Hotline #1,090

Rail Passengers Outline Transit-Related Ballots; Cardinal Service Returns to New York City; Rail Advocates Push For Increased Service in Upstate NY; Officials Look To Support MARC Service in WV; Texas Central and Renfe Sign Operations Agreement; Amtrak Marks Phase 2 For Chicago Union Station; Amtrak to Keep SWC Dining Car Service

We Need Your ‘Nose For News’! When you see rail-related news stories, op-eds, editorials, or letters to the editor in your communities, send them along to us! We include them in our social media efforts, along with the weekly Hotline. Send your news items to Bob Brady, bbrady@xenophonstrategies.com, and we will share it with members. Are you holding a rally, a community meeting, or another kind of rail-advocacy event? We can help spread the word if you send them to us. We can put them on the website, here. Please follow RPA on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date on all things passenger rail.


Election Day is Coming—Vote for Transit!

The media is fixated on what Tuesday, November 6 means for control of Congress, but election day is also one of the few chances citizens have to directly demand more investment in the transit and rail systems we all rely upon.

While there aren’t many rail-specific ballots on this year’s slate of midterm ballot initiatives, there are still some crucial measures facing passengers next week. We’ve done a survey of what’s out there and issued some recommendations for voters looking to support passenger rail.

And if you’re interested in supporting investments in roads and buses more generally, we encourage you to check out the comprehensive resources pulled together by Eno Transportation.

California

Proposition 6: a statewide ballot measure that repeals gas tax increases and vehicle fees passed in 2017, while passing a constitutional amendment requiring voter approval for future fuel tax and vehicle fee increases in the future.

No one likes paying gas taxes. But everyone relies on transportation infrastructure. What to do?

California currently suffers from some of the worst road congestion in the country. These funds are needed for better maintained bridges and highways, and—critically—transit alternatives to roads. Cheap gas won’t be much help if everywhere you drive has bumper-to-bumper traffic.

  • RPA Recommendation: Vote NO

Colorado

Proposition 110: proposes amending the Colorado statutes to increase the state’s sales and use tax rate from 2.9 percent to 3.52 percent for 20 years.

The additional tax revenue collected under Proposition 110 is dedicated to the following uses:

  • 45 percent to CDOT for state transportation projects, including debt repayment;
  • 40 percent to local governments for transportation projects; and
  • 15 percent for multimodal transportation projects, which includes bike paths, sidewalks, and public transit, such as buses, rail, and rides for the elderly and disabled.

While we might hope for a greater explicit commitment to rail transit projects in the proposition, a high degree of local control over funds would allow municipalities to place a greater emphasis on transit with their portion of the funding. Furthermore, the competing Proposition 109 includes no money for multimodal projects. Therefore, we support this boost to infrastructure in Colorado.

  • RPA Recommendation: Vote YES

Florida

Amendment 11: a ballot measure to pass a constitutional amendment with three parts: deletes existing language allowing the Legislature to prevent non-citizens from buying, selling, owning or inheriting property; deletes a “Savings Clause” added in 1885 which acts as an obstacle to criminal-justice reform; and deletes language approving a high-speed rail system for the state.

Our organization supports the mandate to build high-speed rail in Florida. However, given Florida’s unique system for putting multi-part amendments to the state constitution before voters—combined with the fact that the constitutional provision has failed to produce any positive results in building out a high-speed rail system—we will refrain from taking a stance on this amendment.

  • RPA Recommendation: No Stance

Rail Passengers can now once again enjoy a one-seat ride between New York City and communities in Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio and Indiana on the Cardinal. Without fanfare, Amtrak resumed running trains 50 and 51 from Chicago all the way to New York Penn, now that the railroad completed its summer work projects to take care of long-deferred track work in New York City.

Service stopped operating eastbound to New York on March 29, and westbound from New York on April 1.

The move to terminate the Cardinal at Washington Union Station was announced in March and was portrayed then as a temporary measure to help ease congestion while the New York projects got underway and proceeded during the summer.

Some rail advocates, and particularly those along the long-suffering Cardinal route, were skeptical and believed the train would not be restored once the work was complete, despite assurances that the work was a temporary disruption.

Other trains that were disrupted by the work--which took place under Amtrak’s Infrastructure Renewal Program at NYP--resumed their regular routes into the station in September.

“We’re glad to see the folks in these communities get their train back,” RailPassengers President Jim Mathews said. “Now the next step is to make sure they have that option every day instead of just three days a week.”


City officials and rail advocates, including the Rail Passengers Association and the Empire State Passengers Association, are encouraging New York’s Department of Transportation to increase Amtrak passenger service to Saratoga Springs, NY. Currently passengers from Albany/Rensselaer, NY can take 13 different southbound weekday trains to New York's Penn Station; Schenectady travelers have six train options, but popular tourist destination Saratoga Springs has only two trips per day. Others would also like to see service to upstate New York from downstate to increase as well.

Gary Prophet, President of the Empire State Passengers Association, said that the goal would be a train that arrives at 9 a.m. in New York City and a train that returns to Saratoga later in the afternoon on weekdays.

Todd Shimkus, president of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce is also eager to bring visitors to upstate New York. In addition to providing benefits to people who travel between Saratoga and Albany, added service to the city would provide "a whole new tourism market.”

At the moment, there isn’t much standing in the way from additional service being added to and from Saratoga, but NYSDOT officials would have to financially support such an extension. Bruce Becker, Vice-President of Operations for RPA said, “All of the roadblocks that have been mentioned before ... are now all done."

The state has invested millions in significant upgrades to the region’s passenger rail service, including: construction work to add new track capacity; restoring a second track between Albany and Schenectady for trains to travel up to 110 mph; a new second track on the line to Saratoga Springs and developing new stations in Rensselaer, Saratoga Springs and Schenectady.

With the tracks ready and all three stations now open and operational, now is the time for Amtrak and NYSDOT officials to move forward with adding addition service to and from Saratoga Springs.


Rail Passengers Demand More and Better Trains

Last week in an open letter Rail Passengers Association CEO Jim Mathews called on Amtrak’s Board of Directors to “seize this moment” to shift from “an operating culture to an opportunity culture,” and lead the process of creating a U.S. surface transportation policy.

Mathews’ letter urged Amtrak management to look towards the future of passenger rail in the U.S. by leading efforts that will help create a real surface-transportation policy for the U.S.

Amtrak management needs to look boldly beyond the National Network and riders of today to assess what kind of country we’re likely to be in 2040 or 2050, and refuse to degrade services or abandon Amtrak communities that rely on the passenger railroad.

This letter can be read in its entirety online.


The Rail Passengers Association is not alone in calling on Amtrak to look to the future of passenger rail service.

Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) urged Amtrak’s President and CEO Richard Anderson to continue service of the California Zephyr Line. In a letter, Cortez Masto also asked Anderson to support expansion of Amtrak service to a new station in West Wendover, NV.

“As Amtrak evaluates its current budget and operations, I strongly urge you to avoid any downgrades or reductions in service along the California Zephyr line,” Cortez Masto said in the letter. “In fact, it is my understanding that Amtrak has previously approved expanding service to a new station on this line in West Wendover, Nevada. While this has never been completed, I firmly support expanding service to this new station, which would provide a cost effective, regular means of transportation for rural Nevadans and other travelers.”

Cortez Masto also wrote, “Amtrak’s own statistics show consistent increases in ridership over the past five years, including over 88,000 Nevada boardings and alightings in Fiscal Year 2017. This indicates that there is great interest in this passenger rail line in Northern Nevada.”

The letter, sent on October 26, is a continuation of the Senator’s efforts to promote the importance of Amtrak service for Northern Nevada’s rural communities. During Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee hearings earlier this year, Cortez Masto pressed Amtrak officials and nominees on their commitment to maintaining service on the California Zephyr line.

Amtrak’s Downeaster will add more frequencies for two cities in Maine - Freeport and Brunswick. The Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority said that the increased Amtrak service will begin on November 12, and should help boost tourism and travel for residents traveling between Boston and Brunswick.

The service enhancements will include two additional round trips of the Downeaster for Freeport and Brunswick on weekdays, for a total of five. Weekends will see one additional round trip, for a total of four.


November Newsletter Now Available Online

The Passengers Voice November Newsletter features an open letter from Rail Passengers Association CEO Jim Mathews to Amtrak’s Board. In it, Mathews calls on Amtrak management to “seize this moment” to shift from “an operating culture to an opportunity culture,” and lead the process of creating a U.S. surface transportation policy.

The November Newsletter also includes how the stalled transportation funding bill might affect the National Network, a recap of a successful RailNation:Miami, and several upcoming Rail Passengers Association and State Passengers Association events.

And in conjunction the RailNation Miami recap, the speaker presentations and session videos from the event are now available for viewing.


Renovation and construction work at Chicago Union Station is now heading into its next phase of upgrades. The work will continue previous efforts to restore and modernize Union Station, including a new entrance on Clinton Street that will open the west side of the station’s Headhouse for development as a food court and retail space. The City Council also voted to approve a new 50-story office tower that will be built by Riverside Development on Amtrak land just south of Union Station. Floors 4-8 of the Headhouse will also be renovated, and two hotels will get 9th-story additions.

All are major projects for the city that will help develop the surrounding neighborhoods, while creating 5,100 construction jobs and 480 permanent jobs.

“The modernization of historic Union Station and redevelopment of the surrounding neighborhood will generate thousands of jobs and ensure a more vibrant future for the entire City of Chicago,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a press release. “By working with our partners, we are leveraging talent and resources at our disposal to ensure the station and the West Loop continue to serve as an economic engine for the City of Chicago in the 21st Century.”

Amtrak has already invested more than $60 million of capital funds into Union Station since 2010, including the Headhouse Building, Great Hall and the concourse level.

The Riverside development is estimated to cost $900 million. Construction will begin in the fourth-quarter of 2019 and is expected to be completed in 2022.

High-speed rail in Texas reached a major milestone with the signing of an agreement between the President of Renfe, Isaías Táboas, and the CEO of Texas Central, Carlos Aguilar. The two companies are partnering on the operation of the HSR service between Houston and Dallas.

Texas Central said in a press release that the agreement helps solidify the company’s team, which is “made up of the industry’s leading subject matter experts.” The company also said, “With its decades of expertise, Renfe was a natural fit to join Texas Central’s other partners. Having the operator, the design build and technology teams all on board and able to collaborate will ensure all aspects of the railroad are integrated and efficient. The combination of these best-in-class global experts sets the foundation for the new jobs-creating industry Texas Central is bringing to the United States.”

Once design and construction of the line is complete, Renfe, based in Spain, will assist Texas Central in the operation and maintenance for the set-up of the service. This includes operating trains, maintaining equipment and other related services.

Other partners Texas Central will work with on the 200-mph high-speed train include Salini Impregilo, The Lane Construction Corporation, and Bechtel.

Amtrak does not plan to do away with its dining car on the Southwest Chief, nor has the railroad even considered it. This comes from Marc Magliari, Public Relations Manager for Amtrak, who addressed the recent rumor that Amtrak would cut the Southwest Chief’s dining car.

In addition, John Feltz, a vice president for the Transportation Workers Union, said that the union has not received any notification from Amtrak that changes were under consideration. Feltz said that the rumor could have started after Amtrak sent out request for information on catering services that included a variety of different cost points for food service.

“At the end of this RFI they asked their vendors to give them ideas and costs with, and without, Amtrak employees,” Feltz said. “That gives me a hint that they are looking at getting rid of the on-board service people.”

It is well-known that Amtrak did recently make some food service changes on two different trains in 2018. The railroad replaced the traditional dining car service on the Lake Shore Limited and Capitol Limited with pre-boxed lunches. This caused a significant uproar with Amtrak customers, as well as the Rail Passengers Association, and resulted in Amtrak adding one hot meal to those trains’ menus.


Save the Date

Save these dates for RPA's 2019 Washington Advocacy Summit, Day on The Hill And Congressional Reception.

New Host Location for 2019! Westin City Center at Thomas Circle (3 1/2 blocks from the Metro)

The agenda includes:

  • Sunday, March 31 - Afternoon Meetings
  • Monday, April 1 - Summit Speakers and Presentations
  • Tuesday, April 2 - Day on The Hill & Congressional Reception
  • Wednesday, April 3 - RPA Council Annual Business Meeting

Watch for more information online at www.railpassengers.org.


In an effort to gain support and funding for MARC service in West Virginia, members of the Hagerstown/Eastern Panhandle Metropolitan Planning Organization (HEPMPO) have been moving forward with three projects. The goal of the projects is to raise enough support that MARC service will be able to continue running to Berkeley and Jefferson counties indefinitely.

Earlier this year the service was at risk of being terminated by Maryland, which operates MARC, until the West Virginia legislature approved $1.5 million to preserve the service for a year. Local officials who want MARC service have since been trying to determine ways to raise the critical funding. Problems that city officials say exist are too few people utilize the service, as well as a lack of taxes to support the service.

The three areas that HEPMPO has been involved with to raise funding, and increase ridership, include:

  • The creation of a MARC funding committee to look at long-range solutions for service and funding;
  • Collaboration with state officials on a marketing campaign to promote the advantages of the service; and
  • The allocation of up to $10,000 for a comparative analysis looking at other commuter-rail systems that cross state lines. This could include the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, which serves the Boston area and Rhode Island, and the South Shore Line, which serves part of northern Indiana and the Chicago region.

Two renovated Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) stations are now open for passenger service after several months of work. The Farmingdale Station and the Wantagh Station both reopened after LIRR crews upgraded the buildings as part of an $84 million, eight-station renovation program.

"Some LIRR stations can be more than 160 years old. While we always want to celebrate and preserve our history, it’s about time we bring LIRR stations into the 21st century," Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chief Development Officer Janno Lieber said in a press release. “We're proving that the MTA can deliver projects faster and at lower cost than in the past.”

The Farmingdale Station was built in 1890, and although some work is still ongoing, crews have completed restoring the building’s facade to its original historical brick architecture. Other modernization works includes a new waiting room; redone restrooms to meet ADA compliance; windows, doors, electrical, plumbing and HVAC upgrades; new wayfinding components; and installation of new CCTV cameras.

Future upgrades to the Farmingdale Station include:

  • Improved ADA accessibility with a new ramp by the end of the year;
  • Platform shelter sheds and LED platform lighting by Q2 2019;
  • Trash receptacles, free public Wi-Fi and digital information display totems by summer 2019; and
  • Platform repairs, which are expected to be complete by summer 2019.

Work at the Wantagh Station, which was built in 1867, included platform replacements, a newly installed elevator; a new escalator; refurbished staircases; new energy efficient platform lighting and more.


Fall Photo Contest Could Earn You Amtrak Guest Reward Points© and Other Prizes

As leaves across the country turn from green to autumn foliage, now is the perfect time to take and share your photos of what you see outside your train window.

We are asking you, as well as your friends and family, to share their seasonal #ViewsFromATrain on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Of course it will be great to see pictures of the fall foliage, but the landscape can be anything - a city skyline, farmland, a river, a canyon or whatever else you may see outside your train.

Once you submit a photo (or two or three), you are eligible to win a number of different prizes including Amtrak Guest Rewards Points© and Rail Passengers swag.

Be sure to use the hashtag #RailPassengers or #ViewsFromATrain and tag @RailPassengers to show us what you see outside your window.

So don’t wait any longer, hop and a train and start clicking. We can’t wait to see your amazing views.


Caltrain will partner with San Jose Clean Energy to become fully powered by renewable energy for passenger rail service in 2019. The change to become fully operational on renewable energy will cost Caltrain only $64,314 a year, but it will move the state closer to its goal of electricity being 100 percent emissions-free by 2045.

“This is a small investment for an extraordinarily good outcome,” Caltrain Board Member Charles Stone said. “I think with our move toward electrification we’ve shown we’re an agency that understands we need to play a role in reducing greenhouse gases and we’ve heard loud and clear from the board that’s the direction we want to take. We have an obligation to future generations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

As of last March, Caltrain is powered by 65 percent renewable energy sources, but it is expected that San Jose Clean Energy will account for half of Caltrain’s total electricity usage in March 2019. Caltrain’s electricity consumption is also expected to increase significantly once electrification of its current diesel fleet is complete in 2022.

Connecticut officials are asking Amtrak to add cars to trains that run between New Haven and Springfield, MA after CTrail ticket holders were asked to depart an Amtrak train due to overcrowding. People who buy CTrail tickets and U-Passes have been able to ride either Amtrak or the Hartford Line since they service the same route. However, Amtrak trains only have two cars for passengers while the Hartford Line has four.

Overcrowding has been a major issue as a result. On September 28, passengers on an Amtrak train who held a CTrail or U-Pass were asked to leave the train and wait for the next Hartford Line train. Before the Hartford Line launched in June, Amtrak carried about 725 passengers a day between the two cities, but ridership has ballooned to 2,000 passengers a day due to more trips, lower fares and no caps on ticketing.

Connecticut’s transportation commissioner, Jim Redeker, said that Amtrak should not be allowed to ask CTrail ticket holders to leave the train. Redeker said that Amtrak is contracted by the state to provide service to passengers on the Hartford Line at certain times of day. Redeker said the state would have control over those services, and conductors are supposed to abide by CTrail’s request to honor each ticket sold.

“I do certainly appreciate the customers’ frustration, if you will, or perspective that we need more capacity,” Redeker said. “We share that and we’re working aggressively to fix it.”

Amtrak did not respond to why the passengers had been asked to leave the trains, but the railroad did release a statement: “Amtrak and CTDOT are working together to resolve the crowding issues that are occurring on some Hartford Line trains.”

Redeker said that Connecticut officials are looking at several ways to increasing capacity if Amtrak is not able to add its own cars to trains. Redeker said Amtrak has “capacity limits across their system, so this is not simple for them to find cars and throw them into Connecticut. That may be possible, but, we’re also looking at the option of Connecticut supplying Connecticut equipment for Amtrak to operate.”


Upcoming Regional Rail Passenger & State Association Member Meetings and Other Events:

  • Monday, November 5 - Rhode Island Association of Railroad Passengers Fall Meeting - Warwick, RI
  • Thursday, November 8 - FYI...This Event Has Been Postponed - Vermont Rail Action Network Annual Dinner - More Information Is Pending
  • Saturday, November 10 - Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers 45th Annual Meeting - Dearborn, MI
  • Saturday, November 17 - Association of Oregon Rail & Transit Advocates (AORTA) Annual Meeting - Salem, OR
  • Saturday, November 17 - All Aboard Minnesota Fall Membership Meeting - Bloomington, MN
  • Saturday, November 17 - Empire State Passengers Association Working Group Meeting - Schenectady, NY
  • Saturday, December 8 - All Aboard Arizona Fall Passenger Rail Summit - Tucson, AZ
  • Friday, December 14 - TrainRiders NE 30th Annual Meeting & Lunch - Portland, ME
  • Thursday & Friday, January 24 & 25 - 15th Annual Southwestern Rail Conference - Dallas, TX

Please contact Bruce Becker to have a state or regional event or meeting added to the RPA calendar of upcoming events!


Washington DC’s Metro system would boost rush-hour frequencies, make all trains eight-cars long and offer riders flat weekend fares by Fiscal 2020 under new proposals to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s Board of Directors.

The WMATA-developed recommendations presented by General Manager and CEO Paul Wiedefeld are aimed at improving Metro service and the passengers’ experience, and include:

  • Expanding rush-hour service with more frequent trains later in the morning and evening;
  • Charging a flat $2 fare for all weekend Metrorail trips;
  • Extending the Yellow Line to Greenbelt to double rush-hour service at nine stations;
  • Operating all Red Line trains to Glenmont to double rush-hour service at an additional three stations;
  • Lengthening all trains to eight cars; and
  • Enhancing the value of Metro unlimited rail and bus passes.

“The past year has been about demonstrating to customers that we are getting Metro ‘back to good.’ Now, we have to get better than good as we work to attract and retain customers,” Wiedefeld said in a press release. “While there are a number of improvements such as pass discounts and automatic train operations that we can do within the new cap on subsidy growth, the service improvements I am including in this budget will need the region’s support and the board’s approval.”

The recommended improvements are in addition to the December 17 elimination of the “Grosvenor Turnback” which will double rush-hour service at four Red Line stations. This was approved by WMATA’s Board earlier this year.

WMATA’s Board of Directors will review the recommendations along with the operating and capital budgets over the next two months. Public hearings and outreach are expected to be scheduled in early 2019, prior to final budget approval by the Board in the spring.

RPA is encouraging all DC Metro-area members to attend the public hearings and voice their approval for these improvements.

The Milwaukee Hop streetcar line opened to the public today, and rides will be free for the first year of service. The $124 million streetcar will run on a two-mile loop that connects the west and east sides of downtown Milwaukee.

Mayor Tom Barrett and other officials took a ride on the Hop on Monday during an unofficial opening of the service. During the ride, Barrett said that the Hop “is really a shot in the arm for our community," and highlighted several commercial developments along the route, including the new 25-story BMO Tower office building and the renovation of the Milwaukee Athletic Club.

As streetcar service begins, passengers will be picked up at 18 stations every 10 or 15 minutes.

The Collis P. Huntington Railroad Historical Society hosted another successful Hinton Railroad Days Festival. This is despite being told earlier this year by Amtrak that the Society would no longer be able to run private railroad cars through Amtrak. When the announcement by Amtrak was made in April, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin helped broker a deal between the two groups in order for the Hinton Railroad Days Festival to continue.

Following the festival, Senator Manchin said in a statement:

“I’m so glad the Collis P. Huntington Railroad Historical Society had another great and successful Hinton Railroad Days Festival. Every year, the New River Train adds an estimated $5 million to West Virginia’s economy. When Amtrak announced they would be ending the services, I brought both parties together to ensure that we would not lose the New River Train. Since then, I have kept in touch with both parties and included language in this year’s Transportation Appropriations bill to make sure that Collis P. Huntington can stay open this year and beyond. Hundreds of thousands of West Virginians and people from out of state enjoy this festival every year, and I will continue to work to make sure that it goes on for years to come. I hope the last of the festival weekend is enjoyable and happy for all.”


Passenger Rail Service Notices

Current and upcoming service notifications that could affect affect upcoming train travel include:

Mount Joy, PA Station Boarding on Track 1 Due to Construction

Through April 2019 Amtrak passengers at the Mount Joy Station will board all trains at the Eastbound Track 1 due to construction. Boarding from Track 1 will occur Monday through Friday between 6:00 am to 4:00 pm.

Once construction is complete, the new station will be ADA accessible and include two full length high level platforms and a new pedestrian overpass.

East Lansing Amtrak Station to Lose Staffed Ticket Window

The Amtrak station in East Lansing, MI will no longer have a staffed ticket window as of October 29, 2018. Amtrak’s Blue Water trains will continue to serve the station daily. Customers will still have access to the station’s waiting area and restrooms for the following trains each day:

  • Westbound Train 365 — starting at 7 am
  • Eastbound Train 364 — starting at 8 pm

Track Work Affects Select Carolinian and Piedmont Trains

Track work being performed by Norfolk Southern and North Carolina Department of Transportation will affect Carolinian and Piedmont service on select dates beginning October 29 through November 15.

  • Monday through Thursday, November 5 - 8; and November 12 - 15

Carolinian Service

  • Train 80 will depart Charlotte at 5:45 am and operate one hour earlier at all stations between Charlotte and Cary. At Raleigh station, the train will hold for the normal scheduled departure time of 10:13 am.

Piedmont Service

  • Trains 75 and 76, which operate between Charlotte and Raleigh, are cancelled. Alternate transportation is not provided.
  • Train 74, which operates between Charlotte and Raleigh, will operate between Charlotte and Burlington only. Alternate transportation will be provided between Burlington and Raleigh stopping at Durham and Cary. Bus 3074 will depart Burlington, Durham, Cary and Raleigh at the normal times. Bus 3074 will remain at Burlington for Train 74’s customers.
  • Train 77, which normally operates between Raleigh and Charlotte, will operate between Burlington and Charlotte only. Alternate transportation will be provided on Bus 3077 for intermediate stops at Cary and Durham. Bus 3077 will operate 30 minutes earlier between Raleigh and Burlington, departing Raleigh at 2:30 pm.

All trains will operate normally Friday – Sunday November 2 through November 4 and November 9 through November 11.


The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) wants to relocate its headquarters to L’Enfant Plaza in Washington, D.C. The new headquarters would be located at one of WMATA’s busiest Metro stations. It will replace the agency’s current office at the Jackson Graham building if WMATA’s board on November 15 approves the purchase of the office building.

"This is the right move for all the right reasons, most immediately the safety of more than a thousand people who occupy JGB each day," Metro General Manager and CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld said in a press release. "Beyond that, moving our headquarters to L'Enfant Plaza will make us even more accessible to our customers, create a modern and vibrant office space that allows us to attract and retain top-flight talent, and generate revenue to support transit service."

If approved, WMATA officials said construction crews will renovate the building, giving it a modernized feel. Work will include stripping the building’s structural concrete, revamp the building’s exterior appearance, and improve workplace standards with new commercial amenities on the ground floor. The agency may also add three new floors to lease out and generate additional revenue.

If approved by the board, design and construction could take two years.

Under its new plan, Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) officials will cut the agency’s spending by 58 percent between Fiscal Years 2019 and 2024. The transit agency currently has $878 million set for FY 2019, but is planning to cut spending to $368.2 million by FY 2024. The coming fiscal year is higher because officials plan to spend funds on new and upgraded equipment. For example, MTA will spend:

  • $448 million to replace Baltimore Metro Subway cars;
  • $100 million to overhaul light rail cars; and
  • $168 million to replace and overhaul MARC coaches and locomotives.

MTA CEO Kevin Quinn called these purchases “once-in-a-generation projects” and that the spending will decrease over the course of the six-year plan.

The plan was also presented this week by MTA officials to Baltimore officials at City Hall on Wednesday.

The Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments (TMACOG) has plans to conduct a feasibility study for the reintroduction of passenger rail service between Toledo, OH and Detroit, MI. The study will closely look at the route’s potential capital and operating costs, as well as potential ridership. The study is estimated to cost about $50,000, which is based on a recent study by Transportation Economics and Management Systems Inc. on the feasibility of passenger trains between Ann Arbor and Traverse City, MI. The metropolitan council has requested $30,000 of that from Toledo, whose city council is scheduled to take up that proposal on November 7. The remaining $20,000 will come from TMACOG planning funds already budgeted.


Openings Available For RPA State Council Representatives

The following vacancies now exist for state representatives on the RPA Council of Representatives: Alabama (1 opening); California (6 openings); Idaho (1 opening); Illinois (1 opening); Louisiana (1 opening); Massachusetts (1 opening); Minnesota (1 opening); North Dakota (1 opening); Ohio (2 openings); Pennsylvania (1 opening); Washington State (1 opening); Wyoming (1 opening)

If you are interested in becoming more involved in passenger rail advocacy and serving in a RPA leadership role, this is your opportunity to be considered for an appointment by the Board of Directors to an open state representative seat. There is no deadline to apply and submissions will be considered on a rolling basis as they are received.

Please review the position responsibilities & required qualifications and complete & submit a Candidate Information Statement if you would like to seek a position.

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