Happy New Year to everyone. We at DVARP hope that you had a safe and happy holiday season.
2013 can definitely be characterized as an active year with respect to public policy debate. Transportation issues were certainly a part of the mix. Below is a very brief overview of important events during the year:
Reduction or elimination of Keystone and Pennsylvanian service was possible, as Amtrak was required to achieve funding agreements due to the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008. Governor Corbett indicated support for funding continued operations in March. PennDOT announced a one year funding commitment in June, pending the resolution of the larger transportation funding issues in the Commonwealth.
The backlog of infrastructure rehabilitation required for safe operation of the fixed guideway routes reached a near-crisis situation, with SEPTA announcing a multi-year plan for substantial service reductions if appropriate capital project funding levels were not approved by the Commonwealth legislature. Pennsylvania government officials finally approved a comprehensive transportation funding plan in late November.
NJ Transit –
NJ Transit opened the Pennsauken Transportation Center in October. The $40 million station facility, located in the Delair section of the township, provides the opportunity for transfers between the Atlantic City Rail Line and the Riverline, as well as access to local NJ Transit bus routes and parking. Interestingly, both the ACRL and Riverline stations were considered during the initial planning stages prior to opening of each line, and each was subsequently eliminated due to community opposition.
The continued deterioration of system infrastructure was demonstrated in multiple incidents involving escalator and elevators failures, coupled with service interruptions due to rail vehicle troubles. Escalator issues were addressed temporarily by DRPA agreeing to pay SEPTA for maintenance pending a longer term plan which may require certain units to be replaced. The first of the rehabilitated railcars were delivered in December, with revenue operation expected in March 2014.