Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Fw: PTP 09/30-A Salt Lake, Denver, etc. (long)

Expand Messages
  • Mike Harrington
    Some of you may be interested in this. Lyndon Henry from Austin comes out with one of these almost every day. The new group is:
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 30 5:33 PM
    • 0 Attachment
      Some of you may be interested in this. Lyndon Henry from Austin comes out
      with one of these almost every day. The new group is:


      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "Nawdry" <nawdry@...>
      To: <nawdry@...>
      Sent: Tuesday, September 30, 2003 4:24 PM
      Subject: PTP 09/30-A Salt Lake, Denver, etc. (long)

      PTP Digest 2003/09/30-A - CONTENTS

      * Salt Lake: TRAX LRT Medical Center extension opens
      Deseret News Tuesday, September 30, 2003

      * Denver suburb candidates embrace LRT plans
      Denver Post Sunday, September 28, 2003

      * Sacramento: Neighborhood applaud LRT sound wall
      Sacramento Bee Monday, September 29, 2003

      * Spokane: LRT plans muddled as 'BRT', DMU, streetcar eyed
      Spokane Spokesman-Review Saturday, September 27, 2003

      * Houston: Rail critics say rail transit failed in past
      Houston Chronicle Sept. 29, 2003

      * Houston: Letters respond to rail opponents
      Houston Chronicle Sept. 29, 2003

      * Beijng-Shanghai: Rail, not maglev, chosen for high-speed line
      People's Daily Online Sunday, September 28, 2003

      * Europe: Chunnel train now even faster
      Seattle Times Sunday, September 28, 2003

      * Seattle: Sen Patty Murray fights for Amtrak
      Seattle Times Monday, September 29, 2003

      * Seattle: Ferries overloaded as service is cut
      Seattle Times Sunday, September 28, 2003

      * Ed: US gas thirst must be curbed
      The Daily Herald - Everett, Wash. September 29, 2003



      Deseret News
      Tuesday, September 30, 2003

      UTA extends TRAX line to U. med center

      By Geoffrey Fattah

      UTA formally opened its TRAX extension to the U. Health Sciences
      Center Monday with a "ribbon-breaking."
      Keith Johnson, Deseret Morning News

      Deseret Morning News

      For University of Utah medical student Wesley Mortensen, the new TRAX
      line to the U. Health Sciences Center could make him smarter and a
      better father. It might even make him a better husband.

      "I've spent 1,100 hours on either TRAX or a bus," Wesley said Monday.
      "That's nearly 47 days . . . or 550 movies, or 220 18-hole rounds of golf."
      With a wife and kids in Sandy, Wesley said making good use of his time is
      important and time spent aboard TRAX is time well spent. Wesley said he
      can study his medical science or talk to his wife and little ones on his
      phone รข?" safely.Wesley and a crowd of several hundred transit
      supporters gathered near Primary Children's Medical Center for the official
      opening of the new TRAX Medical Center line. The 1.5-mile, $89.4 million
      line was completed 15 months ahead of schedule, giving UTA officials
      special bragging rights. UTA estimates the new light-rail extension will
      service some 3,000 new riders right off the bat.
      "I hope to see this kind of crowd at the station every day," UTA general
      manager John Inglish said as he stood at the new Medical Center station.
      Salt Lake Mayor Rocky Anderson joined Inglish in predicting a new
      "renaissance" of mass transit in Utah and across the nation.
      Inglish predicted transit projects will sweep across U.S. cities in the next
      50 years.
      "They're all looking at Salt Lake City," Anderson said.
      At the turn of the last century, the mayor pointed out, Salt Lake City had
      some 156 miles of trolley track, which was ripped out after a "consortium
      of automobile and tire companies" bought and removed the transit system
      to make way for wider streets.
      Yet transit projects are only possible with federal transit funding.
      "We have a tough fight ahead of us" in Washington, said Rep. Jim
      Matheson, D-Utah, who criticized the current Bush administration for its
      efforts to limit federal funding for transit projects to a 50-percent match.
      The federal government offered to pay 60 percent of the cost to build the
      Health Sciences Center TRAX extension.

      U. Medical Center employee Matthew Brown rides the new TRAX line
      past Rice-Eccles Stadium on his way to work Monday.
      Keith Johnson, Deseret Morning News

      University of Utah president Bernard Machen urged students to refrain
      from jaywalking near TRAX rails and for motorists to observe the new
      traffic signs.
      As students break in the new line, UTA officials are turning their eyes to
      future projects.
      "We have a lot on our mind right now," said UTA director of transit
      development Mike Allegra.
      On the radar screen is the future construction of a commuter rail network
      from Salt Lake County to Davis and Utah counties as well as TRAX spurs
      to West Jordan, West Valley City and Draper.
      Within a year, Allegra said, written plans should be complete to extend
      TRAX from the Delta Center to the Salt Lake intermodal terminal near the
      Gateway. The terminal will not only cater to TRAX and UTA buses, but to
      Amtrak trains, local taxi cabs and Greyhound buses.
      Allegra said the Davis County commuter rail system is planned for
      operation by 2007. No dates have been set for additional TRAX lines as
      funding has not come through, he said.

      E-MAIL: gfattah@...



      Denver Post
      Sunday, September 28, 2003

      T-REX figures in Greenwood Village's plans

      By George Merritt
      Denver Post Staff Writer

      Sunday, September 28, 2003 - The promise and problems associated
      with T-REX, the light-rail and highway expansion project on Interstates 25
      and 225, weigh heavily on the Nov. 4 elections in Greenwood Village.

      The city has largely avoided shrinking revenues that have affected other
      municipalities. Traffic congestion, speeding on side streets and coming
      light rail are the city's top priority, candidates say.

      "We are really into light rail," City Council candidate Ronald Rakowsky
      said, noting that four stations will be built in or near the city. "What we
      develop with that now will affect this community for the next 50 years."

      Council candidate Michael Logan said that in the meantime, something
      should be done to stop drivers from speeding down side streets. "We
      need to take steps to manage traffic in our neighborhoods," Logan said.
      "There are a lot of ways to do that, whether it is increased police
      enforcement or installing humps or traffic circles."

      Meg Froelich - also running for City Council - said, "For me, it is about
      quality of life."

      "We need to look at growth and the aesthetics of growth. We are really
      lucky we live in one of the greatest slices of the greatest state, and we
      should maintain that."

      Nancy Sharpe, who is unopposed for mayor, said light-rail stations that
      are coming with the completion of the Transportation Expansion Project,
      or T-REX, will have a huge impact on the city. "It will be a key part of our
      growth," Sharpe said. "There is a lot of land open for development, and
      we need to make sure we do that right."

      Another City Council candidate, Karen Blilie, said building a city center is
      a major goal. "We have big plans to put a premier city center near the
      Arapahoe park- n-Ride," Blilie said. "We are well past the conceptual
      phase of that."

      Anne Ingebretsen, David Kerber, Gary Kleeman, Gregg McReynolds and
      David Phifer also are running for City Council.



      Sacramento Bee
      Monday, September 29, 2003

      Back-seat driver: Activist, neighbors grateful for walled-off light rail

      By Tony Bizjak -- Bee Staff Writer

      There is a plaque on a masonry wall at the end of a short street in the
      Land Park area. It reads: "THE GREG SLOCUM WALL. Thank you, Sloat
      Way residents."

      The story behind that plaque deserves telling this week -- as transit
      officials open their new south light-rail line and advertise how well they
      worked with residents of the area.

      Greg Slocum is a soft-spoken 55-year-old state civil engineer who lives in
      a modest home on a residential stretch of Freeport Boulevard. His back
      yard is a rose garden he designed in honor of his late father, a rosarian.
      The garden is crossed by a meandering mossy path and framed by Italian
      cypress trees. It's a good spot for Slocum to sit and think.

      As of Friday, the back of his yard also was on the right-of-way for
      Sacramento Regional Transit's new south area light-rail line, running from
      downtown to Meadowview.

      Slocum first heard seven years ago that RT planned to run light rail
      behind his house.

      "My first reaction was, "Great!' " he said. "But I was naive. I assumed they
      understood the noise and visual impacts and would want to be good

      Although the light-rail trains would run every 7 1/2 minutes and the tracks
      would be atop a mound, giving riders a close-up view of back yards, RT
      had no plans for sound walls or sight barriers.

      Slocum and neighbors formed a group, Community for Responsible Light
      Rail, and lobbied for a masonry wall.

      Slocum showed photographs of the light-rail line in east Sacramento.
      There, some residents had put up warped sheets of plywood and plastic
      tarps between their yards and the light-rail line.

      "It looked like a slum," he said. "People were basically just defending

      But RT had never built sound walls next to residences on the original light-
      rail line, and officials didn't want to start facing that expense.

      So Slocum's group hired an attorney and a noise expert to conduct

      The members took their grievance to the federal government, which held
      the purse strings for the project.

      About then, RT had a change of heart. Officials decided they would put in
      about five miles of sound walls on the south line, at a cost of several
      million dollars.

      Now, RT is going back and placing sound walls along the original 1987

      City Councilwoman Lauren Hammond, who joined the RT board as
      Slocum's group was making its case, said board members decided it was
      the right thing to do.

      She recalls talking on a cell phone downtown with fellow board member
      Illa Collin when a light-rail train came by:

      "I couldn't hear," Hammond recalled. "Illa said, 'That does it for me.' I
      'That does it for me, too.' "

      Current RT board member Roger Dickinson doesn't like the sound walls,

      "I don't feel they are very attractive," he said. "They isolate the
      transportation corridor from the surrounding community, and they add cost
      to the project," which is detrimental "when you are trying to compete for
      scarce public dollars."

      Sitting in his back yard last week, Slocum looked up as a light-rail train
      zipped by, its roof just visible behind the 11-foot wall. The train blew its
      horn -- muffled somewhat by the wall -- as it passed.

      Slocum says he is grateful to RT.

      "They did a great job," he said.

      He is growing ivy on the wall to soften its harsh gray facade. He even likes
      that he can see the top of the trains going by. "It's fun," he said.

      The plaque is another matter. It came as a surprise. He's partly

      "A lot of people worked on this, not just me."

      But it also gives him a sense of vindication.

      "People are happy with the wall," he said.

      About the Writer

      Trapped in traffic? Airline lose your luggage? The Back-seat Driver is
      listening. E-mail your transportation nightmares to backseat@...
      or call The Bee's Tony Bizjak at (916) 321-1059.



      Spokane Spokesman-Review
      Saturday, September 27, 2003


      Light rail chugs forward; don't roll your eyes

      Richard Wiens - The Spokesman-Review

      A lot of people rolled their eyes when the Spokane Transit Authority
      began studying the possibility of a light-rail system here. We're just not
      enough, they said.

      Some $4.6 million later, their skepticism was reinforced in March when a
      survey of current STA bus riders showed that about 5,000 people a day
      would use light rail -- probably not enough to impress the Federal Transit
      Administration, which would be expected to pay about 60 percent of the
      construction costs. Surely, the critics said, this was now a dead issue,

      Wrong. Local and federal transportation officials are convinced the
      Spokane region needs, and will have, a high-capacity transit system. If
      we're too small for that, so are many of the 100 similar-sized metropolitan
      areas that are seeking federal funds for such systems.

      Richard Krochalis knows what's going on in Spokane. He knows that in
      the short term the STA may have to actually cut its current bus service
      because of a budget crunch. But the FTA's regional administrator, a key
      figure when it comes to procuring federal money for transportation, still
      thinks an expanded transit system will be built here eventually because:

      .The region will contain a half-million people within 20 years.

      .Many residents here can't afford to drive a car.

      .A relatively poor area such as Spokane can't afford not to invest in
      because it's essential for economic development.

      While some local residents were writing off Spokane's chances after the
      ridership survey setback, members of the STA's Light Rail Steering
      Committee barely missed a beat. If the original proposal for a 16-mile
      light-rail line from downtown to Liberty Lake wouldn't fly, they asked, what

      More eye-rolling followed, as yet another contingent of local officials flew
      off to Portland to view that city's rail system, and the STA decided to
      spend another $2 million-plus -- 80 percent of it from the federal
      government -- to further study Spokane's transit needs.

      Two new proposals are in the works, and the STA will likely settle on one
      of them next summer. One involves a shorter route for either electrified
      trains or more economical diesel trains between downtown and Spokane
      Valley's University City shopping center. A far-cheaper alternative called
      bus rapid transit involves a new breed of buses running between
      downtown and Liberty Lake.

      Bus rapid transit would emulate the light-rail experience. In general, low-
      floor, articulated buses stop at raised-platform stations about a mile
      travel on special lanes of existing streets and have control over traffic
      signals to reduce travel time. Pittsburgh, Miami and Charlotte, N.C.,
      already use such systems, and Eugene, Ore., is getting ready to establish

      True, they're still buses. But let's face it: Many of us won't get out of
      cars no matter what kind of mass transit is offered.

      Someday, an east-west light-rail line may run from Spokane International
      Airport to Coeur d'Alene, connecting with a north-south line that follows
      the planned North Spokane Freeway. Those lines could also interface
      with a network of streetcars on rails that might be built much sooner to
      serve downtown and surrounding neighborhoods. The downtown streetcar
      concept is being studied now.

      If it's an efficient, practical system, everyone will benefit from cleaner
      and less traffic congestion -- transit riders and non-riders.

      Bus rapid transit could be a vital first step toward establishing a
      downtown-Liberty Lake transit route that might someday serve light rail. A
      permanent mass-transit corridor would be guaranteed, with a resulting
      boost in development along the line.

      Potential ridership is only one of the criteria the federal government uses
      to decide which cities get transit dollars, Krochalis said. Another big one
      the economic development that a project might spur.

      Light Rail Steering Committee members aren't the only local residents
      thinking about Spokane's transit potential. For everyone who questions
      the studies, said member Phyllis Holmes, there's someone else who asks,
      "What are we waiting for? Let's build it."

      . Richard Wiens is the former government editor of The Spokesman-
      Review. His column appears on Saturdays.



      Houston Chronicle
      Sept. 29, 2003

      From mule car to light rail, city linked by mass transit


      Mass transit started here with a mule-drawn streetcar that entered service
      April 8, 1868, on a 1 1/2-mile route along McKinney.

      "We were very much pleased with the ride and with the delightful view of
      the outskirts of the city," one reporter invited aboard the inaugural trip
      observed in the Houston Daily Telegraph. "One has no idea how rapidly
      Houston is being built up."

      At the time, Houston had a population of 9,000 and the city limits covered
      9 square miles. Houston now boasts a population of 2 million -- the
      nation's fourth-largest city -- and sprawls over 617 square miles.

      But that observation has held true over time. In the last 135 years,
      Houstonians have constantly sought new housing on the outskirts. With
      that growth, the city continually has had to figure out the best ways to get

      That task has grown into an enormous problem today, with 4.7 million
      residents and 4 million vehicles in the eight-county metropolitan area.
      While Houston has one of the largest freeway networks of any U.S. city,
      its air pollution and mass-transit system are considered to be among the

      As a result, Houstonians drive more miles per day than motorists in any
      other U.S. city. Traffic, transportation and poor streets have ranked No. 1
      in polls of voter concerns here the last few years.

      Now, the Metropolitan Transit Authority, which plans to open the city's
      light rail line on its 25th birthday, Jan. 1, 2004, is asking voters for an
      gift: a "yes" vote in the Nov. 4 transit-expansion referendum. The "Metro
      Solutions" proposal calls for $640 million in bonds to accelerate
      construction of 22 light rail miles by 2012, $774 million in extra street
      funding through 2014, and a 50 percent increase in bus service by 2025.

      As voters weigh the future of transit, it might be helpful to consider the

      Before the streetcars began after the Civil War, getting from one place to
      the other was not a pleasant experience. Those unable to afford their own
      horse and buggy were left no choice but to walk in often muddy streets.

      Sustained mule-drawn trolley service began in 1874. By 1886, the trolleys
      were encouraging the city's first sprawl. The Houston City Street Railway
      Co. operated six lines, using 41 cars, 119 mules and 60 employees.
      Houstonians had a choice of where to live, and development outside
      downtown took off. By 1890, the population topped 27,000.

      The following year, the first electric streetcar was put into service,
      improving travel time and drawing stares from people who "looked
      askance at this contraption that moved with nothing apparent to push or
      pull it," the Houston Daily Post reported.

      The electric trolleys would encourage development farther out. Express
      "interurban" streetcars would later link Houston to Galveston and

      But the creation of the automobile would doom the trolleys. They first
      faced rubber-wheeled competition in 1914, when "jitney" carriers
      appeared. These were private vehicles similar to taxis carrying
      passengers for a fee on a somewhat-fixed route.

      The beginning of the end for streetcars came a decade later, when the
      Houston Electric Co. introduced the city's first buses in 1924 to serve
      newly developed neighborhoods not on streetcar lines. Meanwhile, private
      auto usage continued to increase.

      Still, mass transit ruled the city's transportation network into the late
      1920s. About 80 percent of Houstonians rode buses or streetcars into
      downtown. The streetcar system reached its peak in 1927 with 90 city
      track miles. If Metro voters approve this year's referendum, Houston won't
      have 90 miles of operating rail track again until 2019.

      By 1940, most of the streetcar lines were abandoned. On April 12 of that
      year, Houston Mayor Oscar Holcombe announced that he had reached an
      agreement with the Houston Electric Co. to cease the last line. The city
      removed all remaining tracks.

      Houston obtained right of way along the former interurban route to
      Galveston, which would become the Gulf Freeway in 1948. The opening
      of Houston's first superhighway would forever change regional mobility
      patterns, and spur the intense suburban development and annexation that
      has made Houston the monster city it is today.

      Opponents of Metro's referendum contend that voters should remember
      these lessons: The streetcars were proven to be inflexible and unable to
      meet the demands of a growing city. The naysayers consider urban rail
      transit to be a dinosaur that should never be resuscitated.

      "Not another dime of taxpayers' money should be squandered on rail,"
      said Tom Bazan, a Houston Property Rights Association member who is a
      constant thorn in Metro's side. "Rail was shut down and torn up when
      everyone realized that buses run rings around rail. Since the bureaucrats
      failed to learn from history, the taxpayers are stuck with the Main Street
      toy train until it is decided that the precious tax money is better spent on
      improving mobility with the logical solution: rubber-tired vehicles."

      Metro responds that light rail is far more sophisticated than the old
      streetcars, and that the region has grown too large for automobile and bus
      traffic to cover all its mobility needs. High-capacity transit is necessary
      keep Houston prosperous, transit officials argue, and help spur
      redevelopment inside Loop 610 back to dense, pedestrian-friendly
      neighborhoods that are easy to navigate without a car.

      "We have not seen here in Houston, over a 20-year time period, a
      response from the development community around our Park & Ride lots
      or HOV lanes," said Metro Vice President John Sedlak, who has spent 20
      years with the transit authority. "A fixed form of mass transit has the
      potential of a development response different from a rubber-tired vehicle."

      Public transportation in Houston did not exist until 1974. After the
      streetcar tracks were yanked out, buses were run by private companies
      for another three decades. Eventually, they could not manage a profit, as
      95 percent of Houstonians used private automobiles for their
      transportation -- about the same percentage as today.

      In 1974, when the city of Houston bought the assets of Rapid Transit
      Lanes, the last private bus operator, it was the last major city in the
      to provide public transportation.

      The need for a regional agency soon became clear. Area leaders came
      together again in 1977 to draft a regional transportation plan, which
      residents endorsed the following year with a vote to create the
      Metropolitan Transit Authority.

      Metro began service Jan. 1, 1979. It inherited a dilapidated fleet of buses
      that were so miserable the Houston Chronicle began publishing daily a
      front-page box tallying bus breakdowns.

      From that rough beginning, Metro has improved into one of the better
      regarded transit authorities in the United States. But it has failed to
      the political support needed to build a rail network.

      Voters rejected a $2.3 billion bond referendum in 1983 that would have
      financed an 18-mile, heavy rail line. Five years later, three-fifths of
      endorsed a Metro transit plan that included $1 billion of light rail.
      board in 1991 amended the plan to a monorail system. Board Chairman
      Bob Lanier resigned in disgust and ran for mayor, promising to kill the
      monorail plan. He won and did.

      Rail didn't come up again until after Mayor Lee Brown's election in 1997.
      Two years later, Metro's board approved building the Main Street line,
      which is nearing completion, linking downtown with Reliant Park.

      Supporters of Metro's third rail referendum, Nov. 4, are confident that the
      next chapter of Houston's mass-transit history will include construction of
      a significant light rail system. Opponents are campaigning to ensure that
      part doesn't make the book.



      Houston Chronicle
      Sept. 29, 2003


      Pain of `mobility misery'

      We all deserve clean air

      The Chronicle's Sept. 26 article, "Rail foes mobilize to defeat proposal /
      GOP officials, developers plan ad campaign," about the organized
      opposition to the Metropolitan Transit Authority's Metro Solutions plan
      held no surprises. The usual suspects -- suburban real estate developers
      who benefit from free roads at public expense, politicians who want more
      power and campaign contributions, road builders and concrete companies
      seeking lucrative contracts and car dealers wishing to sell more cars --
      find the idea of building rail inside Loop 610 contrary to their interests.
      Beaten into submission by these interests, the Metropolitan Transit
      Authority board has reduced the first phase of its plan to include only a
      few "starter lines" that will permit future extension beyond Loop 610.

      Special interests see those extensions as the real threat, so they hope to
      stop any expansion of rail for as long as possible.

      The West Houston Association has reported that as much as 25 percent
      of the population of the entire metropolitan area will live in west Houston
      in the near future, and that their mobility needs will be solved by the
      Westpark toll road and the Interstate 10 expansion that includes toll lanes.

      This projected growth is precisely why Metro wanted to build rail along the
      I-10 corridor, but was squeezed out and left only with reinforced
      overpasses to permit rail at some vague distant date.

      All Houstonians (including those living in areas where starter rail lines
      be built) deserve not just better mobility, but the enhanced quality of life
      through neighborhood revitalization that will follow rail development.

      And we all deserve to breathe the cleaner air that will be the result of
      reducing our dependence on more lanes of concrete and more cars.
      Thinking Houstonians will support the greater good and vote for the Metro
      Solutions Plan.

      Tom McKittrick, Houston

      Straight story on streetcars

      It is certainly worthwhile to examine the past, but the Chronicle's Sept. 29
      article, "From mule car to light rail, city linked by mass transit," does
      provide the whole story of the demise of Houston's streetcars.

      Houston's previous rail transit was not "proven to be inflexible and unable
      to meet the demands of a growing city," as critics contend, but was
      destroyed by a concerted public policy to promote motor vehicle
      transportation at the expense of rail.

      First, Houston's electric streetcars had to pave the streets they used, thus
      subsidizing their own competition. Second, while the streetcar operation
      had to maintain its own infrastructure, cars and buses were furnished
      roadways at the public's expense.

      I don't have Houston figures specifically, but between 1921 and 1940,
      when Houston's urban streetcar operations ceased, U.S. roadways (in
      2003) received a total of $388 billion in subsidies, 91 percent of it state
      and local. Houston's streetcars received nothing.

      Add to all this the nationwide, politically focused campaign against rail by
      the highway-motor vehicle industry, and it's a wonder any rail transit
      systems survived at all. Today's mobility misery is a direct product of
      history's "transit holocaust."

      Lyndon Henry, transportation planner, Austin



      People's Daily Online
      Sunday, September 28, 2003

      Rail, not Maglev, is to be used for high-speed Beijng-Shanghai railroad

      By PD Online staff Li Jia

      Rail technology is the final choice for the high-speed Beijing-Shanghai
      railroad, according to news from Chinese Ministry of Railways on
      September 25.The project, involving a total investment of around 130
      billion yuan, is to be completed in 5-6 years.

      Rail technology is the final choice for the high-speed Beijing-Shanghai
      railroad, according to news from Chinese Ministry of Railways on
      September 25.The project, involving a total investment of around 130
      billion yuan, is to be completed in 5-6 years.

      At the China Railway Construction Summit being held in Hangzhou, the
      construction project of the hi-speed Beijing-Shanghai Railway becomes
      the focus of attention from the attendees. Feasibility studies on the
      are under way.

      People from the said ministry present at the meeting claimed that the
      existing Beijing-Shanghai Railway has a total length of 1,463 km, whereas
      the 1,300-km projected hi-speed railroad is planned to use rail technology.

      Earlier, related experts pointed out that if maglev is adopted, the total
      will amount to 400 billion yuan, or 300 million per km. Whereas the use of
      rail technology will cost a total of 130billion yuan, 100 million yuan per

      The Economic Newscast of CCTV quoted a personage from the Ministry
      of Railways by saying that under the contract, construction of the project
      will be divided into several parts, for instance, track-laying will be
      undertaken by Chinese enterprises, while rolling stocks respectively by
      firms of Germany, Japan and France through competitive bidding. Of
      these three source-lands of hi-speed railways in the world, Germany puts
      emphasis on maglev technology, while Japan and France take rail
      technology as primary.



      Seattle Times
      Sunday, September 28, 2003

      Travel updates

      Fast tunnel train just got faster

      The U.K.'s first major stretch of new rail track for more than a century has
      opened, cutting travel times between London, Paris and Brussels by 20
      minutes. The $3.1 billion first phase of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link will
      reduce the time it takes Eurostar Group's trains to travel between London
      and Paris to two hours and 35 minutes. Eurostar's trains will travel at 186
      miles per hour on the 46-mile stretch of new track, compared with the
      maximum speed of 100 miles per hour on the old track. The second stage
      of the new railway will extend the high-speed line into London's St.
      Pancras station. It's scheduled to open by 2007. It will reduce the travel
      time between London and Paris to 2 hours and 15 minutes.

      - Seattle Times wire



      Seattle Times
      Monday, September 29, 2003

      Murray's efforts key in keeping Amtrak on track

      By Alex Fryer
      Seattle Times Washington bureau

      It's a precarious time for the nation's passenger rail system.

      President Bush wants to dismantle Amtrak, and the House recently
      passed a spending bill that will force it into bankruptcy, say Amtrak
      officials. One angry congressman suggested the federal government
      should buy plane tickets for rail travelers, since subsidies cost more than
      $300 per passenger on some routes.

      Top among those fighting for Amtrak's survival is Sen. Patty Murray, D-
      Wash., who says she believes trains provide a critical alternative to cars.
      Her legislative maneuvering this month added more than $430 million for
      Amtrak in the Senate transportation bill.

      Unless Murray and Amtrak's other supporters are successful in keeping
      the extra money in the final bill that goes before Bush, rail stations
      the country will begin to shut down, says Amtrak.

      Critics don't believe such dire predictions, contending Amtrak is playing
      perennial game of chicken with Congress to eke out more money.

      It's a loud debate, and since Murray became the highest-ranking
      Democrat on the Senate transportation-spending subcommittee in 2001,
      this state's senior senator has had an influential voice.

      "Her role in the process has been critical to Amtrak's survival," said
      Amtrak spokesman Cliff Black.

      Formed in 1971, Amtrak is a private company that serves 500
      communities in 46 states. The most heavily used runs are in the

      Despite hopes that the system eventually would be self-sufficient, Amtrak
      has never operated in the black. It has received $26.6 billion in federal
      money in its 32-year history.

      A Bush administration plan would dismantle Amtrak, leaving states to
      decide whether to fund local- and long-distance rail service.

      Congress has not acted on the proposal, and Murray opposes it, saying
      states don't have the money to operate the nation's rail system.

      According to Amtrak statistics, King Street Station in Seattle is the
      15th-busiest, with roughly 580,000 passengers annually. Yet all of the
      routes through Seattle lose money.

      Amtrak estimates that it loses about $15 per passenger on the Vancouver,
      B.C.,-to-Eugene, Ore., route via Seattle. It loses about $116 per
      passenger on the "Empire Builder" from Seattle to Chicago. The "Coast
      Starlight" from Los Angeles to Seattle costs about $79 per passenger.

      By comparison, the Los Angeles-to-Orlando route is subsidized at $332
      per passenger.

      Murray says the level of federal assistance is acceptable. "You cannot
      have a transportation system that is not publicly funded. I don't care if
      you're talking about airlines or buses or anything," she said.

      "(The plan for self-sufficiency) was a lesson in failure. We asked Amtrak
      to do something that wasn't possible."

      This year, negotiations on Amtrak funding went down to the last minute.

      On the morning of Sept. 3, Murray met with Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala.,
      in the Senate cloakroom to present her funding ideas about Amtrak.

      Shelby is chairman of the Senate transportation-spending subcommittee,
      and they worked closely to put together the $91 billion transportation-
      spending bill. The bill also funds several government agencies.

      Shelby has been a longtime opponent of Amtrak funding, contending the
      service is too heavily subsidized. He intended to put forth a budget
      proposal that afternoon that would set aside $900 million for Amtrak next

      The White House sought the same figure in its proposed 2004 budget.
      But railroad officials say $900 million would not be enough to run the

      Murray's aides scoured the spending proposal, looking for places to divert
      money to Amtrak, and the cloakroom meeting was the first time Murray
      presented her proposal to Shelby face to face.

      There wasn't much time to hash out details; Shelby was set to convene a
      meeting of his subcommittee to pass the spending bill that afternoon.
      Murray proposed a patchwork of savings to pay for an added $434 million,
      including cutting nonessential travel and office supplies for federal
      employees ($128 million), taking money from the U.S. National Archives
      and Records Administration and the IRS ($105 million), diverting unspent
      highway funds ($156 million) and saving rent on government offices ($60

      Just minutes before the Sept. 3 subcommittee meeting, Shelby's office
      gave word that he agreed to Murray's proposal.

      Murray's aides were rewriting her statement as she made her way from
      the Senate floor to the packed committee room where Shelby unveiled his
      transportation bill.

      "This (funding) level is not as high as I would like to see it, but it
      is a level that is higher than the Chairman (Shelby) would like to see," she
      said at the time. "We have gone about as high as we can go in meeting
      Amtrak's needs."

      The full Senate Appropriations Committee later approved the bill calling
      for $1.34 billion for Amtrak. It now goes to the Senate floor. A vote is
      expected in the next few weeks.

      "The Senate hasn't completed its work, but Sen. Murray has played a
      central role in keeping Amtrak from getting a shut-down figure," said Scott
      Leonard, assistant director of the National Association of Railroad
      Passengers, an advocacy group that supports Amtrak.

      Amtrak had a much rougher time in the House.

      The chairman of the House transportation-spending subcommittee, Rep.
      Ernest Istook, R-Oklahoma, proposed only $580 million for Amtrak. Istook
      is also opposing a $500 million federal grant for Sound Transit's light-rail

      The House eventually passed a bill that included $900 million for Amtrak,
      but not without critics taking to the floor to blast the service.

      "They want taxpayer money for their long-term, capital investments
      because they have handled their system so poorly that they find it difficult
      to attract private dollars," said Istook. "We should not accept their 'sky
      falling, Chicken Little' arguments."

      Another Republican congressman, Thomas Tancredo, said with as many
      people walking to work as taking the train, "It makes as much sense for
      Congress to subsidize Nike sneakers as it does for them to subsidize rail

      Murray will be part of the House-Senate conference convened to hammer
      out a final transportation-spending bill. Istook will also take part in the

      And that sets the stage for another congressional showdown over Amtrak.

      "Amtrak has said that the funding level approved by the House will cause
      bankruptcy," said Murray. "Whether House members can get Istook to
      move to the Senate number, we'll just have to wait and see."

      Alex Fryer: 206-464-8124 or afryer@...



      Seattle Times
      Sunday, September 28, 2003

      Loss of foot-ferry service jam-packs Bremerton runs

      By The Associated Press

      BREMERTON - For ferry commuters between Bremerton and Seattle,
      the first workweek without passenger-only vessels was marked by
      crowded conditions onboard the regular ferries, especially during evening
      rush hour.

      That's no surprise. About 700 commuters who relied on the "foot ferries"
      had to go somewhere after state officials terminated the heavily
      subsidized service Sept. 20, saying fares covered less than 30 cents of
      each dollar of costs.

      But few anticipated how packed the 5:30 p.m. sailing from Seattle would

      For the past week, average ridership on that run has been well over
      1,000, and the ferry has about 750 seats, The Sun newspaper reported
      yesterday. Many commuters were left standing while others jockeyed for

      "Monday was a mess. They kept announcing over the intercom for people
      to scoot over, scoot over," said commuter Beckie Regusci, of Bremerton.
      "There were four to five people to a bench. Sometimes six."

      The boats can hold 1,200 passengers and have enough life preservers for
      that number, but there aren't enough seats for everyone.

      The 790-seat ferry Kitsap, which usually makes the Bremerton run, was
      docked last week for a Coast Guard inspection, so the 750-seat Chelan
      replaced it.

      "It's frustrating," said Bob Murphy, of Bremerton. The Washington State
      Ferries "had all this time to prepare. Here I come in Monday morning and
      I've got the Chelan looking at me. I wasn't the only one going 'Ah, crap.' "

      Last Sunday, about 200 people were turned away because there wasn't
      room aboard the Chelan for the crowds heading home to Bremerton after
      the Seahawks game in Seattle.

      "I keep hearing rumors about the 5:30 p.m. sailing from Seattle turning
      away people who then have to wait for the 6:45 sailing," said Fred Chang,
      chairman of the Bremerton Ferry Advisory Committee.

      System spokeswoman Susan Harris-Huether said walk-ons were turned
      away on Sunday only. There was no repeat during the workweek. "That's
      an urban legend growing up among Bremerton commuters, and it's not
      true," she said.

      Some commuters are suggesting the system add a third boat or try a
      larger vessel but Harris-Huether said that's not an option. There are no
      jumbo-class vessels to spare from the Bainbridge or Edmonds runs.

      The Bainbridge run involves more passengers and vehicles than
      Bremerton; the Edmonds ferry carries more vehicles and is a major truck
      route. The large vessels serving the San Juan Islands always fill up
      because the runs are limited.

      "Once you go through that exercise, you find out there are no spare
      boats," said Mike Anderson, the system's director of marine operations.

      A second and larger ferry, the super-class Hyak with a maximum capacity
      of 2,500, serves the two other most crowded evening runs on the
      Bremerton route at 4:20 and 6:45 p.m.

      Even if a second large vessel were available, it would probably not be
      used on the Bremerton run, Harris-Huether said.

      "None of the other sailings (at different times) come close to meeting
      capacity," she said. "Why would we do that for one sailing?"

      Chang said he's relieved that reports of walk-on passengers being turned
      away during the workweek were untrue, "but it doesn't seem right that
      1,000 people are crammed onto a boat with 750 seats, even if there are
      1,200 life preservers."



      The Daily Herald - Everett, Wash.
      September 29, 2003

      America's thirst for gas needs to be restrained

      Just when gasoline prices that had us fuming all summer were supposed
      to ease, the oil market took a U-turn last week.

      The OPEC oil cartel announced Wednesday that it would cut production
      to keep prices from falling with seasonal demand. We shouldn't have
      needed the reminder that the United States is still too dependent on
      foreign oil. Yet judging from action on Capitol Hill, Republicans in
      Congress seem oblivious to the obvious.

      GOP leaders working to finalize a broad energy bill last week threw out
      efforts to raise federal mileage standards for cars, vans and gas-guzzling
      SUVs. They said they were worried about safety, because to get better
      gas mileage vehicles would have to be smaller and lighter. By that logic,
      we should all drive Hummers and shell out whatever the Saudis and their
      OPEC pals demand at the pump.

      Anyone older than 45 knows the downside of our dependence on foreign
      oil. The Arab oil embargo of 1973 and '74 tripled the price of crude oil and
      caused insufferable lines at gas stations. There's nothing like waiting half
      a day to fill up to make you start thinking about fuel efficiency.

      In response, Congress established average gas-mileage standards for
      passenger cars. By 1985 the standard reached 27.5 miles per gallon,
      exactly where it stands today. The standard for light trucks is 20.7 mpg,
      but few four-wheel-drive SUVs do that well.

      Our thirst for gasoline comes at a price beyond what we pay at the pump.
      Imagine how different our foreign policy might be if we didn't care about
      Middle East oil. And the pressure to drill in wildlife refuges and off our
      coasts builds along with our consumption.

      Current gas prices, especially if they linger into the winter, should stand
      more than a symbolic reminder that as a nation, we need to do better.
      Given the political and environmental stakes, higher gas-mileage
      standards ought to be a priority.

      That much should be clear even on Capitol Hill.
    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.