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Boy Scouts seek daily Amtrak Cardinal

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The Cardinal Conference, organized by All Aboard Ohio and Amtrak, was held in at the Cincinnati USA Chamber of Commerce on Sept. 23, 2016. More than 100 people attended the event, including representatives of the Boy Scouts of America. (Permission to use image with “All Aboard Ohio photo” as credit – CLICK TO ENLARGE)

PDF of the following press release on AAO letterhead is available HERE.

Dec. 20, 2016
For Immediate Release

Contact: Derek Bauman 513-262-0345
derekbauman@gmail.com

All Aboard Ohio and other passenger rail advocates seeking daily Amtrak Cardinal service have gained a major ally in the Boy Scouts of America.

In a Dec. 15, 2016 letter to Amtrak President Wick Moorman, BSA Chief Scout Executive Michael B. Surbaugh urged Amtrak to increase its Cardinal service from thrice-weekly to daily. He urged it on at least a temporary basis during July 2017 when the BSA will begin holding its quadrennial National Jamboree at Summit Bechtel Reserve at Mount Hope, WV. An even larger event will occur in 2019 when the World Scout Jamboree is held at that location, near Amtrak Cardinal stations along the New River Gorge National River, a 70,000-acre recreation area.

BSA had been using the Philmont Scout Ranch near Raton, NM and large groups of scouts took Amtrak’s daily Southwest Chief from Los Angeles, Chicago and points in between, to get there. The same large passenger loads will descend upon the Cardinal, but will be limited by its three-days-per-week operation.

BSA became aware of proposals and issues surrounding expanding the Cardinal to a daily schedule when BSA representatives attended the Sept. 23, 2016 Cardinal Conference. That event was organized by All Aboard Ohio and Amtrak, and hosted by the Cincinnati USA Chamber of Commerce in Cincinnati, OH, a station stop on the Cardinal route.

More than 100 people attended the Cardinal Conference,” said All Aboard Ohio Vice Chair Derek Bauman. “While stakeholders learned of the challenges involved in getting the Cardinal to run daily, we were also energized by the level of interest by people in the room to press forward and tackle those challenges. We are thankful to the BSA for its letter which shows that interest in this enhanced rail service remains strong.”

I hope Amtrak will consider the opportunity to take advantage of the Jamboree window to operate daily service on the Cardinal and to work with local tourism representatives to maximize this unique opportunity,” Surbaugh wrote in his letter to Amtrak. “I know I speak for all when I say that enhanced service would be a welcome addition offering the possibility of increased ridership and visitors to the New River Gorge.”

The West Virginia Governor’s Conference on Tourism unanimously passed a motion in favor of daily Cardinal service in the Fall of 2016. In a 2010 Performance Improvement Plan, Amtrak projected that ridership on the Cardinal route would increase by 96 percent if the train operated daily. While Amtrak estimated the operating subsidy could increase by several million dollars per year, the subsidy per passenger was projected to decrease.

Amtrak cannot legally expand service that increases its operating losses without identifying funding to offset it. Congress provided that funding program in 2015 as part of its Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act by authorizing Restoration & Enhancement Grants with a total program ceiling of $20 million per year. However Congress has yet to appropriate any funding to that program. States and other political jurisdictions may also sponsor passenger rail services under Sec. 209 of the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008.

Amtrak estimates it has enough locomotives and passenger cars to run the Cardinal as often as five days per week. A long-delayed order of 130 Viewliner II passenger cars from CAF USA in Elmira, NY is finally producing the promised baggage cars, diners, sleepers and baggage dorm cars. Enough cars may be on hand by July to offer daily Cardinal service for the BSA, if funding can be found to offset the added operating cost.

The last time Amtrak offered daily service on its Cardinal route was Sept. 30, 1981, when the train was discontinued due to federal budget cuts. Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) got some funding restored, bringing the Cardinal back on Jan. 8, 1982 as a thrice-weekly service. The train was rescheduled from serving Cincinnati in daytime so it could serve West Virginia at more convenient times. The train is named the Cardinal because that is the state bird in every state through which the train passes.

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Chicago-Ohio rail corridor planning starts

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Lima, OH Mayor David Berger announces at a Dec. 19, 2016 press conference at Baker Street Station in Fort Wayne, IN the start of federally compliant planning of a passenger rail corridor through Lima to Chicago. Expansion of this first step of planning work to more of Ohio will depend on the extent of funding contributions from those areas. (ROGER SHOPE PHOTO)

Dec. 19, 2016
For Immediate Release
Contact: Ken Prendergast 844-464-7245
kenprendergast@allaboardohio.org

All Aboard Ohio is grateful to the business and civic leaders along the Columbus-Lima-Fort Wayne-Chicago rail corridor for their leadership and vision in raising funds to start an Alternatives Analysis and Public Input process for high-performance passenger rail into Chicago. This phase represents a starting point for the Project Development Process (PDP) for all major transportation capital improvement projects.

We also thank the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) for submitting an application to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to support the analysis. INDOT offered the locally raised funds, totaling $350,000, to start the PDP as part of an arrangement with the FRA. All Aboard Ohio thanks the FRA for responding to this application with its support for this first step of planning work that is due to be completed at the end of 2017. All of this success was made possible due to the efforts of the Northeast Indiana Passenger Rail Association.

To All Aboard Ohio, the benefits of developing the Columbus-Lima-Fort Wayne-Chicago corridor aren’t limited to this corridor. Significant parts of this corridor can and should be designed and developed as a trunk route for more and faster passenger trains from/to Ohio’s largest cities, including Cleveland and Cincinnati as well (see map below).

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Click image for larger map.

“There are only two rail corridors to the east of Chicago that lack heavy freight rail traffic and could offer the potential for frequent, reliable, 110-mph passenger trains,” said Ken Prendergast, executive director of All Aboard Ohio. “One already does – the Wolverine Corridor that was upgraded with infrastructure and safety improvements that allow 110 mph speeds for three state-sponsored Michigan passenger rail routes into Chicago.

“The other is the Fort Wayne Line,” Prendergast added. “With the support of more Ohio civic leaders like Lima Mayor David Berger, the Fort Wayne Line may someday be the route that all Ohio rail passengers use to enter Chicago safely, swiftly and reliably. We encourage more Ohio leaders to get on board the train to the Midwest’s economic capital.”

Trains from Ohio using the Fort Wayne Line into Chicago could travel to the Windy City from Columbus, Cincinnati or Cleveland in four hours or less. Travelers in closer-in cities like Toledo and Lima could arrive in downtown Chicago in three hours or less, regardless of bad weather while staying digitally connected and productive in their work. Passengers could relax on the train after a day of business in the Windy City with a cold drink or hot meal in the cafe car or by finishing up work so they can spend the evening with their family.

“With today’s announcement in Fort Wayne, we are now one step closer to realizing this vision,” Prendergast said. “Every long journey begins with a single step. That journey is now under way.”

A 2013 rail corridor feasibility study concluded that approximately 2.1 million riders would use the Chicago-Fort Wayne-Columbus route in 2020, with that number growing to more than three million in 2040. The study also estimated that for every $1 of investment, $1.70 would be generated in economic return through job growth and increased property values.

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December 2016 e-Edition newsletter

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Download the December 2016 issue CLICK HERE to read the following stories:

  • Gov. Kasich reportedly has ‘tight’ budget for ODOT in next 2 years
  • How will Trump affect rail & transit?
  • Daily Cardinal service gaining more friends
  • Without investment, Ohio rail jobs departing
  • Amtrak ridership, revenues hit record highs
  • New Viewliner II diners start hitting the rails
  • Cleveland RTA rail stations see improvements
  • Illustration of the month
  • Mad Jack Challenge fundraiser exceeds goal!

Please contact us at info@allaboardohio.org if you have any difficulties downloading the newsletter or if you have any comments or questions. Thank you!

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Dear Gov. Kasich: fund transit now!

Cartoon courtesy of Crain's Cleveland Business.

Cartoon courtesy of Crain’s Cleveland Business.

All Aboard Ohio Joins Effort to Encourage Governor, Legislative Leaders
to Focus on Accessible, Affordable, and Sustainable Public Transit Options

December 14, 2016

For Immediate Release

CONTACT: Ken Prendergast 844-464-7245

Press Release PDF also available on All Aboard Ohio letterhead HERE

Led by All Aboard Ohio, today a diverse group of advocates delivered a message to Governor John Kasich, the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and Ohio General Assembly. The Ohio Coalition for Transportation Equity is made up of more than 40 different stakeholders representing various populations from urban, suburban and rural communities who want to work with Ohio leaders to invest in accessible, affordable and sustainable public transit options.

In addition to All Aboard Ohio, the only statewide citizens-based rail and transit advocacy organization, the coalition’s members include representatives from a wide array of interests and backgrounds, including people with disabilities, older adults, environmental groups, bicycling organizations, human service providers, transit agencies, business concerns and faith leaders.

The coalition’s letter announces the group’s request to work with the administration to improve Ohio’s public transit system, and details the positive impact that greater investment in public transit will likely have on Ohio’s economy, environment and communities. The coalition’s letter cites ODOT’s 2015 Transit Needs study, which states that ODOT needs $192.4 million in capital and $96.7 million in operating funds just to meet existing demand for public transportation services. An additional $273.5 million in one-time funding is also needed to address system backlog and bring Ohio’s accessible transit fleet to a state of good repair.

Accessible, affordable and sustainable transportation is essential for connecting Ohioans to jobs, education, shopping, health care, and other community assets to be more productive citizens,” said Ken Prendergast, executive director of All Aboard Ohio. “Ohio’s rail and transit users are ready to be a part of the transportation policy conversation, and All Aboard Ohio is pleased to work with such a diverse coalition to ensure that their voices are heard.”

According to the Federal Reserve Bank, only one in four jobs in Ohio’s metro areas can be reached within a 90-minute transit trip. The Brookings Institute says this situation is even more serious in smaller Ohio cities because their scant public transportation offerings are less capable of linking jobs and job-seekers. The result is that Ohio has a large labor pool that is under-employed and therefore isn’t fully participating in Ohio’s economy. In turn, that means a bigger drain on public assistance programs and tax dollars while making Ohio labor markets more expensive. Public transportation or public assistance? That will be Ohio’s choice in 2017.

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Logos of organizations that signed the letter:
transit-logos

Alphabetical list of signers:

Ability Center of Greater Toledo
Advocates for Ohio’s Future
All Aboard Ohio
Amalgamated Transit Union Local 627 (Cincinnati area)
Amalgamated Transit Union Local 268 (Cleveland area)
American Council of the Blind of Ohio
Americans for Transit
Area Agency on Aging 3 (7 county region in NW Ohio)
Bike Cleveland
Catholic Social Services
The Center for Disability Empowerment
Center for Independent Living Options
The City of Lorain
Clevelanders for Public Transit
Disability Rights of Ohio
Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority
Greater Dayton RTA
Innovation Ohio
Joy Machines Bike Shop
Kirwan Institute
Mid-Ohio Board of Independent Living Environments (MOBILE)
MOVE Lorain County
Motorcars Mobility
National Church Residences – Center for Senior Health
Northern Ohioans for Budget Legislation Equality (NOBLE)
Nuns on the Bus Ohio
Ohio Association of Area Agencies on Aging (o4a)
Ohio Bicycle Federation
Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council
Ohio Environmental Council
Ohio Olmstead Task Force
Ohio Statewide Independent Living Council
Policy Matters Ohio
Senior Transportation Connection
Services for Independent Living, Inc.
SEIU, Local 1
Sierra Club, Ohio Chapter
Southeastern Ohio Center for Independent Living (SOCIL)
Transit Columbus
UH Bikes
The University of Cincinnati, University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UC UCEDD)
Western Reserve Area Agency on Aging
Western Reserve Independent Living Center
Women Empowered, Educated, Employed (WE3 Collaborative)

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