Thursday’s Headlines

  • Amtrak will furlough 2,000 employees and cut back most long-distance service from daily to three times per week at the end of the month in response to falling ridership during the pandemic. It’s also requested $1.5 billion in emergency federal aid, but so far Congress hasn’t been forthcoming. (Washington Post)
  • “It’s an all-out death race on American roads right now,” reports Jalopnik, as police around the country report more speeding and more traffic deaths.
  • Uber says it will spend $800 million over the next five years incentivizing drivers to buy electric or other no-emissions vehicles (Forbes). Maybe it would have even more money to devote to green initiatives if it wasn’t spending so much trying to get out of paying drivers benefits or harassing researchers online (Union of Concerned Scientists).
  • The Arizona Republic questions whether Phoenix should be moving forward with light-rail construction when ridership is down 50 percent. The answer is yes, of course, because it will probably have recovered when the extensions are finished in 2024.
  • The D.C. Metro’s “toxic workplace culture” of profanity, threats, harassment and pressure to work long shifts threatens passenger safety, according to a recent audit. (The Hill)
  • The D.C. Metro’s “toxic workplace culture” of profanity, threats, harassment and pressure to work long shifts threatens passenger safety, according to a recent audit. Although a recent study found that it would carry 3 million passengers a year, Colorado’s Front Range light line between Fort Collins and Pueblo is still at least a decade away. (Denver Post)
  • Once it was mainly used by tourists, but Hawaii residents started taking advantage of the Big Island’s bike-share when officials made it free during the pandemic (Tribune-Herald). Memphis’ Explore Bike Share has a new payment option that lowers the price for long trips (Flyer). Huntsville, the Rocket City, is also relaunching its bike share system (WZDX).
  • Orlando is the latest city to let restaurants use parking spaces for outdoor seating. (Click Orlando)
  • As part of a series on transit and equity, the Kinder Institute at Rice University interviews a lifelong Houston METRO rider who says frequent and reliable transit is a civil right.
  • A mostly Black bike club in New York is seeking to promote equity and shatter the stereotype of cyclists as affluent, spandex-clad white men — all while having fun. (Curbed)
  • Downtown Toronto’s wide sidewalks have always helped make it a retail destination, but they’re especially economically beneficial during the pandemic. (Globe and Mail)


GOP Proposal to Privatize the Northeast Corridor Meets Resistance

House Republicans, led by Transportation Committee leaders John Mica (R-FL) and Bill Schuster (R-PA), have a plan to take the Northeast Corridor out of Amtrak’s control and privatize it. They’ve long called Amtrak a “Soviet-style operation” that loses money. Mica said that ridership of the NEC hasn’t changed since 1977, the year after Amtrak took […]

House Plan to Privatize Northeast Corridor Retains Public Ownership

Under the House Republicans’ proposal to bring more private competition to the nation’s most valuable transportation asset, the Northeast Corridor would remain in public hands. Transportation Committee Chair John Mica (R-FL) made clear that under his and Rail Subcommittee Chair Bill Shuster’s plan, “the public maintains ownership of the corridor; we’re not giving it to […]

Amtrak to Begin Welcoming Bikes on Long-Distance Routes

The nation’s intercity passenger rail service just got a lot bike-friendlier. Amtrak announced last week that it is installing new baggage cars — equipped for bike storage — in all trains on its long-distance routes by year’s end. The change will allow Amtrak riders to “roll on” their bikes, rather than disassembling them and transporting them […]

What’s New in the House Amtrak Bill?

In what’s being called a “rare burst of bipartisanship,” the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill yesterday reauthorizing Amtrak funding for four years at its current levels. Despite a last-minute, Koch brothers-backed push to eliminate funding for the railroad completely, the House advanced its bill to provide Amtrak with $1.7 billion annually for four years. It’s […]