Amtrak Tracking for My Commute Between New York City and Philadelphia

Monday, December 15, 2008

"Amtrak to seek high-speed train"

Article in The Washington Times noting that "congressional transportation leaders plan to announce today that the federal government is seeking contractors to build a new $30 billion to $40 billion high-speed rail line between Washington and New York that would be used exclusively by passenger trains". "The new rail line would carry passengers between Washington and New York in no more than two hours."  "A new rail line appears to be the kind of project supported by President-elect Barack Obama in his economic stimulus plan. The plan calls for heavy government investment in infrastructure projects, particularly if they are environmentally friendly."

This would be a major event as there really has not been a major upgrade in our rail infrastructure for a long time. I support this effort, this would be a major benefit to all cities and communities on the NEC and anyone who commutes regularly via rail. The article also says there are plans for high speed trains in several parts of the country, not just the NEC. Also good news. But will all this really happen? I think significant upgrades will happen but a train that would take two hours from DC to NYC, though pretty fabulous, I just cannot see becoming a reality even in the next 10 years.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Blog post "I don't know why Amtrak does not offer wireless Internet"

Answer Girl blog post about "I don't know why Amtrak does not offer wireless Internet".  This is a good question, Amtrak should offer this service to drive additional revenue. Amtrak could advertise their wireless internet service allowing people to be productive during their commutes enticing more people to use Amtrak. Maybe even offer this service as a free incentive for people to buy Smart Passes. Amtrak offering wireless connectivity is the way to go, airlines are starting to do this on flights and access is becoming ubiquitous so Amtrak will have to offer it at some point due to market forces. I would have loved to have had this when I was commuting regularly with Amtrak. I do observe that many people who take Amtrak have air cards so this would limit the number of people who would purchase internet connectivity from Amtrak.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Maura Moynihan to Obama: Build Moynihan Station!

Maura Moynihan, daughter of Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, is pushing for the plan to build Moynihan Station (aka make a  new Penn Station out of the Farley Post Office)

The New York Observer quoted Maura Moynihan as saying:
"With a new president committed to building great projects to get the economy moving again and a new U.S. senator from New York to succeed our new secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, few things should make more sense than that they become champions of Moynihan Station."

President elect Obama has talked of funding large public works projects to boost the economy. I hope the Obama administration will fund Moynihan Station development as this will have great benefit for all NYC commuters. New York Governor Paterson has stated he wants to move forward on the project but his main issues are the lack of a main tenant for the Farley building and the possible cessation of platform time slots from the LIRR and New Jersey Transit to Amtrak.

Report: Giving up car for public transit could save $11,000 a year

The Philadelphia Business Journal reported that commuters in Philadelphia can save more than $11,000 annually by taking public transportation instead of driving when gasoline prices and parking rates are factored in.

Philadelphia ranked fifth of the top 20 cities with the highest public transportation ridership for its transit savings according to the Transit Savings Report, a monthly analysis by the American Public Transportation Association. New York was first.

These numbers will go down as the price of gas continues to fall. With an Amtrak monthly pass over $1,000/month the math here for Philly-NYC commuters doesn't quite add up to much, if any savings. Nonetheless, there is a real financial benefit to commuting that commuters should understand. I did that analysis a couple years ago and found commuting from Philly to NYC was a viable option for me.

Gas prices down but public transit ridership still up

There is a Philadelphia Business Journal article today titled "Gas prices down but public transit ridership still up".  I think this is interesting as you'd assume that public transportation ridership would go down as gas prices go down. Maybe this could become a permanent trend in the US. I think it would be great if the rate of public transit use increases faster than the rate of total number of miles driven. This is a "greener" way to travel and the Amtrak bill approved by Congress will make commuting along the NEC more efficient.

Some highlights from the article:
  • "Ridership on public transportation remained up in the third quarter in New Jersey and Pennsylvania and remained at record levels nationwide despite falling gasoline prices, the American Public Transportation Association announced Monday."
  • "Ridership on Amtrak's Keystone Line, which provides 90-minute service between Harrisburg, Lancaster and Philadelphia and a direct connection to New York City, also rose by 21.65 percent for the quarter and has experienced an increase of 18.88 percent year-to date."

Monday, December 01, 2008

Amtrak appoints Joseph Boardman as president, CEO

Former New York State Transportation Commissioner Joseph Boardman has been named the new president and CEO of Amtrak. I'm not familiar with this guy but response to his appointment has been generally good.