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Rail returning to Phoenix


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#41 niemi24s

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Posted 25 September 2017 - 11:17 AM

Google Maps shows the farthest drive for a Phoenix metro area resident to the station in Maricopa to be 55 miles or 1 hour.  How dreadful it that?  For comparison, it's 273 miles or 4h40m to my closest station.  Wish mine was as close as theirs.  Just sayin' . . . . :)    

 

Oh, and I'm well aware that everybody can't have a station in their back yard.


Edited by niemi24s, 25 September 2017 - 11:30 AM.


#42 fredmcain

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Posted 25 September 2017 - 11:52 AM

... it's 273 miles or 4h40m to my closest station.  Wish mine was as close as theirs.  Just sayin' . . . . :)    

 

 

Oh, I agree!  That really is a bummer.  It's also, in my opinion, unacceptable. (Although I don't know where you live)  Why is it you can't go by train directly from Indianapolis to either St. Louis or Columbus, OH?  In fact, you can't go by train to Columbus at all.  Unfortunately, the whole country is full of intercity rail passenger deficiencies like that.  You might be able to make a good case that we should restore Pittsburgh-Columbus-Indy-St. Louis and Oklahoma City-Kansas City-Chicago before we pull out all stops to bring service back to Phoenix proper and if you did, I'm not sure I could disagree with that.


​Regards,

Fred M. Cain


#43 brianpmcdonnell17

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Posted 25 September 2017 - 04:58 PM

Google Maps shows the farthest drive for a Phoenix metro area resident to the station in Maricopa to be 55 miles or 1 hour.  How dreadful it that?  For comparison, it's 273 miles or 4h40m to my closest station.  Wish mine was as close as theirs.  Just sayin' . . . . :)    
 
Oh, and I'm well aware that everybody can't have a station in their back yard.

It may not be that far, but it is enough to cause a drastic decrease in ridership. For most people, the train is just another transportation mode, and one of the main advantages is supposed to be downtown to downtown service. Not many people are going to want to drive or take a bus and then a train when they can fly directly from an airport near the center of the metro area. For example, imagine if an airline decided to stop flying into Los Angeles and only land in Orange County. For a Los Angeles resident, the drive may only be 30 minutes more, but that is enough to drive most of those customers away due to fierce competition. The only major difference between the two is that Orange County has a large population of its own while Maricopa does not, meaning that Orange County can support their own airport even without Los Angeles while Maricopa can not. Unlike an airport, the train is passing through the town anyway and it costs only a little time to stop so the disadvantages are not enough to cause the train to not stop. However, I would be surprised if a Phoenix stop did not get at least 2-3 times the ridership of the present Maricopa station.

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#44 niemi24s

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Posted 25 September 2017 - 06:10 PM

It may not be that far, but it is enough to cause a drastic decrease in ridership.

How do you know that?



#45 Devil's Advocate

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Posted 25 September 2017 - 06:26 PM

It may not be that far, but it is enough to cause a drastic decrease in ridership.

How do you know that?


The three times a week schedule and poor calling times probably does far more damage than skipping Phoenix for Sheriff Porky's track shack.

We've got provisions and lots of beer. The key word is survival on the new frontier. 


#46 west point

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Posted 25 September 2017 - 09:54 PM

Does anyone have the ridership just before at Phoenix and then Maricopa ?



#47 fredmcain

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Posted 26 September 2017 - 08:33 AM

Actually, I guess I have to question the distances involved here.  The greater Phoenix metropolitan area is a huge sprawling complex today.  From Black Canyon City near the farthest northerly reaches of "The Valley" to Maricopa is actually 80.1 miles and one hour and 21 minutes according to Mapquest.  That is ALMOST as long as it took me to go from Scottsdale to get the train at Flagstaff in 1980! Not quite but it's far enough to discourage train travel for most "Valley" residents.

 

Another point is that when the train is late in the middle of the night, the refurbished Tempe SP depot was a nice place to wait for a late train  before the line lost all service.

 

On the other hand, "Niemi's" complaint that he has 273 miles to get to an Amtrak stop is a vaild complaint. I don't think that's acceptable either. Although I don't know where he lives.  That would make a difference.  If he's in Ely or Tonopah, NV, oh well. Such is life.  But if he's in Missoula, MT, which really SHOULD have Amtrak service, that's another matter altogether.

 

Yeah, it'd be interesting to know how much of a "dip" there was when the Sunset was shifted from Phoenix and Tempe to Maricopa.

 

And finally, I can say this:  There *IS* a movement afoot to bring the Sunset back to Phoenix.  That is not wishful thinking but reality.  How soon will that happen?  Who the heck knows?  Look at the Florida extension on the east end of the Sunset.  That has been dragging on for 12 years now.  In my own personal, honest opinion that is just plain unacceptable but nobody knows what to do about it.  Sometimes I wonder.  Has top level management at Amtrak just plain lost all interest in the long-distance trains? Perhaps top level management would lose no sleep at night if Trains 1 & 2 just quietly went bye-bye.  I have seen hints to as much of the railfan press.  Once again, though, that's a topic for a different thread.  Maybe I'll start one.  :)


​Regards,

Fred M. Cain


#48 jis

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Posted 26 September 2017 - 09:03 AM

 

Look at the Florida extension on the east end of the Sunset.  That has been dragging on for 12 years now.

There is no Florida extension of the east end of Sunset being worked on by anyone. The current proposal is to extend the CONO to Orlando, and in addition run a local train between NOL and Mobile perhaps.

#49 Devil's Advocate

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Posted 26 September 2017 - 09:40 AM

Does anyone have the ridership just before at Phoenix and then Maricopa?


I'd imagine Amtrak does.




Yeah, it'd be interesting to know how much of a "dip" there was when the Sunset was shifted from Phoenix and Tempe to Maricopa.


That sounds like the perfect inquiry for an FOIA request.

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#50 niemi24s

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Posted 26 September 2017 - 09:44 AM

Yeah, it'd be interesting to know how much of a "dip" there was when the Sunset was shifted from Phoenix and Tempe to Maricopa.

I just wasted an hour in a vain attempt to get ridership statistics covering the transition period.  Lacking that, we don't really know anything and can only speculate.

 

But Brainpmcdonnell17 has claimed there was " . . .a drastic decrease in ridership." so perhaps he (or somebody else) has some factual data showing just that.  And by "just that" I mean ridership for a few years before and a few years after the shift.  Then, we can all do the subtraction and assign our own favorite adjective (or adverb?) to any change.


Edited by niemi24s, 26 September 2017 - 01:36 PM.


#51 fredmcain

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Posted 26 September 2017 - 12:08 PM

 

Look at the Florida extension on the east end of the Sunset.  That has been dragging on for 12 years now.

There is no Florida extension of the east end of Sunset being worked on by anyone. The current proposal is to extend the CONO to Orlando, and in addition run a local train between NOL and Mobile perhaps.

 

Hmmn.  Well, I dunno.  You might be right about that.  All I knew was that funding had been scrounged up to bring Amtrak "back to the Gulf Coast" (with great fanfare) then in the latest budget it got pulled again.  I'd assumed it was the Sunset but maybe I misunderstood that.


​Regards,

Fred M. Cain


#52 jis

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Posted 26 September 2017 - 01:28 PM

The Sunset was never in the running for extension to Florida in the proposal that was put forth by Amtrak to the Southern Rail Commission. That is the point I was making.

 

See http://static1.squar...Report 2015.pdf



#53 WoodyinNYC

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Posted 26 September 2017 - 02:35 PM

 

 

Look at the Florida extension on the east end of the Sunset.  That has been dragging on for 12 years now.

There is no Florida extension of the east end of Sunset being worked on by anyone. The current proposal is to extend the CONO to Orlando, and in addition run a local train between NOL and Mobile perhaps.

... All I knew was that funding had been scrounged up to bring Amtrak "back to the Gulf Coast" (with great fanfare) then in the latest budget it got pulled again. ...

These timetables always slip. No big cause for alarm.

 

We've heard that talks with CSX have not gone well at all. It's the opening stages, of course, so maybe it will get worked out over time.

 

Meanwhile, Washington is almost in chaos. Until things get sorted out, it's hard to make any progress. That could follow the 2018 Congressional election, or later. Until then, we're lucky Amtrak hasn't taken a much bigger hit than just the restored Gulf Coast service being postponed.

 

Not least, when Amtrak promised it could find Superliner equipment needed for the City of New Orleans extension, we all expected to see new bi-levels come from Nippon-Sharyo. So Amtrak expected a few freed-up Superliners, and a lot of freed-up Horizon cars. The Horizons then could replace Superliners here and there. (The Heartland Flyer uses some. The Sunset Shuttle New Orleans-Houston-San Antonio could use Horizons after the Texas Eagle and Sunset Ltd combine to run daily CHI-San Antonio-L.A.)

 

So don't panic, but expect delays.


Edited by WoodyinNYC, 26 September 2017 - 02:40 PM.


#54 Karl1459

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Posted 27 September 2017 - 10:15 AM

There is a theme here of "why doesn't Amtrak management...?" The reality today and in the foreseeable future is that any service to Phoenix (or anywhere else for that matter) is going to cost a huge amount of money to establish the service, and the service will continue to suck money as it will not be able to generate enough money from fares to cover operating costs much less repay the start up costs.

 

So passenger rail has to be subsidized by taxes, as a perceived public benefit, as are all passenger and some freight modes of transportation including cars, trucks, airplanes, barges, ships.

 

As a national, interstate service, Amtrak is a federal concern and the responsibility of Congress.

 

Using the principals of management, condensed to a firefighters short attention span by Alan Brunacini (former Fire Chief of Phoenix)

1. Tell your people what you want them to do. Has congress provided Amtrak with a measurable and achievable set of goals... Ha!

2. Give them the tools to do the job. Funding for ample cars, locomotives, stations, tunnels etc... Ha!

3. Train them to use the tools to do the job. Amtrak has pretty much handled this itself.

4. Get the H@!! out of their way. If Congress could do that it would not be Congress!

5. Tell them how they did. Without # 1 this is an instant fail!

 

Given the lack of direction and funding by Congress, Amtrak's management has been and should continue finding the best results for what limited resources they have been given. While we can argue about a lot of decisions putting the SL through Phoenix is not going to be very high on Managements long long list.



#55 fredmcain

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Posted 27 September 2017 - 12:05 PM

Karl,

 

Here is what I just posted on another forum.  I am reposting it here 'cause it kinda touches on what you're saying.  Regarding your comments on Congress, that is kinda what NARP has been saying for years. 

 

 

"I think what you might be getting at here and, if so, I’d agree with wholeheartedly, is that moving the main Sunset Limited (SL) Phoenix stop to the remote location of Maricopa may have been more psychologically damaging than anything else.

Amtrak’s own statistics seem to show that ridership on the SL dipped after the change was made although I have not been able to secure the exact statistics.

The greater Phoenix area was, behind L.A. and Houston, probably the biggest market on the whole route.  I should also add that before the SL got booted off the Phoenix sub, it stopped at BOTH Phoenix and Tempe.  Tempe, especially, was a nice place to wait for a train and convenient to the uppity bedroom communities of Scottsdale, Tempe & Mesa.

It was kind of a sad tale that the community fought a long, hard, valiant battle to get an Amtrak stop and I believe even raised local funds to rehab the SPT Co’s old depot there.  Amtrak really dragged their feet on this.  Timetables for several years indicated that service to Tempe would begin on a date “to be announced”.

Tempe’s efforts finally paid off (or, so they thought at the time).  Tempe was established as a stop but then was only used for a few years until the SL had to vacate the Phoenix sub altogether.

When the West Phoenix line finally gets reopened (and I’m hopeful it will) don’t expect Amtrak to jump back on there right away.  Many of the things Amtrak does seem to move at a snail’s pace – if at all.

In fact, I’ll go out on a limb here:  I suspect that getting Amtrak back on the Phoenix sub could well turn out to be more difficult and problematic than getting the Arlington-Roll segment rehabbed and reopened. Yeah, that’s right!  I hope I’m wrong but……."


​Regards,

Fred M. Cain


#56 Devil's Advocate

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Posted 27 September 2017 - 12:32 PM

Maybe we should focus on initiatives that are likely to have broad appeal among a large number of activists and passengers (such as a daily SL between LAX and SAS/NOL) rather than targeting niche issues that provide a rather limited benefit to a relatively small number of people at great expense (such as moving from Maricopa to Phoenix).  I live along the Sunset route and I have friends in Phoenix, in theory I'd be a big proponent of having Amtrak in Phoenix proper, but when I choose other forms of transit between us it's not because the train only stops in Maricopa.  It's because the train only runs every few days in the middle of the night. 

 

One of the biggest stumbling blocks preventing daily SL operation is UP's one-time schedule change fees.  Perhaps those fees have come down a bit from the absurd amounts demanded previously, possibly all the way down to something semi reasonable, although I somewhat doubt that.  Keeping the SL at a less than daily frequency is the easiest way to undermine current support levels and jeopardize future use.  Another major impediment to taking the SL daily is a continuing lack of sufficient hardware.  This includes rolling stock that was supposed to eventually be released for new uses as a result of the multiple state bi-level order that has apparently been lost to the ravages of time and space.  In the years since the SL East was discontinued numerous examples of previously wrecked cars were repaired with special funds and then re-wrecked all over again thanks to commercial vehicle operators suffering from a case of cowboy logic.  One step forward, two steps back. 
 
 

Amtrak’s own statistics seem to show that ridership on the SL dipped after the change was made although I have not been able to secure the exact statistics.

 

Did you actually contact Amtrak and/or review relevant documentation or did you start with a narrative and simply work backward from your conclusion? If you play fast and loose with the facts you'll be a hero in the Amtrak echo chamber but risk being eaten alive by the opposition when push comes to shove.  Better safe than sorry and all that.


Edited by Devil's Advocate, 27 September 2017 - 09:01 PM.

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#57 west point

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Posted 27 September 2017 - 05:56 PM

How long and when was there a 4 trip SAS <> LAX using the Eagle from SAS ?  Might affect ridership numbers. Maybe Amtrak could consider 4 days a week extending the Eagle in conjunction with the 3 times a week Sunset ?  All depends on what ridership is ?



#58 neroden

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Posted 28 September 2017 - 02:57 PM

Maybe we should focus on initiatives that are likely to have broad appeal among a large number of activists and passengers (such as a daily SL between LAX and SAS/NOL)


Or a daily Cardinal, or getting South of the Lake built to expedite Chicago-(Indiana,Michigan,Ohio,New York,Massachusetts,West Virginia,Pennsylvania,Maryland,DC,Kentucky,Tennessee,Virginia) service...
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#59 brianpmcdonnell17

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Posted 28 September 2017 - 03:02 PM

Maybe we should focus on initiatives that are likely to have broad appeal among a large number of activists and passengers (such as a daily SL between LAX and SAS/NOL)

Or a daily Cardinal, or getting South of the Lake built to expedite Chicago-(Indiana,Michigan,Ohio,New York,Massachusetts,West Virginia,Pennsylvania,Maryland,DC,Kentucky,Tennessee,Virginia) service...
Was there ever a consideration of expanding the South Shore Line and moving Amtrak onto that line? As of now, capacity is also a limiting factor there in the number of trains that can reach all the way to South Bend.

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#60 Metra Electric Rider

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Posted 29 September 2017 - 03:52 PM

 

 

Maybe we should focus on initiatives that are likely to have broad appeal among a large number of activists and passengers (such as a daily SL between LAX and SAS/NOL)

Or a daily Cardinal, or getting South of the Lake built to expedite Chicago-(Indiana,Michigan,Ohio,New York,Massachusetts,West Virginia,Pennsylvania,Maryland,DC,Kentucky,Tennessee,Virginia) service...
Was there ever a consideration of expanding the South Shore Line and moving Amtrak onto that line? As of now, capacity is also a limiting factor there in the number of trains that can reach all the way to South Bend.

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Is the street running in Michigan City gone completely yet (I can't remember anymore)? I think that it's single track between Michigan City and South Bend (correct me if I'm wrong) and the connections to Union would be harder (I guess you could connect it to CN before it meets, as it crosses the CN tracks, Metra's tracks). I think that there's a lot more to it than that. They do run very closely or have, in some areas.


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