Angela Cotey's Blog - Editors' Posts - MyProgressiveRailroading
    • 15 Sep 2012

    Caltrain's road to electrification

    In spring 2007, I visited Caltrain's San Carlos, Calif., headquarters to interview senior executives about the inner workings of the agency, their challenges and top priorities. What I left with was far more specific. Caltrain Executive Director Michael Scanlon and then-transportation and engineering chief Robert Doty talked about their hopes to electrify the majority of the agency's commuter-rail corridor and...
    • 12 Sep 2012

    Not your standard studio

    What do you get when you combine a century-old piece of steel rail, a few scrapped wood ties and a creative eye? If you guessed a piece of furniture (and I’m thinking you didn’t), you’d be right on track. Robert Hendrick, owner of railroad contracting and maintenance firm Railroad Services L.L.C., is using scrap railroad materials to make custom furniture: tables and desks, seats and benches, wine racks...
    • 25 Jan 2012

    An uncertain future for California's HSR project

    The California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) is set to launch construction on the initial segment of its high-speed rail line in the Central Valley this fall. But will it happen? In recent months, a series of issues have been raised that have drawn even more criticism to the project. An updated draft business and financial plan released in early November cited a new project cost of $98 billion — more than double...
    • 19 Jun 2009

    It's a wrap (up): APTA's annual Rail Conference

    The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) held its annual Rail Conference at the Chicago Hilton earlier this week. If conference planners were worried that the recession and tight travel budgets would affect attendance, they were quickly dismissed. The conference had more than 1,000 registered participants, and just prior to Monday's opening general session, the line for walk-ins trailed halfway across...
    • 8 Jun 2009

    States make their case to FRA for high-speed rail funds

    Last week, the Federal Railroad Administration wrapped up a series of workshops held throughout the country to gather input on the Obama Administration's strategic plan for high-speed rail development. The goals: to determine how to best create partnerships to make the country's high-speed vision a reality; improve communication between the FRA, states, railroads and other stakeholders; hear questions, comments...
    • 14 May 2009

    A fictitious — but believable — transit security breach

    We had a stormy night here in Milwaukee yesterday, and I thought it provided the perfect opportunity to plop down on the couch and catch up on some TV. At the top of my "must-watch" list: "24." The show actually aired on Monday (what did I ever do before DVR?) and for those who don't follow it, the focus this season is on a group of domestic terrorists that are planning to release a bio-weapon...
    • 11 May 2009

    Operating budget relief could be on the way for transit agencies

    It's no secret that transit agencies are facing large budget deficits in the coming fiscal year. The recession has caused sales tax revenue — which provides dedicated funding to many a transit agency — to plummet, and financially strapped states are lowering their transit funding allocations (or, in California's case, eliminating them altogether). So it should come as a bit of a relief to transit execs...
    • 25 Mar 2009

    ‘Tweeting’ — transit style

    Ever hear of Twitter? It’s a social networking service under which users can send and receive updates, known as “tweets,” that tell their friends, family and whoever else might care, what they’re doing at the moment. While the service has apparently been around for a couple of years, I first heard about it a few months ago, when I read on an entertainment Web site that so-and-so had tweeted about...
    • 24 Mar 2009

    Older Americans, not just commuters, need adequate transit options

    Why do we need public transportation? To take cars off the road ... to provide commuters an alternative to sitting in gridlocked traffic and paying outrageous fuel prices ... to help improve the environment and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. But amid the reasons-to-support-transit discussions, one aspect often is overlooked. Our population is aging, and it's important that senior citizens have accessible, affordable...
    • 11 Mar 2009

    All I want for my wedding is … a streetcar?

    Remember the last wedding you went to? What did you take as a gift? Chances are, you presented the newlyweds with a shiny new toaster, blender or (fill in houseware item of your choice here). But the guests at last Saturday’s nuptials between Kristen Myers and Chris Heckman were asked to forego the home goods and instead provide donations to the proposed Cincinnati streetcar project, according to a Cincinnati Enquirer...
    • 9 Mar 2009

    Capitalizing on the transit ridership renaissance

    For the past nine months, transit agencies have been spewing out ridership data fast enough to make your head spin. And why wouldn't they? Ridership skyrocketed when gas prices rose to record levels last summer, and continued to climb even when fuel prices fell and unemployment rose. So it came as no surprise when the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) released 2008 ridership totals today that showed...
    • 11 Feb 2009

    A 'stimulating' discussion

    The Senate passed its version of the economic stimulus package yesterday. Despite proposed amendments that called for either increasing or decreasing funding for transportation infrastructure projects, the approved figure didn't differ much from what originally was proposed: $8.4 billion for transit urban and rural formula programs, $2 billion for high-speed rail corridor investments, and $1.1 billion for Amtrak and...
    • 14 Jan 2009

    Making a case for Midwest high-speed rail — from Spain

    On Monday, Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle outlined to Milwaukee business leaders how he would suggest spending any federal economic stimulus funding the state received under President-elect Barack Obama’s proposed plan. One of the top priorities: a Midwest high-speed rail system linking Chicago and Minneapolis, with stops in Milwaukee, Madison and Green Bay. "If you could get from the Twin Cities to Chicago...
    • 9 Dec 2008

    Wanna stimulate the economy? Invest in transit

    Like many economy-watchers, President-Elect Barack Obama believes the recession is going to get significantly worse before it gets better, as he said during an interview with Tom Brokaw that aired on Sunday's "Meet the Press." The good news is Obama and his economic team are formulating a new stimulus plan to infuse more money into the economy — and it likely will include funding for ready-to-go infrastructure...
    • 13 Nov 2008

    A victory for high-speed rail

    Shortly after joining the Progressive Railroading staff almost six years ago, I was given my first story assignment. The topic? High-speed rail. I still remember the interviews I conducted for that article — not everything that was said, but the tone of the conversations. High-speed proponents from across the United States were hopeful, optimistic, excited about their high-speed possibilities — even though...
    • 6 Nov 2008

    The votes are in... and transit comes out a winner

    I'll admit it — I had my doubts. Sure, transit ridership has soared this year. Sure, Americans seem to be seeking alternatives to automobile and air travel. But in these particularly tough economic times, would people actually vote in favor of financing those new and/or expanded transit options? Turns out, they would. The Center for Transportation Excellence tracked the transit ballot initiatives —...
    • 18 Sep 2008

    Putting on the PTC pressure

    All too often, it takes a tragedy to raise public awareness of — and prompt action on — long-standing issues. Last week's deadly Metrolink/Union Pacific Railroad collision is an unfortunate example. A week ago, positive train control was a technology all but unheard of to those outside of the rail industry. Today, it's a hot topic in the media, being cited as a way the crash could have been prevented...
    • 19 Aug 2008

    An Amtrak supporter in the White House?

    Speculation is mounting that Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) will be named Barack Obama's running mate in the 2008 presidential election, CNN.com reported yesterday. Now, I don't claim to know much about politics, nor do I know much about Biden himself, but what I do know is this: He's a strong Amtrak supporter, and commutes by train between Washington, D.C., and his Delaware home every day. In 2007, he co-sponsored...
    • 15 Jul 2008

    The case for high-speed rail

    Midwest Airlines has become the latest air carrier to announce job and service cuts; yesterday, the company said it would be slashing about 40 percent of its workforce — and those who are lucky enough to keep their jobs could be facing a huge pay cut. The reason? Skyrocketing fuel costs have the airline on the brink of bankruptcy, Midwest says, and the airline is grounding its fleet of gas-guzzling MD-80 planes...
    • 23 May 2008

    The potential power of a picture

    I was perusing MSN’s Web site last weekend when I saw a photo of a Charlotte Area Transit System light-rail vehicle next to the headline, “Where’s the best place to live in America?” Intrigued by why the site might have used an LRV to symbolize the city — and, therefore, imply rail is one of the reasons it's on the list — I clicked on the headline to read the article. According...
    • 7 May 2008

    The capacity crunch, Japanese style

    With ridership on the rise, some U.S. transit agencies are nearing capacity on their peak-period trains. But that’s nothing — a “YouTube” video a friend of mine emailed me yesterday (“Crazy Japanese commuters get pushed into trains”) gives a whole new meaning to the capacity crunch. What I want to know is, what happens when the doors open? Or if you’re in the middle of the...
    • 16 Apr 2008

    Transit rail's green effect

    The Cato Institute has released results from a recent study that says transit rail is “ineffective at reducing carbon dioxide emissions.” Because “most” transit-rail agencies supplement their systems with feeder bus services that often have low ridership, the systems still have high energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions per passenger mile, according to the study. “Only a handful...
    • 22 Feb 2008

    Transit agencies go 'green' — incrementally

    I was having brunch with friends a couple of weekends ago when one mentioned she had just read an article on global warming. According to the piece, our home state of Wisconsin eventually would have a climate similar to Kentucky. On this particular below-zero February day in Milwaukee, the thought of a more mild winter definitely sounded appealing. But as my warm-weather-loving friend wondered aloud if she’d...
    • 15 Jan 2008

    What’ll it cost you to help resolve the nation’s transportation dilemma? A latte a week

    Would you pay an extra 50 cents a day to drive your car? If Congress follows recommendations unveiled today by the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission — including a motor fuels tax hike to the tune of five to eight cents a gallon annually for the next five years — you’ll have to. That averages out to 41 to 66 cents a day for the average American motorist (groan). ...
    • 12 Dec 2007

    Transit-rail CEOs: New faces, new places

    Is there something in the water? By my count, there were a dozen new transit-rail chiefs named this year, putting a whole lot of new faces in the top post. Not that they’re all new new faces. John Catoe Jr. was deputy CEO at the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority before taking over as general manager at the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. Trinity Railway Express’ Bill...