Annual Meeting, Gahanna, OH (Port Columbus area), 9:30 a.m. May 17

Join us 10 a.m. May 17 at the Golf Depot, 789 Science Blvd., in the Columbus suburb of Gahanna (exit 39 off I-270 to East Broad St. MAP) for a panel discussion of transportation and community development experts from Ohio and Indiana on the proposed Columbus – Marysville – Kenton – Lima – Fort Wayne – Chicago multi-use rail corridor!

Other agenda topics:

  • Columbus regional rail;
  • The new Northern Corridor Rail Alliance (see separate blog item below);
  • Streetcar projects in Cincinnati and possibly other cities.

All Aboard Ohio’s business meeting will be in the morning, followed by lunch at 12 noon and the panel discussion at 1:30 p.m. You’re welcome to join us for the entire day, or starting at lunch for the afternoon session. Full-day registration rates will apply.

Since this is an even-numbered year, this will be the year of the All Aboard Ohio board of directors election. There are no contested races so the 10 candidates will be presented as a slate for membership consideration. Per the bylaws, up to five more board members can be appointed to the board. The board will then select from its own ranks the officers: chairman, vice-chairman, secretary and treasurer. The candidates are listed in Issue #183 of the Ohio Passenger Rail News which was mailed April 2 to all members who paid their membership dues after Dec. 1, 2012 (the start of our 2013 fiscal year). If you did not receive a newsletter or have a question about your membership status, please contact us at info@allaboardohio.org.

Registration (before May 14) is $35 for All Aboard Ohio members and $45 for non-members (includes a new 2014 membership). Registration includes meeting, continental breakfast (9:30-10 a.m.), and a build-your-own-sandwich lunch buffet plus beverages. Please mail a check/money order payable to “All Aboard Ohio” with “Annual Meeting” in the notation, mailed to All Aboard Ohio, 850 Euclid Ave. #1026, Cleveland, OH 44114-3357. Make last-minute registrations up to May 14 and pay with cash at the door by calling Ken Prendergast at (216) 288-4883. Or pay online below:

$45 per person Non Member (includes 1-year membership in All Aboard Ohio);

$35 per person for current MEMBERS of All Aboard Ohio

 

 

 

Want up-to-the minute news, updates?

Join us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and watch us on YOU TUBE. It’s easy. Just click on the above logos or the links in this text to go to All Aboard Ohio’s social media pages. Simply join us or follow us. If you haven’t registered for Facebook or Twitter, take a moment to sign up.

You’ll enjoy instant news on rail travel discounts or special packages, travel tips, rail and transit service interruptions, local/state/federal policy issues, discussion and dialogue from around Ohio, the U.S. and even the world. Please join All Aboard Ohio if you think this flow of information is important and you want it to continue. With your support, it will!

Metro planning organizations form rail alliance

Despite inadequate station facilities, inconvenient departure times and train delays caused by rail traffic congestion ridership at Northern Ohio stations grew 36-91 percent over the past five years. This is Cleveland on July 13, 2013 as photographed by Mark Schwinn of Chicago.

Despite inadequate station facilities, inconvenient departure times and train delays caused by rail traffic congestion, Amtrak ridership at Northern Ohio stations grew 36-91 percent over the past five years. This is Cleveland’s lakefront station at dawn on July 13, 2013 as photographed by Mark Schwinn. Click for a larger image; when reprinting this photo, credit “All Aboard Ohio.”

May facilitate planning for traffic growth on Ohio’s busiest rail corridor

For Immediate Release
April 11, 2014
 
Ken Prendergast
Executive Director
All Aboard Ohio
kenprendergast@allaboardohio.org
(216) 288-4883

The Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) Board of Directors today passed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to create a “northern Ohio rail alliance” among three Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs). Identically worded MOUs were recently approved by the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments (TMACOG) and the Erie County Regional Planning Commission which includes Sandusky. MPOs administer federal transportation and air quality programs for their respective regions.

The alliance was sought in response to growing traffic along an east-west rail corridor that’s already one of the busiest in the nation. Seventy daily freight trains carry about 20,000 truckload equivalents and four daily passenger trains carry enough passengers to fill a dozen 737s per day. The Ohio Statewide Rail Plan of 2010 estimated that rail freight tonnage is expected to increase by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 1.6% until 2030.

Meanwhile passenger boardings have grown dramatically in the past five years at train stations in Cleveland (+38%), Elyria (+91%), Sandusky (+64%) and Toledo (+36) despite nocturnal Amtrak service. Even more rapid growth may be possible if the corridor was served by more passenger trains on faster schedules and at convenient daytime hours.

NOACA’s action was also in response to a federally funded public involvement process conducted by the Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium (NEOSCC) of which NOACA is a member. In NEOSCC’s recent released Vibrant NEO 2040 Vision, Vibrant NEO Initiative 5.4 recommends evaluating “the condition of all existing rail trackage and rail crossings to determine what investments would be necessary to bring substandard infrastructure up to standard for freight and passenger service.”

The MOU was passed to create a Multi-Jurisdictional Initiative – a framework recognized by the U.S. Department of Transportation as a structure for megaregion planning. The megaregion, dubbed “Chi-Pitts”, ultimately stretches north and west to Detroit and Chicago. The Chi-Pitts megaregion is the second-largest in the United States with 42 million people and generates $2.3 trillion in annual economic output – equal to the world’s seventh-largest nation.

MOU language adopted for the northern Ohio rail alliance was borrowed from an existing, USDOT-recognized Multi-Jurisdictional Initiative called the Western High Speed Rail Alliance among transit agencies and MPOs across the Inter-Mountain West.

Concurrently, the Ohio Association of Regional Councils which represents MPOs throughout the state joined the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission (MIPRC) in March. The MIPRC is an 11-state compact comprised of state legislators, other state, and local officials, members of the private sector and the advocacy community. OARC joined MIPRC to enhance interstate cooperation and communication, as well as to strengthen Ohio’s voice in Midwest passenger rail policy issues.

“We are pleased to be working together with TMACOG and ERPC on this important issue,” said Grace Gallucci, NOACA executive director. “Northeast Ohio rail infrastructure needs to be upgraded and enhanced to meet the needs of both passengers and freight. The MOU approved today authorizes us to develop a strategy that will prove successful in securing a federal funding grant.”

All Aboard Ohio is very grateful to NOACA, TMACOG and Erie County for joining together to consider further improvements to passenger and freight rail – the fastest-growing transportation modes in the 21st century,” said Ken Prendergast, executive director of the nonprofit association.

The next steps are to identify additional partners in Ohio and adjoining states, develop a scope of planning work and secure funding for it. It’s an exciting time for Ohio’s cities which are seeing significant redevelopment. Enhancing rail infrastructure that already focuses on our urban cores is a cost-effective way of supporting their continued redevelopment,” Prendergast added.

CLICK ON THIS LINK to read NOACA’s press release on creating the rail alliance.

END

AAO: “Where are the trains & transit in ODOT’s Access Ohio 2040 plan?”

Self-propelled rail cars, called Diesel Multiple-Units (DMUs), like Columbus-based US Railcar provides low-cost choices for regional or intercity travel. Unfortunately, ODOT’s Access Ohio 2040 draft plan offered few ideas like this to respond to growing demand for rail and transit in Ohio while driving declines in many cities.

For Immediate Release
Contact: Ken Prendergast, Executive Director
216-288-4883 kenprendergast@allaboardohio.org

All Aboard Ohio this week thanked the Ohio Department of Transportation’s Access Ohio 2040 planning team for its detailed draft planning document, but wondered why so few ideas were offered for improving and expanding passenger rail and public transportation services. While 9% of Ohio households have no cars (or 1 million Ohioans!), and many more households with multiple wage earners must share a car, ODOT spends only 1% of its $3+ billion per year budget on public transportation and freight rail, with nothing for passenger rail.

In its submitted comments, All Aboard Ohio Chairman Ron Sheck wrote “We believe the draft document gives short shrift to passenger rail, intercity bus and local transit; and largely ignores the connectivity between modes that allows travelers to make their trip without an automobile.” It noted that Ohio is trying to compete for jobs and residents (especially young people) with states who are more aggressively pursuing intercity passenger rail and local public transit services that help foster more vibrant urban centers and smaller, yet dynamic college/research-based towns.

To rectify that, the statewide nonprofit association that represents rail and transit passengers made several suggested additions, including:

  • Improve Amtrak passenger service on the Chicago-Toledo-Cleveland-Buffalo-Albany-New York/Boston Lake Shore Limited route; and also on the Chicago-Toledo-Cleveland-Pittsburgh-Washington DC Capitol Limited route. The first steps are underway to improve stations in Ohio at Bryan, Toledo, Sandusky, Elyria and Cleveland.
  • Increase the frequency of Amtrak’s Chicago-Indianapolis-Cincinnati-Charleston-Washington DC-Philadelphia-New York City Cardinal from tri-weekly to daily.
  • Develop a new higher-speed corridor (up to 110 mph as in the Chicago-St. Louis and Chicago-Detroit corridors) linking Chicago-Ft. Wayne-Lima-Columbus and intermediate points with multiple daily round trips by upgrading existing freight rail lines.
  • Extend the current Indiana DOT/locally-funded Amtrak Hoosier State from its eastern terminus in Indianapolis to Cincinnati providing daytime service linking Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Chicago.
  • Develop Amtrak Thruway connecting bus services to better link intercity trains serving Toledo with Detroit, Dearborn and Ann Arbor and Amtrak/Michigan Wolverine trains serving central and western Michigan cities and towns.

“Public Transportation needs much more attention than it has received in the Access Ohio 2040 draft plan,” Chairman Sheck wrote in All Aboard Ohio’s comments submitted on Jan. 14, 2014. “It is very disappointing to see the minimal level of proposed state funding for public transportation assistance to our urban and rural communities. Neighboring states either provide state funds directly to transit agencies for capital or operating expenses, or allow greater flexibility in local funding. Ohio needs to do better in both areas. We hope ODOT will give serious consideration to our concerns and recommendations.”

END

ODOT urged to add transit, TOD in Cleveland’s ‘Opportunity Corridor’

Modified transit infrastructure and services, as well Transit Oriented Development were generally urged by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and specifically by All Aboard Ohio for the Ohio Department of Transportation's "Opportunity Corridor" in Cleveland.

Modified transit infrastructure and services, as well as Transit Oriented Development were urged generally by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and specifically by All Aboard Ohio for the Ohio Department of Transportation’s “Opportunity Corridor” project in Cleveland.

For Immediate Release
Contact: Ken Prendergast, Executive Director at
216-288-4883 or kenprendergast@allaboardohio.org 

All Aboard Ohio is urging the inclusion of several transit elements to the Ohio Department of Transportation’s Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) addressing Cleveland’s Opportunity Corridor project. The suggestions were made in response to a November 14, 2013 letter from the  U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to the Federal Highway Administration and Ohio Department of Transportation regarding the lack of transit services and infrastructure, as well as a lack of consideration for Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) land uses surrounding existing or future transit services.

Specifically, the USEPA urged “that ODOT coordinate further with GCRTA [Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority], the city of Cleveland, and HUD to consider TOD opportunities that could be specifically linked to this proposed roadway.” USEPA also recommended “the FEIS should identify which, if any, rail transit station or bus routes will be eliminated, re-located, or added along the project corridor.”

In a January 3, 2014 letter to ODOT District 12 Deputy Director Myron S. Pakush, All Aboard Ohio Executive Director Ken Prendergast suggested that ODOT carefully consider these elements as part of its FEIS:

  • Relocate the East 79th Red Line station to near East 89th Street, in the vicinity of Buckeye Road and Woodland Avenue, as recommended in the Dual Hub Transitional Analysis adopted by GCRTA et al.
  • Lengthen the East 105th-Quincy Red Line station platform to accommodate 3-car trains and add a station pedestrian entrance from the east side of a widened East 105th Street.
  • Partner with the City of Cleveland and the affected CDCs on TOD planning and zoning, including making available a basket of incentives to developers for providing a dense mix of land uses within a half-mile radius of both stations.

Guidance for many of these elements exists in the Dual Hub Preferred Investment Strategy adopted by GCRTA, City of Cleveland, Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency and the Federal Transit Administration. While the Dual Hub strategy was adopted in 1995, it continues to be implemented — most recently ground was broken in October for relocating the East 120th-Euclid Red Line station to Little Italy-Mayfield. The most significant Dual Hub component implemented to date is the HealthLine Bus Rapid Transit on Euclid Avenue.  The  Dual Hub Preferred Investment Strategy also urged relocation of the East 79th Red Line station to the vicinity of East 89th.

GCRTA faces an upcoming ADA compliance deadline in 2016 regarding the East 79th Red Line station, which cannot simply be repaired to comply with ADA. The aging station with a wooden platform must be completely rebuilt with an elevator, new headhouse, platform with tactile edges and more. Neither GCRTA, the city or any community group has requested funding in NOACA’s three-year Transportation Improvement Program (updated in 2013) for rebuilding the existing station. There is also little hope of ridership growth at this station as no transit-supportive land use plans or zoning have been implemented. Thus surrounding properties were recently acquired for light industrial and trucking/metal recycling users. For these reasons GCRTA will likely be forced to close this station. The Blue-Green Line station farther south on East 79th is not affected. It is in a mostly residential area and can be accessed by the installation of new ADA ramps rather than an elevator.

To satisfy the USEPA’s calls for Transit Oriented Development in the Opportunity Corridor, All Aboard Ohio has urged the East 79th Red Line station be relocated to the East 89th area (preferably between Buckeye and Woodland), a site adopted by GCRTA, City of Cleveland, Federal Transit Administration, and NOACA in the Dual Hub Preferred Investment Strategy. All Aboard Ohio welcomes a neighborhood-level dialogue and zoning to implement transit-supportive land use plans in accordance with the USEPA’s suggestions. The East 89th area is more ideally suited for TOD as it has smaller parcels and more neighborhood-oriented uses like the Kenneth L. Recreation Center and St. Elizabeth Church.

Furthermore, All Aboard Ohio encourages ODOT to work closely with GCRTA on plans for modifying the East 105th-Quincy station with a longer platform to accommodate 3-car trains and to restore the station access point on the east side of a widened East 105th. We anticipate that health-care related development along with supportive activities such as housing, retail and offices for medical and educational facilities from neighboring University Circle, may spread southward along East 105th toward the Red Line station. We urge the station be designed to provide direct pedestrian/bicycle access to the East 105th corridor and the city’s land use plan for this corridor support pedestrian/bicycle-friendly routes and environments.

All Aboard Ohio believes these are achievable, affordable elements to support Transit-Oriented Development and neighborhood enhancements. ODOT should include them in its Final Environmental Impact Study for the Opportunity Corridor project. For station-related graphics and more information, please see All Aboard Ohio’s January 3, 2013 letter to ODOT HERE.

END