Happening Now

Hotline #703

January 10, 1992

There are indications that even as President Bush was signing the landmark surface transportation act on December 18, the Office of Budget and Management was making deep cuts to the transit program for fiscal 1993. We won't know for sure until the budget is released early next month, but deep cuts would be very ironic, because Bush had praised the act as a means to put people to work.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments on the Montrealer case between Amtrak and Guilford on January 13, at 2:00 pm. It is open to the public on a first-come basis. Lines form in the first floor of the Supreme Court building, see police officers there for details. The full name of the case is NRPC v. Boston & Maine, case number 90-1419.

Five years ago this week was the Colonial wreck at Chase, Md., on January 4, 1987. It was Amtrak's worst in terms of fatalities, with 15 passengers and one crew member killed. Several safety-related changes in railroad operation took place in the wake of the Colonial wreck, including more drug and alcohol testing, licensing for engineers, and better baggage restraints in coaches.

Users of the new Capitol Corridor feeder buses in California should be aware that westbound buses from Roseville, Auburn, and Colfax will run as much as 35 minutes earlier than the scheduled times. Caltrans made the change because buses weren't able to keep the old schedules and were missing trains at Sacramento. Anyone planning to use those buses should verify the time by calling Amtrak first.

Amtrak has extended its deep-discount fare between Northeast Corridor cities, as well as Montrealer and Adirondack points. It will now end May 21, rather than April 4.

Amtrak is also about to remove local travel restrictions between New York Penn Station and Yonkers, Croton-Harmon, and Poughkeepsie, in order to allow New Jersey Transit and Long Island customers access to those points without changing stations.

Supertrains author Joseph Vranich will hold a press conference to launch the book in Washington on January 16, at 9:30 am, at Gate B of the Amtrak area of Union Station. Also speaking will be NARP Executive Director Ross Capon, Federal Railroad Administrator Gil Carmichael, Dawn Erlandson of Friends of the Earth, and Bob Pattison and Bob Casey of the High Speed Rail Association. A book-signing will follow from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm at the B. Dalton's in Union Station.

Newsday yesterday said that the New York City DOT is sending out requests for proposals for a light-rail line on 42nd Street in Manhattan, to be built and operated privately. Also, the Port Authority wants to ask the Federal Aviation Administration for permission to levy a passenger tax to connect LaGuardia and Kennedy Airports with a monorail.

Former House Public Works Chairman Glenn Anderson (Cal.) announced he will retire at the end of the year. The American Public Transit Association called him "a strong advocate and supporter of mass transit at every level."

The January 13 Time magazine has an article about infrastructure that calls for more investment in mass transit and high-speed rail to help the economy.

European transport ministers are still working on plans to divert more freight to the rails, in the face of an expected growth in freight transport demand of 35% over the next ten years. It has already been decided to open the state-run rail infrastructure to private companies who wish to operate freight trains, within a year.