Advancements in transportation technology have reduced emissions, improved on-time performance and enhanced safety. While these are important components of our transit systems, meeting the needs of the 21st Century requires a commensurate shift in our approach to the way we administer our transportation services — service must be convenient and easy to use for the passengers.
In Southern California, three commuter rail operators have successfully offered service to passengers for decades along a single rail corridor. However, with three operators come three independent schedules and pricing structures.
This can lead to confusion among customers who are unfamiliar with the systems. When a rider boards a train, they are not concerned with the name painted on the side, but if that train will take them to their destination.
A new bill signed by Gov. Jerry Brown at the end of September will help eliminate confusion and integrate the services along the Los Angeles-San Diego-San Luis Obispo rail corridor, known as LOSSAN.
The bill, SB 1224 (Padilla, D-Los Angeles), creates a joint powers authority, the LOSSAN Rail Corridor Agency to govern all train services along the rail line, including administering the state-funded Amtrak service.
The LOSSAN corridor is the second busiest passenger rail line in the nation. It stretches 351 miles from San Luis Obispo to San Diego, connecting major metropolitan areas of Southern California and the Central Coast.
The legislation is modeled after the successful Capital Corridor Rail Joint Powers Authority in Northern California that has increased service frequency and ridership and reduced costs since it was established in the mid-1990s.
The LOSSAN corridor agencies pursued the legislation to bring services under local control to be more responsive to the area’s needs and consumer desires.
Local management of these services will result in:
• More efficient and effective use of resources related to service expansion, frequencies, extensions, connectivity and schedules.
• Improved passenger services, ticketing, marketing and information systems.
• More focused oversight and management of on-time performance, schedule integration and customer service.
• A unified voice when advocating for passenger rail issues at the state and federal level.
This legislation provides the parameters to enhance rail service for the seven million riders who travel along the rail line each year and entice future transit users to jump on board.
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Read our METRO blog, "'Transit going the extra mile to accommodate bikers" here.
While PTC may have just recently entered the consciousness of the public at-large, it has been an issue for freight and commuter rail systems since Congress passed the Rail Safety Improvement Act (RSIA) (P.L. 110-432) in 2008 following the collision between a Metrolink commuter train and a Union Pacific freight train in Los Angeles. Since that time, rail organizations have been working toward meeting the federally-mandated PTC implementation deadline of December 31, 2015. With less than six months to go, several commuter rail systems have said that, not only will they not meet the deadline, they will need several more years before having full PTC implementation on their trains.
Disruptive technologies and the new era of information sharing are helping to evolve and advance public transportation in our nation’s greatest cities. Nearly 300 mayors and government officials convened in San Francisco June 19-22 for the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ 83rd Annual Meeting, featuring remarks from President Obama and former U.S. Secretary of State and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. I was invited to speak in front of these influential government leaders to discuss “Technology and the Transformation of Urban Transportation.” This article will give readers an inside look at the conversation.
In times of disaster or tragedy, public transit agencies are frequently called upon to assist their communities and other transportation organizations. In case of fire, evacuation or accident, buses may be used to shelter or transport the displaced or injured, or serve as a respite site for first responders.
As a city, Leipzig is an excellent example of the German principals of transport planning and service as well as eastern Germany’s long history. The city has benefitted from large amounts of investment in infrastructure over the years since German reunification and most transport systems seem to be new or rebuilt, expanded and in a very good current state of repair. The most notable element in the transport mix is inevitably the enormous and historic main railway station, which is one of the largest, but certainly not busiest, in Europe.
The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority’s Regional (commuter) Rail system was inherited from the Pennsylvania and Reading Railroads and the infrastructure in many sections of the system has been serving the Philadelphia area for more than 100 years. Fifteen years ago, overhead catenary system (OCS) failures were a common occurrence on SEPTA Regional Rail, a result of fatigue cracks and wear. The all too common OCS failures were frustrating for SEPTA customers who occasionally found it difficult to depend on train service for their travels and for SEPTA, whose crews were constantly working to repair and maintain the system.