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Follow-up on Houston

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  • Christopher Miller
    Another forwarded article, with the conclusions of a panel of experts that absolve it of design flaws (plus G. W. Bush s plans to veto a transportation bill).
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 9, 2004
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      Another forwarded article, with the conclusions of a panel of experts
      that absolve it of design flaws (plus G. W. Bush's plans to veto a
      transportation bill).

      Chris Miller
      Washington DC, USA

      Begin forwarded message:

      > From: MagNews <clew@...>
      > Date: March 9, 2004 1:45:49 PM EST
      > To: UrbanMaglev@yahoogroups.com
      > Subject: [UrbanMaglev] "Report: Rail design not at fault for rate of
      > wrecks" HoustonChron 3/9 (LRT at-grade vs. ..)
      > Reply-To: UrbanMaglev@yahoogroups.com
      >
      > ".. Experts at the Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M
      > University are expected to recommend some minor adjustments to signal
      > timing and signage. .. The high number of collisions on the Main
      > Street
      > line attracted lots of discussion Monday morning at the annual
      > legislative conference of the American Public Transportation
      > Association, the organization that represents transit authorities
      > across the United States. The discussion was sparked in part by a USA
      > Today story published Monday on the line's troubles headlined,
      > "Houston's crash course in light rail."� ..
      >
      > http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/metropolitan/2439643
      >
      > Report: Rail design not at fault for rate of wrecks
      >
      > By LUCAS WALL, Houston Chronicle - Mar 9
      >
      > WASHINGTON -- Houston's Main Street light rail line does not have any
      > fundamental design flaws that would contribute to the high rate of
      > collisions between trains and vehicles, concludes a report by an
      > independent panel of transportation experts to be issued later this
      > week.
      >
      > Metropolitan Transit Authority officials have reviewed part of the
      > report's draft, scheduled to be released at a news conference
      > Thursday.
      > Experts at the Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M University
      > are expected to recommend some minor adjustments to signal timing and
      > signage. Those suggestions will be in addition to changes Metro has
      > already implemented during the month-long study, including using train
      > horns only in emergencies.
      >
      > "We knew our system had no design flaws but it's always good to have
      > someone else say it," Shirley DeLibero, Metro president and chief
      > executive officer, said Monday at a transit conference here. "We are
      > definitely going to look at their enhancements and implement them
      > before increased service starts."
      >
      > Metro had planned on increasing train frequencies and adjusting bus
      > routes to better tie into the new rail line starting Feb. 15, but
      > postponed the changes until TTI's review was completed. There have
      > been
      > 23 train/vehicle crashes in the past four months, a rate far exceeding
      > that of any other new light rail line in the United States.
      >
      > Metro police cited 22 of the vehicle drivers for traffic infractions
      > that caused the wrecks including illegal left and right turns, running
      > red lights, and failing to yield the right of way when pulling out of
      > a
      > driveway or intersection. Police blamed the other crash on a Union
      > Pacific Railroad employee who bypassed a flashing crossing arm on the
      > test track but are still reviewing what type of citation, if any,
      > should be issued.
      >
      > Some rail critics have said running trains at street level is
      > fundamentally unsafe and should be stopped.
      >
      > The high number of collisions on the Main Street line attracted lots
      > of
      > discussion Monday morning at the annual legislative conference of the
      > American Public Transportation Association, the organization that
      > represents transit authorities across the United States. The
      > discussion
      > was sparked in part by a USA Today story published Monday on the
      > line's
      > troubles headlined, "Houston's crash course in light rail."
      >
      > With Houston the latest city to begin a rail transit system, industry
      > executives are closely watching the safety situation. Several cities
      > have recently started construction of their first light rail lines or
      > are in the design process, including Charlotte, N.C., Minneapolis, and
      > Phoenix, Ariz.
      >
      > Metro also gained attention here Monday with a photo of its new train
      > in The Washington Post, which accompanied a story about the status of
      > the massive six-year transportation reauthorization bill stalled in
      > Congress. That article didn't make reference to the Main Street line's
      > safety problems but rather used it as an example of how rail transit
      > lines are sprouting around the country, making mass-transit funding
      > more appealing to a broader spectrum of House and Senate members.
      >
      > President Bush has threatened to veto the $318 billion highway and
      > transit bill passed by the Senate, however, because of his concern it
      > would expand the federal budget deficit. Bush wants to limit the
      > six-year total, which would also fund dozens of Houston-area road
      > projects, to $256 billion.
      >
      > DeLibero and other Metro executives, board members, and lobbyists are
      > in the nation's capital this week to brief members of Congress and the
      > Federal Transit Administration on the "Metro Solutions"
      > transit-expansion plan, which voters approved in November. It calls
      > for
      > adding 22 miles of light rail by 2012 at a cost of about $1 billion.
      > Metro is counting on the federal government to come up with half that
      > money.
      >
      > The message from Metro to Congress this week is clear, DeLibero said:
      > Finish the six-year reauthorization bill promptly -- the previous
      > legislation expired Sept. 30 and has been temporarily extended through
      > April at existing funding levels -- and do not settle for any amount
      > less than $318 billion.
      >
      > The more money in the pot, the greater chance Metro has at securing
      > the
      > matching funds it needs. The prior bill authorized $218 billion.
      >
      > "Now that we've got the vote approved," DeLibero said in reference to
      > the contentious November referendum, "I hope they really push to help
      > us get those 22 miles complete in time, help us get the federal funds
      > because we are going to need them."
      >
      > Copyright 2004 Houston Chronicle
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
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