Digest: California commuter operator seeks vaccine priority for transit workers

News Wire Digest for Dec. 30: Illinois county considers hiring federal lobbyist to pursue funds for Metra expansion; law firm files class-action suit over Texas KCS derailment
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Wednesday morning railnews:

SMART officials ask for vaccine priority for transit workers

Officials with Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit are urging California’s governor to give transit workers priority in receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, including those who operate SMART’s trains. The Marin Independent Journal reports that, in a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom, board president Eric Lucan said transit workers should get priority “so they can continue serving Californians who rely and depend on public mass transit.” So far, California’s supply of vaccine has been reserved for health workers and patients in nursing homes; Newsom said earlier this week that people 75 and older and some essential workers would be next, but it’s unclear exactly which workers would be included.

Kendall County, Ill., considers hiring federal lobbyist to pursue funds for Metra extension
Kendall County, Ill., is considering hiring a federal lobbying firm, with the primary goal of obtaining funding to extend Metra’s BNSF line west into the county from its current end point in Aurora, Ill. WSPY Radio reports the county’s budget/finance committee discussed the move, with hopes the communities of Oswego, Montgomery, and Yorkville might share the $12,500 per month cost of hiring Elevate Government Affairs. That would reduce the county’s share to $3,125 per month. Oswego has already approved the agreement; Yorkville will consider it in January. The decision now advances to the Committee of the Whole and then the full county board for approval.

Law firm files suit over October KCS derailment in Texas
A national personal-injury law firm has filed a class action lawsuit over an October derailment of a Kansas City Southern derailment near Mauriceville, Texas, KBMT-TV reports, saying the incident cost the local economy several million dollars. The Oct. 29 derailment of 25 cars breached five tank cars, one of which contained a corrosive chemical, leading to evacuations and school closures near the derailment site [see “Digest: Evacuation area reduced around KCS wreck …,” Trains News Wire, Oct. 30, 2020]. No injuries were reported. The TV station quotes a statement from Brent Coon & Associates filed the lawsuit saying “a few thousand dollars in losses to area residents and business owners is a very serious amount in each of their pocketbooks.”

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