Sen. Schumer Calls on Congress to Act; NARP Pushes Back Against WSJ Editorial; Meetings Held for Gulf Coast Rail Updates
April 14, 2017
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U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is pushing back against the Trump Administration’s efforts to slash budgets for critical passenger rail infrastructure, including Amtrak’s long-distance trains. Amtrak’s service could be reduced or completely eliminated in many states if Trump’s proposed budget is approved, but Sen. Schumer called on Congress to keep, and even increase “critical investments” for Amtrak, as well as other passenger rail systems. Sen. Schumer made his remarks this past Sunday following the two recent derailments at New York Penn Station, which involved an NJ Transit train derailing on April 3 and an Amtrak Acela train derailing on March 24.
Last week, Amtrak CEO and President Wick Moorman accepted responsibility for the track issues pertaining to Penn Station, noting that officials were aware of the defect, but also thought it was not as severe as it turned out to be. Regardless, Sen. Schumer highlighted that Amtrak is facing a $28 billion state-of-good repair backlog and lack of funding to make appropriate repairs that could have contributed to the cause of the derailments. Sen. Schumer also noted that several other regional rail lines, such as NJ Transit, Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), and Long Island Rail Road, are also seeing significant backlogs.
In his comments, Sen. Schumer proposed a plan for Congress to invest $5 billion a year for Amtrak as part of a 10-year plan that would invest $180 billion in repairing passenger rail and transit systems. Though his plan has not picked up traction yet with Congress, Sen. Schumer emphasized that it is time for Congress to “get serious” about infrastructure and make it a priority for the future, otherwise, accidents like that at Penn Station will continue to occur.
"We learned this lesson in New York in the 1970's when we systematically disinvested in the MTA and the system broke down," said Schumer. "We had delays, derailments, dirty trains and ridership fell to historic lows. But when we made the change and invested into the system, ridership went through the roof and maintenance vastly improved. When you delay maintenance, it only leads to disaster.”
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Sen. Cory A. Booker (D-NJ), joined with Sen. Schumer in an Op-Ed to The New York Times. They cautioned that delays and congestion will only get worse as infrastructure continues to age. The four senators focused specifically on the 100-year old tunnels under the Hudson River, and wrote:
“While the accidents themselves were minor, by closing down tracks, they provided a stark preview for what life could soon be like if we don’t follow through with critical investments to improve our infrastructure. Alarmingly, if we don’t act soon to repair the two tunnels under the Hudson River, that same reduction in service our region experienced last week will become a permanent reality.”
The senators also voiced their opposition against Trump’s proposed budget by stating, “Time is running out to replace the existing crumbling tunnels, and our region cannot afford setbacks to this project like the one President Trump’s budget would impose… Despite the President’s campaign rhetoric and his continued promise to deliver major infrastructure investments, to date the administration has gone the opposite direction and proposed major cuts in infrastructure spending.”
The NEC rail and infrastructure issues and recent derailments encouraged New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to ask Amtrak and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) for an independent review of Penn Station. In the letter to Amtrak and the FRA, Cuomo and Christie stated, “As the primary users of Penn Station via the Long Island Rail Road and and NJ Transit, New York and New Jersey are requesting independent verification of track safety at Penn Station. Specifically, this comprehensive review should take into account causes of the recent failures at Penn Station and any needed changes to the process by which routine maintenance and emergency repairs are performed.”
Both the FRA and Amtrak noted that they are currently conducting a review. The FRA stated that its review will be, “a thorough examination of the entire Penn Station and infrastructure."
Although President Trump has discussed moving forward the timeline and attaching his administration’s $1 trillion investment plan to a tax reform bill in recent weeks, special assistant to the President for infrastructure policy, DJ Gribbin, stated that the plan is “up in the air.” Gribbin made his comments at a Wall Street Journal event on infrastructure on Wednesday. Plans for the infrastructure deal are still not concrete according to Gribbin, as the administration is looking at a variety of options that will allow Trump to fulfill his major campaign promises. Gribbin stated that the infrastructure plan is evolving and that the administration is considering placing infrastructure legislation on other bills “to help improve the passability” of those other proposals.
Gribbin supported the notion that the infrastructure plan could tackle more than roads, bridges, and railways. He stated that the administration has a broad view on what is defined as infrastructure. The plan could include a focus on housing, air traffic control, and hospitals for veterans.
Wall Street Journal's "Acela Pundits" attacked Amtrak, so NARP responded with a sharp Letter to the Editor and the following blog post which can be found at www.narprail.org.
The Wall Street Journal has added their two cents to the debate sparked by the recent troubles radiating from New York Penn Station, and it is a classic in the genre of “tone-deaf New York City editors ridiculing investment in small town America.” It’s a genre in which the Journal has, rightly, earned a reputation as an industry leader.
Though not an innovator, since the editorial compliantly echoes the White House’s budget proposal’s attack on rail infrastructure, calling for an end to investment in the national network. So yet again, America’s rail passengers find themselves confronted with another version of the same, tired accusation: “We should get rid of Amtrak’s money-losing long distance trains; they don’t cover their costs, don’t serve anyone, or go anywhere useful.”
(We’ll include a link, albeit regretfully in the Hotline. We encourage you not to give them any more traffic… unless you’re already a subscriber and you plan on lighting them up in the comments section. We cover the main parts of the argument below.)
Since time is a flat circle, we’re forced yet again to take the time to inject the same old facts into the same old debate:
“The bigger problem is these long-distance train routes are consuming hundreds of millions of dollars each year that would be better spent improving service along the Northeast Corridor where the potential exists to support profitable high-speed rail.” The most pernicious myth deployed by the Journal editors is, strangely, the easiest to debunk: Amtrak requires federal subsidies; and roads, bridges, and airports don’t; ergo, roads are good and trains are bad. In matter of fact, not only do highways not cover their costs, they are quite literally hemorrhaging taxpayer money. The Highway Trust Fund has required enormous general fund contributions totaling $141 billion since 2008, and the Congressional Budget Office projects that the trust fund’s cumulative deficits will grow from $21 billion in fiscal year 2022, to $108 billion by fiscal year 2026. While this trend has worsened in recent years—due in no small part to a gas tax that has remained frozen in time since the year 1993, the last time Congress mustered the political will to raise it—it is not a new trend. A report issued by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group in 2011 found that, since 1947, the amount of money spent on highways, roads, and streets has exceeded the amount raised through gasoline taxes and other so-called “user fees” by $600 billion (in 2005 dollars). And in fact, highway “user fees” pay only about half the cost of building and maintaining the nation’s network of highways, roads, and streets, which are subsidized by a mix of sales taxes, property taxes, and general funds.
“Most commuter and light-rail trains including New Jersey Transit and Washington, D.C.’s Metro (which is known to catch on fire) aren’t paragons of safety…” Ok, it turns out THIS argument is the easiest to debunk. Commuter rail is 18 times safer than travel by passenger car. And it’s not even close: the most recent safety and census data shows there were 40,200 motor-vehicle deaths in the U.S. in 2016, a six percent increase over 2015. The average American has a 1 in 100 lifetime risk of dying in a car accident. If just one percent of the nation’s approximately three trillion annual vehicle miles traveled by motor vehicle was shifted to intercity passenger or commuter train, almost 200 lives would be saved each year. The Journal doesn’t even get the trend right; while the growing maintenance backlog on U.S. transit has certainly led to deterioration in service quality, passenger rail has actually been getting safer over the past decade. There has been a 33 percent decline in derailments over the last 10 years, even as passenger ridership has increased and freight volumes have been steady. Railroads have experienced a 31 percent reduction in accident rate since 2006, while seeing a 23 percent Increase in Intercity and Commuter Rail Services over the past 10 years.
“Someone who pays $176 to take a 62-hour ride on the Texas Eagle train from Los Angeles to Dallas to Chicago must really want to minimize Christmas with the in-laws.” This is actually an understandable mistake for the Journal editors, since I assume most of them are “that one uncle” who ruins Thanksgiving for the rest of the family. But they’re wrong here, too. Over 61 percent of Texas Eagle passengers take trips under 300 miles, and only 2.5 percent travel further than 2,000 miles. The route covers 2,728 miles in total, and that distance is only important because it’s what allows the train to connect 42 cities across 7 states—many of them rural communities and small towns. If you live in Temple, Texas and you’re trying to get to Fort Worth for business or a medical procedure, the Eagle is as important to you as the Northeast Corridor is to Wall Street Journal editors—probably more important, since Temple doesn’t have access to a LaGuardia or JFK.
The broader arguments pivot on a more philosophical question: who do you believe is important, and which towns matter? We know that, of the 31 million-plus passengers that Amtrak carries in a given year, 19 million of them won’t step foot on a Northeast Corridor train. Do those 19 million people matter to the WSJ? Are they worthy of the investment from taxpayer dollars?
Of course, if you’re from small town and rural America, this question might not strike you as academic. If you’re from one of the 225 towns that would lose all intercity rail service if the long distance trains ceased to run, you might take offense at the notion that your town wasn’t worth the work it took to maintain the connection to the wider world; that your train wasn’t worth the public investment.
The last year has taught us the cost of the disconnection we’ve allowed to grow in our nation. And in the 2016 postmortem, the “Acela set”—the media pundits whose view of America is largely defined by the Washington, D.C. – New York City segment of the Northeast Corridor—took a lot of heat for its inability to understand what was happening in the rest of the U.S. The problem is not Amtrak’s Acela, of course, but the people who ride it. If the Wall Street Journal editors took the time to ride a train outside the corridors of power, they would see value of these trains—and the costs that the policies of disinvestment and abandonment they’re advancing have exacted on the rest of us.
The gap between big city and small, rural and urban, has grown too large. Let’s not turn our backs on any more Americans. It’s time to rebuild a Connected America.
Special thanks to OneRail, a rail industry coalition—of which NARP is a member—that created the safety report from which we drew most of the safety data in this post.
In another part of the country, specifically along the Gulf Coast, officials with the Southern Rail Commission and Amtrak are ready to discuss new updates on reintroducing passenger rail service to the region. Restarting Amtrak service through Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana is closer than ever, according to officials. Despite the proposed White House budget which cuts funding for Amtrak, officials pressed forward with a series of meetings in cities along the route. Cities included, Mobile, AL; Jacksonville and Marianna, FL; Gulfport, MS and New Orleans, LA.
Thomas Stennis III, Amtrak's Director of Government Affairs South spoke at the meeting in Mobile on Wednesday, and encouraged stakeholders from each state to voice their opposition against Trump’s budget. Stennis noted, “When we look at the situation of where we are, we are closer now than we have ever been over the course of the last 12 years.”
The meetings were designed for Amtrak and the Southern Rail Commission to provide insights on the progress made since an inspection train toured the region in February 2016. Meetings also covered the next steps in the process for reintroducing Amtrak service to the region, even if it will be done without the support of the federal government.
Service on the Gulf Coast routed was halted following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and over the past 12 years, there has been a significant push from Amtrak, SRC, NARP, and other passenger rail advocates to restore service. It is estimated that 154,000 passengers would use the line annually. But with Trump’s budget proposal that includes $54 billion in cuts to federal programs, the Department of Transport will be hit with a 12.9 percent cut to its $94.7 billion annual budget. This will severely hamper funding for not only the Gulf Coast train, but other long-distance Amtrak trains nationwide.
John Robert Smith, chairman of the board for Transportation for America and a former mayor of Meridian, MS stated, "It's very strange that an administration that is supposed to be the infrastructure administration, with great commitments to infrastructure and transportation in particular, starts out by decreasing transportation funding by 13 percent.”
Cities along the Gulf Coast are not the only cities that would see limited Amtrak service or loss of service if Trump’s budget is approved. Over the past week, several rural communities and small towns have expressed their concerns regarding the potential loss of Amtrak service. Overall, 220 cities could lose service and NARP President and CEO Jim Mathews stated in a press release that, “It’s ironic that President Trump’s first budget proposal undermines the very communities whose economic hardship and sense of isolation from the rest of the country helped propel him into office.”
NARP’s vice president of operations and a Buffalo-area resident, Bruce Becker, also stated in a recent interview with the Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle, "We’re very disappointed in the president's proposal, which would eliminate service to over 220 cities and communities across the country…The makeup of the ridership is very diverse. Many folks depend upon it for jobs, for school, for health care. It’s certainly not just people riding the train because they like to look out the window. It serves a vital national purpose."
Media coverage that mentioned NARP’s information on the hard-hitting impact of Trump’s budget in local communities included:
- The city of Connersville could potentially, in the near future, find itself with an Amtrak station, but no Amtrak service running through it.
- President Donald Trump’s plan to Make America Great Again is jeopardizing passenger rail service in northern Idaho.
- Cuts to transportation in President Donald Trump’s budget could threaten Amtrak services in Schriever.
- Passenger train service in Pasco could be affected by President Trump’s plan to cut $2.4 billion in federal transportation spending in the coming fiscal year.
- Four Washington cities are on the list that stand to lose train service. The smallest are Wishram and Bingen in the Columbia Gorge, a part of Klickitat County, where Trump beat Hillary Clinton by 15 points last November.
- It could mean the end of all Amtrak service to Lafayette and more than 200 other cities.
- Erie, PA, the home of GE Transportation, would lose all rail service if the President’s proposal is enacted.
If you haven’t participated in NARP’s in-district campaign, NOW is the perfect time to get involved as decisions get made about rail budgets in Washington!
NARP is providing you with the tools, but we need your help doing these three things:
- Meet with your in-district staff contacts for all three congressional representatives (one representative, two senators), either in-person or over the phone, to ask them to support an infrastructure bill
- Importantly: communicate significant points of agreement, disagreement, and intelligence back to NARP staff
- Post a photo of yourself visiting + calling your Members of Congress, and post it online using the tag #MyTrainMyTown and #AConnectedAmerica (or email it to us at NARP[@]narprail.org, subject line "My Town, My Train")
To access more advocacy resources, including NARP’s Guide to Engagement, click here.
On April 11, West Virginia took steps to move forward with daily Amtrak service on The Cardinal. Governor Jim Justice signed a new law that was heavily supported and passed both the House and Senate for West Virginia. The law allows the Tourism Commission of West Virginia to coordinate with Amtrak, various political subdivisions in West Virginia, and other states along the route to form an "interstate committee” that will determine the service schedule. Chuck Riecks, Co-Chair of the Friends of the Cardinal, stated that, "The prompt enactment of this law is a tribute to the dedication and concern of many West Virginians."
Resistance to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) passenger rail plans for Connecticut increased after the agency released its NEC Future proposal which is designed to help meet an estimated population increase of 23 percent through 2040 in the region. The primary point of contention is the proposed shoreline route which would cut through the eastern portion of Connecticut. Local opponents have pushed back against the plan citing concerns of disruption during construction and long-term reduction in property values. According to Gregory Stroud, director of special projects for the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation, “Opposition is growing along the entire shoreline.”
The NEC Future plan does include some areas of agreement, including a significant amount of infrastructure work to upgrade and add tracks along the state’s coastline. It will also upgrade the rail line connecting New Haven, Hartford, and Springfield.
Some experts think the FRA will reconsider some of its proposals and focus solely on upgrading Connecticut’s existing rail infrastructure. As it stands now, the FRA is set to release its final Record of Decision as early as late May.
Tom Gerend, Executive Director for the Kansas City Streetcar Authority, expressed the urgency for purchasing and utilizing two new cars for the streetcar system this week. “We need two more cars yesterday,” Gerend stated, in regards to the unexpected number of riders using the streetcar. According to the agency, ridership is twice what was projected for the four-vehicle fleet, and demand has pushed the limits of service for the streetcar. The Authority notes that the demand has sometimes forced the agency to deploy all four of its cars at a time, leaving the system without a spare for when maintenance issues or emergencies arise.
There is hope that the Authority will meet demand sooner than later. The Kansas City Downtown Streetcar Transportation Development District board voted this week to support the use of existing surplus funds, plus future funds, to buy two new streetcars, related services, and spare parts. The new cars will cost $11.8 million and be supplied by CAF USA, which supplied the first four vehicles. Although approved, the City Council still needs to vote on the purchase which it will be asked to do in a few weeks. If approved, Gerend noted that the actual procurement will probably take 24 months.
Last chance to register for NARP’s Spring 2017 Advocacy Summit, Action Day on The Hill & Meeting in Washington, DC - Sunday, April 23 through Wednesday, April 26, 2017. NARP’s 2017 ‘Action Day On The Hill’ & Congressional Reception will be held on Tuesday, April 25, 2017.
Over 120 NARP members are coming to Washington to make their voices heard on Capitol Hill. There is still time for you to join them! Visit the Event Page for complete registration information, the most current agenda and other details of this great advocacy opportunity.
The Host Hotel is the Sheraton Silver Spring (MD), which is located just three blocks from Metro’s Red Line Silver Spring station. FYI...Discounted group rate rooms are now sold out! Information on other available nearby hotels in Silver Spring can be found on the Event Page.
And Save These Dates!
NARP’s 2017 RAIL NATION CHICAGO Passenger Rail EXPO And 50th Anniversary Celebration - Chicago, IL
- Thursday, November 2 to Sunday, November 5, 2017
- Four days packed with an exciting array of presentations, speakers, exhibits, tours, and events
- Celebrating NARP’s accomplishments over the past 50 years and looking ahead to the future of passenger rail in the United States
- Host Hotel: Millennium Knickerbocker
- Hotel Reservations and Event Registration Will Open In Early May
Though it was not said to be connected with an ongoing lawsuit, the New York Department of Transportation will not issue a permit to the Adirondack Rail Preservation Society (ARPS) to run trains north of the Big Moose, NY station this coming season. ARPS filed a lawsuit against the state in regards to the state’s plan for turning 34 miles of rail track into a multi-use trail that would run between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake. The lawsuit declares that the state’s plan violates the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan and raises several historical preservation issues. This is in addition to the state discovering that it does not own land rights to several parcels that it wants to renovate for the trail. Currently, the lawsuit is under review by an acting state Supreme Court justice in Malone.
With regards to the permit, officials with the state’s DOT did not specify why it would not issue ARPS a license to run north of Big Moose this year. The DOT did, however, issue a permit for ARPS to operate the Adirondack Scenic Railroad (the name ARPS runs trains under) from Remsen, NY to Big Moose on the state-owned, former New York Central RR, rail corridor. The trains operate north from Utica, NY’s historic Union Station to Remsen on track owned by the Mohawk, Adirondack and Northern Railroad, an operating unit of Genesee Valley Transportation. Bethan Maher, CEO of the railroad, said, “Currently our permit is still in place and has not been revoked, the next operating permit is forthcoming.”
This week, the City Council of Orlando opposed two bills which could slow development or eliminate the service for Florida’s upcoming Brightline rail to state legislators, voicing their support for the train line. The Council approved a resolution on Monday that called on state lawmakers to reject bills HB 269 and SB 386. The resolution highlighted the importance of Brightline to generate jobs, create economic benefits, and connect cities across the state. The bills would require private passenger-rail systems--like All Aboard Florida--to cover the costs of installing and maintaining safety equipment at crossings unless agreements are reached with local government officials. Also, the bills would require additional oversight from the Florida Department of Transportation.
In their resolution in support of Brightline, Orlando commissioners said that the bills would add, “an extraordinary level of regulation on to the private company, increase costs, and potentially interfere with private property rights.” They added, “this legislation will harm Florida’s opportunity to finally connect its major cities with an express rail system.”
The Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee did not review the proposed legislation when it was on the committee’s agenda last month, which was a significant victory for Brightline. Now, the bills are under review by state officials and the potential still exists for the bills to move forward.
Progressive Railroading featured All Aboard Florida’s Brightline, in advance of the planned launch of service this summer. The feature story highlights several of the milestones All Aboard Florida has accomplished in creating the nation's only privately owned, higher-speed, intercity passenger rail service. This includes receiving the first two completed trainsets, known as BrightBlue and BrightPink, respectively. All Aboard Florida’s Chief Marketing Officer, Julie Edwards, noted there are several benefits for passengers who take the service who want more efficient ways to spend their time traveling.
“Brightline will offer the very, very congested southeast region of 5 to 6 million people a better and more productive way to spend their time between Miami and Fort Lauderdale,” Edwards stated. “With free Wi-Fi and convenient locations in city centers, it will be a smarter and less stressful way to travel.”
All Aboard Florida is currently set to start service between West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale in July, as well as service between Fort Lauderdale and Miami in late August.
NARP Strengthens Passenger’s Voice With Office Move
NARP is gearing up for a move that will take the association to a new space across the street from Washington, D.C.’s Metro Center subway station hub in the heart of the city. The new office will be located in walking distance to both the White House and Capitol Hill, as well as Amtrak’s Union Station. The move offers NARP members new resources and work spaces that will enhance the effectiveness of advocacy for passenger rail in America.
NARP plans to complete its move into the 2,000-square-foot location at 1200 G Street, NW, Suite 240, by the end of May. The new space includes a conference room equipped with a complement of audio-visual technology, as well as offices and dedicated workstations for staff, which has increased in the last year with three new full-time employees. Volunteers and interns will also have access to workstations. Unlike the current space, the new building and office are both fully ADA compliant, and the building offers bike-friendly lockers and 24-hour security. A ribbon-cutting ceremony and welcome reception is set to take place in early June, ushering in a new era of advocacy. NARP will host a series of open houses for members in its Metro Center neighborhood in the months ahead.
Please stay tuned for more details on the upcoming move, as well as on the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Passenger rail service received a big boost in funding support after the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission was approved for a $400 million appropriation. The funding will be provided from an increase in California’s gasoline tax that was included in the state’s transportation bill, SB 1. The tax will help support the expansion of the Altamont Corridor Express passenger rail service into Stanislaus and Merced counties. The expansion of service is planned for 2023, and includes stations in Manteca, Ripon, Modesto, and Ceres. Then, in 2027, a second leg would include stations in Turlock, Livingston or Atwater, and Merced. Currently, the Commission estimates that the expansion will cost $1.2 billion. In addition to the service expansion, the funding is expected to help pay for new trains, stations, and access fees for ACE to use the Union Pacific line from Ceres to Merced.
In preparation for the opening of Detroit’s QLine streetcar, M-1 Rail officials provided a variety of tips for people in the area who will use the system. The organization stressed safety for pedestrians, motorists, and cyclists who will be moving around the streetcar once it’s in operation. Officials noted that it will be important to cross Woodward Ave. at crosswalks as the operator will not be able to see pedestrians or cyclists coming out from between cars. Officials also noted that pedestrians should always step over the rails, as opposed to walking on the tracks as they are lubricated and could be slippery. In addition, motorists were warned to park within the marked parking lines to prevent blocking the streetcar and getting their vehicle towed. The QLine is currently set to open next month, and it will run 3.3 miles on Woodward. There will be six streetcars with four to five in operation at any given time.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the results of the Long Island Rail Road’s (LIRR) environmental impact study for the addition of a third track. The report revealed that adding a third track, which will cost $2 billion, will improve LIRR’s service, reliability, and safety for passengers. The current expansion project calls for the construction of the new track along LIRR's Main Line between Floral Park and Hicksville; this is in addition to eliminating all seven grade crossings within the corridor and building sound barriers and retaining walls to reduce noise in nearby communities.
Upcoming Regional NARP and State Passengers Association Member Meetings
Tuesday & Wednesday, April 18 - 19, 2017 - California Passenger Rail Summit - Sacramento, CA
Saturday, April 22, 2017 - Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers Meeting - Detroit, MI
Sunday, May 7, 2017 - NARP Mid-Atlantic North Regional Meeting - Bordentown, NJ
Saturday, May 13, 2017 - NARP Houston, TX Area Meeting - Houston, TX
Monday, May 15, 2017 - Rhode Island Association Of Railroad Passengers Spring Meeting - North Providence, RI
Saturday, May 20, 2017 - All Aboard Ohio 2017 Annual Meeting - Hillard, OH
Please contact Bruce Becker to have a local, state or regional meeting added to the NARP calendar of upcoming events!
Officials in Durham County, North Carolina expect to open a new, multi-billion dollar, 37-mile, commuter rail system over the next 20 years. The new, longer-term proposal aims to counter a 10-year plan Wake County previously laid out. Durham expects the previous plan to lead to a $211.8 million shortfall in its transit fund by fiscal year 2028. The deficit would be a result of simultaneous development of the Wake-Durham Commuter Rail Project by 2027, along with the Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit. The Durham-Orange project is set to connect UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill and N.C. Central University, with an opening date of 2029.
The Wake-Durham commuter rail project would potentially connect Garner and Durham with stops in Raleigh, N.C. State University, Cary, Morrisville, and Research Triangle Park. County officials believe the project’s completion will appeal to realistic expectations if the timeline is extended another 10 years, pushing back the opening date to 2037.
Also taking place in North Carolina is the acquisition of new trains. The N.C. Department of Transportation received its new locomotive, called “City of Kannapolis.” A second locomotive, known as “Town of Cary,” will arrive in May. The trains are actually rebuilt models, each equipped with a brand new cab control unit (CCU), and a part of the state’s efforts to upgrade service between the City of Oaks and Charlotte.
There are openings for state representatives on the NARP Council of Representatives, including one each in Alabama; Arizona; Florida, Hawaii; Idaho; Missouri; Pennsylvania, Nevada; North Carolina; North Dakota: Ohio, Virginia (2 openings) and Wyoming. Check out the full, up-to-date, list of current vacancies here.
If you live in one of these states and want to become more active in NARP’s leadership and work, this is your opportunity to become involved. If you are interested in being considered for an appointment to an open state seat by the Board of Directors please complete this Candidate Information Statement.