Transit Briefs: Amtrak, DART, NYMTA

Written by Carolina Worrell, Senior Editor
DART photo

DART photo

The Surface Transportation Board (STB) will require additional information in the Amtrak Gulf Coast proceeding and schedules hearing. Also, Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) pilots upgraded seating on light rail and streetcar vehicles; and the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) installs platform barriers the at 191st Street Station.


STB on Jan. 19 announced that, in a next status report due on Feb. 1, 2024, it will require additional information from Amtrak, CSX, Norfolk Southern (NS), and the Port of Mobile regarding the status of their settlement agreement to allow Amtrak to operate service in the Gulf Coast region. STB has also scheduled a hearing for Feb. 14, 2024, for the parties to report on the settlement status more fully.

In March 2021, Amtrak filed an application with STB seeking an order requiring CSX and NS to allow Amtrak to operate additional intercity passenger trains over its freight rail lines between New Orleans, La., and Mobile, Ala. STB then held a multi-day hearing on the matter during 2022. On Nov. 22, 2022, before STB rendered its decision on the matter, the Board granted a motion from the parties to “hold the proceeding in abeyance while the parties worked to implement a settlement agreement.”

STB set two previous dates for reporting the status of the settlement, and then parties are scheduled to file an additional status report by Feb. 1, 2024. STB’s Jan. 19 announcement requires that, because more than 14 months have elapsed since the announcement of a settlement, the February report must include detailed information regarding the status of settlement implementation and describe any issues that remain outstanding. STB may determine that the Feb. 14 hearing can be cancelled if the status report is sufficient.


DART announced that it has launched the second phase of its vinyl seat retrofit program with the piloting of one light rail vehicle and one Dallas Streetcar vehicle that will go into regular service beginning Monday, Jan. 22.

To provide a cleaner and more comfortable environment for customers, DART replaced almost 34,000 fabric seat cushions and backs on its bus fleet with vinyl-covered seats last year. More than 16,000 light rail vehicle seats in 163 vehicles will be replaced throughout the DART fleet starting in March of this year.

“We are very excited to begin the second phase of our vinyl seat replacement program for our light rail vehicles,” said DART Sr. EVP and COO Bernard Jackson. “I know from speaking with many of our bus riders that they appreciate the new seating, and we look forward to providing additional upgrades in the future that focus on rider comfort.”

The new vinyl seats, DART says, are part of the agency’s continued customer-focused commitment to riders to provide a safe and clean transit experience. This includes the DART Clean Team Initiative that utilizes on-board contract cleaning personnel to remove trash and debris aboard DART light rail vehicles as they operate throughout the DART network, supplementing the extensive cleaning protocols already in place.

Customers are invited to complete a survey, via QR code on each pilot vehicle, about the new vinyl seating and provide valuable feedback and comments, as well as future upgrades they would like to see.


MTA on Jan. 21 announced that New York City Transit (NYCT) has installed barriers at the edge of the platform at the 191st Street (1)​ Station as part of a platform safety pilot program.

The 191st Street Station is the first of four stations (West 8th Street-NY Aquarium ​​Station, Clark Street ​​ Station, and a fourth station that is to be determined) to install these barriers. NYCT will study this program to determine if the concept could be scaled up.

NYMTA photo

This pilot program, MTA says, is part of a larger effort by NYCT to advance safety by preventing intrusion onto the tracks—the focus of the track trespassing task force, which released a report on track intrusion and potential solutions 20 months ago. NYCT last year deployed safety barriers in the center of platforms at three stations and is monitoring for effectiveness.

“This is about finding creative ways to improve safety,” said MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber. “A hearty pat on the back to NYCT professionals who found a practical way to jump-start the feeling—and reality—of safety in the subway system. It’s still in an experimental phase, and we will be watching carefully to determine if the barriers are effective at deterring track intrusions without interfering with passenger circulation. If they pass the test, we will be ready to deploy widely.”

The barriers are strategically located on the platform edge, adjacent to the tactile warning strip at locations that avoid obstructing car doors as they open to allow customers to enter and exit the train. Installation was completed on the uptown platform during the evening of Friday, Jan. 19, and the downtown platform during the evening of Saturday, Jan 20. The effort is funded with existing maintenance resources using in-house labor and materials.

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