Posts Tagged: Federal Transit Administration

High-speed regional trains zoom into California

Several new trains capable of considerably higher speed should begin plying the rails in California in about four years time, thanks to an infusion of federal cash, reports Tim Sheehan of The Fresno Bee.

California received 68 million dollars from the federal government to buy 15 new American passenger cars and four new U.S.-made locomotives for the state’s three regional rail routes. The funding is a portion of the $336 million worth of Recovery Act funding — economic stimulus money — awarded as federal matching funds to California and outright grants to Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, and Missouri. (more…)

Los Angeles: a beacon of hope amid high-speed rail fog?

Headwinds  are building against California’s planned high-speed rail system, with congressional opponents attempting to kill funding, and new reports generating ever more negative rhetoric. That’s the  bottom line in Carolyn Lochhead’s piece in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Meanwhile, though significant cuts to transportation funding — both for road construction and maintenance as well as mass-transit are likely in the coming transportation bill, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has introduced an innovative financing scheme aimed at speeding up transit construction.  Villaraigosa’s initiativemay become a nationwide program, according to Rick Orlov of the Torrance Daily Breeze.

Criticisms at the policy end of high-speed rail are hardly new. Here’s a standard sample: (more…)

Life in the Fast Bus Lane

Chicago has applied again to get a $150 million Federal Transit Administration grant to build a rapid-transit-style bus service. Under the plan, the Chicago Transit Authority would add bus lanes across the city for express buses, such as a bus that connects downtown to the city’s far South Side, 103 blocks away.

The Chicago Tribune’s John Hilkevitch reports that this is Chicago’s second attempt to get the program going — the Bush administration gave Chicago the grant but revoked it when the city didn’t develop a proper “congestion pricing strategy.” (more…)


The National Transportation Safety Board has identified a cause of the Washington, D.C. Metro crash that killed nine people last month, reports the Washington Post’s Lena H. Sun:

Metro’s automatic train control system relies on track circuits to maintain a safe distance between trains. The circuit detects the presence of trains by using audio frequencies transmitted between the train and the steel rails. The system is supposed to automatically transmit signals to the next train down the line. If the following train gets too close, the system sends a "zero" speed signal that forces it to stop.

Federal investigators and Metro officials said the track circuit where the crash occurred intermittently lost its ability to detect a train after a key component was replaced five days before the crash. Shortly after that repair work, the circuit fluttered and flickered, reporting the presence of a train one moment but not the next, transit officials said.

Washington Metropoliant Area Transit Authority officials claim they will have to "invent" new back-up circuits and, besides, there’s not really the funding for additional safety measures.

Understanding Government did a full report on "WMATA" (just to the right and a little above this post) and found that while it’s a pastime to complain about the Metro trains, the system is usually safe and efficient. The Post has diligently documented the D.C. Metro’s problems since the June 22nd crash. But I think commuters in D.C. and cities with public transit across the country should keep in mind that riding mass transit remains far safer than driving a car.-MB