Jan. 25 marked the
formal launch of BART's expanded API. API stands for Application Programming
Interface - sets of routines, data structures and protocols that support the
building of applications. BART has a long commitment to making its data open to
the public - such as the schedules for trains, and advisories when there are
delays. We were the first Bay Area transit agency to provide public open data,
starting in 2007.
The lawsuit probably couldn't
have come at a worse time for BNSF Railway, the Kansas City Star reports. The
federal government is getting close to announcing whether BNSF will get $50
million in federal stimulus money to start building a massive rail hub in
Johnson County. The project has to be "shovel ready" to get the money, but its
environmental permit is the target of a lawsuit, which could delay one of the
area's biggest development projects.
Charlotte, N.C., is going
to ask the federal government for $25 million to help build a streetcar line
uptown, The Charlotte Observer reports. The City Council voted 7-4 Jan. 25 to
apply for a grant that would pay for much of a 1.5-mile line from the Charlotte
Transportation Center to Presbyterian Hospital on Hawthorne Drive in the
Elizabeth neighborhood. If successful, the city would need to spend at least
$12 million of its own money to finish construction.
Congressman Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.)
called on Metra to add weekday train service to the Heritage Corridor line,
which currently offers three weekday round trips between Joliet and Chicago's
Union Station, with stops in Summit, Willow Springs, Lemont, and Lockport.
A new report on moving BNSF
tracks out of central Fresno to relieve traffic congestion says it would cost
at least $803 million, by far the highest such estimate yet, the Bee reports. As
a result, an organization formed 10 years ago to advocate shifting the BNSF
tracks to the Union Pacific corridor is giving up, its president said.
U.S. Secretary of
Transportation Ray LaHood has appointed Joe Calabrese to a two-year term on the
Intelligent Transportation Systems Program Advisory Committee. Since 2000,
Calabrese has been CEO and general manager of the Greater Cleveland Regional
Transit Authority. He has more than 30 years experience in public transit.
The city of Norfolk, Va.,
is extending light rail construction hours to try to prevent future delays with
the project. Right now crews primarily work from 7 a.m. until 4 or 5 p.m.,
according to Public Works Director John Keifer. The new agreement would allow
them to work until 2 am.
A civil engineer with an
extensive railroad engineering background is the Federal Railroad
Administration's new deputy associate administrator for safety, regulatory and
legislative affairs. Dr. Magdy El-Sibaie succeeds Grady Cothen in the post,
following an extensive nationwide search to fill the position. Cothen announced
his retirement in late 2009, but is remaining at the FRA through March to
assist El-Sibaie in the transition.
Most recently, El-Sibaie
was acting associate administrator for hazardous materials safety at DOT's
Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. Until October 2009, he
was the FRA's director of research and development, following a successful
tenure as the agency's chief of track research, where he managed the FRA's
track inspection technology development program that created improved systems
for measuring track geometry at high speeds.
El-Sibaie earned a
doctorate in engineering mechanics from the University of Delaware in 1986, and
was recruited by the Association of American Railroads as a researcher at the
industry's Chicago Technical Center, where he is credited with pioneering new
methods of computer modeling to measure the dynamic behavior of track under
varying loads, speeds and conditions. For that work, the American Society of
Mechanical Engineers honored him in 1980 with its Rail Transportation Award.
In 1989, he was reassigned
by the AAR to its Transportation Test Center in Pueblo, Colo., where he worked
on vehicle/track interaction modeling and testing, in-train stability and
wheel-load dynamics. He returned to the Chicago Test Center in 1993 to lead the
AAR's track assessment and test program.
El-Sibaie joined the FRA in
1995 as a senior program manager in the Office of Research and Development,
chairing a government-industry working group that formulated the first set of
safety standards for U.S. high-speed rail service. He also worked with rail
suppliers and Amtrak to establish standards for Amtrak's high-speed Acela
trains operating on the Northeast Corridor.
As deputy associate
administrator for safety, regulatory and legislative affairs, El-Sibaie will
lead FRA initiatives that develop and implement industry safety regulatory
strategy. These efforts include leading the Rail Safety Advisory Committee in
studying emerging safety issues, including the incorporation of new technology
into the rail environment, as well as risk reduction strategies and close-call
When it comes to
attention-grabbing covers, the title "Great Rail Disasters" with an
illustration of a train wreck is tough to beat for creating a sense of danger
and drama, Ted Jackovics wrote in the Tampa, Fla., Tribune website. Inside, the
44-page American Dream Coalition report focuses on "foolish
investments" and "pork barrel spending" in a critique of rail as
a passenger transportation alternative.
(The following column by
U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) appeared on the Williamson Daily News website
on January 23, 2010. He represents West Virginia's 3rd District.)