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jis

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Actually a pretty good article...


Another thing I realized in stark numbers from this article - DOT budget is $87 Billion. Of that the direct Amtrak portion is a shade under $2 Billion, all of FRA is a shade under #3 Billion. FTA is around $13.5 Billion give or take, of which the rail portion is probably considerably less than half. The rest of the $87 Billion is something else. For reference see the 2019 enacted column in the table on pages 18-20 of US DOT Budget Highlights
 
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IndyLions

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Before I had any idea who Mayor Pete was, I had an opportunity to explore South Bend by bicycle in 2018 and I was really impressed.

My youngest daughter attended college in Boston, and I drove her to South Bend to put her on the LSL for her trip back to college after Thanksgiving. As many of you know, the LSL leaves South Bend at a pretty late hour. Instead of a late night drive back to Indy, I decided to spend the night in a South Bend hotel. It was unseasonably warm, and I decided to get up the next morning and explore South Bend by bike. Because of that, I decided to stay In a downtown hotel to make things more convenient.

I was shocked at the difference in South Bend from my previous visits many years before. Instead of a shuttered downtown, and an industrial wasteland with no real redeeming value, the downtown was really thriving. There were restaurants, the streets were well organized, there were plenty of well maintained parks and bike paths - it was really a transformed place.

One thing mayor Pete did not fix, however, was the Amtrak train station. It’s functional but all in all pretty bleak. He may have been trying to move it to a better location and didn’t get that done - but I’ll have to give him a negative mark on that one score.
 

jis

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I have heard from some transport oriented friends of mine who live in South Bend (one is a Professor at Notre Dame) that there was a proposal to move the Amtrak stop adjacent to the old Union Station building (which has been restored) downtown. A bus station got built adjacent to it, but NS kiboshed the Amtrak move.
 

MikefromCrete

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Jis is right. There were plans to move Amtrak to the former Union Station, but NS killed the plan because the 5-10 minutes four times a day Amtrak would stop at the station would somehow terribly disrupt their switching at the South Bend yard.
 

IndyLions

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Jis is right. There were plans to move Amtrak to the former Union Station, but NS killed the plan because the 5-10 minutes four times a day Amtrak would stop at the station would somehow terribly disrupt their switching at the South Bend yard.
From what little I can tell from research online - that's a pretty puny yard. I'm guessing that if they successfully move the South Shore terminus from the airport to downtown - Amtrak could follow despite NS objections.
 

jis

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From what little I can tell from research online - that's a pretty puny yard. I'm guessing that if they successfully move the South Shore terminus from the airport to downtown - Amtrak could follow despite NS objections.
But the proposed South Shore move to Downtown may not involve NS at all. Here are the various locations being considered.



Only if they figure out how to fund the Union Station alternative would NS possibly be involved, though even then, possibly not, beyond some adjustment of easements that do not involve any obstruction to NS's railroad tracks. There is ROW space between NS tracks and edge of the ROW for laying one, and possibly two additional tracks from SB Amtrak station to Union Station without interfering with NS. There is also space to build a platforms for the shorter South Shore trains by the Union Station Building towards the west end of it. That is all that is needed to bring the South Shore Line to Union Station.

The NS issue that will remain for Amtrak is how it can approach from the East to join the South Shore Line without allegedly destroying NS's complete operations in the area. :D

Here is an Blog discussing the various alternatives for the South Shore station in South Bend and various opinions about it:


Here is an Editorial in the South Bend Tribune on this subject from back in 2018...

 

crescent-zephyr

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Why would the other options be considered? Is there a reason they don’t want to stay at the airport?
 

Trogdor

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Honestly, the airport doesn’t really make sense as a route terminal for the South Shore passenger trains (as one of the links alludes to). In a transportation context, connecting to a small, little-served airport that barely sustains service to hub airports (including O’Hare, incidentally) doesn’t really add much value. It’s not like people are going to fly to South Bend just to take the train to Chicago (well, “normal” people; I’m sure some railfans will take that as a challenge).

Upgrading the route into Downtown South Bend and having an integrated stop with Amtrak has numerous possible benefits. Maybe even hang a carrot in front of NS’s face as well. If you can get a forward connection (i.e. one that doesn’t require backing out of CUS) to the St. Charles Air Line, Amtrak would love to move off the NS between Chicago and Porter, IN, on the Michigan Line trains. Add double-tracking the South Shore and a connection in South Bend, and you could possibly move the Capitol Limited and Lake Shore Limited over as well, all the way to South Bend.

The problem is, as with everything, our transportation networks are so disjointed and parochial that it takes a “small town mayor” budgeting a few million dollars to even possibly get something done in the South Bend area, when in reality, a large-scale view is needed to see that there are regional (and even national) transportation benefits to connecting the South Shore to downtown, combined with double-tracking, removing the street running in Michigan City (already under way), an improved connection to the St. Charles Air Line, and even improved rail capacity from Chicago Union Station to O’Hare Airport.

There shouldn’t be flights from South Bend to O’Hare, and there doesn’t need to be a passenger train that ends at South Bend Airport. Instead, fast, direct train service from South Bend to O’Hare ought to be possible, using just a few infrastructure upgrades, some of which are already planned, a few others being on advocates’ wish lists.
 

crescent-zephyr

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I get wanting to route the train downtown, I don’t understand wanting to route the train somewhere other than the airport and other than downtown just to save 10 minutes.

The South Shore operating to the airport has worked well for me when meeting family in South Bend. I wonder how many who have criticized it have actually ridden it?
 

Matthew H Fish

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I agree: "Small Town Mayor" is not really descriptive. "Mid sized city" "Large exurb"...

But as far as train and transit purposes go, South Bend has...an Amtrak stop with daily service and 17 local bus lines. It is a low-density, suburban style city, built around an airport and a freeway. And that is the relevant issue as far as his experience goes.
 

crescent-zephyr

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I agree: "Small Town Mayor" is not really descriptive. "Mid sized city" "Large exurb"...

But as far as train and transit purposes go, South Bend has...an Amtrak stop with daily service and 17 local bus lines. It is a low-density, suburban style city, built around an airport and a freeway. And that is the relevant issue as far as his experience goes.
Also the terminal city for the only remaining electric interurban service in the country. It may be more convenient to your agenda to leave that part out so my apologies for the correction ;)
 

Matthew H Fish

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That is interesting, I didn't know that.

My main point was that there were many US cities that had mass transit systems, or at least very active bus systems, and that South Bend, Indiana, was not one of them.

That doesn't mean that he can't be an effective/enthusiastic advocate for non-private vehicle and non-fossil fuel based transportation. Just that he doesn't seem to have any particular experience with that. I don't know what is controversial about that statement.
 

flitcraft

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In my opinion, the Secretary of Transportation doesn't have to have concrete transportation experience; what they need is to be attuned to transportation policy in the greater framework of national priorities, and the vision to see that policy come to fruition. With that, you hire people with the right experience to implement policy.

Here's an example: Dorm Braman had been mayor of Seattle--which at that time was not the metropolis that it is today--when Richard Nixon tapped him to be Assistant Secretary of Transportation for Urban Transportation and the Environment. He had no background in transportation per se, and Seattle's public transit system was (and still is) quite primitive, but Braman threw himself into the job. He pushed hard for urban mass transit and for Amtrak as well. I think that Buttigieg could be this generation's Braman.
 

crescent-zephyr

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My main point was that there were many US cities that had mass transit systems, or at least very active bus systems, and that South Bend, Indiana, was not one of them.
Your main point seems to be saying that he’s not qualified for the job. Who would you suggest for the job?
 

Qapla

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One of the main criteria for a good Secretary should be the desire to improve transportation ... that would include not having a predisposed position that any one type of transportation is "the" answer. He should be open to any/all solutions that will move people in, around and through the country in a way that serves the best interest of people and the environment - NOT on making a profit for any one type of transportation or giving in to lobbyists groups or industry.

If a person takes the job with a preconceived idea they will not be open to alternate solutions.
 

Lonestar648

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Depending on how the Senate goes in GA will depend on who gets confirmed and how long the process takes. This nomination may still get through the political process without much negotiation if the Republicans win in GA.
 

crescent-zephyr

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Gabe Klein.
He is a part of the Biden transition team related to the DOT so he’s in the mix at least. He would be an excellent choice as well. If Gabe and Pete team up we could have a really incredible future!
 
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Abe26

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I am unsure what this will all mean. While Buttigieg is a competent person, and stood up quite well on the National political stage, I would have never thought of him as the best expert we have on transportation.

President (Elect) Biden has more pressing issues, like Covid-19 and the economy, that needs 110% of this attention. Transforming Amtrak into a fleet of gleaming-white HS bullet trains zooming between US cities, while nice, really isn't even near the top of the pressing American agenda. No Treasury Secretary can change that.
I disagree,
why can every modren country the world have fast, efficient, nice trains but the good old USA can’t
we can spent almost a trillion defense every year! But on a fast rail system we are doomed.

I think now is the best time to upgrade out train system infrastructure, with the unemployment high, and and the economy down, we should spent on upgrading the train lines, improve everything and we should aim for 200 MPH trains
 

Palmetto

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I disagree,
why can every modren country the world have fast, efficient, nice trains but the good old USA can’t
we can spent almost a trillion defense every year! But on a fast rail system we are doomed.

I think now is the best time to upgrade out train system infrastructure, with the unemployment high, and and the economy down, we should spent on upgrading the train lines, improve everything and we should aim for 200 MPH trains
Here's my brief answer to the question: entitlement and lawyers. Probably an over-simplification, but I think those two are a big part of progress in this country. Just take a look at the Texas High Speed Rail project as one, recent example.
 
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