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Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: Cuomo Expected To Name Lhota as MTA Head; NYC Taxi Medallion Goes for $1 Million

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Top stories on TN:

Patrick Foye is the new head of the Port Authority of NY and NJ, pending board approval. (Link)

Power, politics, and the Prospect Park West bike lane. (Link)

Millions of Americans drive over structurally deficient bridges every day. (Link)

(Photo: Karly Domb Sadof)

NY Governor Cuomo is expected to name Joe Lhota to head the MTA. (Wall Street Journal)

Amtrak is now making Wi-Fi available on other regional trains besides the Acela -- but with a catch: content filters block some legitimate subjects, like gay rights sites. (Greater Greater Washington)

Senator John McCain's proposed amendment to the transportation spending bill was tabled yesterday. (The Hill)

NYC is taking a closer look at the B110 bus, which is privately operated public bus that asks Jewish women to sit in the back. (NY Times)

Million dollar medallions: two NYC taxi cabs medallions were sold for $1 million apiece, the highest recorded sale since the city’s modern livery system began. (NY Times)

NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg says a lawsuit demanding that taxicabs be wheelchair-accessible is unrealistic and would inconvenience all passengers. (NY Daily News)

Portugal can't afford to finish building a high-speed rail line originally planned to go between Lisbon and Madrid. (Marketplace)

NJ Transit is partnering with Google over a 'tap and pay' system. (Star-Ledger)

One NYC artist tells the story of the Puerto Rican diaspora through a Schwinn bicycle. (NY Daily News)

A team of engineering and seismic experts said a controversial proposal to build Los Angeles's Westside subway extension under Beverly Hills High School is safer than an alternate route. (Los Angeles Times)

Tweet from Howie Wolf, NYC deputy mayor: New Q poll finds strong support for @MikeBloomberg bike policies -- 72% of NYers support bike share, 58% support bike lanes #bikenyc

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Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: Private Money Unlikely for California Bullet Train, Map Shows Who Swipes What NYC MetroCard Where

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Top stories on TN:

Amtrak carried a record 30 million passengers. (Link)

Royals use bike share, too. (Link)

California is offering a ticket amnesty program. (Link)

 

A sculpture along a North Carolina trail, paid for by the state's transportation enhancement program (photo by Hagarjr via Flickr)

Private money for California's high-speed rail project looks unlikely, according to the California High-Speed Rail Authority -- at least until the line begins operating. (Los Angeles Times)

The Senate will vote today on a John McCain-sponsored amendment that would eliminate the beautification requirement spending in federal highway funding. (The Hill, Politico)

Maryland's two largest counties and Baltimore want the state to raise the gas tax to pay for transportation projects. (Baltimore Sun)

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel -- transit user and supporter of bike share programs -- is the "anti-Daley." (Atlantic Cities)

Subway swipe data shows where riders most often use senior discounts, unlimited passes and pay-per-ride MetroCards. Bonus: interactive map! (Wall Street Journal)

NYC wants to convert 21 on-street parking spaces into a "mini park" on one traffic-clogged Hell's Kitchen street. (DNA Info)

Drivers with expired registration will no longer be arrested in DC. (WAMU)

Transit advocate Gene Russianoff offers some advice for a new NY MTA head: slash borrowing, resurrect congestion pricing, and urge the governor to sign the lockbox bill. (NY Daily News)

If the bad economy is part of the reason Amtrak's attracting riders, what happens when there's a turnaround? (Marketplace)

"Green" policies don't benefit the lower middle class. (Slate)

Colorado will use police cars as pace cars to try to speed ski traffic along a highway. (Denver Post)

 

 

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Transportation Nation

Amtrak Carries 30 Million Passengers for First Time

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Amtrak carried 30 million passengers in the past 12 months, the most the railroad has carried since its creation in 1971.  But despite its success in attracting riders this year, the railroad has come under political attack.

Amtrak has broken ridership records for eight of the last nine years (see chart above). Joseph Boardman, the CEO of the railroad, said in a statement that “Amtrak is fulfilling its national mission and is part of the solution to meet America’s growing transportation and energy needs.”

A decade ago, Amtrak carried 21 million passengers a year.

The railroad attributes the growth to increases in business travel, high gasoline prices, and expansion of Wi-Fi on more services. Total ticket revenue for Amtrak was just under $1.9 billion -- up 8 percent over the previous year, despite significant weather-related service disruptions.

The Northeast Corridor, which carries almost 11 million each year, had a five percent growth in riders and a seven percent revenue bump in revenue, even as discount buses expanded heavily along the same route.

The short routes in the Washington, D.C. area did particularly well in 2011. Washington-Lynchburg ridership jumped almost 30 percent, and Washington-Newport News climbed 16 percent. Long distance trains, used more for leisure travel, had their highest ridership in 16 years. Very few routes lost riders. You can see ridership information for all lines here (pdf).

Meanwhile, in the past twelve months governors in Florida and Wisconsin have killed high-speed rail projects in their states, and House Republicans have called for privatizing it and are proposing spending cuts. At a hearing in May, John Mica, the head of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said that Amtrak has "one of the most dismal records on earth for any rail service" and called for privatizing the Northeast Corridor.

And in June, a Republican Congressman from New Jersey called for diverting federal money -- already allocated to Amtrak for electrical upgrades on the Northeast Corridor -- to flood victims in the Midwest. After months of political wrangling, Amtrak eventually got that money.

 

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Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: Detroit Slashes More Bus Service, Alexandria To Join Capital Bikeshare, NJ Transit Customers Unhappy

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Top stories on TN:

NY's governor is zeroing in on a "surprising" choice to run the MTA. (Link)

A new website maps crashes at NYC intersections. (Link)

An infrastructure bank will likely return as a political weapon. (Link)

GM to bicyclists: We're sorry we offended you. (Link)

Detroit bus (photo by Matt Picio via Flickr)

Detroit has cut a third of its bus service over the last five years; now suburban bus lines are facing "colossal cuts." (Detroit Free Press)

Alexandria's City Council voted unanimously to join Capital Bikeshare. (Washington Post)

NJ Transit customers gave the agency the lowest rating ever for "handling of service disruptions." (The Star-Ledger)

An Amtrak train blew a red signal and crashed into another train in Oakland, injuring 16. (AP via San Francisco Chronicle)

Today's Brian Lehrer Show: car sharing and rental cars. Discuss. (WNYC)

 

 

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Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: NJ Now Owes Interest on Cancelled ARC Tunnel Debt, Maine Speed Limit 75 on One Road, and Lightning Zaps LIRR

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Top stories on TN:

DC's paratransit system battles financial woes, unhappy passengers. (Link)

NYC ramping up installation of accessible pedestrian crosswalk signals. (Link)

A Houston official tries to sell bike commuting in a car-centric city. (Link)

The ARC tunnel groundbreaking, during happier times -- and under another governor (photo courtesy of Tri State Transportation Campaign)

$2.6 million in interest was added to the $274 million bill New Jersey owes the federal government after killing the ARC tunnel. (AP via NJ.com)

Speaking of ARC: the enmity between New Jersey's governor, Chris Christie, and NJ Senator Frank Lautenberg stems from the tunnel's cancellation. (NY Times)

Virginia is withholding millions in transit funds until it gets seats on local transit boards. (Washington Post)

As the Port Authority's head prepares to move on, the agency reviews its project list -- and prepares to make some tough decisions. (Wall Street Journal)

On one lone highway in Maine, the speed limit is now 75. (Marketplace)

Mitt Romney, a Republican presidential candidate, wants to privatize Amtrak. (The Hill)

Three Miami police officers on bicycle patrol were hit by an SUV. (Miami Herald)

A lightning strike knocked out Long Island Rail Road service yesterday. (WNYC)

NYC subway: more platforms slated for cell service. (NY Post)

Tweet of the day, via Azi Paybarah: "price of medallion is about $650K today, which shows you 'how lucrative it is to drive a cab' said @mikebloomberg."

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Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: Boeing Delivers New Plane, Atlanta's Transpo System Needs Billions, and LA Stadium Plan Heavy on Parking, Light on Transit

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Top stories on TN:

FEMA disaster reimbursements -- on hold due to Congressional inaction -- are affecting Montana residents hit hard by flooding. (Link)

Obama administration officials continue to push for transportation spending, despite unpromising signs from lawmakers. (Link)

A Dreamliner 787 in mid-flight. (Bernard Choi / Boeing)

The train tracks under the New York's East River that support hundreds of Long Island Railroad cars daily will be replaced due to "significant water drainage issues." (WNYC)

The transportation plan for a proposed 72,000-seat football stadium in downtown Los Angeles is heavy on the parking, fuzzy on the public transit details. (Los Angeles Times)

Even if Atlanta's transportation referendum passes, its transit system will still face $2.3 billion in unfunded maintenance needs over the next decade. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

The Dreamliner takes flight: Boeing delivered its first new aircraft in over a decade. (Marketplace)

Urban bicyclists may be inhaling twice as much soot as pedestrians. (Los Angeles Times)

New York State is getting nearly $150 million in federal transportation funding to upgrade Amtrak's passenger service in the Albany area. (AP via Wall Street Journal)

New York's MTA is putting nine more properties on the block, including a mostly empty building in downtown Brooklyn. (Wall Street Journal)

The NYPD rolled out "Total Impact," a policing strategy designed to combat a spike in subway crime. (NY Daily News)

'Shovel-ready' jobs -- a term the president has avoided this time around - actually take a fair amount of time. (Politico)

About 30 percent of the natural gas produced in North Dakota is flared off as waste, an amount that no other oil field in the rest of the country comes close to. (NY Times)

New York City Council held hearings on bills that would change procedures for installing bike lanes. (Streetsblog)

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WNYC News

Train Tracks in East River Tunnels to Be Replaced

Monday, September 26, 2011

WNYC

The train tracks under the East River that support hundreds of Long Island Railroad cars daily will be replaced during a $48 million job that begins next month as the result of what officials said were "significant water drainage issues."

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Transportation Nation

Power Outage Causes 1,500 NJ Transit Passengers to be Stuck in Tunnel

Thursday, September 22, 2011

(robotbrainz/Flickr)

A power outage stranded 1,500 passengers on two NJ Transit trains in a tunnel for hours this morning outside of Penn Station.

A spokesman for Amtrak, which operates the tunnel, said the power failure that occurred around 9 a.m. Thursday affected four trains — two of which officials say are being pulled from the tunnel by rescue engines after the others were successfully removed.

Amtrak doesn't know what cause the power outage, and had no estimate for restoration. There were extensive service delays between New York and New Jersey as of noon Thursday.

Passenger Jason Uechi, a software developer, was on the 8:20 a.m. train from Montclair, N.J.  He was stuck on the train for more than two hours. He said the lights were on in the car but the air conditioning was not.

“Like any incident in New York, it takes this kind of thing to make people talk," he said, noting passengers were calm and even shared electronic devices. "We were quick to crack jokes about getting rescued and all those kinds of things.”

Robin Isserles, a sociologist on the same train, said the experience of being stuck wasn't great, but "people have been really wonderful, the crew have been informing us when they could. It’s actually been not as bad as expected.”

The tunnels, which run underneath the Hudson River, carry NJ Transit and Amtrak trains between New York and points south. They are at capacity, and officials have been trying figure out how to build another trans-Hudson tunnel for some time. In a bill approved Wednesday by the Senate Appropriations Committee, Amtrak would get $15 million for preliminary engineering of two new Hudson River tunnels next year despite tight budget controls on overall transportation spending.

Last year, citing fears of cost overruns, NJ Governor Chris Christie pulled the tunnel on a new transit tunnel being built under the Hudson, which had already been under construction.

 

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Transportation Nation

Amtrak: Post-Trenton Flood, No New York - Philadelphia Service Just Yet

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Trenton, as seen from the air on Sunday, August 28 (photo by Tim Larsen/NJ Governor's Office

The aftereffects of Hurricane Irene continue to disrupt Amtrak service between New York and Philadelphia.

"There was significant flooding in Trenton," said Amtrak spokeswoman Danelle Hunter. "But water has receded and we are making progress on track repairs."

Right now there is  no Acela Express, Northeast Regional or other Amtrak service between Philadelphia and New York.

Amtrak restored service between New York and Boston on Monday, and it will resume operations between Springfield, Massachusetts, and New Haven Tuesday afternoon.

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Transportation Nation

New York: Here's What We Know About Your Monday Morning Commute

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The quick update: subway service begins to be restored Monday morning at 6am. There will be no Metro North service, but there will be Long Island Rail Road service on six branches. PATH trains will be operational as of 4am. There are no NJ Transit trains, and NJ Transit buses and light rail will be on a modified schedule. Area airports will be open. There's no Amtrak service between Boston and Philadelphia. The Staten Island Ferry and the Staten Island Railway are operational. There have been no reported problems on NYC's bike lanes. Details below!

The parking lot of the Metro-North's Beacon station (photo courtesy of the MTA)

Subway service resumes Monday morning at 6am. Caveat: trains will not run as frequently and you can expect crowding. See the MTA's service advisory here.

Exceptions:

  • 3 trains will operate between 137th Street/City College and New Lots Avenue; substitute bus service will be provided between Harlem 148th Street and 135th Street connecting with the 2 train.
  • C trains suspended; A trains will make all local stops from 207th St. to Lefferts Blvd.
  • No service in the Rockaways. (Rockaway Blvd. to Far Rockaway and Rockaway Park)
  • 6 trains runs local in the Bronx
  • 7 trains run local
  • S Franklin Avenue Shuttle (FAS) Suspended
  • N trains terminate at Kings Highway. Shuttle bus service between Kings Highway and Stillwell Terminal.

· The Staten Island Railway will resume normal service at midnight tonight.

Buses: Limited bus service was restored in all five boroughs of New York City earlier this evening. Service levels will continue to increase but may not reach normal levels tomorrow.

Bridges and Tunnels: All MTA Bridges and Tunnels are open as of 7:00 p.m.

Access-a-Ride and Able Ride are expected to be operating normal service beginning at noon tomorrow. In the morning, these services will help return evacuees to their homes.

Long Island Rail Road service will be restored on the Babylon, Huntington, Ronkonkoma, Port Washington, Hempstead and West Hempstead Branches. Service remains suspended on the Oyster Bay, Port Jefferson, Long Beach and Far Rockaway Branches and as east of Babylon and east of Ronkonkoma.

Metro-North service remains suspended on Monday. Grand Central Terminal will open as usual at 5:30am.

The MTA's website is here. And check out their Flickr page for pictures.

NJ Transit: No rail service tomorrow, with the exception of the Atlantic City Rail Line. Buses will operate on a modified schedule. The Hudson-Bergen Light Rail and River Line will operate on a weekend schedule. Newark Light Rail will operate on a Saturday schedule. Details can be found on NJ Transit's website.

PATH trains will be operational as of 4am on Monday morning. (Website)

Airports: The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey says JFK and Newark Airports will open to arriving flights at 6am on Monday, and departures will resume at noon. LaGuardia will open to both arrivals and departures at 7am on Monday. AirTrain JFK is expected to be back in service at 4 a.m. with AirTrain Newark scheduled to resume operations at 6 a.m.

The Staten Island Ferry is running.

Amtrak is canceling all trains between Boston and Philadelphia Monday -- including all Acela service. Check out their Northeast Corridor twitter feed for more details.

Roads: the storm has caused extensive damage in upstate New York; check road conditions here. NJ's Department of Transportation says roads are open but work continues on removing downed tree limbs and power lines. Check the NJ DOT's website here. A map of Connecticut roadway conditions can be found here.

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Transportation Nation

After Months of Political Wrangling, the Northeast Corridor Gets $450 Million

Monday, August 22, 2011

(Photo: (cc) Flickr user JPMueller99)

Months of political wrangling came to an end today, when US Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced the release of nearly $450 million to upgrade rail electrical systems and tracks between Trenton, New Jersey and New York City.

(Update, 5:12 pm: Amtrak is the recipient of the $450 million. An additional $295 million is going to the New York State DOT to improve the Harold Interlocking rail junction in Queens, where a new flyover will separate Amtrak trains traveling between New York and Boston from Long Island Railroad and Metro-North commuter trains, and NJ Transit trains accessing Sunnyside Maintenance Yard.)

“These grants are a win for our economy and a win for commuters all along the Northeast Corridor,” said Secretary LaHood in a statement. “We are creating new construction jobs, ordering American-made supplies and improving transportation opportunities across a region where 50 million Americans live and work.”

The Northeast Corridor is the busiest passenger rail line in the country. Pre-construction work on the upgrade is expected to begin later this year.

The money -- which had been initially rejected by Florida Governor Rick Scott -- was obligated to the Northeast Corridor in May. But in June Republican congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen, who represents New Jersey, proposed diverting the money away from the Northeast toward flood-ravaged states in the Midwest. This spurred New Jersey's senators, Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez, to write Ray LaHood a letter, urging him to release the money so work on the high-speed rail project could move forward.

Senator Lautenberg expressed relief in a press release. “It is great news for New Jersey that this funding has been saved from Republicans’ chopping block and awarded to Amtrak. Rail service is the lifeblood of our state’s economy and it is our responsibility to protect and strengthen it for our commuters,” he said. “This federal funding will significantly upgrade the rail lines for New Jersey Transit and Amtrak commuters, reduce delays that plague the Northeast Corridor and make our state home to the fastest stretch of high speed rail in the country.”

And rail delays seem particularly prevalent this summer. A derailment disrupted service on NJ Transit earlier this month (and renewed sniping over the canceled ARC tunnel), and in June, power problems hobbled service on both NJ Transit and Amtrak for three consecutive days.

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Transportation Nation

Where's the Amtrak Map At Penn Station?

Monday, August 15, 2011

The U.S. Rail System, 1918 (Photo: Railway Maps of the World)

To the list of things not to like about Penn Station -- the ceilings are too low, there’s no natural light, the food is unmemorable, add this:  You can’t find a display map of Amtrak train routes.

From Penn Station, you can take the train from Penn Station to Montreal, or Miami, or Montana, but if you stand under the departure board, author Mark Ovenden says, “you can’t see a map for love nor money.”

Ovenden, wrote the book, Railway Maps of the World.  (See a slideshow of samples here). We’ve come down here to New York’s Penn station to evaluate the maps, because it’s a confluence of railway systems -- Amtrak, New Jersey Transit, and the MTA subway and Long Island Railroad. But we get stuck at the Amtrak, because we can’t find a map.

“In Europe,” Ovenden says, “in a lot of the big old stations, there were these great big tiled maps made from ceramic or painted on the wall. There’s one at Bordeaux for example, a massive map of the whole of the south of France.”

But in Penn station we find advertisements where we think a train map should be. For food, drink, even train travel. An Amtrak spokesman concedes there’s no wall map, but says you can find the information in other ways. Ovenden says that’s missing the point -- and an opportunity. A map, he says, is an advertisement for travel. It pries open your mind.

“These wonderful display maps, really give you the sense of getting on board, the joy of the journey and the experience of traveling by train.”

At the Amtrak information desk, the agents hand do hand out booklets, with a map you can fold out. The map looks nice, a network of red lines stretching over a green background. It shows mountains, waterways, and cities. But then Ovenden lays the current map next to a train map from a hundred years ago.

I do a double-take. The lines on the old map are so thick that they’re barely discernable, one from the other. “We had almost a railway in almost every town and hamlet in the U.S.,” Ovenden says. “The old 1918 map looks like the blood vessels and the arteries and the veins of a country. It was the lifeblood of this country and when you look at it now, it’s just a skeleton.”

Through World War II, the railways were booming in the U.S  But after the war, the country made a choice. There was a huge infusion of federal funds into the interstate highway system. Air travel took off. Passenger rail was passé.  During parts of the day, Penn Station was almost empty. (For a related guest post by Mark Ovenden, click here.)

And, then, the station was torn down, replaced by a thicket of anonymous office towers, Madison Square Garden, and this crabbed space, which is so crabbed even the idea of an Amtrak map is foreign.

There is one part of the station that’s still alive -- the public transport part. NJ Transit has a nice map -- pretty, but smallish. But the MTA just nails it, with huge subway, bus, and Long Island rail maps. Ovenden’s energy ratchets up about ten notches when he sees these maps.” That’s what you need on the wall of the station, that’s fantastic! Look at it!”

We see tourists from France, China, and parts of the United States. These maps are about more than wayfinding.   They’re entertainment. They’re art. “Maps are part of the journey, and we shouldn’t forget that,” Ovenden tells me, as we wrap.

Maps are a vision of who we are, who we can be, and where we can go.

 

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WNYC News

With No Display Map at Penn Station, Amtrak Misses an Opportunity

Monday, August 15, 2011

WNYC

To the list of things not to like about Penn Station — the too-low ceilings, the lack of natural light, the unmemorable food — add this: no display map of Amtrak train routes.

Comments [12]

Transportation Nation

Derailment Sparks Fierce Debate Over Future Of Rail Between NY And NJ

Friday, August 12, 2011

(robotbrainz/Flickr)

(New York, NY - WNYC) For three rush hours over two days this week, the derailed New Jersey Transit train cars sat motionless as roadkill. They'd broken down not far from their point of departure, Penn Station in Manhattan, and were blocking a section of track outside one of two heavily used train tunnels beneath the Hudson River. With one slip off the rails, they'd reduced by half the rail capacity between New Jersey and the central business district of New York--a crucial commuter link that accommodates 1,300 trains a day. Massive delays ensued.

The longer the crippled cars idled, the lower two powerful New Jersey politicians swooped, looking to make a meal of the situation.

U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg issued a statement that essentially said, this is why New Jersey Governor Chris Christie should never have canceled the ARC Tunnel last fall. The project would have doubled the train lines under the Hudson from two to four. With an ARC Tunnel, a derailment blocking one track would leave three tracks running.

"The existing tunnel is over a century old and not capable of handling the increased traffic we will see in the future," Lautenberg said. "Instead of accepting $3 billion in federal funding for New Jersey to advance the ARC project, the Governor turned down the money and settled for the status quo – leaving New Jersey commuters and our economy to suffer."

In an email to WNYC, Christie press secretary Michael Drewniak called Lautenberg's remarks "completely gratuitous." He said the ARC Tunnel threatened cost overruns that New Jersey couldn't afford.

"The senator of all people should know by now that the tunnel project he continues to endorse was stopped because it was a very bad deal for New Jersey," Drewniak wrote, before adding that the governor supported "additional cross-Hudson commuter rail capacity."

As it happens, there's a plan for that. It's called Gateway Tunnel. (See this pdf). Senator Lautenberg is a champion of the project, though he much preferred the ARC tunnel, which would've added 25 trains per hour compared to Gateway's 21.  It was also already under construction, mostly funded, and scheduled to open by decade's end.

New Jersey's monetary contribution to the ARC project, which Christie believed was too high, would've meant that New Jersey Transit controlled it--as opposed to control by Amtrak, which already owns and oversees the existing tunnel.

The importance of that arrangement was shown by the recent derailment. Amtrak was in charge of dispatching trains along the sole serviceable track. It's unclear whether Amtrak privileged its dozens of rush hour trains compared to NJ Transit's hundreds, but for the most part Amtrak suffered delays of 15 to 45 minutes while NJ Transit saw massive cancellations and long delays. (It was a bilevel NJ Transit train that derailed. Neither Amtrak nor NJ Transit has cited a cause for the accident.)

Supporters of the Gateway Tunnel say it will cost $10 to $13 billion and ten years to complete. What are the chances it will happen? Next month will provide a clue, when Amtrak's request for $50 million for a design study comes before Congress. A staff member to an elected official familiar with the request said he expects a fierce fight over it, with cost-conscious Republicans in the House opposing and Democrats supporting it.

UPDATE. The Business Alliance for Northeast Mobility says in a blog post that when one of two train tunnels is blocked, capacity is actually cut by more than 50 percent:

When trains go through a single tunnel in one direction, they can follow each other one after the other with minimal space in between. But if a single tunnel serves trains going in both directions, the trains must be more spaced out, because a train going in one direction must wait for the train in the opposite direction to clear the tunnel. So, for example, two tunnels each serving 25 trains per hour, becomes one tunnel serving 15.

 

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WNYC News

New Jersey Transit, Amtrak Close to Schedule Following Derailment

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

WNYC

Train traffic to and from New York's Penn Station began to clear up Wednesday morning as Amtrak finished repairs on a rail tunnel where a New Jersey Transit train derailed a day earlier.

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Transportation Nation

Amtrak To Resume Daily Service On Flood-Plagued Line

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Montana as seen from the dining car of an Empire Builder Amtrak train in 2010 (Photo by tracktwentynine via Flickr)

(Billings, MT – Yellowstone Public Radio) – Amtrak will restore daily service along its northern Empire Builder route between Chicago and Seattle/Portland on Sunday. Recent flooding in North Dakota had closed portions of that route.

Amtrak officials say resumption of service is the result of repairs by Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway. Amtrak uses the BNSF tracks.

"We appreciate the patience of our customers and the work being done by Amtrak and BNSF employees to restore service," said Daryl Pesce, the Chicago-based Amtrak General Superintendent.  "Amtrak and the predecessors of BNSF have together operated the Empire Builder since 1929 and no one can recall as much flooding and disruption on the route in these 82 years."

Flooding damaged Amtrak’s station and boarding platform in Minot, North Dakota. The facilities remain closed until repairs are completed. Amtrak officials say service in Minot cannot resume until those repairs are made in the next month.

Beginning Sunday, the Empire Builder will return service to previously missed stops in Eastern Montana, North Dakota, and Western Minnesota.

 

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Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: Privatizing Amtrak Could Violate Constitution, First All-Electric Vehicle Car Share Will Debut in San Diego, and Airport Lounges for Everyone

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Amtrak's Acela train (photo by Kate Hinds)

Privatizing Amtrak could violate a clause in the Fifth Amendment. (The Hill)

Detroit's Mayor and the City Council are at odds over which agency will supervise the city's light rail project. (Detroit Free Press)

Airport lounges for everyone...who want to pay a small fee. (Wall Street Journal)

The country's first all-electric-vehicle car sharing program will debut in San Diego later this year. (San Diego Union-Tribune)

Toronto's city council voted to remove a bike lane. (Toronto Star)

The head of the New York City Council's transportation committee wants regular reviews of the city's Bike Master Plan. (NY1)

NYC's chief digital officer will be on today's Brian Lehrer Show to talk about the MTA's transit app development contest. (WNYC)

Today is Railroad Day on Capitol Hill -- rail lobbyists unite! (Progressive Railroading)

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Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: Amtrak Projects Record Year, Seattle Residents Protest Transit Cuts, and a Look At the New Fulton Transit Center

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

An open skylight at the Fulton Transit Center (Photo by Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

Amtrak projects that it will top 30 million passengers for the first time this year, setting a ridership record for the national passenger rail service. (The Hill)

WNYC took a sneak peek at the construction going on at the Fulton Transit Center and got some fantastic pictures.

Fairfax County (VA) might be on board with the Dulles Metrorail compromise plan floated by DOT head Ray LaHood. (WAMU)

If you're planning on bidding on naming rights for a Boston T stop, tomorrow's your deadline. (WBUR)

A whole lot of riders showed up in Seattle to protest transit cuts. (Seattle Times)

The DOT will be testing how drivers react to "connected vehicles"--cars with technology that allows them to communicate with each other, as well as infrastructure nearby. (FastLane)

The Washington Post wrote an editorial on the politics surrounding the displacement of DC's transportation committee chair. "(Residents) should worry about lost momentum on transportation issues and the message that sends to the city’s regional Metro partners."

TN's Andrea Bernstein talks NYC transit on today's Brian Lehrer Show. (WNYC)

One car-free resident of Los Angeles is not getting worked up about carmageddon. (Marketplace)

How to get a count of the number of women using New York City's bike lanes? Stand there with a clicker.  (New York Times)

Manhattan's Community Board 7 hosted a discussion about Central Park's shared bike paths, but didn't take an official position. (DNA Info)

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Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: More Roads Lead to More Traffic, Black Women Bike DC, and London's Bike Share, A Year Later

Monday, July 11, 2011

A recent study says that building more roads leads to ... more traffic. And more transit doesn't relieve traffic congestion.  (NPR)

New York's subways attract almost as many riders on weekends as they do during the work week -- but fewer trains and planned maintenance lead to insanely crowded cars. (New York Times)

The Republican's plan to privatize Amtrak and the Northeast Corridor could leave NJ Transit vulnerable to fare hikes. (Daily Record)

WAMU looks at how the House's transportation budget would affect the DC region.

The UAW wants to organize a foreign automaker, labor leader says union's future hinges upon it: "I don't think there's a long-term future for the UAW, I really don't." (Detroit Free Press)

A look at London's bike share system, which is almost a year old. "The bikes make 20,000 journeys a day, but in a relentlessly predictable pattern, with huge spikes during the morning rush hour at the major rail stations and then again, in reverse, as commuters dash back to catch their evening trains." (The Guardian)

Black women take their place in DC's bike lanes -- and encourage others to join them. (Washington Post)

Residents, police and business owners want Bolt Bus booted from West 33rd Street. (DNA Info)

The mayor of Birmingham wants to create a tourist transit system to transport visitors to downtown hotels and attractions like the zoo, Vulcan Park and the botanical gardens. (Birmingham News)

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Transportation Nation

DOT Gives $72 Million to Amtrak to Speed Vermonter Service

Friday, July 01, 2011

The DOT has announced yet another rail grant. It's been an active week in funding, and once again the announcement highlights job creation along side the intended transportation improvement.

 

Full Press Release:

 

U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood Announces $72.8 Million for Massachusetts to Cut Travel Time by Nearly 30 Minutes on Amtrak's Growing Vermonter Line

WASHINGTON – U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced travel time on Amtrak’sVermonter line will be cut by nearly 30 minutes through a $72.8 million grant to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.  The project will restore a rail line, improving 50 miles of track and infrastructure on a direct route from Springfield to East Northfield, MA along the Connecticut River Valley.

“Thanks to President Obama’s commitment to create jobs and strengthen our manufacturing sector, these dollars are delivering more than 200 new jobs along with the purchase of 50 miles of American-made steel rails,” said Secretary Ray LaHood.  “Coupled with previous federal investments along the Vermonter line, these improvements will bring almost a one hour reduction in travel time for passengers traveling in Vermont and Massachusetts.”

With more than a sixteen percent ridership increase in 2010, the Vermonter line operates between St. Albans, VT and Washington, DC.  The Massachusetts portion of the rail line dates back to the mid-1800’s.  After track conditions deteriorated in the 1980’s, Amtrak service was shifted to a rail line farther east.  Work to restore the original passenger route on Pan Am Southern Railway’s Connecticut River mainline also includes construction of two new stations in Greenfield and Northampton, MA.

Progress on the Vermonter service began last year with a $50 million grant to the Vermont Agency of Transportation, improving 190 miles of track between St. Albans and Vernon, shaving 30 minutes off of travel time within Vermont.  Long-term, the investments in Vermont and Massachusetts will also increase reliability and for future expansion of service to Montreal, Quebec.

 

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