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

Hotline #703

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 Ja

Hotline #702

A final reminder to those who wish to run for the NARP board of directors. Your 75-words-or-less candidate statement must be postmarked no later than January 4 and sent to our office or faxed to us by January 6. America's eight Class I railroads have filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting Guilford in the Montrealer Supreme Court case. They are afraid that if Amtrak wins this case, Amtrak could condemn other rail lines not maintained to acceptable standards. With ICC approval, Amtrak bough

Hotline #701

It's NARP board election time again. To become one of 70 NARP regional directors, have your candidate's statement, not exceeding 75 words, postmarked by January 4 and mailed to our office. Or fax it by January 6. Miraculously, after a six-alarm fire the evening of December 23 at Philadelphia 30th Street Station, Amtrak and SEPTA ran almost normally on December 24, but SEPTA commuter trains could not stop there until yesterday morning. Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Roger Ulshafer said, "You can

Hotline #700-A

Thousands of travelers were delayed last night after a fire at Philadelphia 30th Street Station halted all Amtrak and commuter trains there for several hours. This morning, trains were running normally except that commuter trains ran through non-stop because their upper-level platforms -- located above where the fire was -- were filled with debris. Also, highway access to the station was limited as a result of the firefighters' efforts. SEPTA hopes that commuter trains will be stopping at 30th S

Hotline #700

Amtrak train 87, the southbound Tampa section of the Silver Meteor, derailed at Palatka, Fla., the morning of December 17. The train derailed approaching the station, on a 30-mph curve, but at a speed of 72 mph. Investigators are still examining the evidence. Amtrak said that 39 of the 173 passengers on board were sent to three area hospitals, four of them having serious injuries. Five were still in the hospital today. The locomotive derailed and tipped over; a mail car, baggage car, sleeper, l

Hotline #699-A

Amtrak train 87, the southbound Tampa section of the Silver Meteor, derailed this morning at 11:25 am Easter Time at Palatka, Fla. No cause has been determined. Amtrak reports that 39 of the 173 passengers on board were taken to three area hospitals; four of them appeared to have serious injuries. The locomotive derailed and two coaches derailed, but remained upright in a jack-knife position, and the rear two coaches did not derail at all. The locomotive struck an unoccupied house next to the tr

Hotline #699

President Bush will sign the surface transportation bill on December 18 in a ceremony at a construction site in Dallas, to highlight what he feels is important about the bill -- jobs. With the passage of the law, there will be no more UMTA. The Urban Mass Transit Administration's name will be changed to Federal Transit Administration (FTA). DOT Secretary Sam Skinner leaves his post as of December 15. There are now as many trains between Sacramento and the Bay Area as 30 years ago, thanks to the

Hotline #698

The surface transportation bill has not yet been signed, though President Bush is expected to do so next week. As we read the fine print of the bill, we find some more good news, despite the cutting of passenger rail from the flexible program. Amtrak routes with significant commuter traffic, such as Chicago-Milwaukee and New York-Albany, still qualify. There is money for three important intermodal terminals, in St. Louis, Atlanta, and Fort Worth. There were line items for an UMTA study of a Bos

Hotline #697

The surface transportation bill now awaits the President's signature. The full House passed the conference bill on November 27, 377-42, and the Senate passed it 79-8. Of course, the bad news is that the final bill does not include Senate-bill language that included intercity passenger rail as an eligible use of the $24-billion flexible account of the Highway Trust Fund -- the "Surface Transportation Program." We hear that Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D.-N.J.) fought hard to save it, but could not per

Hotline #696-C

The surface transportation conferees completed their work yesterday afternoon. The conference report was filed at midnight. The full House passed the conference bill early this morning, 377-42. The Senate passed it this afternoon, 79-8. Of course, the bad news is that on the evening of November 24, the conferees dropped Senate language that included intercity passenger rail and high speed rail as eligible uses of the $24 million flexible account of the highway trust fun -- the "Surface Transpor