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American Public Transportation Association

 About Positive Train Control (PTC)

PTC is a set of highly advanced technologies designed to make freight and commuter rail transportation, already one of the safest U.S. industries, even safer by automatically stopping a train before certain types of accidents occur. 

The current legal deadline for PTC installation is December 31, 2015, but the operational deadline to avoid disruptions for Americans who depend on rail transportation comes much sooner. Congress must vote by the end of October 2015 to extend the PTC deadline. 

Public Transportation Impact

Significant progress has been made on PTC implementation, with more than $1 billion spent so far by commuter rail operators. However, the vast majority of railroads across the nation will not meet the federal deadline to have PTC fully installed and certified. 

Without an extension, the implementation deadline could potentially shut down commuter and freight railroads across our country. This means people would not be able to get to work in many of our most congested cities, and products would not be able to get to stores across the country. 

It is critical that Congress extend the deadline before the end of October to enable commuter operators to provide certainty to customers and employees. If the deadline is not extended, eight weeks is needed for an orderly shutdown, including public notification to customers and labor unions. The freight railroads will need to work with suppliers and determine where to house and stockpile the cars.     

It is also critical that Congress provide the necessary funding to install this system to the public operators. Commuter rail operators estimate that it will cost $3.5 billion to install, but Congress has only provided $50 million.  

A total of 29 commuter rail systems provide nearly 2 million trips daily every weekday on over 8,000 track miles and with more than 4,700 locomotives. Last year more than 560 million trips were taken on our nation’s commuter rail systems. Most serve large, car-congested urban centers, such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Washington DC, the New York metro area, and Dallas.

The consequences for Congressional inaction could lead to a transportation crisis in which:

Moving those 1.7 million daily commuter rail trips onto overburdened roads could contribute to an unsafe commuting environment. 

We run the risk of an economic crisis. Transportation is the backbone of our economy.  The latest research shows that in 2011, U.S. public transportation use saved 865 million hours in travel time and 450 million gallons of fuel in 498 urban areas.

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