T4America Blog

News, press releases and other updates

Posts Tagged "passenger rail"

A blueprint for Amtrak success from T4A Chair John Robert Smith

Amtrak has a workforce crisis on its hands. While the COVID-19 pandemic brought many of these problems to light, it did not create them. Mistakes by Amtrak’s leadership long before COVID-19 led to a slowly diminishing workforce and service impacts, which the pandemic exacerbated. Now, with a historic federal investment in passenger rail, how can Amtrak pivot and get back on the right track? The answer may lie in the company’s recent history.

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The STB is finally acting to improve freight railroads. Will it be enough?

Freight train

After years of looking the other way while deliveries suffered, the Surface Transportation Board finally ruled that freight railroads have to improve their service. Here’s what it could mean for goods and travelers alike.

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Bad faith arguments continue: Another look at the #SoNotBusy Gulf Coast Corridor

Over a month ago, we explained why freight railroads CSX and Norfolk Southern (NS) were trying to halt the return of passenger rail service on the Gulf Coast—an effort that could hinder passenger rail service across the country. Well, CSX is still at it, and their easily-disputed claims are proof that freight railroads have had free rein to stand in the path of passenger rail for far too long.

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Rail barons return: How two freight railroads are trying to derail the infrastructure law’s historic investment in passenger rail

mosaic of mobile residents cheering on the 2016 inspection train

Two freight railroads have been waging a bad-faith effort to kill the incredibly popular, fully funded, multi-state effort to restore long-awaited passenger rail service along the Gulf Coast, in part because the precedent could stall the infrastructure law’s historic investment in the country’s passenger rail network which would give millions more Americans access to regular rail service.

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Passenger rail funding in the infrastructure bill: Building a national network

Passenger rail was one of the brightest spots in the new infrastructure bill, with $102 billion for passenger and freight rail projects through direct grants to Amtrak and competitive grant programs. Here’s what you need to know about this new money and the bill’s rail policy changes, and how they can be best used to expand and improve passenger rail service across the U.S.

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The infrastructure bill’s limited state of repair funding and policies

There is very little new funding in the infrastructure bill specifically dedicated to repair and no new requirements on highway monies for prioritizing repair on roads and bridges. Overall the law doubled down on the practice of giving states immense flexibility with the bulk of their money and then hoping that they use that flexibility to prioritize repair. Advocates should be ready to hold states and metros accountable for making progress. 

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Lemonade from lemons: Improvements worth celebrating within flawed infrastructure bill

Pier 1 embarcadero

Money from the finalized $1.2 trillion infrastructure deal is already flowing out to states and metro areas who are plugging it right into projects both already underway and on the horizon. After covering six things the administration should do immediately to maximize this mammoth infusion of unexpected cash, here’s a longer look at some of the law’s incremental or notable successes, with the aim of equipping the administration and advocates alike to steer this money toward the best possible outcomes.

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Senate Commerce Committee proves that bipartisanship doesn’t have to equal terrible transportation policy

The Senate committee tasked with handling the rail portions of the larger transportation bill managed to produce a bipartisan bill that also makes the expansion of reliable, frequent rail service to more Americans a cornerstone of its approach.

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Nine ways the House’s transportation proposal starts to make a “paradigm shift”

With the House’s INVEST in America Act being considered in committee on Wednesday, it’s a good time to look at what else beyond our core three principles in the bill are worth praising and potentially even improving.

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Interstate rail commissions get projects done. A new bill will create more of them

Last month, Rep. Steve Cohen (TN-9) introduced legislation that would create interstate rail compacts across the country. This bill is inspired by the success of the Southern Rail Commission, a compact of states along the Gulf Coast that teamed up to restore passenger rail service destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

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Statement on Surface Transportation Board’s expanded capacity

16 Mar 2021 | Posted by | 0 Comments | , , ,
press release

A statement from Transportation for America chairman and former mayor of Meridian, MS, John Robert Smith, on the Surface Transportation Board (STB)’s recently expanded capacity:

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Congress to pass billions in much-needed relief for public transit and Amtrak

Today, Congress will take a big step towards recovering the United States’ essential public transit and passenger rail network from the pandemic with a $1.9 trillion stimulus package. The bill—soon to be voted on in the House and signed into law by President Biden—includes $30.5 billion in emergency relief for public transit and $1.7 billion for Amtrak.

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Three things to know about the Senate’s FY21 appropriations for transportation

Last month, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development released a proposal for fiscal year 2021 that cuts funding for important transit and passenger rail grant programs. With only 10 days until the government runs out of funding, the clock is ticking for the House and Senate to reach an agreement on their two very different appropriations bills.

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Will Congress hold Amtrak accountable for providing essential passenger rail service?

14 Sep 2020 | Posted by | 3 Comments | , , ,

Communities large and small, urban and rural, are served by Amtrak’s national network of long distance routes, providing essential connections to jobs, services, and the broader economy. Amtrak is threatening to dramatically cut these services, severing essential connections despite clear directives from Congress. 

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T4America statement on Senate Republicans’ HEALS Act

press release

Senate Republicans’ COVID-19 relief funding proposal contains no emergency funding for transit for passenger rail. T4America released this statement in response. 

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House builds on the FAST Act’s change to provide better and more balanced passenger rail service

Expanding and improving our nation’s passenger rail network to bring better, more reliable passenger rail service to more people is one of the best ways to improve access for millions of Americans in big urban areas and small rural ones alike. The House transportation bill takes some important steps to balance  passenger rail with the rest of our transportation investments. Here are the details.

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Nine other important things to know about the House’s transportation bill

Last week the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee released a multi-year transportation bill that starts to connect transportation spending to accomplishing measurable outcomes, including our three core principles. Here are seven other important other things to know about the House’s introductory effort to replace the FAST Act, which expires this December.

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Building a better stimulus package: here’s how

With the $2 trillion rescue plan approved, Congress is already eyeing another COVID-19 relief and recovery package later this month. Based in part on what we learned from the 2009 stimulus, Transportation for America contributed infrastructure proposals to Smart Growth America’s detailed recommendations for economic stabilization and recovery. We must ensure that any further stimulus empowers communities to be economically prosperous, socially equitable, and environmentally sustainable. 

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Four years ago, Gulf Coast rail was a dream. Now it’s closer to reality thanks to the City of Mobile, AL

At long last, the City of Mobile, AL approved a resolution that brings passenger rail to New Orleans closer to fruition. The timing is fitting: February marked the fourth anniversary of the first passenger train to roll through the Gulf Coast since Hurricane Katrina. That was just a one-time ride, but not for much longer: In 2022, there will be four trains a day.

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Federal grant brings Gulf Coast passenger rail ever closer to fruition

Gulf Coast passenger rail is closer than ever to returning. With state and federal funds already secured to make capital investments required to bring new and drastically improved passenger rail service back between New Orleans and Mobile, AL, a second vital federal grant to help operate the new service completes the other biggest part of the funding puzzle.

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