Train tests at up to 79 miles per hour are planned for Brightline, Florida’s private passenger railroad, before service to Orlando. Additionally, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA) has released the results of its 2022 Customer Experience Survey; Metrolinx, the metropolitan Toronto Hamilton area transportation authority, averted a strike that would have disrupted train and bus services on October 31; and Sacramento Regional Transit District (SacRT) is offering free rides to support Drive the Vote.
light line on Oct. 28 reported that it will continue work on its $2.7 billion Orlando expansion with train testing in northern Brevard County, Fla November) driving at up to 79 mph will increase to 110 mph in early 2023. The signaling and track upgrade work will incorporate a new second track into the existing corridor and will take place along a 13-mile stretch of track spanning 18 level crossings from Sharpes through Cocoa and Rockledge to the Light Line.
Florida’s private passenger railroad is scheduled to begin service to Orlando in 2023. She has ordered five new moves out Siemens mobility to support the expansion. Each consists of four cars and two Charger diesel-electric locomotives (one at each end). The Brightline trainsets Bright Pink 2 and Bright Green 2 last arrived on 21 July at his Orlando vehicle maintenance facility after traveling from Siemens Mobility’s North American rail vehicle plant in Sacramento, California.
For more information on Brightline, see “Rolling Into Orlando” by David C. Lester, Managing Editor of Railway Tracks & Structuresa railway age sister publication.
Reliability, frequency, safety, cleanliness and homelessness are among the top concerns of LACMTA Drivers, the agency reported on Oct. 27.
The results are from LACMTA’s 2022 Customer Experience Survey, conducted between March and May 2022. A total of 12,239 surveys were conducted onboard trains, buses and Metro Micro vehicles, representing a response rate of 63%.
This first driver survey conducted since before the COVID-19 pandemic, along with ongoing driver feedback and surveys, will “guide the agency’s customer experience plan, which prioritizes projects — and associated budgets — to deliver a good customer experience,” so LACMTA.
Among the survey highlights:
- More than 58% of train drivers and 60% of bus drivers said they were satisfied with the LACMTA service. “The numbers are similar to results from customer satisfaction surveys conducted by other major transit companies across the country,” the agency said. At LACMTA, “the figures reflect a slight decrease in satisfaction scores in both categories (1% rail and 7% bus) compared to 2020.”
- The top five improvements rail travelers want are cleanliness on trains; how LACMTA is tackling homelessness on trains; security from crime; more punctual trains and more frequent trains.
- The five most important improvements that female train drivers would like to see are safety from crime, sexual harassment, or racial or ethnic harassment; cleaner trains; reducing homelessness and related problems on trains; cleaning stations; and more trains arrive on time.
- People between the ages of 25 and 64 make up the majority of LACMTA drivers, a 6% increase from 2020.
- Latinx/Hispanics are the largest ethnic group, accounting for 58% of drivers (59% in 2020). Black/African American make up 14% of drivers (16% in 2020), followed by 12% who are White/Caucasian (11% in 2020).
- Notably, 49% of bus drivers and 44% of train drivers identify as female, down in both categories from 53% and 46% in the 2020 LACMTA survey.
- Approximately 83% of drivers reported a household income of less than $50,000 per year, compared to 81% in 2020.
- About 78% of respondents use the system at least three days a week, down 11% from 2020. Additionally, 72% have been using the system for more than three years, the same as in 2020; and 27% have regular access to a car, up 6% from 2020.
LACMTA said it is “currently implementing actions from our 2022 Customer Experience Plan, and over the coming weeks we will work across departments to identify new actions to respond to customer suggestions.”
Some of the improvements in the works are:
- improvement of cleanliness. Cloth seats were replaced with new vinyl seats on 89% of railcars and 49% of buses in August to make cleaning and maintenance easier, according to the agency. All vinyl seats for trains and buses should be in place by early summer 2023. In addition, LACMTA said it “places a particular focus on monitoring our elevators to ensure they are clean. We have also implemented cleaning pushes on bus and train routes and at train stations.”
- Security. “We strategically deployed additional security on the system to enforce subway rules and law enforcement to fight crime,” reported the LACMTA, which said it is installing more surveillance cameras and lighting throughout the system. It’s also working to “get more riders to download and use the Transit Watch app to alert us to issues.”
- Customer service. LACMTA created the Metro Ambassador Program and more than 100 Transit Ambassadors have been trained and are deployed on the K and B Lines and at LA Union Station. The goal, according to LACMTA, is to deploy 300 ambassadors by February 2023. The agency also said it would be doubling down on its homeless outreach teams to help those in need and adding crisis intervention teams for those in need of mental health help.
This was reported by CBC Toronto on October 27 Metrolinx Management averted an October 31 strike by offering a tentative deal to the unionized workforce at GO Transit. The news outlet “obtained a copy of an internal memo from Metrolinx Chief Operating Officer Martin Gallagher, which was sent to employees on Wednesday [Oct. 26]and explains that the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1587 is making a new offer to its approximately 2,200 members.”
According to CBC Toronto, the deal will be presented to ATU workers the week of October 30th. “As a result, we have confirmed that there will be no strike on October 31,” the memo said. ‘This is a positive development and good news for our ATU employees and our customers. Trains and buses will continue to run as scheduled.”
Contract negotiations between Metrolinx and ATU Local 1587 began in April; According to CBC Toronto, the most recent contract expired on June 1st. “The union received a ‘No Board Report’ from the Ontario government last month which put its members in a legal strike position from October 1,” the news agency reported.
Separately, Readable Inc., reported on October 27 on the signing of an agreement with Metrolinx to provide e-books for reading on the entertainment portal GO Wi-Fi Plus and a quarterly e-book for the GO Transit Reads program, which passengers in the e- Bookstore from Legible. In partnership with major publishers, Legible will offer GO Transit readers a curated selection of e-books; Access to its range of Original Rich Media Living Books; and a link to its catalog of two million books.
Legible’s agreement also includes ads across the GO Transit network that showcase Readable and include QR codes to access books, “inspire[ing] Drivers who become readers who ‘READ on the go’.”
In related news, SacRT partnered with the Sacramento Public Library in August to launch the area’s first library train, featuring artwork printed on the walls and seat backs to resemble books on shelves, thanks to Lamar Transit Advertising. The “book shelves” contain QR codes for the Sacramento Library app that light rail riders can scan with their smartphone or other digital device and download free e-books or audio books. The library train runs on both the blue and gold lines.
SacRT has partnered with Sacramento County, California to bring parishioners there Locations of voting centers and ballot boxes about the region. SacRT is offering free rides system-wide on all light rail, bus, SmaRT Ride, and SacRT GO paratransit services on Election Day, November 8, 2022.
“By removing the transportation barrier, we hope voters in the Sacramento area will take advantage of the free ride to cast their ballot,” said Henry Li, SacRT general manager/CEO. “It’s free to vote and SacRT is making it free to get you to vote.”
“It’s great to have SacRT as a partner in our effort to make voting easier and more accessible for all Sacramento County voters,” said Hang Nguyen, Sacramento County provisional voter. “It’s important that we see high turnout, and great partnerships like SacRT make that goal easier to achieve. We appreciate their support in our efforts to increase voter turnout.”