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.
Amtrak will receive $137.2 million in federal funding for two of its West Coast services, the long-distance Coast Starlight and its Pacific Northwest Cascades service. The Coast Starlight, running between Los Angeles and Seattle, will receive $81.1 million; the Cascades, supported in part by the states of Oregon and Washington, will get $56.1 million.
For fiscal year 2008, ended Sept. 30, Cascades service carried 760,323 riders, up 12.8% from the previous fiscal year. Four Cascades trains each way link Seattle with Portland, Ore.; two of those reach further south to originate and terminate in Eugene, Ore. One additional frequency runs between Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia; the state of Washington, province of British Columbia, and Amtrak are in discussions to add a second cross-border train.
The venerable Coast Starlight, often one of Amtrak’s better long-distance performers, notched a 2.9% ridership gain to 353,657 riders in FY08.
In a victory for the American Trucking Associations, the U.S. Court of Appeals 9th Circuit has ruled that several provisions of California’s clean-truck program, aimed to reduce pollution at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, cannot supersede federal law. The Court of Appeals said the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles had erred by not granting ATA’s request last summer for a preliminary injunction; the Appeals Court remanded the issue back to the District Court “for an appropriate preliminary injunction.”
California has sought to enforce numerous environmental restrictions that are more strict than federal mandates. The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the top two busiest ports in the U.S., have worked to reduce air pollution generated by all modes, including rail. The clean-truck portion of the ports program seeks to reduce truck-generated pollution by 80% in a five-year period.
The trucking industry says it supports the ports’ overall goal, but objects to requirements placed by the Port of Los Angeles that harbor trucking companies must replace one-fifth of their owner-operator drivers with employee drivers by year’s end. "That requirement is dead," Curtis Whalen, executive director of the ATA's intermodal conference, said. "We are very pleased with this decision."
The clean-truck program also requires that motor carriers sign concession agreements with the ports that govern many aspects of their operations, but the Court of Appeals said some of the requirements amount to state or local regulation of interstate trucking, regulated by federal law.
Members of Vermont’s Presidents of the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce, Rutland Regional Chamber of Commerce, and the Addison County Chamber of Commerce on Monday were set to announce their organizations’ support for extending Amtrak service from Rutland to Burlington. The move comes following Vermont's abandoning plans to discontinue funding support for Amtrak’s Ethan Allen service, linking Rutland, Vt., with Albany, N.Y., and New York City.
The state had weighed discontinuing the state-supported service due to budget constraints. But Robert Ide, the state’s rail director, said ridership on both the Ethan Allen and the Vermonter has increased while fuel expenses have declined, reducing any potential savings resulting from discontinuing the service.
Amtrak data show that Ethan Allen ridership for fiscal year 2008 (ended Sept. 30) was 46,881, up 6.7% from FY07. Ridership on the Vermonter, 72,655 in FY08, was up 14.8% from the previous fiscal year.
Public opposition to the proposed service reduction, including recent public rallies, also appears to have swayed the state's decision. In late February the Vermont Rail Action Network, a citizens group, delivered a petition with 1,335 signatures urging Gov. Jim Douglas to reconsider the proposed service cuts, and in fact extend Amtrak service to Burlington.