APTA Members Testify on Commuter Rail Challenges and Solutions


Several APTA members testified at a hearing of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials entitled Getting to Work: Examining Challenges and Solutions in the Commuter Rail Industry April 17.

Mike Noland, president, Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District; Debra Johnson, general manager and CEO, Denver RTD; David W. Dech, executive director, South Florida Regional Transportation Authority / Tri-Rail; Kevin Corbett, president and CEO, New Jersey Transit on behalf of the Northeast Corridor Commission; and Darren Kettle, CEO, Metrolink discussed the state of commuter passenger rail, with a focus on developing the mode to ensure it is safe, efficient, cost effective, and that it meets the demands of the public.

The panelists also discussed the need for congressional action to counteract an increasingly hardened Commuter Rail Liability Insurance market with a looming insurance cap increase. Additionally, APTA members praised the Bipartisan Infrastructure law for its investment in public transportation.

Subcommittee Chairman Troy Nehls (R-TX) noted during his opening remarks that, “Investments and innovation in our rail infrastructure are essential to building a robust and competitive American transportation system. We must ensure that federal policies and spending are balanced with a realistic analysis of consumer demand for commuter rail and the best use of taxpayer dollars.

“Technology has now made it possible to work remotely. Many workers have responded by purchasing homes farther from cities and foregoing their daily work commute. This naturally affects commuter rail ridership and demand.

“Commuter rail service is primarily designed to address a high volume of passengers traveling to and from cities, operating in metropolitan, suburban, and exurban areas. These systems can be a cost-effective transportation alternative for these longer commutes. Several local and regional agencies operate their own service, while others contract with Amtrak or private-sector companies. These private-sector providers help lower costs, improve services, and increase ridership.”