Amtrak Tracking for My Commute Between New York City and Philadelphia

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Pictures of Penn Station in New York City and 30th Street Station in Philadelphia

For those that read my blog but have never been to Penn Station in New York City and 30th Street Station in Philadelphia I thought I'd include a couple photos of both. I found these on flickr.

Penn Station in New York City
7th Ave entrance to Penn Station:

These are the stairs that lead down from the 7th Ave entrance to Penn Station. Penn Station is in a basement basically. These are from the bottom of the stairs looking up. The on stair advertising is fairly new, been there for about 3 years I'd say. It was not there when I started my commute from Philly to NYC in 2004. There's a long hallway leading to these stairs from the train platforms so you get a good look at whatever ad is there.

Main Penn Station waiting area for Amtrak trains. Tracks are down the stairs which are to the left and right in this picture with the train announcement board in the middle of the picture

On the platform at Penn Station

30th Street Station
Shot of 3oth Street Station from the Center City side of the Schuylkill River (East of the Schuylkill River is Center City Philadelphia, West of the river is West Philly) with the Cira Center in the background. The Market Street bridge is in the foreground.

30th Street entrance to 30th Street Station

Main hall of 30th Street Station

30th Street train status board

Most Phi to NYC trains boarded on Track #3, I got to know these stairs very well...

30th Street Station is quite a beautiful structure while Penn Station NYC, well, is not. They say the original Penn Station used to be quite nice before it was demolished in 1964, here's a picture of the original:

This is shot of 8th Ave looking south with Penn Station on the left and the Farley Post Office on the right. New York wants to remodel the Farley Post Office and to make it into a new Penn Station.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Possible Amtrak strike delayed until January 31, 2008 at least

Amtrak union workers cannot go on strike until Januray 31, 2008 at the earliest. This is due to President Bush's action of creating a five-member "presidential emergency board" to investigate the labor dispute between the passenger railroad and employees who have been without a contract for nearly eight years.

The dispute centers on health-care, proposed work rules changes, and back pay to the start of 2000 when the last contract ended.

More info on this is available in the Philadelphia Inquirer article "Possible Amtrak strike is delayed" and The Kiplinger Letter story "A Post-Holiday Amtrak Strike Looms"

This gives Philly-NYC commuters (any NEC commuter really) a stay if you will. Can't tell what the chances of a strike are but Amtrak workers have never gone on strike, I'll keep posting on this subject as info comes up.

Parade Article: "A Better Way To Travel?"

A November Parade article title "A Better Way To Travel?" talks about rail travel and Amtrak in particular. Five quotes from the article I liked:

Many transportation experts insist that the best answer to transportation gridlock is efficient intercity rail travel. Trains use one-fifth less energy than cars or planes. They run in bad weather. They’re business-efficient and tourist-friendly.

“The transportation funding mechanism is skewed toward highway construction,” says James RePass, principal executive of the National Corridors Initiative, a transportation advocacy group. “The game is rigged against rail.”

In contrast, the rest of the industrialized world is investing heavily in its train systems. From border to border, Europe is wiring itself for high-speed rail. The result? Decreased emissions and increased productivity. Some predict the eventual obsolescence of air travel on the continent.

The current administration has been particularly unfriendly. Amtrak, which is federally funded, received just $1.3 billion last year—the same as 25 years ago. Compare that to the $40 billion allocated for highways and the $14 billion for airlines in 2006. For the 2008 fiscal year, the Bush Administration pro- posed just $800 million for the railroad—a $500 million cut from 2007. In 2005, the President proposed pulling the plug entirely on Amtrak’s subsidy.

“I’m amazed at the rancor about our numbers—they are so small,” says Alex Kummant, Amtrak’s CEO. “ It costs about $1.50 for every man, woman and child to sustain this network—one cup of coffee per person. Look at highway congestion, environmental issues, the capacity of airline travel. For city-to-city transportation, we need passenger rail.”

Friday, December 07, 2007

"Has Amtrak’s Time Come?" - Article in National League of Cities

Neal Peirce of the National League of Cities has a nice article titled Has Amtrak’s Time Come?

He notes that though there are record numbers Amtrak’s continued success could be in jeopardy:

Amtrak expansion could get derailed. Why? If demand keeps rising as seems likely, Amtrak estimates it will lack sufficient cars and backup equipment by the 2010-2012 time frame. Given the multiyear lead times for equipment design and manufacture, this means the procurement process needs to begin right away. Congress can help significantly if it moves swiftly on current bills — the major boost being a $1.9-billion-a-year subsidy recently voted by the Senate, and a separate Senate Finance Committee proposal for $900 million a year to let states issue tax-free bonds to finance new intercity passenger rail infrastructure.