Archive for the ‘Other News’ Category

SEPTA Seeks New Vision for Regional Rail

September 24, 2021

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority is seeking to create a new vision for its regional rail services.

The new vision is expected to be incorporated in the Philadelphia-based agency’s strategic plan for fiscal years 2021-2026.

Changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic are figuring into the agency’s thinking about the future.

Before the pandemic, regional rail trains served 132,000 riders a day. But SEPTA researchers have found that many SEPTA riders are choosing SEPTA services that have higher fares, less frequent service and less accessibility rather than regional rail.

As currently constituted, regional rail is viewed by SEPTA as part of a lifestyle network of frequent, all-day and all-week services that connects people to a range of destinations across the region.

The project being undertaken by SEPTA, known as Reimagining Regional Rail, will consider infrastructure, equipment, operations and policies as it creates a new vision for the service.

The first phase of the project will seek to “better understand what works well, and not so well,” with Regional Rail, and set goals.

SEPTA will seek comment from current, past and potential riders as well as operators, staff and other stakeholders.

“These conversations will help our region identify a long-term vision, as well as shorter-term improvements to services, schedules and fare polices that make Regional Rail more convenient,”  SEPTA officials said.

The agency has created and launched a survey to get views on how often trains should run; what mix of express and local service there should be; how stations should be designed; how regional rail should connect to rapid transit, trolleys, buses and other rail service; and how fares should be integrated with other transit services.

The second phase of the project will get underway this winter and next spring. During that phase, SEPTA plans to develop options and seek public comment on them.

The third phase will be undertaken in summer and fall 2022 and focus on finishing the regional rail vision and creating a plan to implement it.

SEPTA General Manager and CEO Leslie S. Richard said nothing is off limits.

 “We are rethinking frequency, route lengths, fares, connections to buses and rail transit and more—all in the name of making Regional Rail more useful to more people,” she said.

STB Seeks Comment on ‘First Mile, Last Mile’

September 23, 2021

The U.S. Surface Transportation Board is seeking comment on how well railroads perform first mile and last mile service to shippers.

STB defines this as “the movement of railcars between a local railroad serving yard and a shipper or receiver facility.”

In its call for comments, regulators said they want to hear about what concerns shippers, carriers and public have about first mile, last mile service.

In announcing the call for comments, the STB said comment is also being solicited about whether further Board review of first mile, last mile service is warranted and what actions might need to be taken.

The STB said it was particularly interested in knowing whether metrics to measure first mile, last mile service that are not now being reported to the Board might have utility for the supply chain, and the potential burdens associated with any such reporting.

The STB noted that it has received comments from various shipper groups within the past year expressing concern about first mile, last mile service and requesting “greater transparency of FMLM data.”

Shippers have said that railroad crew shortages and other issues stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic and worldwide supply chain complications have heightened the importance of the Board exploring first mile, last mile service.

Comments are being accepted between Oct. 18 and Nov. 16. Replies to those comments will be accepted from Dec. 17, 2021, to Feb. 17, 2022.

PennDOT Seeks Comment on Plans

September 23, 2021

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is seeking public comment on its draft of the 2045 Long-Range Transportation Plan and the Freight Movement Plan.

The draft plans can be reviewed through Oct. 19. In a news release PennDOT said transportation plan establishes the overall strategic direction for Pennsylvania’s transportation system for 20 years while the freight plan reviews current and future trends in freight transportation to improve multimodal freight movement for five years.

PennDOT said both plans represent a multimodal approach to improve mobility, safety, fairness, resilience and sustainability for moving people and goods throughout the commonwealth.

2 Ohio Projects Receive Infrastructure Grants

September 22, 2021

Two Ohio projects will receive special consideration from the U.S. Department of Transportation Infrastructure for Rebuilding America program.

The projects are eligible to apply for credit assistance for up to 49 percent of costs.

The projects are City of Cincinnati, Western Hills Viaduct Replacement Project; and Ohio Department of Transportation, Ohio Route 7 grade crossing improvement.

Also designated was the Indiana Department of Transportation for the U.S. Route 36 Modern Rockville Road Project.

In a news release, USDOT said the Ohio and Indiana projects were among 44 projects that made it to the final round for funding under the 2021 INFRA competitive grant program, but were not awarded due to a combination of overwhelming demand for INFRA grants and limited funds.

Instead they will be designated as INFRA Extra projects and eligible to receive a Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act credit.

USDOT received eligible INFRA applications from 42 states and Guam seeking a collective $6.8 billion in grant funds. That was nearly seven times more than the $1 billion available.

Shay Locomotive Moving to Michigan

September 22, 2021

A Shay steam locomotive will be moved to Harbor Springs, Michigan, where it will be displayed in the hometown of inventor Ephiram Shay.

The locomotive is W.T. Carter & Brother Lumber 2-truck Shay No. 2. It has been on display for more than 50 years at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas.

Moving the 36-ton locomotive is expected to get underway on Oct. 6.

Shay was living in Harbor Springs in the 1870s when he created design for the Shay locomotive. Lima Locomotive Works sold more than 2,700 Shay-type locomotives.

No. 2 was built in 1907 and spent its service life in East Texas. It was donated to SFAU in 1970.

The Harbor Springs Area Historical Society plans to restore No. 2 and place it in a display building.

Pittsburgh Transit Agency Gets FTA Grant

September 22, 2021

The Port Authority of Allegheny County in Pittsburgh will receive a $216.9 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration through its American Rescue Plan program.

The grant is part of more than $30 billion for public transportation in the American Rescue Plan Act, signed into law last March. No local share is required for this funding.

NOACA Lands Federal Grant

September 21, 2021

The Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency has received a $295,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Regional Infrastructure Accelerators program.

The funding will be used for project planning, studies and analysis, and preliminary engineering and design work.

In news release, USDOT said the work in Northeast Ohio will include for an intermodal facility, airport access improvement, an improved road to a health care facility and a pedestrian connection.

No other details were provided. The grant was one of five announced by USDOT.

The news release said the program seeks to accelerate project delivery through a variety of ways, including project planning, studies and analysis, and preliminary engineering and design work.

USDOT Seeking Comment on Supply Chain Challenges

September 20, 2021

Public comment is being sought by the U.S. Department of Transportation on supply-chain challenges in the port, rail and trucking sectors.

The comments are being sought by the Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force, which was established by the Biden administration and  co-chaired by the secretaries of transportation, agriculture and commerce.

USDOT plans to compile a report on the nation’s freight and logistics sector that will be focused on how the freight system supports the supply chains and any challenges and resilience issues within that system, according to the notice.

Public comments are due by Oct. 18.

FTA Has Service Restoration Grant Money

September 16, 2021

The Federal Transit Administration said it has $25 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan to help public transportation agencies resume service that was suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Route Planning Restoration Project will help fund restoration of public transit routes as well as to examine ridership following the  pandemic, reduce travel times and make adjustments to increase the quality or frequency of transit service for low-income riders and those in disadvantaged neighborhoods or communities who may need increased service to get to jobs, shopping and health care.

Transit agencies have until Nov. 15 to apply for funds from the program.

FTA said in a news release that projects will be selected in part on whether they will increase racial equity and advance environmental justice.

Applications will also be reviewed for their effect on climate change and if they provide service that connects those in underserved communities, while helping cut down on car and other trips that increase emissions, particularly in those communities, which are often the most impacted by airborne pollution.

The maximum award amount for any prospective applicant may be up to $1 million and a local match is not required.

Marion Railfan Society Meeting Saturday

September 14, 2021

The Marion Railfan Society will meet this Saturday at 7 p.m. at Marion Union Station.

The program is a slide show of photographs made by the late Joe Slanser.

The meeting announcement said there will probably be a slide-only open projector show following the showing of Joe’s slides so attendees can bring a brief slide show to share.

All railfans are welcome at MRS meetings.