Digest: Sound Transit to replace fare enforcement with informational program

News Wire Digest third section for Dec. 21: Mexican army to operate Maya Train; Catskill Mountain Railroad gets lease extension
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A Sound Transit Sounder commuter train arrives in Lakewood, Wash., in June 2018. Sound Transit will replace its fare enforcement program with "fare engagement ambassadors" in 2021.
TRAINS: David Lassen

Still more Monday morning rail news:

Sound Transit to introduce 'fare engagement' program in place of enforcement system

Seattle’s Sound Transit will halt its fare enforcement program next year under a pilot program using “fare engagement ambassadors” to educate rather than penalize those who have not paid. The Seattle Times reports the ambassadors will replace contract fare-enforcement officers in the wake of data that showed Black passengers have been disproportionately cited and punished under the current system. The program is to begin in the spring and continue through 2021; transit board members have also improved a new fare-enforcement policy that will go into effect after the pilot program ends.

Mexican president says army will operate Maya Train
Mexico’s army will operate the Maya Train project when the $6.8 billion rail line is completed, and use any profits to finance military pensions, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Sunday. The Associated Press reports the army will also operate several airports. Lopez Obrador said the army will operate the rail line “so there won’t be the temptation to privatize” the line, a roughly 950-mile loop around the Yucatan Peninsula connecting resort areas to inland archaeological sites intended to spur economic development. Kansas City Southern was reportedly among private companies which had expressed interest in operating the system [see “Report: KCS interested in operating yet-to-be-built Mexican rail line,” Trains News Wire, Dec. 23, 2019]. Environmental and indigenous groups have been attempting to stop the project, with a court granting an injunction to stop work on part of the line earlier this month [see “Digest: Amtrak, Metra propose schedule …,” News Wire, Dec. 9, 2020].

Catskill Mountain Railroad gets lease extension
The Catskill Mountain Railroad has received a one-year extension of its lease to operate on rail line owned by Ulster County, N.Y. The Daily Freeman reports county lawmakers voted unanimously and without discussion to approve the extension to the lease set to end Dec. 31, and have modified the lease to provide some flexibility in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The county’s deputy executive, John Milgram, told the paper that despite the railroad’s struggle to operate under pandemic health requirements, it made its two $25,000 rent payments and is in compliance with all other lease provisions. The extension will allow the county to reduce the second payment next year if restrictions related to the pandemic continue.

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