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Amtrak Serving "College Towns"


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#41 City of Miami

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 08:07 AM

The other day I noticed a fellow wearing a t-shirt in UVA colors with the Amtrak logo on the front. On the back it said The Hoo-ville Express. This is a kind of pun - UVA students call themselves Wahoos for some reason, often just Hoos. I take it also a reference to C-ville [a frequently seen shortening of Charlottesville] as well as to the Hooterville Cannonball of Petticoat Junction fame. I ran after him and asked where he got it. He said Amtrak was throwing out during a football game last year. I thought this was very clever marketing all around



#42 jebr

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 10:50 AM

Winona State University in Winona, MN, University of Minnesota and Macalester College not far from the St. Paul stop(plus I suspect more I'm forgetting), Purdue University in West Lafayette(you'd get off at Lafayette, and it's across the river), and IUPUI and Butler University in Indianapolis. Wouldn't be surprised if I'm forgetting some other Midwest colleges, but unfortunately some places have graveyard train arrival times(i.e. Cincinnati having both only a late at night Cardinal train and only 3 times a week, Fargo, ND having the daily Empire Builder come in both directions late at night, etc). I think Saint Cloud, MN has a Minnesota public college too(a la Winona), but the train times are early in the morning and late in the evening. Not as bad as Fargo's train times for the EB, but keep that in mind.

 

 

To build a bit more on the Minnesota-specific options:

 

Both Detroit Lakes and Staples have community colleges, but neither of them have great public transit options (especially during the calling times of the trains) and neither is within walking distance of the station. St. Cloud has SCSU, and the train station is a mile or two from campus. There's a decent bus system to get around town while you're there, but it doesn't look like the bus service runs during either of the scheduled times. A taxi/Uber would be needed for that.

 

St. Paul (and the neighboring Minneapolis) has the U of MN Minneapolis campus along the light rail, with the St. Paul campus accessible via a couple of local buses and the campus shuttle. Macalaster and Hamline are both along the A Line "rapid bus" on Snelling Avenue, and St. Thomas and St. Catherine's are along city bus lines in town. Augustana is also near a fairly frequent bus line and a decent walk from the light rail. There's Metropolitan State University which has a couple of campuses along bus lines, and there's a smattering of community colleges as well as some for-profit colleges that I'm not familar with transit access. Bethel appears to have a shuttle bus that connects to the A Line, but otherwise is inaccessible via transit, and Northwestern's bus service is so vague that I'm not sure what that offers, and public transit service is simply a suburb circulator that wouldn't easily connect with either of the calling times. I'm sure I forgot some of the colleges, but that's the ones I can think of.

 

Red Wing might have a community college but I'm not aware of any 4-year colleges (or anything nearby transit.) Winona has Winona State, which is within walking distance from campus, and the town has okay if not amazing public transit. There's also Saint Mary's, but it's not within walking distance of the station and I'm not sure how good the transit access is from there into town.

 

Out of all the options, Winona State is the closest/easiest to access via Amtrak, with the U of MN having a better overall "transit-only" experience with the METRO lines. If frequent bus service (buses every 10-15 minutes most of the day) is good enough, that would open up Macalaster, Hamline, St. Thomas, Augustana, and the Minneapolis campus of Metropolitan State University. St. Catherine's has less frequent bus service but still late enough to be able to connect to Amtrak. The rest of the campuses that I'm aware of would require private transportation of some sort to catch the train at least some of the time.



#43 Metra Electric Rider

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 04:25 PM

I don't think anybody has mentioned my (graduate) Alma Mater yet, the University of Illinois at Chicago, the CLOSEST University to CUS!


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#44 Bob Dylan

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 08:41 PM

My Alma Mater Southwest Texas State University, now Texas State U.in San Marcos,only 25 miles South of Austin, has a Non-staffed Stop for the Eagles with a Shed like "Station" outside the Intermodel Station for Local and Long Distance Buses..

In the old days there were 2 Stations there for the M-K-T ( "The Katy") and MoPac. Several Pasenger Trains called there daily including The Texas Special,The Texas Star and Mopac's Texas Eagle which had a Dome Car!😍

Texas State now has 35,000+ students and lots of them ride the Eagles as do Area Residents from surrounding towns and San Marcos itself.
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#45 brianpmcdonnell17

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Posted 24 July 2017 - 03:10 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.
 
One could always take the #208 Pace bus west to Golf/Waukegan to get off, then transfer to the next northbound #210 bus to get up to downtown Glenview. Or another idea is to take the #208 bus to Golf/Harlem, and then the #423 bus northbound till you got to Glenview. You could do vice versa to get back, though I'll note the #210 and #423 buses end early in the evening on weekdays, and that it has NO weekend service. I sometimes have on weekends(when desperate) taken the #208 Pace bus along Golf Road to Harlem, then walked the 25-30 minutes north into Glenview! Or vice versa back after getting off at Glenview, providing I walked to Golf/Harlem in time before the last eastbound #208 bus.
 
Since I know that strategy isn't for everyone, you might just be best(if it's a weekend/holiday, or if it's too late in the evening on a weekday) to request an Uber/Lyft car from Glenview, to get back to Evanston. Or vice versa, to get from Evanston up to Glenview.
 
 

 

Isn't South Bend college town?

Notre Dame is in the town of Notre Dame, but it borders South Bend; I think it is close enough.
 
University of Notre Dame is definitely within South Bend, IN. It is NOT it's own separate town from South Bend, not sure why you thought that. There are a few nearby municipalities outside of South Bend though, such as Roseland(this is a very tiny one most people forget about), Mishawaka, and Granger to name examples. And yes a lot of people do take the South Shore Line besides Amtrak to get to South Bend, since the fare is cheaper(vs. Amtrak) from Chicago.
Here is a citation as to Notre Dame's location: http://colleges.star...-of-Notre-Dame. Here is the Wikipedia article of the town (technically a CDP): https://en.m.wikiped..._Dame,_Indiana. Lastly, attached is a map of the location of Notre Dame relative to the South Bend city limits.

As to the bus from Evanston to Glenview, it is certainly an option but not my preferable choice. In any place where it is within reason to complete an entire trip via rail without any bus segments I would chose to do so, even if it takes longer. The change of buses and fast speed of Metra to Downtown Chicago means it really isn't even that much of a difference.

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#46 JRR

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Posted 24 July 2017 - 03:35 PM

Wow, a lot of responses here! Brings back old memories. While I was at the University of Cincinnati, I lived in Iron Mountain, Michigan (yep, a upper, eh), and rode the Chicago Northwestern line from Powers, Michigan ( about 30 miles east of Iron Mountain) , to Chicago. There I had to change stations to catch the "Jame Whitcomb Riley" to Cincinnati. I remember the pride in the voice of the conductor as he announced the departure and the stops. Great memory!

#47 Pere Flyer

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Posted 25 July 2017 - 11:50 AM

Wow, a lot of responses here! Brings back old memories. While I was at the University of Cincinnati, I lived in Iron Mountain, Michigan (yep, a upper, eh), and rode the Chicago Northwestern line from Powers, Michigan ( about 30 miles east of Iron Mountain) , to Chicago. There I had to change stations to catch the "Jame Whitcomb Riley" to Cincinnati. I remember the pride in the voice of the conductor as he announced the departure and the stops. Great memory!


Iron Mountain's a beautiful area! I'm a "troll" (south of the bridge) from Grand Rapids, but my family loves camping in the UP every other summer.

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#48 WestBerkeleyFlats

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Posted 28 July 2017 - 05:42 AM

The other day I noticed a fellow wearing a t-shirt in UVA colors with the Amtrak logo on the front. On the back it said The Hoo-ville Express. This is a kind of pun - UVA students call themselves Wahoos for some reason, often just Hoos. I take it also a reference to C-ville [a frequently seen shortening of Charlottesville] as well as to the Hooterville Cannonball of Petticoat Junction fame. I ran after him and asked where he got it. He said Amtrak was throwing out during a football game last year. I thought this was very clever marketing all around

Probably more Dr. Seuss than "Petticoat Junction" - http://blogs.weta.or...charlottesville



#49 dlagrua

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Posted 10 September 2017 - 07:37 PM

Up this way, University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Drexel and Temple are served by SEPTA and/or Amtrak. They are heavily used.

It would seem that a rail lines serving other colleges would see good ridership but many of the RR lines to colleges have been abandoned. Here are some examples, many of which are no more:

Penn State in State College,PA is a huge campus. Its student body numbers over 40,000, yet it has not seen branch line rail service in years. That branch line is still near the campus and it connects to the Pennsylvanian line West of Lewistown.

The defunct Monon RR served six colleges and universities along its line:

    Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.
    Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana.
    DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana.
    Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana.
    Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana.
    St. Joseph's College in Rensselaer, Indiana. 

The state or Amtrak never bothered to pick up three of these routes .  Should be a ready market there but some of the lines that served these institutions were entirely abandoned. Is there a good market for passenger rail at Colleges and Universities?



#50 jphjaxfl

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Posted 11 September 2017 - 06:07 AM

Up this way, University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Drexel and Temple are served by SEPTA and/or Amtrak. They are heavily used.
It would seem that a rail lines serving other colleges would see good ridership but many of the RR lines to colleges have been abandoned. Here are some examples, many of which are no more:
Penn State in State College,PA is a huge campus. Its student body numbers over 40,000, yet it has not seen branch line rail service in years. That branch line is still near the campus and it connects to the Pennsylvanian line West of Lewistown.
The defunct Monon RR served six colleges and universities along its line:
    Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.
    Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana.
    DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana.
    Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana.
    Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana.
    St. Joseph's College in Rensselaer, Indiana. 
The state or Amtrak never bothered to pick up three of these routes .  Should be a ready market there but some of the lines that served these institutions were entirely abandoned. Is there a good market for passenger rail at Colleges and Universities?

The former Monon line now CSX still operates with Amtrak's Cardinal and Hoosier States from Chicago to Crawfordsville! I attended Indiana University in Bloomington when Monon operated Thoroughbred still operated until 1967. I was very pleased when Amtrak started using the Monon line in 1975 for The Floridian. Even though the Bloomington, IN stop was in the middle of night, there were lots of IU students using the train. The Cardinal/Hoosier States was also changed from the former C&O line through Marion and Richmond to the Monon line which it still uses.

#51 Metra Electric Rider

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Posted 11 September 2017 - 01:40 PM

Where was the train station in Bloomington? Down in the low area southwest of downtown?


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#52 jphjaxfl

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Posted 12 September 2017 - 06:10 AM

Where was the train station in Bloomington? Down in the low area southwest of downtown?

It was right downtown off of Walnut Street until 1966 when it moved to the edge of the McDowell yard until the passenger service ended in September, 1967. Amtrak stopped at a downtown platform at 4th and Morton Streets from 1975 until the Floridian was discontinued in October, 1979. Unfortunately the Monon line has been truncated between Crawfordsville and Bloomington with freight trains using another CSX line in the area.

Edited by jphjaxfl, 12 September 2017 - 11:10 AM.


#53 Metra Electric Rider

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Posted 12 September 2017 - 01:58 PM

 

Where was the train station in Bloomington? Down in the low area southwest of downtown?

It was right downtown off of Walnut Street until 1966 when it moved to the edge of the McDowell yard until the passenger service ended in September, 1967. Amtrak stopped at a downtown platform at 4th and Morton Streets from 1975 until the Floridian was discontinued in October, 1979. Unfortunately the Monon line has been truncated between Crawfordsville and Bloomington with freight trains using another CSX line in the area.

 

 

Thanks, I've got vague memories of old depot looking buildings southwest of courthouse square, which makes sense.


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#54 jphjaxfl

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Posted 12 September 2017 - 03:22 PM

Where was the train station in Bloomington? Down in the low area southwest of downtown?

It was right downtown off of Walnut Street until 1966 when it moved to the edge of the McDowell yard until the passenger service ended in September, 1967. Amtrak stopped at a downtown platform at 4th and Morton Streets from 1975 until the Floridian was discontinued in October, 1979. Unfortunately the Monon line has been truncated between Crawfordsville and Bloomington with freight trains using another CSX line in the area.
 
Thanks, I've got vague memories of old depot looking buildings southwest of courthouse square, which makes sense.
Illinois Central also had depot in downtown Bloomington, IN.

Edited by jphjaxfl, 12 September 2017 - 03:22 PM.


#55 west point

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 01:28 PM

Train service to college towns have several items that cause extreme swings in demand. College schedules are all over the grass.

1.  Some have no summer classes

2. Some have classes 6 days a week with Saturdays until 1200

3.  Some have night classes

4.  some have classes 0700 - 1800

5.  Some have no Tuesday or Thursday classes.

6. Some have no cut classes on last week day ( Friday or Saturday ? )

 

So how can Amtrak or any other agency plan capacity ?.



#56 Philly Amtrak Fan

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 03:02 PM

Train service to college towns have several items that cause extreme swings in demand. College schedules are all over the grass.

1.  Some have no summer classes

2. Some have classes 6 days a week with Saturdays until 1200

3.  Some have night classes

4.  some have classes 0700 - 1800

5.  Some have no Tuesday or Thursday classes.

6. Some have no cut classes on last week day ( Friday or Saturday ? )

 

So how can Amtrak or any other agency plan capacity ?.

 

You're thinking of Amtrak in this context being used as a commuter train service. I'm think of Amtrak being used more of as a service for college students traveling at the beginning/end of semesters, breaks, holidays, or maybe just for the weekend. 


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#57 jebr

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 05:01 PM

Train service to college towns have several items that cause extreme swings in demand. College schedules are all over the grass.

1.  Some have no summer classes

2. Some have classes 6 days a week with Saturdays until 1200

3.  Some have night classes

4.  some have classes 0700 - 1800

5.  Some have no Tuesday or Thursday classes.

6. Some have no cut classes on last week day ( Friday or Saturday ? )

 

So how can Amtrak or any other agency plan capacity ?.

 

The same way agencies plan for people's work schedules, shopping trips, nights out on the town, and the scores of other plans people make. After all, people work varying schedules, second shifts, third shifts, take days off of work, work 4 10s instead of 5 8s, etc. 

 

For Amtrak specifically, it might mean running an extra train after the majority of classes for the week are done and back on the evening before classes start for the week, at least for residential students, and ensuring capacity for school breaks. Typically this would be a Friday afternoon/evening train out and a Sunday afternoon/evening train in. Amtrak is, for the most part, not competing for the daily college student commuter, but rather the "traveling home/going out of town for the weekend" college student. Most residential students have a fairly regular "8-5 Monday - Friday" class schedule (at least that most of their classes don't start before 8, end after 5, or meet on weekends.) Those are usually done by commuting students who already have other obligations, and likely would use local transit for their commuting needs if they don't drive there.

 

It's not rocket science to schedule trips to meet the needs of college students any more than it is to meet the needs of any other group of people.






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