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Queens Chronicle

AirTrain Expected To Create 118 New Jobs At JFK Airport

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Posted: Thursday, July 18, 2002 12:00 am

The AirTrain commuter system will create 118 new jobs at John F. Kennedy International Airport, it was announced last week.

Bombardier Transportation, which will be in charge of operating the AirTrain JFK system, is receiving a $208,000 state grant to train its new employees. The grant is being provided under New York’s Strategic Training Alliance Program.

The new positions will be in the areas of the operations control center, automatic train control, supervisory control, closed circuit television, radio, management information systems, public address, fare collection data system, fire protection and alarm system operators.

The AirTrain system will link the A Train in Howard Beach and the Long Island Rail Road in Jamaica with Kennedy Airport.

“As the supplier and future operator of the AirTrain JFK system, we are delighted to be involved in this state’s initiative within the framework of the five-year operations and maintenance contract that we were awarded in 1998,” said Patrice Pelletier, president of Bombardier Transportations.

“We believe this training grant is the catalyst for developing a skilled workforce and creating long-term employment at JFK.”

According to Pasquale DiFulco, spokesman for the Port Authority, the permanent jobs for AirTrain will be similar to those at any full-service rail service. In addition, although he was not sure how many of the positions have been filled, he indicated that a “substantial” number of those hired so far were from Queens.

“It ties very hard into the mission of the New York/New Jersey Port Authority to be good neighbors to the neighborhood it serves,” he said. “That’s a very important part of our mission.”

Because some of the cars that will be running on the AirTrain have already been tested, some of the new employees have already been trained and are at work. As the system nears completion, more employee training will be conducted.

The STRAP program covers the cost of classroom training, curriculum development and training materials associated with skills upgrading and job retaining. The program is overseen by the New York State Department of Labor and the Empire State Development Corporation.

The employees’ training is supposed to make workers skilled at using the most up-to-date equipment for a completely automated system. The training is intended to allow Bombardier to operate the system at 99 percent availability, 24 hours a day.

Work on the two stations that will be connected to JFK by the AirTrain system is still ongoing. The Coleman Square station in Howard Beach, which will connect AirTrain commuters with the A Train is expected to be completed by September or October.

Work on the Jamaica station is not expected to be completed until 2005, but the Van Wyck AirTrain connection to the LIRR should be running by the first half of 2003. Other work still to be done includes reconstruction of the Foch Boulevard and 109th Avenue bridges over the Van Wyck.

The driverless AirTrain system, which is run by computers from a control tower at JFK, will require four to six months of testing. The system will include 32 vehicles with trains consisting of two to four cars, depending on the time of day.

The trains, which can attain speeds of 50 to 60 miles per hour, will run at intervals of four to eight minutes.

Officials touted the technical training of new workers as a way to strengthen the job force in New York and to give a boost to an industry that has suffered as a result of the September 11th terrorist attacks.

“A highly-skilled workforce is essential for strong businesses and a strong economy and that’s why our outstanding STRAP job training program is so important,” Governor George Pataki said. “Especially at a time when many transportation and airline-related industries are facing major challenges, these new job opportunities in Queens are good news for the local economy.”

The Port Authority announced this week that construction of the $1.9 billion AirTrain system is still on schedule and service will begin at JFK later this year. All 32 vehicles have been delivered to Kennedy and construction at most of the passenger stations and power substations along the route is substantially done.

In addition, it was announced that ridership continues to grow at Newark International Airport’s AirTrain system, which opened in October 2001.

“These two vital transportation projects demonstrate the Port Authority’s ongoing commitment to improve the region’s transportation systems with carefully planned investments,” said Port Authority Chairman Jack Sinagara. “This agency has emerged from the tragedy of September 11th more determined than ever to deliver on this mission.”

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