in several regions across the East Coast struggled to resume service this week
following severe wind and flooding brought on by Hurricane
Amtrak cancelled some trains as early as early Sunday,
October 28, and shut down the entirety of its operations along the Northeast
Corridor on October 29 and 30, with most East Coast service suspended.
Amtrak announced on the evening of October 30 it would implement a gradual resumption of service, starting with a modified Northeast Regional service between Newark, NJ, and points south (including Virginia service to Lynchburg, Richmond and Newport News). Also on Wednesday, Amtrak began operating Keystone Service trains between
Starting today, Amtrak ran modified Northeast Regional and Acela
“I'm really proud of our folks; they have worked hard to make this happen and they have done this quicker than expected,” Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman wrote to Politico’s Morning Transportation. “We've also sent crews to help Metro-North open the line north of NYC… Our economy depends on being able to move, and Amtrak is a critical part of providing that mobility. We will restore service as quickly as we can.”
[Check out Amtrak.com’s Service & Alerts for the most up-to-date information]
While almost all cities and towns throughout the
Mid-Atlantic states and
Transit and rail systems in
Metro North Railroad,
While New Jersey Transit faces a
complex and demanding clean-up—as outlined by official
pictures released by the agency—the
Politicians are already pressing for federal assistance to aid in recovery work, with roads and bridges receiving $17 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation already. As covered in the NARP blog, there are more obstacles in the way for transit assistance:
It will take significant, emergency
federal, state and private investment just to restore transportation services
to pre-storm levels. Already, the U.S. DOT has announced the quick-release of
$13 million for road repairs in
Beyond the clean-up, larger questions loom
With so many members of the public—and businesses—dependent
on passenger rail and transit, transportation officials are rightly consumed
with task of ensuring systems return to pre-storm operations. In addition to the human suffering, the
most recent estimates suggest that the economic toll taken by Hurricane
Sandy could reach $50 billion; a functioning passenger and freight
transportation network will get the
Many of us have believed for some
time that climate change is a serious issue and that it is exacerbated by a
transportation system that emits too much carbon. The media has done a fair job
of reporting this, though the need to show “balance” even when the science is
not “balanced” sometimes gets in the way. One element in any plan to reduce carbon
emissions of course is to expand trains and public transportation.
But we have also known that climate change references are a turn-off for some audiences. That may be changing. Chris Core is a “non-staff member” at the conservative Heritage Foundation. Consider the main part of his minute-long commentary today on
After noting how lucky the Washington DC area was to miss the brunt of Sandy, Core said, “All of these over-the-top weather events of the past couple of years—snowmageddon, the derecho, Hurricanes Sandy and Irene, the record hot summers, the violent thunderstorms—any one of them alone might just be a natural occurrence but, taken as a whole, they’re disturbing. These are the kind of events Al Gore predicted in his movie, An Inconvenient Truth. Some people scoffed at Gore’s thesis. I found it interesting but frankly too terrible to relate to. But now, well, maybe we should all re-watch his movie, just in case these weird weather oddities are a warning. Keeping an open mind is a Core value.”
He isn’t the only erstwhile skeptic to be thinking this way. So it may be time to become bolder in citing mitigation of climate change as one of the benefits of developing a more comprehensive passenger rail network.
[To read more about the advocacy-related outcomes, click here]
Despite the destruction visited upon the region by
The first eastbound train to Brunswick was sold out and carried special guests, including US Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME; recipient of last year’s NARP Golden Spike Award), US Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME), and US Senate candidate and former Gov. Angus King (I), Amtrak Vice President Stephen Gardner, Pan Am Railroad President David Fink, and TrainRiders/Northeast President and NARP Council Representative Wayne Davis.
At a ceremony in
There are two round-trips daily from
The Downeaster began service between
NARP has been consistent in talking about the importance of trains and transit for seniors, and the problems posed by a rapidly increasing senior population. As the ability to drive deteriorates, passenger trains and transit take on greater importance, allowing senior citizens to maintain their mobility and a high quality of life past the point where driving is practical.
In today’s NARP blog, we examine suggestions for how to smooth the transition from driver to passenger:
Jessica Anderson, in her Drive Time column in the new (December)Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, says that, “as a group, seniors age 80 and older have the highest rate of fatal crashes per mile driven—even higher than for teens—according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Simply put, too many people continue driving when it’s no longer safe for them to do so. Vision problems, slower reactions and other effects of aging increase the risk of crashes. But most state legislatures ignore the problem.”
CAHSRA has been working with five consortiums of building firms, and questions from the participants have led the Authority to push back the deadline until January 18.
"The bidders have been asking for more information and more time to analyze the information," said CAHSRA CEO Jeffrey Morale.
This move will shorten the window for construction, which must be completed by September 2017 according to stipulations attached to federal stimulus dollars helping to fund the project.
The 28-mile section would run roughly from
In other high-speed
The city has identified $24.6 million for the project, which is expected to cost $319 million in total. The city will also tap a transportation fund backed by a half-cent sales tax, and has identified Federal Transit Administration’s New Starts grant program as an additional source of funding. The two nay votes came from Mayor Tom Tait and Councilwoman Lorri Galloway, who questioned the funding model. Other members of the council were satisfied with the recommendations provided by the feasibility study, which endorsed the project.
The ARTIC station will eventually serve as a station for
The advocacy efforts of NARP Council Member Ted Kneebone to bring passenger rail service to Aberdeen, South Dakota were profiled by the local ABC affiliate this week, a testament to his commitment to a modern national passenger train network that provides a Americans with mobility choices.
The city hasn’t been served by passenger trains since 1969, a state of affairs that Kneebone is working hard to change.
"I brought along more than 300 signatures of people who would like to see the trains come back" Kneebone told KSFY.
BNSF Railroad is the freight company that would serve as host for any passenger service to the community, and they have expressed pessimism about the chances for restoration.
Kneebone, however, remains undeterred, and pointed to the
support he received while attending NARP’s fall Council of Representatives
"I'm happy based on my responses," Kneebone said. "Some are quite passionate."
Due to track work being performed by BNSF Railway, Amtrak Cascades and southbound Coast Starlight Train 11 will run on an
altered schedule between October 29 and November 30. Check here for the modified timetable.
Correction: Our October 26 hotline and October 23 blog (“As Airlines Raise Fees…”), as initially posted, correctly noted that airlines have increased their reliance on fees which, unlike fares, are not taxed. This has resulted in an increase in the extent to which general funds are supporting aviation. However, fares still account for the vast majority of what passengers pay. Our initial postings incorrectly referred to “airlines’ practice of shifting the bulk of their revenues from fares to fees.”