August 14, 2015
FRA Report Acknowledges Major Challenges to Implementing PTC

FRA recently announced that a majority of rail systems will not be able to install PTC safety equipment by the Dec. 31 deadline.  The agency's report to Congress outlined several challenges to meeting the statutory deadline — challenges that APTA has communicated repeatedly to Congress and FRA for years — including:

>  Lack of adequate funding;

>  Limited availability of wireless spectrum for various technical, commercial, legal and regulatory reasons;

>  Lack of availability of PTC equipment due to the limited number of manufacturers and suppliers; and

>  Technical challenges, such as radio interference and software development.

In response to the report, APTA President & CEO Michael Melaniphy emphasized that the commuter rail industry is 100 percent committed to installing PTC, but the statutory deadline was never realistic.

“The commuter rail industry has already spent $950 million on PTC implementation and conservative estimates are that $3.48 billion is needed to complete implementation nationwide,” he said.  To date, Congress has appropriated $50 million for PTC. 

The six-year surface transportation bill passed by the Senate last month includes a provision that extends the deadline for installation and activation of PTC equipment until 2018.  APTA and others have urged the House to include a similar extension in its version of the bill, which is expected to be introduced after Labor Day.

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FTA Publishes Proposed New Safety Rule for Public Transit

On Fri., Aug. 14, FTA published a request for comments on a proposed rule regarding the agency’s new authority to oversee the safety of local public transportation systems.  The proposed rule describes how the FTA would conduct audits, inspections and enforcement actions.

FTA proposes to establish a safety management systems (SMS) approach, similar to what is widely used in the aviation and space industries.  Other DOT agencies, including FRA, are also incorporating SMS into their regulatory structures.

APTA will coordinate the collection and submission of industry views within the 60-day comment period.

Advocacy for Transportation Bill Moves from Nation's Capital to Local Districts

August in Washington.  It’s that time of year when the nation’s capital is a bit slower and quieter, except for the tourists.  Members of Congress have left town to visit their home districts and states.  Even President Obama and Vice President Biden are on holiday this week.

But it’s also the perfect time to continue advocating for a multi-year surface transportation bill — not in Washington, but at the grassroots level.  That’s where you’ll find most lawmakers — visiting constituents — and why supporters of public transit are taking their message to representatives in their districts.

From now through Labor Day, this is an excellent time to tell members of Congress (and mayors and governors) about the importance of getting a fully funded transportation bill to the president's desk before funding expires after Oct. 29.  Information on how to join the 165,000 Voices for Public Transit can be found [here].


On Mon., Oct. 5, Professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter of the Harvard Business School will be the featured speaker at APTA’s Annual Meeting (Oct. 4-7) in San Francisco.

Kanter is the author of Move: Putting America’s Infrastructure Back in the Lead (2015).  The book is a “must-read” for any public transportation aficionado, and APTA’s Annual Meeting is an opportunity to hear the author share her thoughts about our industry.  Register [here].


Amazon envisions package pickups on public transit, using lockers on buses, trains and subways

Getting to and from work can be a workout all by itself
WTOP story based on a Wall Street Journal article

MTA (Flint, MI) opens alternative fuel facility; shows off its first hydrogen fuel cell bus


“Mobility is opportunity. Mobility is freedom. Mobility is choices.  …When it’s possible to move around by public transportation, horizons widen and aspirations soar.”

Professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter
Author of Move: Putting America’s Infrastructure Back in the Lead

The next issue of Passenger Transport Express will be published on Friday, September 11.

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