Monday, October 26, 2009

The Amtrak World Series

2 Months ago the St. Louis Cardinals took Amtrak from DC to Philadelphia. It appears that the Cards set a trend because "for the first time in recent memory, the [Philadelphia Phillies] boarded the Phillie Express from 30th Street Station in Philadelphia about 4:45 p.m., bound for New York’s Penn Station."

The article goes on to state, "When the first members of the team emerged from Penn Station on the corner of 32nd Street and Eighth Avenue, they were greeted by a couple of Phillies fans. Their voices were soon overtaken by more lusty locals chanting, “Let’s go, Yankees.”"

What a shrewd move it would be for Amtrak and Major League Baseball, the NHL, the NBA and possibly the NFL, to utilize Amtrak for travel and marketing purposes. Hannah Kirkner, a native Philadelphian living in New York, was delighted to see her team on a Manhattan sidewalk. “It’s very representative of our city to take the train. It’s so human.”

Hannah is absolutely right! Making players accessible to their fans in a great public space like a train station is a win-win-win for the sport, the fan and the profile of passenger rail. Imagine Cardinal fans greeting their team in Chicago's Union Station as they arrive for a series against the Cubs, or Twins fans wishing their team well before leaving from St. Paul's Union Depot before a divisional series against the White Sox.

Professional and collegiate sports are a key part of American culture, especially in the Midwest. Amtrak/passenger rail must become a larger part of our culture and a stronger public relationship with major athletics is an excellent place to start.

Yankees in 6

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Florida rising

In the race for a slice of the $8 Billion HSR pie, Florida is doing it's best to get a seat at the table. The Palm Beach Post has a good piece highlighting the benefit of passenger rail for the state as, "The synergy and relationships that can be established between universities and hospitals and biotech clusters are more successful when you don't have one- or two-hour delays."

This comes on the heels of Florida
Governor Charlie Crist endorsing State Senate President Jeff Atwater’s proposal to call a special session to fund commuter rail projects.

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Amtrak & Disney, HSR oversight and CTA Seniors

Amtrak and Disney have teamed up for a 16,000 mile 36 state tour to promote another remake of A Christmas Carol.

Events and promotions like this are hopefully just the beginning of what will be a cultural shift towards engaging young minds in passenger rail. Yes, I know it's just a train promoting a movie, but hopefully our country's movement towards Higher Speed Rail, hopefully High Speed Rail in the not too distant future, coupled with promotions and events that interest children will nurture the next generation of travelers who will utilize rail because they grew up with it being the fastest, most comfortable and most fun way to travel. Making passenger rail enjoyable for all ages through improved performance, competitive pricing and enticing marketing campaigns will have a lasting and positive effect on our nation's transportation and social landscape.

Thanks to Streetsblog Capitol Hill for its entry on HSR Oversight.

S. 1638: The Amtrak Secure Transportation of Firearms Act is currently making its way through Congress.

On a non-HSR, but still interesting note, Mayor Daley has suggested lawmakers reconsider free rides for seniors, people with disabilities and military personnel during the CTA's latest budget crisis, which is resulting in fare increases from $2.25 to $3.00 for the L.

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Thursday, October 08, 2009

California HSR

Even though the Midwest is competing with the Golden State for stimulus dollars, it is encouraging to see the publicity and political support behind a true high speed rail plan in the U.S.

Above video courtesy of the CHSRA blog


Thursday, October 01, 2009

On the eve of something big...

It can be best to distract yourself from the anxiety of waiting to see what you'll wake up to. Perhaps we could use a distraction from the tension leading to tomorrow's BIG decision by the IOC about which city will host the 2016 Summer Olympics, so like a kid on Christmas Eve, I have a few things to pass the time until that decision comes down from Copenhagen.

First is a great post by the INFRASTRUCTURIST about Google's new 3D tour of old Penn Station.

Second is an interesting article by The Tribune's Blair Kamin, who says, "Chicago is not floating plans for major infrastructure improvements, like those that transformed Barcelona for the 1992 Games." I am optimistic that the reception of the bid will be a catalyst for those infrastructure improvements, not just in Chicago, but throughout the Midwest, that have long been talked about, but have lacked the necessary funding or hard deadline to get them built.

Finally, our own Rick Harnish spoke today at the Northwestern University Transportation Center about the future of HSR in the US. I had the pleasure the being there and listening not only to Rick, but to a great Q&A afterward that touched on everything from CREATE, freight, rail in Indiana, Cost Benefit Analysis of HSR and a range of other hot button issues.

All that remains to be seen now, is whether Chicago will be adding a fifth star to it's flag.

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