When it comes to gauging the prospects of new passenger rail service on the Allegheny Valley Railroad, CEO Russell Peterson is more optimistic than he was a few years ago.
A few years ago, he thought there was only a 5 percent likelihood of a passenger train between Lower Burrell to downtown Pittsburgh. Now, it’s different.
“I’ve moved above the 50/50 level,” he said. “I give it a 55 percent probability of going forward now.”
He’s hopeful a new resolution will come before City Council in the near future to establish Pittsburgh as a conduit for state and federal funding needed to conduct a study to achieve National Environmental Policy Act clearance. An environmental review process is needed so the light rail plan can become eligible for Federal Transit Administration funding.
Peterson said to expect some new partners to be announced if the city establishes such enabling legislation. He cited the backing he’s seen from Mayor Bill Peduto, who has voiced strong support for new light rail transit in the city, as his biggest reason for optimism for new passenger rail service through AVR.
“The biggest change in complexion is the new administration is much more attuned to public transit and light rail,” said Peterson. “That’s the paradigm shift.”