The Brookings Institution, a liberal think tank based in Washington D.C. that is one of the oldest organizations of its kind, has released a report documenting recent ridership growth on Amtrak and evaluating these trends in the context of future government support for passenger rail in the United States. The report title is A New Alignment: Strengthening America’s Commitment to Passenger Rail.
The conclusions indicate that Amtrak growth is occurring mostly on corridor-based services with route lengths of less than 400 miles. The report makes three recommendations:
- Broker a new agreement between Amtrak and the states to share operating costs and other responsibilities for corridors longer than 750 miles;
- Refine existing programs to promote intermodalism, empower broader funding flexibility towards rail activities, and create a dedicated funding source for future rail investments;
- Complete a national rail plan, do more to promote multistate rail compacts, and foster a stronger relationship between public agencies and private capital and management firms
Little thought is devoted to improvements of the day-to-day operational realities of “intermetropolitan services”. The focus is primarily on modifying funding and service agreements by including the states. Though the problems of relying specifically on a funding formula that requires state support are not stated directly, the report does identify scenarios where service is not currently being provided due to a lack of state-level subsidy.
Of direct interest to Pennsylvania residents is the fact that Amtrak Pennsylvanian ridership has increased 32.5% between 1997 and 2012. A recent Wall Street Journal article quoted PennDOT deputy secretary Toby Fauver as saying, “It is a struggle for me to want to pay for that service.” The Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 requires states to become active partners in providing funding for certain Amtrak services. It is unknown if Pennsylvania will eventually withdraw funding for continued Amtrak Pennsylvanian service due to budget constraints.
June is swiftly approaching, and that means another edition of the annual Philadelphia International Cycling Championship will occur during the first weekend. Again this year, SEPTA will provide Manayunk/Norristown Line service every 30 minutes for most of Sunday. This is a good effort by SEPTA to respond to an out of the ordinary, date-specific need for transit service. More information and the special schedule can be found at this SEPTA webpage: http://www.septa.org/events/bikerace.html
And while SEPTA’s willingness to continue to provide this service in the face of a future budget shortfall is appreciated, there are some additional opportunities to make the good effort even better:
- Issue the special schedule in a another color to differentiate it from the standard RRD schedules. Highlight Wissahickon and East Falls as stations that provide access to other race route locations.
- Operate only Silverliner V railcars, and publicize this fact as a way to demonstrate that SEPTA cares about customer comfort and convenience, even in special circumstances.
- Publicize access provided by other service (notably Route 32) to other segments of the race route.
- Proactively work with Pro Cycling Tour officials to provide additional information on the race website detailing SEPTA service during racing events.
A new initative, called the Philadelphia Area Regional Transit Security Working Group, has created a public awareness campaign to highlight security in and around transit vehicles snd fscilities within the Delaware Valley. SEPTA, NJ Transit and DRPA/PATCO are participants.
The URL is www.stayalertnow.com
The TV commericail currently running can be viewed at the EFK Group website
TransAction 2012, the annual New Jersey Transportation Conference and Expo, will be held at the Tropicanna Hotel, Casino and Conference Center in Atlantic City, NJ on April 11th, 12th, and 13th (Wednesday, Thursday and Friday).
TransAction 2012 will feature 65 workshop sessions (4 & 5 concurrent throughout each day) specializing in bus, rail, roads, bridges, goods movement, pedestrian/bicycle, paratransit, community transportation, ports, and much more.
For more information, go to:
The NARP Tri-state meeting will be held in Philadelphia on March 24: Register now!
Guest speakers will include representatives from Amtrak, SEPTA, and NARP.
Network with other rail advocates from Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.
The day will also feature an exclusive tour of Hyundai-Rotem railcar assembly plant in South Philadelphia!
The New Jersey Department of Transportation will sponsor three open house meetings for the purpose of soliciting public input with respect to the NJ State Rail Plan.
The meetings will be held at the following locations:
Thursday, March 1, 2012
4:30 to 6:30 pm
North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority
One Newark Center, 17th Floor
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
4:30 to 6:30 pm
Vineland City Hall
First Floor Caucus Room
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
4:30 to 6:30 pm
New Jersey Department of Transportation
First Floor Multi-Purpose Room
1035 Parkway Avenue
NJ Transit is sponsoring a public open house for the NJ TRANSIT Route 55/42/676 Transit Alternatives Analysis study. The meeting will be conducted Thursday, March 1, 2012 between 4:00 pm and 6:00 pm in Executive Conference Room 201 at the Camden Technology Center of Camden County College – 200 North Broadway, Camden, NJ