Restore Passenger Service to Southern Montana?

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toddinde

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WisARP members in Dane County, wanted the station out at the airport because they ( and I ) were concerned about long term parking. Due to Madison's geography, parking downtown has some serious constraints, as Madison's downtown is on an isthmus between two lakes. It places some significant restrictions on all downtown parking, whereas the airport location would be more convenient for the couple of hundred thousand of us who live elsewhere other than downtown. As for the airport being inconvenient, my observation is that University students have never had any difficulty getting to and from the airport.
Thank you for the thoughtful reply. Ultimately, the airport would have been in the mix once the line was extended to Minneapolis. But I still dissent. The view of rail as a park and ride was already obsolete then. With Millennials eschewing cars, bicycling taking off, Uber and Lyft, the airport Station was the height of mid-20th century in the 21st century, and the antithesis of New Urbanism. The thousands of people flocking to live on the Isthmus more than make up for the suburban folks in Sun Prairie driving to the airport. Folks more likely to drive all the way anyway. Students would have walked or biked downtown, but no way would they have schleped out to the airport. Take it from someone who went to school in Madison. The uniquely American paranoia around backing trains into the station was also a nonsensical excuse in an era of push/pull trains. Anyway, the station argument helped end the whole thing, and here we are, years later, still debating, and no trains. Epic fail.
 

MARC Rider

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With Millennials eschewing cars, bicycling taking off, Uber and Lyft, the airport Station was the height of mid-20th century in the 21st century, and the antithesis of New Urbanism.
I think this myth about "Millenials eschewing cars" needs to be debunked. They seem to be driving as much as anybody else. How can they help not doing so, as there are only a few cities with walkable neighborhoods and decent transit service, and most of the less crime-ridden areas of those cities are not affordable to young people with crappy gig-economy jobs. Thus, most millenials, just like the rest of us, have to live in crappy suburban sprawl where you need a car to get around.

Intercity (or even commuter) rail serving Madison might, indeed have a large pool of riders who live in the downtown area, but for any service to have widespread support, it will also need to be convenient for the much larger number of people who are forced to live in sprawlsville.
 

Bob Dylan

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I think this myth about "Millenials eschewing cars" needs to be debunked. They seem to be driving as much as anybody else. How can they help not doing so, as there are only a few cities with walkable neighborhoods and decent transit service, and most of the less crime-ridden areas of those cities are not affordable to young people with crappy gig-economy jobs. Thus, most millenials, just like the rest of us, have to live in crappy suburban sprawl where you need a car to get around.

Intercity (or even commuter) rail serving Madison might, indeed have a large pool of riders who live in the downtown area, but for any service to have widespread support, it will also need to be convenient for the much larger number of people who are forced to live in sprawlsville.
Excellent Joe!!!!
 

MccfamschoolMom

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Feb 28, 2020
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Does Madison currently have city bus service out to the airport? If it does, a stop at a train station near the airport would be easy to add.
(As a grad student at UW-Madison at the beginning of the 1980s, I rarely had a need to take a city bus in Madison, except perhaps to go to a shopping mall, since downtown and my work-study job were within easy walking distance of campus. However, I would have been happy to take a city bus to catch a train ride home.)
 

NeueAmtrakCalifornia

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Does Madison currently have city bus service out to the airport? If it does, a stop at a train station near the airport would be easy to add.
(As a grad student at UW-Madison at the beginning of the 1980s, I rarely had a need to take a city bus in Madison, except perhaps to go to a shopping mall, since downtown and my work-study job were within easy walking distance of campus. However, I would have been happy to take a city bus to catch a train ride home.)
Madison does have a bus service that serves the airport
 

IndyLions

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I think this myth about "Millenials eschewing cars" needs to be debunked. They seem to be driving as much as anybody else. How can they help not doing so, as there are only a few cities with walkable neighborhoods and decent transit service, and most of the less crime-ridden areas of those cities are not affordable to young people with crappy gig-economy jobs. Thus, most millenials, just like the rest of us, have to live in crappy suburban sprawl where you need a car to get around.

Intercity (or even commuter) rail serving Madison might, indeed have a large pool of riders who live in the downtown area, but for any service to have widespread support, it will also need to be convenient for the much larger number of people who are forced to live in sprawlsville.
Whether you call it “eschewing cars” or just simply choosing to live in urban areas (where cars are not nearly as important to get around) - it is a real thing.

All you have to do is look at the resurgence of housing in the downtown areas of every single midwestern city.

In regards to whether trains should stop downtown or the airport - of course they should stop at both. Those are both important destinations for any community.
 

MARC Rider

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All you havee to do is look at the resurgence of housing in the downtown areas of every single midwestern city.
There might be a "resurgence" of housing in downtown areas, but I suspect the the number of housing units available is small relative to the total number of housing units being added in the entire metropolitan area. We are nowhere near any sort of "new urbanist" paradise. Cars are required in most of the places where people live in the US. Even in some of the "resurgent" downtown areas in Baltimore, where I live, the transit service is inadequate and people need to use their cars as the primary means of transportation.

In regards to whether trains should stop downtown or the airport - of course they should stop at both. Those are both important destinations for any community.
I can't disagree with that, but given our national tight-fistedness with funding infrastructure projects, you might not be able build the original service with both. If it's cheaper to build to the airport, it's probably a better idea to do that first just to get the service running, then worry later about adding service to downtown. By then, there will be ridership and public support for the service that will counteract the anti-train people.
 

toddinde

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Whether you call it “eschewing cars” or just simply choosing to live in urban areas (where cars are not nearly as important to get around) - it is a real thing.

All you have to do is look at the resurgence of housing in the downtown areas of every single midwestern city.

In regards to whether trains should stop downtown or the airport - of course they should stop at both. Those are both important destinations for any community.
They we’re always going to have both eventually, but the State of Wisconsin had a large office building on the tracks, next to the Convention Center and two blocks from the Capitol that they were going to refurbish into a downtown station. It was going to include parking close by and be adjacent to a new city market like Seattle has. It was carefully thought out. WisDOT carefully studied it and determined the downtown site was best. The mayor of Madison and Governor wanted the downtown site. The trains could have come downtown and then continued to the airport which should have been to position of the advocates. I grew up in Milwaukee, went to school in Madison, and lived in a small community 45 miles out of Madison for 23 years. I flew monthly out the Madison airport for years. I mean this with all due respect, but the debate at that time was not constructive. I would also say that the advocacy community consists of two very distinct interests. There are the rail cruisers who want to ride the train for the train’s sake, and people who view rail as an efficient, green way to get from point A to B, and also a way to energize communities economically and create jobs and economic energy. The advocacy community can be dominated by the former. I’m a railfan, but decidedly in the latter category.
 

Barb Stout

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Thank you for the thoughtful reply. Ultimately, the airport would have been in the mix once the line was extended to Minneapolis. But I still dissent. The view of rail as a park and ride was already obsolete then. With Millennials eschewing cars, bicycling taking off, Uber and Lyft, the airport Station was the height of mid-20th century in the 21st century, and the antithesis of New Urbanism. The thousands of people flocking to live on the Isthmus more than make up for the suburban folks in Sun Prairie driving to the airport. Folks more likely to drive all the way anyway. Students would have walked or biked downtown, but no way would they have schleped out to the airport. Take it from someone who went to school in Madison. The uniquely American paranoia around backing trains into the station was also a nonsensical excuse in an era of push/pull trains. Anyway, the station argument helped end the whole thing, and here we are, years later, still debating, and no trains. Epic fail.
That is true. I went to grad school in Madison, WI and I never saw so many bicyclists. Those students rode their bikes through SNOW! I was so impressed. UW-Mad had more bicyclists than warm weather ASU in Tempe, AZ which has great weather and few hills. Yes, there were plenty of bicyclists there, but compared to UW-Mad, it didn't. Plus, at the time I went there (1997-2003), the city bus system was decent.
 

west point

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This proposal needs to be put on the back burner. Everyone following this thread should be contacting their 3 congress persons and support Amtrak getting the funds that will enable it to b a viable operation after this corona ( colvid-19 ) crisis ends. I have - have you ? ? Otherwise you will never see this route ever even become a reality after Amtrak folds.
 

MARC Rider

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I would add that Madison is the most European like city in the US. Rail downtown would have been amazing and the ridership would have been through the roof.
Actually, I think Boston is the most "European" city in the US. Lots of twisty narrow streets, old buildings, plus they already have downtown train stations, lots of intercity and commuter rail, as well as rail rapid transit. Only a crazy person would want to drive in downtown Boston. I myself have done so, but not willingly (except for the short hop from the Big Dig exit at South Station to the Enterprise rental office in South Boston.)
 

toddinde

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Sierra Vista, AZ
Actually, I think Boston is the most "European" city in the US. Lots of twisty narrow streets, old buildings, plus they already have downtown train stations, lots of intercity and commuter rail, as well as rail rapid transit. Only a crazy person would want to drive in downtown Boston. I myself have done so, but not willingly (except for the short hop from the Big Dig exit at South Station to the Enterprise rental office in South Boston.)
I agree it’s subjective. Madison is more like the medium size German cities I lived near when I was overseas. Places like Mainz, Kaiserslautern, especially Schwerin which is almost identical in many ways. The outdoor cafes, beer gardens and street life. I hear you on Boston. Milwaukee reminds me a lot of Berlin.
 

NeueAmtrakCalifornia

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Oct 25, 2019
Messages
149
Sorry if I necro this a bit but

from California legislature may try to stop high speed rail contract | Trains Magazine
Montana county advances resolution for passenger rail agencies, seeks partners
A draft resolution to establish an agency to return Amtrak service to Southern Montana has been approved by Missoula County and now will be distributed to other counties along the former route of the North Coast Hiawatha, seeking others willing to join. The Missoula Current reports state law requires at least one other county to express interest to join the proposed Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority. The interested counties would then vote to approve creation of the authority, which would seek funding to restore the Amtrak service which ended in 1979. While the state is currently served by the Empire Builder, the North Coast Hiawatha route includes Montana’s two largest cities, Billings and Missoula.
A draft resolution proposing to establish the Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority won the preliminary backing of Missoula County commissioners on Thursday, moving it one step closer to adoption.

With Missoula County signaling its intent to adopt the resolution, the document will be distributed to the nearly two-dozen other counties poised along the old Amtrak route across southern Montana in hopes one or more of them will climb aboard.

“My plan would be to send out our cover letter and draft resolution to all of the potentially participating counties across the southern tier of Montana, and give those counties until the end of June to weigh in on whether they’re interested in participating or not,” Commissioner Dave Strohmaier said.
 

Ziv

OBS Chief
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Oct 25, 2011
Messages
900
It would be great to see the NCH come back but it would pretty much doom any remote chance that the EB would have of becoming a twice a day route.
But I think getting the NCH back would be worth shutting the door on the one in a million chance of the EB ever becoming a twice daily route.
☺

Sorry if I necro this a bit but

from California legislature may try to stop high speed rail contract | Trains Magazine


 
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Willbridge

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
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Denver
Until 1960, the UP ran seasonal passenger trains on its branch line to West Yellowstone. At one time it provided 50% of all rail visitor’s to Yellowstone.

Besides the Northern Pacific from Gardiner; other roads getting in on the traffic were: the Milwaukee Road from Three Forks and later, Gallatin; the Burlington Route from Cody; and the North Western to a minor extant through Lander...
The Milwaukee Road's gateway hotel was restored, and looks nice.

 
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Love those illustrated brochure's from the past. I can spend hours perusing them...
Thanks for posting the link.:)
 

brianpmcdonnell17

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Mar 5, 2016
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Chicago, Illinois
Isn't there a grant to start up a second Chi-SPL train as it is?
Yes. I don't know how it would work for cities further west, but if the NCH was ever restored as a third train between MSP and Chicago, it could provide an overnight service between the cities. This could also allow for connections to trains east of CHI without duplicating the EB schedule.
 
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sttom

OBS Chief
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Jan 23, 2019
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Isn't one of the main problems to adding a second daily frequency to any of the long distance trains the lack of equipment? Its kind of hard to run more trains when there aren't enough cars to run the train. I know the Starlight would also be a good candidate for a second daily run.

I know the other barrier to second daily frequencies is track work.

I do think the North Coast Hiawatha would be a good second train since it would add a second trip between Chicago and St Paul. Along with serving parts of the country that lost train service in one of Amtrak's various rounds of cuts.
 
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