Archive for the ‘Other News’ Category

SEPTA Offering Cleanliness Survey

September 28, 2022

Riders of Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority buses and trains now have a means to report cleanliness issues.

The Philadelphia-based transit agency said these issues can be reported by scanning a QR Code on a smartphone.

That will lead to a cleanliness survey in which users will be asked to rate the cleanliness of their bus, train or trolley.

The QR codes will be posted on a limited number of transit vehicles near exit doors. Taking the survey will take about two minutes, SEPTA officials said.

SEPTA said the information provided on the surveys will be sent to its maintenance department, which will know how long the vehicle has been in service at the time of survey completion. There is also a comments section at the end of the survey for the rider to offer additional information.

Cleveland RTA Launches ‘Last Mile’ Pilot Project

September 27, 2022

Cleveland RTA is working with SHARE Mobility and employers in Solon and Bedford Heights to provide a “last mile” service.

RTA officials say the project seeks to address coverage gaps in public transit service.

SHARE Mobility said it “contracts with fleet providers to provide transportation for workers leaving a bus stop or other transit connection at the appropriate time to get them to jobs in the area.”

This involves ride sharing and allows riders to schedule trips in advance.

The service, which is targeted at hourly workers without access to transportation or seeking to save on month transportation costs, transports workers between their workplace and an RTA bus stop.

The route frequency will be based upon employer work schedules.

Berea Train Show is This Weekend

September 26, 2022

The 48th Great Berea Train Show will be held Saturday and Sunday (Oct. 1 and 2) at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds.

Admission is $8 per person with a two-day passing available for $10. Children under age 18 are admitted free with the purchase of an adult admission.

More than 700 vendor and display tables will be set up over building offering for display or sale various railroad and model railroad artifacts. Several operating model railroad layouts will be in operation.

Five model railroad clinics will be offered on Saturday and three on Sunday offering tips on layout scenery techniques and how to care for and maintain locomotives and rolling stock.

The entrance to the fairgrounds is located at 19201 Bagley Road in Middleburg Heights. Parking is free and food vendors will be on site.

The show is presented by North Coast Division (Division 4) of the National Model Railroad Association. The division covers Cuyahoga, Lorain, Medina, Erie and Huron counties in Ohio.

SEPTA Seeks Comment on Trolley Stations

September 24, 2022

The Philadelphia-based Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority has released design concepts it will implement in creating new trolley stations and modernizing existing trolley stations.

In a news release, SEPTA said the stations will receive level boarding platforms and new signs to make it easier to navigate the trolley system.

Most existing trolley stations are little more than signs along a sidewalk.

As part of the project SEPTA is soliciting public comment through an online survey on such things as the design, colors and lighting for the stations,

Public comment also will be solicited through pop-up and virtual community events.

In an related development, the SEPTA governing board has approved plans to advance major initiatives of the SEPTA Forward plan.

That includes funding for modernization of the trolley system and extending the Norristown High Speed Line by four miles to Kind of Prussia.

The latter has been described by SEPTA as providing a “one-seat” ride from any station along the NHSL, including 69th Street Transportation Center in Upper Darby and Norristown Transportation Center.

The next phase of the King of Prussia extension is land acquisition. The SEPTA board authorized the agency’s staff to begin appraising the properties, determining fair market value, making offers, and reaching an agreement with owners.

Related to that, the SEPTA board approved acquiring 13 acres in southwest Philadelphia for the trolley modernization program.

That property will be used to create a shop that can accommodate the anticipated future fleet of articulated, ADA-accessible trolleys.

SEPTA officials said the property has an existing structure that can be adapted to its use as well as additional land area to support a planned yard and employee parking.

SEPTA’s existing trolley tracks are immediately adjacent to the roadside of the property.

Cleveland Could Get Air Service to Ireland

September 24, 2022

Non-stop airline service to Europe may return to Cleveland Hopkins Airport next year if local officials agree to a financial package.

The Plain Dealer reported on Friday that Aer Lingus is poised to launch flights between Cleveland and Dublin four times a week as early as next May.

It would be the first direct service from Hopkins to Europe since Icelandair and WOW Air ended service to Reykjaveik in 2018.

The Cleveland City Council is reportedly ready to vote on a $600,000 incentive package that would last two years.

That would be part of a larger package totaling between $2 million to $2.9 million that is being assembled by the economic development agency Team NEO.

Other contributions are expected to come from Cuyahoga County and various local businesses.

The funding would not be grants but instead would be revenue guarantees design to help a carrier pay for the costs of starting a new route. Federal law prohibits direct subsidy payments for air service.

The Plain Dealer reported noted that in 2019 Aer Lingus considered offering flights between Cleveland and Dublin, but the local business community could not agree on funding incentives for the service.

Restarting direct service from Cleveland to Europe has been a top priority for Hopkins officials for years.

Before the Iceland service ended in 2018, Continental Airline flew between Cleveland and London and for one summer between Cleveland and Paris. The last of those services, Cleveland-London, ended in 2009.

Hopkins has daily international service to Toronto by an Air Canada contract carrier and various less-than-daily services operate from Cleveland to Cancun, Mexico.

In 2020, JobsOhio, established a program to help the state’s airports attract new air service.

One result of those efforts was the coming  of Breeze Airways to Akron-Canton Airport last year.

JobsOhio and Team NEO also created a package to entice Alaska Airlines to begin service from Cleveland to Seattle this year.

That service includes one daily flight with a second summer season flight expected to launch next year.

Hopkins Scores Low Among Medium Airports

September 24, 2022

Cleveland Hopkins International Airport recently scored the dubious distinction of being rated the third worst medium-sized airport for traveler satisfaction.

The survey was conducted by consulting firm J.D. Power and rated airports in Indianapolis and Pittsburgh the top two respectively.

A medium-sized airport is defined as handling 4.5 million to 9.9 million passengers annually.

Ranking below Hopkins were Hollywood Burbank Airport in California and Kahului Airport in Hawaii. There are 18 medium-sized airports in the United States.

The J.D. Power survey queried travelers on such factors as terminal facilities, baggage claim, and food and beverage options.

The consulting firm noted in announcing its results that overall customer satisfaction declined in 2022 amid airline staff shortages, flight cancellations, fare hikes, and lack of suitable parking at airports.

Michael Taylor of J.D. Power said travelers groused about crowded airport terminals and rising prices for everything from jet fuel to a bottle of water at an airport newsstand.

More than half of the respondents (58 percent) described airport terminals as severely or moderately crowded. A quarter said they avoided food and beverage purchases because of the expense.

Despite its ranking third from the bottom, Taylor told The Plain Dealer that Hopkins was one of the few airports to see an improvement in its scores from 2021 to 2022 with its score improving from 772 to 780 out of a possible 1,000 points.

In the past year Hopkins officials have overseen improvements in security screening and airport access.

The Plain Dealer report said Hopkins has increasingly ranked below its medium-sized peers in recent years on traveler satisfaction scores.

In the mega airports category of more than 32 million passengers a year, Minneapolis-St. Paul, San Francisco and Detroit airports were the top three with the bottom three being Los Angeles, Chicago O’Hare and Newark.

In the large airport category (10 million to 32.9 million passengers annually), Tampa, John Wayne (California) and Dallas Love were the top three, while Kansas City, Honolulu and Philadelphia were the bottom three.

PennDOT Seeks Comment on Freight Plan

September 23, 2022

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is seeking public comment on a draft of a state rail plan.

The 2045 Freight Movement Plan provides information on ways to improve the safe and efficient movement of freight. Comments will be accepted through Oct. 5.

The plan helps to ensure that the state remains eligible for federal funding under the National Highway Freight Program, which will add an average of $58.5 million to Pennsylvania’s freight program, PennDOT officials said in a news release.

Developed over a two-year period, the plan addresses state-federal provisions for freight planning, including those from the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

SEPTA Gets Grant for Grade Crossing Work

September 21, 2022

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority has received a $15 million grant for grade crossing work in Philadelphia on its commuter rail lines.

The grant was among the $59 million in grants awarded by the Federal Highway Administration’s Commuter Authority Rail Safety Improvement program.

SEPTA will use the grant to install gates and upgrade pavement markings at 22 crossings in Philadelphia and in Bucks, Delaware and Montgomery Counties on its regional commuter rail system which shares significant trackage with freight carriers.

Rail Worker Group Plans Informational Picketing

September 21, 2022

A railroad workers group plans to conduct informational picketing today to seek to draw public attention to railroad crew shortages and the lack of a “decent quality of life” that railroaders have.

Trains magazine reported on its website that the group, Rail Labor for Coordinated Bargaining in 2025, plans what it termed a “practice picket” at railroad terminals with rail workers participating in the event before and after their work shifts.

The picketing comes less than a week after three railroad labor unions reached a tentative agreement with the National Carriers Conference Committee, which represents railroad management.

That contract is in the process of going through the union member ratification process.

Since 2020, members of 12 railroad labor unions have been working under the terms of an agreement that expired that year, but under federal law railroad labor contracts remain in force until they are amended by mutual agreement of the carriers and their unions.

In a related development, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District 19 plans to resume negotiations with the NCCC this week.

Members of that union last week had voted to reject a tentative agreement reached earlier. The union said the agreement failed on a vote of 63 percent opposed and 37 percent in favor of ratification.

IAM District 19 is in a “cooling off” period through Sept. 29 when it might strike.

Two unions have voted to ratify tentative agreements with the NCCC while nine other unions have yet to complete voting on the agreements reached by their union leadership. The Trains article can be read at https://www.trains.com/trn/news-reviews/news-wire/rail-workers-group-calls-for-wednesday-picketing/

W.Va. Railroads Author Dies at 95

September 21, 2022

The author of two books about West Virginia lumber railroads has died. Dr. Roy B. Clarkson, 95, died on Sept. 12.

The West Virginia native and former botanist and forest biologist at West Virginia University wrote Tumult on the Mountains, Lumbering in West Virginia – 1770-1920, and On Beyond Leatherbark: The Cass Saga.

The first of those books was published in 1964 and detailed the rise and fall of logging and lumbering operations, including the railroads that served those operations.

His second book was published in 1990 and focused the Cass region of West Virginia and its railroads.