NJ Transit unveils transportation plan for Pope Francis’ U.S. visit

New Jersey Transit officials yesterday announced the agency’s plans for operation during the weekend of Sept. 26-27, when Pope Francis visits Philadelphia.

The agency will change its regular service to accommodate the estimated 2 million people who are expected to travel to see the pope during his two-day visit to Philadelphia. The pope also will visit New York City on Sept. 25 and Washington, D.C., on Sept. 24.

NJ Transit will offer a special, limited service on its Atlantic City Rail Line and River Line for people attending the World Meeting of Families and papal visit on Sept. 26-27.

At noon tomorrow, the agency will begin selling special tickets for travelers planing to ride the Atlantic City Rail and River lines — only those with special event tickets purchased in advance will be able to ride the lines during those two days, officials said.

NJ Transit will try to accommodate as many riders as the system will allow, said Executive Director Veronique “Ronnie” Hakim in a prepared statement posted on NJ Transit’s website.

“We have put forth a transportation plan that will get as many people as possible, as close as possible to Philadelphia, all with an eye on safety,” she said.

The agency has set up a webpage with additional details about the event. The New Jersey Department of Transportation also has posted a webpage with transportation information during the papal visit.

SEPTA immersed in ‘unprecedented’ planning for papal visit to Philadelphia

Ever since November 2014, when Catholic Church officials confirmed Pope Francis will visit Philadelphia over two days this September, there’s been an all-hands-on-deck mindset at the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA).

Philadelphia officials estimate 1.5 million to 2 million visitors will descend on the city for the pope’s Sept. 26-27 visit, which will coincide with the World Meeting of Families, a conference organized every three years by the Holy See’s Pontifical Council for the Family. Although the city and its affiliated agencies have prepared for many major public-gatherings in the past — Philadelphia hosted the Republican National Convention in 2000 and will host the Democratic National Convention in 2016, for example — SEPTA’s planning for the papal visit is unprecedented, says Deputy General Manager Jeff Knueppel.

“In all my years here, I’ve never experienced anything like this,” Knueppel said. “It’s been a massive undertaking.”

SEPTA normally carries 1.3 million people every weekday on its commuter-rail, subway, trolley and bus lines. Add another 1.5 million or more potential riders to that mix, “and we know we can’t handle that level of crowd by running a normal schedule,” said Assistant General Manager of Operations Ron Hopkins, who has been in charge of putting together the agency’s transportation plan for the papal event.

SEPTA officials knew as early as spring 2014 that the visit was a possibility. Once they knew for sure it was a go, Hopkins and his team began drawing up a game plan. By January, they had the gist of the operations plan down and have been modifying and adding to it since.

The first thing Hopkins and his team did was study past planning mistakes. Their best example of lessons learned? The city’s parade honoring the Philadelphia Phillies after they won the 2008 World Series. Held just two days after the Series’ conclusion, the event brought more than a million baseball fans into Center City and along the parade route. SEPTA struggled to respond to the sudden big boost in ridership, especially within the hour after the parade ended. The result was gridlocked rail stations, overflowing and late trains, and very unhappy passengers.

“We learned a lot about what really moves people quick and what doesn’t, and what doesn’t is stopping at every station that we had,” Hopkins said of SEPTA’s service lapses. “We disappointed a lot of people that day and got a lot of complaints.”

One thing the agency will do differently for the papal visit is limit the number of rail stations that will be open. Also, the train schedule will be drastically altered. Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter announced in June that SEPTA will cut back the number of open stations from the usual 282 to 31 on the regional rail lines, Market-Frankford Line, Broad Street Line, trolley and Norristown High Speed lines. Trains will operate express-type, pick-up only service to the event from 18 of the outlying stations; post-event, express service will leave Center City to those 18 stations.

The agency also set up online lotteries for a limited number of transit passes for commuters using the regional rail lines, the Norristown High Speed Line or Trolley Routes 101 or 102. The process hasn’t been without glitches, including a website crash when too many people logged onto the site at once.

Special holding pens the size of a single trainload will be organized at stations as a crowd-control measure, and to guide passengers to platforms and vehicle-entry points.

Limiting station stops, controlling crowds and tailoring the train schedule according to the weekend’s activities will address another major challenge: Security. While transit agencies typically heighten security measures to handle larger-than usual crowds, the papal visit has been designated a “national special security event” by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which bumps up SEPTA’s security scheme to a much higher level of requirements.

“Security has been an integrated part of all our decision-making,” said Hopkins.

The agency has its own police force of 275 officers and a K-9 unit, which will have its own deployment plan to cover the crowds traveling to and from the event. Additionally, SEPTA’s team will be part of a coordinated effort among other agencies, including the mayor’s office, Secret Service, Philadelphia police and fire departments, the Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, the Philadelphia Parking Authority, Delaware River Port Authority/PATCO, New Jersey Transit, DHS, the governor’s office, Pennsylvania National Guard, State Police, and government agencies in surrounding Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties.

SEPTA also has coordinated its transportation plan with Amtrak, and kept the freight railroads informed of the passenger-rail and security strategies.

Then there’’ the practical matter of keeping the trains running. SEPTA’s maintenance, engineering and construction crews already are thoroughly checking the entire system — trains, communications and signals, track and stations — to make sure “everything is working,” Hopkins said. Mechanics and electricians will be on standby at each open station to fix any problems that pop up during the big weekend.

SEPTA employees assigned to work the event will be trained and prepped in how to assist visitors — many of whom will be traveling to Philadelphia from other countries — with their transit needs.

“We have a plan in place for every station. Each will have designated transportation people, or ‘ambassadors,’ to help people. And the World Meeting of Families is coming in with their 10,000 volunteers, said Hopkins.

SEPTA officials are praying that their meticulous planning will pay off in a safe and joyous weekend.

“One thing we know about these events is that there will be criticism of why we did certain things,” said Hopkins. “But our task is to step up to the plate and do things creatively to get as many people onto mass transit and into the event area as possible.”

And who knows? Maybe Pope Francis, who was known for using public transit when he lived in his native Argentina, will take the train.

“We would be honored,” Hopkins said. “We would make sure that he enjoys his ride.”


Trekking the Teton Crest Trail


If anyone ever tells you the Teton Crest Trail is a nice, mellow backpacking trip, they lied. This trail can get a bit gnarly and serve you up some steep elevation gain and loss. It has the option of summiting a few peaks as well as a butt-kicking 40+ miles of trail to explore. In short, this has been one of our favorite backpacking trips yet! If the many miles of elevation change don’t take your breath away and make you want to die, the expansive mountain ranges with hidden valleys certainly will. We do not recommend this trail is for the faint of heart, you will work for it, but the rewards are more than worth it.

Alex and Bobby in Paintbrush Canyon Alex and Bobby entering Paintbrush Canyon

Tent views from the Lower Paintbrush Camping Zone Tent views from the Lower Paintbrush Camping Zone

Crossing a short snowfield going up the Paintbrush Divide Bobby and Becca crossing a short snowfield going up the Paintbrush Divide

DSC_0511 Paintbrush Divide – Elevation 10,720 ft

DSC_0540 Camping in the North…

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Final Battle for the Illusive Power Plant Safety Pizza

Power Plant Men

The Electric Shop had tried for three years to win the Safety Slogan of the Year award.  Not because we thought we were safer than any of the other teams at the coal-fired power plant in North Central Oklahoma, but because we really liked pizza (see the post: “When Power Plant Competition Turns Terribly Safe“) .  When the plant was downsized in 1994, the electric shop no longer existed as it had before.  We had become cross-functional teams (See the post: “Crossfunctional Power Plant Dysfunction“).  It looked as if our dream of winning the Power Plant Safety Pizza was no longer in our grasp.

My carpooling buddy, Toby O’Brien had moved from our plant as a Plant Engineer to the Safety Department in Oklahoma City.  He was working with Julia Bevers and Chris McAlister.  Chris had also moved from our plant as a labor crew hand…

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Managing EDI Changes

The standardized format of EDI documents has been a boon to both retailers and suppliers, providing common grounds for communications and efficiency. Retailers are, in many ways, in the driver’s seat when it comes to EDI – you tell the suppliers what you want and how you want it, and they fall in line.

That’s the theory, at least.  But if you’re in charge of EDI standardization and compliance, you know there’s a lot more to it.

Compliance with the X12 standardized format is crucial to getting the most of your supply chain, but while EDI transactions are standardized, other differences may complicate matters.

Business specifics typically decide the definition of incoming and outgoing documents for each retailer. Trading partners monitor document design via published EDI implementation guidelines; these can be easily followed upon receipt of inbound transactions and the subsequent creation of outbound transactions.

FINALLY The New No. 7 Subway Station Opens On West Side of NY

For the first time in more than two decades, New York City got a new subway station.

The station, at 34th Street and 11th Avenue in Manhattan, opened to the public on Sunday afternoon when regularly scheduled No. 7 trains started rolling through. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority held a midmorning ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the $2.4 billion subway extension, which brings subway riders to the Far West Side.

“This extension will benefit millions of New Yorkers in so many different ways,” said Thomas F. Prendergast, the authority’s chairman, before entering the station with Mayor Bill de Blasio and other officials. “It creates a vital transit link to the Far West Side and is expected to serve more than 27,000 customers each and every day.”

In a sprawling subway system that carries more than 5 million people around the city each day, the new stop is its 469th station. The official subway map has been updated with a purple branch extending west from Times Square toward the Hudson River.

After more than a decade of planning and a series of construction delays, riders finally got to use the sparkling station and three blocks of street-level parks. The station has a glass-shell entrance leading to a series of escalators, two colorful overhead mosaics and a pair of inclined elevators that are the first diagonal lifts in the subway system.

The station is notable for another reason: It is the first subway extension paid for by the city in more than 60 years. The Bloomberg administration agreed that the city would pay for the project as part of the Hudson Yards development.

It will bring riders to Hudson Yards — a cluster of residential buildings and office towers currently under construction — and to the newly renovated Jacob K. Javits Convention Center and the northern part of the High Line.

The extension is expected to improve service for riders along the No. 7 line, which runs from Manhattan to Flushing in Queens, because, officials said, extra tracks were built south of the Hudson Yards station, giving the authority more room to store and turn around trains.

In a city where projects like the Second Avenue subway seem to drag on indefinitely, the opening of even a single stop can feel momentous. The authority’s president of capital construction, Michael Horodniceanu, said the Second Avenue subway, which is scheduled to open in December 2016, would come next.

“I feel very proud that we’ve completed the work,” Mr. Horodniceanu said on Friday as he prepared for the 7 extension opening. “We look forward to doing the same for Second Avenue, and we have about 15 months to go there. It’s a labor of love.”

Some Cool Things About My Birthplace of Brewster, NY

I know that many of you have seen “MY” WebPage  www.ominousweather.com/Penney.html

From time to time I will add more pictures and facts. The most important in Brewster is the railroad. So lets talk a little about it.

In 1831, the Harlem Line Railroad received it’s charter. The intended route would connect towns in Westchester, Putnam and lower Dutchess Counties with New York City. Local terrain and waterways determined the layout of the railroad route. In 1848, knowing that the Harlem Line Railroad would pass through Southeast, in Putnam County, Walter and James Brewster constructed passenger and freight stations, donating the buildings to the Harlem Line Railroad.

In 1848, the Harlem Line reached “Brewster’s Station.” A rival company began building the Hudson Line in 1835, reaching Albany by 1849. By the early 1850’s the Harlem Line had revenues of one million dollars a year and transported nearly three million passengers at a fare of two and a half cents per mile.

  The railroad helped boost population and travel to Brewster.The freight trains on the Harlem Line carried mainly iron ore, animals, and dairy products. Dairy, lumber, mining, and circus businesses in Putnam County benefited from the new mode of transportation.  Trains helped carry heavy material for these businesses including both raw and processed materials.  The railroad also dispersed large quantities of material that could not be used locally. 

Initially, farmers were against the development of the railroad as the train tracks frequently ran through their property.  They feared the danger this posed to their animals, the loss of prime low lands, and the damage to their crops by soot and smoke.  Opposing farmers were soon convinced of the benefit of the railroad as it further opened the New York City market to their goods. In the 18th and early 19th century goods were often sent across the county to Cold Spring where they were loaded onto sloops headed for New York City. The railroad provided a faster and more direct route to the New York City market.

The opportunity for growth encouraged Gail Borden to open a milk condensery in Brewster in 1863.  The Borden factory became a major employer for the area.  Close to 80,000 quarts of milk were condensed daily Monday through Saturday with finished products sent, via railroad, to New York City.

The railroad helped in the growth of local mining interests most notably the Tilly Foster Iron Mine. Previously, the expense of transporting the iron ore to the blast furnaces in Pennsylvania where steel was produced hindered the rapid development of the mine.

The railroad was instrumental in the development of the Croton Water System in the 1890s. It made it easier to bring supplies and materials for construction of the aqueduct, dams and related facilities. Traffic of milk from Brewster farms decreased during this era as many farms were condemned to protect the purity of the watershed. The milk business also began to decline as refrigerated train cars made it possible for New York City to obtain fresh milk from upstate New York and New England.

Brewster was an important station since it was the main service point for steam engines on the line.  There were 15 to 20 stalls for servicing engines and a turntable.  The Harlem Line employed many engineers, brakemen, firemen, and mechanics, most of who lived on North Main Street near the depot.  In 1952 diesel trains were introduced and the roundhouse was no longer needed and it was demolished.  The Harlem Line was electrified to White Plains by 1912. However it wasn’t until 1984 that the line was electrified to Brewster North.

In 1881 the Putnam line also began running through Brewster, and Brewster with its 2 lines became known as “the Hub of the Harlem Valley.”  “The Put”, as the line was called, connected 155th Street and Highbridge in the Bronx to Brewster, which meant it really served Westchester County.  “The Put” was electrified in 1926.  The Putnam line freight cars usually carried iron ore, milk, and ice. The freight business of railroad began to diminish as airplanes and trucks started to ship products faster. On  May 29, 1958 the last train service ran on the Putnam Line.

Today, the Metro North Railroad operates on the Harlem Line transporting many commuters from Brewster to New York City’s Grand Central Terminal.  According to Metro North Railroad, on an average weekday about half a million people pass through Grand Central terminal of which approximately 200,000 are Metro North commuters.

Candlebox to headline Utica Comets’ free Fan Fest

No ticket is needed.

That alone is a good reason not to miss the third annual Fan Fest before the Utica Comets’ home game Saturday, Oct. 24 against their American Hockey League rival Syracuse Crunch, said Galaxy Communications President and CEO Ed Levine on Wednesday afternoon during a news conference at the Utica Memorial Auditorium.

Fan Fest will start at 3 p.m. and continue up to the beginning of the Comets’ game at 7 p.m. Popular rock band Candlebox is scheduled to headline the event, which will take place near the Aud on Whitesboro Street.

The event, which is free and open to everyone, also will include an autograph booth with Comets players, a family fun zone with bounce houses and a mini-hockey play area. Local professional hockey players will also meet fans and sign autographs during the event, Comets President Rob Esche said. An announcement on which players will be signing autographs will be made later, Esche said.

Food and beverages also will be available for purchase at the event.

“We’re very excited,” Levine said of the event. “It’s a celebration of the Comets, of last year’s (Western Conference championship), of what they meant to this community and the excitement of the upcoming year.”

Levine anticipates a big crowd for the event. He said about 5,000 people showed up for Candlebox’s performance a few years ago at Fireworks Over Utica.

EDI and ERP Integration Make For Better Everything

In today’s technologically advanced world, businesses enjoy great benefits from implementing Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP). ERP solutions offer the ability to manage an entity’s various operations such as finances, supply chain and inventory, for example.

Particularly because comprehensive ERPs are the backbone of supply chain entities who use them to help run the company, it’s key to select an ERP that can communicate with the company’s various trading partners.

That’s where EDI comes in.

The impact of integrating ERP with EDI

My Reminiscence of Laknavaram Lake

My Life

March kicked off with an excitement to see complete ROR Boyz together as Prapul is heading back to India for a small visit from Australia, it didn’t stand for a long time as unavoidable circumstances pushed Vamshi to leave early to Australia.
Our initial plan was a trip to Gandikota–>Shimoga–>Mattur–>Badami caves–>Pattadakal–>Aihole–>Dambal–>Hyderabad. Best part of this plan was Camping in Shimoga. But due to the time factor we didn’t stick to our plan. So we changed our plan and went to Laknavaram for Camping. Our day started at 7am, firstly we went to Ramappa temple and spent some time checking its architecture (To know more about the temple you’ve to wait till I post 😉 ) then we headed to Laknavaram lake. We were really amazed to see such a lovely and beautiful place. We didn’t regret at all. Such an awesome experience I say 

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