Washington D.C. – The Eno Center for Transportation released a new report on Monday outlining the steps transit agencies should take to better manage their rail assets in the face of increasingly burdensome rail infrastructure challenges. The report, “Tools for a Smoother Ride: Managing Rail Assets and Leveraging Competition,” found a consensus among public and private stakeholders across the country that current rail maintenance practices are inadequate to meet today’s challenges.

“From New York City to Washington, DC, transit agencies across the country are reckoning with derailments, outages, and other causes of downtime that make people late for work and, more importantly, less safe,” said Robert Puentes, President and CEO of Eno. “These problems cannot be solved overnight, but it starts with upfront investment in maintaining what we already have and exploring all options for increasing accountability and transparency.”

Public transit is in a maintenance crisis. Deferred maintenance, decreased reliability, and declining ridership are necessitating increases in budgets for rehabs and repairs. But as the report points out, the real overhaul needs to be in how public agencies conduct their asset management and maintenance programs.

“We interviewed dozens of stakeholders and the consensus was clear: decades of deferred maintenance and misplaced priorities brought us to where we are today,” said Paul Lewis, Vice President of Policy and Finance at Eno and co-author of the report. “To get back on track, transit agencies must shift their priorities and rededicate themselves to maintaining what we already have before pursuing politically popular but costly expansions.”

Among the report’s recommendations, agencies must start by creating a culture of prioritizing maintenance through effective asset management. Specifically, they should go beyond federal guidelines to develop state-of-the-art transit asset management plans based on the actual observed condition of the infrastructure, predictively repairing or replacing assets when conditions and timing warrant. They should also carefully explore alternatives with the private sector, such as contracting out maintenance services, to bring more accountability and transparency.

Read the Executive Summary and download the full report here: https://enotrans.org/etl-material/tools-for-a-smoother-ride-managing-rail-assets-and-leveraging-competition/

Alexander Laska


About the Eno Center for Transportation
The Eno Center for Transportation is an independent, nonpartisan think tank that promotes policy innovation and leads professional development in the transportation industry. As part of its mission, Eno seeks continuous improvement in transportation and its public and private leadership in order to improve the system’s mobility, safety, and sustainability. Learn more at www.enotrans.org.