Amtrak Tracking for My Commute Between New York City and Philadelphia

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

New rail stations, tunnel to airport eyed for Philadelphia article: "Amtrak and city officials envision a new high-speed rail station on Market Street east of City Hall, linked by a 10-mile tunnel to Philadelphia International Airport, where a second new station would be built.  30th Street Station would become a hub for slower intercity trains and commuter service. Amtrak says a new high-speed rail alignment beneath Center City would allow bullet trains to avoid speed-killing curves and space limits near 30th Street Station, helping meet a goal of 37-minute train trips between Philadelphia and New York by 2040."

Mmmm. I love 30th Street Station and it is one of the most impressive train stations in the US. When I commuted to NYC from Philly 30th St Station was grand, spacious and comfortable which helped in dealing with a long daily commute (for the exact opposite feeling see NYC Penn Station). But a 37-minute train ride to get to NYC is worth some sacrifices so to make this happen I would be OK with 30th Station being relegated to a local hub.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

"Hassles of Air Travel Push Passengers to Amtrak"

New York Times story by Ron Nixon about the continued growth of Amtrak, some highlights and some ticket cost comparisons:

Between New York and Washington, Amtrak said, 75 percent of travelers go by train; a share that has been building steadily since the Acela was introduced in 2000. Before that, Amtrak had about a third of the business between New York City and Washington. In the same period its market share between NYC and Boston grew to 54 percent from 20 percent.

Nationally, Amtrak ridership is at a record 30 million people. The Northeast accounts for more than a third of this.

Given the current trends Amtrak said traffic in the NEC could reach 43.5 million passengers by 2040, almost four times the level today.

Acela trains average about 80 percent full and earned an operating profit of more than $200 million last year on nearly $500 million in revenue. Acela tickets are costly - fares between New York and Washington range from an average of $145 for regular business class to $351 for first class; New York to Boston, $104 to $251; and Boston to Washington, $163 to $393. Non-Acela train fares between New York and Washington average $49 to $153 for coach and $120 to $193 for business class; New York to Boston, $49 to $133 for coach and $104 to $168 for business; and Boston to Washington, $70 to $185 coach and $144 to $233 for business class. By comparison the lowest one-way coach rate between Washington and New York was $236 on US Air before taxes and fees on Aug 15, 2012. Between New York and Boston, $229-$314, and Washington-Boston, $62-$369.  Due to demand Amtrak wants to add cars to the 20 Acela trains increasing Acela capacity 40 percent. Amtrak plans to add the new cars by 2015 and by 2020 increase the frequency of the trains between NYC and Washington.

The article notes that BoltBus and MegaBus have increased ridership since they began operating in 2008. The buses generally make the New York-to-Washington run in four and a half hours; tickets range from $1 to $40, a bargain compared to Amtrak and the airlines.

Amtrak is growing and it needs to be supported by Federal funds to ensure continued economic expansion along the NEC. The buses are nice but people will pay a premium for train service due to better convenience and comfort.