Passenger Train Services Can And Does Make Money


By Noel T. Braymer

What does most of the rest of the world know, that most Americans don’t? It’s that rail passenger service is valuable for their economy. Most of the major long distance rail passenger services around the world operate at a profit. Often there is competition between companies willing to pay to secure a franchise in order to run passenger trains and make money. This includes high speed rail service. It’s not just running the trains that makes money. In San Diego an unnamed private investor just bought the downtown 102 year old Santa Fe Depot which is San Diego’s train station. Why would this person do this? Because it was a good investment, in other words to make money. Since the expansion of Los Angeles to San Diego rail passenger service in the late 1970’s from 3 round trips to 6, passenger traffic has increased. Today 12…

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It’s likely freight first for hyperloop

On May 12, in the desert of Nevada, engineers and executives from Hyperloop One gathered together to test their technology. It was the middle of the night. Anticipation was high. Co-founder Shervin Pishevar would later describe this as their “Kitty Hawk moment,” equating their hyperloop test to the iconic beginnings of aviation. After shooting a metal sled through a 1,600-foot steel tube at 70 mph, they declared victory. It was the first full-system test of a hyperloop, in which all of the different components could be seen to work in unison. In a subsequent test at the end of July, a Hyperloop One pod achieved an even greater speed at 192 mph.

To date, Hyperloop One has raised $160 million in pursuit of an innovative transportation alternative. Although the 260-plus employee company has been pitching visions to the public in which passengers are whisked from city to city, at speeds that may eventually exceed 700 mph, many safety concerns remain. And the United States Department of Transportation doesn’t know how to regulate this technology if it comes to fruition.

In a podcast interview with Recode Decode, former Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx said, “Will it happen some place? Absolutely, I’m sure it will. Not even sure it’s going to happen first in the U.S., to be honest. But I think there will be some proof points out there to show that hyperloop is a real thing. And whether it’s passengers first or freight first — probably I would think, probably more freight will move first on hyperloop.”

Foxx stated that government regulation delays the adoption of new transportation technology. However, he emphasized that it’s important to consider all safety aspects.

Arrivo is a competitor to Hyperloop One, based near downtown Los Angeles. Its website states: “Arrivo is building technology based on the hyperloop architecture that will deliver a truly 21st century seamless experience for passengers and freight.”

Arrivo’s founder Brogran BamBrogran, who began his career as a design engineer at Northrop Grumman, says that hyperloop may move freight before it ever moves people. Although his company aspires to be in the business of shuttling passengers across vast distances, he wants to start off by proving that hyperloop can transport freight safely and efficiently.

Hardt Global Mobility CEO Tim Houter has also spoken publicly about the potential for freight transport via hyperloop.

“When you are implementing a hyperloop system, it will go a lot further than just transporting passengers. You’re not getting just a fast people mover,” said Houter, before explaining that the system could also transport large freight containers. “You’re getting one system that can almost move everything you can dream of.”

As the owner of a third-party logistics company called FreightSavvy, Chris Facey specializes in the movement of general cargo throughout the United States. In an exclusive interview, he said that a successful hyperloop would majorly disrupt the transportation industry.

“The proposed projects, rolled out strategically, will disrupt parts of the industry and augment the industry as a whole,” Facey said. He noted that it will take time for hyperloop to achieve scale and bring costs down, but once that is achieved, “it will primarily disrupt two freight markets only, air freight and surface expedited freight.”

Chris Facey believes that the air freight business is the most vulnerable to disruption because hyperloop “ostensibly could move as much freight as rail but at the speed of an air freight shipment.” However, the industry disruption doesn’t stop there.

“Civilian airlines are also in the freight game and they will be affected similarly as they will likely lose out on much of these additional shipments/revenue,” he added.

Facey predicts that immediate adoption of hyperloop cargo service will be delayed by R&D, regulation, insurance, construction, and other factors. In order to gain access to commercial freight markets, hyperloop startups will need to build entirely new infrastructure. As they try to construct it, the companies may encounter red tape, particularly if their project is displacing current infrastructure or civilian areas.

In addition to these government-related challenges, the hyperloop companies will have to win over public trust. Due to the fact that hyperloop cargo transport would be a new and different service, operators and customers may have initial doubts. Customers will need to be reassured that their cargo will arrive on time and intact.

If such concerns arise, they might turn out to be warranted. The acceleration and deceleration of hyperloop capsules and 760 mph top speeds could cause vibration and shifting of cargo, according to Facey. Additionally, the magnetization of the tunnels and cars could damage some types of cargo.

Insuring the cargo would be expensive. Fortunately, Facey noted, “Insurance costs should come down over time as the service develops and eventually be lower because there is less human intervention, and fewer things can ostensibly go wrong in an evacuated tunnel.”

Facey also noted that there are many unknowns when it comes to the design elements of hyperloop.

“How will containers be transported? Will freight be loaded on pallets then onto cargo containers at a hyperloop port like an airport? Or will they be direct loaded on the containers like rail or ocean freight?” Facey wondered, as he tried to envision this nascent technology. “Since they eventually will have to be transported over the road, containers will likely be the same outside profile as current containers but rounded on the top. Perhaps current containers will be retro-fitted to accommodate these containers inside them and reduce handling and touches. Perhaps a new system entirely will need to be developed.”

Presuming that truck drivers are not replaced by autonomous vehicles, as Elon Musk has predicted they will be, Hyperloop may still leave some jobs for drivers.

“Hyperloop will require both ‘first mile’ pickup and ‘final mile’ deliveries for all shipments. This creates more sustainable, healthy jobs for truck drivers that allow them to stay local and possibly see their families every once in a while,” said Facey.

Facey’s speculation makes it obvious that a working Hyperloop system would impact a diverse range of businesses, in ways that are not readily apparent. Warehouses could be built farther off-site, at a much lower cost. Currently, warehouses are strategically placed near the largest markets. Although hyperloop companies will still need to actively manage their operations and sell their services, Facey believes that freight transport via hyperloop would produce a significant impact.

“The ripple effect on businesses will allow them to even further utilize ‘just-in-time’ processes where truckload scale goods can be delivered at air freight transit times and at truckload costs,” said Facey. “This changes the decision timeline, the supply chain cost (both time and money), the amount of time to get from lab to factory floor and then into customers’ hands. It has wide-ranging implications all around. Hyperloop transportation is rail service at the speed of air freight.”

Fire alarm systems offline in new Second Avenue Subway


Amid the gleaming, spotless Second Avenue Subway stations there are lingering problems. Riders Eyewitness News spoke with said they had no idea that the fire detection system in the new Second Avenue Subway doesn’t work.

And they had no idea that the men pacing the stations are actually fire wardens on hand to report a fire if one breaks out.

“Does that make you feel safer?” Eyewitness News Reporter N.J. Burkett asked.

“No, they’re people, you know?” said Sean Devney, a rider.

“That’s a tremendous deal!” said Kenny Turner, a rider. “What happens if something goes awry?”

MTA officials admit the system has been offline since May.

That’s when a malfunction triggered the sprinkler system in the 86th Street station, damaging several key electrical components.

Engineers are still working to reprogram the detectors.

They chose to shut down the entire fire detection system to prevent another sprinkler malfunction, while keeping the stations open.

“The Second Avenue Subway is open, safe, serving roughly 170,000 riders a day,” said Shams Tarek, spokesman, “and reducing pressure on the Lexington Avenue Line.”

And with the fire wardens, MTA officials insist riders are even safer than they would be, otherwise.

Riders Eyewitness News spoke with weren’t so sure.

“If that man is over there and the fire is at the other end of the platform, or below the platform where he can’t see it, that’s an issue,” Turner said.

The line opened on New Year’s Eve.

Governor Andrew Cuomo was determined to deliver the service on-time, as promised.

But critics say that might have been a mistake, right on down to signs at 72nd Street. That’s where the northeast arrow points riders south, and the southeast arrow points riders north.

“They launched it too quickly, before it was truly finished,” said Deborah Newman, a rider. “It’s just all carelessness. They went too fast at the end.”

BOS Group started with 1 truck. Now, it’s one of Miami’s biggest third-party logistics providers

BOS Group CEO/Founder Ozan Baran at his Allapattah warehouse in front of one of his new ‘Quickload’ trucks.

As an 18-year-old student living in Cyprus, Ozan Baran opened his first business in 1994, trucking oranges around the island nation.

“I went bankrupt,” he said. “It was a great learning experience.”

This setback did not discourage the Turkish native from getting involved in business again. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in international relations at Girne American University in Cyprus, Baran moved to Miami to live with his sister. He arrived in 1999 with $600 in savings.

“I worked at Royal Caribbean and then as general manager of Pasha’s [Mediterranean] restaurants,” Baran said. “I used to drive by the Port of Miami [now PortMiami], and it made me think about the opportunities here for logistics. I saved my money, and in 2005, bought my first truck and started my company.”

Using his savings and credit, the entrepreneur bought a flatbed truck for moving shipping containers and founded BOS Transport to move freight throughout Florida. BOS represents the initials of the first name of Baran, his mother Baysan and sister Simten.

“I worked very hard — 10-12 hours every day of the week,” Baran said. Demand for reliable trucking service was high, and by providing personal attention and excellent service, his business grew with the help of word-of-mouth recommendations. A few years later, he set up a small warehouse in Hialeah, bought more trucks, and hired more employees.

Over the years, BOS Transport evolved into the BOS Group, a major third-party logistics provider based in Miami. Its divisions provide trucking, warehouse, freight, fulfillment and other services and include BOS Transport, BOS Cargo, BOS Warehouse and a popular office rental facility at the headquarters building called BOS Business Center.

Bazan’s company has grown from a single flatbed truck into an enterprise that has more than 180 employees, a large fleet of tractor-trailers, revenues of over $10 million in 2016, and 250 domestic and international clients. The company, which has siding along the Florida East Coast Railway and is next door to Miami International Airport, operates out of a 56,000 square-foot headquarters and warehouse building. To help it keep up with the demand of moving containers in and out of PortMiami and Port Everglades, BOS is building a 125,000-square-foot warehouse a few blocks away, adding new trucks, trailers and other equipment, and hiring more personnel.

“As we grew, I saw new opportunities and studied each one before investing,” he said. For instance, he noticed that many foreign firms working in international trade needed small, economical office spaces, so he converted part of his headquarters into attractive, furnished spaces that are fully booked. He plans to apply this concept in other cities.

In 2015, he launched a new division, Quickload, a fee-based platform that allows shippers and truckers to connect through an app so that vacant space on trailers can be used. Trucking companies, which often see their trucks carrying only partial cargo loads, can line up guaranteed volumes for each route, thus increasing their revenues. And companies that want to ship freight can use Quickload to find available space on trucks and negotiate their own prices.

Walking through the Allapattah warehouse packed with slabs of marble, stacks of glass sheets for condo towers, nonperishable foods and a refrigerated section filled with Danish cheese and chocolates, Baran talked about plans to expand operations in other states and in Europe.