On behalf of APTA’s commuter railroads, I want to express in the strongest possible terms our commitment to implement positive train control (PTC) on the nation’s commuter railroads as quickly as feasible. The safety of riders is our highest priority. We fully support the implementation of PTC in advance of the congressionally established deadline for those commuter railroads, such as the Southern California Regional Rail Authority and other California systems that have committed to do so. We have urged Congress to direct available federal resources to early implementers in order to make those efforts successful and ensure that other commuter railroads can benefit from their experience with the still developing technologies necessary to successfully implement PTC.
Commuter railroads have worked diligently to implement PTC in order to meet the deadline of December 31, 2015 set by Congress in the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008. An overwhelming majority of the nation’s commuter railroads have concluded that the still developing technology, the lack of available radio spectrum, and the extremely small amount of federal support which has thus far been provided make nationwide implementation by the deadline impossible. Moreover, directing all resources to one safety technology such as PTC may ironically hurt overall safety on the nation’s commuter rail systems. This important safety mandate jeopardizes other important commuter railroad safety priorities. Safety projects on older, aging systems, such as bridge and track bed improvements, cannot be ignored.
APTA strongly urges Congress to provide federal funding to address the substantial investment needed to ensure successful implementation of PTC. We urge Congress to direct the Federal Communications Commission to make radio spectrum available at no cost to the public agencies that provide commuter rail service, as it does for police, fire, and other safety sensitive functions. We believe that Congress should revisit the deadline issue and set the deadline at a more realistic date of December 31, 2018, so that this new technology can be developed and tested in an operational environment on those commuter railroads that have already agreed to implement earlier.
If technology develops more quickly, if funding and radio spectrum are made available earlier, PTC can be implemented earlier on a nationwide basis.
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The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) is a nonprofit international association of 1,500 public and private sector organizations, engaged in the areas of bus, paratransit, light rail, commuter rail, subways, waterborne services, and intercity and high-speed passenger rail. This includes: transit systems; planning, design, construction, and finance firms; product and service providers; academic institutions; transit associations and state departments of transportation. APTA is the only association in North America that represents all modes of public transportation. APTA members serve the public interest by providing safe, efficient and economical transit services and products. More than 90 percent of the people using public transportation in the United States and Canada ride APTA member systems.