Because the case raises thorny issues for federal agencies, the Surface Transportation Board announced Wednesday that it has extended the period for public comment in a proceeding in which Union Pacific seeks "to have the board determine he extent of its common carrier obligation to quote rates for new, lengthy movements of chlorine, a toxic inhalation hazard, through High-Threat Urban Areas."
The board granted a petition by the Transportation Security Administration to extend the deadline for filing to April 10 from the prior deadline of March 31.
"TSA states that it needs the additional time to review how the complex issues raised by UP's petition relate to TSA regulations and policies and to coordinate its comments with other components within the Department of Homeland Security. The request is reasonable," found STB.
UP's rebuttal and reply to comments are now due April 30.
Almost 10 months after officials from New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority vowed to strongly resist service cutbacks despite rising costs, the MTA Board of Directors Wednesday approved cuts, along with fare increases, to address a $1.2 billion budget gap. MTA Board members, in a 12-1 vote, cited inaction from state legislators in Albany for the decision, voting to approve a “doomsday” budget to keep the agency running.
The basic one-way subway fare will go up 25% May 31, to $2.50 from $2.00, while a 30-day MetroCard will cost $103, up 27% from $81. Fares on the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North would rise an average of 23% on June 1. Tolls also will be raised on MTA's bridges and tunnels beginning July 11.
MTA also plans to lay off 1,100 “blue collar” jobs and about 1,000 “white collar” jobs, but stressed such action won’t resolve MTA’s budget woes. Among managerial staff, 211 bus and subway managers are being let go, 32 LIRR managers and 18 Metro-North counterparts will lose positions, and 21 employees at MTA headquarters in Manhattan will face dismissal. About 750 other administrative positions will also be eliminated, MTA said.
"It's a true crisis that cannot be solved by us without causing great pain to the riding public," said board Chairman H. Dale Hemmerdinger.
"The fare increases and service cuts that the board must approve today are the only major tools Albany has given the board to operate the transit system and keep those operations in the black. There are no other moves in the board's playbook," said Elliot Sander, MTA’s executive director and CEO.
Pleading a corporate mea culpa and delivering a dark warning during the meeting, Sander said, "The precarious position that the MTA finds itself in today did not materialize overnight or merely in the last year. The gap in our operating budget and the absence of stable, recurring resources to support the 2010-2014 capital program reflect a confluence of adverse forces--decisions made early in the decade to put the 2000-2004 capital program on a credit card and the ravages of this deep recession."
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg Tuesday said transit users should voice their disapproval to their state representatives. “When you see what's going to happen to your commuting costs, you should call your state legislators and say, 'I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore,"' the mayor said.
MTA officials in San Francisco last May at the American Public Transportation Association’s annual Rail Conference, discussing the squeeze on public transportation budgets in the U.S. and Canada, stressed the agency’s reluctance to enact service cuts even if fares or other revenue sources needed to be hiked.
The Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD) will add frequency and capacity to its weekend South Shore service between South Bend, Ind., and Chicago, citing overcrowding and delays to current service.
NICTD says it wants to add an evening departure from Chicago at 9:15 p.m.; it also will add cars to trains departing from Chicago on weekend mornings. NICTD also seeks to add a morning express inbound to Chicago from South Bend.
NICTD spokesman John Parsons said weekend on-time performance is only 53%, due in part to the increase in weekend ridership totaling 600,000 in 2008, up from roughly 400,000 in 2004. NICTD’s Board of Directors will consider approving the proposed changes on Friday.
Per request from the Connecticut Department of Transportation, New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority will extend three Metro-North New Haven Line round trips about 1.7 miles east of New Haven’s Union Station, to State Street Station in New Haven, closer to the city’s downtown district. The extensions take place with the April 5 timetable change.
The added territory also served by Shore Line East Railroad, which provides regional passenger service from New London, Conn., west to New Haven (with some continuing as far west as Stamford, Conn.). Some Shore Line East riders routinely transfer at New Haven for Metro-North service to Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan; Metro-North also shows this option in its timetable.
Wilmerding, Pa.-based Wabtec Corp. Tuesday said it has received option orders worth $75 million from New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority to provide supply components for MTA’s R-160 subway car program. The order covers components for the second option order of 382 cars. Wabtec will complete delivery during the next two years.
Components to be supplied include: brakes, couplers, and current collectors (supplied by Wabtec Passenger Transit); door operators and related equipment (supplied by Vapor Stone); and event recorders (supplied by Wabtec Railway Electronics).
Wabtec notes that New York City has ordered 1,662 cars, being built by Alstom Transport, based in Saint-Ouen, France, and Tokyo-based Kawasaki Heavy Industries. Wabtec has been supplying components for the previous cars.
“This order provides a continuing, solid base of business for our Transit Group,” said Wabtec’s President and CEO Albert J. Neupaver in a statement. “Across North America and around the world, it’s clear that investment in public transportation is a priority, and we expect to continue to benefit from that trend.”
Newport, Ky.’s City Commission Monday adopted a resolution supporting efforts of its larger Ohio neighbor, Cincinnati, to establish a $185 million streetcar system. Newport’s resolution carries no fiscal weight, but rail supporters took the support as a positive sign that the Kentucky city would welcome being included in any future system expansion.
"We think it would be good if there was a loop through the river cities,” said Newport Mayor Jerry Peluso. “It would be good to spur economic development.”
Newport once was served by the Cincinnati, Newport and Covington Railway. Peluso and other city officials noted residual streetcar infrastructure still exists in Newport. “It is a neat idea. The rails are still underground on Monmouth Street,” Peluso said.
A second nearby city on the Kentucky side of the Ohio River, Covington, could vote on a similar resolution Tuesday.
St. Louis-based Bi-State Development Agency, which operates MetroLink light rail service, is the only U.S. operator of LRT spanning two states (Missouri and Illinois). But Vancouver, Wash., is exploring an LRT link with Portland, Ore.’s TriMet light rail system. In New York City, the Staten Island Economic Development Corp. is advancing plans for light rail that strongly recommend an eventual link with New Jersey Transit’s existing Hudson-Bergen Light Rail Transit system.