July 17, 1979 was a momentous day in the annals of U.S. transit history. The New Jersey legislature passed, and Gov. Brendan T. Byrne (1924-2018) signed, the bill that became the Transportation Act of 1979. The legislation established New Jersey Transit (NJT), and in so doing, began the process of consolidating the state’s bus service under a single statewide umbrella. That step was considered radical in its day, but it set a model for bringing public transportation into the public sector, at a time when railroads and bus companies in the private sector were working hard to get rid of it.
New Jersey Transit is marking its 40th anniversary this month, and among other activities is rolling out six MultiLevel “Heritage Coaches” decorated with the logos of several predecessor railroads that came together to form the agency’s 660-route-mile, statewide regional/commuter rail network—Pennsylvania Railroad, Central Railroad of New Jersey, Erie-Lackawanna, Conrail, Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines—and the agency that created NJT in 1979, the New Jersey Department of Transportation.
As Amtrak, the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, approaches its golden anniversary in 2021, it is quite apparent that it has squandered opportunities to mature into a stable and useful transportation entity, given the plethora of internal issues that have historically crippled Amtrak operating under the federal umbrella as a state-owned enterprise. Adding to this position is the impact from a shortage of experienced senior management.
Engineering firm HDR, Inc. recently announced that Doug Morrison has joined the company as Freight Technology Leader.
Public transportation is, well, public, and dealing with the public isn’t an easy job. Front-line workers such as railroad conductors and bus drivers can become victims of on-the-job assaults perpetrated by angry, noisy drunks, shady characters trying to steal a free ride—well, you get the picture
Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) has named Gregory Elsborg its first Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer. Elsborg is tasked with forming new business partnerships, growing DART’s “Mobility as a Service” (MaaS) options and leveraging technology.
The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) recently announced a total of $300 million in federal funding—provided via its Capital Investment Grants (CIG) Program—allocations to three transit projects in Arizona, California and Washington.
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Saft Batteries has begun battery system deliveries to CRRC Sifang America’s manufacturing facility for the Chicago Transit Authority’s (CTA) 7000 series transit railcars.
Michigan State University’s Center for Railway Research and Education (CRRE) recently announced “Transit & Urban Railways: Technology, Engineering and Management”—a new educational program to be held in Newark, N.J., October 7-11, 2019.