Archive for January, 2014

1/27/14

Amtrak and the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) have issued a request for proposals to build high-speed trainsets for use on the Northeast Corridor and California\’s new high-speed rail system, officials from both organizations announced on Friday.

Amtrak is seeking up to 28 high-speed trainsets, each with 400 to 450 seats, which can meet or exceed current Acela Express trip-times on the existing Northeast Corridor (NEC) infrastructure between Washington, D.C., New York City and Boston. The authority is seeking an initial order of 15 trainsets with a minimum of 450 seats that can meet its planned trip-time requirements for high-speed service from the San Francisco area to Los Angeles, Amtrak and CHSRA officials said in a press release.

\”Combing orders between Amtrak and the California High-Speed Rail Authority will generate economies of scale and make it more attractive for high-speed rail manufacturers to build factories here and in the USA, bringing new high-quality jobs and creating ripple effects throughout our domestic supply chain,\” Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Szabo said in a prepared statement.

The trainsets are essential to meeting Amtrak\’s short-term capacity expansion needs for its existing high-speed service on the NEC, as well as Amtrak\’s and the authorit\’s long-term operational needs.

Bids will be accepted only from current manufacturers of high-speed rail equipment, which the railroad and authority define as manufacturers with equipment in commercial operation at speeds of at least 160 mph for at least two years. Proposals are due May 17, with the expectation that a builder will be selected by 2014\’s end, Amtrak and CHSRA officials said.

\”It is absolutely critical that we get more high-speed trains as soon as possible to provide more service and meet the growing mobility and economic needs of the Northeast region,\” Amtrak President and Chief Executive Officer Joseph Boardman said.

CHSRA requires operation at minimum speeds of 200 mph, which is similar to what Amtrak calls for under its vision for high-speed rail on the NEC.

\”This is a major milestone for California’s high-speed rail project,\” said CHSRA CEO Jeff Morales.

via Rail News – Amtrak, California authority issue combined RFP for high-speed trains. For Railroad Career Professionals.

1/25/14

More than 320 SEPTA vehicle operators, including about 20 percent of all train engineers and conductors, did not report for work Wednesday, forcing the cancellation of many trains and buses, SEPTA officials said Thursday.

On Thursday, as offices and schools reopened and commuters returned to work, SEPTA operators did too. Absenteeism on Thursday was typical for a winter weekday, SEPTA officials said, with about 5 percent of engineers and conductors out.

On Wednesday, SEPTA canceled 91 of 742 trains, and on-time performance was only 25 percent. A day earlier, when the snow arrived, 58 trains were canceled, and on-time performance was 50 percent.

By contrast, on-time performance for Regional Rail trains in December averaged 90 percent.

On Wednesday, 46 of 197 engineers were absent, and 80 of 389 conductors were out, SEPTA officials said.

Of 2,784 bus drivers and trolley operators, 198 were absent and 31 were late Wednesday.

\”We expect everyone to come in for their assignments, and generally we get very high compliance,\” said Ron Hopkins, SEPTA\’s assistant general manager for operations.

\”In cold weather, people truly do have emergencies at home . . . or they have difficulty in getting to their assignment points,\” Hopkins said, noting that many of SEPTA\’s passengers had similar difficulties Wednesday.

He said many engineers and conductors live far from the sites where they are supposed to begin their workday.

Late and canceled trains left many riders fuming at stations.

\”There were thousands of people depending on them to show up and do their job so they could get to their own jobs,\” said Matthew Mitchell, president of the Delaware Valley Association of Rail Passengers. \”My morning train was one of the ones that was canceled.\”

\”I was stranded at 30th Street Station for almost two hours, trying to get a train on the Warminster line,\” said Bob Clearfield, the former chair of SEPTA\’s citizen advisory committee. \”We kept asking crews that were coming in, \’Where\’s the train,\’ and they were saying, \’We have no crews.\’\”

SEPTA crews, whose members are permitted to call out absent until two hours before their shift begins, are not paid if they don\’t come in to work, Hopkins said. A single absence does not prompt disciplinary action, he said.

Operators are assessed points for calling out or being late or failing to show up for work, and a large number of accumulated points can lead to suspensions, he said, although that is rare.

Engineers, who often are scheduled to work six days a week, have been working without a new contract since 2009.

Willie Brown, president of Transport Workers Union Local 234, which represents bus drivers and trolley operators, said many employees could not get to work because of the weather.

\”Not everybody can get around. . . . When the public is stranded, so are we,\” Brown said. And he said some operators were ill Wednesday after SEPTA sent them into the cold streets Tuesday to relieve drivers of buses that showed up hours late, or not at all.

Brown said many bus drivers and trolley operators live in New Jersey or Delaware, far from their duty posts in Philadelphia, and many were unable to get to work in the city.

\”Bus drivers are people, too,\” Brown said.

Representatives of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, the union that represents SEPTA engineers, and the United Transportation Union, which represents conductors, could not be reached Thursday afternoon.

via Absenteeism high at SEPTA day after the snowstorm – Philly.com.

1/25/14

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Waiting for your bus, seconds can seem like minutes and minutes can seem like hours.

But with a few clicks on a smartphone or computer, The Star-Ledger of Newark (http://bit.ly/1iy1JHZ) reports that New Jersey Transit riders to and from New York City can now remove the uncertainty and find out in real time when the next bus will arrive.

The hard-to-predict routes to and from the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown Manhattan are the final frontier for the MyBus Now program, which was rolled out to South Jersey towns 13 months ago and expanded to North Jersey towns — with the exception of the Port Authority terminal routes — in June.

The arrival estimates are listed if they are within the next 30 minutes.

Beyond a half-hour window is too difficult to predict, with all of the variables that come with traffic in America\’s most congested state, officials said.

In the same vein, the estimates don\’t apply to buses leaving the Port Authority Bus Terminal between 4 and 7 p.m. weekdays.

To find out when the next bus will arrive, commuters can visit http://www.njtransit.com on their smartphones and access MyBus Now under \”Rider Tools.\”

The desktop version also includes maps and a moving blue rectangle that signifies a bus and red dots that signify stops along the route.

Commuters without access to a smartphone can text MyBus (69287) with the stop and route number.

\”It\’s an exciting time when the technology can enhance the customer\’s travels,\” NJ Transit spokeswoman Nancy Snyder said.

The technology is similar to a schedule board at a rail terminal that lets passengers know when the next train is heading into the station.

Trains get much of the attention, but NJ Transit bus riders number more than a half-million and outnumber rail passengers by a 2-to-1 margin. NJ Transit has about 19,000 bus stops on more than 200 routes.

Developed by Clever Devices of Plainview, N.Y., the feature makes use of GPS and some of NJ Transit\’s own technology on the bus.

A small computer \”logic unit\” was installed on NJ Transit\’s older buses, connecting them to main system at the statewide transportation agency.

The newer buses already had the technology.

___

Information from: The (Newark, N.J.) Star-Ledger, http://www.nj.com

via Technology keeps NJ Transit bus riders on schedule – Times Union.

1/28/14

FORT WORTH, Texas, Jan. 28, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — American Airlines Group Inc. (NASDAQ: AAL) today reported fourth quarter and full year 2013 results.

— As the result of the merger which closed on Dec. 9, 2013, US Airways

Group became a subsidiary of AMR Corporation which changed its name to

American Airlines Group Inc. (AAG)

— Fourth quarter 2013 combined net profit was $436 million on a non-GAAP

basis excluding net special charges. This represents a $478 million

improvement versus the company\’s combined fourth quarter 2012 non-GAAP

net loss of $42 million excluding net special credits

— 2013 combined net profit was $1.9 billion on a non-GAAP basis excluding

net special charges, a $1.5 billion improvement versus the company\’s

combined 2012 non-GAAP net profit of $407 million excluding net special

charges

— The company ended the year with $10.3 billion in total cash and

investments. Since the merger, the company has used more than $300

million of cash to reduce its diluted shares outstanding by approximately

14 million

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20130208/DA56847LOGO)

For the fourth quarter 2013, AAG reported a GAAP net loss of $2.0 billion, which includes $2.4 billion of net special charges. This compares to a net profit of $262 million, which includes $350 million of net special credits in the fourth quarter 2012. AAG\’s GAAP financial results include the results for US Airways only for the period from the completion of the merger on Dec. 9, 2013 through Dec. 31, 2013.

For full year 2013, GAAP net loss was $1.8 billion, which includes $3.1 billion of net special charges. This compares to a full year 2012 net loss of $1.9 billion, which includes $1.7 billion of net special charges.

The company believes it is more meaningful to compare year-over-year results for American Airlines and US Airways on a combined basis, which is a non-GAAP formulation that combines the results for AMR Corporation and US Airways Group. Therefore, it includes the results of US Airways Group for the full period (not just the period since the merger closed). See the accompanying notes in the Financial Tables section of this press release for further explanation of this presentation, including a reconciliation of GAAP to non-GAAP financial information.

Fourth quarter 2013 combined net profit was $436 million on a non-GAAP basis excluding net special charges. This compares to a combined non-GAAP net loss of $42 million excluding net special credits for the same period in 2012. Based on a diluted share count of 742 million, fourth quarter 2013 diluted earnings per share was $0.59 on a non-GAAP basis.

For 2013, the company\’s combined net profit was $1.9 billion on a non-GAAP basis excluding net special charges. This represents a $1.5 billion improvement over the company\’s combined 2012 non-GAAP net profit of $407 million excluding net special charges.

\”The early returns on our merger are very positive,\” said Doug Parker, CEO of American Airlines Group Inc. \”Our teams are working well together and our customers are already beginning to see the benefits of our combined network. We have much work ahead, but believe we are on our way to restoring American as the greatest airline in the world. These financial results are evidence of the strong foundation we have in place and we anticipate improving upon these results as we further integrate our operations in 2014.\”

via American Airlines Group Reports Fourth Quarter And Full Year 2013 Financial Results – WSJ.com.

1/28/14

PHOENIX (KSAZ) –

You are now free to roam about the world: Southwest Airlines is going international. Its first stops? Tropical!

The airline is spreading its wings beyond our borders and will fly to Aruba, Jamaica and the Bahamas.

Southwest made the big announcement in Dallas.

Daily non-stop flights start heading for paradise on July 1, but tickets went on sale Monday.

If you plan to fly to one of these new destinations, you\’ll first have to fly into Atlanta or Baltimore because they\’re the only airports offering the daily non-stop flights to the Caribbean.

Orlando will offer the flights on Saturdays only.

This is the first phase of Southwest\’s international expansion plan.

In 2011, they bought Airtran Airways and Southwest isn\’t done yet.

\”Over the coming months we\’ll continue to announce additional new international service on Southwest airlines. We\’ll continue this phased rollout of connecting our domestic market network into our international portfolio of destinations,\” said Southwest CEO Gary Kelly.

By the end of the year, Southwest will take over all of Airtran\’s international flights, which includes 96 destinations in six countries.

The cost of these new flights? A one way ticket costs anywhere between $200 to $500.

via Southwest to offer international flights – FOX 10 News | myfoxphoenix.com.

01/29/14

The American Airline merger may be raking in some savings. American Airlines Group Inc. stated that it earned a combined $1.95 billion in 2013, according to Dallas News. That said, the number carries a lot of asterisks–especially considering that the recent report is muddied by both a merger and a bankruptcy.

The net income actually excludes the $3.1 billion net in special items and one-time charges, the majority of which is related to American\’s bankruptcy filing, according to Dallas News. In addition, the report also assumes that the two airlines–American Airlines Inc. and U.S. Airways Group Inc.–operated as a single company for a full year.

The new merger has actually received quite a lot of hype in recent weeks. Created in December, the merger has quite a few changes associated with it. American Airlines Group Inc. will change aircraft size on some routes in order to better match demand and create savings, according to Bloomberg BusinessWeek. In addition, it expects to receive $400 million in new annual revenue from changing its schedule, according to The Wall Street Journal.

American\’s total quarterly combined sales actually climbed 8.7 percent to $9.98 billion–an impressive feat, according to Bloomberg BusinessWeek. In addition, earnings per share on a combined basis were 59 cents, according to American.

\”We are becoming more and more comfortable with American\’s story going forward despite the challenges of merging two companies,\” wrote Cowen & Co. analyst Helane Becker in an interview with Dallas News.

So far, American has already started adding seats on its Boeing Co. MD-80s, 737-800s and 777-200s. In addition, the number of the MD-80s is rising from 135 to 140 as the airline continues to retire those planes from its fleet.

via American Airlines Update: US Airways Reveal Combined $1.95 Billion Earnings : Franchise News : Franchise Herald.

1/29/14

The first flight will be operated by AirTran Airways, Southwest\’s wholly owned subsidiary.

Kansas City, MO – infoZine – Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) added new service between Kansas City International Airport and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport beginning Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014. The U.S. Department of Transportation granted Southwest Airlines authority to serve the new route in response to Southwest\’s petition, which was actively supported by Kansas City Mayor Sly James and Kansas City Director of Aviation Mark VanLoh, A.A.E. The first flight takes off this coming Saturday and will be operated by AirTran Airways, Southwest\’s wholly owned subsidiary, through Feb. 15, after which Southwest Airlines will operate the service itself.

\”Southwest has been interested for the past several years in providing our Kansas City Customers with nonstop access to Reagan National Airport. We thank Mayor James and Aviation Director VanLoh for their active support, and the Department of Transportation for its quick action in making this flight possible,\” said Ron Ricks, Southwest Airlines Executive Vice President and Chief Legal & Regulatory Officer. \”We have a great partnership with the City and the airport, and we know the route will bring our Customers flying between Washington, D.C., and Kansas City access to more seats and lower fares.\”

\”When we learned another carrier planned to stop flying to Washington, D.C., we thought Southwest Airlines was the right airline to step in,\” said VanLoh. \”More than 270 passengers per day fly from Kansas City to D.C., and now they can get there nonstop on Southwest!\”

via Southwest Adds KC to DC Nonstop Service – Kansas City infoZine.