Rail Safety is a Daily Commitment

September 23, 2011

On Thursday, September 15 California rail officials came together to unveil this year’s “Rail Safety Month” locomotive wrap.  It serves as our mobile “billboard” to remind California residents that they need to keep safety in mind each and every time they approach a railroad crossing.

September 2011 commemorates the third Rail Safety Month in California, which was initiated by Senator Carol Liu (D-Glendale).  Rail Safety Month provides the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority the opportunity to team up with both public and private partners to help build public awareness about rail safety along our corridor.  I want to point out that since Senator Liu’s first Rail Safety Month resolution in 2009, incidents involving Capitol Corridor trains have declined steadily thanks to the efforts of our service partners – Union Pacific Railroad, Amtrak, and the Caltrans Division of Rail.

For me, this year’s graphic is the strongest one we’ve used so far as it illustrates how death by train is a tragedy that affects us all.  The collection of  217 handprints the Caltrans Division of Rail gathered this summer forms one large handprint.  It’s a powerful symbol that shows a trespasser incident not only strikes down the victim, it’s a horrible event that touches us all.  Such accidents also hurts the victim’s surviving loved ones and harms the psyche of the train engineer, conductors, passengers and the first responders who must deal with the tragic memory.

The 10,500 trains we run annually necessitates our efforts to promote rail safety 365 days a year. To that end, our service has reinvested your tax dollars into multiple safety and security projects throughout out system.  These safety projects include installation of:

  • video surveillance equipment at six (6) unstaffed stations along the Corridor
  • fencing to discourage trespassers from going on railroad tracks in Richmond and Oakland Jack London Square.

We are working closely with the Union Pacific and cities of Hayward and Suisun to install fencing in those cities this year as well.

As California’s Rail Safety month comes to a close, I wanted to underscore that safety and security is a top priority seven days a week, 52 weeks a year for the Capitol Corridor.  If crossing railroad tracks is part of your daily or weekly routine, please be “track smart.” Trains can’t swerve to avoid people walking, playing or illegally crossing railroad tracks.  Remember: Stay off the tracks, stay alive.

Looking for a Solid Career? Try Transportation!

August 29, 2011

Transportation is a field with much promise.  As Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority’s Managing Director, I want to tout the transportation industry as a solid career choice.

Although I’ve had the privilege to speak at countless venues and in front of a wide spectrum of audiences, I was especially excited to serve as guest lecturer for the Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) transportation studies program. For those not familiar with the MTI, it’s a program that offers a Masters and two Certificate programs with curriculum aimed to elevate the education of transportation professionals.

Speaking before MTI students gave me an avenue to express my enthusiasm for public transportation’s upward trend, its current renaissance and the opportunities one may find in this field.

Twenty-four years ago, when I embarked on my career path, the MTI was not yet established.  Instead, my first steps in transportation began as an intern while still an undergrad.  I started on the ground floor, learned all I could and climbed up to my current position on the rungs of the ‘transit planning’ ladder, promoting into jobs of greater responsibility until I was appointed to helm the Capitol Corridor.

As a life-long transportation professional, I can see that this country is truly experiencing a rebirth in transportation.  It’s an exciting time for the industry.  Whether starting from the ground up, or taking the scholastic route, if a career in transportation is your objective, be confident that this industry is filled with opportunities.

Ideology aside, our current leaders see the need to reinvest in transportation, not only to maintain what service exists today, but for future growth, especially here in California—where notwithstanding the current economic challenges—the State will continue to grow.  This means that a career in transportation is a solid choice.  Whether you seek employment in the private or public sector, it’s a path ripe for opportunity.

Remember: Jobs in transportation can’t be outsourced!

If A Picture is Worth 1000 Words, A Link is Worth 10,000

August 4, 2011

According to “The Phrase Finder,” newspaper editor Arthur Brisbane first coined the expression, “Use a picture. It’s worth a thousand words,” in March 1911 when addressing the Syracuse Advertising Men’s Club (somewhere along the line it was attributed to ancient philosophers, but that’s a topic for somebody else’s blog).

If a picture is worth one thousand words then a link must be worth 10,000 don’t you think?

For more than a year, I’ve updated you on several Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority projects including our Automated Ticket (ATV) hand-held device pilot and the upcoming Wi-Fi installation. No doubt you’ve also heard about Capitol Corridor’s upward trend of increased ridership or funding for new trains cars. Recently, my staff shared several links with me of broadcast and print news stories that did a solid job of showing viewers these very topics:

• This news coverage about the 14% increase in ridership train ridership—specifically in reference to the growth that the Capitol Corridor experienced this winter—does a great job in capturing why customers choose riding trains over driving;

• A story about our announcement to offer free Wi-Fi on our trains by the end of the year conveys the excitement and anticipation of our passengers for this upcoming service;

• KCRA’s story about Capitol Corridor’s Automated Ticket Validator pilot program underscores the safety and security application our pilot program may achieve;

• A recent travel article about the City of Suisun on sfgate.com poetically weaved the Capitol Corridor service into its feature about this quaint delta town, and

• Finally, here’s an account of the US Department of Transportation’s multi-million dollar boost for American-made, state-of-the-art rail cars earmarked for Capitol Corridor service.

If you’re aware of news stories about the Capitol Corridor that you’d like to share with us let me know in the “Comment” section below!

Fight Hunger – Video of Day 1!

June 7, 2011

Hi everyone,

Check out our video of last week’s Fight Hunger food drive kickoff.

Many thanks to our riders, especially to Geoff McLennan, Chuck Robuck and Marilyn Sommerdorf for encouraging so many to donate food on Day 1 of our drive!