I've been mulling over a long post about how good the new-and-improved Lincoln Service will be, even with only one more frequency. If I keep mulling, I may never get to it. So here's a highlight or two.
Currently the first train out of St Louis is 4:35 a.m. My aching eyelids, I'm not a morning person. Let's move that back to 4:55, using 20 minutes out of the "about an hour" time to be saved from even the half-baked first round of investment. At the other end, still get into CHI 30 or 40 minutes earlier, helping riders get a good start on the day. With a 9:20 or 9:30 a.m. arrival, a rider can make that 10 a.m. meeting at headquarters.
The second train out of St Louis is 6:40 a.m. Let's move that back to 6:55, using 15 minutes out of the "about an hour" time saved. At the other end, we'll still get into CHI maybe 45 minutes earlier. With an 11:35 arrival, instead of 12:20 p.m. as now, a rider can dash to catch that lunch meeting after all.
Now the Texas Eagle leaves STL at 7:55, and let's leave it right there.
See what we've done? Three clock-face departures already.
There's a big gap before the next train at 3 p.m. Let's slot our added frequency right in there, at 11:55 a.m., or perhaps 12:55 p.m. arriving at 4:25 p.m. or 5:25 depending on conflicts at Union Station.
Then push that 3 p.m. departure to 3:55 p.m. Passengers will still arrive at a reasonable 8:35 p.m.
The last train out is now 5:30 p.m., but let's push it to 5:55, to arrive in CHI at 10:35 instead of 11:10 p.m. A few minutes more to finish things in STL, and get into CHI at a slightly less scary hour.
Southbound, schedule changes could have an even more dramatic impact.
Currently the first train out of CHI is 7:00 a.m. and gets into STL at 12:20 p.m., so forget that lunch meeting. Let's make that first departure at 6:15 a.m., getting into STL about 10:35 using that "about an hour" time.
The second train out of CHI is 9:25 a.m. Let's try it at 8:15 a.m. At the other end, get into STL a lot earlier, at 12:50 p.m. allowing a full afternoon in the city. (I know moving into an 8:15 slot could annoy Metra, but we just moved a train out of the 7 a.m. rush hour to 6:15, so that 8:15 slot should be an even trade.)
Here we could insert our added frequency, say at 12:15 p.m., to arrive 4:45 in STL in time for a regular commute home.
We're not sure the Texas Eagle will keep the same speeds to get the "about an hour" time savings. So I'm only going to take 30 minutes out of its schedule and have it leave CHI at 2:15 p.m. instead of 1:45 as now.
The 5:15 departure remains a 5:15 train, but with a 9:45 p.m. arrival instead of 10:45.
The 7 p.m. becomes a 7:15 to keep the clock-face, and it will arrive on the friendlier side of midnight, at 11:45 p.m. instead of 12:30 a.m. as now.
There you have it. Every departure and every arrival is made much more convenient. The departure times are much easier to remember. If you miss your train, the interval before the next one is trimmed down nicely.
Ridership with five frequencies has been holding to 630,000 or so despite service interruptions, cancellations, bustitutions, etc. About 80,000+ of that has been Texas Eagle. So a little over 540,000 for four Lincoln trains; or roughly 135,000 riders per. The Lincolns will get a 30% boost in capacity when the bi-levels replace the Horizons. When they get 30% more riders, it's 175,000; times five = 875,000 riders plus a VERY conservative 80,000+ for the Eagle. That gets us 1,000,000+ riders pretty quickly with my proposed timetable.
With a million riders a year, the route should show an operating surplus; it's reported to be very close to or above the line already. And now a million riders a year will be believers in higher speed rail, and they will want money to be invested CHI-Joliet and Alton-STL. Gov Ruiner will be on the losing side of that argument.
Edited by WoodyinNYC, 04 December 2015 - 10:52 PM.