Midwest Rail Plan final Report

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sttom

OBS Chief
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Jan 23, 2019
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This is probably true, but I don't think that at the national level the votes are there yet for a dedicated funding source for passenger rail the same way that the highways have such a source in the fuel tax. But it's true that once there's a pot of Federal money that can go to the states and be used only for passenger rail projects, there may be more interest in such projects.

But you still can't discount the power of ideological opposition to government funding of such things. Consider the case of Merritt H. Taylor Jr., the owner of the Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company, one of the last fully privately run transit companies in the US. He was very conservative and believed the government had no business subsidizing companies like his. He resisted all forms of regional cooperation, especially with governmental entities like SEPTA, and kept his company private for as long as he could. However, in the end, he did sell out to SEPTA. The ideology is still there, which is why there are a lot of people rooting for Brightline, because they're not taking government money. The problem is, I'm not sure the Brightline model can be repeated in other places. Even their Las Vegas line is not really going to work without partnering with the publicly owned railroads serving central Los Angeles.
The votes can be secured if you give Congress something to vote on and someone at Amtrak were actually competent at making the point that they can provide a much more useful service for the money. For twice what Amtrak did manage to get from the Infrastructure bill, they could easily double the number of route miles served a dramatically increase it's ridership.

As for convincing people, it really depends on the crowd. Rural Congress people already support Amtrak, so it's not like it would take them much to support an expansion program. Politicians from urban areas would be fairly easy to convince as well. The main lines of convincing would be traffic relief and economic development around stations. Which would help their developer friends. The wild cards would be suburban Republicans, politicians from right along the NEC and Northeastern politicians not along the NEC.

The NEC politicians would demand a pound of flesh for sure and their Senators would guarantee that. I would consider northeastern politicians a separate group because they might vote as a block within their states, but I don't see why a politicians from say Buffalo would care about better trains between New York City and DC. Suburbans Republicans might be a lost cause depending on what state they are from. I doubt someone like Dan Crenshaw would vote to expand Amtrak no matter how good it was for Texas whereas someone from North Carolina or Virginia would be more open to it.

Then there is what devil's are in the details? Obviously relying on the states to play along with a small amount of federal money is a failed idea. Which is why I have pondered just giving Amtrak a set amount annually to run "State Services" and just letting them stretch it as far as they can if a state decided to be a pain. Which after digging through some of the regulations around rail and Amtrak, it doesn't seem like they would need the states if the feds foot the bill. The issue is more about how much is being spent, how is it allotted and can we spin this into an economic development argument.
 

neroden

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Governor DeWine has to work with a very conservative General Assembly and has had to move to the "right" in recent months because of the opposition he has experienced from some members of that body. If he wins the GOP Primary in May and is re-elected in November, he will have the opportunity to return to his more centrist position (which I would consider is one of a pragmatic conservative who wants to get "stuff done"). At that point, the Governor would be in a better position to support the 3C+D corridor than he does now.
Or will he? Unfortunately, we discovered in Iowa that a fanatically anti-rail Republican legislature can kill a rail project even if the governor supports it and it's 80% federally funded.
 

neroden

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This really shouldn't be a partisan political issue.
Yeah, but you could say that about practically every current partisan political issue. Should we be wearing masks in public during an airborne pandemic? Should citizens be able to vote without having their right taken away by tricks and suppression? Should insurrectionists violently attack the Capitol?

Those ARE partisan political issues now, although they SHOULDN'T be, and they used to not be. Rail service shouldn't be either, but here we are.

In some states, none of these are partisan political issues (Massachusetts!) but in most of the country, this is how far we've sunk.

I realize I'm essentially supporting what you said.
 

Dakota 400

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Or will he? Unfortunately, we discovered in Iowa that a fanatically anti-rail Republican legislature can kill a rail project even if the governor supports it and it's 80% federally funded.
Regarding our General Assembly, what you are saying is very true. They have thwarted several important issues that he strongly supported in the past 3+ years. There are some rail supporters in Ohio who are "somewhat excited" about the candidacy of Dayton's Mayor for the Democratic nomination for Governor because she has announced her support for 3C+D if she is elected. But, realistically, she will still have to work with a likely GOP General Assembly.
 

GoAmtrak

Train Attendant
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Nov 4, 2021
Messages
55
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Switzerland
By pure chance I just read Fort Madison, Iowa re-opened its old railway station in downtown, with the first train stopping there in mid-december: Amtrak is back in Fort Madison - Radio Iowa

I like that move. The other train station was one without character and was a 30 minutes walk away from the city center. Questionable urban planning again. Now passengers directly arrive in the old albeit small city center.

By the way, how does it work Google Maps adapting changes? Can people possessing a Google conto add or relocate localities on Google Maps? Does somebody know about it? It would be bad for people going to the wrong place when looking for the train station.

Those are small steps towards better passenger railway transport. Another location of a train station I don't like is that of South Bend, Indiana which is also over half an hour away from the city center. Why don't they re-use the old union station which is close to downtown? Is it because South Bend is also on the South Shore line and they don't make extend that line that few miles further? That's not a true reason.
 

jis

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I don't like is that of South Bend, Indiana which is also over half an hour away from the city center. Why don't they re-use the old union station which is close to downtown? Is it because South Bend is also on the South Shore line and they don't make extend that line that few miles further? That's not a true reason.
That could not be the or even a reason since CSSSB trains do not go to the South Bend Amtrak station any more, and haven't done so in ages now.

They have occasionally made noises about getting the CSSSB to terminate at or near the South Bend Union Station location, but there is always something or the other that intervenes. The present Federal SecDOT was very much in favor of such a scheme when he was the Mayor of South Bend.

The fact that the old Union Station is located right at an important congested interlocking of course does not help getting NS on board, though there is a way to isolate the passenger line from the interlocking. But of course it costs quite a bit of money.
 

chrsjrcj

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Fort Lauderdale, FL
By the way, how does it work Google Maps adapting changes? Can people possessing a Google conto add or relocate localities on Google Maps? Does somebody know about it? It would be bad for people going to the wrong place when looking for the train station.
Transit agencies typically export GTFS data which include schedules and stop locations that Google Maps, Apple Maps, etc., can use. The information on Google Maps is only as accurate as the data they receive from a transit agency is.
 

joelkfla

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Oct 16, 2018
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12 miles from Walt Disney World
Transit agencies typically export GTFS data which include schedules and stop locations that Google Maps, Apple Maps, etc., can use. The information on Google Maps is only as accurate as the data they receive from a transit agency is.
Anyone can submit a correction to a place in Google Maps, but the data feed does include coordinates for stops. I think you could end up with 2 markers on the map: one from the data feed showing the icon for the transportation mode, and another showing a generic place marker.
 

GoAmtrak

Train Attendant
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Nov 4, 2021
Messages
55
Location
Switzerland
Anyone can submit a correction to a place in Google Maps, but the data feed does include coordinates for stops. I think you could end up with 2 markers on the map: one from the data feed showing the icon for the transportation mode, and another showing a generic place marker.
Thank you. I tried it. I was able to add something, but there was no category like "railway station", "public transport" or somehing like that. So, I couldn't add a blue train sign being used by Via Rail or Amtrak on Google Maps. Perhaps only transportation agencies are able to do that.

The fact that the old Union Station is located right at an important congested interlocking of course does not help getting NS on board, though there is a way to isolate the passenger line from the interlocking. But of course it costs quite a bit of money.
I understand. I just thought Amtrak lines pass close to South Bend Union Station nonetheless, so why not stop there. And of course it would be great to expand the South Shore to South Bend Union Station to give connections without always going to Chicago.

The Indiana Government still acts like we would be in the 1970's. I'm convinced the money is there, they probably just prefer to spend it on highways and airports. On a huge budget, they thought about 3 million for the Hoosier State Train wouldn't be there. Highways crowded? Okay, let's build an additonal lane. It's a ridiculous. They act like an environmental crisis doesn't exist.
 
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