NYC transit upgrades are long overdue

AM New York

For weeks, the newest plans for MTA capital projects, including $3 billion in funding for key improvements to subways, bridges, tunnels and commuter railroads, sat in wait.

Now, after plenty of typical Albany political posturing, those proposals are on track. State Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan finally gave the last pieces of the capital plan the go-ahead on Tuesday night.

The move couldn’t have come at a better time. NYC residents have faced extensive subway delays, power and signal problems, a dangerous derailment, and a host of other issues in recent months. And this summer, as Amtrak makes extensive repairs at Penn Station, the MTA is depending on its strained subway system even more, making the need for improvements all the more apparent.

So, expanding and upgrading the system are essential. The MTA’s plans include $700 million to fund part of the important next phase of the Second Avenue Subway, which will extend the line into East Harlem but could ultimately cost $6 billion.

And the plan adds more funds for cashless electronic tolling at bridges and tunnels.

On top of that, the MTA’s amended plan creates a new span of track on the Long Island Rail Road that will help ease reverse train commutes for NYC residents who work in Nassau or Suffolk counties.
Together, the improvements will ripple through the region, boost the economy and create the opportunity for new and better-paying jobs in the city and beyond.

And all of it is part of the MTA’s larger $32.5 billion overall capital plan, which extends through 2019 and includes money for signals, subway cars and buses, along with repairs and improvements to bus depots, subway station accessibility, and more.

None of it, of course, will get done quickly enough. But it could be the start of a broader effort by state and MTA officials to think and act bigger, to recognize the extensive needs of our subways and commuter rails, and to start modernizing the public transportation system to meet the needs of its riders.

High-Speed Pod Could Get You From LA To San Francisco In A Half Hour

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — We’re getting our first look at a test for a transportation system that could take people from Southern California to the Bay Area in just half an hour.

Hyperloop is building the pods that would move at 700 mph, or near-supersonic speed.

The first private test took place in the Nevada desert.

The company says it now has one full-scale hyperloop but hopes to have three in service in four years.

The founders say this reminds them of another time transportation took a huge step forward. The company says it now needs to get the state and federal governments on board, because getting the right-of-way for land will be crucial to building the system.

MTA can’t afford to wait on signals upgrades

Problems with both NYCT system-wide subway and LIRR signals at Penn Station require decisive action today, not tommorow.

The MTA must reprogram the $695 million Metro North East Bronx Penn Station Access, the $1.7 billion Second Avenue Subway Phase 2, and the $1.9 billion LIRR Main Line Third Track to help fund upgrading NYCT Subway System Signals. This would provide well over $3 billion as a down payment against $20 billion needed to bring NYCT Subway System Signals up to a state of good repair.

All three canceled projects can be funded out of the next MTA Five-Year Capital Plan for 2020-2024. This still provides ample time for both Metro North East Bronx Penn Station Access and LIRR Main Line Third Track project completions to coincide with LIRR East Side Access to Grand Central Terminal by December 2023 or 2024.

Governor Andrew Cuomo also needs to come up with the outstanding balance of $5.8 billion that he still owes toward the $8.3 billion shortfall to fully fund the $32 billion 2015-2019 MTA Five Year Capital Plan. The MTA can’t afford to wait until 2018 or 2019 for both $5.8 billion and additional $1 billion recently pledged by Cuomo in response to the ongoing subway and LIRR Penn Station crises.

In June 2016, the United States Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration provided $432 million in Superstorm Sandy funding to the MTA for repairs to the East River Tunnel, including signal upgrades. As of today, no funds have been spent. The MTA and LIRR have yet to complete negotiations with Amtrak for initiation of this work.

After day of subway hell, De Blasio takes the 7 train

The Mayor is on the 7 Train.

A tipster spotted de Blasio at around 5:45 p.m. today, onboard a “very crowded” Queens-bound train at the Bryant Park platform. This was in the midst of today’s evening commute madness.
De Blasio has been spotted on the train a few times of late, notably on an uptown C train in June. After that appearance, his office told the Times the Mayor rode the subway in April.

On one hand, these subway photo-ops are pandering to a delay-weary constituency. On the other, that constituency is nearly 5.7 million strong. If those people—your voters—are suffering, shouldn’t you try and share their pain?

Which brings us to the elected official who can actually do a great deal to improve subway service: Governor Andrew Cuomo. He and the mayor were both at a rally to defend the Affordable Care Act earlier on Monday afternoon, but it appears they parted ways.
Maybe we’ll get a tip that Cuomo is on the subway right now — but it seems that the governor’s last subway photo op was on the new stretch of the Second Avenue Subway, before it opened to the public. On New Year’s Eve.

We’ve contacted Cuomo’s office to confirm, and will update if and when we hear back.

Miami Mayor Says No Money For Rail

Unlike NY City, Mayor Carlos Gimenez can’t afford to build more rail lines and should invest millions in transit dollars creating modernized express bus systems running north and south.

“I look at this as part of my job: Be realistic, bring us down to earth,” Gimenez told members of a county transportation board. “I know there’s going to be push back. I know there’s going to be a lot of people who have different ideas about what we should do. But we’ve been looking at this for some time. And these numbers are real.”

Gimenez’s $534 million proposal for rapid-bus routes would indefinitely defer the Metrorail expansion promised voters in 2002 during a referendum for a half-percent transportation tax that currently generates about $250 million a year.

It also would leave the mayor’s celebrated SMART Plan to expand rapid transit countywide mostly as a blueprint for faster bus service in the short-term rather than an historic expansion of rail in multiple directions countywide. Gimenez and his aides did say there is enough money in the current 40-year financial forecasts to allow Miami-Dade to help subsidize an expansion of Tri-Rail along existing private-sector tracks that run parallel to Biscayne Boulevard in Northeast Miami-Dade.

Other elected leaders said they would refuse to drop the rail ambitions that have come to surround the SMART Plan. Gimenez unveiled the plan during his reelection campaign last year, then touted it on a television ad under the headline “More Rail Lines.”

“If we want to get people out of their cars, they’re not going to get out of their cars for” rapid-transit buses, Commissioner Barbara Jordan told Gimenez. “But they will get out of their cars for a rail system.”

By purchasing land for dedicated bus lanes along Northwest 27th Avenue, Miami-Dade would secure real estate needed for a future rail line there if the county could afford one in the future, said Alice Bravo, Gimenez’s transit chief. “What you do now is a down payment for future rail,” she said.

Esteban “Steve” Bovo, chairman of the County Commission, said he had been holding back proposed legislation designed to accelerate rail plans so that it would not conflict with the administration’s pending plans. Bovo said he would introduce legislation inviting private developers to submit transit proposals for the SMART Plan’s six corridors, and that he wants Miami-Dade to pour money into one of them to prove something impressive can get built.

“Everything in this county has to be force fed,” Bovo said. “We’re going to be bold, or we’re not going to be bold.”

What is Hyperloop and will it be the future of transport?

Telegraph.co.uk

The futuristic transport system Hyperloop has come a long way since entrepreneur Elon Musk proposed a “fifth mode of transport” in 2012. The concept, in which commuters are whisked through a tube at speeds in excess of 700mph, has developed rapidly with inventors and investors giving their backing.

While it may have seemed like fantasy, and there are still lots of reasons to be skeptical about this “future of transport”, plans for Hyperloop and the companies behind it are making progress towards their first operational tunnels.

But what is a Hyperloop? Why does Musk back the idea? Who are the companies pushing the tech? Read on to get beyond the hype and see if you are a Hyperloop believer.

What is Hyperloop and how does it work?

Hyperloop is a proposed system of transport that would see pods or containers travel at high speeds through a tube that has been pumped into a near-vacuum. The train pods would either float using magnetic levitation technology or float using air caster “skis”, similar to how pucks travel across an air hockey table.

With so little friction in the tunnel, the pods would be able to travel at immense speeds with a projected top speeds of 760mph.

The pod would initially launch using an electric motor before levitation takes place and the pod can glide at cruising speed in the low-pressure environment. Tunnels for the Hyperloop would be built either above or below ground, at only around 3m in diameter, taking up a smaller ground footprint than traditional rail and road.

Many of the current designs feature autonomous pods that can be launched on demand as frequently as every 20 seconds. Others suggest eco-friendly designs, powering the pressure pumps with clean energy such as solar.

Plenty of companies jumping into this. The Louisville-Chicago HYPERLOOP is still looking for investors! How much per mile? Answer varies…..means nobody certain yet.

More On How HYPERLOOP ONE will work

BusinessInsider

Hyperloop One got a little closer to making its ambitious, high-speed transit system a reality last week.

The startup successfully tested its full-scale Hyperloop system on its DevLoop test track in Nevada on Thursday. The vehicle coasted above the track for 5.3 seconds using magnetic levitation and reached a top speed of 70 mph. Hyperloop One will attempt to reach 250 mph in subsequent testing.

Hyperloop One is considering 11 possible routes for the first US-based transit system, but is also conducting feasibility studies Dubai and Finland.

Here we begin the breakdown of Hyperloop One’s concept for the system. First, passengers will use an app to see their transportation options that day.

If a Hyperloop is available, the app will list it alongside other transportation options. If a passenger clicks the Hyperloop option…

… The app will list the gate where the high-speed system is available with details on how long it will take to arrive.

Just like an airplane, there will be different classes of pods, like one designed for multiple people and a “lounge pod” for fewer people to kick back and relax.

The pod will then travel to the entrance for the Hyperloop. Hyperloop One says there will be 120 pod gates accommodating over 8,500 passengers per hour.

Four pods will be assigned to each Hyperloop tube.

Three of those pods will be for passengers with a separate one designated for cargo.

Call it Metro schadenfreude: As New York’s subway woes worsen, Washingtonians offer sympathy

From WASHINGTON POST

Transit advocates hold a rush-hour rally outside New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office in June to protest train delays and MTA shutdowns. Now that New York’s subway system is having major problems, commuters in Washington feel their pain after experiencing SafeTrack. (Kathy Willens/AP)

When Washington Metro Board Chairman Jack Evans arrived at the panel’s general meeting last month, he carried a copy of the New York Post featuring a characteristically provocative front page recounting the latest troubles of that city’s subway.

“For F’s sake,” read the headline, with a clever insertion of the orange symbol for New York’s “F” train. “Fix the subways!”

Evans used the headline as an opportunity for reflection on his own troubled transit system.

“Not that misery loves company . . . but I think this is another indicator that every one of the six subway systems throughout America is struggling with the same issues,” Evans said. “We’re not alone in this.”

Evans, it seems, is suffering from the affliction affecting many in the region: an acute case of subway schadenfreude — a slightly perverse sense of satisfaction in watching the failures of the nation’s premiere transit agency.

A look at the recent state of affairs at New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) will probably ring familiar to D.C.-area commuters. In the last several months, chronic breakdowns and track problems have caused rush-hour meltdowns and lengthy, widespread delays. Late last year, protections for workers became a major cause for concern after one longtime employee was struck and killed by a passing train in a tunnel.

Two weeks ago, a derailment in Upper Manhattan may have been caused by equipment left on the tracks, resulting in at least 30 injuries. And soon thereafter, New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) declared that the MTA was in a state of emergency and pledged an additional $1 billion to the MTA’s capital budget to expedite improvements.

Suddenly, Metro isn’t looking so bad, right?

“Some of these stories about what’s going on in New York — you could take out the proper nouns and insert ‘Washington’ and they’d make sense,” said Zachary M. Schrag, a historian at George Mason University and author of the seminal Metro tome, “The Great Society Subway: A History of the Washington Metro.” “So I guess that’s somewhat of a consolation.”

Railroad Side of St. Joseph, MI – and Benton Harbor Too

Recently there were a couple of great tourist blogs published about St. Joseph, Michigan. Not a word about railroads in St. Joseph (or in Benton Harbor just across the bridge). So here is our WebSite about railroad history inn both towns:
https://penneyandkc.wordpress.com/benton-harbor-once-a-rail-center/

In 1998, CSX spent $2.5 million to replace the electrical and mechanical systems in its troubled St. Joseph bridge at St. Joseph. The bridge was built in 1905. It crossed over to Benton Harbor.

In 1901, the Michigan Central built a short branch line called the Benton Harbor extension from St.Joseph into Benton Harbor. This extension crossed the river on its own bridge. Abandoned 1958.

The House of David was a religious community near Benton Harbor in the early 20th century. The community had a number of attractive recreational activities including a tourist railroad and baseball team. The miniature railroad even had a station.

Leaving Benton Harbor you had from 25-40 cars of washing machines 6 nights a week (Whirlpool). After, 1954-55 steel and supplies into Clark Equipment and finished tractors out. At the end of the month they really shipped. Cold Storage shipped well until cold weather.

The Big Four (NY Central) had trackage rights on C&O over the bridge into St. Joe where they had some trackage too. They previously had a swing bridge themselves in St. Joe. The old crossbuck railroad crossing sign in St. Joe on the riverfront, under the CSX bridge is also NYC origin. Nothing else remains of the New York Central except an old siding at a former box factory (now an art center called “The Box Factory”). I did see where the old NYC bridge was. The cold storage in Benton Harbor was razed in the the late ’90s and the thick walls took a lot of dynamite!

Brightline parent to build residences near two of its South Florida train stations

Erecting residences near its Brightline train stations in South Florida may be one way to ensure a natural pipeline of riders for the new express passenger railway service scheduled to launch later this year.

On Thursday, Brightline parent Florida East Coast Industries, announced plans for multifamily residential properties near two of its South Florida stations, citing the venture as a key component of its transit-oriented developments in South Florida.

The new residential brand Park-Line will debut in 2018 with a 290-unit tower in downtown West Palm Beach, Coral Gables-based FECI said in a news release. That will be followed by 816 units in two towers within its 11-acre mixed-use MiamiCentral development in downtown Miami.

“Park-Line residences are designed for people on the move who want to live and travel smarter,” said Daniel Quintana, FECI’s vice president of development. “Each of the innovative towers in West Palm Beach and Miami will expand residents’ playground and working options by utilizing a vast variety of transit options just steps away from their front door, including our new Brightline train service that will seamlessly connect Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.”

Park-Line Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach will feature studio and one- and two-bedroom apartments for lease. Park-Line Miami will offer on-site studios, as well as one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, FECI said.

Both residential properties will offer a range of amenities including a yoga lawn and fitness center with juice bar, private cabanas, shaded dog parks and pet grooming salon. There will also be an event lawn with movie screen.

At MiamiCentral, residents will find 180,000-square feet of retail space including a food hall called Central Fare, and 300,000 square feet of office space. That residential-office mix is aiming to offer “a live, work and play lifestyle,” FECI said.

FECI is partnering with Dallas, Texas-based real estate developer Lincoln Property Co., to build the residential properties.

Chuck Shallat, an executive vice president of Lincoln Property, said the company “is always seeking opportunities to raise the bar on multi-family living residences and this collaboration with Brightline is a glimpse into the future.”

Brightline’s express intercity train service, slated to launch this fall, will initially operate among the three South Florida stations before extending to Orlando in a later phase.

While FECI didn’t announce any residential projects for its Fort Lauderdale train station, an apartment tower is in the planning stages for land adjacent to its parking garage, and could be built in the future if there’s sufficient market demand, Brightline CEO Dave Howard told the Sun Sentinel in late June.

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