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

Hotline #974

STB Affirms Rights of Rail Passengers; Democrats and GOP Release Transit Platforms; Mobile Joins Support for Gulf Coast Rail Service

In major news for Amtrak and passenger rail, the Surface Transportation Board (STB) withdrew a proposed policy statement that would have undercut passenger trains legal right to priority dispatching ahead of freight trains. The proposal would have changed a law that gives Amtrak preference while traveling on freight railroads, and could have resulted in significant delays for passenger trains. Passenger advocacy groups, including NARP, rallied in defense of Amtrak’s passengers, arguing that t

Hotline #973

USDOT Opens New Bureau; FRA Examines Rail Opportunities in Texas and New England; Lawmakers Push For TSA To Implement Safety Protocols

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) have been busy this past week pushing forward new efforts to enhance America’s transportation infrastructure. Most notable, the DOT created a new bureau that will be a driving force for continued focus and funding, both of which are critical to future growth in the U.S. of rail and other modes of transit for people and freight. Known as the Build America Bureau, it “will drive transportation infrastruct

Hotline #972

Congress Adjourns for Summer Break with Hearings on Amtrak and High-Speed Rail; Train Operator Screening Test Rule Coming in Weeks; High-Speed Rail in CA Toured

As both houses of Congress adjourn for an election-year recess, they’ll leave Washington without passing one of the 12 annual appropriations measures. As NARP has been reporting, ancillary partisan disagreements obstructed a positive, bipartisan transportation appropriations bills that would increase funding for Amtrak, passenger rail, and transit. The Senate had already passed its version, and was simply waiting on the full House to vote before reconciling the bill before sending it to the Pr

Hotline #971

SEPTA Removes 120 Cars from Service; new Pueblo stop would mean $1.45 million in new revenue for Amtrak’s Southwest Chief; VA Receives FASTLANE Grant of $165 Million

Although commuters will experience delays, rail cars will be overcrowded, and money will be lost, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) made the correct decision in pulling unsafe rail cars from service by putting safety first. The transit organization took all 120 Silverliner V cars out of service after finding a fractured beam on one car and fatigue cracks on almost all other cars. Due to the reduction of cars, trains will only be able to carry 35,000 to 40,000 people

Hotline #970

High-Speed Rail Moves Forward in U.S.; NJ Transit Reaches Deal with Unions; Amtrak Opens “Metropolitan Lounge” at Chicago Union Station

The U.S. House of Representatives was in recess this week, adjourning early following political discord over gun control. The House, along with the Senate, is expected to return on July 5th, but with only two weeks left before political conventions and an overloaded legislative docket, time is running short on a transportation budget bill. Take part in NARP’s active legislative campaign to help keep the pressure on Congress for new rail funding! Chicago Union Station has just received an imp

Hotline #969

Bipartisan Bills Stall; Presidential Candidates Support Infrastructure Investment With Few Details; FRA Proposal on Long-Distance Trains

Stalled by heated partisan battles over gun control, a response to the threat of the Zika virus, and birth control provisions, a bipartisan movement to pass a transportation budget for fiscal year 2017 has stalled. Senate and House appropriators have created positive bills that are closely aligned; both increase funding for Amtrak, passenger rail, and transit, with the House favoring the Northeast Corridor and the Senate focusing additional funds on the National Network and grant programs for t

Hotline #968

Cities Look At Transit-Oriented Development; HSR in TX to Break Ground in 2017; CA Wins Lawsuit for HSR

Transit-oriented development and planning are getting a fresh look in cities around the U.S., as planners in communities large and not-so-large have started going beyond the usual textbook mix of elements to understand what really animates residents and would drive successful projects. In Miami Beach for example, one developer that is bidding on project to bring light-rail to that city released renderings of what the system could look like with special consideration to the avid biking community

Hotline #967

Transit Overhauls Expand Nationwide; DOT Secretary Foxx Pushes for Connecting Communities; NARP Supports CHSRA

For years, NARP and other rail and transit advocates have pushed for government officials at federal, state and local levels to focus on developing and revitalizing rail transit throughout the country. Though this effort can sometimes be challenging and arduous at any level, slowly but surely we have seen new projects take hold, succeed and bring new benefits, such as increased mobility, new jobs, economic growth, reduced traffic congestion, and community revitalization. This is not just an ide

Hotline #966

Longest and Deepest Rail Tunnel Opens; NARP Warns of “Transportation Meltdown”; WMATA Releases Maintenance Schedule

Any transportation infrastructure project takes time to plan, develop and construct as initiatives require feasibility and environmental studies, cost estimates, funding, and more. This is a reality for major projects like high-speed rail in California, more localized projects like light-rail in the Seattle area, or even projects that have a major regional and national scope, such as the Hudson Tunnel project in the greater New York area. Yet, when the project is completed and open, it can have

Hotline #965

Senate Approves Further Amtrak Support for NEC; MTA Receives $27 Billion; Developers Focus on Revitalization Centered Around Rail

Regular and continuous investment in railroad infrastructure is vital to long-term growth and success, especially for Amtrak in the Northeast Corridor. Congress made note of this when it passed a new measure that would allow Amtrak to direct money into overdue repair and maintenance work between Washington and Boston, its busiest route in the country. The appropriations bill was passed last week and included $114 billion for transportation and housing programs. Language in this section allows Am