Copy of Press release on creation of Rail Agency

   All three LV cities asked to form Rail Transit Authority


Passenger  Rail service  between Lehigh Valley and both NYC and Philly is well within our grasp, more affordable than we’ve been led to believe for decades, and more necessary than ever.   To get there, Kirk Raup, of Bethlehem has asked Allentown, Easton, and Bethlehem to join forces and create a proper Agency to plan, build, operate, and most important, to fund such a venture.

A draft resolution to set things in motion has been placed before Mayors Panto, Callahan, and Pawlowski, and all three cities’ councils for their consideration.  It seems the most  proper protocol is for each administration to introduce the resolution to their respective councils for discussion and consideration.  Actual creation of the Authority will entail an ordinance to form and incorporate it, along with appointing initial Board members. ( presumably 3 by each city)  Our cities can actually do this as their regular course of business, and at very, very low cost to them except their time.

Once formed, the new Rail Agency can begin to take on a life of its own, and set about the work of bringing back the part of our transportation mix that’s been missing for too long.  With the demise of rail service beginning in the late 1950s and finally gone by 1982 most people alive today in the Valley have no idea what it’s like to take a train anywhere.  And after all, at the end, rail service was a weak shadow of what it was when it worked, gas was 28 cents a gallon and we were all falling in love with our cars and the roads to accommodate them.

Now of course,  our transportation “network” is a mess, and getting worse.  At the recent “Envision Lehigh Valley” kick-off event one recurring suggestion was to bring back inter-city rail.  A 2010 survey by LVPC noted that lack of a rail service option is one of our greatest shortcomings.  So, the time is now to bring back something that worked, and do it well.

The new Rail Agency would be named “Suburban-Metro Area Rail Transit”, operating as “SMART” Regional Rail.  The “SMART” acronym is deliberate and is in use all across the Country for marketing reasons in other rail transit systems.

There are several options for funding this and we can afford to do this for ourselves and not have to rely on non-existent State funding.  By raising the capital here in the Valley we’ll have more control over how and where it is spent, i.e. right here at home.  The true cost of doing this for ourselves will be less than twelve cents a day but we have to lay the ground-work & form the Agency , as the first step.

Then the really hard work starts.        Kirk D. Raup, SMART Regional Rail      818 West Union Boulevard  610.8659174    Bethlehem, Pa. 18018-3727