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Amtrak Serving "College Towns"


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#1 Philly Amtrak Fan

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Posted 19 June 2017 - 12:24 PM

My first experience with Amtrak was when I was at the University of Illinois and taking trains to/from Chicago (either CONO or Illini) as there was or is Amtrak service where I grew up. I imagine U of I students contribute a lot to ridership/revenue towards the trains that serve Champaign/Urbana and there are several other "college towns" which I am sure Amtrak gets a lot of R & R from including Charlottesville, VA (University of Virginia) and Ann Arbor, MI (University of Michigan). Illinois and Michigan have the added benefit of being within 2-3 hours of a major metropolitan area which many college students come from.  

 

On the other hand, there are plenty of major college towns that are not served or used to be served by Amtrak (I say this because Gainesville, FL/University of Florida and College Station, TX/Texas A&M came to my mind earlier today as huge college towns without Amtrak service and there is to me the biggest missing college town from the Amtrak map in Columbus). State College, PA (Penn State) is other large college town not served by Amtrak as is Tallahassee, FL (Florida State) which is also relevant because it was on the old SL East and presumably would be on the new Gulf Coast route. In addition to the usual major markets Amtrak doesn't serve like Las Vegas or Nashville (technically they are also college towns with UNLV and Vanderbilt), college towns should be another target for future growth.

 

I thought maybe more Thruway bus deals would help (I am not aware of any official Thruway bus serving State College) but I don't know how popular a thruway bus to a train would be for that short a distance (why take a Thruway from Penn State to Lewistown to connect with the Pennsylvanian to Philly/Harrisburg instead of just taking a bus to Philly/Harrisburg?) Maybe there would be some Thruway buses that would make sense though (like the Gainesville to Jacksonville one for travel north of Florida). I'm sure the Thruways to Madison, WI (University of Wisconsin) are really popular. The only Thruway I am aware of serving Columbus, OH is the one to Pittsburgh for which the connecting times are absolutely horrible. 

 

Maybe Amtrak and colleges should work together. Amtrak could put "University of Illinois" after "Champaign/Urbana" in the Illini/CONO schedules and/or even have Amtrak ads inside the campuses. Since Amtrak's Thruway Bus stops on the University of Wisconsin's campus I am guessing their students are more aware of Amtrak than the University of Illinois's students (the station is about six blocks west of the Illini Union). I didn't immediately learn about Amtrak in my freshman year and I made regular trips to/from the Chicago suburbs (I usually used buses that went to/from my dorm). Maybe if I had found out about Amtrak in my freshman year I would have taken Amtrak earlier.  If Amtrak and the universities work together imagine how much ridership would increase at stations in college towns (and in the case of U of I get some cars off of I-57 during peak travel periods). Speaking of peak travel periods, does Amtrak run extra peak service to college towns during the beginning and end of semesters or during/after semester breaks? I would think that would be a great idea if they can fill the trains.

 

Remember by targeting growth in service to college towns not only do you fill trains but you attract college kids who could be riding Amtrak 20-30 years later (just like the guy typing this). I'm sure most of your first train experiences whether it was college, military, or other was either when you were typical undergraduate college age (18-22) or even younger. It's a lot harder to sell people in their 30's-40's on trains for the first time than the younger generation.


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#2 JayPea

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Posted 19 June 2017 - 12:54 PM

I don't know how popular they are but Thruway buses serve Pullman, WA, home of Washington State University and Moscow, ID, home of the University of Idaho.
Amtrak miles traveled: 85410
Pre-Amtrak miles traveled:8478
Bustitution miles traveled:450
States traveled through on Amtrak: 44

#3 brianpmcdonnell17

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Posted 19 June 2017 - 01:20 PM

I will be applying to college in the fall and one of my requirements is Amtrak service. I have no intention of driving and generally prefer to avoid busses, so this as well as an efficient urban rail system is important to me. Most likely I will end up in Chicago, which would be great from an Amtrak standpoint. It would be nice to be on the route of more than just one daily train.
Routes Travelled: CL WAS-CHI, Card. CHI-WAS, Caro. CLT-RGH, CS SJC-LAX, Cre. BAL-ATL, EB MSP-CHI, ES NYG/NYP-NFL, LSL BOS-ALB, ML ALB-NYP, NER FBG-RVR+WAS-BOS, PS LAX-ANA, Pen. NYP-PGH, Pie. RGH-DNC, SM ORL-NYP, SS FTL-WAS
New Routes: LSL NYP-CHI, CZ CHI-RIC, CS SJC-SEA, EB SEA-MSP

#4 jis

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Posted 19 June 2017 - 01:54 PM

Does it *have* to be Amtrak, or would any passenger rail service do? If the latter, that vastly increases the number of possibilities.



#5 FreeskierInVT

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Posted 19 June 2017 - 02:27 PM

Stony Brook (part of the State University of New York) is well served by LIRR, providing a relatively easy connection to Amtrak service in Penn. Roughly 40 trains a day stop at SBU. I've made this connection numerous times to head home on the Vermonter.

 

Another popular campus station I've ridden through is Durham-UNH on the Downeaster. 


Routes taken:

Vermonter (38), Ethan Allen Express (7), Northeast Regional (20), Acela Express (4; 2 BC/2 FC), Downeaster (9; 3 w/ Dome Car), Lake Shore Limited- Boston (1), Hiawatha (2), Lake Shore Limited- New York (1), Maple Leaf (1), Adirondack (3; 1 w/ Dome Car), Keystone (3), Pennsylvanian (1), Springfield Shuttle (6), Autumn Express (Nov. 3, 2013)

 

VIA Rail Canada: Ocean (R/T Montreal-Halifax)

 

Total Amtrak/VIA mileage:   19,316

Amtrak mileage in 2016:       2,702

Amtrak mileage in 2015:        362

Amtrak/VIA Mileage in 2014: 7,858

Amtrak Mileage in 2013:        6,154

 

LIRR: 3,598 total miles - 86 trips totaling 145 trains

 

Upcoming:

Canada Youth 150 Trip

VIA Corridor: Montreal-Toronto, Toronto-Montreal

Canadian: Toronto-Winnipeg, Winnipeg-Edmonton, Edmonton-Vancouver, Vancouver-Jasper, Jasper-Toronto

Skeena: Jasper-Prince Rupert, Prince Rupert-Jasper

Ocean: Montreal-Moncton, Moncton-Montreal

 

 

 


#6 jis

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Posted 19 June 2017 - 02:32 PM

Stony Brook (part of the State University of New York) is well served by LIRR, providing a relatively easy connection to Amtrak service in Penn. Roughly 40 trains a day stop at SBU. I've made this connection numerous times to head home on the Vermonter.

 

Another popular campus station I've ridden through is Durham-UNH on the Downeaster. 

Heh heh. I lived on Stony Brook Campus for 5 years when I was working on my Computer Science Ph. D. there. So yeah. I was a very frequent user of LIRR. And this was before Stony Brook Station got high level platforms and all that too. Where the Health Science Complex stands today, there was a big hole in the ground when I joined Stony Brook.Those were fun time, some the best times that I look back to fondly even today.


Edited by jis, 19 June 2017 - 02:40 PM.


#7 FreeskierInVT

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Posted 19 June 2017 - 02:50 PM

 

Stony Brook (part of the State University of New York) is well served by LIRR, providing a relatively easy connection to Amtrak service in Penn. Roughly 40 trains a day stop at SBU. I've made this connection numerous times to head home on the Vermonter.

 

Another popular campus station I've ridden through is Durham-UNH on the Downeaster. 

Heh heh. I lived on Stony Brook Campus for 5 years when I was working on my Computer Science Ph. D. there. So yeah. I was a very frequent user of LIRR. And this was before Stony Brook Station got high level platforms and all that too. Where the Health Science Complex stands today, there was a big hole in the ground when I joined Stony Brook.Those were fun time, some the best times that I look back to fondly even today.

 

Oh man! I'm not on East Campus very often but they're doing a lot of construction over there and on west campus as well. Since I started at Stony a few years ago they've built a new Computer Science building between Roth Quad and Engineering, put a new lecture hall in where Old Chemistry used to be, and constructed a new dining hall and dorms right across from the Union (which they're renovating extensively right now). I was able to get back into campus housing in the new dorms this past year and they were quite nice!


Routes taken:

Vermonter (38), Ethan Allen Express (7), Northeast Regional (20), Acela Express (4; 2 BC/2 FC), Downeaster (9; 3 w/ Dome Car), Lake Shore Limited- Boston (1), Hiawatha (2), Lake Shore Limited- New York (1), Maple Leaf (1), Adirondack (3; 1 w/ Dome Car), Keystone (3), Pennsylvanian (1), Springfield Shuttle (6), Autumn Express (Nov. 3, 2013)

 

VIA Rail Canada: Ocean (R/T Montreal-Halifax)

 

Total Amtrak/VIA mileage:   19,316

Amtrak mileage in 2016:       2,702

Amtrak mileage in 2015:        362

Amtrak/VIA Mileage in 2014: 7,858

Amtrak Mileage in 2013:        6,154

 

LIRR: 3,598 total miles - 86 trips totaling 145 trains

 

Upcoming:

Canada Youth 150 Trip

VIA Corridor: Montreal-Toronto, Toronto-Montreal

Canadian: Toronto-Winnipeg, Winnipeg-Edmonton, Edmonton-Vancouver, Vancouver-Jasper, Jasper-Toronto

Skeena: Jasper-Prince Rupert, Prince Rupert-Jasper

Ocean: Montreal-Moncton, Moncton-Montreal

 

 

 


#8 jis

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Posted 19 June 2017 - 03:21 PM

 

 

Stony Brook (part of the State University of New York) is well served by LIRR, providing a relatively easy connection to Amtrak service in Penn. Roughly 40 trains a day stop at SBU. I've made this connection numerous times to head home on the Vermonter.

 

Another popular campus station I've ridden through is Durham-UNH on the Downeaster. 

Heh heh. I lived on Stony Brook Campus for 5 years when I was working on my Computer Science Ph. D. there. So yeah. I was a very frequent user of LIRR. And this was before Stony Brook Station got high level platforms and all that too. Where the Health Science Complex stands today, there was a big hole in the ground when I joined Stony Brook.Those were fun time, some the best times that I look back to fondly even today.

 

Oh man! I'm not on East Campus very often but they're doing a lot of construction over there and on west campus as well. Since I started at Stony a few years ago they've built a new Computer Science building between Roth Quad and Engineering, put a new lecture hall in where Old Chemistry used to be, and constructed a new dining hall and dorms right across from the Union (which they're renovating extensively right now). I was able to get back into campus housing in the new dorms this past year and they were quite nice!

 

Yeah, all five years I was there I was in Stage XII, which is now known as the Roosevelt Quad. back then it had no name so it was just referred to as the Stage in campus construction during which it was built. :)



#9 Pere Flyer

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Posted 19 June 2017 - 06:05 PM

The Heartland Flyer serves Norman, Oklahoma, home to OU and a historic Santa Fe rail town. A great many Sooners are Texans, so one would think the train would be filled with young Fort Worthians before and after each semester. As a Michigander Sooner, I'm technically an exception, but I ride the HF to/from FTW frequently to connect with DFW/Love Field and to visit family. Norman usually has at least a dozen riders daily, but when I board or disembark, I see more OKC folk and young families than college students.

I think if the HF had twice daily service, early AM service FTW-OKC, and/or a thruway connection to Stillwater (home of OK State), the collegiate ridership would improve. I-35 is notoriously maddening on that stretch, similar to the I-57 situation. Norman and the City are only 30 min apart by car, but the train would remove the ails of parking, etc. I think the idea of "taking the train to OKC for a Saturday" would appeal to many OU students—outside of football season, of course.

Which brings me to my next point: Amtrak would make a killing if it provided a special train and thruway connection Stillwater-Norman for Bedlam, the annual football matchup between OU and OSU. As precedent, the "Big Game Train" is a specially branded HF with a SSL/cafe that extends to Dallas for the Red River Rivalry, the annual OU-UT game at the Cotton Bowl. OKC-FTW-DAL Friday AM, DAL-FTW-OKC Sunday afternoon (w/ intermediates each way.) Similar service should be initiated for other rivalry games. Can you imagine how much ridership an Ann Arbor-Columbus special train would get? You wouldn't have to worry about your "enemy" license plate!

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#10 brianpmcdonnell17

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Posted 19 June 2017 - 07:15 PM

Does it *have* to be Amtrak, or would any passenger rail service do? If the latter, that vastly increases the number of possibilities.

I would say any city with connecting rail service to Amtrak should count. My top choice college, Northwestern, is in Evanston, Illinois, a town without Amtrak service. However, there is frequent Metra and CTA rail service to downtown Chicago where they connect with a short walk to Amtrak. Glenview station is even closer, although there is no direct rail service between Evanston and Glenview, in addition to the fact that Glenview is a stop on only the Empire Builder and Hiawatha Service. Contrast this to other towns, where Amtrak may stop in the same city as the college but is not within walking distance and lacks effectiveness public transit if any exists whatsoever. One example of this is the University of Central Florida. Although it is in Orlando and relatively close to both the Orlando and Winter Park stations, there is not convenient public transit to either.
Routes Travelled: CL WAS-CHI, Card. CHI-WAS, Caro. CLT-RGH, CS SJC-LAX, Cre. BAL-ATL, EB MSP-CHI, ES NYG/NYP-NFL, LSL BOS-ALB, ML ALB-NYP, NER FBG-RVR+WAS-BOS, PS LAX-ANA, Pen. NYP-PGH, Pie. RGH-DNC, SM ORL-NYP, SS FTL-WAS
New Routes: LSL NYP-CHI, CZ CHI-RIC, CS SJC-SEA, EB SEA-MSP

#11 daybeers

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Posted 19 June 2017 - 11:49 PM

I would say any city with connecting rail service to Amtrak should count. My top choice college, Northwestern, is in Evanston, Illinois, a town without Amtrak service. However, there is frequent Metra and CTA rail service to downtown Chicago where they connect with a short walk to Amtrak. Glenview station is even closer, although there is no direct rail service between Evanston and Glenview, in addition to the fact that Glenview is a stop on only the Empire Builder and Hiawatha Service. Contrast this to other towns, where Amtrak may stop in the same city as the college but is not within walking distance and lacks effectiveness public transit if any exists whatsoever. One example of this is the University of Central Florida. Although it is in Orlando and relatively close to both the Orlando and Winter Park stations, there is not convenient public transit to either.

I have actually done this exact connection with Metra on the UP North Line from Evanston, IL to catch LSL 49 to Springfield, MA in June 2016. It was a pretty easy connection, though the walk from the Metra stop at Olgivie Transportation Center to Chicago Union Station is not very well marked.


Amtrak travel so far: only 8,967 miles: Springfield Shuttle (10), Lake Shore Limited (2), Northeast Regional (20), Acela (1), Pennsylvanian (2), Capitol Limited (1)

Ambus mileage: 72


#12 railiner

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Posted 20 June 2017 - 10:28 AM

The Heartland Flyer serves Norman, Oklahoma, home to OU and a historic Santa Fe rail town. A great many Sooners are Texans, so one would think the train would be filled with young Fort Worthians before and after each semester. As a Michigander Sooner, I'm technically an exception, but I ride the HF to/from FTW frequently to connect with DFW/Love Field and to visit family. Norman usually has at least a dozen riders daily, but when I board or disembark, I see more OKC folk and young families than college students.

I think if the HF had twice daily service, early AM service FTW-OKC, and/or a thruway connection to Stillwater (home of OK State), the collegiate ridership would improve. I-35 is notoriously maddening on that stretch, similar to the I-57 situation. Norman and the City are only 30 min apart by car, but the train would remove the ails of parking, etc. I think the idea of "taking the train to OKC for a Saturday" would appeal to many OU studentsoutside of football season, of course.

Which brings me to my next point: Amtrak would make a killing if it provided a special train and thruway connection Stillwater-Norman for Bedlam, the annual football matchup between OU and OSU. As precedent, the "Big Game Train" is a specially branded HF with a SSL/cafe that extends to Dallas for the Red River Rivalry, the annual OU-UT game at the Cotton Bowl. OKC-FTW-DAL Friday AM, DAL-FTW-OKC Sunday afternoon (w/ intermediates each way.) Similar service should be initiated for other rivalry games. Can you imagine how much ridership an Ann Arbor-Columbus special train would get? You wouldn't have to worry about your "enemy" license plate!


If you want to talk about college football, nothing can compare to what the PRR operated in its glory years for the annual Army-Navy classic in Philly....it was forever immortalized in one of those Grif Teller calendar painting's, entitled: "Mass Transportation"...
metroblue?

okay on the blue!

#13 BCL

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Posted 22 June 2017 - 12:05 AM

I started thinking about it, and every city with a University of California campus has Amtrak service of some kind. 8 are actual stations, and 2 are served by thruway service. I don't know how much each campus emphasizes Amtrak service, but I've seen college students on Amtrak. Even the Davis local wiki (which is heavily used by students) has an extensive page on Amtrak.

https://localwiki.org/davis/Amtrak

Getting to campus from the local station is another matter.

#14 BCL

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Posted 23 June 2017 - 08:10 PM

Also - along Capitol Corridor, there are a number of college towns served by Amtrak service of some sort.  I mentioned the UCs, but there are six California State University campuses along the route or with thruway service nearby - San Francisco State, Cal State East Bay (Hayward), Sonoma State (Rohnert Park, near Santa Rosa), California Maritime Academy (Vallejo), Cal State Sacramento, and San Jose State.  Also - I've heard one station agent (over the announcements when it's coming in) call the Santa Clara station "Santa Clara College", although it's across the street from Santa Clara University.

 

And the San Joquin also covers a bunch of CSU campuses.



#15 SarahZ

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Posted 23 June 2017 - 09:52 PM

The Pere Marquette serves Hope College (Holland) and Grand Valley State University (Grand Rapids).

 

The Wolverine serves Western Michigan University (Kalamazoo), Kalamazoo College, Albion College, Spring Arbor University (Jackson), the University of Michigan (as you mentioned), Eastern Michigan University (Ypsilanti, but it's on Ann Arbor's bus system), UM-Dearborn, Wayne State University (Detroit), and Oakland University (Pontiac).

 

The Blue Water serves Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo College, Michigan State University (Lansing), Kettering University (Flint), and UM-Flint.

 

I might be missing a couple, and I didn't include community colleges.


Amtrak Miles: 39,318

 

Amtrak Routes: Blue Water, California Zephyr, Capitol Limited, Carl Sandburg, City of New Orleans, Coast Starlight, Crescent, Empire Builder, Hiawatha, Illinois Zephyr, Lincoln Service, Southwest Chief, Texas Eagle, Wolverine

 

Metropolitan Rail: Chicago Metra, Chicago L, Dallas TRE, Detroit People Mover, New Orleans RTA, San Francisco MUNI, Seattle Monorail, South Shore Line (NICTD), Toronto Subway & RT, Washington DC Metro


#16 tp49

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Posted 24 June 2017 - 02:15 AM

And the San Joquin also covers a bunch of CSU campuses.

 

Don't forget UOP too in Stockton.



#17 PerRock

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Posted 24 June 2017 - 09:30 AM

The Pere Marquette serves Hope College (Holland) and Grand Valley State University (Grand Rapids).

 

The Wolverine serves Western Michigan University (Kalamazoo), Kalamazoo College, Albion College, Spring Arbor University (Jackson), the University of Michigan (as you mentioned), Eastern Michigan University (Ypsilanti, but it's on Ann Arbor's bus system), UM-Dearborn, Wayne State University (Detroit), and Oakland University (Pontiac).

 

The Blue Water serves Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo College, Michigan State University (Lansing), Kettering University (Flint), and UM-Flint.

 

I might be missing a couple, and I didn't include community colleges.

 

EMU will also get service from the MiTrain... if that every gets off the ground.

 

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#18 AmtrakBlue

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Posted 24 June 2017 - 09:59 AM

UDel is served by Amtrak at the Newark (DE) station.  Lots of trains go by but only a few NERs stop there.  There is bus service  to/from the parking lot for the station.  SEPTA also serves Newark and some day MARC will also.



#19 PVD

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Posted 24 June 2017 - 11:00 AM

Certainly in NY, Empire Service Trains hit colleges and universities all across the state, and the Adirondack grabs a few more (Skidmore in Saratoga Springs, SUNY Plattsburgh) off the top of my head. Too many small schools near better known schools to keep track of (Like HVCC near RPI in Troy). The Albany side is loaded all the way to SDY.



#20 BCL

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Posted 24 June 2017 - 03:24 PM

 

And the San Joquin also covers a bunch of CSU campuses.

 

Don't forget UOP too in Stockton.

 

 

I was just getting started.  However, that's a really small school though.  I looked it up, and the enrollment at every CSU campus is larger except for the extremely specialized California Maritime Academy.






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