Virgin Train Line extending to Orlando

July 31, 2020

Virgin’s Brightline Train system running from Miami to West Palm Beach to Orlando, and eventually to Tampa, Fl will be complete by 2022. These trains can travel up to 125 mph, not high speed, but sleek and efficient. By adding stops at Disneyworld and the Port of Miami, it will be a Florida tourists dream come true with easy transfer between airports and tourist sites.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/2020/07/30/acela-brightline-us-fastest-trains-high-speed-rail-coming/5535529002/

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DVIR rules loosened

July 20, 2020

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced today it has published a final rule rescinding the requirement that drivers of commercial buses submit – and motor carriers retain – driver-vehicle inspection reports (DVIRs) when the driver has neither found nor been made aware of any vehicle defects or deficiencies.

This ease of regulation, which previously required the coach operator to fill out the DVIR regardless of whether defects were present, and previously required the company to retain such DVIR’s for three months, has been rescinded in an effort to reduce regulatory burdens that take time and effectively cost money. A DVIR will still be required if there are defects present on the vehicle. The final order takes effect 30 days after it is published in the Federal Register which should take place in a few days.

More here: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety/driver-safety/passenger-carrier-no-defect-driver-vehicle-inspection-reports

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Greyhound, First Group suffering major losses

July 10, 2020

The last financial report from First Group of UK of March 31, 2020 reported combined losses of $375 million for the quarter, and its shares selling at less than $1 per share. Ridership at Greyhound is down 90%; Canada Greyhound ceased operating in early May. Losses at First Student, school bus operations, are significant with schools closing throughout North America due to pandemic.

In comparison, total losses for entirety of 2019 were $100 million. First Group says they still will have financial stability with their creditors as long as they are able to sell their North American operations prior to March, 2022. Meanwhile, coronavirus restrictions in UK have put tremendous stress on their more expensive UK rail operations.

More here: https://www.barrons.com/articles/greyhound-owner-firstgroup-slumps-on-loss-analysts-say-the-road-to-recovery-will-be-difficult-51594219399

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ATU champions federal assistance bill for private transportation companies

New Bill to Help Workers in the Intercity Bus industry

July 16, 2020

In response to a labor-management partnership led by the ATU, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) is set to introduce the Coronavirus Economic Relief for Transportation Services (CERTS) Act of 2020. While public transportation agencies and commercial airlines were provided federal assistance under the CARES Act, many segments of the transportation industry have not had the same access to so-called bail out funding. As a result, thousands of school bus and intercity bus workers that have been laid off due to the coronavirus have seen no relief. The Reed bill would provide $10 billion in emergency economic relief funding to motorcoach operators, school bus companies, U.S. flag passenger vessel operators, and other U.S. transportation service providers. With language provided by ATU, the bill conditions funding on companies retaining their employees as of the date of enactment and on bringing back employees as business improves. In addition to supporting payroll, assistance under the bill can be used for maintaining equipment and facilities and for expenses related to protecting employees and customers from the coronavirus. Senator Reed is hoping to incorporate the bill into the next COVID bill, which could possibly be acted upon in the next few weeks.

Jim Jalbert from C & J Trailways described the current state of affairs:

https://www.fosters.com/news/20200713/bus-industry-reeling-from-pandemic-pleads-for-help-from-congress

Peter Picknelly, Chairman of Peter Pan Bus Lines also described the need for federal assistance:

Peter Picknelly, CEO of Peter Pan Bus Services, the second largest bus company in the Northeast, said his company, like the other bus services has been “annihilated” by the pandemic. He said they are a 90-year, fourth generational family business and they are in danger of not being able to recover from the losses resulting from the pandemic. “The CARES Act gave airlines $50 billion; Amtrak, $1 billion; and public transit $25 billion,” said Picknelly. “Inner city buses like ours got nothing even though we play such an important role in the transportation infrastructure. We move more people in one week than Amtrak moves in a year. We have been closed since March 29. We reopened on a limited basis on June 5, at about 25% volume.”

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Springfield to Boston East-West Rail service gets Boost from feds

June 20, 2020

Congressman Richard Neal and Mayor Domenic Sarno of Springfield, announced that part of an upcoming infrastructure improvement bill being considered and expecting to pass both houses of Congress has substantial monies to start on one of three proposals to improve rail service on the East-West Corridor between Springfield-Worcester-Boston.

While city-to-city transit ridership is at an all-time-low due to Covid-19 economy shutdowns, fears among the public, and tele-commuting, resulting in fact in a major reduction of schedules by Amtrak as well as intercity lines like Peter Pan; the unrealistic train buffs like State Senator Eric Lesser and others continue to ignore projected low ridership on Trains – as opposed to more efficient Intercity busses like Peter Pan – and idealize a high speed or frequent train service between these city pairs.

Ridership on busses or trains to improve commuter times to/from Boston will only improve if “HOV lanes” or “Higher Toll exclusive use lanes” are installed near the Hub (Boston) metro area.

Read more here:

https://www.masslive.com/news/2020/06/us-rep-richard-neal-touts-15-trillion-infrastructure-plan-for-trains-green-energy-with-springfield-union-station-visit.html

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