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A Weekly North American Transportation Update

Publisher:  James P. RePass
Managing Editor:  Molly N. McKay
Foreign Editor:  David Beale
Contributing Editor:  David Peter Alan
Webmaster:  Dennis Kirkpatrick
 
For transportation advocates and professionals, journalists,
and elected or appointed officials at all levels of government

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April 30, 2012
Vol. 13 No. 17

Copyright © 2012
NCI Inc., All Rights Reserved
Our 13th Newsletter Year

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

  Editorials…
Time To Fund Transportation As If We Really Need It!
  Commentary…
RUN Holds “Regional” Conference In
   Washington, D.C., But National Issues Predominate
  News Items…
House And Senate Appoint Conferees To Negotiate
   Final Surface Transportation Authorization Bill
  High-Speed Lines…
Bidding Begins For First 130 U.S. Standard
   High-Speed Rail Cars
“Why I’m Excited About California High-Speed Rail!”
 
  Commuter Lines…
Wickford Junction Has A Railroad Station Again
   As MBTA RI Service Extends South Towards CT
MassDOT/MBTA Issues Ticket Restrictions
  Selected Rail Stocks…
  Freight Lines…
RailAmerica Reports Strong First Quarter Results
  Publication Notes …



Editorial...

Time To Fund Transportation
As If We Really Need It!

 

As we have said many times in the past, transportation systems do not make money from selling tickets (or by collecting a gas tax). Those revenues come nowhere near covering the cost of providing air, rail, or highway systems. Their value lies in the travel they permit, the commerce they enable and encourage, and the improved quality of life made possible, and better, by the ability to visit friends, family, or just get away on vacation.

Recent rail station openings in Rhode Island (Wickford Junction this past week; T.F. Green airport two years ago, in 2010) point up this fact, in a couple of ways: first, these stations cost a lot of money and second, they took a generation to get built

The reason rail (and other non-highway) infrastructure takes so long is the ad hoc way we fund that infrastructure. And until we get smarter, it will continue to take generations to do what should be obvious.

Getting smarter means beginning to implement “Value Capture” around transportation corridors, as is often done in Europe and Asia to help pay for the operation of those systems: for a defined area around every train station, or alongside every rail corridor, for example, a fixed percentage of all tax revenues (property, sales, excise tax, etc.) collected in those zones is paid, automatically, to the transportation entity operating and maintaining the infrastructure of that corridor.

By avoiding the pitfalls that come with an annual trip up to Capitol Hill (in whatever state it may be) the transportation systems thus funded are able to do two things 1) plan for the future and 2) survive, by maintaining what they’ve got.

It sounds simple, and it should be, although the devil is of course in the proverb. But it’s time for state legislatures, as well as the nation’s Congress, to begin to learn about “Value Capture” – and to write the legislation to enable it.


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COMMENTARY... Commentary...  

RUN Holds “Regional” Conference In Washington, D.C.,
But National Issues Predominate

By David Peter Alan

The Rail Users’ Network (RUN) held its annual conference in the Nation’s Capital on Friday, April 20th. Its theme was “Keeping Connected by Rail: Making Your Voices Heard.” Conference presenters were rail advocates, transit managers and officials from the mid-Atlantic region; between Philadelphia and Charlotte, North Carolina and west to Charleston, West Virginia and Pittsburgh.

Attendees came not only from the region, but also the Northeast, Mid-West and as far away as Seattle, Washington. They represented 14 states and the District of Columbia. While presenters on panels discussed local projects and events, most of the issues discussed concerned transit around the country. All four featured presenters had national reputations, even though all of them lived in the Washington, D.C. area. With the diversity of attendees and global scope of many issues, the “regional” conference took on a “national” flavor.

RUN held its first “Day on the Hill” on Thursday, April 19, the day before the conference. Attendees started the day at the offices of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), where Senior Legislative Representative Joni Zielinski gave attendees a briefing to kick off the day’s activities. She said that the Senate had taken the lead in proposing a surface transportation reauthorization bill, now that the House had rejected the nightmare scenario of the former HR-7 proposal, which would have effectively phased out federal support for transit. The Senate proposal would fund transit at $8 billion, she said, while other programs would fund Amtrak at the level of $1.45 billion, with an additional $500 million for TIGER grants. (“Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery”).

Armed with the latest report, attendees rode the Metro to the Senate and House Office Buildings to begin the day’s campaign. RUN’s position paper focused on three national issues:

The latter provision expired at the end of 2011. At a debriefing session over dinner, attendees agreed that RUN’s Day on the Hill was a success.

The conference itself was also held at the APTA offices. RUN Chair Richard Rudolph opened the proceedings by noting that people of all ages need transit; young people want more transit, and senior citizens are having trouble getting around, as some “age out” of driving.

Kate Hallahan of the House Appropriations Committee staff started the day by reporting a $50 million increase in transit funding over last year that the High-Speed Rail grant program was out, but TIGER grants were still in. She also said that a $100 million program for High-Performance Passenger Rail would be used to improve existing rail corridors.

APTA Vice-President for Policy, Arthur S. Guzzetti, reported that he is “one of 36 million transit riders” and expressed his appreciation of transit advocates. He said that transit ridership is growing and outpaced both population and vehicle miles traveled (VMT) last year for the first time since 1995. He noted that there were only nine commuter railroads in 1979; there are 29 today. Only seven cities had streetcar service in 1979, while 36 have streetcars or light rail lines operating now.

Brian Rosenwald, Chief of Product Management for Amtrak, gave his view of Amtrak today. He is an outspoken champion of the long-distance trains and appears to be the favorite Amtrak manager of many rider advocates. He said that the long-distance trains are in a precarious position, because they have no independent funding, but said they were “incredibly important to the legitimacy of Amtrak as a national network.” He also said that the long-distance trains now have a cost recovery of 46%, up from a longtime plateau of 41%, and that on-time-performance is now up to 75% overall. Tri-weekly operation is a “loser,” he said, (only the Cardinal and Sunset Limited operate that infrequently). He also noted that the “host” railroads over which Amtrak trains operate have been unwilling to allow Amtrak to make changes that would benefit Amtrak and its riders. Rosenwald also advised advocates to embrace the concept of “ownership of trains” and continue their political action. “Politicians may not know that they even have a train,” he cautioned.

Keynote speaker Don Phillips of Trains Magazine agreed with Rosenwald about host railroads, especially in the case of allowing the Sunset Limited to operate every day. He criticized Amtrak President Joseph Boardman for blaming long-distance trains for losing money, while complimenting Gene Skoropowski for his skillful management of the Capital Corridor line between Sacramento and the Bay Area. He also noted that Skoropowski is now working for the Florida East Coast Railroad (FEC), to develop a new passenger service between Miami and Orlando, including a new line from the Coast. Phillips rebuked the media for its characterization of money for Amtrak as “subsidy” and money going to other transportation modes as “investment.” It’s “pure terminology and nothing else,” he said. He also encouraged attendees to keep up the pressure on politicians. “Politicians can be really anti-people BECAUSE WE LET THEM!” he said.

The morning session ended with a panel on Best Practices for Advocates, a tradition at RUN conferences. The moderator was Andrew Albert, Chair of the MTA Transit Riders’ Council in New York City and Vice-Chair of RUN. Panelists David Alpert of the WMATA (Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, “Metro”) Advisory Council and Aissia Richardson, Chair of SEPTA (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority in Philadelphia) Advisory Committee both reported on their efforts to improve transparency and citizen participation in decision-making by their transit providers. Alpert criticized the Metro Board for making decisions without citizen input, while Richardson said: “If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu!” Jack Corbett, Chair of MetroRiders.org, contrasted his organization from the WMATA Advisory Committee, saying that his is an “outside” group, while the Advisory Committee is an “inside” group; and both are necessary. Corbett practices law in the District and is a RUN Board member.

Michael Testerman, President of the Virginia Association of Railway Patrons (VARP) rounded out the panel. His organization started as a “Save the Cardinal” group, and grew to have a statewide reach, supporting a diverse mix of projects and gathering support from industry, riders and even rail fans. He said that his organization has “Patrons” rather than “Passengers” as part of its name because it recognizes the importance of the rail freight system in the state, along with passenger rail. The panel concluded with a discussion of conventional and social media as ways to spread the word about rail service and gather support for advocacy activities.

A panel on Rail Successes in the Mid-Atlantic Region, moderated by RUN Chair Richard Rudolph, opened the afternoon session. James Price, Chief Operating Officer of Hampton Roads Transit (HRT), described The Tide, HRT’s new light rail line in Norfolk; the first such line in Virginia. Ridership exceeded original predictions by about 50%, and the line celebrated its one millionth rider on April 7th. Service began in August, 2011. He described the line, reported on plans to extend it to Virginia Beach and praised its safety record. “It’s safe because we work at it,” he said.

The next presenter was Gene Kirkland, Treasurer of the Carolinas Association for Passenger Trains (CAPT). The Piedmont Corridor, which started with the Carolinean as a one-year experiment, is a great success. “People in the state did not know what a passenger train was,” he said. The Carolinean has continued to run between Charlotte and New York: two Piedmont trains run between Charlotte and Raleigh, and the Greensboro station has been restored along with other North Carolina stations. Kirkland gave credit to the North Carolina Train Host Association, and to the rail people at the state’s Department of Transportation. He also reported that two new trains will be added in each direction on the Piedmont route by 2018, and that local transit improvements are coming to Raleigh.

Councilwoman Meredith Richards of Charlottesville was the final presenter. As Chair of Cville Rail (a local Charlottesville organization) and the Piedmont Rail Coalition (an alliance between business and government in Central Virginia; no relation to the trains of that name in North Carolina), she fought for the new train that began to run between New York and Lynchburg on October 1, 2009. The campaign in Richmond got the service started, and now it delivers 253% of first-year ridership and 246% of first-year revenue!

This writer moderated the final panel of the day, spotlighting activity to improve rail service in the region, even though those improvements have not yet come to fruition. Leading off the panel was Carl Palmer, General Manager of the Greater Roanoke Transit Company, also known as Valley Metro, which operates buses in the Roanoke area. To determine and stimulate demand for rail service to Roanoke, Palmer has begun operating the SmartWay Connector, a bus that connects with the new Amtrak train at Lynchburg, effectively extending the reach of that train to Roanoke. Palmer described his bus operation and expressed satisfaction at the level of ridership since the bus began running on July 19, 2011. He along with many others, hope that the train will soon be extended beyond Lynchburg to Roanoke. Roanoke played an important part in railroad history as headquarters for the Norfolk and Western Railway (N&W), but has not hosted a scheduled passenger train since 1979.

Other presenters on the panel described efforts to expand rail in their states. Richard Beadles, former CEO of the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad (RF&P) gave a summary of transportation history in Virginia and described the new train that will go to Norfolk, beginning in December. J. Charles “Chuck” Riecks, President of the Friends of the Cardinal, described his efforts to raise the public profile of rail in his home state of West Virginia. His group is concentrating on pushing for station improvements as a means for making communities, and Charleston politicians, aware of passenger rail and its benefits. Finally, Pittsburgh attorney Kenneth Joseph reported on the difficulty of convincing decision-makers in Pennsylvania of the importance of passenger trains west of Harrisburg. His organization, the Western Pennsylvanians for Passenger Rail, is advocating for more service between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh where only one daily train operates.

RUN Treasurer Gary Prophet summarized the conference, followed by local advocate M. Paul Shore, who gave a preview of the tour he would lead the next day. Attendees adjourned for dinner or headed toward Union Station to catch their trains home.

The event concluded with a tour of transit in the Washington, D.C. area on Saturday. The day started with a walking tour of the area around Union Station and a look at the tracks that have recently been laid on H Street for a new streetcar line that the D.C. Department of Transportation is building. Shore, a resident of Arlington, Virginia led the tour, along with J. Charles Riecks. Riecks had grown up in the neighborhood and told interesting stories about his formative years and about railroad history in the District. The group then took the D.C. Department of Transportation “Circulator” bus from the new bus level upstairs at Union Station, to Georgetown, an upscale neighborhood not served by Metrorail. The group had lunch at Clyde’s, an M Street restaurant that reputedly served as the inspiration for the 1970s song “Afternoon Delight” and then spent a few minutes on the congested sidewalks of Georgetown. Then it was time to take the bus back downtown and ride on several lines of Metrorail before the participants caught their trains to go home.

The conference was an enjoyable and, more importantly, informative experience. While presenters came from the mid-Atlantic region, many of the issues they addressed have national significance: transparency and citizen participation in transit decision-making, campaigning in Congress and the state capitals; pushing for funding to keep existing rail services going and start new ones, and keeping Amtrak alive. Every community and transit system is somewhat different, so tactics may be local in nature; tailored to local needs and local politicians. Still, the problems faced by these transit properties, as well as Amtrak, are similar. They all need money, political support and a strong advocacy cadre to fight for the other two.

Attendees and presenters at the conference will continue to fight for better local transit, more rail service, and for Amtrak to continue serving the region and the nation. The people at RUN who planned and presented the conference hope the event will help equip attendees to pursue these objectives even more effectively than before.

David Peter Alan is a member of the RUN Board of Directors and of the committee that planned the conference. To learn more about RUN, visit their web site, www.railusers.net. The date and location of next year’s conference will be announced there.


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NEWS ITEMS... News Items...  

House And Senate Appoint Conferees To Negotiate
Final Surface Transportation Authorization Bill

From The American Public Transportation Association (APTA)

This past week, the House of Representatives passed a bill (H.R. 4348) authorizing another 90-day extension of transit and highway law (SAFETEA-LU) through September 30, 2012. At the time of the vote, House Republican Leadership explained that the 90-day extension was not intended to result in another short-term extension of existing law, but rather as a vehicle to get to a conference committee with the Senate, where the two chambers of Congress will negotiate a final multi-year surface transportation bill. This week, both the Senate and the House of Representatives named conferees to the committee.

The Senate named fourteen Senators to the conference committee. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) will chair the committee, and will be joined by fellow Democrats Max Baucus (MT), Jay Rockefeller (WV), Dick Durbin (IL), Tim Johnson (SD), Chuck Schumer (NY), Bill Nelson (FL) and Robert Menendez (NJ). The six Republican Senators named to the committee include: James Inhofe (OK), David Vitter (LA), Orrin Hatch (UT), Richard Shelby (AL), Kay Bailey Hutchison (TX), and John Hoeven (ND).

House Conferees were appointed to negotiate on provisions of the legislation specific to the committees on which they serve. On the House side, the relevant committees are: Transportation and Infrastructure; Energy and Commerce; Natural Resources; Science, Space and Technology; and Ways and Means. On Wednesday, April 25, 2012, the Speaker named thirty three Representatives to the conference committee. The twenty Republican Members include: John Mica (FL), Don Young (AK), John Duncan (TN), Bill Shuster (PA), Shelley Moore Capito (WV), Rick Crawford (AR), Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA), Larry Buschon (IN), Richard Hanna (NY), Steve Southerland (FL), James Lankford (OK), Reid Ribble (WI), Fred Upton (MI), Ed Whitfield (KY), Doc Hastings (WA), Rob Bishop (UT), Ralph Hall (TX), Chip Cravaack (MN), Dave Camp (MI) and Patrick Tiberi (OH). The remaining thirteen are Democrats: Nick Rahall (WV), Peter DeFazio (OR), Jerry Costello (IL), Jerrold Nadler (NY), Corrine Brown (FL), Elijah Cummings (MD), Leonard Boswell (IA), Tim Bishop (NY), Henry Waxman (CA), Ed Markey (MA), Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX), Earl Blumenauer (OR) and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC).

The committee’s first meeting is scheduled for May 8, 2012. There are a number of important issues to work out, but initial discussions will likely involve matters related to the scope of issues to be considered during the conference. One contentious provision relates to the approval of the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline that was included in the House extension.

There is optimism that this move to a conference committee on the legislation allows for continued momentum toward passage of a multi-year surface transportation authorization bill. However, the House and the Senate calendars diverge somewhat through the rest of the calendar year, meaning their availability to meet as an entire group will be somewhat limited.

ACTION ALERT

APTA Members with Representatives or Senators who have been appointed to the House-Senate Conference Committee should contact them and urge their support for a strong Federal commitment to public transportation in the final negotiated bill. APTA is developing a more detailed letter to conferees that will be posted on the APTA website when it is sent.

Senate Appropriations Committee Completes Consideration of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 Transportation-HUD Spending bill

Meanwhile, the yearly appropriations process has continued. The Senate Appropriations Committee quickly followed the April 17, 2012 subcommittee mark-up of the Transportation, House and Urban Development, and Related Agencies appropriations bill with a full-committee mark-up on April 19, 2012. The full-committee made appropriations based on SAFETEA-LU levels in the current extension and on the assumption that current funding levels would continue to be authorized through Fiscal Year 2013. As the new authorization law is just now entering conference committee, it is unclear how the final appropriations bill for the year will be affected. Further details on the bill will be provided next week.


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HIGH-SPEED LINES... High-Speed Lines...  

Bidding Begins For First 130 U.S.
Standard High-Speed Rail Cars

From The Chicago Tribune As Reported By John Hilkevich

CHICAGO --- The Chicago Tribune’s Jon Hilkevitch reports that bidding has opened on April 20 for companies in the U.S. to submit proposals to manufacture approximately 130 high-speed passenger rail cars, including 88 for Illinois and neighboring Midwest states. Cars are to be delivered in 2015.

“The $551 million request for proposals was announced by the Federal Railroad Administration, which is coordinating a California-led effort to purchase standardized bi-level rail fleets for use on Amtrak routes in California, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, Indiana and potentially Iowa. California will get 42 of the 130 new rail cars, which will be equipped with seating on two levels, Wi-Fi and other customer amenities, officials said. The Midwest states will share use of 88 rail cars,” the Tribune reported.

Existing Amtrak locomotives would be used initially to propel the new rail cars at speeds of up to 110 mph. Bids will be let later to purchase new high-performance diesel locomotives capable of sustaining 125 mph, as well as for single-level passenger cars, officials said.

Multiple states participating in a joint agreement on a single type of rail car will maximize the purchasing power, lead to lower maintenance costs and reduce the cost of stocking spare parts, Federal Railroad Administrator Joe Szabo said about the bidding process that was launched Friday: “By standardizing these components it is going to give us much better leverage in the bidding process,” Szabo said.

The request for proposals contains ‘Buy America’ requirements. All components of the rail cars must be built by American workers, with American-produced steel, iron and manufactured components, the Tribune reports. The procurement schedule calls for awarding a contract to a domestic manufacturer in early October. The cars will be delivered starting in 2015, officials said. The subsequent order for new locomotives is expected to lead to deliveries around 2015 too, Illinois rail officials said.

The 130-car order would produce the first American-made, standardized passenger rail cars as part of the Obama administration’s $53 billion proposal to build a nationwide network of high-speed passenger trains. The administration’s plan faces an uphill fight in Congress, particularly among Republicans.

For the full story go to: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-04-20/news/chi-bidding-opens-for-highspeed-rail-cars-20120420_1_rail-cars-illinois-rail-officials-high-speed-passenger-trains


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Register Now For May 5 Midwest High-Speed Rail Conference

 

The Midwest’s Rick Harnish:
“Why I’m Excited About
California High-Speed Rail!”

From Rick Harnish, Executive Director MWHSR

California has made another big step toward building the country’s first 220-mph high-speed rail system. On Monday last the California High-Speed Rail Authority released a revised 2012 draft business plan.

 I want to take just a few minutes to tell you why I am excited about the revised business plan and why we need to help turn the plan into reality by getting our California friends excited too.

There are two key reasons I like this plan - it delivers 300 miles of true high-speed rail in just ten years, and (more importantly) it treats high-speed rail as part of an integrated railroad network, not a stand-alone system. The high-speed rail project is now driving massive improvements in the entire statewide passenger rail network.  Under the revised plan, this is no longer a simple discussion about a stand-alone segment in the Central Valley, and that’s very exciting. 

If the California Legislature votes (hopefully this spring) to approve the plan, three commuter rail systems and three Amtrak routes will see dramatic improvements soon. Closing the gap between Bakersfield and the Los Angeles basin will also be expedited.  In 2018, a new Northern California Unified Service will be launched, improving service between Bakersfield and Sacramento and the Bay.  Finally, with the use of high-performance trains that can operate on both high-speed and “higher-speeds” track, this plan could have the potential to create an exciting, fully-integrated network.

The plan delivers a lot of value upfront, but it is complex and unfortunately “complex” can be a hard public sell. That is why it is so important that you help educate your friends in California about how the state benefits from this plan and all that is involved in it.

We have updated the “phasing” section of the StandUpforTrains.org website (see: http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=Ehxw0LaiyqIawtlscOZ1wdm8nLb3qj0e) to help you and your friends in California understand how the plan works.  Then, using the site, they can easily send a message to their legislators asking them to vote “Yes!” for high-speed rail.

California is leading the way for the rest of the country to develop high-speed rail by finding solutions to the many challenges faced in this kind of process.  Rail projects throughout the country have already benefited from California’s leadership.  They will benefit even more when the project begins construction. Having the California Legislature vote “Yes” will be a major breakthrough for California - and for the whole country.  

That is why it is so important that you get your friends in California to show their support, so that someday we can all have high-speed rail.

Please visit StandUpForTrains.org to get started and help us make high-speed rail a reality! 

Join us at MidwestHSR.org and/or register for the May 5 Conference.


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COMMUTER LINES... Commuter Lines...  

Wickford Junction Has A Railroad Station Again
As MBTA RI Service Extends South Towards CT

From Internet Sources

WICKFORD JUNCTION, RI --- Commuters and day-trippers/shoppers from Rhode Island and Southeastern CT got a new route to Boston, T.F. Green Airport, and Boston/Logan Airport this past week as the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) in conjunction with the State of Rhode Island, opened up its long awaited Wickford Junction station and parking garage, Governor Lincoln Chafee and RI Department of Transportation Secretary Mike Lewis happily presiding; along with US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and other dignitaries and about 300 very happy citizens.

The new service made possible by the opening of Wickford, first proposed 30 years ago by developer Robert Cioe and created and built by him in cooperation with RIDOT and the US Department of Transportation, also greatly benefits Massachusetts residents from South of Boston and even Boston itself, who now have a very inexpensive way ($11 or under) to get to Green Airport (located a few miles outside of Providence, in Warwick) without using a car, 10 times a day, in each direction, or to go to Providence to shop or dine.

Providence, the home of Johnson & Wales, one of the finest hotel and restaurant management schools in the world, is the home to more than a dozen world-class restaurants, as well as of one of the first major downtown shopping malls built in the United States in the last 50 years, Providence Place, located within a short walk of the Providence train station and the Rhode Island State House.

Commuter rail development has been a high priority of Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee, who has been working for better transportation in the United States since long before his first election to office; Chafee was one of the key New England leaders who in 1990-1991 negotiated the release of the funds, from a very reluctant Bush (I) White House Office of Management and Budget, needed to complete the electrification of Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor. Chafee was the first executive director of the National Corridors Initiative, the transportation advocacy group formed by New Englander James P. RePass in 1989 for that purpose and called at that time the Northeast Corridor Initiative.

Key players in the Wickford Station project include RI Sen. Jack Reed, and RI Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, and RI Congressmen Jim Langevin and David Cicilline, all of whom took pains to give the lion’s share of the credit to Sen. Reed.

In opening the station Gov. Chafee said: “Commuter service at Wickford Junction Station will make additional transportation possibilities available to a whole new segment of Rhode Islanders. Infrastructure projects such as this make Rhode Island more economically competitive, create short-term and long-term jobs, relieve congestion on our heavily travelled roads, and improve quality of life. This is truly an outstanding public-private partnership.”

Directions to the new train station located at 1011 Ten Rod Road, North Kingstown, R.I.:

[ Editor’s Note: The extension of MBTA service to Wickford Junction has precipitated some changes in the MBTA’s schedule roster as well as changes to some train numbers. Please see www.mbta.com and select the Providence/Stoughton schedules to review these changes. The new schedules went into effect April 23, 2012. ]


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Service Alert – Boston & Vicinity

 

MassDOT/MBTA Issues Ticket Restrictions

By Dennis Kirkpatrick
NCI Webmaster

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), a division of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) has issued temporary new restrictions on the advance purchase of tickets within its commuter rail system.

The move comes in advance of planned fare increases and service cuts that will go into effect on July 1, 2012. The restrictions will prevent riders from “stocking up” on tickets at the current rates.

Effective immediately, all single-ride train tickets being purchased will expire 14-days from date of purchase. All multi-ride passes will expire 30-days from date of purchase. Tickets purchased in the past had a shelf-life of several months during which time riders could use them at any time.

Also, on July 1 fares will increase across the board for all riders. Some weekend commuter rail service, specifically on the Plymouth-Kingston branch and Needham branch will be suspended. Several bus routes will be cut back and a few, discontinued altogether. The “E” streetcar line will truncate at Brigham on weekends.

For specifics, information can be obtained by visiting www.mbta.com or calling the MBTA customer service line during daytime business hours at 617-222-3200.


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STOCKS...  Selected Rail Stocks...

Source: MarketWatch.com

 
Title
 
Ticker
This
Week
Previous
Week
Berkshire Hathaway B (BNSF)(BRK.B)80.5678.90
Canadian National (CNI)86.0380.76
Canadian Pacific (CP) 78.1576.95
CSX (CSX)22.3921.61
Genessee & Wyoming (GWR)55.0052.27
Kansas City Southern (KSU)78.3671.41
Norfolk Southern (NSC)73.3769.53
Providence & Worcester(PWX)16.0015.70
RailAmerica (RA)23.1520.72
Union Pacific (UNP)113.89107.26
 


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FREIGHT LINES... Freight Lines...  

RailAmerica Reports Strong First Quarter Results

Freight Rail Is A Leading Indicator Of The Economy, So News Of RailAmerica’s
Significant Improvement Over Last Year’s Numbers Is A Good Sign.

Gary Lewis Promoted To CCO

From Progressive Railroading and DF Staff

Last week, RailAmerica Inc. reported first-quarter revenue of $143.4 million, up 15 percent compared with first-quarter 2011 results. Freight revenue rose 10 percent to $107.8 million, non-freight revenue jumped 30 percent to $35.6 million and carloads ratcheted up 3 percent to 215,741 units.

“Our positive momentum continues to build as reflected in our record first-quarter revenue and operating income, excluding 45G benefits [see side bar] and asset sales,” said RailAmerica President and Chief Executive Officer John Giles in a prepared statement. “We remain active in the corporate development area, closing on the Wellsboro & Corning and its affiliated transload operations, TransRail North America, investment in early April.”

However, the company reported a first-quarter net loss of $40.2 million compared with net income of $4.1 million in the year-ago period, and operating expenses climbed from $100.7 million in first-quarter 2011 to $111.6 million. Labor and benefits costs jumped 31.8 percent and fuel costs rose 9.4 percent.

Mr. Giles announced that it named Gary Lewis senior vice president and chief commercial officer. He most recently was vice president of industrial development. Prior to joining RailAmerica in 2009, Lewis was director of sales and marketing at Kinder Morgan Terminals and held various commercial leadership roles for 18 years during CSX Transportation.

About RailAmerica, Inc: the railroad owns leading short line and regional railroads providing rail service to customers across North America. In 2008, RailAmerica relocated its Corporate Office to Jacksonville, Florida. The Company’s 43 affiliated railroads operate in 27 states and 3 Canadian provinces with approximately 7,400 miles of track.

RailAmerica’s objective is to provide local rail freight customers with services that facilitate the prompt pick-up and delivery of goods. RailAmerica’s properties haul major carload commodities such as coal, aggregate, grains, lumber and paper throughout the United States and Canada using Class 1 relationships to extend their customers’ reach to meet market demands. National customers enjoy the advantages of using RailAmerica’s local relationships to expand their businesses beyond the major distribution centers and into the local customers’ doors.

“45G benefits” refers to a law that provides tax credits to short line railroads. This credit enables investment in infrastructure improvements that in many instances would not be possible without it. Here’s an example:

Short Line Railroad Customers Benefit from Section 45G Investments

Warren Fisk, General Manager – Farmers’ Cooperative Elevator, Manly, Iowa

A Customer of the Iowa Northern Railway

The Section 45G tax credit made it possible for the Iowa Northern Railway to complete a $1.5 million track rehabilitation between Manly and Nora Springs to better serve the Farmer’s Coop Elevator at Manly, and Rock Falls Grain and Cartersville Elevator at Nora Springs. Without this upgrade, the railroad could not handle the increased volume required by the customers. Warren Fisk of the Farmers’ Coop said, “The Iowa Northern track rehabilitation project will help us increase volumes and lower transportation costs and that is good for every farmer that uses the elevator. To the extent the short line tax credit made that possible, it is a real success story.”

Unfortunately, no benefit was recognized in the first quarter of 2012 since the credit is currently not in effect for 2012.


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  Publication Notes...

Copyright © 2012 National Corridors Initiative, Inc. as a compilation work and original content. Permission is granted to reproduce content provided acknowledgements to NCI are given. Return links to the NCI web site are encouraged and appreciated. Color Name Courtesy of Doug Alexander. Content reproduced by NCI remain the copyrights of the original publishers.

Web page links as reproduced in our articles are active at the time we go to press. Occasionally, news and information outlets may opt to archive these articles and notices under alternative web addresses after initial publication. NCI has no control over the policies of other web sites and regrets any inconvenience experienced when clicking off our web site.

We try to be accurate in the stories we write, but even seasoned pros err occasionally. If you read something you know to be amiss, or if you have a question about a topic, wed 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, NCIs 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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