Commuter Rail, 2007 to ...

Home (Main Menu)

Commuter Rail Meeting, 3-30-07

EDITORIAL from The Morning Journal, 3-24-07

Commuter rail to Cleveland gains support, 4-9-07

4-14-07 Driving to work is bad for your health

8-29-07 Commuter Rail Meeting on 8-29-07

9-1-07 Commuter Rail Preview Trips

www.earthisland.org/eijournal/new_articles.cfm?articleID=1099&journalID=90

Earth Island Journal, Winter 2007 Vol. 21, No. 5

Getting over oil, by Richard Heinberg

``The impending global peak in oil production is likely to lead to economic chaos and extreme geopolitical tensions, raising the specters of war, revolution, terrorism, and even famine, unless nations adopt some method of cooperatively reducing their reliance on oil.

The Oil Depletion Protocol is one such method -- perhaps the simplest imaginable. Under an Oil Depletion Protocol, nations would agree to reduce their oil production and imports according to a consistent, sensible formula. This would have two principal effects:

First, it would reduce price volatility and enable nations, municipalities, industries, and companies to plan their economic future; and

Second, it would reduce international competition for remaining oil resources.

As the draft language of the Protocol itself states:

  • The world and every nation shall aim to reduce oil consumption by at least the world depletion rate.

  • No country shall produce oil at above its present depletion rate.

  • No country shall import [oil] at above the world depletion rate.

    The governments of Sweden and Iceland have taken the lead in establishing official goals of completely ending their nations' petroleum dependence, and other nations such as Cuba have made important strides to reduce oil consumption ...

    Policies that increase the number of travel choices available offer a side benefit in the form of greater elasticity of fuel demand. With more options available, more people can, for example, choose to ride commuter rail to work rather than drive when fuel prices get too high.

    As fuel demand becomes more elastic, people can respond better to price signals with reduction of demand rather than with fistfights at the gas pump. The key to benefiting from increased fuel demand elasticity associated with additional transit options, though, is having the options in place before a supply crisis occurs. ...''

    [The whole Iraq adventure is the result of a world oil glut (which the Russians are selling into); the Oil Gang can't keep the oil price up without limiting Iraqui production (and maybe taking out the Iranian oil fields). Their strategy is maintaining control of the oil supply while stimulating demand for oil (such as with the ethanol scam).

    The price of oil was higher in 2004 than in 2003, higher in 2005 than in 2004; and higher in 2006 than in 2005. Regardless of the cost to the American people, the Oil Gang is the clear winner in Iraq; they might even get an average price of $80/barrell in 2007 without bombing the Iranian oil fields. "peak oil" is a myth to justify drilling in Alaska and along the U. S. coasts.

    In Central Asia, the Russians are clearly ahead in the Great Game, having prevented Unocal from building a pipeline from Kazakhstan across Afghanistan to the port of Karachi in Pakistan. If we don't want our grandchildren drafted to fight in the Kazakh War of 2020, we must push harder than ever for commuter rail, plug-in hybrids, and whatever else frees us from dependence on oil from the Middle East and Central Asia.

    Quote from the movie titled "The Formula" starring George C. Scott and Marlin Brando:

    Adam Steiffel (Brando) Chairman of Titan Oil says "We're not in the oil business; we're in the oil shortage business!"]

    Top -- Home

    Commuter Rail Meeting, 3-30-07

    Next meeting of the West Shore Corridor Stakeholders 1:00-2:30 p.m. Friday, March 30, 2007, Lakewood Womens Pavilion, Lakewood Park, off Lake Road at Belle Avenue

    Lakewood Mayor Tom George and All Aboard Ohio [AAO] invite you to attend a special meeting of the West Shore Corridor Stakeholders. AAO is grateful to Mayor George for hosting this meeting.

    Special guest speaker: A very informative guest speaker will be Stephen Del Giudice, Transit Bureau Chief in Arlington County Virginia, and former mayor (1985-1990) of Takoma Park, Maryland.

    Subject: Major transit investments and their impacts on urban sprawl, inner communities, access to jobs and station-area redevelopment. Mr. Del Giudice's experience in municipal government, regional transportation planning and development will provide insights on issues and action steps they have already worked on and which Northeast Ohio is now facing.

    Background: Arlington County is comprised primarily older communities across the Potomac River from Washington D.C. By 1980, many areas in the county suffered from decayed commercial corridors in their oldest communities.

    Arlington County has seen significant redevelopment along major transit lines, including two commuter rail services added in the 1990s into exurban Virginia. Meanwhile Takoma Park is an inner-ring suburb on a long-established commuter rail route into rural Maryland.

    Detail: Since Arlington County developed rail services and integrated Transit Oriented Development [TOD], it has accomplished a great deal, while still protecting its single family neighborhoods. Consider:

  • Since 1980's, 75 percent of Arlington's 30 million square feet of new development is around transit stops.

  • 33 percent of tax base is located in 7 percent of land in TOD's.

  • Core Transit Corridor is now one of nation's 5 densest downtowns.

  • Vacancy rates half those of exurban Tyson's Corner, Virginia.

  • Lowest tax rate in DC metro area.

    Additional agenda items: update on the federal funding request by Lorain County and follow-up by subcommittee on identifying non-federal funding shares for alternatives analysis.

    Kenneth Prendergast

    Director, Research & Communications

    All Aboard Ohio!

    12029 Clifton Blvd., Suite 505

    Lakewood, OH 44107-2189

    (216) 986-6064 office

    www.allaboardohio.org

    Top -- Home

    EDITORIAL from The Morning Journal, 3-24-07

    ``Commuter rail proposal needs strong support of congressional delegation

    This area's congressional delegation needs to throw its full support behind a request for federal funding of a $3 million study of proposed commuter rail service between Cleveland and Lorain and westward to Vermilion and Sandusky.

    The Lorain County commissioners are seeking the help of Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-9; Rep. Betty Sutton, D-13; Rep. Dennis Kucininch, D-10; Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, D-11; and senators Sherrod Brown and George Voinovich.

    The funding would pay for an ''alternatives analysis'' to decide on the best method of providing commuter service and look at costs, ridership, job access and corridor development potential.

    A commuter service that could shuttle workers, tourists and visitors quickly and easily between home and jobs, restaurants, Cedar Point, shopping and other attractions would be a boost for the area's economy. It would help to meet air quality goals by reducing highway traffic volume. And it would ease the wear and tear now suffered by our major highways and drivers' nerves during rush hours.

    As Lorain County grows, with new residents moving in from Cuyahoga County, the need for commuter rail service can only keep growing. Lorain's downtown already has a train station built at Black River Landing ...

    A major funding step will be securing the federal money for the alternatives analysis and the local money for the 20 percent local share of the cost. That is the challenge that lies before our congressional, state, county, city and civic leaders, and it deserves their best efforts to make it succeed.''

    -------------

    Ken Prendergast of NEOtrans. and Director, Research & Communications, All Aboard Ohio! wrote on 2-26-07:

    Lorain County has agreed to sponsor the West Shore Corridor alternatives analysis and is submitting an application for federal funds (see article below). This is a tremendous, terrific development! On behalf of All Aboard Ohio , I thank Lorain County officials for this action ...

    In the meantime, if your community, chamber of commerce or other organization hasn't yet passed a resolution in support of seeking funding for the alternatives analysis, please do so (draft resolution available here: members.cox.net/kjprendergast/SAMPLE_RESOLUTION.doc

    The Resolution follows:

    RESOLUTION IN SUPPORT OF FEDERAL FUNDING FOR WEST SHORE CORRIDOR ALTERNATIVES ANALYSIS

    WHEREAS, a locally based constituency is growing for the creation of a regional commuter rail service or other improved public transportation linking the businesses and residents between Downtown Cleveland and the West Shore communities whose residents see improved public transportation services as an opportunity to improve the region's quality of life; and

    WHEREAS, the addition of commuter rail to [YOUR COMMUNITY] increases the chances of improving grade-crossing safety devices (ie: four-quad gates) that would improve safety for motorists and pedestrians and allow locomotive horns to be silenced under Quiet Zone rules established by the Federal Railroad Administration; and

    WHEREAS, the region's transportation system is not as effective as it should be in linking job seekers to available jobs within a 40-minute ride on public transportation; and

    WHEREAS, fast commuter rail services will connect stations that have the potential to capture millions of dollars worth of investment in commercial, office and residential development in station-area districts that will improve economic opportunities and the quality of life for all Northeast Ohioans regardless of their age, income or physical mobility; and

    WHEREAS, the options for developing higher-quality transit service in the West Shore Corridor are varied, the public's response to these options needs to be measured through public hearings, surveys and other means of engagement, the impacts of these options on natural and built environments must be better understood, and the actual capital and operating cost estimates associated with these transit options needs refinement so a locally preferred option can be selected; and

    WHEREAS, a federal funding authorization was provided for Lorain - Cleveland commuter rail in the six-year federal surface transportation law passed by Congress in 2005 but no funding amount was specified;

    NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that ________________ does hereby request that the [YOUR CONGRESSPERSON(S)] secure a fiscal year 2008 federal transportation appropriation of approximately $1.5 million through the Lorain-Cleveland funding authorization in the federal surface transportation law for a West Shore Corridor alternatives analysis; and

    FURTHER, BE IT RESOLVED that copies of this resolution be delivered to each member of the Ohio congressional delegation, to appropriate state legislators, the board of the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency, the Ohio Department of Transportation's Public Transit Division, and the Ohio Rail Development Commission.

    -------------

    NEWS ARTICLE from The Morning Journal, 2-23-07, By Alex M. Parker, Morning Journal Writer

    ``County asks Congress for $1.5M

    Officials want money for a study to look at possible commuter rail in NE Ohio

    ELYRIA -- The Lorain County government is hoping Congress can afford $1.5 million to pay for a study to look at the possibility of a commuter rail in Northeast Ohio.

    County officials said they're scrambling to get the funding request through the congressional offices of Betty Sutton and Marcy Kaptur before the deadline.

    "Lorain County will be taking the lead," County Administrator Jim Cordes said.

    A proposed commuter rail from Lorain to Cleveland has long been a pet project of local officials, such as Lorain Mayor Craig Foltin and County Commissioner Betty Blair.

    Supporters claim it could be an economic development tool, helping residents commute to jobs outside of the county.

    Ron Twining, the county's economic development director, also noted it could cut down on traffic congestion and pollution in the area.

    He said that Northeast Ohio's status as "non-attainment" of the EPA's air pollution standards scares companies away from locating here.

    "There are employers who look at locating in this area, and the air attainment issue keeps shooting them down," Twining said.

    Sutton, who was elected last fall, said she supported the idea but also wanted to see people think about bigger possibilities.

    She said a rail could also be a tool to bring people in from outside the area if it could run from Sandusky or Toledo. "You have to think big," Sutton said.

    The funding request has also received support from the Cleveland City Council. It would look at the broad area, and according to Cordes, would require a 20 percent local match, although it could come from several different governments or municipalities.

    Sutton said because the previous Congress did not pass an appropriations budget, all earmark requests would have to be resubmitted for the 2008 fiscal year ...''

    Top -- Home

    NEWS ARTICLE from The Morning Journal, 4-9-07, by MEGAN KING, Morning Journal Writer

    ``Commuter rail to Cleveland gains support

    The train station at Black River Landing in Lorain is waiting for a train. So is the historic station built near SR 60 in Vermilion.

    Area officials hope these stations will one day be stops along a commuter rail that will take passengers from Erie and Lorain counties to Cleveland -- revitalizing the area's economy and improving the environment in the process.

    Officials have been in discussions for years to create a commuter rail ranging from Lorain to Cleveland, and west to Sandusky. In February [2007], the Lorain County commissioners requested $3 million in federal funding to study the project.

    ''We have a station, we have a location, and we are waiting for the train to come,'' said Vermilion Mayor Jean Anderson, noting that there are up to 100 acres nearby that could be developed as a result. The Vermilion station is being restored by a group of citizens, including Coletta Kubik and Diane Chestnut.

    Rick Novak, executive director of the Lorain Port Authority, said Lorain also wants to be prepared for commuter rail ...

    Some potential stops have been considered at East Erie and Broadway in Lorain, on Lake Breeze Road in Sheffield Lake, SR 83 at the Avon/Avon Lake border, Columbia Road in Westlake near the existing Park and Ride, Depot Street in Rocky River, St. Charles and Belle Avenue in Lakewood, and the central business district area of Cleveland, according to the northeast Ohio Commuter Rail Feasibility study.

    Though Ken Prendergast, director of communications and research for All Aboard Ohio, a nonprofit group that promotes public transit and rail service, said the maps are preliminary and stops could change.

    Several communities have already expressed interest commuter rail, including Lakewood, Westlake, Rocky River, Vermilion, Cleveland, Lorain and the Lorain Port Authority. Avon Lake City Council is considering a resolution of support. Prendergast said bringing commuter rail to the area will spur economic development and job growth ...

    Prendergast said commuters could travel to work on a commuter train for one-third the cost of driving to work, and the extra money that both businesses and homes save could be put back into the economy.

    He said studies of the greater Cleveland area show people spend more on transportation costs than they do housing. ''Any time you see that in a metropolitan area, you know that metropolitan area is in trouble.'' ...

    Prendergast estimates that a two-year demonstration period for the commuter rail could cost up to $50 million, including a ''quiet zone'' that would limit train horns.

    Prendergast said the project would most likely require state funding, as the federal highway trust fund is expected to be running a deficit in the next five years. He said tax increment financing from development near the stations could also provide a funding mechanism.

    Prendergast said a diesel-powered light rail line between Camden and Trenton, N.J., which runs for about 30 miles, runs light rail transit during the day and freight trains at night. ''It's an innovative system, and they used TIFs to pay the local share.''

    Lorain County Commissioner Betty Blair said she hopes investments will be made into the project and public transit, noting that Ohio spends only $1.34 per person per year on public transit and neighboring states spend as much as $60 per person.

    ''You get what you pay for, and I think it's time we paid a little more toward transit and/or rail. We could use both both, especially in Lorain County.''

    Blair, a longtime supporter of commuter rail, said there have been a variety of meetings held on the topic with much interest from area communities, including those in Cuyahoga County.

    She said the community must decide whether commuter rail is worth the investment.

    ''Let's weigh it evenly with what you pay for concrete and potholes and traffic jams and things like that,'' Blair said. ''Let's make it a fair assessment.''

    Erie County Commissioner Bill Monaghan said a commuter rail would be a significant boost to Erie County's economy. He said it would promote movement of people not only between Erie County and Cleveland, but also Erie County and Lorain County ...

    Preliminary studies show a ride from Lorain to Cleveland could take about 35 minutes and cost $5. According to 2006 AAA studies, the average cost of driving is 56 cents per mile, which would be about $30 round trip from Lorain to Cleveland. ''I think that would be a cost-savings to many people,'' Novak said ...

    Residents said they thought the commuter train would benefit the area if it was convenient for residents. While, Steve Misch of Avon said he would not use the commuter rail, as he uses his truck on the job, ''For people that work in an office, it'd be a great thing.'' Avon Lake resident John Brockschmitt said he believes residents would only use the commuter rail if it were convenient to where the jobs are located ...

    Local officials hope the train project will continue full-steam ahead. Anderson said she hopes to see a commuter rail within two years. ''I really think it is a great goal, and I think transportation is essential for northern Ohio. It's really essential for all of Ohio.''''

    Top -- Home

    NEWS ARTICLE from The Washington Post, 4-12-07, by Eric M. Weiss

    [Driving to work is bad for your health]

    ``... Researchers have found that hours spent behind the wheel raise blood pressure and cause workers to get sick and stay home more often. Commuters have lower thresholds for frustration at work, suffer more headaches and chest pains, and more often display negative moods at home in the evenings. Carpool passengers deal with what they call "Mustang neck" or "Beetle neck" - the contortions they make to wedge themselves into the back seats of certain cars ...

    "You tell someone they need to exercise or go to physical therapy, but how can they? They leave at 5 am and get home at 7 or 8 pm at night," said Dr. Robert Squillante, an orthopedic surgeon in Fredericksburg, Va., who has treated patients for back pain and other commuting- related problems.

    Constant road vibrations ... for a long time are bad for the neck and back and puts pressure on the bottom disc of spine, the one most likely to deteriorate over the years, he said.

    Raymond Novaco, a professor at the Irvine Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, has researched commuting for three decades. He found a correlation between traffic congestion and negative health effects such as higher blood pressure and stress ... "The longer the commute, the more illness" and more illness-related work absences, he said ...

    Drivers with multiple route changes are at greater risk, Novaco found after plotting out the commutes of his study subjects. "It's a physical strain, as well as psychological one," he said. "It's frustrative and activates negative emotional states, and that generally has an effect on physical well-being."

    His research showed that long solo commutes are especially tough on women, who generally have "more responsibility for getting family up and running" and are "significantly more likely to report being rushed to get to work," Novaco said.

    Squillante said some of his surgery patients think the best thing about a back operation is the forced hiatus from their daily commute during recovery. Patients are desperate for solutions and swear by certain types of car-seat pillows or homemade lumbar supports, Squillante said. "There are people who feel they've discovered the miracle pillow," he said, though he knows of no surefire solution ...''

    Top -- Home

    NEWS ARTICLE from The Plain Dealer, 8-26-07, by Michael Sangiacomo, Plain Dealer Reporter

    [Commuter Rail Meeting on 8-29-07]

    ``Kenneth Prendergast hopes that high gasoline prices, traffic woes and environmental concerns will pique interest in a proposed rail line that would stretch from Cleveland as far west as Lorain or even Sandusky.

    The public is invited to attend a meeting at 9 am on Wednesday [8-29-07] at the Avon Lake Public Library for an update on the proposal for the commuter service.

    The proposed rail line would run along existing tracks that skirt Lake Erie. It would stop in Lakewood, Rocky River, Westlake, Avon, Lorain and possibly Vermilion, Huron and Sandusky. It would carry city workers to suburban jobs and suburban workers into the city.

    Prendergast, director of research and communications for All Aboard Ohio of Lakewood, said it would cost a third as much to ride the rails to work from Lorain to Cleveland as it costs to drive. He estimated driving the daily 60-mile round trip costs $30 in gas and automobile wear, while the train would charge $5 each way for a 50-minute trip.

    "The train has the support of city councils from Cleveland to Lorain," he said. "Now we need to figure out how best to use the rail stations. Should we just have parking lots or should we have stations with stores and restaurants?" ...

    The U.S. House of Representatives passed a transportation spending bill that includes $350,000 to study the commuter rail service. The Senate version did not include the money. The two versions will be worked out in a conference committee. President Bush has threatened to veto the $104.4 billion House bill because it's $4 billion higher than he wanted.

    Prendergast said a trial commuter rail program could be established with temporary stations for about $13 million, plus an operating subsidy of about $2.5 million ...''

    To reach this Plain Dealer reporter: msangiacomo@plaind.com

    -------------------------

    NEWS ARTICLE from The Press, 8-8-2007, By Andrea M. Osmun

    ``West Shore Corridor commuter rail study coming

    AVON -- Through the efforts of Ohio representative Betty Sutton, the House of Representatives has passed an appropriations bill to help fund $350,000 toward a study for a possible West Shore commuter rail from Lorain to Cleveland.

    The rail would run along the Norfolk Southern railroad tracks and go through Lorain, Sheffield Lake, [Avon and] Avon Lake, Bay Village, Rocky River, and Lakewood and possibly farther west through Vermilion and Sandusky, as explained in an article by All Aboard Ohio's Ken Prendergast.

    The next stop, according to Lorain County Commissioner Betty Blair, is for the appropriations bill to be addressed in Senate. If there is a difference of opinion in the Senate and the House, the bill would be taken to a conference committee and then would have to be approved by the president.

    The Lorain County Commissioners are sponsoring the project, and if approved, the money would go directly to them, according to an announcement by All Aboard Ohio's Prendergast. The total cost of the study is approximately $1.6 million. Blair said the county currently has a match-an 80/20 grant-that says the county would have to come up with $70,000 for the study.

    "We can have partners, though," she added. On Aug.29 [2007] a west shore stakeholders committee will meet to discuss the funding from 9-11 a.m. in the Gallery Room at the Avon Lake Public Library at 32649 Electric Blvd.

    Blair mentioned that she had recently spoken with Howard Maier, executive director of the Northeast Ohio Area-wide Coordinating Agency (NOACA), the five-county metropolitan planning organization that reviews state and federal funding for the area.

    "He was quite encouraging (about the appropriations bill being passed in the House), and said this is an earmark to get this project going," she said. For the most part, local mayors support the idea of having a commuter rail run through their cities, although there were some concerns.

    "About four months ago, I sponsored the legislation in city council, and their supoprt for this project was unanimous. This idea would do nothing but benefit our region," Sheffield Lake Mayor John Piskura said. Having a commuter rail would "make everything accessible and better serve the community," he said.

    Piskura mentioned a video that emphasized the need for major cities to have an urban center for culture, activity and commerce. Currently, he explained, people are more drawn to suburban communities around the Cleveland area, and downtown is not doing well. "There needs to be more partnering with big cities so we can keep them strong," Piskura said ...

    Avon Mayor Jim Smith supports the idea ... "It would be great for the city of Lorain, for its downtown and boat launching area, and it would eliminate so many people from using I-90," he said.''

    -------------

    NEWS ARTICLE from Forbes, 8-07. By Matt Woolsey, Forbes.com

    ``SIDENOTE by Ken Prendergast: Transportation costs hit low-income and working class families the hardest and, in Greater Cleveland, these costs comprise the largest single household expense for poorer families, according to the Center for Neighborhood Technology and the Urban Land Institute.

    realestate.msn.com/Buying/Article_forbes.aspx?cp-documentid=5289041>1=10341

    Nation's most expensive commutes siphon 20% of income Getting to work costs the most in Houston, Cleveland and Detroit ...

    It's often said that the trip to work can kill you. But if you live in Houston, what really takes a beating is your wallet. There, the average commuter spends 20.9% of his annual household costs on getting to work.

    He's not alone. Cleveland, Detroit, Tampa, Fla., Kansas City, Mo., and Cincinnati also landed on our list of the country's biggest cities where transportation eats up a fifth or more of household costs.

    The study, by nonprofit research firm Surface Transportation Policy Partnership (STPP), draws on 2003 Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the most recent available. The study looked at annual transit costs such as gas, tolls and public-transit fare, as well as money spent on car payments and maintenance.

    Robert Puentes, a metropolitan policy fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., says, "In Houston, the cost of transportation is the No. 1 household expense, above shelter." ... Transit costs are high because Houston has few policies hindering sprawl ...

    The study also found a very high correlation between cities that had extensive train systems and those in which households spent the least on transportation costs ... Besides saving commuters money on parking, tolls and gas, rail systems are seen as a way to manage sprawl: Train stations create central and desirable points for living and working ...

    That's what's happening in Dallas. It and Houston have 15% of the country's fastest-growing suburbs between them. Dallas is investing $4.86 billion to expand its commuter rail system, Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART), which services area suburbs and neighboring Fort Worth.

    The job is expected to be completed in 2013, and local economists say the city should reap $8.1 billion in increased economic activity over the life of the project. Houston, on the other hand, mainly has focused on road construction and expansion, which isn't expected to pay off as well ...''

    --------------------

    online.wsj.com/article_email/SB118114517667026496-lMyQjAxMDE3ODExMTExNDE1Wj.html

    NEWS ARTICLE from the Wall Street Journal, 6-11-07, By KEMBA J. DUNHAM

    THE JOURNAL REPORT: ECONOMIC ROUNDUP

    ``The Little Engine That Could

    In many cities, the hottest development is taking place along the train lines

    In cities across the country, mass-transit lines are the new frontier in urban development.

    In dozens of cities -- from Charlotte, N.C., to Denver to Portland, Ore. -- the hottest redevelopment project is happening next to the local train station ...

    Most successful transit-oriented developments are public-private partnerships. Local governments build or refurbish rail lines and surrounding infrastructure like roads and parking facilities. Private developers then build in the surrounding areas.

    "There's a lot of research that shows that if the public sector puts money into a transit system, they can expect three to five times that amount in private money" for adjacent development, says Marilee Utter, president of Citiventure Associates LLC, a Denver firm that has worked with a number of cities on development around light-rail systems.

    These developments can pay off for cities in several ways. Research shows that the value of commercial and residential properties close to transit stations often rises -- and that translates into higher real-estate tax revenues in that area.

    Economists from the University of North Texas, for instance, found that between 1997 and 2001, office properties near suburban Dallas Area Rapid Transit stations increased in value 53% more than comparable properties not served by rail. Values of residential properties rose 39% more than a control group not served by rail ...''

    --Ms. Dunham is a staff reporter in The Wall Street Journal's New York bureau.

    Write to Kemba J. Dunham at kemba.dunham@wsj.com

    Top -- Home

    EDITORIAL from The Morning Journal, 9-1-07

    ``Plan for commuter rail preview trips by 2009 good way to sell idea

    Nothing heats up new-car fever as much as a test drive. Similarly, backers of commuter rail here hope that offering test train rides by early 2009 will sell their plan.

    We look forward to the chance to hop aboard in Lorain on one of these preview runs.

    Plans call for trains to follow a 33-mile route from Vermilion to Cleveland using the Norfolk Southern railroad tracks and making stops in communities along the way.

    At a meeting of commuter rail backers this past week in Avon Lake, Ken Prendergast of All Aboard Ohio envisioned ticket prices ranging up to $6 for riding the full length of the route. Trains would go from Vermilion to a Greater Cleveland Rapid Transit station on Cleveland's West Side where riders would get a free transfer to an RTA Rapid Transit train for the final leg of the ride into downtown Cleveland.

    This newspaper has long favored a commuter rail connection from Cleveland to Lorain and beyond. As Prendergast noted, by taking the train instead of driving, commuters would save money, and the environment would benefit from less vehicle air pollution. Commerce could benefit all along the route.

    We encourage the congressional and state representatives and state senators from Lorain, Erie and Cuyahoga counties as well as Ohio's U.S. senators, to push for the funds necessary to make the trial runs possible ...''

    ------------------

    NEWS ARTICLE from The Chronicle-Telegram, 8-30-07, by Stephen Szucs

    ``Officials discuss preview rides for commuter rail

    AVON LAKE -- Local officials hope a preview ride aboard a commuter train could give the regional project the local and federal push it needs to make it a reality.

    "That's going to be the key ingredient." said Kenneth Prendergast, director of research and communications for All Aboard Ohio of Lakewood. "Anybody that's using commuter rail service is going to cut their commuter costs by two-thirds. The preview service would help them to realize that."

    Community leaders and officials from Lorain and Cuyahoga counties met Wednesday at the Avon Lake Public Library to discuss publicity, development and strategy for the commuter railway in the West Shore Corridor, which stretches from Cleveland to Vermilion.

    Prendergast said commuters within the greater Cleveland area have the second-highest commuter costs in the nation, eating up more than a fifth of average household costs.

    While a commuter rail service could still be a decade in the making, he said, a preview allowing people to ride the train could be up and running by 2009.

    A similar preview was done in 2000 using existing tracks running near the Lake Erie shoreline.

    "We still need to find out how much it will cost." he said. "If it's several days, it won't be too expensive ..."

    The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed a transportation spending bill that would allocate $350,000 to review and study the commuter rail service ...

    "We need to be sure we have the political and residential support." said Joe Calabrese, general manager for Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority. "I'm not sure people (in Lorain County) would vote for it."

    Vince Urbin, Lorain County community development specialist, said creating an interactive Web site and video explaining the railway and how it would work could help secure more federal dollars ...''

    Contact Stephen Szucs at sszucs@chroniclet.com.

    The Latest News

    Growth News -- Top -- Home -- What's New