What small changes would increase ridership exponentially?
Posted 25 March 2017 - 12:34 PM
Posted 25 March 2017 - 04:59 PM
I recognize most of the board wants to increase LD trains, but from a business standpoint you'd want to reward what is supposed to be most rewarding part of the business-first the NEC and other corrider traffic as applicable, then state supported, then finally LD.
And for the LD, I think adding capacity to the existing trains first before taking the three day trains to weekly or adding additional lines makes more of a quick buck with minimal added costs up front. That is, if the new sleepers show up anytime soon.
Just my opinion.
Posted 25 March 2017 - 06:55 PM
Posted 26 March 2017 - 01:25 PM
How much capacity in terms of train slots is there currently to add traffic on the NEC?
... most of the board wants to increase LD trains, but from a business standpoint you'd want to reward what is supposed to be most rewarding part of the business-first the NEC and other corridor traffic as applicable, then state supported, then finally LD.
And for the LD, adding capacity to the existing trains first before taking the three-day trains to [daily] or adding additional lines makes more of a quick buck with minimal added costs up front. That is, if the new sleepers show up anytime soon.
Minimal capacity on the NEC, especially during rush hours when you need it most. But when/if the Avelia Liberty cars arrive to replace the Acelas, Amtrak does plan to squeeze in two (or three?) more frequencies each morning and late afternoon.
I can't think of another Amtrak corridor besides the NEC that's not state-supported.
The D.C.-Richmond corridor is built on Amtrak's Palmetto, Silver Meteor, Silver Star and the overnight train 66/67 to Newport News, as well as North Carolina's Carolinian. But Virginia has been supporting several Regionals extending to Richmond (and Newport News and Norfolk) to fill out the D.C.-Richmond corridor schedule.
Which reminds me that when the haters and cut-the-budget fanatics declare their desire to close the LD lines, they don't understand, or don't care, how many corridors are built on, or supplemented by, LD trains. Not just the Richmond corridor, but the Empire Service NYC-Albany-Buffalo-Niagara Falls overlapping the Lake Shore Ltd., the Cascades where four Talgo trains are supplemented by the Coast Starlight, the Lincoln service St Louis-Chicago where again four state-supported trains are supplemented by the Texas Eagle, the Lynchburger/Crescent route, Illinois' Carbondale and Quincy trains, and maybe others I'm forgetting. Chopping the LD trains would cost all these corridors a frequency, obviously, making them all less convenient with a consequent hit on ridership, and raising their costs as station operations and other shared expenses are not so much shared.
Anyway, is there a way to direct much Amtrak funds to add or improve the state-supported trains? A little Amtrak funding seems to go as matching money toward new or upgraded stations, along the Keystone Corridor for instance, but not much else. Congress dumped those trains on the states and there you are. Well, not that Amtrak has any funds to spare toward the corridors, but if it did, that's where the money should go. Otherwise, the best use of Amtrak's funds for the LD trains will be to replace (and expand) the single-level and bi-level fleets.
Clearly Amtrak's current overall policy or strategy is to add capacity to existing trains. The Viewliner IIs will add another sleeper to each of the New York-based LD trains. Maybe another 2 or 3 can add a sleeper to the overnight 66/67 that runs Boston-Newport news. And maybe 1 or 2 can supply the third (or fourth) consist to take the Cardinal daily.
You may underestimate how good the bang for the buck will be for taking the 3-per-week Cardinal to a daily schedule, and making the Sunset Ltd/Texas Eagle daily between San Antonio and L.A. In both cases, the PRIIA studies forecast that ridership would more than double. You can't double ridership by adding another car to existing trains. So two trains going from 3/7 to 7/7 schedules is probably the best single change possible to gain disproportionate benefits.
Now Amtrak is working toward restoring service New Orleans-Florida. We haven't heard how much it will cost to upgrade the signaling etc to get CSX to agree to carry this Gulf Coast train. But Amtrak's study showed that operating losses could be a very modest $10 million or less each year for an important addition and link to the national system, bringing 140,000 new riders on board Amtrak.
Hereabouts, member Philly Amtrak Fan has made a strong case to restore a Broadway Ltd NYC-Philly-Pittsburgh-Chicago, and most members here support the idea.
Otherwise, while we have post after post, and thread after thread, of fantasy expansions of service, none are likely to happen in a 10-year horizon, and we know it.
Remember that it's not really "either/or" for corridor trains and LD, it's "both/and". What Amtrak needs most is Stimulus-level funding for upgrades to the corridors, and almost any corridor improvement will benefit an LD train. So, a high(er) speed 110-mph Cincinatti-Indianapolis-Chicago corridor would transform the Cardinal. A high(er) speed Cleveland-Toledo-CHI route would transform the Lake Shore and Capitol Ltd. High(er) speed on St Paul-Milwaukee-CHI would transform the Empire Builder. Even 79-mph top speed Carbondale-CHI could make a huge improvement to the City of New Orleans' performance. And so forth. If we could invest a lousy $10 Billion in half a dozen corridors it could transform Amtrak's national system. Then we'd really need more cars on every LD train.
Edited by WoodyinNYC, 26 March 2017 - 02:06 PM.
Posted 26 March 2017 - 02:09 PM
Well, dayum. My apologies.
Apparently the AU system will not allow an edit to [ i ] or [ /i ]. So once you've posted half in italics, live with it. LOL.
Edited by WoodyinNYC, 26 March 2017 - 02:10 PM.
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