Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority

Regional Rail Ridership Growth and Fleet Impact Study

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

LTK was asked by SEPTA to prepare the Regional Rail Ridership Growth and Fleet Impact Study in 2007, as the Authority contemplated how many new Silverliner V commuter rail cars to acquire. This study was an update of two prior studies, one by DVRPC in 2002 and an update by SEPTA in 2005.

SP1-SEPTAThe impetus for the LTK study was SEPTA’s procurement of new Silverliner V commuter rail cars.  SEPTA required assistance in projecting future regional rail fleet requirements, thereby assisting SEPTA in determining whether to exercise its option for additional cars beyond the base quantity. Rather than being based on long-term ridership projections using regional models, the study was a targeted look at projected fleet requirements for the year 2015.

LTK examined diverse transportation and economic data from SEPTA, regional planning agencies, Center City business organizations, local universities, states of New Jersey and Delaware, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and other sources. Detailed interviews with SEPTA staff ensured understanding of current conditions and the factors that have driven regional rail ridership in the SEPTA service area. The study team also reviewed ridership trends in other major Northeast commuter rail markets. More specifically, the study examined:

  • Regional rail system data - detailed historical ridership data; current ridership by line, station, direction, time of day; peak period consists and load factors; current parking capacity and demand; planned parking expansions; capital programs for track, power, stations, signals.
  • Regional trends – trends and projections in population and employment by county and in the CBD, center city office occupancy, motor fuel supply and price, major development projects (residential, commercial, university).
  • Commuter car fleet - fleet size, age and composition; available fleet considering maintenance spares and rehabilitation programs; capacity of new cars.
  • Operational constraints -  The study translated overall fleet impacts to a train and consist level, considering constraints on consist lengths and/or service frequency such as platform lengths, yard track configuration, traction power limitations on the former Reading Railroad network, and signal system capacity.

The study concluded that modest ridership growth is likely and projected an impact on fleet requirements such that optional cars should be procured with the Silverliner V order. SEPTA’s Board subsequently voted to procure the additional cars.

In related work, LTK was responsible for the conceptual design and specification of the Silverliner V cars. The new electric multiple unit (EMU) cars will replace 73 aging Silverliner II/III cars and provide SEPTA with additional commuter rail cars to fill current car shortages and accommodate anticipated increases in ridership during the next 10-year period. LTK engineers assisted with the technical specifications and prepared a report detailing Silverliner V car performance characteristics, including interior layout and seating arrangements, door control, auxiliary power, propulsion system, and on-board communication features. LTK’s report defines how the new federal strength requirements will affect the car design, addresses ADA accommodations and analyzes the need for single cars versus married pairs or triplets based on SEPTA’s operating needs. Careful consideration was given during program development to SEPTA’s goals for improving operating performance through better acceleration and shortening station dwell time by improving passenger circulation during boarding and alighting.

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Metropolitan Transportation Commission

San Francisco Bay Area Regional Rail Plan


LTK Engineering Services is serving as co-Program Manager for the San Francisco Bay Area Regional Rail Plan.  LTK prepared the study scope, and is providing technical oversight and quality control for engineering and technical planning aspects of the Plan.

SP2-MTCThis 50-year vision plan will examine alternatives and propose strategies to incorporate passenger trains into existing rail systems, improve connections to other trains and transit, expand the regional rapid transit network, increase rail capacity and coordinate rail investment around transit-friendly communities and businesses. The plan will also include a detailed analysis of potential high-speed rail routes between the Bay Area and the Central Valley for the Rail Authority’s environmental review of the proposed rail lines.  BART, Caltrain and the California High Speed Rail Authority are co-sponsors of the Plan, which is scheduled for adoption by MTC in 2007.

Overall, the plan will look at improvements and extensions of railroad, rapid transit, and high-speed rail services for the near (5 to 10 years), intermediate (10 to 25 years), and long-terms (beyond 25 years).

Study Scope

The Regional Rail Plan study effort will be divided into three phases.

  • Phase 1 - Develop conceptual alternatives and screening criteria.
  • Phase 2 - Rigorously screen the conceptual alternatives and identify the final study alternatives.
  • Phase 3 - Perform detailed technical evaluations of the study alternatives and prepare a draft and final plan identifying railroad, rapid transit, and high-speed rail extensions and services for the near (5 to 10 years), intermediate (10 to 25 years) and long terms (beyond 25 years).


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San Diego Association of Governments

The Regional Transportation Plan - MOBILITY 2030

San Diego, California

The Regional Transportation Plan, MOBILITY 2030, is a $42 billion plan which serves as a blueprint to address the mobility challenges created by the San Diego region’s growing levels of population and employment.  The plan presents an integrated set of public policies, strategies, and investments to maintain, manage, and improve the transportation system in the San Diego region.  The goal of the plan is to provide an attractive alternative to the use of a single occupant automobile and to provide needed transportation to people who do not own or operate a car.  The proposed plan includes a number of new transit routes planned for operation by the year 2030 and involves a variety of transit modes, including commuter rail, LRT, bus and BRT.  The highway and regional arterial improvements proposed in the Plan, together with other improvements adopted in 2003, are integrated to support and complement the expanded transit system.

SP3-SDMobilitySANDAG Directors approved the 2030 Regional Transportation Plan in March 2003 and approved an updated version in February 2006.  The 2006 Plan builds upon the transportation system in place and the major projects in progress since 2003.  Transit projects in the construction phase include the SPRINTER in North County and modifications to several Trolley and COASTER stations, such as San Ysidro and Oceanside Transit Center. Transit projects in the design or environmental phases include the Mid-Coast Light Rail Transit.

In 2005, LTK was selected to perform an independent review of the projected operating and maintenance (O&M) costs for the BRT and LRT portions of the plan.  Two approaches were used.  The first involved LTK review of SANDAG’s methodology for the development of the initial O&M costs for both modes.  For the second, LTK developed a set of independent O&M cost estimates for BRT and LRT based on a comparative analysis of industry cost data, assessment of project-specific cost drivers, and practical factors drawn from LTK experience.  Detailed O&M cost models were prepared to address all cost elements relevant to each mode.  Cost estimates were compared on an objective basis to assist SANDAG in assessing the relative cost effectiveness of BRT and LRT in the proposed applications.  The work is on-going.

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California Department of Transportation (Caltrans)

Audit Report on California State Rail Passenger Program Equipment


California is often thought to be an automobile-oriented state, but in fact it is home to the nation’s most significant state-supported intercity passenger train program.  The state’s three intercity corridors – the Pacific Surfliner Corridor between San Luis Obispo, Los Angeles and San Diego, the San Joaquin Corridor, between the San Francisco Bay Area, Fresno and Bakersfield, and the Capitol Corridor, connecting the Bay Area and Sacramento, account for 20% of total nationwide Amtrak ridership. Caltrans, the California Department of Transportation, has a Division of Rail, which, working directly with Amtrak or through regional entities, has overseen a dramatic growth of these corridors from almost nothing to their great significance today.

SP4-CALTRANSA joint program with Amtrak, the service uses a fleet of 142 cars, of which 88 are owned by the state, as are 17 locomotives.  In support of its proposed acquisition of additional cars and locomotives needed to meet program growth through 2018, the Caltrans Division of Rail engaged LTK Engineering Services to prepare an audit report documenting key aspects of the State Passenger Rail Program.  These include documentation of “normal base case” equipment deployment, maintenance and overhaul requirements, limitations of the present service caused by passenger overloads and operating issues,  a forecast of future equipment needs, and a description of car and locomotive procurement methodologies.  The report will be completed in Spring 2008.


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