Press Release Article


Date: Apr 15, 2003
Press Release Number: 51-2003

Port Authority Safety Board Issues Report

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The Port Authority today announced operational testing of AirTrain JFK will resume this month after the Port Authority Safety Board comprised of senior Port Authority officials determined the September 27, 2002, AirTrain JFK fatal accident – which occurred during system testing by Bombardier Transportation, a member of the consortium of contractors hired to design, build, and ultimately operate and maintain the system – was unrelated to the design and construction of the light-rail system.

The Safety Board also issued a report today that details the accident, its causes and the board’s subsequent recommendations. Among the findings, the investigation showed certain areas of operations, such as communication and training by Bombardier, needed enhancement. Bombardier has implemented or is in the process of implementing the board’s recommendations.

The Safety Board also announced the establishment of an AirTrain Safety Oversight Board to monitor conformance with established safety procedures and current industry standards for the operation and maintenance of AirTrain JFK and AirTrain Newark. The AirTrain Safety Oversight Board, comprised of two agency executives – the Director of PATH and the Director of Operations Services, working with their staffs and consultants – will report to the Executive Director and the chairperson of the Port Authority Board of Commissioners’ Audit Committee.

Passenger service on the AirTrain JFK system is expected to begin later this year between John F. Kennedy International Airport’s Central Terminal Area, and the Howard Beach and Jamaica Station AirTrain terminals.

Port Authority Executive Director Joseph J. Seymour said, \"On behalf of the entire Port Authority family, I again wish to convey our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Mr. Kelvin DeBourgh, Jr., the Bombardier employee who was tragically killed in the accident. The Port Authority family and its partners are presently considering ways to honor the memory of Mr. DeBourgh.

\"Understanding the importance of this investigation, the Port Authority’s Safety Board proceeded very deliberately in its research to determine the causes of the accident and to ensure the safe operation of AirTrain JFK. This investigation caused a postponement of the scheduled opening date of the system to the public, but we all understood that this investigation had to be conducted in a thorough manner. After more than six months of careful study, our investigation found the system is sound.\"

Port Authority Chief Operating Officer Ernesto Butcher said, \"We have made a number of recommendations to, and worked closely with, Bombardier to ensure they implement changes in operating rules and procedures to address the causes of last year’s accident. Bombardier is implementing all of our recommendations.

\"In order to make the system ready for the public and fully evaluate and verify the validity of the changes that have been made, we must resume testing.

\"In addition, the Port Authority continues to work closely with the National Transportation Safety Board as a party to that federal agency’s investigation. The NTSB will continue to monitor the operation with particular focus on the improvements that have been made. We will continue to maintain close communications with the NTSB as we move forward in the process,\" Mr. Butcher said.

The National Transportation Safety Board is expected to issue a report on the accident later this year.

Port Authority Director of Priority Capital Programs Anthony Cracchiolo noted that Bombardier, which was running a vehicle power-consumption test when the accident occurred last year, has taken a number of organizational and operational steps to augment and strengthen their operations and procedures, and enhance safety during system testing and subsequent passenger service.

During the time operational testing was temporarily suspended, construction continued elsewhere along the system, and all infrastructure and stations along the system are nearing completion.

When AirTrain JFK begins service, passengers will be able to use, free of charge, the six stations in the Central Terminal Area loop for easy connections among all terminals; the Lefferts Boulevard Station for long-term and employee parking; and the Federal Circle Station for car rentals.

Service between the Howard Beach and the Jamaica Station AirTrain terminals and all other stations will cost $5 for a single trip. Monthly passes offering unlimited trips will cost $40. The state-of-the-art terminals at Howard Beach and Jamaica Station will enable airport passengers and employees to make more than 1,500 fast, easy, convenient and reliable connections every day between the airport and the A, E, J and Z subway lines; Long Island Rail Road trains; and buses.

Service from Penn Station in Manhattan to JFK’s terminals via AirTrain JFK is projected to take less than 45 minutes; the trip from midtown Manhattan to JFK can presently take more than two hours by car or taxi. The approximately 8-mile light-rail system is expected to serve 34,000 passengers per day at the start.

The $1.9 billion project uses no state or federal taxes. It is being funded through a combination of Port Authority funds and revenue from an existing $3 surcharge on departing passengers at JFK under the Passenger Facility Charge program.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey operates some of the busiest and most important transportation links in the region. They include John F. Kennedy International, Newark Liberty International, LaGuardia and Teterboro airports; the George Washington Bridge; the Lincoln and Holland tunnels; the three bridges between Staten Island and New Jersey; the PATH rapid-transit system; the Downtown Manhattan Heliport; Port Newark; the Elizabeth-Port Authority Marine Terminal; the Howland Hook Marine Terminal on Staten Island; the Brooklyn Piers/Red Hook Container Terminal; and the Port Authority Bus Terminal in midtown Manhattan. The agency also owns the 16-acre World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan. The Port Authority is financially self-supporting and receives no tax revenue from either state.

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