Transit Briefs: Amtrak, Metra, MTA Metro-North, Trinity Metro

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
MTA Metro-North Railroad President Catherine Rinaldi (pictured, center) helped unveil the $95 million White Plains, N.Y., station renewal project on Nov. 1. (Marc A. Hermann / MTA)

MTA Metro-North Railroad President Catherine Rinaldi (pictured, center) helped unveil the $95 million White Plains, N.Y., station renewal project on Nov. 1. (Marc A. Hermann / MTA)

Amtrak is introducing new ticket kiosks. In addition, Chicago’s Metra has broken ground on the Peterson Ridge Station; MTA Metro-North Railroad has completed a $95 million renewal of its White Plains, N.Y., station; and Texas’ Trinity Metro has appointed Paul J. Ballard interim President and CEO.

Amtrak is installing more than 200 new ticket kiosks at 150-plus stations. The kiosks feature an updated user interface, allowing activation by touch, card swipe, barcode scan, or the insertion of a headset, the railroad said. Customers will be able to choose a departure from any station and select a seat on trains offering reserved seating. The kiosks are ADA compliant with available audio instruction for users with limited visibility and a 48-inch height for wheelchair accessibility.

Amtrak will begin the kiosk rollout in the Northeast, starting at Washington (D.C.) Union Station; Joseph R. Biden Jr. Railroad Station in Wilmington, Del.; and Moynihan Train Hall in New York City. It will continue through the Midwest and into California this fall. 

Amtrak Executive Vice President, Chief Marketing and Revenue Officer Roger Harris

Amtrak’s current Quik-Trak kiosks, which have been in service for nearly two decades, will be retired by the end of 2021, the railroad said.

“As we continue to modernize our trains and stations, we are concurrently providing modern amenities to our customers, and we are accomplishing that goal with the new Amtrak kiosk,” Amtrak Executive Vice President, Chief Marketing and Revenue Officer Roger Harris said. “Our customers can trust that they will have an easy, convenient and fast experience when using these new kiosks to book or print a ticket for their next trip.”

Future enhancements to the kiosks will include the ability to accept contactless payment and send tickets to a customer’s e-mail address, Amtrak said.

Rendering of Metra’s Peterson Ridge Station

On Nov. 1, Metra officially broke ground on the new Peterson Ridge Station on the Union Pacific North Line, a $19 million project that is expected to take about 18 months to complete. John Burns Construction Company of Orland Park, Ill., holds the construction contract.

The station will include two six-car platforms; heated concrete stairs and ADA-compliant ramps; a glass and masonry warming house with side canopies and metal roof; two shelters with on-demand heating; an access drive with a cul-de-sac turnaround and ADA pick-up/drop-off; five ADA parking spaces and 44 pay parking spaces along Ravenswood Avenue; bicycle parking; a plaza with associated landscaping and irrigation system; and reworked traffic signals for the station entrance. There will be an additional $3 million of renovation work on the bridges over Peterson and Ridge avenues.

Metra CEO/Executive Director Jim Derwinski

According to Metra, the work is being funded in part by a $15 million grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), with Federal Transit Administration funding covering the remaining $7 million in work. An estimated 150 jobs will be created during the project, the commuter railroad reported.

“It is exciting to be breaking ground on this highly anticipated new station for the Edgewater community,” Metra CEO/Executive Director Jim Derwinski said. “We look forward to serving new and existing My Metra riders with a welcoming and comfortable new station.”

(Marc A. Hermann / MTA)

Metro-North’s White Plains station renewal project began in 2018. The commuter railroad’s third largest station, located on the Harlem Line, now features refurbished entrances at the station plaza, Main Street, Hamilton Avenue and the Mott Street tunnel; updated signage, glass entrances and wood soffits; a widened main lobby; improved lighting; upgraded HVAC system; a new ADA-compliant elevator; new staircases with an automatic system to melt snow and ice as it falls; and renovations to the waiting room on the island platform, ticket office (with newly installed ticket vending machines), restrooms and concession spaces. The station also includes new mosaic and laminated glass artwork by artist Barbara Takenaga. Additionally, the side and island platforms have been extended to increase capacity.

Metro-North Railroad President Catherine Rinaldi

The project was part of Metro-North’s Station Improvement Initiative, funded by the MTA’s 2015-19 and 2020-24 Capital Programs, and in concert with Metro-North’s Way Ahead plan to enhance the customer experience, according to the commuter railroad.

“The White Plains renewal project is the everything the Way Ahead program is about, giving our customers the best possible experience while in the system, improving our infrastructure and increasing accessibility,” said Metro-North Railroad President Catherine Rinaldi, one of the Railway Age Women in Rail 2021 honorees. “White Plains is a major reverse commute destination, in addition to serving customers who commute into the city.” Pre-pandemic it served more than 12,000 commuters each weekday, according to MTA.

Bob Baulsir, retired President and CEO, Trinity Metro (left); Paul J. Ballard, interim President and CEO, Trinity Metro.

Paul J. Ballard has taken over as interim President and CEO of Trinity Metro, succeeding Bob Baulsir. Baulsir retired on Oct. 31 due to “ongoing health issues,” reported the north central Texas transit agency, which runs bus, TEXRail, ACCESS paratransit, ZIPZONE, and vanpool services and co-runs Trinity Railway Express (TRE) service with Dallas Area Rapid Transit.

Baulsir joined Trinity Metro in November 2014 and was instrumental in constructing and launching TEXRail, the commuter rail line between Fort Worth and DFW Airport’s Terminal B.

Ballard preceded Baulsir in the Trinity Metro leadership role and retired in April 2019 after serving at the helm for five years. Shortly after leaving Trinity Metro, Ballard served as interim General Manager and CEO for the Denver Regional Transportation District.

“We are really sorry to see Bob leave the agency, and we are so very grateful for everything he has done for Trinity Metro and public transportation in North Texas,” Trinity Metro Board Chairman Jeff Davis said. “While we search for a permanent replacement, we are delighted that Paul has agreed to step in and fill the void.”

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