Lou Hammond Handles Brightline

New York-headquartered travel and lifestyle agency Lou Hammond & Associates has been named agency of record for Florida’s forthcoming passenger rail service, Brightline.

Signaling the first privately funded and operated U.S. passenger rail service built in nearly a half-century, Brightline is the planned high-speed train line that will eventually connect Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Orlando. The express intercity service is being touted as one of the most advanced passenger rail systems in the country, allowing travelers to make the 235-mile trek between Orlando and Miami in about three hours.

The Brightline project, which is owned by infrastructure holding company Florida East Coast Industries LLC, is being constructed on the Florida East Coast Railway, the century-old train system built by famed industrialist and Standard Oil founder Henry Flagler. Brightline’s passenger trains will be designed by the Rockwell Group.

The first phase of construction, which connects Miami with West Palm Beach, is slated for completion by summer 2017. Service to Orlando is expected to begin later that year. MiamiCentral station, a six-block transportation hub in downtown Miami, is currently nearing completion, and construction of similar stations in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach are underway.

LH&A will work to raise awareness for the new rail service, will leverage existing partnerships and will also focus on earned media in the national press, particularly the travel press. The account will be managed out of Lou Hammond’s Miami office.

LH&A accounted for nearly $7 million in net fees in 2015, according to O’Dwyer’s rankings of PR firms.

The Big Problem With LA’s New Football Stadium

Who cares who won the Super Bowl—Los Angeles is getting a football team (again)! But luring the St. Louis Rams to Los Angeles was perhaps the easy part of a much bigger challenge when it comes to the urban planning issues around the stadium itself.

As Christopher Hawthorne writes in the Los Angeles Times, the stadium itself is an architectural win for the city. The plan chosen by Rams owner Stan Kroenke is designed by HKS, the firm behind new football stadiums in Minneapolis and Dallas. It will be big—the stadium will be the largest in the NFL, with 70,000 fixed seats, the ability to expand up to 80,000 seats for Super Bowls, and total capacity of 100,000. (Which is good news since the Chargers might relocate to this stadium, too.)

The Big Problem With LA's New Football Stadium

The open-air plan embeds the stadium into the ground, surrounded by zig-zagging ramps, sunken gardens, and a lake. Arching above it all is a high-tech ETFE canopy—a superlight and hyper-efficient inflated polymer skin that will be transparent to keep out noise and rain while taking advantage of all that Southern California sun. To be honest, it looks more like a really nice mall than a stadium.

The Big Problem With LA's New Football Stadium

But it’s where the stadium is situated that’s the problem. The stadium will be located not in Los Angeles proper but in Inglewood, which is its own city surrounded by the city of LA (yeah, we’ve got 88 cities in Los Angeles County, deal with it). It will sit on the site of the former Hollywood Park racetrack, which had been demolished a few years ago and was already being developed into a gigantic live-work complex. The stadium makes what was already a great project for Inglewood even more of a big deal. But there’s one glaring omission in the plan: How people will get there.

Yes, of course, there will be parking. One might be able to drive a car. But any serious proposal for a stadium in today’s LA—or, rather, future LA—needs to have reliable, high-capacity public transit as part of the plan. Does this stadium? No, and as Hawthorne points out, there’s kind of a cruel joke being played on LA.

The famous Palomar Telescope in California received it’s lens from Corning, New York via the New York Central

March 25, 1936 The 200-inch mirror blank for the Palomar observatory begins its cross-country trip aboard a well-hole flat car [NYC 499010] which has had smaller diameter wheels fitted for added clearance. At the time the mirror is shipped it is the single most valuable item ever shipped by rail. Accompanied by railroad Vice-Presidents, the mirror has been encased in a steel shipping container to counter Creationists who have threatened to shoot the mirror in transit. They fear it will allow man to see God in the process of creation. As it travels in the well-hole flatcar, the mirror is only inches above the rails.


(Photo clipped from an old New York Central Headlight)


Amtrak welcoming small pets aboard most Northeast trains

Now Fifi and Fido can ride the rails for real.

Amtrak says it’s expanding a pilot program permitting travelers to bring aboard small pets on many Northeast Corridor trains serving Boston, Philadelphia, New York, Washington and other cities.

The railroad says it began allowing small dogs and cats to accompany their owners on most long-distance routes on Tuesday, and small pets will be allowed on Acela Express high-speed trains on weekends only starting Saturday.

Amtrak says travelers will have to pay a $25 surcharge, and the pet and its carrier won’t be able to exceed a combined 20 pounds.

It says service animals will continue to ride for free.

No easy solutions to problems plaguing US ports

An ongoing analysis of the factors that contribute to marine terminal congestion has industry experts concluding that ports will probably have to implement at least a half-dozen measures in order to relieve what has become one of the biggest bottlenecks in goods movement.

A key takeaway from JOC’s 16th annual TPM Conference in Long Beach earlier this month is that container port operating models, as they stand today, will not sustain the demands placed on terminals by mega-ships, cargo surges that quickly fill terminals to capacity and thousands of truck movements each day at terminal gates, said Jon DeCesare, president of World Class Logistics Consulting. “It is time for ports to consider implementing best practices,” he told JOC.com Thursday.

DeCesare suggested that ports, as the neutral parties in the supply chain, consider a menu of best practices, including modifying demurrage policies in order to reduce container dwell times, extending landside operations as close to 24/7 as possible, modifying programs such as PierPass in Los Angeles-Long Beach that are designed to spread truck traffic throughout the day, and developing a single information portal serving all stakeholders in the port community.

The largest U.S. ports have provisions in their tariffs to discourage beneficial cargo owners from using marine terminals as free container storage yards for days on end through demurrage charges for exceeding designated free time. However, mounting evidence suggests these disincentives aren’t working, DeCesare said.

DeCesare said congested ports should modify their demurrage tariffs “to avoid BCOs storing containers on terminal land that sometimes costs up to $250,000 per acre.” Increasing container velocity would free up critical terminal space that is needed to better handle mega-ship cargo surges, he said.

Los Angeles-Long Beach, the largest U.S. port complex, determined 10 years ago that keeping terminal gates open only 40 hours a week would not be sufficient to handle growing cargo volumes, and that was a major factor in the development of the PierPass program of five night and weekend shifts each week in addition to the traditional Monday through Friday day gates. As cargo volumes and vessel sizes increase, other ports on both coasts are considering extended-gate programs.

Terminal operators incur large costs in manning extended gates. The terminals’ answer to that issue was to implement a traffic mitigation fee that BCOs pay when sending their trucks to the harbor during the peak daytime hours.The fee is not charged during the night and weekend gates.

This strategy has also accomplished a key aim of the program, which was to push harbor traffic into the lower-volume traffic periods at night and on weekends, and today truck visits in Los Angeles-Long Beach are split 50-50 between daytime and nighttime gates. Other ports that are considering extended gate programs have yet to implement a method of reimbursing terminal operators for night or weekend operations, and that is one reason why extended-gate programs elsewhere are generally languishing.

The PierPass traffic mitigation fee in Los Angeles-Long Beach is currently $69.17 per 20-foot-equivalent unit. It is a flashpoint for disagreements among truckers, BCOs and terminal operators. Truckers argue that because of the fee, drivers line up at the terminal gates in mid-afternoon each day, waiting two or three hours for the fee to go away at 6 p.m. “PierPass causes congestion,” said Weston LaBar, executive director of the Harbor Trucking Association.

DeCesare and the HTA have suggested that the daytime traffic mitigation fee be replaced with a smaller fee applied equally to all container moves regardless of the time of day. “This would enable drayage operators to utilize drayage capacity on dayside when it is available,” DeCesare said.

John Cushing, president of PierPass Inc., said the daytime fee was designed with the specific purpose of pushing more traffic into the nighttime hours when freeways and roadways are less congested. “It continues to succeed in doing that,” he said, adding that removing the fee would most likely result in a migration of traffic back to the daytime hours, and therefore bring back the harbor and freeway congestion that were present 10 years ago.

Most of the 13 terminal operators in Los Angeles-Long Beach this year will implement mandatory appointment systems to help them manage truck traffic and spread it throughout the day and night hours, thereby eliminating the traffic peaks and valleys that inevitably occur at container ports. Five terminals have mandatory appointment systems, two more are coming on shortly, and several more terminals will follow, possibly later this year. Cushing said the terminals will offer appointment slots during both the peak and off-peak shifts.

Truckers in some ports have resisted mandatory appointments, saying the vagaries of port and urban traffic make it difficult for drivers to maintain rigid pickup and delivery schedules. LaBar said the Harbor Trucking Association is open to appointment systems if they are effectively managed. In an ideal world, appointments will eliminate truck queues because truckers will have no incentive to show up hours in advance of the appointed time, but if drivers move quickly into the terminals and waste hours waiting to be serviced in the congested facilities, they gain nothing, he said.

Cushing responded that the in-terminal turn times recorded by the 13 terminals in Los Angeles-Long Beach showed that in February trucks spent on average 46.3 minutes during the day shifts and 48.6 minutes in the night shifts. Those times have been rather consistent since last summer when the ports returned to normal following the labor issues associated with negotiation of the coastwide longshore labor contract.

Even with appointments, though, DeCesare said the harbor complex will still be confusing for BCOs and truckers because they will have to deal with upwards of a dozen terminals, each with its own system and communication platform. Los Angeles-Long Beach, and other ports, must move toward a single portal. “Shippers today don’t know who to talk to when they have an issue. Ports should provide the information in a one-stop portal. It’s not enough to spend billions of dollars on infrastructure,” he said.

Even if the ports are successful in developing a single portal, nagging issues that contribute to port congestion such as chassis shortages, “trouble tickets” issued to truckers who arrive with incomplete or inaccurate documentation and excessive container dwell times will continue to skew turn times throughout the 13 terminals. Cushing said Los Angeles and Long Beach, through their joint supply chain optimization efforts, have established working groups to address these and other issues that contribute to congestion.

The ports’ supply chain optimization program is also working toward development of a single measurement for truck visit times in the harbor, which, if successful, would reduce the tension between terminal operators, who measure turn times only within their facilities, and the trucking association, which starts the clock when the trucker arrives in the queue outside the terminal gate.

DeCesare sees the future of goods movement strategies at all of the major gateways proceeding through a multi-dimensional approach that involves all of the stakeholders participating in the process, with each industry sector contributing its own ideas to the effort and sharing in the costs and benefits. “We have to keep pushing new ideas,” he said.

By Bill Mongelluzzo, Senior Editor

Why Bernie Is Generating Such an Enormous Amount of Enthusiasm From Young People

People ask me all the time why Bernie is generating more enthusiasm among young voters than any candidate in Democratic primaries since Robert F. Kennedy ran in 1968. (These young enthusiast voters aren’t only white males, by the way. Exit polls show Bernie winning a majority of young women, African-Americans, Latinos and Latinas.)

It’s not because of Bernie’s youth, charisma, charm, or good looks. It’s because young people understand that:

    1. Concentrated income and wealth at the top translates into political power to further rig the economic game to the advantage of the wealthy – compounding both their power and their wealth.


    1. This vicious cycle is growing worse, and will be irreversible unless a “political revolution” reclaims our democracy and economy.


    1. Such a political revolution is the prerequisite for everything else – reversing climate change, overcoming structural racism, rebuilding the middle class, achieving equal opportunity and upward mobility for the poor, and avoiding cataclysmic war.


  1. Young people have lots to gain from winning this political revolution and lots to lose from failing to do so because they’ll bear the consequences their entire lives. This isn’t to say that middle-aged and older Americans care any less. It’s just that younger voters have an even greater stake.

What do you think?

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich’s Facebook Page

NYTimes paints picture of Amtrak derailment engineer Brandon Bostian

Eight months after Amtrak 188 derailed in Philadelphia, claiming the lives of eight people and injuring hundreds of others, a piece on the deadly crash in the New York Times is shedding light on the “worst American rail disaster in decades” and the engineer who was at the helm when the speeding train left the tracks.

In the weeks that followed the May 12, 2015 derailment, investigators worked to determine if Brandon Bostian was using his cell phone when the train came barreling into Frankford Junction. Concluding the cell was not used at the time of the crash, authorities have yet to rule on the cause of the crash.

The National Transportation Safety Board, which has yet to discuss its finding publicly, will likely say “the key to the wreck is something investigators call ‘lost situational awareness,'” according to the New York Times report.
The in-depth piece suggests Bostian, who had only recently switched to the route, confused Frankford Junction with a previous, and less dramatic, curve and may have been distracted by a rock thrown at the train.
The media still hasn’t gotten it that this crash could have been prevented using existing technology from the Pennsy Railroad which is still in use on the NEC. The in-cab signaling in the locomotive was capable of stopping the train for speeding. The tracks next to this train had the signals for it, the tracks the train was on that crashed did not. The FRA ordered the signalling be restored on all tracks before it allowed Amtrak to restore service. While the media is ignoring this, the lawyers bringing lawsuits for the victims of this crash against Amtrak are very aware of this old technology.