Across the River: PATCO Contract for Car Refurbishment Delayed

Railcar manufacturer Alstom is entering layoffs, partly because of the slow pace of goverment.

In addition to waiting on contracts from WMATA, Amtrak, MTA NYC Transit, and BART, the company is also waiting on a decision from PATCO, which is a subsidiary of the Delaware River Port Authority.

PATCO is expected to make a decision between Alstom and two other manufacturers for the rebuilding of its fleet of 121 rail cars. The current cars were built in 1968 by Budd of Philadelphia and in 1980 by Vickers Canada. Refurbishment will involve stripping the cars to their steel frames and fitting them with new motors, carriages, electrical systems, and interior furnishings.

Following committee approval of the bid winner, the entire DRPA board must vote on the lowest responsible bidder in order to award the contract. The board met on January 20, and will meet again on February 17. The refurbishment was originally planned to begin in 2009.

Across the River: South Jersey Rail Lines See Decline

The economy has still hit most of us pretty hard. No doubt one of the first things to go, aside from jobs, is gamblng.

The Atlantic City line, operated by NJ Transit to and from Philadelphia, saw ridership drop by 21 percent in the three months that ended Sept. 30, compared with the same period in 2008. Ridership for the quarter was 315,400 trips, compared with 399,200 a year earlier. Average weekday trips in the period were down from 4,550 last year to 3,450 this year.

The Atlantic City Express Service, which passes through Frankford Junction, goes from 18 to 11 trips next Friday.

RiverLINE ridership is down 6.5%. PATCO is expected to decline from a high of 10.3 million riders last year to 10 million next year.

In Philadelphia, Regional Rail ridership for the quarter was down 4%, except for the strike period, when it went up 36%.

The fear here is that these numbers will impact the planned expansions of PATCO and the Atlantic City Line. NIMBYs love to point at any decline in ridership and scream “see! see!”.

Across the River: RiverLINE Patrons Have the Bladders of Little Girls brings us the news that the town of Burlington is having some issues with RiverLINE customers using parking lots as bathrooms.

Attorney George Hulse, whose firm has an office at 406 High St. that is connected to the historic Metropolitan Inn at the corner of Broad and High, said people he believes to be light-rail customers have used the rear of his building to urinate and even defecate.

All of SEPTA’s trains have no bathrooms, but there are at least one or two intermediate stations on each line with facilities. The RiverLINE only has public bathrooms in Camden and Trenton.

Of course, it’s no secret that the Center City concourse serves as a bathroom for more than a few of its patrons. The subway doesn’t smell like that naturally.

But honestly. The trip on this line is an hour tops. You can’t go before you leave the house and hold it that long?