Thursday, October 25, 2007

Atlantic City casinos are funding more train service from NYC

This is great. As for-profit companies are realizing that our transportation networks are underserved by trains and they are willing to invest their budgets not just in parking lots but in other ways of getting customers to their doors -- that is, with trains -- public policy can't be too far behind.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer (as reposted by the biglittler blog here), Atlantic City casinos are getting together to fund the operating deficit of express train service between New York City and their boardwalk to appeal to 25-34 year olds who don't like sitting in traffic. The casinos are contracting with NJ Transit to operate the trains.

The casinos are buying the trainsets themselves, which is great, since we need more entities in the trainset buying business.

I'm a big fan of Amtrak (in fact, I'll be catching an Illinois train to Champaign in five hours), but the more entities we get buying trains and finding operators to run them, the better off we'll be.

Congratulations to the Atlantic City casinos for their vision. If we ever get a casino in Chicago (to help finance infrastructure like.....trains), I hope that casino will decide to finance additional train service. Maybe the Northwest Indiana casinos should get in that business now.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Huge ridership gains in Illinois fuels national ridership increase

From this Amtrak press release:

Annual Amtrak Ridership Sets All-Time Record; Fifth Straight Year of Increases Ridership Tops 25.8 Million, $1.5 Billion in Passenger Revenue

WASHINGTON — Amtrak ridership in Fiscal Year 2007 increased to 25,847,531, marking the fifth straight year of gains and setting a record for the most passengers using Amtrak trains since the National Railroad Passenger Corporation started operations in 1971.


On the Chicago-St. Louis Lincoln Service corridor, ridership is up by 55.8 percent for the state trains and 42 percent for the corridor, with total of 477,888. Ridership between Chicago and Carbondale, the route the Illini and Saluki trains share with the City of New Orleans, is up by 67.4 percent for the state-supported trains and 46 percent for the corridor, totaling 263,809. For the Chicago-Galesburg-Quincy route of the Illinois Zephyr, Carl Sandburg and other trains, ridership has gained 41.4 percent for the state-sponsored trains and 33 percent for the route, with 194,535 passengers.


Check out the press release for lots more good stuff.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Transportation Research Board paper on intercity rail

Your tax dollars at work: the Transportation Research Board's Intercity Rail Passenger Systems Committee (website here) published a Summer 2007 Update with some excellent articles. It's online here.

Among some of the interesting findings:

Because most of the benefits to transit (including intercity rail) accrue to drivers and people who breathe, lowering fares in order to increase ridership is often a good idea.

They are now running trains every hour between Berlin and Cologne (about 300 miles apart). We should be running hourly trains between Chicago and Detroit, St. Louis, Cleveland, Minneapolis-St. Paul and Cincinnati. Hourly!

If you want to get wonked out, check out the Update and also see their website for several other articles that did not make it into the publication.