Posts Tagged ‘Philadelphia’

SEPTA Budget Tops $1B Mark

July 1, 2022

The governing board of Philadelphia-based Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority has approved an operating and capital budget that is the largest in the agency’s history.

In a news release, SEPTA said it was the first time the agency’s budget has exceeded the billion-dollar mark.

Among the $1.16 billion in capital projects to be funded are King of Prussia Rail, trolley modernization and rail-fleet replacements under state of good repair initiatives. The Market-Frankford and Broad Street lines will be fully accessible for disabled people by 2034.

The agency said the $1.61 billion operating budget contains no fare increases and features fare-related efforts aimed at increasing ridership that faltered during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Those efforts include the new $10 Neighborhood FleX DayPass, which is intended for short-distance riders on regional rail systems. The pass program will begin in the fall and can be used for up to 10 rides on subways, trolleys, Zone 2 Regional Rail trains and buses.

The budget also includes the expansion of the SEPTA Key Advantage, a new institutional pass program for universities, hospitals and local businesses.

SEPTA will retain such pandemic-era benefits as one free-transfer per trip on all transit modes and free rides for young children. Select fares will be reduced starting July 1.

Amtrak Begins New Thruway in Pennsylvania

June 9, 2022

Amtrak has launched a new Thruway service in Pennsylvania linking Philadelphia with Reading and Pottstown.

The twice daily service is being operated by Krapf Coaches under a service agreement with Amtrak.

It is being sponsored in part by the South Central Transit Authority in Reading and the Pottstown Area Economic Development agency.

Third County Joins Pennsylvania Rail Agency

April 29, 2022

Formation of a passenger rail agency in eastern Pennsylvania is now complete after a third county agreed to join the effort.

Chester County commissioners voted to join the Schuylkill River Passenger Rail Authority, which will lead efforts to create an Amtrak route between Philadelphia and Reading, Pennsylvania.

Earlier commissioners in Bucks and Montgomery had voted to join the rail agency.

Each county will appoint three members to the agency’s governing board, which hopes to hold its first meeting in June.

The new agency will seek grant funding and work with Amtrak to develop the proposed service.

SEPTA Increases Capital Budget by $95M

March 30, 2022

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority has increased its capital budget by $95 million to take into account expected funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

That will bring the Philadelphia-based public transit agency’s capital budget up to $713.85 million.

In a news release, SEPTA said projects the agency plans to undertake include stepping up design work for station accessibility upgrades on the Market-Frankford Line, Broad Street Line and Regional Rail network.

The additional investment in design will also ensure the agency is prepared for the federal competitive All Stations Accessibility Program, which is a new program funded under the federal infrastructure bill, SEPTA officials said.

SEPTA said it also plans to proceed with the design and implementation of several major projects, which include a trolley modernization, King of Prussia Rail project and rail vehicle replacement.

Amtrak Eyes Philadelphia-Reading Thruway Bus

February 16, 2022

Amtrak may institute a Thruway express bus service from Philadelphia to the Pennsylvania cities of Reading and Pottstown.

The passenger carrier said the bus could be a precursor to establishing passenger rail service between Philadelphia and Reading. The proposed rail service is currently in the early stages of the planning process.

An Amtrak spokesman said the company is seeking a partner to provide the bus service. The spokesman issued a statement that said train service between Philadelphia and Reading will not be determined by bus ridership.

Pa. Regulators Reject CSX Bid to Raze Bridge

February 14, 2022

Pennsylvania regulators have rejected a CSX request to raze a bridge in Philadelphia.

The decision by the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission said demolishing the bridge would not be in the public interest or “be proper for the service, accommodation, convenience, or safety of the public.”

The city of Philadelphia supported removing the bridge only if it is replaced by a new structure, estimated to cost $5 million.

One issue in the dispute is who is responsible for paying to maintain the bridge. CSX contended that if the bridge was necessary, the city should pay the maintenance costs.

But a PPUC administrative law judge found that although the city was responsible for the bridge approaches, the railroad was responsible for paying to maintain the bridge.

The bridge was built in 1961 and is the third structure at the site in southwest Philadelphia on Cemetery Avenue to span the former Baltimore & Ohio tracks there.

City officials said about 5,400 vehicles use the bridge daily.

Devices Were Working Before CSX-SEPTA Crash

February 11, 2022

Safety appliances that protect a crossing at grade of CSX and a Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority line were working properly at the time of a December collision of a SEPTA trolley car and a CSX train, the National Transportation Safety Board said in a preliminary report.

Six people aboard the trolley, including the operator, suffered non life-threatening injuries in the collision, which occurred Dec 9, 2021, in Darby, Pennsylvania.

The NTSB report said the trolley was traveling southeast en route to a station in center city Philadelphia at 13th and Market streets.

The trolley stopped at Main Street and 6th to board and discharge passengers and began to proceed toward the Darby Diamond crossing with CSX.

Although the trolley stopped for the crossing, the gates at the crossing came down on the trolley’s roof and the trolley was close enough to the CSX tracks to be pushed back by the freight train. The trolley did not derail in the process.

The NTSB report said investigators examined the grade crossing, conducted track and equipment inspections, reviewed signal and train control data logs, conducted interviews and obtained image and event recorder data from the lead locomotive of the CSX train and the SEPTA trolley.

NTSB officials said the investigation is continuing and will focus on grade-crossing design, operations and human performance.

RAISE Grants to Benefit Regional Rail Projects

November 23, 2021

Projects in Ohio, Detroit and Philadelphia will receive a share of nearly $1 billion in U.S. Department of Transportation Rebuilding American Infrastructure With Sustainability and Equity grants.

The Michigan Department of Transportation will receive $10 million to be used for the New Center Intermodal Facility Project.

Project plans include a new station to serve Amtrak trains and local and intercity buses that will replace an existing depot in the New Center neighborhood of Detroit.

The new facility will comply with Americans with Disabilities standards and have a multi-level parking garage.

It will be located on the south side of the Canadian National tracks used by Amtrak’s Chicago-Detroit (Pontiac) Wolverine Service trains.

The existing boarding platform at the site will be lengthened and rehabilitated. The boarding platform will be connected to the new station by a tunnel.

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority will receive $15 million to improve the 19th Street and 37th Street trolley subway stations.

That work is part of a larger trolley modernization program. The RAISE Grant will be used to bring both stations into compliance with ADA standards, rehabilitate boarding areas and conduct other renovations to station facilities.

The Maumee Watershed Conservancy District of Findlay will receive $7.1 million for replacement of a bridge carrying Norfolk Southern tracks over the Blanchard River.

The new bridge will be a three-span, through plate girder structure with a ballast deck.

RAISE grants are one of the few USDOT discretionary programs that allow regional and local governments to directly compete for multimodal transportation funding.

The funding provide are to be used for “planning and capital investments in surface transportation infrastructure and were awarded on a competitive basis for projects that will have a significant local or regional impact,” USDOT said in a news release.

The maximum grant award is $25 million with no more than $100 million being awarded to a single state.

Pa. Transit Agencies to Increase Capacity

May 19, 2021

Public transit agencies in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia are increasing the capacity of trains and buses at the end of this month.

Pittsburgh’s Port Authority of Allegheny County said it will increase light rail and bus capacity on May 31 and lift all limits on June 20.

Limits will rise from 25 to 35 at the end of May. “What we’ve heard is some businesses may be starting to have workers come back to their offices,” a Port Authority spokesman said. “We want to be prepared for that when it occurs.”

The Philadelphia-based Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority will lift capacity limits on its trains and buses on June 1.

In a statement the agency said removing vehicle capacity limits to meet increased ridership demand is a major step in the region’s recovery.

The statement said that a mask requirement will remain in place.

SEPTA To Gradually Restore Suspended Service

April 26, 2021

Service restorations and a hiring freeze are highlights of the operating budget recently approved by the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority.

SEPTA said the restoration of service suspended during theCOVID-19 pandemic would be gradual.

This includes restoration to 96 percent of pre-pandemic service for buses, subways, trolleys, and the Norristown High Speed rail line.

SEPTA officials said that by fall 80 percent of regional rail service will have been restored.

Bus service is currently at at about 85 percent of pre-pandemic levels while regional rail is at about 64 percent.

Aside from a hiring freeze SEPTA is making other cost cut as part of its $1.5 billion operating budget. The budget includes $368 million in federal COVID-19 relief funding.

The agency’s capital budget is expected to be announced this week.