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John Bredin

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    suburban Chicago (Des Plaines)
  1. I don't carry balances (ever ever ever!) or incur fees, either, but the credit card companies seem to like me just fine.
  2. John Bredin

    30-42 connection in Pittsburgh

    As to where to eat near Pittsburgh station, when I asked at the ticket window during my trip in early April 2018, the agent had a map or list (one-sheet photocopy) of nearby restaurants. Very handy. Ended up eating breakfast at an Einstein's Bagels a couple of blocks from the station.
  3. Counters were on my line, UP Northwest. I don't think this was targeted at the Electric Line, but just periodic (annual?) Metra counting time.
  4. https://www.esquire.com/lifestyle/a22573029/seth-rogen-voice-vancouver-public-transit/?src=nl&mag=esq&list=nl_enl_news&date=072718 The gig was going to go to Morgan Freeman -- talk about the Voice of God during your morning commute -- but he got me-too'd, so hometown-boy-made-good Seth stepped up.
  5. http://digitaledition.chicagotribune.com/infinity/article_share.aspx?guid=1a50f198-c311-46e2-b71a-0f8f5a31ec42 The article mentions a station that'll be hairy to make accessible, Damen/North Blue Line, but I would love to see a plan for installing elevators at North/Clybourn Red Line. I have a hard time when I'm there even visualizing where the platforms are in relation to the station-house and the mezzanine-ish not-level (a few steps) corridors connecting the platforms to the station-house.
  6. Why is it incompetent for a state dep't of transportation, responsible for investing in ALL modes of transportation in the state, to speed up intercity trains used by people from that state?! Are you under the impression the new commuter trains are only for Connecticutters and the Amtrak trains are only for out-of-staters? I don't think Metra trains can exceed 80mph, but I wouldn't consider IDOT incompetent if they spent money to increase the speed of the Hiawathas on the Metra Milwaukee-North or the Lincoln Service on the Metra Heritage Corridor even though the Metras running alongside the Amtraks couldn't take full advantage of it. Far from incompetent, in fact.
  7. Or at least the City of Chicago accepted the Boring Company bid. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/politics/99494771-132.html I'd love to see this come to fruition, and Musk seems to be the type who can attract investors, *except* that using 16-passenger [del]vans[/del] vehicles make this sound: (1) less than viable, as it would seem to lack sufficient capacity or through-put, and (2) a conscious effort by Musk to *not* resemble old-fashioned [del]boring[/del] trains.
  8. John Bredin

    Who's William Gray?

    Some people thought nobody would ever call Ogilvie Transportation Center "Ogilvie" but lots of people do now, and lots of people don't know what you mean if you say "Northwestern Station".
  9. John Bredin

    Pittsburgh PA

    I was in Pittsburgh last month for 2-3 days, and took Amtrak to & from. I highly recommend: *going up one incline, walking along the street at the top of the cliff, and coming down the other incline. We went up the Monongahela Incline next to Station Square (bunch of restaurants, shops, and a hotel on the site of the old P&LE RR station) and came down the Duquesne Incline. The sweeping view of downtown and much of the city is spectacular, but the neighborhood up there is nice to see too. *the river cruise. It's not long (about an hour), and it doesn't go very far, but considering how many of the sights of the city can be seen from the river, it's a great introduction to the city. *the Cathedral of Learning and the surrounding university campuses (U. Pittsburgh, Carnegie-Mellon) and neighborhood. Of course, go to the top(ish) of the Cathedral for the views. If you have it to spare, allow over an hour to see the Nationality Rooms at the Cathedral: classrooms on the first and third floors lavishly decorated to be reminiscent of the various nationalities of Pittsburgh. And pay the fee for the first floor rooms, don't coat-tail on paying customers. Also went to a game at PNC Park. Nice ballpark with a very nice view of downtown, but I had nobody to root for and the weather was a bit unpleasant in the nosebleed seats on the wintery "spring" day I attended. That said, PNC Park seats are much cheaper than Wrigley Field seats. Definitely take the free T light-rail subway to/from if you go, unless your hotel is close. By the way, I think I ran into former Sen. Santorum on the elevator to the top of the Cathedral. I'm not sure if I was him I would wear a jacket with my name stitched on the front at a university campus. (Yes, I know he's an alum.)
  10. John Bredin

    Amtrak's New "Fresh Choices" Dining on CL & LSL

    What boxed meals are you looking at to make this definitive judgment? In this thread I see pictures of the Empire Builder cold meals, a VIA meal, and various existing Amtrak meals. I don't see pictures of the proposed boxed meals. Honest question; if there's a link to a picture of these proposed meals -- IMHO, impossible unless a contractor has already been selected, and unlikely even then because a contractor can tweak its offerings for a particular customer -- I'd love to see it.
  11. John Bredin

    Amtrak's New "Fresh Choices" Dining on CL & LSL

    If every experiment is going to be slapped down and chicken-littled to death before it even begins, the message sent to Amtrak is that anything other than preserving the exact status quo in a specimen jar or amber is unacceptable. The message announcing this makes it clear that this plan is not set in stone. We all know of experiments that Amtrak has tried and then withdrawn when they didn't work. Feeding back that an experiment once tried is a failure for particular reasons is right and proper. Feeding back that experiments should never be tried and have failed before they even begin is easily and rightly discounted as unhelpful. IMHO, Amtrak leadership is not sitting Simon Legree-like cackling at the prospect of making the passenger experience as uncomfortable as possible, as if that's their goal. They are trying to balance what attracts passengers to ride and keep riding against very real financial and political constraints. Exploring where that balance lies by putting an ounce weight on one side, always able to pick it up again OR add another depending on what happens, is good management. But some people seem to equate it with blunderingly and maliciously tipping over the scale altogether.
  12. John Bredin

    Amtrak's New "Fresh Choices" Dining on CL & LSL

    It's been a cold pre-packaged meal on the dinerless section of the Empire Builder for years. While I haven't had the pleasure yet of riding that train, I've heard many times that the cold box meals are actually quite good. And Amtrak hasn't yet in those years taken the opportunity from passengers "settling" for cold meals on the EB to cut back even farther, as some here* have [del]leapt wildly[/del] posited. Of course it depends on the vendor Amtrak picks for the CL and LSL. The cold meals could indeed be inferior. But we know a quality cold meal on Amtrak is possible because it's being done right now. IMHO, the people who've set their jaw beforehand -- meal unseen much less uneaten -- that this WILL suck, it IS merely a nose under the tent for further food-service downgrades, and they WILL stop riding the trains* sound more than a little alarmist. *Not necessarily including spinnaker; this was just a convenient post to reply to.
  13. ...or at least the functional part of it. The true story of a man who had the chip from a tap-and-go farecard implanted in his hand so he could pay his fare by waving his hand instead of a card. For a while, anyhow. http://nowiknow.com/the-guy-who-named-himself-meow-but-failed-to-turn-himself-into-a-cyborg/
  14. Wisconsin is rather bipolar or schizophrenic (in the colloquial sense) on Amtrak. + Unlike many states, it pays for Amtrak service, taking up 75% of the subsidy for the Hiawatha service vs. 25% by Illinois. That alone puts it above the Georgias and Arizonas of the nation. - However, it (or more precisely Gov. Walker) also soundly rejected an extension of the Hiawatha to Madison at mostly federal expense. Ohio was merely copying Wisconsin/Walker when it rejected federal funding for the 3C corridor.
  15. John Bredin

    Midway to Union Station via CTA

    The Orange Line was always intended to terminate not at Midway but a couple miles south at Ford City shopping center. Ford City isn't what it was back in the late '80s when the Orange Line was planned, but the CTA still has plans for a Ford City extension if they ever get funding. The Orange Line was thus designed and built to serve Midway using an existing railroad right-of-way and then continue south in the same right-of-way to Ford City. Much of the Orange Line was similarly built on railroad right-of-way.