Amtrak Tracking for My Commute Between New York City and Philadelphia

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

U.S. Senate approves $11.4 billion for Amtrak over 6 years

Reuters is reporting that the U.S. Senate approved legislation Tuesday that would provide $11.4 billion for Amtrak over six years providing a stable subsidy for the national passenger rail service.

The bill passed the Senate 70-22 meaning it has strong support and is more likely to go through.

More federal money for Amtrak means they'll be able to have more trains running, will be able to make repairs and infrasturcture enhancements more quickly resulting in better service overall. Hopefully this would keep fares flat as well. All good things for the Philly-NYC commuter.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Amtrak Strike Possible in Early 2008, Bad News for Philly-NYC Commuters

The Philadelphia Inquirer has a story by Paul Nussbaum about a possible Amtrak strike looming.

Excerpts from the article:
Amtrak workers who have been without a labor contract for seven years have rejected arbitration in their long-running battle, starting a countdown toward what would be the first-ever strike against the nation's passenger railroad.

By yesterday's deadline, all nine Amtrak unions had rejected an offer of arbitration from the National Mediation Board in Washington.

By law, the mediation board must now declare a 30-day cooling-off period. During that time, the mediation board likely will recommend to President Bush that he appoint a "presidential emergency board." That board would then have 30 days to hold hearings and report to the White House its recommendations on how to settle the dispute.

After the emergency board makes its recommendations, another 30-day cooling-off period is required, to allow the parties to try to settle. If they don't, the unions could strike or Amtrak could impose a contract.

A strike, which could not occur until early next year, would also disrupt commuter railroads, including SEPTA and NJ Transit, which operate some of their trains on Amtrak tracks and rely on Amtrak dispatchers.

An Amtrak strike would shut about half of SEPTA's regional rail lines, which Amtrak dispatches and maintains.

This would be bad for Philly-NYC commuters relying on Amtrak. Sounds like it would be bad for anyone using SEPTA, NJT or Amtrak along the NEC. Hopefully you all have a work at home options. Amtrak has never had a strike so perhaps chances of this happening are low.

Amtrak Ridership 25.8 Million, revenue $1.5 Billion in Fiscal Year 2007, Record Breaking Year reports Amtrak carried a record-high number of passengers as ridership and ticket revenue exceeded fiscal year 2006 figures.

During the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, Amtrak carried 25.85 million passengers, up 3.3 percent compared with last years 24.31 million. Amtrak also posted its highest-ever ticket revenue at $1.5 billion, an 11 percent increase compared with last years $1.37 billion with total fiscal year 2007 revenue at $2.2 billion.

Amtrak President and CEO Alex Kummant's prepared statement:
"Highway and airway congestion, volatile fuel prices, increasing environmental awareness and a need for transportation links between growing communities are some of the factors that make intercity passenger rail extremely relevant in today's world. Our record setting ridership and ticket revenue in FY 2007 indicate the stage is set for Amtrak to take on a role as not only a contributor to the nation's transportation network, but as a leader among modes."

Revenue growth was greatest in the NEC as I noted in a prior post on this blog "Acela has near 20% jump in ridership."

Acela has near 20% jump in ridership

The Boston Globe website has an article by David Abel discussing the significant percentage increase in ridership on the Acela for fiscal year 2007. The Acela ridership increase is nearly 20% over fiscal year 2006. Amtrak attributes increase to gas prices and airport congestion.

In the fiscal year ending last month ridership on Acela was up nearly 20 percent over the previous year to 3.1 million passengers. Revenue was up 23 percent to $403.5 million. In fiscal 2007 Amtrak states Acela trains ran on time ~88 percent of the time, up ~3% from 2007. Amtrak also states that the NEC had the biggest increase in revenue, by 14 percent to more than $829 million.

This is great for Amtrak, we need them to be successful so they can expand their services. Will services expand to assist NEC Amtrak commuters like those from Philly to NYC? Unknown at this time but as they get more money I'm ocnfident they'll do more things to accomodate more riders.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Amtrak and T-Mobile offer WiFi at select stations (Philadelphia 30th Street Station and New York Penn Station included)

This CNET story talks about a press release from T-Mobile announcing that T-Mobile HotSpot service is available along the NEC. Passengers waiting for a train can now surf the web via the T-Mobile WiFi network at the Washington D.C. Union Station, Baltimore Penn Station, Wilmington Station, Philadelphia 30th Street Station and New York Penn Station.

If you have T-Mobile cellular service with the $19.99 monthly unlimited data plan you can surf for free as part of that plan. With a device like the BlackBerry 8320 you can make and receive UMA calls at these stations.

Hoping this story was going to be WiFi on the trains in the NEC. That would have been great news for Philly-NYC commuters.