Amtrak Corridor Expansion Laundry List

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sttom

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Jan 23, 2019
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It was likely mostly ideology. They might have had to put up something knowing the federal government, and we all know $1 in transit funding that goes to anything other than the black hole that is highways is when the fiscal conservatism kicks in.
 

Anderson

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There were also some issues with the project as presented, but it was mostly ideology.
 

NSC1109

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Aug 14, 2016
Messages
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It was likely mostly ideology. They might have had to put up something knowing the federal government, and we all know $1 in transit funding that goes to anything other than the black hole that is highways is when the fiscal conservatism kicks in.
There are people in MI who keep saying I-94 should be widened to six lanes (3 EB & 3WB). They don’t take into account that:

1) the land needs to be bought
2) bridges need to be widened
3) it won’t solve any problems because I-94 is too congested and it will only add traffic.
 

Just-Thinking-51

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Still needs to be done. No matter how many drivers take the train. So let’s go Michigan start someplace and keep moving the end point over the years into its all three lanes.
 

sttom

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Jan 23, 2019
Messages
489
There are people in MI who keep saying I-94 should be widened to six lanes (3 EB & 3WB). They don’t take into account that:

1) the land needs to be bought
2) bridges need to be widened
3) it won’t solve any problems because I-94 is too congested and it will only add traffic.
But roads generate more economic activity than they cost....never mind the studies, feelings over facts.
 

NSC1109

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But roads generate more economic activity than they cost....never mind the studies, feelings over facts.
What I’m trying to say is that the return on investment won’t be great. Hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars would need to be spent and it will only result in more traffic and higher repair costs down the road, no pun intended. There will be a marginal economic benefit, but I remember being told a while ago that most of the trucks on that stretch of road travel via MI instead of IN to avoid the toll roads. It causes more wear than normal and more frequent repair.

You’re gonna be down to two lanes again frequently.
 

dogbert617

OBS Chief
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Aug 19, 2016
Messages
836
After Brightline reaches Tampa, the correct move for Amtrak in Florida is to support Brightline, connect at Orlando, and abandon all service south of there. Of course they'd have to abandon Hialeah (which they should do anyway, since it's a nightmare location in terms of climate change); could relocate the facilities to Sanford, I suppose.

The catch is that Brightline is nowhere near getting to Tampa; it's years ago. By the time they get there, we may have had a hurricane take out Miami or Tampa. Florida is just a bad place to build infrastructure at all now.
Talking in a Helen Lovejoy(from The Simpsons) voice: Won't someone please think of the passengers out of i.e. Lakeland, Sebring, and Okeechobee? Not sure if I forgot any stations between Orlando and Tampa, southward to Miami. I still hadn't ridden Amtrak into Florida, and considering it's a PITA to get to Florida on Amtrak from Chicago(except if you transfer in DC, or take a bus from Charlottesville to Richmond after riding the Cardinal east), who knows when I'll finally get to ride Silver Meteor/Star/Palmetto south to Florida? I also really greatly hate, hearing the news that contemporary dining will be added to Meteor in October. I guess Amtrak will do something slightly different with changing the traditional dining service on Auto Train, if it's getting Cross Country Cafes transferred from either CONO or TX Eagle.
 

WICT106

OBS Chief
Joined
Sep 8, 2003
Messages
834
It was ideology, just like Scott and Walker. Anything Obama was for, they were against.
It was likely mostly ideology. They might have had to put up something knowing the federal government, and we all know $1 in transit funding that goes to anything other than the black hole that is highways is when the fiscal conservatism kicks in.
It was ideology. Also, keep in mind that most Wisconsinites have never ridden a train, and don't use trains on a regular basis. They don't use transit very much, either. So, with no experience taking a train, it became simple for the Walker's supporters to say, "We don't need it." There were also the issues of losing the narrative ( ie., public relations ) battle almost from the start, with folks thinking that it was only between Madison and Milwaukee, when, in reality, it was several trains between Madison, MKE, and Chicago. Then, there was the argument that the project was thought up by "liberals." Third, there was the impression that Amtrak is a failure, and that the train wasn't really high speed, though it was dressed up as such. The one argument that train supporters were challenged by was that "few people were going to ride [ the train ]." Without an acceptable explanation of why large numbers of people are going to ride, my fellow Badgers were left to evaluate this question based on their personal experience -- and the overwhelming majority of them have no experience of using a train on a regular basis. Amtrak might as well not exist, for the majority of them.

I spent time presenting pro- train service expansion arguments, one after another, only to have a rebuttal quickly take its' place. It is challenging arguing in favor of more train service to more places, when the audience is full of individuals who are accustomed to driving everywhere.
 

philabos

Train Attendant
Joined
Jul 13, 2011
Messages
70
Looks like Badger Bus still runs a service every other hour or so between Milwaukee and Madison. Hard to justify a train that undoubtedly would provide less frequency.
 

Just-Thinking-51

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Looks like Badger Bus still runs a service every other hour or so between Milwaukee and Madison. Hard to justify a train that undoubtedly would provide less frequency.
Not impressed with ever other hour bus trips. How many train trips would make it justify in you view? The ridership numbers do go up with each round trip added. At some point you max out at train departures ever 7.5 minutes. I don’t recall the number of round trips that was planned however.
 

toddinde

Service Attendant
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Apr 23, 2015
Messages
112
It was ideology. Also, keep in mind that most Wisconsinites have never ridden a train, and don't use trains on a regular basis. They don't use transit very much, either. So, with no experience taking a train, it became simple for the Walker's supporters to say, "We don't need it." There were also the issues of losing the narrative ( ie., public relations ) battle almost from the start, with folks thinking that it was only between Madison and Milwaukee, when, in reality, it was several trains between Madison, MKE, and Chicago. Then, there was the argument that the project was thought up by "liberals." Third, there was the impression that Amtrak is a failure, and that the train wasn't really high speed, though it was dressed up as such. The one argument that train supporters were challenged by was that "few people were going to ride [ the train ]." Without an acceptable explanation of why large numbers of people are going to ride, my fellow Badgers were left to evaluate this question based on their personal experience -- and the overwhelming majority of them have no experience of using a train on a regular basis. Amtrak might as well not exist, for the majority of them.

I spent time presenting pro- train service expansion arguments, one after another, only to have a rebuttal quickly take its' place. It is challenging arguing in favor of more train service to more places, when the audience is full of individuals who are accustomed to driving everywhere.
Great analysis! WisARP had some odd ball stuff that muddled the message like arguing that the Madison station should be out at the airport rather than downtown. There is also the Wisconsin dynamic of the upstate vs Madison thing. The service made so much sense, and it had been planned for years with almost universal, bipartisan support. Walker shamelessly used it as a political wedge issue. It would have been one of Amtrak’s strongest routes, building on the super successful Hiawatha Service. It would have done wonders for economic development and sewing the region together. Badger Bus would have been fine. The train would have brought more business and a different clientele than ride the bus. The bus might actually have gotten more riders by filling in the gaps. This will go down in history as one of the most imbecilic decisions ever.
 

cocojacoby

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
May 13, 2014
Messages
364
Yeah, the other day I had to hear a Wisconsinite ***** about the money being wasted on the "stupid" trolley in Minneapolis. He was really upset about it. Hated the trolley.

We are both retired here in Florida now, and when we discussed what we did before retirement, I had to tell him that I used to drive a trolley in Boston.

Conversation pretty much ended there.
 

WICT106

OBS Chief
Joined
Sep 8, 2003
Messages
834
Not impressed with ever other hour bus trips. How many train trips would make it justify in you view? The ridership numbers do go up with each round trip added. At some point you max out at train departures ever 7.5 minutes. I don’t recall the number of round trips that was planned however.
Also not impressed with present day Badger Bus to MKE or Van Gelder bus service to Union Station ( CUS ) . The plan was to have a minimum of 6 round trips per day, with some plans discussing 10 r/t per day. Service to Green Bay, via the Fox Valley, was to be second service expansion. How many trips would philabos think would justify train service ?
 

Just-Thinking-51

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6 trips in each direction or 12 trains a day is more than minimum to start a service.

Sound like a good plan from this out of towner. Would love 6 trips daily across upstate New York. The 2 regional, 1 international, and the Lake Shore Limited is very nice, but ineffective for the upstate crowds. Yes fully knowledge about system short comings, but just one more train East early AM, West late PM would make the upstate have good train options.

West from Albany about 6am arrive Buffalo before noon.
East from Buffalo 6pm arrive Albany before midnight.
 
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jis

Conductor
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East from Albany about 6am arrive Buffalo before noon.
West from Buffalo 6pm arrive Albany before midnight.
Did you perhaps inadvertently flip East and West in those? Afterall Buffalo is West of Albany, no?

Incidentally any train terminating in western NY would most likely do so at Niagara Falls NY and not Buffalo.
 

Matthew H Fish

Train Attendant
Joined
May 28, 2019
Messages
77
As long as they are working on Colorado Front Range corridor service, how feasible would it be to connect it to Albuquerque?

Colorado N/S corridor service could also be a big impact for the entire system, because it would make a lot of trips suddenly feasible. Salt Lake City to Wichita? Albuquerque to Des Moines? You would no longer have to go all the way to LA or Chicago, if there was some sort of N/S corridor service through Colorado and into New Mexico.
 

Thirdrail7

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Jul 9, 2014
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And Amtrak thinks they have an OTP problem now? They can't even get one train through some of these places in a reasonable amount of time. Instead of the hosts poking one long distance train a day, they will have a bunch of trains to put behind their trains.

I'm still waiting for the "states" that Amtrak is trying to force themselves upon to display their "wish lists."
 

jis

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I don't think Amtrak at present has a generic sustainable model to develop and operate a reliable and fast corridor anywhere outside of a couple of places in California and the NEC. Even the much vaunted Cascades Corridor is pretty iffy at the present time. There is potential for getting it right perhaps in the Hiawatha Corridor and the Michigan Corridor. I don't think there is any hope for the Lincoln Corridor, other than regularly fattening UP's purse for nothing.
 
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philabos

Train Attendant
Joined
Jul 13, 2011
Messages
70
Also not impressed with present day Badger Bus to MKE or Van Gelder bus service to Union Station ( CUS ) . The plan was to have a minimum of 6 round trips per day, with some plans discussing 10 r/t per day. Service to Green Bay, via the Fox Valley, was to be second service expansion. How many trips would philabos think would justify train service ?
Ok, so nobody is impressed with Badger Bus 8 trips each way but 6 on the train is more than sufficient.
I used to ride Badger the year I lived there and they were quite good. At the time, the promised to roll out another bus if the first was sold out. Probably not anymore.
Is there really enough potential to spend a billion for a Madison-Milwaukee-Chicago service? There is already a successful Hiawatha Service but expansion seems held up by NIMBY groups, not the railroads. Is Milwaukee the real focus out of Madison, or is it Chicago. In my days there the service to Milwaukee was gone, but there were still 2 trains per days to and from Chicago on the Milwaukee Road.
Would money be better spent on a 130 mile route to Chicago or the 170 mile route via Milwaukee?
 

Anderson

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Nov 16, 2010
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Well, the question is what ridership looks like on Madison-Chicago and Milwaukee-Chicago vs Madison-Milwaukee-Chicago. Overall impacts on Chicago-Milwaukee also come to mind as a possibility here (e.g. extending the Hiawatha trains to Madison might help their overall performance). Don't forget that the route was also ultimately supposed to extend to MSP, too...so we're back to questions of "system effects" and the like.
 

Palmetto

Conductor
Joined
May 12, 2014
Messages
1,991
I don't think Amtrak at present has a generic sustainable model to develop and operate a reliable and fast corridor anywhere outside of a couple of places in California and the NEC. Even the much vaunted Cascades Corridor is pretty iffy at the present time. There i8s potential for getting it right perhaps in the Hiawatha Corridor and the Michigan Corridor. I don;t think there is any hope for the Lincoln Corridor, other than regularly fattening UP's purse for nothing.
These are some of the reasons why I think the "increased corridors" strategy is a charade. And the leader must know that it's going to be challenging. Gardner has been around long enough to know that.
 

Eric S

Conductor
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Dec 19, 2009
Messages
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Yeah, the other day I had to hear a Wisconsinite ***** about the money being wasted on the "stupid" trolley in Minneapolis. He was really upset about it. Hated the trolley.

We are both retired here in Florida now, and when we discussed what we did before retirement, I had to tell him that I used to drive a trolley in Boston.

Conversation pretty much ended there.
Trolley in Minneapolis (MN) or streetcar in Milwaukee (WI)?
 

philabos

Train Attendant
Joined
Jul 13, 2011
Messages
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Well, the question is what ridership looks like on Madison-Chicago and Milwaukee-Chicago vs Madison-Milwaukee-Chicago. Overall impacts on Chicago-Milwaukee also come to mind as a possibility here (e.g. extending the Hiawatha trains to Madison might help their overall performance). Don't forget that the route was also ultimately supposed to extend to MSP, too...so we're back to questions of "system effects" and the like.
Long before Walker, I watched this unfold. Wisconsin wanted a Chicago-MSP service via Madison. Minnesota wanted a service via Rochester. The original high speed route would have turned into the grand tour.
SNCF had the right idea, if you want high speed to MSP it should be Chicago -Milwaukee - Eau Claire - MSP . One seller, one buyer, superbly engineered route avoiding the river follies beyond La Crosse.
 
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