By now, everybody in the rail management and advocacy communities, along with much of the general public, knows what happened to California’s high-speed rail (HSR) project. It’s dead. In his State of the State address, Governor Gavin Newsom scaled it down. Seven days later, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) finished the job with a letter from Administrator Ron Batory to Newsom and California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) CEO Brian P. Kelly.
Author: David Peter Alan
We are not usually concerned with buses at Railway Age, but what would happen if Greyhound buses suddenly disappeared from American roads, and Amtrak became the only provider of passenger transportation with a nationwide reach? That speculation is not as far-fetched as it would appear at first blush, as a similar scenario is being played out at this writing in much of Canada.
The shutdown of most federal government agencies is over, at least until Feb. 15. Everybody knows that it wreaked havoc on many government workers, who were either laid off for the duration, or forced to work without pay until the entire government came back to life. One question that the general-circulation media did not ask: How did the shutdown affect transit and its users?
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo shocked the transit world and almost everybody else by announcing that the planned 15-month shutdown of all service on New York City’s “L” train along 14th Street in Manhattan and into Brooklyn will not happen after all. The news stunned even the most jaded New Yorkers and started a local political fight that is still raging.
New Jersey calls itself “The Crossroads of the Revolution” in its promotional literature and advertisements. Not only was it centrally located during America’s War for Independence, but its troops under George Washington were tested against both the heat and the British at the Battle of Monmouth in June, 1778 and against the coldest winter of the century, 1779-80, at Morristown. Both times, and on other occasions, it met the challenges and went on to help establish our nation.
Last month we reported on the impending demise of the Brightline brand for privately operated passenger trains in Florida, and the takeover by Virgin, at least as far as the public face of the venture is concerned (William C. Vantuono’s initial report on Nov. 16 and this writer’s article concerning the company and its branding on Nov. 26). There have been new developments lately: an initial public offering (IPO) for stock, and the prospect of an additional station near the giant Disney World theme park. The situation facing incumbent management may also be worse than we reported then.
Everybody has been watching Brightline, the bold upstart operator of private-sector passenger trains in a nation where every other scheduled train is operated in the public sector, either by Amtrak or by a local transit authority. There has been a lot of news about Brightline lately, and this writer originally intended to focus on the customer experience and the railroad’s plans for the future.
“Romance of the Rails: Why the Passenger Trains We Love Are Not the Transportation We Need.” By Randal O’Toole. Published by the Cato Institute. Reviewed by David Peter Alan.
Editor’s Note: Following is an edited response to my editorial of Aug. 10, 2018, on a New Jersey Transit board meeting. See below for further clarification.