Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby gokeefe » Mon Dec 03, 2018 8:45 pm

MEC407 wrote:Do we know if this is happening, and if so, are POR and PWM staff aware of it?

They are definitely aware of it. Raising the price for parking was something of an opportunistic response by the PTC. Used to be parking with validation from Concord Coach (show train/bus ticket) resulted in a discount. That's not the case anymore.

I was not aware that PWM had raised their parking prices. This almost negates the effect of the PTC parking price increase.

I would note that although Concord Coach administers the parking revenues that MaineDOT owns the lot across the street from the PTC and I believe they have a say in pricing.
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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby Cowford » Mon Dec 03, 2018 10:24 pm

I find it hard to believe a consequential number of folks are parking there to save a few bucks from the airport. Considering it's 2.5 miles and a ~$10 taxi fare each way... I'd surmise it's increased bus patronage, given rail business is off over 20% from pre-extension levels. And the extension would have further reduced parking demand as the remaining local ridership would have a greater likelihood of being dropped off.
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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby jonnhrr » Tue Dec 04, 2018 2:58 pm

njt/mnrrbuff wrote:I'm not a big fan of the current Portland Amtrak station for a few reasons. 1. It is not within walking distance of Downtown.

There is frequent bus service from PTC to downtown.

njt/mnrrbuff wrote:2. If you are continuing your journey north of POR, the train has to do multiple reverse moves I think and this can add travel time to the schedule.

All they need to do is back out of the station to the junction, then go forward to continue to Brunswick; or back in if coming from Brunswick. There are a number of places where trains have to or had to back in/out of stations, for example Springfield MA for the Vermonter/Montrealer. Not a big deal and doesn't really add that much time.

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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby markhb » Tue Dec 04, 2018 4:08 pm

There aren't many, if any, "better" places for a Portland train station at this point, considering that such a station would need to be near water level and most of the points of interest are uphill. There was a tentative idea to move the station near the Casco Bay Bridge, but that was abandoned when the Thompson's Point project was first announced, and the site is now part of the Eimskip cargo terminal.
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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby MEC407 » Tue Dec 04, 2018 7:02 pm

Union Station really wasn't that much closer to downtown than the PTC is. Even if the PTC moved back to that exact same site, it's not a pleasant or welcoming neighborhood, and passengers would have a long walk, uphill, to get to the touristy areas of town. Everyone just needs to get past this idea that if the PTC was better located they'd be able to get off the train and walk 5 minutes to the hotel of their choice. It's not going to happen and it didn't happen in the "good old days" either. Passengers arriving at Union Station on the B&M and MEC hailed a taxi or took a trolley to get to their destination. Today you request an Uber or take a bus. It's really not that different at all.
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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby gokeefe » Tue Dec 04, 2018 7:48 pm

Cowford wrote:Considering it's 2.5 miles and a ~$10 taxi fare each way... I'd surmise it's increased bus patronage, given rail business is off over 20% from pre-extension levels. And the extension would have further reduced parking demand as the remaining local ridership would have a greater likelihood of being dropped off.


Lyft is $7-$8 ... Metro is even less. I agree that it could be increased bus patronage but have been told otherwise by those who would know.
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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby MEC407 » Wed Dec 05, 2018 11:53 am

Just for funzies:

Portland Union Station to Hyatt Place or Portland Harbor Hotel: a 33 minute walk
Portland Transportation Center to Hyatt Place or Portland Harbor Hotel: a 46 minute walk

Portland Union Station to Hyatt Place or Portland Harbor Hotel: 16 minutes on the METRO bus
Portland Transportation Center to Hyatt Place or Portland Harbor Hotel: 17 minutes on the METRO bus

Portland Union Station to Hyatt Place or Portland Harbor Hotel: 11 minutes by taxi/Uber/Lyft/free hotel shuttle
Portland Transportation Center to Hyatt Place or Portland Harbor Hotel: 8 minutes by taxi/Uber/Lyft/free hotel shuttle

Unless you're absolutely committed to walking (and who wants to walk with suitcases and bags for 33 minutes?), the transportation times for Union Station and PTC are virtually identical.
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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby gokeefe » Wed Dec 05, 2018 6:27 pm

Very insightful analysis. Thank you that. Never would have imagined the travel times would be so similar.
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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby jonnhrr » Thu Dec 06, 2018 1:24 pm

The Clarion Hotel is next to the PTC and isn't bad, I've stayed there. There is also a La Quinta nearby.

The sports venues- Hadlock Field for the AA Portland Sea Dogs (Red Sox farm team) and the Expo arena for the Maine Red Claws are within walking distance of the station.

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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby jonnhrr » Sun Dec 09, 2018 12:32 pm

Last Friday Dec. 7th,, Train 680 was delayed by a disabled Pan Am Freight near Saco for 1 hr 32 min. They terminated 680 at Woburn and turned it to become 681. Passengers for 681 handled by MBTA commuter train. As a result 681 was able to stay more or less on schedule. Quick thinking by Amtrak here. My son was on 681 and said it was all handled well.

Today boarding at Brunswick for 694 there were 48 boarding according to a gentleman that was taking a head count. Seems more than normal - perhaps Bowdoin College was starting their winter break?

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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby Rockingham Racer » Sun Dec 09, 2018 2:50 pm

Friday was the last day of classes, according to their calendar. Semester exams begin Wednesday. Perhaps some were headed to Boston for the weekend?
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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby swist » Sun Dec 09, 2018 4:07 pm

With regard to the freight breakdown screwup on Friday mentioned above, I was on 681. The MBTA actually ran a special train to Woburn from North Station just for Amtrak 681 customers. It skipped all the intermediate stops and allowed the trip to continue on the former 680 sitting at Woburn with no delay.

It was very good to see that level of co-operation between the MBTA and Amtrak.

More than the usual amount of freight interference lately, although it's usually minimal.
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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby gokeefe » Sun Dec 09, 2018 6:11 pm

Nice to hear of such strong cooperation. Definitely helps keep satisfaction levels and ridership high.
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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby Rockingham Racer » Mon Dec 10, 2018 6:35 am

680 this morning left Portland on time, and is scheduled to be 1:01 late at Saco. Freight interference again, perhaps?
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Re: Amtrak Downeaster Discussion Thread

Postby Dick H » Mon Dec 10, 2018 8:05 am

NNEPRA reports #680 will be 60-90 minutes late into Boston, account of track issue at Scarborough.
http://amtrakdowneaster.com/service-alerts

As of 8:00AM, #680 is running 97 minutes late.;
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