Acting Director Named for STB Office of Passenger Rail

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
(Photograph Courtesy of Amtrak)

(Photograph Courtesy of Amtrak)

The Surface Transportation Board (STB) has selected Neil Moyer as acting Director of its Office of Passenger Rail, which is responsible for investigating and analyzing issues regarding Amtrak on-time performance (OTP).

Moyer, a senior STB staffer, helped the agency establish the Office of Passenger Rail, which launched Oct. 1.

“Section 213 of the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 (PRIIA) authorizes, and on eligible complaints requires, the STB to investigate the causes of substandard passenger rail OTP; to identify mitigating measures; and, under specified conditions, to prescribe relief,” STB reported on Dec. 8.

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) on Nov. 16, 2020, adopted a final rule establishing metrics and minimum standards for measuring the performance and service quality of Amtrak’s intercity passenger trains—following nearly 10 years of a contentious battle involving Amtrak and its host freight railroads that twice reached the U.S. Supreme Court. (FRA was charged to do so under PRIIA.)

According to STB, FRA, in conjunction with Amtrak, in late 2020 “promulgated a ‘Customer OTP’ metric to measure passenger rail OTP, which includes a standard that requires 80% of passenger arrivals at stations to occur within 15 minutes of the scheduled time.” This standard began to apply on July 1, 2021. PRIIA requires as a precondition for an STB OTP investigation that there be two consecutive quarters of substandard OTP, STB reported. 

Complaints may be brought by Amtrak, by an entity for which Amtrak operates intercity passenger rail service, by an intercity passenger rail operator, or by a host freight railroad over which Amtrak operates. 

The Office of Passenger Rail, which Moyer will head as acting Director, fulfills STB’s “responsibilities under the new statutory regime,” the agency said.

Moyer in August 2021 was selected to help STB to prepare for the investigations the Office will handle. His efforts built on those of the STB’s Passenger Rail Working Group, which was formed in April 2021. He worked closely with STB Board Members and staff to “develop and begin to implement a comprehensive plan for OTP investigation processing and resource allocation,” STB reported in 2021. Such activities included specifying and filling staffing and contracting needs, including forming a unit at the STB focused on passenger rail issues and analysis; developing database capabilities; creating an action plan for addressing potential OTP investigations; and coordinating interagency communications regarding OTP implementation issues.

Moyer has served as Passenger Rail Advisor in the STB’s Office of Public Assistance, Governmental Affairs, and Compliance. Previously, he was Chief of the Intercity Passenger Rail Analysis Division and Chief of the Financial and Economic Analysis Division at FRA. 

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