Tag Archive for cost sharing

NY governor Cuomo balks over new Amtrak tunnel to N.J. — Who Pays How Much for It?

“It is always seems to be about who writes the check.”

The existing Amtrak tunnel connecting New York City and New Jersey is a century old and in disrepair. Electrical wires corroded by Hurricane Sandy’s floods prompted hours-long delays last month that highlighted the tunnel’s condition and previewed what could become a chronic problem if nothing is done.

Yet Cuomo, a Democrat, sees little light ahead in this tunnel project. He balked at an invitation from U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to meet with him and New Jersey’s Gov. Christie to discuss the construction of a new tunnel, saying there was “no reason to meet now.” He told reporters recently that the outlook for the tunnel was “not especially bright.” If that’s true, then it’s bad news for millions of commuters, not just the 200,000 people who ride trains through the tunnel each day. Amtrak estimates that the existing tunnel – which has a single track in two tubes, one for either direction – has a life expectancy of about 20 years. The repair option of Closing one tube for a year of repairs would reduce the number of trains using the tunnel from 24 to six per hour at peak times, forcing tens of thousands of people onto ferries, buses, or cars…

A new tunnel would likely take a decade to build. There are several reasons offered by Cuomo as to why he is reluctant to start up the tunnel-boring machine. He said the project wouldn’t work unless Washington committed a sizable investment. An earlier tunnel proposal included $3 billion in federal funds, but was axed by Christie in 2010. 2) Cuomo says the feds are promising only “loans.” Instead of grants.

“If the federal government is serious that this is critical, which it is . . . we need federal funds,” Cuomo said last week. “They need to put their money where their mouth is.” New Jersey governor Christie has said he would support a new tunnel project if part of the cost were borne by the State of New York or New York City, neither of which pledged funds for the previous one. Cuomo’s tunnel stance is a departure for a governor who has seemed to revel in taking on big infrastructure projects. He used federal loans to finance the $3.9 billion Tappan Zee Bridge. Last month, he joined Vice President Biden to announce a $4 billion plan to rebuild LaGuardia’s cramped terminals.

There are several key differences between those projects and the tunnel, Cuomo noted. Private airlines will cover roughly half of the cost of the new LaGuardia. And while the Tappan Zee is a state bridge — it is also an essential part of the the State Toll Road System.

Governor Cuomo differentiates by stating that the new rail tunnel would be owned by Amtrak and used for only Amtrak and New Jersey trains. “It’s not my tunnel,” he told reporters last week. “Why don’t you pay for it?”

I saw this sort of “it’s not our traffic or trains” attitude back in 1998 while interviewing NY State legislative aids in Albany. From up the Hudson River, the view of the NEC and the tunnels is different. Very different.

As for the tunnels connecting to the Long Island rail system — yes that is seen differently from Albany political offices.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/new_jersey/20150816_Cuomo_balks_over_new_Amtrak_tunnel_to_N_J_.html#Yh2oY6W1fgotytPs.99 http://www.philly.com/philly/news/new_jersey/20150816_Cuomo_balks_over_new_Amtrak_tunnel_to_N_J_.html

Rail transit agencies and states will have to pay more to maintain the NEC rail infrastructure

Will the federal government pay up also? No one is sure.

But from the small states like DELAWARE and RI to the larger ones like PENN and Mass, the local will have to pay a lot more then they had been used to.

http://www.philly.com/philly/business/transportation/20150618_Feds_want_rail_transit_agencies_and_states_to_pay_more_to_maintain_Northeast_rail_corridor.html

Major points by Paul NUSSBAUM in The Inquirer June 18, 2015 report include these:

Northeast states and transit agencies – including SEPTA and NJ Transit and DELAWARE – are being asked to pay more to maintain the rail corridor between Washington and Boston that they share with Amtrak.

The new cost-sharing plan for the Northeast Corridor is due to take effect Oct. 1

The states had 6 years to get ready for this change.

The state’s actually move more people on commuter trains each day then Amtrak does.

The 457-mile NEC corridor sees 710,000 commuter-rail passengers and only 40,000 Amtrak passengers each day.

The majority of the 2,000 daily trains are local state run commuters.

In 2008, congress ordered the multiple rail corridor users to devise a formula for sharing costs that historically have been divvied up in more than 50 separate contracts. “There hasn’t been any uniformity to how those costs are shared. Some are overpaying and some are underpaying,” says Toby Fauver, a Pennsylvania deputy secretary of transportation who co-chaired the committee that created the new cost-sharing plan.

That committee is part of the Northeast Corridor Infrastructure and Operations Advisory Commission. The commission is composed of one member from each of the NEC states (Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland) and the District of Columbia, four members from Amtrak, and five members from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Hard to believe that 18 can agree unanimously on anything!

In December 2014″, the commission voted, 17-1, to approve a new cost-sharing policy, designed to spread the burden for spending $425 million a year over the next three years for maintenance and some limited upgrades on the corridor.

These costs would rise to $530 million a year.

NOTE: The NEC Commission has no way to compel the states to pay more.

Payment disputes might be taken to the federal Surface Transportation Board.

Under the formula, SEPTA payments to Amtrak will increase from $38.4 million this year to $52 million next year.

For NJ Transit, the cost would be more than $100 million a year.

Massachusetts is upset at its bill of $32.6 million for a 38-mile section of the NEC that it, not Amtrak, owns.

Massachusetts is also skeptical that the federal government will uphold its obligation to add $125 million in new funding for the corridor annually for the next three years, then boost its contribution to at least $400 million a year above current levels.

Massachusetts’ fears might be well-founded as the U.S. House approved a proposed budget for Amtrak this month that will cut Amtrak’s funding by 17% (or $242 million).

WHO MAKES UP THE $10.5 BILLION CAPITAL GAP???

The corridor’s infrastructure improvement needs are expected to cost about $18 billion over the next five years  Only about $7.5 billion is funded under current plans.

Collectively, the NEC states contend that “it has been the longstanding position that the federal government has primary responsibility for eliminating the backlog of deferred maintenance to restore the infrastructure to a state of good repair”.

Will Senators from Wyoming and Idaho and others states with no direct NEC benefits agree?

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Selective comments:

One associate Ted observes that the NEC States tried to roll back this PRIIA provision, assumed they would succeed and then did nothing of consequence reference a strategic plan as to the possible increase in their rates.

Another friend observed that “The crunch time is approaching. Politicians have to face up to the true costs of commuter service, just like they have to face up to true costs of Interstates, bad bridges, and regular highways. Everyone wants something for nothing.