Significant Rail News, June 2, 2014

San Francisco Muni Sickouts Cause Delays Across City
http://www.sfgate.com/default/article/Muni-sickout-causing-delays-across-city-5522044.php

On The Same Rutted Road Dept: After $1.2 Billion In Work, US 101 in San Jose Still Congested As Ever
http://www.mercurynews.com/bay-area-news/ci_25859018/1-2-billion-and-20-years-later-highway

Tucson Streetcar Nears Final Testing, Launch July 25th
http://www.masstransitmag.com/news/11498331/streetcar-nearing-final-testing-before-july-25-launch?utm_source=MASS+NewsViews+Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=MASS140527002

Honolulu Rapid Transit Gets Real
http://www.masstransitmag.com/news/11498335/rail-transit-gets-real?utm_source=MASS+NewsViews+Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=MASS140527002

Lazy Headline Writers Dept: Some Buzzing For Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts Commuter Rail Line
http://www.masstransitmag.com/news/11498337/some-buzzing-for-buzzards-bay-commuter-rail-line?utm_source=MASS+NewsViews+Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=MASS140527002

Massachusetts: CapeFlyer Train Riding High
http://www.masstransitmag.com/news/11486015/capeflyer-train-riding-high

But It Still Needs A Cross Platform Connection With The Ferry Dept: SMART Train A Winner As Regional Agency Hands Out $40 Million
http://www.masstransitmag.com/news/11492837/smart-train-and-bikeway-winners-as-regional-agency-hands-out-40m?utm_source=MASS+NewsViews+Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=MASS140524002

Wisconsin Kisses Its Talgo Trains Goodbye
http://www.masstransitmag.com/news/11492842/talgo-trains-have-officially-left-the-station?utm_source=MASS+NewsViews+Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=MASS140524002

Motor City Redux Dept: Community Weighs In On What M-! Streetcar Line Will Look Like
http://www.masstransitmag.com/news/11488468/weigh-in-on-how-new-m-1-rail-streetcar-line-will-look-at-meeting-today?utm_source=MASS+NewsViews+Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=MASS140523003

Kansas City, MO: Streetcar Development Virtues Touted
http://www.masstransitmag.com/news/11385605/streetcar-development-virtues-touted

Now That’s How To Handle Irrational Opposition Dept: Opponent Will Have To Have $3.85 Million Bond to Continue Legal Challenge to San Antonio Streetcar
http://www.masstransitmag.com/news/11407248/streetcar-opponent-will-have-to-pay-385m-bond-to-continue-legal-challenge

Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN: Green Line LRT Will Take 48 Minutes End-To-End
http://www.masstransitmag.com/news/11488501/green-line-trip-will-run-48-minutes-from-end-to-end?utm_source=MASS+NewsViews+Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=MASS140523003

Hey, They Should Put Up A Bond, Too Dept: Jupiter, FL Mayor Claims All Aboard Florida Intercity Rail Is Safety Issue
http://www.masstransitmag.com/news/11488200/jupiter-island-mayor-fears-all-aboard-florida-may-pose-threat-to-public-safety?utm_source=MASS+NewsViews+Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=MASS140523003

Southern California: Metrolink Leads Way As PTC Deadline Looms
http://www.metro-magazine.com/article/story/2014/05/metrolink-leads-the-way-as-ptc-deadline-looms.aspx?utm_campaign=Rail-Transit-NEW-20140528&utm_source=Email&utm_medium=Enewsletter

Los Angeles: Union Station To Get $350 Million In Track Upgrades
http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-union-station-tracks-20140528-story.html

Why They Work So Very Sloooowwwly At Caltrans Dept: 3,500 Surplus Jobs At Caltrans
http://www.sacbee.com/2014/05/27/6436770/dan-walters-featherbedding-in.html

BART Pursues Variety of Solutions To Keep Ancient Fleet Running
http://www.sfexaminer.com/sanfrancisco/bart-pursues-range-of-solutions-to-maintain-aging-fleet/Content?oid=2808848

They Also Picked On The HSR Authority Dept: Appeals Court Has Tough Questions For Plaintiffs In Bullet-Train Suit
http://www.masstransitmag.com/news/11486024/court-grills-bullet-train-lawsuit-plaintiffs?utm_source=MASS+NewsViews+Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=MASS140522002

Kings County, CA HSR Suit Can Move Forward
http://www.masstransitmag.com/news/11322977/kings-county-hsr-lawsuit-can-move-forward

Significant Rail News, May 21, 2014

Perhaps Transit Priorities Would Help Dept: Minneapolis-St Paul LRT Line Runs Slow
http://www.twincities.com/localnews/ci_25763618/metro-transit-looks-speed-up-green-line-trips

Well, Trucks Often Drive Under Low Trees Dept: New SNCF Rail Cars Too Wide For Some Stations
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/new-train-cars-in-france-too-wide-for-hundreds-of-stations/article18773204/

Will The All Aboard Florida Train Service Be Good For South Florida?
http://opinionzone.blog.palmbeachpost.com/2014/05/17/will-the-all-aboard-florida-train-service-be-good-for-south-florida/

Expert Sees Potential In Santa Cruz County’s Rail Future
http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/santacruz/ci_25778911/expert-says-he-sees-potential-santa-cruz-countys

Los Angeles Wilshire Subway Gets $2.1 Billion From Feds
http://www.dailybreeze.com/general-news/20140520/los-angeles-subway-to-the-sea-gets-federal-funding

Austin’s Urban Rail: Owner, Operator, And Operations Costs Announced
http://www.bizjournals.com/austin/news/2014/05/16/austins-urban-rail-owner-operator-and-operation.html

After Long-Winded Debate, Detroit M-1 Streetcar Project Inches Towards Construction
http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20140520/METRO01/305200020/M-1-track-groundbreaking-Detroit

SMART Leaves Some Businesses Without [Disused] Freight Sidings
http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20140520/articles/140529959

MTC Committee Approves Funding For SMART Extension To Within [1/3 mile] Of Larkspur Ferry Terminal
http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20140514/articles/140519778

Role of California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) At Issue In Yet Another HSR Lawsuit
http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2014/may/20/role-of-state-law-at-issue-in-bullet-train-lawsuit/

State May Give Another $11 Million For Peabody Road Capitol Corridor Station, Vacaville/Fairfield
http://www.dailyrepublic.com/news/fairfield/state-could-give-11-million-for-train-station/

China Thinks About 8,000 Mile High Speed Train To US Via Bering Strait
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/may/08/chinese-experts-discussions-high-speed-beijing-american-railway

Better Late Than Never Dept:  Tucson Streetcar To Open This Summer
http://www.wildcat.arizona.edu/article/2014/05/streetcar-to-link-four-miles-of-community-when-it-opens-this-summer

San Francisco Muni Crime Down 30%
http://www.metro-magazine.com/news/story/2014/05/san-francisco-muni-crime-down-30-.aspx?utm_campaign=Rail-Transit-NEW-20140514&utm_source=Email&utm_medium=Enewsletter

New Troll Installed On New Eastern Span Of SF-Oakland Bay Bridge
http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2014/05/13/ironworkers-create-new-troll-to-protect-travelers-on-new-eastern-span-of-bay-bridge-interstate-80-san-francisco-oakland-michael-bondi/

Troll May Be Needed Dept: New Bay Bridge Defect Could Be Trouble In Earthquake
http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/New-Bay-Bridge-defect-could-be-trouble-in-5482092.php

Peak Hour Tolls On Bay Bridge Have Little Effect On Congestion
http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/matier-ross/article/Peak-hour-tolls-have-little-effect-on-Bay-Bridge-5487995.php

Palo Alto: new Countywide Transit Sales Tax Must Include Caltrain
http://www.mercurynews.com/breaking-news/ci_25797583/palo-alto-countywide-sales-tax-measure-would-need

Sacramento Streetcar Project Links

Here are some links to the Sacramento Streetcar Project, which appears to have gained momentum this month.

Downtown/Riverfront Streetcar Project Website

Feds Give Sacramento Streetcar A Green Light (May 6, 2014)

Sacramento Streetcar Projects Gets Boost From Arena Developers

Cities Pursuing Streetcars As Economic Driver

Visualization of Downtown Sacramento Streetcar Near Riverfront

Photo: Portland Streetcar at Broadway Bridge (similar to the Tower Bridge: close but no cigar…)

Draft Business Plan For San Joaquins Passenger Service

In order to take over the administrative responsibilities of the San Joaquin rail service, the SJJPA must develop and approve a Business Plan to be included and referenced as part of the Interagency Transfer Agreement (ITA).  AB 1779 specifies that the earliest the ITA can be signed between the state and the SJJPA is June 30, 2014.
At the September 27, 2013 SJJPA Board Meeting the SJJPA approved a Draft Business Plan Outline and Proposed Interagency Transfer Agreement (ITA) Schedule.   Based upon the approved ITA schedule, the Draft SJJPA Business Plan was completed at the March 2014 SJJPA Board Meeting, however initial Draft Business Plan chapters were presented at the November 2013 and January 2014 SJJPA Board Meetings providing more opportunity for Board, agency and public input. The Final Business Plan will be presented at the June 27, 2014 SJJPA Board Meeting after public review and revisions.
As specified in AB 1779, the business plan shall include a report on the recent as well as historical performance of the corridor service, an overall operating plan including proposed service enhancements to increase ridership and provide for increased traveler demands in the corridor for the upcoming year, short-term and long-term capital improvement programs, funding requirements for the upcoming fiscal year, and an action plan with specific performance goals and objections.  The business plan shall document service improvements (rail and thruway/connecting bus) to provide the planned level of service, inclusion of operating plans to serve peak period work trips, and consideration of other service expansions and enhancements.
This initial business plan shall be consistent with the immediately previously State Rail Plan developed by Caltrans Division of Rail (DOR) pursuant to Section 14036 and the January 2014 Business Plan to be developed by the High-Speed Rail Authority pursuant to Section 185033 of the Public Utilities Code.
You may review the Draft Business Plan Chapters (including the Executive Summary) which are linked at this page:

TRAC Needs Volunteers!

Join us for “Lobby Thursdays” at the above location in Sacramento on most Thursdays. We need TRAC members to join us and remind State legislators and their staffs about the importance of passenger rail in California.

Particulars

Next TRAC Lobby Thursday is tentatively Thursday, July 10th.

We normally meet at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday mornings at the TRAC office to coordinate our lobbying efforts that day. The TRAC office is located at 1025 Ninth Street, Suite 223, in downtown Sacramento about three blocks from the State Capitol Building.

If you plan to join our efforts, please RSVP by calling us at (707) 557-1667 (preferred), or email us at trainriders2100 -AT- gmail.com (substitute @ and delete spaces).

Plan B: Keeping Federal HSR Funds in California

California is in danger of losing $2.4 billion of American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA) grants, due to the current California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) project’s legal problems and the September 2017 expenditure deadline. (Another $929 million in federal FY 2010 grant funds does not have an expenditure deadline.)

These funds could be secured for California if they were redirected to improving Amtrak service in the Central Valley. The San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority could deploy the funds within the time limits, because laying track in a freight railroad right-of-way is much simpler.

This would require renegotiation of the ARRA grant with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), shifting California’s grants from the Core Express (125-250+ mph) tier of the HSR Corridor Investment Strategy to the Regional Service (90-125 mph) tier, which serves mid- sized and large cities. Central Valley residents from Bakersfield to Sacramento would greatly benefit from a program to “Upgrade existing intercity passenger rail corridors to improve reliability, speed, and frequency of existing services.” The San Joaquin Amtrak Corridor can be improved at a modest cost with minimal disruption.
The project would cost-effectively build ridership, demonstrate demand for higher-speed HSR and restore public confidence in the State’s leadership in rail transport. A higher-speed San Joaquin Corridor would feed into a future statewide HSR system, enabling one-seat rides to Los Angeles and the Bay Area.

Advantages

• The President wins (fulfills his stated HSR vision)
• The Governor wins (he can take credit for the idea–and gets out of the controversy)
• BNSF & UPRR win (the public pays for track improvements)
• Farmers & land owners win (limited ROW acquisition needed)
• Labor & the local economy win (construction work still needed)
• Traveling public wins (improved service decades sooner)
• Eastside cities win (minimal disruption, minimal additional train noise)
• Sacramento wins (faster travel to Capitol, decades sooner)
• Safety wins (grade crossings on major arterials replaced by grade separations)
• HSR travel wins (faster Valley rail travel will stimulate interest in other corridors)

Disadvantages–None

Other Possible Projects

The following near-term projects would support future HSR, if funding is available:
LA Union Station “run-through” tracks; “LOSSAN” (Pacific Surfliner) corridor improvements including grade separations for the 3 most dangerous grade crossings in the LA-Anaheim rail segment; Caltrain Extension to Downtown San Francisco.

Bringing More Train Travel To California