Summer Meeting & Family Outing Aug. 15 — Cleveland rail tour!

Join us Aug. 15 for a guided tour of Cleveland's rail system with an all-day transit pass, morning refreshments, boxed lunch & guest speakers!

Join us Aug. 15 for a guided tour of Cleveland’s rail system, GCRTA Central Rail maintenance facility and station-area developments. Your registration fee includes an all-day transit pass, morning refreshments, boxed lunch, beverages & guest speakers! Thanks to GCRTA for sponsoring this fun & informative event!

Join us Saturday August 15 at 8:30 a.m. for All Aboard Ohio’s Summer Meeting & Family Outing! Spend the day with us riding trains and learning about recent and ongoing track and station reconstruction projects, plus station-area real estate developments!

Thank you Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority for sponsoring this fun and informative event!

Gather at All Aboard Ohio’s office at Tower City Center in the Sustainable Cleveland Center located above the Food Court and across from the Hard Rock Cafe. We’re two levels up from the rapid transit station. Tower City is the former Cleveland Union Terminal, crowned by the landmark Terminal Tower on Public Square. It is the hub for GCRTA rail lines fanning outward in five directions totaling nearly 40 route-miles and 52 stations. There is a lot to see on our guided tour…

AGENDA/ITINERARY

  • 8:30 a.m. Gather at All Aboard Ohio’s office for morning refreshments and briefing packets, including your All-Day Pass to ride all GCRTA trains and buses (included in registration cost).
  • 9:00 a.m. depart on Waterfront Line light-rail (part of the Blue/Green lines): see progress on Flats East Bank and possible sites for a downtown intermodal hub.
  • Blue Line to Shaker Heights: see track improvements at Shaker Square, reconstruction of Lee Road station and Van Aken District.
  • Joyce Braverman, Planning Director, Shaker Heights, tour of Van Aken District transit-oriented development.
  • Casey Blaze, Rail District Equipment Manager, GCRTA, guided tour of Central Rail Maintenance Facility.
  • Transfer from Blue Line to Red Line at new East 55th station.
  • Red Line to brand-new Little Italy-University Circle station: walking tour of Intesa development site and Uptown development.
  • Lunch & beverage at Constantino’s in Uptown (included in registration cost).
  • Chris Ronayne, President, University Circle Inc. guest speaker at lunch: recent/ongoing transit and real estate developments in University Circle.
  • Red Line across the city to Hopkins International Airport: see numerous recent and ongoing track and station improvements and recently renovated trains.
  • Return to Tower City Center or your original boarding station.
  • Adjourn by 4 p.m.

NOTE: the above agenda after 9 a.m. could change without notice. Aug. 15 was chosen because it is the only Saturday this summer that no track, station or bridge construction project was scheduled to disrupt rail service. However, this could change and our itinerary may have to be adjusted accordingly.

Cost is $25 per person:

After you click on “Add to Cart”, you may need to scroll down the page to complete your order.

DEADLINES: Please submit payment online by Aug. 10 — remit payment by mail by Aug. 7 with check/money order payable to “All Aboard Ohio” at: All Aboard Ohio, c/o Summer Mtg, 230 West Huron #85.53, Cleveland, Ohio 44113.

HOTEL: All Aboard Ohio has set aside 10 rooms for two nights (Friday night Aug. 14 + Saturday night Aug. 15) at the Cleveland LaQuinta Airport North Hotel, 4222 West 150th St.  (at I-71 & W. 150th, across the parking lot from the RTA Puritas Red Line rail station). This is not to be confused with LaQuinta Airport West in North Olmsted! To reserve a room at the W.150th location on Aug. 14 and/or 15 with an AAO group rate of $85.50 per night (doubles or king size beds, not including tax) call the hotel directly at 216-251-8500 and mention “All Aboard Ohio” when booking. Guests pay at check out. The AAO group rate is good until July 31.

LATE REGISTRATION: To make a late registration by Aug. 10 and pay at the door, contact Executive Director Ken Prendergast at (216) 288-4883 or at kenprendergast@allaboardohio.org and mention the Summer Meeting, leave your full name, number of persons in your party and your phone number. Thanks!

###

Contact Us!

Please note as of Dec. 1, 2014, All Aboard Ohio moved its statewide offices to Cleveland’s public transportation and retail hub, Tower City Center! Our new mailing address is:

All Aboard Ohio
230 West Huron Road #85.53
Cleveland, OH 44113

Our telephone number remains (844) 464-7245, a toll-free number you may better remember as 844-GO4-RAIL. Our e-mail address continues to be info@allaboardohio.org for general inquiries.

 

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. For more in-depth news, dues-paying members receive the quarterly Ohio Passenger Rail News. Click HERE (5mb PDF) for a free sample of our newsletter. 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!

Amtrak addresses Cleveland checked baggage issues

Cleveland Amtrak station, April 6, 2015. (All Aboard Ohio photo)

Cleveland Amtrak station, April 6, 2015. (All Aboard Ohio photo)

Regarding recent issues involving checked baggage at Amtrak’s Cleveland station, All Aboard Ohio raised a number of concerns. We present without alteration Amtrak’s description of those issues and their response to our concerns. We appreciate Amtrak taking the time to detail these issues and to describe their corrective actions:

Thank you for allowing Amtrak the opportunity to respond to concerns expressed by All Aboard Ohio regarding recent problems with baggage service at Cleveland.

Amtrak Cleveland staff reported Friday, July 10th, that the station baggage tractor had inoperative brakes. Station management and staff arranged for a service call. The local company that normally handles routine maintenance did not have a repair person available until the following Friday, July 17th. Attempts were made to find another servicer. Amtrak did find another local company that offered to service the tractor.

The diagnosis revealed an out-of-stock part was needed to make the repair and had to be ordered. To inform customers, a nationwide, internal notice was issued that baggage and express services would not be available at Cleveland. Once the part was received, the repair as made Friday, July 17, at which time baggage and express service resumed.

Amtrak’s primary goal is to provide safe, comfortable transportation service for our customers. A key strategy to achieve that goal is to insure a safe workplace for Amtrak employees. We regret that we were unable to provide baggage service for our Cleveland-bound and originating customers and pursued options deemed the best to resume service quickest.

The Amtrak baggage tractor used at Cleveland is about six years old. As do most consumers we expect the products we purchase to perform without incident. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Amtrak baggage carts are much older, and to improve baggage handling Amtrak has ordered a fleet of new carts to replace many dating back prior to the corporation’s formation. We should take delivery of new carts for Cleveland station in early Autumn.

— Derrick James, Amtrak Government Affairs

Infrastructure repair tab growing: Cleveland

S-Curve Red Line construction-050513-Prendergast2m

Major infrastructure improvements like the 2013 reconstruction of the Red Line S-curve on Cleveland’s west side are needed system-wide. As funding for infrastructure dries up, infrastructure needs are on the rise. All Aboard Ohio says about $2.5 billion worth of rail investment is needed in Greater Cleveland in the coming decade to rebuild the rail system and expand it to respond to changing commuting patterns.

The inability of the State of Ohio and the federal government to address our infrastructure needs continues to rear its ugly head in an increasing number of case examples. Here’s the latest….

Cleveland needs $150 million to bring its rail Rapid transit system’s tracks up to a state of good repair. This was noted in a recent article that trains of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA) must travel at reduced speed over one out of every 10 miles on Cleveland’s rail system.  Cleveland’s 63 miles of track on three rail lines (Blue, Green and Red Lines) carry 20% of GCRTA’s ridership; the other 62 GCRTA transit routes (bus) carry the remainder. Despite the track improvement backlog, Cleveland’s rail system is still more cost-effective (measured using industry metrics like cost per passenger-mile and cost per unlinked passenger trip) than regular route buses.

But that backlog is just the tip of the fiscal iceberg. The $150 million figure doesn’t include about $250 million needed ASAP for new trains or roughly $80 million for modernizing the trains’ electrical power system with low-maintenance, constant-tension catenary wires. GCRTA’s aging trains and outdated, overhead catenary wires have affected GCRTA’s service reliability, especially last winter. But the reliability problems have occurred this summer as well, as GCRTA struggles to find replacement parts to keep old air conditioning systems operational. Some Red Line trains have operated with only one car, causing overcrowding.

A transportation network comprised of rails, roads and aviation systems requires constant maintenance and occasional replacement. In 2013, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority had to replace a poorly draining floor of their Red Line airport tunnel, which emerges next to the Berea Freeway.

A transportation network comprised of rails, roads and aviation systems requires constant maintenance and occasional replacement. In 2013, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority had to replace the poorly draining floor of their Red Line airport tunnel, which emerges next to the Berea Freeway.

Cleveland was one of the nation’s few cities with rail until the 1980s. Its Shaker light-rail (Blue & Green) lines were constructed between 1913 and 1936, although the short Waterfront Line was added in 1996. The crosstown heavy-rail Red Line was built between 1928 and 1968. Cleveland and a handful of other legacy rail cities enjoyed exclusive access to federal “rail modernization” grants to keep their systems in a state of good repair.

Since the 1980s, many US cities have built rail systems and those systems are now aging, too. Cleveland must compete with more cities for fewer federal rail modernization grants. And, of course, Ohio provides near-zero transit funding. This must change! We cannot maintain a first-world transportation system on a third-world transportation budget with many costly regulations.

SAVE THE DATE: Join All Aboard Ohio from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 15 (the only weekend this summer when construction of rail bridges and/or tracks isn’t scheduled!) for a guided tour of the good, the bad and the ugly in Cleveland’s rail system including most routes, its new/rebuilt stations, maintenance facilities, plus station-area developments. We thank GCRTA for sponsoring this fun, informative event!

In case you’re wondering, GCRTA can’t easily abandon any of its rail lines. To do so would require refunding tens if not hundreds of millions of federal rail grants from the last 10-20 years for major station, track, bridge and substation projects. GCRTA must also hold public meetings for any proposal to terminate or substantially alter rail service. There was a loud neighborhood outcry recently when GCRTA considered closing the little-used East 34th and East 79th Red Line stations. Imagine the response to GCRTA attempting to abandon an entire rail line.

In All Aboard Ohio’s opinion, improving the efficiency and utility of Cleveland’s rail system is paramount. It should involve:

  • modernization of existing rail infrastructure, power delivery systems and rolling stock costing about $500 million;
  • supporting the growing interest in job-producing transit-oriented development with focused development incentives (tax credits, small-business loans, etc) as well as cleaning and clearing under-utilized and polluted industrial sites within walking distance of transit stations; and
  • expanding the reach of rail lines with short extensions of rail or dedicated buses, costing up to $2 billion, to serve 21st-century commuting patterns and growing employment centers.

Considering the lack of political resolve for transit at the state level and an ongoing political stalemate at the federal level, Cuyahoga County may have to take care of its own infrastructure needs by adding new local funding sources. What is clear is that the status quo is failing us.

###

US Senate rail bill: A huge leap forward!

Funding to expand rail service in Ohio, such as on routes with only nighttime trains, less-than-daily trains, or routes that Amtrak abandoned, would be possible if a new U.S. Senate bill becomes law. This is Toledo, OH on National Train Day.

Funding to expand intercity passenger rail service in Ohio — such as on routes with only nighttime trains, less-than-daily trains, or routes that Amtrak abandoned — would be possible if a new U.S. Senate bill (S.1626) becomes law. This is Toledo, OH on National Train Day, May 2, 2015. (All Aboard Ohio photo)

One of the most innovative passenger rail bills seen in a long time was introduced this week in the U.S. Senate. It is a companion to the already passed U.S. House of Representatives bill that would reauthorize the Passenger Rail Investment & Improvement Act of 2008.

While the House bill does little damage to passenger rail (except for keeping it on a survival-only budget), the Senate bill offers some innovative elements and recognizes the need for service expansion. Specifically, the bipartisan Railroad Reform, Enhancement, and Efficiency Act of 2015 (Senate bill #1626), released this week by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, could help Ohio in a couple of notable ways:

  • The bill would give local and regional governments a stronger voice in rail planning and development decisions. This is important in a state like Ohio that has an anti-rail state government but pro-rail local and regional governments;
  • The bill includes a provision called Section 301 that, for the first time in the 21st century, provides federal operating funding for passenger rail service to expand. Among the criteria for expansion are restoring service over former Amtrak routes and providing daily or daytime service where such service does not currently exist. All of these conditions exist in abundance in Ohio.

For further detail and analysis on this exciting bill, please CLICK HERE. To read accurate media coverage of S.1626, please CLICK HERE.

All Aboard Ohio strongly encourages you to contact your two US Senators (Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman) in Ohio to let them know your personal feelings on this bill. Please reference the Senate bill number (S.1626 ) in your communications with Ohio’s senators. Since S.1626 is markedly different from its House counterpart, there would have to be a conference committee to resolve differences. If you support more and better passenger train services in Ohio, kindly urge your U.S. Representative to replace the House version with the Senate version.

Thank you!