Posts Tagged ‘Public transportation’

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.

SEPTA Partnership to Give Football Fans Free Rides After Philadelphia Eagles Home Games

August 13, 2022

Philadelphia-based Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority announced it has reached a partnership with a sports betting company to provide free rides for those attending Philadelphia Eagles home games.

The partnership with sportsbook app betPARX Casino & Sportsbook will provide rides that begin at the NRG Station on the Broad Street Line.

SEPTA said it will operate 10 trains on the Broad Street Line to NRG Station. Six Sports Express trips will run every 10 minutes departing Fern Rock Station beginning at 6 p.m.

Local and Express trains will give rides from the NRG Station after each game.

There will be a free transfer to the Broad Street Line from the Market-Frankford Line and City Trolley routes at 15th Street/City Hall.

It also connects to bus routes that provide service throughout the city and region, and it is accessible from the PATCO High Speed Line for riders from South Jersey.

SEPTA Proposes $1B Capital Budget

April 26, 2022

Philadelphia-based Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority has proposed a capital budget for fiscal year 2023 that will be the first to top the $1 billion level.

The agency’s governing board will consider the $1.162 capital budget during its June meeting.

Staff also recommended a $11.4 billion 12-year capital spending plan. If approved the FY2023 budget would become effective on July 1.

In a news release, SEPTA said the “core of this budget” is funding coming from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

The budget also includes newly bondable state funding and federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement funds.

Among the highlights of the proposed capital spending are $18.49 million for SEPTA’s bridge program; $104.89 million for communications, signal systems and technology improvements; $54 million for the infrastructure safety renewal program; and $33.79 million for maintenance/transportation shops and offices.

Other capital funding would include $143.99 million for “projects of significance,” including Bus Revolution ($13.26 million), King of Prussia Rail ($40.04 million; to extend the existing Norristown High Speed Line four miles into King of Prussia), Rail Vehicle Procurement ($5.77 million; Market Frankford Line and Regional Rail), and Trolley Modernization ($84.92 million).

SEPTA would allocate $31.58 million for safety and security improvements; $12.71 million for service restoration and enhancements; $88.69 million for stations, loops and parking improvements; $25.07 for substations and power improvements; $7.92 for track and right-of-way improvements; $273.11 for vehicle acquisitions and overhauls; and financial obligations of $56.79 million in capital leases and $305.48 million in debt service.

Akron Metro Workers OK New Contract

February 14, 2022

Union workers at Akron Metro RTA have accepted a new contract offer that will now be voted on by the agency’s board of directors on Wednesday.

Members of the Transport Workers Union of America Local 1 voted 186 to 25 to accept the contract, which will replace a pact that expired on July 31, 2020.

If approved by the Metro board the contract will be retroactive to June 1, 2021, and run through May 31, 2024.

The union represents bus drivers, vehicle maintenance workers and customer service employees. Those make up 74 percent of Metro employees.

Approval by the Metro board is likely given the statements made by the agency’s CEO Dawn Distler who described the new contract as “fair and equitable to the organization, TWU membership, and, most importantly, is a contract that would strongly benefit our passengers.”

Union officials said the contract makes no changes to health insurance coverage, but they expressed some dissatisfaction about wages.

Willie Brown, the director of the international union’s transit division, said about wages, “when it comes to contracts, it’s give and take.”

Face Mask Rule Extended to Next March

December 8, 2021

A federal rule requiring the wearing of facial masks while riding public modes of transportation has been extended to March 18, 2022.

The rule affects airports, commercial aircraft, over-the-road buses, and commuter bus and rail systems.

Exempt from the rule are travelers under age 2 those with disabilities that prevent them from wearing a face mask.

Civil penalty fines for violating the rule will stay in effect.

SEPTA OKs Operating, Capital Budgets

June 30, 2021

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority has approved a fiscal year 2022 operating budget of $1.52 billion operating budget and a $618.85 million capital budget.

The operating budget will allow SEPTA to increase service levels without fare increases.

Among the projects included in SEPTA’s capital budget and 12-year program, which totals $7.4 billion are:

• $203.66 million for trolley modernization through 2033, with $30.14 million set aside for FY22. Work includes infrastructure upgrades in areas such as communications, signals, power, ADA stations, bridge improvements and maintenance facilities.

• $97.3 million for rail fleet replacement through 2033, including trolley cars, the Market-Frankford Line fleet and Silverliner IV Regional Rail vehicles. For FY22, $1.76 million is budgeted.

• $25 million through 2033 for a Bus Revolution initiative, which includes a comprehensive bus network redesign.
• Station improvements to bring full ADA accessibility to the Market-Frankford and Broad Street Lines by 2033.

Cleveland RTA Restarts Rail Car Acquisition

June 14, 2021

Much of North America’s rail passenger growth is occurring in urban rail systems. Two Greater Cleveland RTA Blue Line trains pass in June 2013.

It is back to square one for Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority in its quest to buy new rail cars.

The transit agency said Friday afternoon it has canceled its plans to find a manufacturer for the cars because the sole proposal it received provided to be inadequate.

RTA said in a news release that it would start the search over but “remains committed” to replacing its rail car fleet.

The news release said the new search will begin at an unspecified point during the next few months.

The request for proposals was sent to rail car manufacturers in February. At the time, RTA specified it was seeking a car type that could operate on all three of if rail lines.

At the time, RTA acknowledged that would involve a specialized product but that it would make maintenance easier and less costly.

Two vendors showed interest in the request for proposals but only one submitted a formal proposal by the May deadline.

After reviewing that proposal, RTA staff concluded the proposal “was not responsive to the technical requirements of the solicitation.”

A rail passenger advocacy group, All Aboard Ohio, had warned earlier that RTA’s timeline on its rail car acquisition program was too tight and would drive up costs.

AAO filed a complaint with the inspector general of the Federal Transportation Administration after RTA twice denied deadline extensions by one or more manufacturers.

The costs of the new rail cars has been put at approximately $240 million. The transit agency is seeking new cars after a consultant said in 2019 that cars used on the Red Line are in poor condition and had a useful life of at most five years.

Cars used on the Blue and Green lines were said by the consultant to have a useful life of 10 years or less.

RTA Offers Free Rides as it Implements New Route Network

June 14, 2021

Greater Cleveland RTA kicked off a restructured route network on Sunday by offering a week of free rides.

The NextGen route overhaul is the first the agency has undertaken since being formed in 1975. Work on the new network began in late 2018.

RTA officials said the changes seek to provide more connections and more frequent trips on the busiest routes.

“We changed many of the routes. Instead of running once an hour, or once every half hour, now they run once every 15 minutes. And they do that all day long, not just during a traditional rush hour,” said RTA spokeswoman Linda Krecic.

New signs have been posted and the agency is trying to encourage riders to use a trip planning feature at the agency’s website.

The free rides are good on bus, rail and para-transit through June 19.

Riders who have questions can call an RTA help line at 216-621-9500, which is staffed Monday through Saturday.

RTA Director of Service Management Joel Freilich said the revised route network covers more of Cuyahoga County and thus better serves people not working in downtown Cleveland.

The route changes might have been implemented earlier but were delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, which seriously eroded RTA ridership for several months.

The new network has not been without complications. WOIO-TV reported on the plight of a 62-year old woman in the Glenville neighborhood of Cleveland who now has to walk 15 blocks to catch a bus after the route 38 bus stop she used to use was closed.

The TV station’s news department said it had received several complaints from viewers inconvenienced by the route changes.

In a statement to the TV station, RTA acknowledged that some riders will be inconvenienced by the changes and forced to walk a few more blocks to catch a bus.

“NEXT GEN represents a comprehensive redesign,” the RTA statement said.

“The system achieves the goals the community told us they valued: greater connectivity, is more accessible, reduced transfers provides greater frequency (including expanded weekend service on some routes that had not had weekend service in a decade) and over all is an enhancement for our community.”

RTA contended the new network design is better overall for all users.

A story published by The Plain Dealer noted that the network changes have confused some riders.

It cited the example of users of the North Olmsted Park-N-Ride and Transit Center.

RTA initially planned to end the Great Northern Boulevard Park-N-Ride service but decided at the last minute to create an alternative that provided a direct but longer ride.

RTA’s Freilich said the agency’s funding didn’t allow for the North Olmsted and Westlake Park-n-Rides to continue.

So agency officials decided to take the Cleveland State Line bus route and have some of its buses go to Park-n-Ride lots.

However, that means a longer ride because of the CSL’s routing via Lorain Avenue to West 210th Street and Clifton Boulevard.

Still, RTA officials are optimistic that the longer bus ride will appeal to those on the west side who don’t wish to ride the Red Line because they will be able to stay on the same bus all the way to work.

“You’ll still have two viable ways to get to downtown from that area,” Freilich said. “The Red Line will continue to be an option. And at the North Olmsted Park-n-Rides, you’ll be picked up by a No. 55 bus.

“At Westlake, it’s the same thing. There’s a different branch of CSU line. If you choose not to use the red line, you can still park in the Park-n-Ride for free. We’ll pick you up with a branch of No. 55. When you leave downtown — and if you’re going to Westlake — choose No. 55B or No. 55C.”

Biden Budget Proposal Boosts Amtrak Spending 35%

May 30, 2021

Amtrak would get a 35 percent boost, most of it for capital projects, if Congress adopts the Biden administration budget.

The administration has proposed $2.7 billion for Amtrak with a major share of that funding set to be used for track and station improvements, fleet refreshment, and systemwide maintenance. Another $625 million would create a new grant program, Passenger Rail Improvement, Modernization and Expansion, to develop and expand rail corridors across the nation.

The U.S Department of Transportation would receive $88 billion in total.

This includes $13.5 billion for transit projects of which $2.5 billion is for Capital Investment Grants, a $459 million increase, to accelerate projects already in process and support new projects seeking approval.

Another $550 million would go toward Transit Infrastructure Grants of which $250 million is for the Zero Emission Bus Program.

The Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity grant program would receive $1 billion in funding.

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.