Center Update

Two More Signals Training Consortium Courses Piloted   

In July, Signals Consortium members piloted two more courses:
*    Course 102: Introduction and Overview of Switches and Derails was
     piloted at MBTA in Boston
*    Course 103: Introduction and Overview of Train Stops was piloted at
     GCRTA in Cleveland

Course 102 was taught by Signal Trainer Lynelle Butterfield.  Lynelle especially found the instructor guide beneficial saying that "It easily kept you on point.  Even when taught on the fly, the course flows well enough to help me keep my validity as an instructor - even on topics that were new to me like hydro-electric switches."  Course 103 was co-taught by Signal Trainer Bill Abbott and frontline signal maintainer and ATU 268 member Pedro Colon.  Pedro and Lynelle are also consortium Subject Matter Experts who have been integral in the development of these materials.

The courses were generally well received.  Pre- and post- tests show a knowledge gain of 33 and 34 percent, respectively.  This is especially encouraging since participants in both classes were mostly seasoned technicians with at least a year or two of signals maintenance experience.  In the case of MBTA's pilot, all participants received a 100 percent on the post-test.  Minor edits were suggested and will be incorporated into the next version of these materials.  

For more information on the Signals Training Consortium, contact Project Director Mark Dysart.
Public Transportation
Chicago Tribune - August 3, 2014
About 1 out of every 10 people in Cook County, roughly 438,500 residents, live in "transit deserts'' that are cut off from fast, frequent train and bus service, according to a new analysis that for the first time identifies dozens of Chicago-area mass transit dead zones and maps them in relation to major job clusters.  The study, conducted by the Chicago-based urban research group the Center for Neighborhood Technology using census and other data, found that four of the Chicago region's five big employment areas are in suburbs that are not well-connected to high-quality transit, making them difficult to reach without a vehicle.
International Transportation News
We Are Ontario - August 5, 2014
The passing of a resolution to "develop a Policy Framework for Toronto Transit Fare Equity for consideration by the end of 2015" by Toronto City Council on July 8th, 2014 is a step forward. It reflects a series of struggles by low income people, social activists working in community movements, social agencies, transit activists, and allies in the trenches of the municipal government bureaucracy and government to address a particularly important issue of social justice - equal access to urban mobility - and a significant item in the cost of living. 
Transit System/Partners
Progressive Railroading - August 5, 2014
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) recorded nearly 220,000 trips taken on its new Metrorail Silver Line between July 26 and Aug. 3, the line's first week of service.  On average, 15,942 passengers boarded a Silver Line train at one of the five new stations each weekday last week, roughly two-thirds of the way to achieving the agency's goal of 25,000 weekday boardings after one year of service.
Progressive Railroading - July 31, 2014
MTA Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) officials have proposed $3.4 million in service improvements, including restoration of weekend service on the West Hempstead Branch and the addition of two cars to six rush-hour trains.  Some of the service improvements, including restoration of the West Hempstead weekend service, will be implemented as soon as this fall while others will occur in 2015, LIRR officials said in a press release.
Labor News
KTVU - July 30, 2014
A contract for San Francisco Municipal Railway vehicle operators was unanimously approved by the city's Municipal Transportation Agency Wednesday afternoon, agency officials said.  The contract agreement was reached late last month after lengthy and contested negotiations that included a "sickout" staged by Muni workers during which about half of Muni drivers did not show up for work for three days.
CNBC - July 30, 2014
A ruling by the legal arm of the National Labor Relations Board against McDonald's has sparked fears that some industries may become more unionized, and those fears may be real, said a labor expert.  "I think it will embolden the labor movement, especially among fast food workers," said Jason Bent, a professor of employment law at Stetson University College of Law in Florida. "Industries that use franchises or that use contract labor will have to worry about this when it comes to organized labor targeting their workers."
Slate - August 1, 2014
For women around the world, public transportation can pose a nightmare scenario: In packed buses and train cars, women have reported being trapped in the crowd, sexually assault by strangers, then left with little recourse for reporting the crime to police. And the problem is particularly rampant in Latin American cities, where street harassment is still widely considered a compliment. In the past week alone, four women reported being sexually assaulted on public transportation in Bogot´┐Ż, Colombia.
Progressive Railroading - August 5, 2014
The Maryland Transit Administration's (MTA) police force will host an event in Baltimore tonight to mark the 31st annual "National Night Out" crime-prevention awareness campaign organized by the nonprofit National Association of Town Watch.  MTA Police will be on hand to meet and greet the public, answer questions, discuss MTA system safety initiatives and promote the National Night Out effort, MTA officials said in a press release.  
Examiner - August 4, 2014
Last week the Chicago Transportation Authority (CTA) released figures on crime on the nation's second largest transportation system, and concluded that crime was down from 2013 --- and according to the Chicago Tribune - specifically thefts and robberies, which "fell by about one-fifth and one-third, respectively, in the first half of the year compared with the same period in 2013, according to data that transit officials released."
Green News
APTA  - August 4, 2014
The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) recognized seven organizations today for their outstanding sustainability achievements which have met specific criteria through the APTA Sustainability Commitment program. Public transit agencies and businesses that voluntarily participate in the APTA Sustainability Commitment program commit to implementing processes and actions that create continuous improvements in environmental, social, and economic sustainability.  
Building Transportation Infrastructure
Railway Age - August 4, 2014
Testing began Monday, Aug. 4, 2014, on the District of Columbia's first modern streetcar line, running along H Street and Benning Road in the city's Northeast.  The testing involved both equipment and, significantly, a new crew of streetcar operators being trained for the service, which now is targeted to begin by year's end.  
San Jose Mercury News - July 30, 2014
BART has begun testing its sleek, driverless trains that will whiz riders between the Coliseum station and Oakland International Airport beginning in November.  This week, the transit agency ran all four of the Oakland Airport Connector trains simultaneously on the new elevated tracks, which will provide the first rail connection to the airport. The tram uses automated three-car trains pulled by cables set inside a steel guide way held up by concrete columns.
AASHTO - August 1, 2014
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation earlier this month was approved to move forward with the purchase of a passenger rail line that will connect New York City and a popular western Massachusetts destination.  MassDOT's Board of Directors on July 16 authorized the department's purchase of the Berkshire Line from the Housatonic Railroad Company in order to deliver passenger rail service between the Berkshires and New York City. The line extends about 37 miles from the Connecticut border in Sheffield to Pittsfield, where it joins the CSXT Railroad main line.
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