commentary…
New Orleans: Five Years After Katrina - Part 2
  Guest Editorial…
Boston Globe Editorial On Mobility How Transportation
   Boosts Urban Revival
  Editorial…
Getting “On Track” To Break Down The “Silos”
   And Connect The Modes
  Publication Notes …


NEWS OF THE WEEK... News Items...  

“Acela” Celebrates A Decade Of Service:
Ridership Soaring On Amtrak’s Premier Train

By DF Staff

WASHINGTON, DC --- Amtrak’s Acela, the nation’s only true high-speed Rail service, celebrated its 10th anniversary this past week and continues to set ridership and income records for the nation’s principal intercity passenger rail company.

On December 11, 2000, the first scheduled high-speed Acela passenger train left Washington DC at 5 a.m. and headed towards Boston, beginning what has become the single most successful passenger rail service in Amtrak’s history, and providing rapid intercity rail transportation all along Amtrak’s Boston-Washington Northeast Corridor.

Since the Acela began operation, ridership has increased markedly as travel times have decreased, especially between Boston and New York City where full electrification, first proposed in 1912, was not finished until 1999. Acela carried 3.2 million passengers in the fiscal year ending September 30, and, as importantly Northeast Regional service, which costs less to use but is nearly as fast as Acela, is also now fully electrified DC-Boston, carrying just over 7 million people in FY 2010, according to Amtrak.

Amtrak has now captured 55 percent of the Boston-New York air-rail market, up from a paltry 15% pre-electrification on that route; the reason electrified trains are faster than diesel service is not because top speeds are greater, but because electric trains that get their power from overhead wires --- called “catenary” in common usage --- can generate up to 50% more than their rated horsepower from those overhead wires for short intervals without damaging the windings of the traction motors that turn the locomotive’s wheels--- in effect, a supercharger . This therefore shortens station stops --- “dwell time” --- considerably when compared to the far slower-to-accelerate diesel-powered trains the electrics --- both conventional electrics and Acela ---have replaced.

Acela Express train, led by power unit #2035, at New Haven

Photo: Adam E. Moreira (AEMoreira042281) via Wikipedia.

An Acela Express train, led by power unit #2035, at New Haven Union Station in New Haven, CT.

The electrification of the New Haven-Boston segment of the Northeast Corridor completed in 1999 had actually been approved and initial funding authorized by Congress during the Jimmy Carter Administration, but was immediately blocked by the incoming Reagan Administration when it took office in 1981. The Reagan and then Bush(I) Administration’s opposition to any significant spending on rail improvements effectively delayed the start of service for two decades; it was not until the intervention of the bi-partisan National Corridors Initiative (then called the Northeast Corridor Initiative), whose leaders included former Rhode Island Governor J. Joseph Garrahy, top Bush fund-raiser the late Robert Pullman of New Hampshire, NCI founder journalist and businessman Jim RePass, and NCI’s original executive director Lincoln Chafee, who was elected Governor of Rhode Island last month and takes office in January, that the Bush I Administration on September 21, 1991 reversed its opposition and allowed the funds for electrification New Haven-Boston to be appropriated by Congress. The project was completed in 1999, at a total cost of $2.7 billion (including about $700 million for the Acela trainsets).


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INTERMODAL LINES... Intermodal Lines...  

Pioneer Intermodal Trucker J.B. Hunt
Cracks The One Million-Container Level

By DF Staff and from J.B. Hunt Transport Services

LOWELL, ARKANSAS---J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc., (NASDAQ: JBHT) one of the pioneers in the move to intermodal highway-to-rail containerized shipping, announced this week that it has passed the one-million-unit level for the first time in history.

“JBI specializes in the conversion of freight from the highway to the railroad, resulting in a more cost-effective and environmentally friendly form of transportation,” stated the company in making its announcement. “The segment utilizes special arrangements with the majority of North American rail carriers to provide transportation solutions for customers throughout the Continental United States, Canada and Mexico. J.B. Hunt currently operates nearly 43,000 53-foot containers, the largest fleet of its kind in the industry.”

“This is truly one of the proudest moments in our Company’s long and storied history,” said Kirk Thompson, President and Chief Executive Officer for J.B. Hunt. “When you place a well-developed strategic vision in the hands of the brightest, most capable transportation people in the industry, this is the result. It is the exemplary teamwork and dedication of our employees, as well as our strong rail relationships, that enabled us to achieve this momentous accomplishment.”

J.B. Hunt began Intermodal operations in 1989 with a unique arrangement with what is a unit of what is now known as BNSF Railway, a U.S rail giant created from the Burlington Northern and the Santa Fe railroads during the railway merger mania of the 1980’s that followed railroad deregulation via the 1980 Staggers Act by Congress, and is regarded as one of America’s best run and most innovative companies. It was purchased by Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway investment company in 2009, in a $44 billion deal that was seen as a major bet on the future of American business.

“It was a milestone event in the industry and the first time that a major railroad and truck-load transportation company had formalized an agreement to offer joint services,” the company noted.

“Our JBI segment and arrangement with Burlington Northern was conceived at a perfect time to revolutionize the intermodal business,” said Paul Bergant, President of Intermodal for J.B. Hunt. “What started with a handshake has grown into a service that is unparalleled in the transportation industry, in both size and scope. That kind of growth only happens when you focus on your customers.”

For the past decade, the company said. “J.B. Hunt has been focused on and committed to reducing its carbon footprint to make a significant difference in the environment though innovative sustainability efforts. To put this achievement into perspective, one million loads converted to Intermodal:

About J.B. Hunt

“J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc. focuses on providing safe and reliable transportation services to a diverse group of customers throughout the continental United States, Canada and Mexico. Utilizing an integrated, multimodal approach, we provide capacity-oriented solutions centered on delivering customer value and industry-leading service. Our stock is traded on NASDAQ under the ticker symbol JBHT and is a component of the Dow Jones Transportation Average and the NASDAQ-100 Index. For more information about our Company, visit www.jbhunt.com.”


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FUNDING LINES... Funding Lines...  

Two States’ Loss Reaps Big Gains Elsewhere

DF Staff And Internet Sources

Across the country, states where high-speed rail has been planned and supported by citizens and political leaders are energized by their windfall of money thanks to the governors-elect in Ohio and Wisconsin, John Kasich and Scott Walker, who vowed to “kill that train” during their campaigns and are now following through by refusing collectively almost $2 billion from the federal government.

The Federal Railroad Administration released this press release about the funding shift:

U.S. Department of Transportation Redirects
$1.195 Billion in High-Speed Rail Funds

WASHINGTON, DECEMBER 9 – U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced that $1.195 billion in high-speed rail funds originally designated for Wisconsin and Ohio will be redirected to other states eager to develop high-speed rail corridors across the United States. Wisconsin has suspended work under its existing high-speed rail agreement and the incoming Governors in Wisconsin and Ohio have both indicated that they will not move forward to use high-speed rail money received under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). As a result, $1.195 billion will be redirected to high-speed rail projects already underway in other states.

“High-speed rail will modernize America’s valuable transportation network, while reinvigorating the manufacturing sector and putting people back to work in good-paying jobs,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “I am pleased that so many other states are enthusiastic about the additional support they are receiving to help bring America’s high-speed rail network to life.”

The Recovery Act included $8 billion to launch a national high-speed rail program that will modernize America’s transportation network, spur economic development domestically and keep the U.S. competitive with other leading nations. High-speed rail grants announced under the Recovery Act can be used only for high-speed rail projects and not for other transportation projects.

Last year, the Obama Administration received a commitment from 30 domestic and foreign rail manufacturers to establish or expand their base of operations in the United States if selected for contracts building America’s high-speed rail network. These rail manufacturers and suppliers committed to not only locate in the U.S., but to ensure high-speed rail projects are built by American workers with American-made supplies. To deliver maximum economic benefits to American taxpayers, the Administration’s high-speed rail program also includes a 100 percent ‘Buy American’ requirement.

Under the Recovery Act, the Federal Railroad Administration originally announced $810 million for Wisconsin’s Milwaukee-Madison corridor and $400 million for Ohio’s Cincinnati-Columbus-Cleveland “3C” route. The Federal Railroad Administration will redirect $810 million from Wisconsin and $385 million from Ohio, and will work with these states to determine whether they have already spent money under their contracts that should be reimbursed.

The $1.195 billion originally designated for those high-speed rail projects in Wisconsin and Ohio will now be used to support projects in the following states:

Robert Cruikshank, a blogger who writes frequently about California, called the Midwest governors-elect decision “moronic” and praises Jerry Brown and California voters for their decision to approve $10 billion in funds for HSR in 2008. They understand, as do U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer and California’s Democratic delegation in Congress that “we need to fund 21st century infrastructure that liberates us from oil, rather than deepening our dependence on it, ” he writes.

His blog continues, “California has won nearly $4 billion in federal HSR funding in the last 12 months.

“It’s not clear yet what exactly the California HSR Authority will use the money to build, but it will almost certainly go to expand the first construction segment, currently linking Fresno and Hanford. The funding could be enough to get the tracks all the way to Bakersfield or Merced, a good starting point as we seek additional funds to complete the route from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

This is yet another example of how federal infrastructure stimulus is welcome here in California, where we understand that job creation and preparation for a 21st century economy go hand-in-hand. Kudos to our Senators and Congressional delegation for winning these funds - let’s hope they keep up the fight for HSR funding in the coming years.”

Learn more about this story and the HSR project at my California High-Speed Rail Blog at http://www.cahsrblog.com/


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STOCKS...  Selected Rail Stocks...

Source: MarketWatch.com

   This
Week
Previous
Week
Canadian National (CNI)66.8266.86
Canadian Pacific (CP) 64.19 65.97
CSX (CSX)64.1064.41
Genessee & Wyoming (GWR)50.7749.30
Kansas City Southern (KSU)49.9849.29
Norfolk Southern (NSC)62.6962.88
Providence & Worcester(PWX)13.4013.00
Union Pacific (UNP)92.6494.55


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FREIGHT LINES... Freight Lines...  

Barring Miracle, Say Goodbye To
High Springs’ Railroad Tracks

Economic Impact On A Short Line Railroad And A Local Business

From North Florida Herald Online
Staff Writer: Adrianna Paidas

Some High Springs delapidated trackage

Photo: North Florida Herald

High Springs was hoping to get a grant to repair the crumbling railroad tracks where the ties holding the rails together have rotted or disappeared. The city did not get the grant, and unless another company pays for the repairs, the tracks likely will be sold as valuable scrap.

HIGH SPRINGS, DECEMBER 9 – Small companies can get hit hard when investment in the infrastructure they depend on is not available.

In High Springs, Florida, the tracks owned by Florida Northern Railroad Company have deteriorated to the extent that without repair or replacement the line must be closed. The Railroad owns 14 miles of track in the Gainesville area.

City officials announced last week that efforts to save the railroad tracks in downtown High Springs were thwarted when they received word that it was not awarded the federal transportation grant that would have paid for the needed repairs.

A pipe plant company in High Springs, PrimeConduit, will lose its primary mode of shipping if the tracks are closed and officials are now worried that the plant may be shut down.

With help from the Council of Economic Outreach at the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce, the city had applied for a TIGER II grant (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) to pay for track restoration. These grants fund projects ranging from highways to bridges to rails and ports and are very competitive. Out of 1,000 construction grant applications this year, the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded the grants to only 70 projects based on criteria showing how much the project would help the national economy.

“We made a great case, but there is an incredible demand for that money all over the country,” said David Ramsey, the CEO of Gainesville’s Council for Economic Outreach.

Pete Petree, vice president and general manager of the Northern Railroad, said that because the city did not get the grant, the company is filing for a discontinuance of service. The discontinuance does not have to be permanent, he said, if somehow money is found to rehabilitate the tracks in the future. Prime Conduit expects it will have to look for alternative means of shipping which probably will be trucks.

Though the tracks may eventually close, Prime Conduit still plans to stay open, Ramsey said.

“This does not mean the company will close by any means,” Ramsey said. “It just means the company must seek alternative shipping transportation.”

Since High Springs is anxious for Prime Conduit to stay open, voters approved at the last city election an incentive program that would give companies like Prime Conduit a tax break if it guaranteed new jobs for the community.

“We are extremely disappointed that we did not receive the grant,” Ramsey said. “But again, Prime Conduit will stay open, and we hope this tax exemption creates more jobs.”


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

By David Beale
NCI Foreign Editor
 

China – Laos High-Speed Corridor Coming

First Step In SE Asia High-Speed Rail Network

Via. Wall Street Journal Asia, Singapore Business Times, and China Railways press release

Beijing – China and Laos plan to start construction in early 2011 on the first high-speed rail line from China to Southeast Asia, a report from the Chinese Railway Ministry indicated this Thursday (9th December). According to a statement made by the Deputy Prime Minister of Laos, Somsavat Lengsavad, to the Wall Street Journal Asia, the rail line shall be completed as far as Vientiane by 2014.

Landlocked Laos, which has one of the fastest growing economies in Asia, currently has no significant rail network in operation aside from a 3.5 k long branch line of the Thai rail system SRT, which is situated on the border to Thailand and the town of Thanaleng. Earlier narrow-gauge rail lines and connections to China and Vietnam, which were built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, disappeared decades ago after the end of French colonial rule, civil war and massive aerial bombing by the USA during the Vietnam War.

Although the exact route of the proposed rail line is not defined yet, it is expected to start in the southwestern Chinese city of Kunming, the current break-point between the standard gauge (1435 mm) mainland Chinese rail network and the meter-gauge rail network in southwestern China and Vietnam. From Kunming the new high-speed rail line will cross the border into Laos and continue through to Thailand, across Malaysia and terminate in Singapore. Some of this route is currently served by the famous luxury overnight passenger train “Eastern & Orient Express” as far north as Bangkok, and in Malaysia and Thailand there is a relatively extensive rail network already in-place. A significant number of the rail lines in peninsular Malaysia have been electrified in recent years.

“We believe this project should contribute significantly to the socio-economic development of Laos as well as to the promotion of economic cooperation between Southeast Asia and China.” stated Mr. Somsavat during a major rail industry convention and conference in Beijing this week. Thai deputy prime minister. Suthep Thaugsuban, stated at the Beijing rail transit convention that his country was also looking forward to the prospects of a connected rail network across Asia.

An EMU commuter train, KTMB, seen near Serebam, Malaysia

Photo: KTMB

Bullet Trains arriving here soon? An EMU commuter train of Malaysian state rail company KTMB, seen near Serebam, Malaysia in an undated photo, may soon have connecting service to China via high-speed trains on a proposed rail line which will cross Laos and Thailand and Malaysia.

The technical issue of track gauge was not mentioned in the reports, but will undoubtedly play an important role. On one hand the existing rail network in Southeast Asia from Kunming all the way to Singapore is predominately meter-gauge, therefore for interoperability reasons the new rail line would also need to be meter-gauge. On the other hand the decision could be similar to the decision which Spain made decades ago: build the high-speed line to standard gauge, rather than the existing rail gauge (broad gauge in Spain), and use rolling stock which can operate on both gauges with the assistance of gauge-changing machines at the junctions between standard gauge and meter-gauge lines. Also possible is to build tracks which have rails for both gauges in the track bed, which has also been used on some rail lines in Spain, but has the obvious drawback of additional cost and highly complex rail switches and interlockings.


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COMMENTARY... Commentary...  

New Orleans: Five Years After Katrina

Transit Regained

Second In A Series
By David Peter Alan

At the end of August, 2005, New Orleans was an abandoned city. Hurricane Katrina raged through the city on August 29th, overcoming the levees and other defenses, and inundating the city with polluted water from Lake Pontchartrain. Many houses were flooded nearly to their roofs. Almost 1000 people died in the disaster. The mayor had ordered residents to evacuate, and those who could did. Those who could not were stuffed into places like the Convention Center, under intolerable conditions. A few adventurous souls toughed it out in the French Quarter, a neighborhood that lies on sufficiently high ground that it did not flood.

Some commentators elsewhere, in the media and on the streets, wondered if New Orleans was worth saving. New Orleans residents knew the answer. A few businesses reopened even before the evacuation order was lifted. Makeshift medical facilities were set up. Construction crews flocked to the city, much as they did in Chicago, San Francisco and other cities after disasters. The great rebuilding effort had begun.

At that time, there was essentially no transit. Over 400 RTA (Regional Transit Authority) vehicles were lost, and only 53 buses remained operational. The historic Perley Thomas cars rode out the storm safely in the Carrollton Avenue Car Barn, but the St. Charles Avenue Line on which they ran had suffered serious damage and was inoperable. The Canal Street Line fared better, but its entire fleet of cars sat destroyed in five feet of polluted water, after only twenty months in service. According to RTA General Manager Justin T. Augustine III, 80% of the city’s transit assets had been washed away.

Recovery came slowly, but it came. Many residents returned to their homes from exile elsewhere in the country, to start their own personal cleanup and rebuilding operations. Businesses reopened, and visitors came back to the French Quarter and other tourist destinations in the city. Still, many residents complained that government at all levels did little to help the city rebuild. In 2006 and 2007, the T-shirt shops on Bourbon Street featured a shirt that said FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Administration) stood for “Fix Everything My Ass.”

Augustine had a more favorable opinion of FEMA. He said that FEMA procured Federal funding for new buses to replace the fleet that had been decimated, as well as for a rail expansion program. Under that program, the St. Charles Avenue Line was rebuilt and the Canal Street and Riverfront Lines were placed back in service. So was the Canal Street facility in Mid-City, where the moribund Canal Street cars awaited rebuilding. “We were the first public entity to right itself” Augustine told this writer.

It was not easy, and transit returned in stages. Limited bus service started in October, although some buses ran in September in Baton Rouge, for evacuees who could not yet come home. Streetcars came back to Canal Street first, in December, using the historic cars that had operated on St. Charles Avenue. They only ran every fifteen minutes and only until 10:00 at night, but at least there was service. The Riverfront Line reopened then, too. City residents knew that the streetcars were coming back, and visiting streetcar fans could enjoy a ride in historic cars on a street that normally did not host them.

The St. Charles Avenue Line required extensive rebuilding, so service returned in stages. At first, there was only a shuttle between Canal Street and Lee Circle, on street-running tracks on St. Charles Avenue and Carondelet Street in the downtown area. That began in 2006. Service was later extended to Jackson Avenue, at the beginning of the Garden District, in November, 2007. During this time, transit along the full length of St. Charles Avenue and the portion of Carrollton Avenue where the streetcars had run was provided by buses.

Eventually, the entire line was rebuilt, and the city was able to celebrate the full return of streetcar service in June, 2008. Service hours increased over time, also. The Lee Circle Shuttle only ran during daytime hours. As the line expanded, so did the hours, and cars again run all night. Exchange, Veolia’s magazine for employees, reported a “Mardi Gras-like atmosphere” at the celebration that marked the full return of streetcar service.

Bus service has returned to an extent, but the current level of service is significantly less than before the storm. According to Augustine, the city population is 72% of its pre-Katrina level. The RTA had 13 million riders last year, compared to 33 million during the year before the storm. The current bus system is skeletal and buses do not run late at night, but today’s service remains a vast improvement over the situation at the end of August, 2005.

Augustine credits much of the improvement to Veolia Transportation, which now runs the transit system as a contract operator. Augustine himself had worked for the RTA from 1983 to 1995, when he left to accept a job with Veolia. He came back to New Orleans in 2008 as a Veolia Vice-President and General Manager of the RTA system. He said that Veolia had the expertise to manage the transit recovery, while the City did not have the resources to do it themselves.

With help from other Veoila managers, Augustine and his team established a public-private partnership model for management, obtained funding for transit, changed the compensation and benefit plans, and negotiated new work agreements with the unions that represent the transit workers. “Things worked out perfectly with the unions, but it was the hardest three months of my life” Augustine said. The workforce is now about one third the size it had been before the storm.

Today, Augustine and a small management team supervise operations, promote the system, plan for the future and report to the RTA Board. Cars run every ten minutes on Canal Street, with most cars going to the famous cemeteries at the end of Canal Street, and a few going to City Park and the city’s art museum. St. Charles Avenue cars run every eight minutes during the day, compared to a pre-Katrina headway of six minutes; 75% of the former service for 72% of the former population. The Riverfront Line along the Mississippi River in the French Quarter remains a favorite with tourists.

To a visitor who uses the streetcar to get around New Orleans, the city looks much as it did six years ago. The French Quarter retains its charm and history, although hard rock has replaced jazz as the music of Bourbon Street. The sedate beauty of the Garden District and the bustle of the Central Business District are essentially the same as they were before the storm.

The same cannot be said for other neighborhoods, like Gentilly and the Lower Ninth Ward, which were devastated by the storm and have not yet recovered. Few people live in these neighborhoods now, but Augustine and his team gave them some transit, too. For the past eighteen months, these neighborhoods have been linked to the rest of the transit system by an innovative community circulator, the Lil’ Easy.

The next article in this series will focus on this new and unique transit service.


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GUEST EDITORIAL... Guest Editorial...  

Boston Globe Editorial On Mobility

How Transportation Boosts Urban Revival

This editorial appeared December 5 in The Boston Globe, as the second in a series of gateway-cities editorials appearing on Sundays, and is one of the clearest editorials we have seen on the relationship between better transportation/access, the nation’s history, and the revival of older cities. We commend it to our readers, and ask them to send us examples of similar works involving their region of the country/world; reprint permission requested.

 

For the state’s gateway cities to thrive again, they have to be within easy reach of the 21st-century economy. Extending commuter rail from Boston would help, but these cities also need a more ambitious strategy to restore their position as local transportation centers.

Because of its fine harbor, New Bedford was once the nation’s whaling capital. Mill cities such as Springfield, Lowell, and Lawrence grew up where they did because of their location in a network of waterways, railways, and roads that moved people and goods around. But now that once-reliable industries are a distant memory, and many new businesses emerge in suburban office parks or in the high-tech corridors along Route 128 and Interstate 495, inhabitants of the gateway cities are left with uneven access to jobs — and a tougher sales pitch to make to newcomers. Meanwhile, there are back-office industries, such as medical record-keeping, that could thrive in smaller urban settings but need easy access to outside workers and affiliates.

As policymakers in Massachusetts have come to grips with the possibilities of “smart growth,’’ an answer has emerged: By beefing up the MBTA commuter rail system, Massachusetts could spur the transformation of old factory buildings near train stations in mill cities into complexes that mix residential and commercial uses, while taking pressure off the state’s ever-diminishing amount of open space. In this spirit, Governor Patrick has vowed to start work on the long-planned commuter rail line to Fall River and New Bedford.

Critics point to the underused Greenbush line as an argument against rail expansion, but the rationale for that line — persuading upscale suburbanites to commute by trains rather than cars — is quite different from connecting gateway cities with opportunities to prosper. The role that commuter rail can play may be most evident in Lowell, which has marketed itself as a low-cost alternative for artists and others seeking more space than they could ever afford in Boston or Cambridge. MBTA figures indicate that, every weekday, 1,400 people board inbound commuter trains in Lowell, presumably for jobs closer to the heart of Greater Boston. With sufficient frequency, the same could be true for trains from New Bedford and Fall River.

Of course, gateway cities can be more than bedroom communities for Boston, and they have other transportation needs, which quickly become evident the farther one strays from a commuter rail station. The inadequacy of local transit systems outside the T’s core area makes a car a near-necessity. That’s not just an expense for individual workers; it also requires real estate developers and potential employers to make provision for parking. This is easy in many suburbs, but not in a compact, long-developed mill town.

While the Legislature began committing extra money last year to the regional transit authorities scattered across Massachusetts, the state should be looking for innovations that significantly reduce the need for cars and parking in at least some parts of the state’s gateway cities. Adam Baacke, Lowell’s thoughtful planning and development chief, recognizes that getting by without a car in his city would be a challenge, but argues that even promoting more single-car households would produce dividends for developers, businesses, and residents. He points to Bellingham, Wash., and Boulder, Colo., as smaller cities that promote mobility through a well-conceived local transit system and a web of bike and pedestrian lanes.

Vital as it is, improving transportation within gateway cities shouldn’t come at the expense of better connections to larger urban areas. Springfield’s Union Station has been boarded up for 38 years, but a planned refurbishing of the building as a commuter rail, Amtrak, and regional bus center could dramatically increase the possibilities for that city. The $70 million project — which is still at least $20 million short in financing — would turn the city into a hub for high-speed rail service between Vermont and New York. With 28 trips through that “knowledge corridor’’ every day, under a $121 million expansion funded through President Obama’s rail initiative, Springfield would suddenly become a lower-cost alternative for office work that might otherwise be done in New York; meanwhile, the planned 800 daily bus departures and arrivals would draw students and other travelers from throughout the Pioneer Valley and Western Massachusetts.

Many of the Commonwealth’s old industrial communities feature similarly grand train terminals, solid transportation infrastructure, and historic downtowns that dwarf those of much larger Sun Belt cities. With better local transit, the gateway cities will be better placed to recruit new employers and residents. And with better links to bigger cities, the gateway cities can once again tap into the humming Northeastern corridor whose economic bustle so often seems to pass them by.

© Copyright 2010 Globe Newspaper Company.


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EDITORIAL... Editorial...  

Getting “On Track” To Break Down
The “Silos” And Connect The Modes

By Molly McKay
Editor, Destination: Freedom

This article was written for Connecticut Sierra Club’s newsletter
“The Quinnehtukqut” winter edition

PROVIDENCE, DECEMBER 6 -- A short but very significant extension of commuter rail has just occurred in New England. On Monday, December 6, 2010, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority out of Boston ran its first train from Providence to the brand new train station at T.F. Green Airport in Warwick, Rhode Island. Although this is only an extension of a few miles, it’s a great step forward to link airports to rail, something that should be done all across America just as they do in Europe.


Photo: Don Pillsbury via USDOT

The Skywalk between the new train station and airport terminal. The train station is just off the image to the far left.

Now Rhode Island and New Hampshire (at Manchester Airport) are the only two states in New England to provide this air/rail connection.

The inaugural train ran on Monday morning, December 6, 2010. VIPs from DC, MA, and RI were there for a ceremony at the station -- OUTDOORS!!    If anyone happens to remember the weather that morning, it was COLD .....  AND windy.   Every speaker promised to be brief, and actually they were, but it still lasted about an hour because there were so many.  The best relief of all was the steaming hot chocolate they served.


Photo: Rhode Island DOT

Governor Donald L. Carcieri cuts the ribbon to officially open commuter rail service at the InterLink project at T.F. Green Airport in Warwick on December 6, 2010.

I spoke with Governor-elect Lincoln Chafee, whom I know, and some of the state and U.S. legislators.  Chafee is very supportive of rail investment, and we are looking forward to his help, and that of our newly elected governor Dan Malloy, in getting all the New England governors, along with the eastern Canadian Premiers, to increase their regional collaboration in planning and executing more rail and transit service throughout the Northeast. They have made a good start, but much more is needed, specifically a governor who will take the lead and champion this effort.


Photo: Molly McKay / NCI

Destination:Freedom Editor Molly McKay and Governor-elect Lincoln Chafee.

I also spoke with U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) who told me that his chief of staff left him temporarily last year to work on Dick Blumenthal’s campaign, so we have a good connection there. 

I was the only person there from Connecticut. I was sorry about that and wish I had known enough in advance to organize a contingent of our leaders to attend.   When I spoke with one of the state senators and said I was Transportation Chair of CT Sierra Club and wanted to launch a campaign to connect  our state with Green airport by rail, she said, “Great!!   Work with the Rhode Island Sierra Club.  Their single issue is transportation!”

So here are two more goals to fight for -- connect CT rail to Green Airport and of course to Bradley, also.

Here’s the link to the Providence Journal article:

http://www.projo.com/news/content/AIRPORT_TRAIN_12-07-10_M0LB6RP_v44.3275c38.html


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END NOTES...  Publication Notes...

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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.

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