Skip to comments.Passenger trains gain favor with public, Congress
Posted on 11/05/2008 7:20:49 PM PST by Lorianne
After half a century as more of a curiosity than a convenience, passenger trains are getting back on track in some parts of the country.
The high cost of energy, coupled with congestion on highways and at airports, is drawing travelers back to trains not only for commuting but also for travel between cities as much as 500 miles apart.
Californians are considering selling billions of dollars worth of bonds to get going on an 800-mile system of bullet trains that could zip along at 200 miles per hour, linking San Francisco and San Diego and the cities in between.
In the Midwest, transportation officials are pushing a plan to connect cities in nine states in a hub-and-spoke system centered in Chicago. The nine states included in the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative are: Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska.
The public is way ahead of policymakers in recognizing trains as an attractive alternative to cars and planes, said Rep. James Oberstar, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
"I think we're at a transformational point in intercity passenger rail service," said Oberstar, D-Minn.
Amtrak, the passenger rail service that struggled for years to attract riders, drew a record 28.7 million in the year ending Sept. 30. That is 11 percent more than the year before and the sixth straight year that ridership has increased. Ticket revenue hit a record $1.7 billion, a $200 million increase from a year earlier.
(Excerpt) Read more at sfgate.com ...
Less than 60 bucks per passenger?
I’d agree. Private tolls wouldn’t be too bad - although I can see it being a “pain”. However, that’s how things used to be done in the old days. Someone had tolls to pay for the upkeep (never mind the building) of their road.
Slow trains are cost-effective in Europe. High-speed trains? Generally better to fly.
And cars (and buses) don’t result in nearly as much car-nage! ;-)
:) Would really have trouble letting someone else drive...not being in control of the “wheel” is scary.
Are you saying high-speed European trains are not cost-effective?
For passengers, they are. With all the crapola we have to go through to get on plane, never mind the indignity, your time is wasted just as much for close travel that should be quick.
I looked at taking a train from Jackson Michigan to Toronto.
I could catch the train in Jackson, then ride it 200 miles west to Chicago, then 550 miles east to buffalo NY where I would get off the train, cross the border and get on another train for the ride to Toronto.
I drove by way of Windsor.
One of the greatest songs of all time is "City of New Orleans". It is a true story.
One of the things on my Bucket List is to do the Trans-Canada Railroad trip across Canada.
With sleeping car arrangements there is no finer way to travel. Next to me the biggest long distance rail fan I knew of was Ronald Reagan. Reagan always traveled by train until presidential politics made it unfeasible.
Another plus; you pay half the taxpayer pays the other. This is the only way I've ever been able to elbow my way up to that public teat. Shoot, if its there, why not?
I guess I can understand ridership going up with air travel having become such a PITA. I used to take the train from time to time when I was in college, but needed to take combinations of bus and train to get where I needed to go. More recently (well, ten years ago) we took Amtrack from Dallas to Chicago just to do something different when the kids were small.
Considering that it was more expensive than flying, slower than driving, and the services was worse than the post office, I’m afraid I just don’t see the upside of long distance train travel.
Commuter trains in densely populated areas are different, and I have certainly ridden those in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Atlanta and other places - and would again.
The best rail ride to New Orleans is the Crescent from D.C.
What makes the NJ Turnpike so attractive for this sort of arrangement is that it carries an inordinate amount of two types of vehicles that are ideal sources of revenue: (1) trucks, and (2) long-distance travelers who drive through the entire state.
Can it work without my money? If so, then go for it.
Rail transit is seriously flawed in one key respect: its operational costs are prohibitively high when measured in terms of dollars per passenger-miles traveled.
I do a lot of work in transportation planning and design in my profession -- and one of the things that has become obvious to people in my profession over the years is that it's a hell of a lot cheaper to implement bus service on a limited-access alignment (a busway, or along an arterial road with a bus lane and traffic signal pre-emption to optimize the flow of buses) than to run passenger trains.
One of the well-kept secrets in my work is that buses are TOO flexible for long-term planning purposes. A transit agency that implements a new bus service tomorrow may decide to curtail it, re-route it, or shut it down completely in the future. This makes it impossible to effectively manage any kind of residential and office development along the transit lines served by buses. If a rail system is built, on the other hand, it's a lot easier to plan for future development because it's unlikely that the service would ever be substantially reduced in the future (and almost impossible for the service to be re-routed).
I have never had trouble with Amtrak service. I’ve heard people are rude for some reason in the west, but Northeast is generally good. I’ve been on that many times Balto to CT; also short hops to western MD, but also out to Indiana and most recently Chicago (and WI through connection). Coach and sleeper.
My view is it has virtually none of the cons of car/bus or plane travel and all of the benefits. As yet, anyway.
Ever notice how socialism is being niftily repackaged for America?
Live in a tiny "housing unit" above a "mixed use" "transit village". Use public (i.e government) transporatation or, if you must, buy a "Smart Car" and feel good about yourself. Ration water. Ration gas. Buy bread from the hippie at the local farmer's market. Turn your thermostat up (or down) and roast (or shiver). Use less. Do less. It's like being a Soviet with the misery replaced with a sense of smug self-satisfaction that you're "doing your part".
I missed my first pickins in life. I would have been a major league baseball player that rode the rails to every city.