The Environmental Law and Policy Center (ELPC) seeks to hire an experienced full-time transportation policy advocate in its Washington, DC office. This policy advocate will work to promote sustainable transportation policies and projects, especially development of a Midwest High-Speed Rail Network, through federal legislation, appropriations and policies.
ELPC is the Midwest’s leading public interest environmental legal advocacy and eco-business innovation organization, and among the nation’s leaders. We develop and lead successful strategic environmental advocacy campaigns to improve environmental quality and protect our natural heritage. We are public interest environmental entrepreneurs who engage in creative business deal making with diverse interests to put into practice our belief that environmental progress and economic development can be achieved together. ELPC’s multidisciplinary staff of 46 talented public interest attorneys, environmental business specialists, policy advocates and communications specialists brings a strong and effective combination of skills to solve environmental problems and improve the quality of life in our communities. ELPC’s headquarters is in Chicago with additional offices and professional staff in Columbus, OH, Des Moines, IA, Jamestown, ND, Madison, WI, St. Paul, MN, Sioux Falls, SD, and Washington D.C. ELPC has an annual budget of $6.5 million and started in 1993. See www.elpc.org and www.highspeedrailworks.org.
RESPONSIBILITIES: The ELPC Transportation Policy Advocate will work with ELPC’s senior staff team and ELPC’s Federal Legislative Director to promote sustainable transportation policies and projects through reauthorization of the federal surface transportation and rail authorizations, appropriations and other opportunities. Responsibilities include advocacy and education with Congressional offices and the Administration, policy research and development, advocacy and outreach in support of a Midwest High-Speed Rail Network and other transportation priorities, and relations with ELPC’s coalition partners. In addition, this ELPC policy advocate will work on other targeted federal issues and opportunities that emerge as ELPC priorities. This position requires occasional travel to Chicago and other Midwest cities.
QUALIFICATIONS: At least five years of professional experience with federal policy advocacy and analysis. Understand and enjoy multifaceted strategic advocacy that involves coordinated legislative advocacy, policy analysis, media and organizing actions. Hill experience on transportation issues highly desirable. Excellent persuasive abilities and oral and written communications skills, analytic abilities and strong interest in public interest and environmental advocacy. An inspired and demonstrated commitment to public interest advocacy and the ability to work productively as a member of a team of skilled professionals is required. Advanced degree preferred.
SALARY: Commensurate with experience and with ELPC’s salary structure that is competitive with other large public interest environmental organizations. Excellent benefits provided.
APPLICATION PROCESS: Please send a cover letter, resume and three professional references to ELPC Deputy Director Kevin Brubaker at TranspoAdvocate@elpc.org Telephone inquiries are discouraged. The Environmental Law and Policy Center is an equal opportunity employer and is continually seeking to diversify its staff. (Posted 1/29/2013)
REPORT FROM THE U.S.—While the development of a high-speed rail system in the U.S. is still in the beginning stages, the project—once completed—is likely to enhance connectivity, grow the economy and increase travel, sparking interest from hotel developers who will be looking to accommodate the inevitable influx of travelers across the rails.
Nancy Johnson, executive VP of development at Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, said high-speed rail would be responsible for the “evolution of hotel locations,” connecting airport locations and high-speed rail stations to urban centers and suburban or rural locations along the track.
It’s been quite a year for passenger rail in the Midwest, and it just got even better. Yesterday, the Federal Railroad Administration issued two Records of Decision that open the door further for improved passenger rail service between Chicago and St. Louis.
In one of the decisions, the FRA selected the Metra Rock Island Corridor as the most efficient route between Joliet and Chicago. And in the other, the FRA chose a consolidated route along 10th Street through Springfield.
The Iowa Department of Transportation, in coordination with the Federal Railroad Administration and Illinois Department of Transportation, has scheduled in–person open house public hearings as well as an online, self-directed meeting for the Chicago to Council Bluffs-Omaha Regional Passenger Rail System Planning Study. Information presented provides a summary of the Draft Tier 1 Service Level Environmental Impact Statement (Draft EIS) including the project’s purpose and need, all reasonable alternatives, a description of the affected environment, and potential environmental impacts of the alternatives considered. The basis for selection of the preferred route alternative will be explained. Preliminary reports, including environmental documents and alternative analysis with exhibits and maps, will be available to review. Each open house public hearing and online meeting will contain the same presented information, so individuals can attend in-person at the open house public hearing or view the online meeting. The project partners encourage all those interested to participate.
This is your chance to let decision-makers know that you support expanded passenger rail service in the Midwest and along this corridor.
The public hearings will be conducted as an open house the week of Dec. 11, 2012, using a combined informal open forum and formal format. Iowa DOT staff will be available to discuss the project informally between 4 and 5:30 p.m. A formal presentation will begin at 5:30 p.m., followed by a question-and-answer session concluding at 7 p.m.
Join us in person at the following dates, times and locations.
- Chicago, Ill.
Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012
Chicago Union Station, 500 W. Jackson St., Great Hall Gallery
- Des Moines, Iowa
Wednesday, Dec.12, 2012
Des Moines Botanical Center, 909 Robert D. Ray Drive, Oak/Willow Room
- Council Bluffs, Iowa
Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012
Council Bluffs Public Library, 400 Willow Ave., Conference Room A/B
Can’t attend in person?
An online, self-directed meeting with the same information presented by staff at the in-person public hearings is also available – click here!
31.2 million passengers best ever, On-time performance up
WASHINGTON – Amtrak carried more than 31.2 million passengers in Fiscal Year 2012 ending September 30, marking the highest annual ridership total since America’s Railroad(r) started operations in 1971 and the ninth ridership record during the last ten years.
A year-over-year comparison of FY 2012 to FY 2011 shows ridership grew 3.5 percent to a new record of 31,240,565 passengers and ticket revenue jumped 6.8 percent to a best ever $2.02 billion. In addition, Amtrak system-wide on-time performance increased to 83 percent, up from 78.1 percent and its highest level in 12 years.
“People are riding Amtrak trains in record numbers across the country because there is an undeniable demand to travel by rail,” said President and CEO Joe Boardman. “Ridership will continue to grow because of key investments made by Amtrak and our federal and state partners to improve on-time performance, reliability, capacity and train speeds.”
During FY 2012, ridership on the Northeast Corridor is up 4.8 percent to a record 11.4 million, state-supported and other short distance routes is up 2.1 percent to a record 15.1 million and long-distance services is up 4.7 percent to their best showing in 19 years at 4.7 million.
Also, FY 2012 produced other ridership achievements including new records for 25 of 44 Amtrak services, and 12 consecutive monthly records with July being the single best month in the history of Amtrak. Since FY 2000, Amtrak ridership is up 49 percent.
Boardman noted ridership numbers for FY 2013 will get an early boost this fall when the extension of Downeaster service to Freeport and Brunswick, Maine begins Nov. 1, and Amtrak Virginia Northeast Regional service is extended to Norfolk, Va., starting Dec.12.
Factors contributing to Amtrak long-term ridership growth include improved passenger services such as Wi-Fi and eTicketing, high gasoline prices, continued growth in business travel on the Northeast Corridor, the increased appeal and popularity of rail travel, dissatisfaction with congested highways and air travel, and effective marketing campaigns.
Amtrak intends to provide FY 2012 ridership information by state and station next week.
Ridership Highlights FY 2012 vs. FY 2011
*Northeast Corridor (NEC): The NEC between Washington and Boston had a 4.8 percent increase in ridership to its best year ever with more than 11.4 million passengers. Specifically, ridership on the Northeast Regional service is up 6.6 percent to a new record of more than 8.0 million and the high-speed Acela Express is up 0.5 percent to its second-best year ever to nearly 3.4 million.
*Northeast: Ridership on the Keystone Service (New York – Harrisburg) is up 5.8 percent to a new record of more than 1.4 million. Other ridership record setting routes include: Downeaster (Boston – Portland) up 4.3 percent to more than 541,000; Adirondack (New York – Montreal) up 5.3 percent to nearly 132,000; and Ethan Allen (New York – Rutland, Vt.) up 10 percent to more than 54,000. Routes with notable percentage growth increases include Vermonter (Washington – St. Albans, Vt.) up 5.5 percent to more than 82,000, Empire Service (New York – Albany) up 3.8 percent to more than 1.06 million and Pennsylvanian (New York – Pittsburgh) up 2.2 percent to more than 212,000.
*Chicago Hub / Midwest: The combined ridership on the Chicago-St. Louis corridor from Lincoln Service and Texas Eagle trains increased 11 percent to set a new record of more than 675,000 passengers. Other routes setting ridership records include: Hiawatha Service (Chicago – Milwaukee) up 2.3 percent to more than 838,000; Missouri River Runner (St. Louis – Kansas City) up 5.3 percent to nearly 196,000; and Blue Water (Chicago – Port Huron) up 1.1 percent to more than 189,000.
*West Coast: San Joaquin (Bakersfield – Oakland) is up 7.2 percent to new record of more than 1.1 million riders. Capitol Corridor (San Jose – Sacramento/Auburn) up 2.2 percent also set a new record with nearly 1.75 million passengers.
*Virginia and North Carolina: In Virginia, the Washington – Lynchburg service is up 14.1 percent to a new record of almost 185,000 and the Washington – Newport News service is up 11.9 percent also to a new record of nearly 624,000 passengers. In North Carolina, the Piedmont (Charlotte – Raleigh) set a new record of more than 162,000 riders and had the best percentage increase of all Amtrak routes at 16.2 percent.
*Long-Distance Routes: All 15 Amtrak long-distance routes experienced an increase in passengers resulting in their best combined ridership numbers in 19 years. Routes setting new ridership records include: Lake Shore Limited (Chicago – New York) up 4.3 percent to almost 404,000; Texas Eagle (Chicago – San Antonio) up 12.8 percent to nearly 338,000; and City of New Orleans (Chicago – New Orleans) up 8.5 percent to more than 253,000. Routes with significant percentage growth in ridership include: the Empire Builder (Chicago – Seattle/Portland) up 15.8 percent to more than 543,000; Coast Starlight (Los Angeles – Seattle) up 6.5 percent to more than 454,000; and Cardinal (New York – Chicago) up 4.9 percent to more than 116,000.
Amtrak is America’s Railroad(r), the nation’s intercity passenger rail service and its high-speed rail operator. A record 31.2 million passengers traveled on Amtrak in FY 2012 on more than 300 daily trains – at speeds up to 150 mph (241 kph) – that connect 46 states, the District of Columbia and three Canadian Provinces. Amtrak operates intercity trains in partnership with 15 states and contracts with 13 commuter rail agencies to provide a variety of services. Enjoy the journey(r) at Amtrak.com or call 800-USA-RAIL for schedules, fares and more information. Join us on facebook.com/Amtrak and follow us at twitter.com/Amtrak.
Press Release from U.S. Department of Transportation
October 5, 2012
BRATTLEBORO, Vt. – U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood today announced the on-time and on-budget completion of a two-year project making upgrades and repairs along 190 miles of track between St. Albans and Vernon on Amtrak’s Vermonter line. Secretary LaHood was joined at the dedication by Governor Peter Shumlin, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, U.S. Representative Peter Welch and Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph C. Szabo, as well as other state and local officials.
“The Vermonter project will grow our economy by moving people and goods more efficiently than ever before,” said Secretary LaHood. “This is good news for rail travelers and for the regional economy, and it’s one more sign of President Obama’s support for rail projects in New England and across America.”
The project is one of the first major rail corridor projects to be completed under the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR) program, part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The project received $52.7 million in Recovery Act funds. The improvements will result in increased speeds, reduced travel time, greater reliability, and an increased number of trains traveling each day.
Upgrades to the rail track included heavier continuously-welded rail, bridge work, new tie installation and ballast work. These improvements enable the scheduled running time for the Vermonter to be reduced by about a half hour, and passenger-train track speeds in signaled territory to increase from 50 to 79 miles per hour. The upgraded track increased weight capacity from 263,000-pound to 286,000-pound freight cars. The project also repaired and strengthened more than 50 bridges and improved 52 highway-rail grade crossings on track owned by the New England Central Railroad.
The Department of Transportation has made more than $315 million in rail investments throughout New England. Other FRA grants on the Vermonter line include $72.8 million to Massachusetts for improvements between Springfield and East Northfield, Mass., which will reduce travel times by an additional 30 minutes upon project completion. Additionally, $191 million is being invested on the rail line between New Haven, Conn., and Springfield, Mass., which is also used by the Vermonter. All of these improvements will reduce travel times, improve reliability and add capacity. The Vermonter runs daily between Washington, D.C. and St. Albans, Vt.
“This cooperation between the state and the New England Central Railroad to get this job done has put people to work and made infrastructure improvements that will benefit both freight and passenger rail service,” said Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph C. Szabo. “Achieving faster travel times and increased reliability on a regional network are the primary goals of our program in the Northeast, which we have accomplished here for the benefit of passengers, shippers and all the communities on the route.”
The Federal Railroad Administration and its 34 state partners continue to make significant progress on HSIPR-related projects across the country. With $10.1 billion in federal funding, the agency is moving forward with 154 projects, laying the foundation for a 21st century passenger rail network. At the close of FY2012, FRA obligated 100 percent of the Recovery Act-funded HSIPR projects nationwide.
CHICAGO – Howard A. Learner, Executive Director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center, and a lead advocate for high-speed rail, congratulates Nippon-Sharyo and Sumitomo Corp. of America on being chosen, through a competitive process, to manufacture 130 next generation passenger rail cars. The bi-level rail cars were commissioned by four states—Illinois, Michigan, Missouri and California—and will be assembled in Rochelle, Ill.
“This railcar procurement award is very good news for Illinois job creation and for the entire Midwest’s rail supply chain businesses. Nippon-Sharyo will need to purchase everything from steel to bolts to couplings to seats, and Midwest manufacturers are poised to help deliver those goods. This high-speed rail investment will create jobs in Illinois, business in the Midwest, and modern rail transportation for all of us.
“Manufacturing 130 modern new passenger railcars in Illinois makes clear that high-speed rail development is good for jobs, good for economic growth and good for the environment. This advances the region’s position as a leading rail manufacturing center.
“Modern, fast, comfortable and convenient high-speed trains will improve mobility, reduce pollution, create new jobs and spur economic growth for Illinois and the Midwest.”
WASHINGTON -Amtrak ridership is surging this year with 11 consecutive monthly ridership records. In each month of the current fiscal year, Amtrak has posted the highest ridership total ever for that particular month (i.e., the best October ever, the best November ever, etc.) with the final month of September also expected to be a new record. In addition, July was the single best ridership month in the history of Amtrak.
“All across America the demand to travel by Amtrak is strong, growing and undeniable,” said President and CEO Joe Boardman. “Amtrak continues to deliver on its mission to fulfill a vital national transportation need and does so with improved management and financial health.”
Through 11 months of FY 2012 (October 2011 – August 2012), total Amtrak ridership is up 3.4 percent as compared to the same period last year. When the current fiscal year ends on September 30, Amtrak expects a new annual ridership record will be set, surpassing the current record of 30.2 million passengers established in FY 2011.
From FY 2002 to FY 2011, Amtrak ridership increased 44 percent and set new annual records in 8 of those 9 years. This long-term growth is occurring across the Amtrak national network and on all Amtrak business lines, including the Northeast Corridor, state-supported and other short-distance routes, and long-distance services.
Amtrak is America’s Railroad(r), the nation’s intercity passenger rail service and its high-speed rail operator. A record 30.2 million passengers traveled on Amtrak in FY 2011 on more than 300 daily trains – at speeds up to 150 mph (241 kph) – that connect 46 states, the District of Columbia and three Canadian Provinces. Amtrak operates intercity trains in partnership with 15 states and contracts with 13 commuter rail agencies to provide a variety of services. Enjoy the journey(r) at Amtrak.com or call 800-USA-RAIL for schedules, fares and more information. Join us on facebook.com/Amtrak and follow us at twitter.com/Amtrak.
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The Amtrak Option
Helped by the high cost of gasoline and airline tickets, Amtrak is doing very well. The railroad recently announced that when given a choice between air or rail, three-quarters of travelers between New York and Washington take the train. Between New York and Boston, more than half prefer the rails. One of the biggest impediments to further growth is the pair of 100-year-old tunnels under the Hudson River — one going in each direction between New Jersey and New York City. The tunnels operate at capacity, creating a bottleneck that will only grow worse as the metropolitan area’s population grows. It’s obviously time for a new tunnel complex.
Overall rail ridership is expected to reach 43 million a year across the nation by 2040. To improve service in the Northeast, Amtrak officials are envisioning a ride of about three hours between Boston and Washington on high-speed rail with sustained maximum speeds of 220 miles per hour, comparable to trains in Europe and Japan, all of which have substantial government support.
Read more here.
Q&A: Amtrak President Joe Boardman on the Rational Inevitability of High-Speed Rail
Amtrak plans to build a next generation high-speed rail network along the east coast zipping business travelers from New York to Philadelphia (or D.C.) fast enough to get them to their cheesesteak power lunch in a little more than half an hour. But the $151 billion plan lacks a dedicated funding source–a source that railroad executives are asking Congress to provide at a time of hostility to big projects. So Transportation Nation’s Alex Goldmark chatted with Amtrak President and CEO, Joe Boardman about the future of our nation’s rail network, and the prospects for Northeast corridor bullet trains in particular.