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Another airline pulls out of MSP-ORD


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#1 ParanoidAndroid

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Posted 03 August 2018 - 04:02 PM

http://m.startribune...cago/489888221/

Maybe it's REALLY time now to set up some MSP-CHI corridor service (not at the expense of the EB). Only problem is Wisconsin.

I've ridden on Amtrak on the Cascades #516 (SEA-STW), Coast Starlight #14 (LAX-SLO, LAX-PDX, KFS-SEA), Southwest Chief #4 (LAX-CHI), Cardinal #50 (CHI-NYP), Northeast Regional #85 (NYP-WAS), Capitol Limited #30 (HFY-WAS), Cascades #501 (SEA-PDX), Coast Starlight #11 (SLO-LAX, PDX-KFS), and many Pacific Surfliners with Amtrak. I've seen in stations, including the previous, the California Zephyr #5 at SAC (lucky), what I guess to be Crescent #19 (at WAS) and Silver Meteor #97 (at WAS), Empire Builder #28 at PDX, Sunset Limited #2/Texas Eagle #422 at LAX, and Empire Builder #27 at PDX. I have also ridden the Hokutosei in Japan, Ueno - Sapporo (now discontinued).


#2 cpotisch

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Posted 03 August 2018 - 04:13 PM

http://m.startribune...cago/489888221/

Maybe it's REALLY time now to set up some MSP-CHI corridor service (not at the expense of the EB). Only problem is Wisconsin.

Is corridor rail service for that distance really going to compete with air travel? MSP-CHI on the EB takes almost nine hours. That just seems too long to replace air travel for many people.


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#3 jebr

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Posted 03 August 2018 - 04:39 PM

MSP - CHI air fares have jumped significantly since Spirit pulled out. I used to be able to get $30 - $50 one-way fares if I played the dates right and wasn't too picky on my airline choice. Now it's rare to see a flight under $100 one-way.

 

Corridor service could certainly compete here, especially for leisure travel. The carded time is 7 hr 55 min eastbound, 7 hr 48 min westbound when running on a normal schedule. (Currently there's an hour added eastbound to time track work properly.) Assuming you can fit within Amtrak's generous carry-on allotment, there's really only a need to arrive 15 minutes before departure, maybe 30 if you're wanting to make sure you have enough time to walk from the far parking lot. On the other end you're in downtown Chicago, so let's assume another 30 minutes there to get off, grab a cab, and shoot over to your downtown location. That leaves total trip time at just under 9 hours from arriving at St. Paul Union Depot to arriving at your destination in downtown Chicago.

 

Air travel MSP - CHI takes about an hour and a half gate-to-gate. MSP's pretty conveniently located to downtown Minneapolis and much of the metro, so I'd consider drive/transit time to be roughly equal when painting a broad brush. However, I'd leave an hour and a half to park/arrive, get checked in, through the gate, and onto the aircraft. (That's below the recommended time, which is 2ish hours, but if you're a regular traveler with Pre/GE/NEXUS that's easily doable.) Upon landing, it's about an hour to get to downtown Chicago from O'Hare, which is where most of the flights go to. That means that total time for that is around 4 hours. 

 

Driving, according to Google Maps, takes about six hours. However, there's tolls along the way, and you'll have to stop one (twice if you're doing the recommended amount of stopping) so I'd suggest adding another hour on for that. That makes driving seven hours. Also, Chicago traffic isn't the greatest, and if your destination is downtown parking sucks and is generally expensive.

 

Bus travel is roughly equal to the train.

 

Corridor rail could work in this corridor, especially with intermediate markets helping to add more city pairs. Wisconsin Dells is conveniently about halfway, which is a popular family destination at least for many in Minnesota and Wisconsin. (I'm not sure how popular it is for Chicago residents.) Add in Milwaukee, and ideally a stop or easy connection to Madison, and you'd have a robust corridor. Chicago's a destination where you really don't need a car, and a few extra hours over flying may swing some people over to the train if it's cheaper (especially if the train had wi-fi to allow reliable connectivity.) There's also the environmental benefits of rail over flying, which shouldn't be ignored.

 

Overall, it'd be a successful corridor, and it's been studied a few times. I hope one of these studies actually gets off the ground and adds another frequency at least St. Paul - Chicago. It's be a huge boon to getting to Chicago, and if a smaller train/state-subsidized train could be priced a bit lower (the $39 fare that's currently on promo would be a nice everyday/two-weeks-out fare for the full length) I think it'd be successful.



#4 Dakota 400

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Posted 03 August 2018 - 04:53 PM

I will try to stay off my "soapbox" in this post.

 

This decision by Spirit Airlines seems to be to be more in their corporate interests than in what is in the interests of their customers.  MSP is not a small airport.  But, it is experiencing airlines pulling out?

 

My local airport is Dayton International Airport.  It is an excellent facility.  Their motto is "Easy in, Easy out".  And, it is.  Once a hub airport for Piedmont Airlines, then US Air (for awhile), and the city of Dayton financed an entirely new wing to the terminal that was supposed to serve as a Delta hub.  (That hub has been mothballed for years, but I am sure the taxpayers are still paying for the bonds sold to finance it.)  Mostly regional jets serve us while Delta still has MD-88's or similar planes for the Day-ATL route.  (Thankfully.)  In the past, we have been served by L 1011, 707, 737, 727 aircraft and even had a charter Concorde flight once.  We have the facilities, yet we too have experienced airline pulling out.  

 

There will be many who will disagree with me--and that's OK by me.  But, communities such as mine--and maybe now MSP as well, have not been served well by airline deregulation.  We, the flying consumer have been affected as well--some positively, some negatively.  It's nice to have to pay less for an air ticket.  But, this has now led to flying being "the Greyhound" of the skies.  And, a competition with other near-by airports, i.e. Columbus, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, for customers when the airports don't control the pricing to attract customers, but the airlines do.

 

I guess my attempt to stay off my "soapbox" didn't work.  Sorry. 



#5 cpotisch

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Posted 03 August 2018 - 04:57 PM

This decision by Spirit Airlines seems to be to be more in their corporate interests than in what is in the interests of their customers.  MSP is not a small airport.  But, it is experiencing airlines pulling out?

Sadly, that's pretty much always the case. It's a company, and the true goal is to turn a profit, not do what is in the best interests of the customer.


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#6 PVD

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Posted 03 August 2018 - 06:20 PM

Delta carries more than 70% of the passengers at that airport, it is very hard for anyone else to match their worldwide reach. But MSP - ORD also adds United and American to the mix. For an airline that is more geared towards point to point leisure travel as opposed to business travel, competing on price alone to get passengers on a plane with little opportunity/reason for a connecting flight is a losing proposition.


Edited by PVD, 03 August 2018 - 06:35 PM.


#7 amtrakpass

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Posted 03 August 2018 - 06:24 PM

From taking the Empire Builder between St.paul and Chicago quite a bit I have noticed the real running time from St. Paul Union Depot to Chicago Union Station is about 7hrs 20 minutes with no delays.The rest is padding. So even without any speed improvements, with the population in the twin cities I think you would get pretty decent ridership. But I think it is important to have the trains also stop in downtown Minneapolis even with the short change of direction necessary. At the very least the corridor trains would probably start at St. Cloud or hopefully Duluth and stop at one of the Northstar commuter stops to add ridership. St Paul Union Depot is cool but it is pretty far east to a lot of the population in the Twin city area

#8 Dakota 400

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Posted 03 August 2018 - 06:27 PM

 

This decision by Spirit Airlines seems to be to be more in their corporate interests than in what is in the interests of their customers.  MSP is not a small airport.  But, it is experiencing airlines pulling out?

Sadly, that's pretty much always the case. It's a company, and the true goal is to turn a profit, not do what is in the best interests of the customer.

 

 

That is why I believe that airline re-regulation is needed.  Not an economist, but, prior to deregulation, the airlines seemed to make money and the public was better served.   


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#9 jebr

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Posted 03 August 2018 - 06:28 PM

If the airlines were still regulated like the days before "deregulation" (there's still regulation, just less of it) then Spirit likely would not exist, at least in its current form, in the first place. There's still plenty of flights to choose from, even direct, between MSP and Chicago, they're just not as dirt cheap as they used to be. They're probably still lower (at least for a basic fare) than they would be under pre-deregulation, though.

 

MSP hasn't had any major airlines pull out entirely in recent memory, and most airlines are either expanding routes or swapping routes. Spirit's MSP-ORD slots seem to be taken up by flights to other destinations, Seattle being a recent add that comes to mind. JetBlue has recently arrived into MSP, thus adding some east-coast competition. Sun Country has improved their route map somewhat recently, though its decline into ULCC status has been swift and terrible. Delta is still the primary carrier, and if you need direct they're the ones to go with outside of cities with hubs for other airlines or random ULCC routes. The addition of other airlines and expansion of domestic routes has made MSP a bit less of a Delta fortress hub than it used to be, but MSP is certainly still a major Delta hub and is the business traveler's airline of choice if they need a wide reach for direct flights.

 

I'm guessing the MSP - CHI route just isn't competitive as a direct flight for leisure travelers. The three-to-five hour savings each way is probably enough to solidify it as a flying market for most business travel, especially with the Empire Builder's unreliability and lack of connectivity (there's not always coverage between Red Wing and Tomah, and even between Tomah and Milwaukee can be a bit spotty.) Driving means that the entire drive is unproductive, and Megabus/Greyhound just don't have an appeal for the business sector (probably rightfully so.) However, the additional time still isn't terrible for a day's drive (or a half day's drive) and buses and trains grab the economy traveler side of the market better than airlines can. 


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#10 cpotisch

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Posted 03 August 2018 - 06:30 PM

This decision by Spirit Airlines seems to be to be more in their corporate interests than in what is in the interests of their customers.  MSP is not a small airport.  But, it is experiencing airlines pulling out?

Sadly, that's pretty much always the case. It's a company, and the true goal is to turn a profit, not do what is in the best interests of the customer.

 
That is why I believe that airline re-regulation is needed.  Not an economist, but, prior to deregulation, the airlines seemed to make money and the public was better served.

I'm pretty darn sure that airlines have made a lot more money since they cut (almost) all of the regulations. And prices definitely tend to be a lot cheaper. It's the purpose of a company to turn a profit. You can't really expect much better.

Edited by cpotisch, 04 August 2018 - 02:48 PM.

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#11 jebr

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Posted 03 August 2018 - 06:34 PM

 

But I think it is important to have the trains also stop in downtown Minneapolis even with the short change of direction necessary. At the very least the corridor trains would probably start at St. Cloud or hopefully Duluth and stop at one of the Northstar commuter stops to add ridership. St Paul Union Depot is cool but it is pretty far east to a lot of the population in the Twin city area

 
You're better off starting in St. Cloud and skipping downtown Minneapolis. A Fridley stop (or similar commuter rail stop) would grab most people in the west metro who want to be able to park their car for cheap/free. The downtown Minneapolis station is a bit west of the downtown core, so most people wouldn't walk to it, and the light rail would be just as quick as the short light rail jaunt to Target Field + the time it'd take to get from Target Field to Union Depot. (There's also the 94 bus that's almost certainly faster than any rail connection would be, though it doesn't run on evenings/weekends.) There's also no direct parking, so it wouldn't get much for car-to-rail traffic (and a suburban stop would serve that market better anyways.
 
If you're looking to increase connectivity, a northeast Minneapolis stop along the current route would do better, especially if it could be placed to also serve Northstar. Northeast isn't as well connected to downtown St. Paul, and so a stop there would be enough of a time saver to draw some traffic in without requiring a rather long back-up move.

#12 chakk

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Posted 03 August 2018 - 06:42 PM

Is there not one of those low-cost bus services between Minneapolis and Chicago that competes with Amtrak both time-wise and money-wise?

#13 jebr

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Posted 03 August 2018 - 06:50 PM

Is there not one of those low-cost bus services between Minneapolis and Chicago that competes with Amtrak both time-wise and money-wise?

 

Megabus runs the corridor (with stops in Madison and Milwaukee) 4 times a day, with travel time between 8 and 9 hours. Greyhound runs 4-6 times a day along the corridor, with various stops depending on the particular route, with travel time between 7 hr 45 minutes and 9 hr 45 minutes.

 

However, that doesn't touch as much of the intermediate market, and there's definitely a "rail bias" with a fair amount of our local transit routes, which may result in ridership on the train that wouldn't consider the bus.


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#14 Palmetto

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Posted 03 August 2018 - 08:16 PM

http://m.startribune...cago/489888221/

Maybe it's REALLY time now to set up some MSP-CHI corridor service (not at the expense of the EB). Only problem is Wisconsin.

Talk to the Canadian Pacific RR.  They're the ones that will have the final say. because it's their railroad.   Unless, of course, Amtrak decides to run BNSF.  Either way, I wouldn't hold my breath, the Badger State not withstanding.



#15 railiner

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Posted 03 August 2018 - 09:42 PM

In the "if only" department....

 

http://www.streamlin...atha195407.html

 

http://www.streamlin...w400194106.html

 

http://www.streamlin...hyrs194805.html


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metroblue?

okay on the blue!

#16 NorthShore

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Posted 04 August 2018 - 04:38 AM

Wisconsin Dells is conveniently about halfway, which is a popular family destination at least for many in Minnesota and Wisconsin. (I'm not sure how popular it is for Chicago residents.)


Significant.




Add in Milwaukee, and ideally a stop or easy connection to Madison, and you'd have a robust corridor. Chicago's a destination where you really don't need a car, and a few extra hours over flying may swing some people over to the train if it's cheaper.


Nor Milwaukee. Nor the Twin Cities. Nor Madison as far as personal transportation vehicles. At least not for most stuff as a visitor.

#17 NorthShore

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Posted 04 August 2018 - 04:44 AM

If you're looking to increase connectivity, a northeast Minneapolis stop along the current route would do better, especially if it could be placed to also serve Northstar. Northeast isn't as well connected to downtown St. Paul, and so a stop there would be enough of a time saver to draw some traffic in without requiring a rather long back-up move.


Northeast really needs lightrail.

Edited by NorthShore, 04 August 2018 - 04:44 AM.


#18 NorthShore

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Posted 04 August 2018 - 05:19 AM

Driving means that the entire drive is unproductive, and Megabus/Greyhound just don't have an appeal for the business sector (probably rightfully so.) However, the additional time still isn't terrible for a day's drive (or a half day's drive) and buses and trains grab the economy traveler side of the market better than airlines can. 


Perhaps adding a business class coach to the corridor would be a valuable incintive to recruit ridership.

#19 Trogdor

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Posted 04 August 2018 - 11:02 AM

This decision by Spirit Airlines seems to be to be more in their corporate interests than in what is in the interests of their customers.  MSP is not a small airport.  But, it is experiencing airlines pulling out?

Sadly, that's pretty much always the case. It's a company, and the true goal is to turn a profit, not do what is in the best interests of the customer.
 
That is why I believe that airline re-regulation is needed.  Not an economist, but, prior to deregulation, the airlines seemed to make money and the public was better served.

That couldn’t be further from the truth. Prior to deregulation, airline service was barely a skeleton of what we see today, and, inflation-adjusted, airfares were considerably higher. Yes, you got a microwaveable dinner for that much higher fare, but paying for a checked bag, economy plus, and a buy-on-board meal item still puts you much further ahead today than you would have been in the 1970s.

Meanwhile, airlines are posting profits in the billions of dollars. Airlines did lose a ton of money in the 1980s through the 2000s, but that can be attributed to a few factors:

First, in the 1980s, the airline industry was still adjusting to the deregulation era and hadn’t yet figured out how things would work. A few legacy carriers bit the dust (or were on their way to doing so) because they hadn’t figured out how to operate in the new model without regulation protecting them (Pan Am being a big one there). Then there were a couple of cases of corporate raiders figuring out that they could personally profit by raping companies for all they had and sending the skeletons of the company to bankruptcy (Lorenzo and Eastern, Carl Icahn and TWA). Other carriers started and failed because they hadn’t figured out a business model that worked.

Then in the 1990s you had the Gulf War which had the double-whammy of spiking fuel prices and depressing demand. Yet, most airlines had fuel-inefficient planes from the 1960s and 70s and were too slow to replace them. Incidentally, much of the legacy airlines’ fleets were purchased in the era of regulation, such as DC-10s, L1011s, and even domestic 747s. They could fly them profitably when fares were regulated and they didn’t have to worry about competition. When deregulation hit, smaller planes killed the larger planes in terms of economics on most routes, which is why a carrier like Southwest, flying only 737s, was able to take on larger competitors. It’s also why the number of domestic wide bodies significantly decreased when the first generation were ready for retirement. You used to see DC-10s and 747s on short hops such as Chicago-Cleveland, Milwaukee-Detroit, etc. But once the carriers dumped them, they didn’t replace them with other 300-seaters, but with much smaller planes.

The early 2000s had, of course, 9/11, which led to a couple of bankruptcies, and the fuel cost spike and economic decline of 2006-2008 was the last major negative event to hit the airlines economically. However, since then, and following the latest consolidation, airlines are more profitable than they have ever been (and this with the fares still being lower than pre-deregulation).

I’m not sure what you expect regulation to bring that we don’t have already.
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#20 ehbowen

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Posted 04 August 2018 - 11:24 AM

 

 

 

This decision by Spirit Airlines seems to be to be more in their corporate interests than in what is in the interests of their customers.  MSP is not a small airport.  But, it is experiencing airlines pulling out?

Sadly, that's pretty much always the case. It's a company, and the true goal is to turn a profit, not do what is in the best interests of the customer.

 

 

That is why I believe that airline re-regulation is needed.  Not an economist, but, prior to deregulation, the airlines seemed to make money and the public was better served.   

 

I'm pretty darn sure that airlines have made a lot more money since they cut (almost) all of the regulations. Airlines make more money and prices tend to be a lot cheaper. It's the purpose of a company to turn a profit. You can't really expect much better.

 

 

No, it's the purpose of a company to pump up the price of the stock held by it's chief executives through predatory market practices, outsourcing to slave labor, accumulating debt at below market rates, stifling competitors by way of imposing onerous regulations via government connections, publishing unrealistic forward expectations (in 20 years we'll have 20 billion subscribers!), and knowing when to jump ship when the house of cards begins to collapse. "Profit" doesn't enter into the equation at all...see also Amazon, Tesla, Netflix....


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