Your weekly source of fresh takes on news affecting America's passengers. See also the NARP Blog.

Hotline #946

NOTE- The NARP Office will be closed on January 18th for the Martin Luther King holiday The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) put rail safety at the top of its “10 Most Wanted” list of priorities for 2016, reports the Washington Post. The NTSB has been calling for installation of PTC for decades, but the pressing need for the safety system was driven home by the crash of Amtrak Train #188 outside of Philadelphia on May 12, 2015. The agency warned Congress and federal regulators

Hotline #945

View on Vimeo New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced an ambitious $3 billion plan to renovate Penn Station, reports the New York Times. It includes creating an adjunct train and retail hub in the James A. Farley Post Office across the street. During his press conference, Cuomo also outlined plans for new air and rail terminals, new transit stations and a Hudson River rail tunnel, calling it “the biggest construction program in our state’s history.” The state, working with Amtrak and MT

Hotline #944

One of the provisions buried in the FAST Act authorized a new structure for funding Amtrak based on business lines, like the Northeast Corridor. NARP has vehemently and consistently disagreed with this structure for years, as explicated in this blog post, noting that only 30 of Amtrak’s 500-plus stations sit along the NEC. The 11 million riders the NEC carried this year are important—but so are the 19 million that travelled on the National Network. The U.S. can't afford to ignore either grou

Hotline #943

A major rail milestone was reached this week, with Amtrak activating Positive Train Control technology on all its between Washington and New York, reports the Washington Post. PTC is now operational on nearly all the Amtrak-owned or maintained track along the Northeast Corridor, which stretches from Washington to Boston, said D.J. Stadtler, the rail company’s vice president of operations. However, a story in Atlantic magazine notes that while Congress has allocated $25 million in funding in t

Hotline #942

Congress unveiled a $1.1 trillion omnibus budget bill on December 16 to keep the government funded in 2016, including $57.6 billion in transportation funding. The final document, read by NARP Vice President Sean Jeans-Gail, clocks in at just over 2,000 pages, which—given the wide-ranging focus of the budget bill—has industries and advocacy groups all across the country scrambling to see what the bill means for them. The House passed the compromise bill by a vote of 316 to 113, with Speak

Hotline #941

Amtrak President Joe Boardman Amtrak President Joe Boardman announced his retirement from the rail corporation in a letter to employees. He will leave in September 2016 after nearly eight years on the job. “One of the reasons why I gave our board notice so far in advance of my planned retirement is because I want them to have the time to think about the next leader they will select and have a chance to think about the kinds of qualities this leader will need as we move forward,” Boardman

Hotline #940

For the first time in a decade, Congress has successfully passed a long-term surface transportation bill, sending the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act to the desk of President Barack Obama. The bill cleared the Senate (by an 83-16 vote) and the House (by a 384-40 vote) on Thursday. The White House has indicated the President will sign the bill today. NARP Vice President Sean Jeans-Gail went through all 1,300 pages of the transportation bill to analyze items including the nat

Hotline #939

NARP Council Member Barry Green made the case for strong investment in America's passenger trains in the Billings Gazette this week, calling on Congress to invest in connecting people, not in paving roads: "Our country is at a crossroads with our transportation needs as a U.S. House/Senate Conference Committee reconciles the differences within the Surface Transportation Bill, H.R. 22, known as the DRIVE Act. In Montana, passenger rail service in the form of Amtrak provides a very important mea

Hotline #938

With conference negotiations on the six-year surface transportation reauthorization still underway, NARP is closely monitoring proceedings to track the progress of three goals for the bill: include passenger rail as part of a comprehensive surface transportation bill; allow for flexibility in investing the $77 billion in general revenue used to fund the surface transportation bill; include predictable, dedicated funding for passenger rail, and restore funding to FY2010 levels, when congress inve

Hotline #937

Congress continued its work on forming the conference committee for the transportation bill. Staff was in preliminary negotiations on the timeline for conferees, and it’s unclear whether the final bill will be completed before the November 20 extension deadline. When it comes to the bill’s funding, Rep. Randy Neugebauer’s (R-Texas) amendment to tap a Federal Reserve fund could provide $40 billion in additional general funds for transportation investment. The original bills only provide th