The Surface Transportation Board (STB) has selected senior staffer Neil Moyer to coordinate preparation efforts as it takes on new intercity passenger rail on-time performance (OTP) responsibilities.
“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,” according to the STB.
On Nov. 16, 2020, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) 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.)
STB said that FRA, in conjunction with Amtrak, “promulgated a ‘Customer OTP’ metric to measure passenger rail OTP, with a standard requiring 80% of passenger arrivals at stations to occur within 15 minutes of the scheduled time for any two consecutive calendar quarters.” This standard began to apply on July 1, 2021.
Before STB can undertake an OTP investigation, PRIIA requires that there be two consecutive quarters of “substandard OTP.” That means a complaint requesting an STB investigation could be submitted as early as January 2022, STB said. 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.
STB’s selection of Moyer as Passenger Rail Unit Development Coordinator will help the agency to prepare for upcoming investigations. Moyer’s efforts will build on those of the STB’s Passenger Rail Working Group, which was formed in April 2021.
Over the coming months, Moyer will work closely with STB Board Members and staff to “develop and begin to implement a comprehensive plan for OTP investigation processing and resource allocation. These activities will include 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 is currently Passenger Rail Advisor in the STB’s Office of Public Assistance, Governmental Affairs, and Compliance. He served previously as Chief of the Intercity Passenger Rail Analysis Division and Chief of the Financial and Economic Analysis Division at the FRA.
During his time as Passenger Rail Unit Development Coordinator, Moyer will work in the Office of STB Chairman Martin J. Oberman. Ryan Lee, an attorney who serves as Assistant to the Director of Proceedings at STB, will provide support.
“The selection of Neil Moyer to coordinate development of a passenger rail unit at the Board, and marshal other important resources, is a critical step in ensuring the Board’s preparedness to meet its important oversight and adjudicatory responsibilities with regard to passenger rail OTP,” STB Chairman Martin J. Oberman said. “Mr. Moyer is well-suited for this responsibility in light of his deep experience in the passenger rail arena and knowledge of passenger rail issues. I am also grateful to Ryan Lee for his assistance and to the Passenger Rail Working Group for laying the foundation for such work. With the Board’s planning efforts well under way, I remain as confident as ever in the Board’s ability to meet its upcoming passenger rail OTP responsibilities and play its part in ensuring the service quality of the nation’s intercity passenger rail system.”