Transit memories: SBCTA, Amtrak, MBTA, NCTD
Marybeth Luczak, Editor-in-Chief
The San Bernardino County, California Transportation Authority (SBCTA) reports that train trials are continuing along the nine-mile Arrow Passenger Rail Corridor, slated to launch this fall. Additionally, Amtrak late last month celebrated the completion of ADA-related improvement projects at two Kansas stations; the Federal Transit Administration ordered the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) to conduct an “immediate safety shutdown,” beginning July 30; and North County (California) Transit District won a financial reporting award.
SBCTAin collaboration with Metrolinkbegan train trials in mid-February along the nine miles and five stations Arrow Passenger Rail Corridor – also known as the Redlands Passenger Rail Project. In its August bulletin, the SBCTA reported that trials – now using both Metrolink and Stadler low-floor FLIRT DMUs (diesel multiple units) trainsets – are continuing, with Arrow service due to begin this fall.
The $359.7 million project was launched by SBCTA and Metrolink in 2014 and will connect the San Bernardino Transit Center (located on Rialto Avenue and E Street in downtown San Bernardino, adjacent to the San Manuel Stadium) and the University of Redlands (see map below).
Three DMUs will operate on the Arrow Corridor. Each offers 116 seats and additional standing room for 120 passengers. The design meets the Federal Railroad Administration’s Alternative Vehicle Technology (AVT) requirements for shared-use (passenger/freight) corridors and meets the Federal Transit Administration’s Buy America requirements.
The Southern California Regional Rail Authority, which operates Metrolink, will manage Arrow service, maintain rail vehicles, and provide dispatch and track maintenance services. In addition to standard passenger rail service, the Metrolink regional/commuter train will be expanded to serve Redlands-Downtown Station with limited-stop service to and from Los Angeles during peak hours.
Amtrak held groundbreaking ceremonies late last month at Dodge City and Hutchinson, Kansas, stations celebrating the completion of improvements totaling nearly $7 million.
The $3.8 million project in Dodge City, served by Amtrak Southwest Chief— covered replacement of existing paved platforms, including a narrow central platform, with a new 780ft concrete platform, including dedicated passenger boarding areas to accommodate eastbound and westbound boarding ; and upgrades such as new station signage, a moveable elevator enclosure, and energy-efficient LED lights along the platform and tracks. According to Amtrak, sloped accessible walkways connect the platform entrances to the existing raised brick plaza area adjacent to the historic station. The 1898 station building, a former Harvey House, was restored in 2003 and part of the building provides a waiting area for Amtrak passengers.
The $3 million project at Hutchinson – a mid-century modern station (circa 1954) served by Amtrak Southwest Chief— included a new 350-foot boarding platform with new station signage; mobile elevator enclosure; energy-efficient LED lighting; bodyguard; new accessible trails with better connections to city sidewalks; and new ADA parking spots. Interior improvements to the building included a complete restroom renovation with new fixtures, fittings, and adequate clearances for accessibility; new entrance doors; accessible fountain; and full accessibility for all passengers in the station waiting area.
Since June, Amtrak has also completed accessibility-related improvement projects at stations in Ashland, Virginia; west, RI; and Homewood, Illinois, as part of a multi-year effort to bring its more than 500 resorts into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990.
To date, Amtrak said it has completed 171 ADA station-related projects under the ADA Station Program, including 20 additional ADA-compliant stations in the past fiscal year for $82 million. Another 29 stations are scheduled for completion this fiscal year, with an expected investment of $113 million. The program is also advancing the design of 120 stations and 40 station construction projects. Since 2011, Amtrak said it has invested more than $489 million in accessibility upgrades nationwide.
In related developments, Amtrak has been recognized as a “Best Workplace for Disability Inclusion” by the American Association of Persons with Disabilities (AAPD) and the non-profit organization Disability:IN, earning a high score on the Disability Equality Index® (DEI) 2022. .
Following three recent incidents involving uncontrolled train traffic, the ALE ordered MBTA to “conduct a new series of safety briefings for workers and produce new documentation documenting the necessary inspection steps,” according to a July 29 report State House Press Service report.
The MBTA, effective July 30, has been required to carry out an “immediate safety shutdown”, which will prohibit any worker from moving rail vehicles in maintenance yards or workshops until it is cleared. attends a special safety briefing.
“The briefing is to provide ‘all workers who may, in the course of their work, drive a disabled rail transport vehicle and all workers who may have reason to secure such vehicles’ with an overview of the circumstances of three incidents recent: a May 28 ‘rollaway’ at Cabot Yard, a May 30 ‘mainline rollaway’ near Braintree Station, and the last runaway train that happened on Monday [July 25]when a train with faulty brakes slid out of a marshalling yard and onto the main red line passenger service segment near Braintree,” State House Press Service reported. “MBTA officials must also inform workers of ‘policies and procedures that prevent involuntary or uncontrolled movement,’ the FTA ordered.”
According to the news service, FTA Associate Administrator for Transit Safety and Oversight Joe DeLorenzo wrote in a July 28 letter to MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak: “While no injuries did not result from the [three] recent incidents, uncontrolled train movements, especially on the main track, are exceptionally dangerous, can lead to a collision or derailment, and pose a substantial risk of injury or death to employees in the path of the train.
MBTA is also required to “prepare checklists outlining existing procedures for linking and unlinking trains and instruct workers to follow these steps”, within five days of the letter, which stated that MBTA was to “develop and implement a form to document the results of the ‘circle control’ inspection of rail transport vehicles” within 10 days, according to the State House Press Service report.
MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo said in a statement to the news service, “MBTA shares the Federal Transit Administration’s concerns regarding recent uncontrolled movement incidents involving out-of-service rail cars. Having received the letter from the FTA yesterday, the MBTA is taking steps to execute the immediate actions required by the FTA. Fully supporting the FTA’s ongoing review of safety-related processes and practices, the MBTA is committed to providing the necessary training and tools to employees to create and maintain a culture in which safety is a priority.
On June 15, FTA released a series of special instructions to MBTA and the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities – the state agency responsible for safety oversight of MBTA’s railroad operations – to “improve the safety of the Greater Boston area railroad system.”
The five special directives issued – four to MBTA and one to DPU – are the result of FTA’s inspection of MBTA’s safety management which began on April 14, 2022, following several incidents that resulted in one fatality. and several injured passengers and MBTA railroad employees. systems. (For more on the inspection, read: “Second FTA security probe targets MBTA.”)
According to July 29 State House Press Service report, “MBTA officials said they are meeting all deadlines and requirements listed in the June 15 special guidelines and have issued new training and safety policies regarding train movements in yards and garages. The agency is also working on a pilot program to implement “blue flag” procedures, in which blue flags or lights indicate workers are on, under, or between rolling equipment, on its network rapid transit.
NCTD received the Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA) for its annual financial report for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2021. NCTD provides COASTER commuter rail , the SPRINTER hybrid train, BREEZE bus, FLEX on demand and LIFT paratransit services.
According to NCTD, the report “was judged by an unbiased panel to meet the high standards of the program, which includes demonstrating a constructive ‘spirit of full disclosure’ to clearly communicate its financial history and motivate potential users and research groups. users to read the report. The Certificate of Achievement is the highest form of recognition in the field of government accounting and financial reporting.”
“When you have a team of dedicated people who believe in transparency and deliver exceptional work, notable recognition like this is greatly appreciated,” said Eun Park-Lynch, chief financial officer of NCTD. “I am proud of the work done and hope this award will reassure the public of the diligence provided by NCTD.”
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