Posts Tagged ‘Amazon’

Amazon Providing Container Shipping Space

July 23, 2022

Retail giant Amazon is making space available inside its intermodal containers to other shippers, Trains magazine reported on its website.

The report said this puts Amazon in direct competition with such intermodal marketing companies as J.B. Hunt and Hub Group in providing shipping space inside 53-foot intermodal containers.

A video posted by Amazon on YouTube said it manages loads from dock to dock and plans the transportation moves.

Amazon has a fleet of more than 5,000 containers. The Trains report quoted an industry observer as saying Amazon’s move is a way to make its intermodal operations more efficient because additional companies will be using the network.

The story can be read at https://www.trains.com/trn/news-reviews/news-wire/amazon-opens-its-intermodal-network-to-other-shippers/

Cleveland Offered Terminal Tower for Amazon Headquarters, Wanted to Expand RTA Rail Lines

May 12, 2018

Had Cleveland managed to land the second headquarters for Amazon, it might have been a much-needed boost for Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority’s rail lines.

Cleveland leaders proposed placing the headquarters in Terminal Tower and the adjacent Post Office Plaza and undertaking a major expansion of RTA’s rail lines.

The proposal even offered to give Amazon employees a 25 percent discount on RTA passes.

The revelation came this week after the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency grudgingly released documents sought by a journalist detailing information about the city’s failed Amazon headquarters bid.

NOACA is a transportation planning agency that prepared information used to support Cleveland’s bid for the Amazon headquarters.

The documents show that Cleveland officials had promised to “accelerate” plans to triple RTA’s capacity, including increasing rail lines from 37 miles to 111 miles by 2029.

The RTA pass discounts would have been worth $121 million over 15 years, the documents say, based on the assumption that 50,000 Amazon employees used RTA.

Access to public transportation is one of many factors that Amazon said it would value in reviewing bids for its second headquarters.

NOACA had sought to shield public access to the Amazon bid documents, arguing that they constituted trade secrets which under Ohio’s open records laws are exempt from disclosure.

But Mark Naymik, a columnist for Cleveland.com, which like The Plain Dealer newspaper is a unit of Advance Ohio, disputed that and took the agency to court.

A special master appointed by the court reviewed the documents and ruled that the location of the proposed Amazon headquarters site is not secret and should be released.

NOACA said in a statement that it disagreed with the special master’s ruling, but decided not to appeal it because it didn’t want to spend more public money trying to keep the records secret.

The documents that NOACA released did not show all of the Amazon headquarters bid including any public tax incentives that Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish offered.

The bid was also prepared in cooperation with private, nonprofit economic-development groups Team NEO and the Greater Cleveland Partnership, both of which also have refused to release documents pertaining to the Amazon bid even though Cleveland failed to make the first cut that Amazon announced last January.

Among those still standing in the quest for HQ2 are Pittsburgh, Columbus and Indianapolis.

Amazon received bids from 238 applicants hungry for the 50,000 well-paying Amazon jobs, $5 billion in construction and 250,000 indirect jobs that a successful bid promises to bring.

Terminal Tower and the Post Office Plaza are both owned by K&D Group of Cleveland.

It purchased the 52-story Terminal Tower in 2016 for a reported $38.5 million.

The iconic building, which opened in 1929, was once Cleveland’s primary intercity rail passenger station, but has not seen a passenger train since Conrail discontinued the Cleveland-Youngstown commuter trains in early January 1977.

However, it is the hub of RTA rail lines, serving as the terminus of the Green, Blue and Waterfront lines, and an intermediate stop on the Red Line. Some Red and Blue line trains operate through to and from the Waterfront line.

At one point during its storied life, Terminal Tower was the headquarters of various railroads owned by the Van Sweringen brothers of Cleveland.

Terminal Tower now hosts a shopping center that includes restaurants and a theater that is known as Tower City Center. It was developed by Forest City Enterprises and opened in 1990 as The Avenue.

Upon buying the structure, K&D Enterprises had spoken about developing some of Terminal Tower into residential space.

Oh What Might Have Been

May 12, 2018

Were they serious? If so, imagine the possibilities. Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, the governor of Ohio and a host of elected officials standing in front of Terminal Tower to announce it would be the second Amazon headquarters.

The announcement would feature grand pronouncements about what a great thing it was for public transportation in Greater Cleveland.

But it’s all a moot point because Amazon did not consider Cleveland’s bid for the second headquarters worth pursuing.

As described in the post above, Cleveland proposed that Amazon locate the headquarters in Terminal Tower, the hub of the four rail lines of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority.

The bid offered Amazon employees a 25 percent discount on RTA fares and promised to “accelerate” plans to expand RTA rail line mileage from 37 to 111 miles by 2029.

Cleveland officials must have thought that would entice Amazon because access to public transportation was among the criteria that Amazon valued.

It wasn’t the only requirement and maybe Cleveland came up short on other things. But Amazon might have examined the RTA rail expansion closely and asked the same question I did.

It is unclear how the RTA rail line expansions would have been paid for, but probably through a mix of federal, state and local funding.

It would have been money falling from heaven out of wallets that have long been closed or barely open to public transportation in Ohio.

Cleveland RTA faces a tough future. Ohio minimally funds public transportation and the state’s public transit agencies are coping with the loss of a tax they once counted on for revenue.

RTA has a long deferred maintenance backlog that will cost millions to work down with funding to tackle all of it nowhere in sight.

This includes replacing the worn out Breda cars used on the Blue, Green and Waterfront lines. Some believe those lines are in jeopardy of closing in a few years because of the lack of operable equipment.

RTA also relies on a sales tax in Cuyahoga County that has not increased since it was implemented.

It is difficult to imagine RTA undertaking an expansion of its existing rail lines when preserving the status quo is already a challenge.

The information released thus far about the RTA rail expansion in the failed Amazon bid has been sketchy.

It is not clear whether it involved extending existing RTA rail routes or using railroad right of ways such as the former Erie Railroad line that is still in place to Aurora to create new routes.

There once was a proposal to launch commuter rail service on the former Erie, which until January 1977 hosted Cleveland-Youngstown commuter trains.

But that met strong opposition in far suburbs from people who fear all sorts of things ranging from diminished property values to criminals riding trains to their town to commit crimes.

Had Cleveland officials announced their plan to expand RTA rail lines it would have been met with a chorus from the suburbs of “let’s rebuild the roads instead of laying rails. If Amazon employees don’t want to drive like we do, they can take a bus or they can carpool.”

Maybe the sheer size of the Amazon proposal would have been enough to overcome such opposition, given that Amazon was dangling the prospect of 50,000 well-paying high tech jobs, $5 billion in construction and 250,000 indirect jobs. Economic development on that scale doesn’t come along often.

Even so, the forces that have kept public transportation in check in Northeast Ohio will not be defeated easily. There is too much at stake in maintaining the existing power structure.

I recently learned that when Randall Park Mall was being developed in the early 1970s that developer Edward J. DeBartolo Sr. offered to help pay to extend the Blue Line along Warrensville Road to the site. But the proposal went nowhere.

A similar idea to extend the Blue Line about 10 years ago also has languished.

It might have been one of the RTA rail expansions cited in the Cleveland bid for Amazon.

Randall Park Mall has since been razed and the site is now being developed as an Amazon distribution center.

Oh the possibilities of what might have been: Amazon to Amazon by rail in Cleveland.

Indiana Senate Committee OKs Bill to Remove Light Rail Ban in Indianapolis Region

March 1, 2018

An Indiana Senate committee approved by a 7-2 vote a bill that would lift the ban on development of light rail systems in the counties surrounding Indianapolis.

The legislation is being sponsored by State Rep. Justin Moed, who said it is needed to help the city compete for the second headquarters of Amazon.

Indianapolis is one of 20 urban areas that Amazon is considering and public transportation is one of the criteria that it is evaluating.

Current law prohibits certain counties from purchasing, leasing, acquiring, constructing or operating a light-rail project.

Moed has said the legislation is needed if Indianapolis is to compete for major employers looking to locate their businesses in the area.

“This is no longer Naptown,” Moed said in a news release. “This is a growing city people are looking to move to. We just need to make sure the city of Indianapolis and central Indiana have all the tools they need to grow.”

A House committee approved the bill last month. No proposals or plans are in the works to create a light rail line in the Indy metro area.

Indiana May Repeal Light Rail Ban for Indianapolis

January 26, 2018

In an effort to woo a $5 billion Amazon headquarters, the Indiana General Assembly is moving to repeal a law banning light rail from the Indianapolis metropolitan area.

A House committee voted 11-1 this week in favor of legislation to repeal a 2014 law that bars state or local governments from spending money on light rail projects in the seven-county region surrounding Indianapolis.

The effort to repeal the law gained impetus when Amazon recently named Indianapolis one of 20 finalists for its second headquarters.

Also on the list are Chicago, Pittsburgh and Columbus. Cleveland applied for the headquarters but did not make the latest cut.

One of the criteria being used by Amazon to choose what is being termed HQ2 is good public transportation, including rail transportation.

Indianapolis has a bus system but not a rail transit system and there are no current plans to create one.

Amazon is headquartered in Seattle. Dozens of cities in the United States and Canada are eagerly seeking the Amazon headquarters because it promises to provide more than 50,000 jobs with average salaries of more than $100,000 annually.

“Transit is a very major factor for a lot of these major companies that are looking to move here,” said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Justin Moed (D-Indianapolis).

The 2014 law banning light rail was rooted in a belief by fiscal conservatives that a light rail system would require a taxpayer bailout due to its high costs.

The conservative lawmakers demanded the light rail ban as the price for their support of a measure to allow Indiana counties to increase incomes taxes through referendum for public transit projects.