BART, Amtrak exploring possible joint transbay crossing

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Re: BART, Amtrak exploring possible joint transbay crossing

Postby RRspatch » Tue Feb 12, 2019 2:07 am

Yes, BART does need another trans-bay crossing to help with capacity issues. As far as Amtrak and California rail (both high speed and conventional) wouldn't rebuilding the old SP Dumbarton bridge be a lot cheaper.

As far as transferring from Amtrak to BART there already is a transfer available at Richmond and in another 5 to 8 years there should be one in San Jose.

Another thing to think about is where would an Amtrak train terminating in San Francisco be serviced at? I assume the train terminating at Oakland are serviced in the yard there. Push pull trains going to SF would simply change direction. However 5 and 6 would have a long backup move through the tunnel.

I really see this as a solution in search of a problem.
Then it comes to be that the soothing light at the end of your tunnel
Is just a freight train coming your way

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Re: BART, Amtrak exploring possible joint transbay crossing

Postby Tadman » Wed Feb 13, 2019 11:23 am

RRspatch wrote:
I really see this as a solution in search of a problem.


Totally agree.

Right now there are 20 Amtrak bus round trips to downtown San Francisco, plus innumerable ferries and BART. The tunnel would perhaps replace 20 busses and no ferries or BART. Due to light loads in wee hours, it might only be 16 or so. Now, the bus that makes a nice loop of downtown is replaced by a train that stops in one place, 4th/Townsend basement. There is no servicing facility, so the train has to back out to Oakland every time. There is no BART connection at 4th/Townsend, but there is Muni.

Compare this to other alternatives - more buses, better BART and Ferry connection, et al. Perhaps every ticket to/from Oakland could have a $20 voucher good for Muni, BART, Ferry, or uber/lyft. Even with a corresponding bump in ticket price, it makes the service more seamless. But a billion dollar tunnel for 20 trains is crazy. Right now the much shorter North River tunnels are something like $30 billion and they're running hundreds of trains a day through the old tunnels, and they still can't figure out how to pay for it.

Finally, the political analysis is tough. If an interstate tunnel between NJ/NY on a ten-state corridor is being branded as a local need by New York, the anchor city/state, imagine how the rest of the country would react to the idea of spending federal dollars on a intra-state California tunnel used to transport Capitol Corridor passengers from the bay area to Sacramento.

And here's the left field idea: for what it would cost to build this tunnel, Amtrak could buy two new eight-car BART trains with luggage racks, nice seats, coffee/tea/soda counter. Store it at the yards at the end of the line. Half hour before a train is due in, deadhead it to Jack London to meet the inbound train, open it up only to ticketed Amtrak passengers that enter through a special gate (operated by the barcode on their amtrak ticket), shuttle them downtown to any station under Market Street, then deadhead to SFO and lay up until the reverse is necessary. They could even build a Metropolitan lounge at Market/Powell.

Whatever logistical costs or "can't do its" we can come up with, it costs WAY less than two extra tubes at 3.5 miles each. If each BART car costs $1.7m, and the downtown Met lounge costs $10m, We're looking at a capital cost of $40m maybe. That's literally 20% less than the cost to study the idea to build the tunnels.
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Re: BART, Amtrak exploring possible joint transbay crossing

Postby The EGE » Wed Feb 13, 2019 3:18 pm

The idea is to allow through-running commuter rail and intercity services between San Francisco and the Peninsula, and the East Bay. We're talking in the range of 15-minute-frequency all-day commuter rail (San Jose-Stockton and San Jose-Sacramento every 30 minutes each), 10+ daily round trips to the Central Valley, and increased intercity service north and east of Sacramento plus south to LA (whether or not CAHSR comes to pass). All of that is already laid out in state and operating agency plans as in place by or before a second Transbay Tube would be finished. Much like the NSRL in Boston, the benefit is not merely the connection of two terminal districts - it's the massive increase in connectivity (and demand) as two- and three- and four-seat rides become one-seat rides.

The mainline part of TB2 would almost certainly come directly into downtown San Francisco through the Transbay Transit Center (one block from Market Street, directly in the downtown commercial district) where all trains would stop. There are a number of different possibilities for BART; Geary and Van Ness corridors are likely, and tying into the existing Mission Street subway for alternate routings is also possible. So BART might go through Transbay, or take an entirely different route through SOMA.

On the Oakland side, you have a lot of possibilities as well. One that will certainly be considered is removing vastly-underused I-980 and replacing it with a combined Amtrak/BART Oakland Central station.
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Re: BART, Amtrak exploring possible joint transbay crossing

Postby Tadman » Wed Feb 13, 2019 4:17 pm

That makes a bit more sense. It will be interesting to see how California gets anything funded after the HSR debacle. For those that haven't heard, Governor-elect Newsom just canned the HSR except a short stretch between two smaller cities in the central state (because he'd have to pay back $3b federal money if he canned that, too).
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