Digest: Charlotte light rail extends reduced schedule because of staffing shortage

News Wire Digest second section for Dec. 31: Oklahoma to appeal ruling on blocked-crossing law; report calls for reform of Baltimore transit governance
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Thursday midday rail news:

Charlotte light rail line, short on staff, extends reduced schedule

The Charlotte Area Transit System light rail Blue Line will remain on a Sunday schedule until further notice because of a COVID-19-related staffing shortage. The Charlotte Observer reports the light rail system began operating on the Sunday schedule seven days a week as of Dec. 16 because 12 employees were in quarantine for the coronavirus after attending a private event. The transit agency had planned to return to its regular schedule at the end of December, but will remain on the current plan “to best manage staff levels during this period of increased healthy-safety challenges.”

Oklahoma attorney general appeals ruling striking down blocked-crossing law
Oklahoma’s attorney general has filed an appeal to a recent ruling striking down the state’s law fining railroads for blocking grade crossings. KOKH-TV reports Attorney General Mike Hunter is appealing to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals after U.S. District Judge Charles Goodwin said the state law is preempted by federal law [see “Digest: Amtrak lands operating contract …,” Trains News Wire, Dec. 1, 2020]. The law would permit fines of $1,000 when a train blocks a grade crossing for more than 10 minutes.

Report says structure of Baltimore public transit needs reform
A new report from the Eno Center for Transportation says the unique structure of Baltimore’s public transit has not served the city well and badly needs reform. The website Greater Greater Washington reports that alone among the 50 major cities in the U.S., Baltimore has a transit system governed and operated by a state agency — the Maryland Transit Administration — with no board of directors. This, the Eno Center determined, makes the transit system vulnerable to the priorities of each Maryland governor; the report offers three possible solutions. The full report is available here.

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