No Hope for Newtown

Discussion relating to Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (Philadelphia Metro Area). Official web site can be found here: www.septa.com. Also including discussion related to the PATCO Speedline rapid transit operated by Delaware River Port Authority. Official web site can be found here: http://www.ridepatco.org/.

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Re: No Hope for Newtown

Postby dwm167 » Thu Sep 04, 2008 3:27 am

I have to disagree with the notion that this will NEVER receive federal funding for many reasons. First of all, Never say never. I know that sounds like Peter Pan wisdom, but cliches like that exist for a reason. Let's take a step back here and look at the big picture and stop looking at the R8 restoration issue - or any other SEPTA problem for that matter - through the severely restrictive, under-funded, and antiquated lens of SEPTA. I understand that SEPTA has been on life support since its inception, and that as victims of hostile policies, SEPTA has been forced to use the business model of simply staying afloat. As we all are keenly aware, train travel in America is still largely perceived as a relic, a mere stepping stone in our society's developmental path into the age of the car. Connotations of the word railroad have usually invoked images of tourist "choo choos" for those that have never used a train, and images of poverty for those that have ridden trains (unless, of course, you've ever been to Europe or Japan). "You take the train because you can't afford a car." That's been the perception, am I correct? Perceptions are in people's minds, and people make decisions that allocate money to create the physical change everyone seems to imagine can "surely never happen". If you can change a person's mind, you've already completed 90% of the work needed to manifest a new idea. Anyone who has studied, or been a part of social movements anywhere in the world understands this. I'll come back to this in a moment.

I repeat "never say never" because these perceptions are beginning to change. Western civilization is beginning to enter a new era in which the general populous will begin to intimately understand its true relationship with nature and its resources. We do not ultimately control nature, nature ultimately controls us. We are not in here, and nature is out there. We are not voyeurs to some external animal kingdom over which we have ultimate domain. This building is your habitat. That car is our mobility, and as a young species we're still trying to figure out how to live sustainably in our world. To do that, we need to change our habits and adapt, just like every other living organism of the face of the Earth. To be a successful species in this world, you can't put all of your eggs in one basket. Those that live in the world's most extreme environments depend on a smaller array of resources for their survival and that makes them vulnerable. Species that have become so specialized on aquiring tenuous resources are usually the first ones to go when circumstances change. Humans are no different. We have perfected our extraction practices of our resources - namely petroleum - so well that we have neglected everything else. What happens in nature when an animal can't find the food they usually eat, or it becomes too difficult to acquire? They find other food sources, and they often turn to their secondary, usually neglected food sources. Over prolonged periods of time while they're forced to subsist on other forms of food, their species adapt and actually become good at acquiring their new food. What I'm trying to say is that this country is about to enter a new age where its energy policy is going to transform our landscape, and we're going to look to the past to help us figure out our future.

As ridership continues to hit unprecedented levels, we'll understand that trains can actually get us from point A to point B faster than cars because we didn't have to worry about traffic, and you can travel at higher speeds. We'll remember that trains are more convenient, hands-off and stress free. We'll remember what it was like to actually know your neighbors, and talk to people around you. We'll remember how thin we all used to be because we walked more as a direct result of taking the train. And like the animals that began to improve their tactics in acquiring their new primary food, we'll begin to see ways to modernize and improve our trains. Faster speeds. More luxury. Automated, standardized, and universal ticketing systems. Sexier train designs. Prettier stations. Advertising! Soon, the car commute to work will begin to look like a hassle that no one wants to be a part of. I can see the commercial already:

A husband and a wife both leave the house and kiss each other goodbye, and plan to meet at a cafe in the city for a quick breakfast before work. The husband gets in the car and heads for the highway while the wife gets in her car and drives to the train station. She parks in her reserved parking space - no searching - and walks over to the station platform, pays the $6 fare or whatever by sliding her card over a scanner. Meanwhile, the husband is at the pump filling up his car which costs him $75. He gets into his car shaking his head, gets on the the highway on-ramp, and makes a dangerous merge into highway traffic, gets honked at, and retaliates with a honk of his own and calls the other guy an idiot. Flashback to the train: the wife boards, finds her friends that she met, and begins laughing with her friends on the train, or meeting new people around her. She settles in, picks up her book and sips her coffee. Flashback to the husband: He is juggling coffee of his own and loses attention to the road...has to brake suddenly...and proceeds to spill the coffee all over him. This of course makes him even more angry because he's suddenly encountered the major traffic jam. Meanwhile on the train, the wife is now staring out the window at the scenery whizzing by in complete solitude, dozing off and listening to music. She then realizes that she has to use the bathroom, and just like on an airplane, she walks up to the front and uses the restroom. Flashback to the traffic jam, the husband now has to go to the bathroom, except he can't, he's stuck. As the traffic continues to creep along, he frantically checks his watch and slams his head into the wheel. Back to the train, it's now arriving and she gets out into a nice station. She gets up to street level and finds an outdoor cafe, sits down, and checks the newspaper. The camera pans up at the time...and then quickly shoots over to the husband's watch while he's still in traffic which has finally begun to move again. He's late. He now drives frantically, meandering through traffic and getting more stressed. He finally arrives at the cafe, desperate for a bathroom, coffee down his shirt, visibly stressed and babbling about how terribly everyone drives these days. She looks up at in him in complete peace, and says, "You're 20 minutes late, as usual, Bob. Maybe you should take the train next time with me." "Better. Cheaper. Faster." scrolls across the screen and insert your regional rail line's name. End of commercial.

Perceptions can be changed. Once perceptions are changed, legislation changes. Sure, the R8 will be expensive to restore and upgrade. Maybe the rail line's close proximity to homes means that you sink in further into the ground, into a railway ditch that has cement walls with steps arranged in a cascading manner to allow plants to grows within the gaps. This would reduce the train's noise pollution, allow bridges to be installed instead of crossing which are safer and quieter (no horns), and allow for greater speeds in populated areas. I makes tunneling and prolonged land-bridges much easier as well. The line in almost completely straight from southhampton to newtown, where most of these homes are in close proximity to the tracks, so no land would have to be acquired through easements or eminent domain in order to increase turning radii. The turns along the line begin at county line road as they leave the housing areas and enter the less developed areas, so turning larger turning radii can be implemented much more easily. The line follow Pennypack creek until it hits Lorimer Park through sparsely populated areas, so straightening this line and increasing the turning radii is much easier than you would think. And even if the NIMBYS in Bryn Athyn kill that portion of the line's viability, you could use the R2 line, branch off at the trenton cut-off and follow that corridor until it intersects the old R8 line near County Line road and follow that up to Newtown...that would generate more ridership because it's not going through the dead population zone between fox chase and southhampton, where the R3 west trenton already is the viable option, especially since you can take the Bethayres express. Really, all SEPTA needs is funding and a set of new ideas and possibilities. Federal funding for public transit is going to go up, especially if the new president is Obama (just look at McCain's voting record on Amtrak and then think about how Biden takes the train daily between Wilmington and DC and that Obama comes from Chicago-one of the nation's greatest last-remaining railroad hubs). SEPTA has the skeleton of a great system...it has the benefit of old corridors and current ones that reach the region's population in a relatively equidistant fashion that all centrally serve the city...the new center of commerce for the 21st century. Philadelphia doesn't have the problem of cities out west that have little to no corridors for transit because their cities grew in the age of the car. As a result, they don't have the density, either. SEPTA is just in the doldrums, but its has a lot of things in its favorite that won't require nearly the kind of capital investment other cities will face. I believe that things like the Schuylkill Valley Metro will actually become less capital intensive when compared on a federal level to places like Dallas, Phoenix or LA that are just totally screwed because of a lack of transit corridors. So I strongly disagree that the R8 will never receive federal funding...the population is there, it's the only gap in the system with close proximity to the city...see this map:

Image

And parking garages take up less space than massive surface parking lots...most park and rides employ them in well populated areas....see DC's metro system in places like Shady Grove, Rockville, Franconia-Springfield, or in San Francisco's Bart system like at San Bruno or Millbrae. They also have large surface parking lots, but you don't have to have them here in PA. You have to think outside the box a little with this one. We're not in 1983 when service was shut down. It's 2008...we're in the future. The leaders at SEPTA need to start looking around at everyone else, Metra North, NJ Transit, DC Metro, BART and get out of that SEPTA box. New funds mean new hires. New engineers (i don't mean operators but they'll need more too). New thinking. Perceptions are changing...ridership is up, SEPTA has secured dedicated, annual state funding so it can actually plan a future. It's getting new railcars. There's a new CEO. Thinks are starting to turn around.
dwm167
 

Re: No Hope for Newtown

Postby dwm167 » Thu Sep 04, 2008 3:46 am

I hear what you're saying, Jeff, and what the planners are saying as well. However, the most important thing is that corridor, and perhaps it's light rail with frequent stops that is installed instead of heavy rail. However, that won't get you into the city as quickly as heavy rail could, and people won't ride it if that means a longer commute. I think park and rides along between Newtown and Southhampton with no stations below that until Fox Chase would work. It doesn't make sense to have a station in Bryn Athyn or on Terwood because you could easily drive to a station on county line road at or to Bethayres in the case of Bryn Athyn residents quickly. All peak trains express from Fox Chase to Temple and vice versa. If a different corridor could be forged to serve this part of the region (which I've tried to do countless times and failed just on google maps) then that should be explored as well.
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Re: No Hope for Newtown

Postby Jersey_Mike » Thu Sep 04, 2008 6:55 am

I have always felt the best strategy for lines like the Newtown or West Chester was incremental expansion, rather than a Greenbush style ro-do. Each year SEPTA should extent service out along the lines by one station. Those already near the terminal are used to rail service and its benefits and would support a closer station. Over a number of years the line would march forward and the NIMBY's would be pushed back, all for a modest yearly capital expense. Of course SEPTA doesn't care enough about new service and even in the case of the Wawa expansion they are dragging their feet.
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Re: No Hope for Newtown

Postby jfrey40535 » Thu Sep 04, 2008 9:36 am

Great speech DWM, but in the real world that's not how things work. You're correct in saying that people's perception of rail transit is changing. The ridership gains at Amtrak and SEPTA are testament to that.

However:
As ridership continues to hit unprecedented levels, we'll understand that trains can actually get us from point A to point B faster than cars because we didn't have to worry about traffic, and you can travel at higher speeds.


This is not the case here in SEPTA land. Our Wal-Mart signal system has actually slowed trains down and the only attempt SEPTA has made at speeding service is through station closures which just makes the system less-accessible to people.

Really, all SEPTA needs is funding and a set of new ideas and possibilities.


Again, its not that simple. No transit planner or agency is going to endorse untwisting the route to make it faster and "sexier". Its not feasible to restore it as it is, let alone rewrite the book on where the line goes.

Federal funding for public transit is going to go up, especially if the new president is Obama


And the money will come from where? The fed is already buried in debt and we're in the middle of a recession with no end in sight on top of a war without end. The fact that cities are once again viable (and people are moving there to prove it) already demonstrates that our transit dollars are better spent improving transit in the city (such as a Delaware Ave light rail line, or Blvd Subway) where the highest return is possible instead of ressurecting a dead line in a marginal market.

Planners I have spoken with have stated that the line will only generate 15% of new riders, based on their GIS models. That is not going to justify spending well over $100 million for rebuilding the line, let alone doing anything "outside the box".

And parking garages take up less space than massive surface parking lots


Again, the the real estate doesn't exist unless you start leveling people's houses. If they don't want the train, they're not going to want parking garages either.

perhaps it's light rail with frequent stops that is installed instead of heavy rail. However, that won't get you into the city as quickly as heavy rail could, and people won't ride it if that means a longer commute.


I disagree. Its certainly a viable model out in Darby where people have been doing the MFSE/P&W shuffle for 100 years. If done right with frequent headways, it shouldn't be a deterrant.

I have always felt the best strategy for lines like the Newtown or West Chester was incremental expansion, rather than a Greenbush style ro-do. Each year SEPTA should extent service out along the lines by one station.


I've said the same thing, and I think they could easily justify extending the line now to Lorimar Park since Fox Chase is already maxed out with parking, except the bicycle/hiking/nature crowd has already claimed the ROW for their trail. Taking that away from them is like ripping a bottle from a baby. I think the fact that the line is now being carved up has nailed the coffin shut.
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Re: There still is hope!

Postby R3 Passenger » Thu Sep 04, 2008 12:52 pm

jfrey40535 wrote:Great speech DWM, but in the real world that's not how things work. You're correct in saying that people's perception of rail transit is changing. The ridership gains at Amtrak and SEPTA are testament to that.

I have always felt the best strategy for lines like the Newtown or West Chester was incremental expansion, rather than a Greenbush style ro-do. Each year SEPTA should extent service out along the lines by one station.


I've said the same thing, and I think they could easily justify extending the line now to Lorimar Park since Fox Chase is already maxed out with parking, except the bicycle/hiking/nature crowd has already claimed the ROW for their trail. Taking that away from them is like ripping a bottle from a baby. I think the fact that the line is now being carved up has nailed the coffin shut.

Amen to DWM's speech. I think I might just write in his name on the presidential ballot.

As for reclaiming the ROW from the tree-hugging trail-loving hippies, let them have it. IIRC, there was only one station between Fox Chase and Bethayres. The community that was served by that station can continue using Fox Chase or Bethayres.

I firmly believe in the incremental expansion. In all reality, I would support more of a branch off of the West Trenton Line at Bethayres toward Southampton than fighting for the ROW between the slower Fox Chase line and reinstalling a crossing at Bethayres. I am not sure of the distances involved, but I think County Line would be a reasonable goal.(designated R4 temporarily. not getting into line pairing argument). That would reserve the Montgomery County portion of the line, since that is where the major brick wall has been. I highly doubt Bucks County will allow building of a trail along the old ROW, but I could be wrong about that.

I would even attend the development meetings if it were to happen! *gasp!*
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Re: No Hope for Newtown

Postby dwm167 » Thu Sep 04, 2008 3:30 pm

jfrey40535 wrote:Great speech DWM, but in the real world that's not how things work.

Belittling tone...and actually, in the real world, that's always how things change...from the bottom up. You seem to have forgotten about other change movements that faced WAY more insurmountable odds than fixing an F-ing transit system. Tell South Africans that toppled Apartheid that that's not how things work in the real world. Tell that to black Americans. Tell that to the environmental movement... Bottom-up change IS the real world. To believe that change will not happen is actually the naive position to hold when you think about it. I'm not saying that you think change will never happen, Change is inevitable. Anyway...

However:
As ridership continues to hit unprecedented levels, we'll understand that trains can actually get us from point A to point B faster than cars because we didn't have to worry about traffic, and you can travel at higher speeds.

This is not the case here in SEPTA land. Our Wal-Mart signal system has actually slowed trains down and the only attempt SEPTA has made at speeding service is through station closures which just makes the system less-accessible to people.

Didn't SEPTA just install brand new ones that were supposed to increase speed? Are you saying that they don't even work? That sucks. Anyway, money can change the signaling system, and you can increase speeds on the lines by installing catenary that isn't from 1930, by running more express trains, and perhaps someday installing a center lane third track on high-traffic lines from say Fern Rock to Glenside, and along the R6 between Temple and Norristown in anticipation of Quakertown service and Schuylkill Valley Metro ...once again your demonstrating that you're not thinking outside the box...

Really, all SEPTA needs is funding and a set of new ideas and possibilities.

No transit planner or agency is going to endorse untwisting the route to make it faster and "sexier". Its not feasible to restore it as it is, let alone rewrite the book on where the line goes.

Actually, planners are pretty people-oriented, and they understand that an image change needs to take place in order to attract new ridership and be competitive with car travel. They also know that rail travel can be much faster than commuting by car when the ship is sailing correctly, and their engineers can increase turning radii better than you think. Engineers deal with these kinds of limiting constraints on a daily basis, and they can come up with some pretty special ideas when forced to. Planners understand that rail's future viability depends greatly on commute time and cost, regardless of the transit methodology. And SEPTA can certainly go faster on parts of of it's system...haven't you ever ridden NJTransit, or DC Metro? They operate at much higher speeds...and yes the stations are further apart in general, but they also don't have a retarded schedule that builds in more time than necessary between stations so that the operator has to slow the train up because it can't get off schedule...

Federal funding for public transit is going to go up, especially if the new president is Obama

And the money will come from where? The fed is already buried in debt and we're in the middle of a recession with no end in sight on top of a war without end. The fact that cities are once again viable (and people are moving there to prove it) already demonstrates that our transit dollars are better spent improving transit in the city (such as a Delaware Ave light rail line, or Blvd Subway) where the highest return is possible instead of ressurecting a dead line in a marginal market.

I love the perception that we can change things in this country without spending money. How about the $10 billion a day that is spent in Iraq? If we had invested that money back here at home, my God...Do you know how much the defense budget is for example? 300 billion. That's larger than most country's GDPs, and it's 100 times greater than the next largest military in the world. Surely there's money there...and I'm not looking at the federal budget and neither can you...so you really have no clue either where money goes, what gets wasted because it's going into failed policies, etc.

If SEPTA were to start receiving a substantial money increase, they of course would tie up the lose ends, complete unfinished projects, modernize their ticketing system, etc. before beginning these master porjects. You'd want to lock down more new ridership and get the ball rolling the percetion department first. And then, yes, you start attacking on need-based areas first, such as the Blvd subway. Del Ave light rail is under PATCO, not SEPTA at the moment, for the record. But sure SEPTA could take over in that department...

Planners I have spoken with have stated that the line will only generate 15% of new riders, based on their GIS models. That is not going to justify spending well over $100 million for rebuilding the line, let alone doing anything "outside the box".

That doesn't even make sense, first of all. What does 15% of new riders mean? Do you mean it would increase new ridership by 15%? If that is an increase of total SEPTA rail ridership, that's a significant increase. I highly doubt that SEPTA's planners have taken into account a) future population increase estimates b) the increased attention to rail transit in this new era from the general public or c) have conducted studies using personal interviews and questionnaires to find out where everyone in that region of the suburbs works and how they commute. I studied geography in college and I have a minor in GIS from Penn State. It's hard for me to say one way or the other, especially without seeing how they conducted their analysis, if reactivating the line is economically viable. But simply using GIS to conduct their study sounds like the same old SEPTA cheapo analysis to me. GIS is a powerful tool, but it needs to be used in conjunction with a larger array of techniques to come up with an all-encompassing statistic about how many people would use the train. I bet simply took a population density map from the 2000 Census and overlayed it with the proposed rail line, then defined several tiered buffer zones radiating out from the corridor, clipped it, and made a rough estimate of ridership based on that. Of course I could be wrong, but that's my hunch at least. That statistic strikes me as fuzzy. You could also justify the rail option if it alleviates highway traffic, because money that possibly would have been spent on widening a road could be re-allocated to rail transit...

And parking garages take up less space than massive surface parking lots

Again, the the real estate doesn't exist unless you start leveling people's houses. If they don't want the train, they're not going to want parking garages either.
You really should spend a little time on google maps and you'll see that there a definitely places along the line, specifically between southhampton and newtown along major roads where there is room. The benefit of parking garage is maximum capacity with minimal surface area. You could have an all-underground parking garage as well....that's the whole advantage of garages? You only need enough room for the entrance and exit lanes...

perhaps it's light rail with frequent stops that is installed instead of heavy rail. However, that won't get you into the city as quickly as heavy rail could, and people won't ride it if that means a longer commute.

I disagree. Its certainly a viable model out in Darby where people have been doing the MFSE/P&W shuffle for 100 years. If done right with frequent headways, it shouldn't be a deterrant.
Ok maybe you're right on that one, I was just brainstorming.

I have always felt the best strategy for lines like the Newtown or West Chester was incremental expansion, rather than a Greenbush style ro-do. Each year SEPTA should extent service out along the lines by one station.


I've said the same thing, and I think they could easily justify extending the line now to Lorimar Park since Fox Chase is already maxed out with parking, except the bicycle/hiking/nature crowd has already claimed the ROW for their trail. Taking that away from them is like ripping a bottle from a baby. I think the fact that the line is now being carved up has nailed the coffin shut.

I also agree with this sentiment, because you start paying seeing the return on your investment ASAP. That's just like opening the lower floors on a skyscraper before finishing the rest. It would be stupid to do everything at once and make the new rail stations closest to the old terminus of the line remain completed and unused while work continues "upstream". Again, if SEPTA still owns the property, they have final say, correct? I don't understand how this is the absolute end. If SEPTA sold away the land for good to the county or something, that's a different story. Can SEPTA cancel the lease at anytime? And again, I also said that you could re-route from the R2, along the trenton cut off and up to Newtown that was as a secondary option. In fact, that might even be a primary option...you'd have to create dual track between Hatboro and Roslyn, but there's enough space to do that, only a little rock blasting as the track goes underneath Welsh road...

I guess that my beef is with the cynical attitudes that nothing can be done, nor will ever change, etc. etc. because that's a defeatist attitude. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you think you can, you MIGHT. If you think you can't, you're right. That's my point. Older generations seem to forget this piece of wisdom, and that is saddening. If the political will is there, anything is possible. If you think that's a bunch of crap, then you really know nothing about history, or the world for that matter. I'm certainly not saying that about you jfrey, for I have no idea who you are, but the negativity makes me believe that you have been grinded down by years of trying without a result. All I'm saying is that there is renewed hope now, and it's real, and if the land isn't sold away, legally SEPTA still calls the shots, correct? They can always reduce the length of time, correct? I haven't seen the actual legal documentation though, have you? I wish SEPTA had just granted a license instead.
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Re: No Hope for Newtown

Postby jfrey40535 » Thu Sep 04, 2008 4:38 pm

DWM, I didn't know text had a tone to it, but I can tell I'm having a discussion with someone who doesn't know much about public transit or SEPTA's railroads, outside of what you've read on Wikipedia.

1.
Change is inevitable. Anyway...
ANd the Newtown line has been changing for 25 years. There are some nice 25 year old maples between the rails now.

2.
Didn't SEPTA just install brand new ones that were supposed to increase speed? Are you saying that they don't even work? That sucks.


That sucks? Not a very intuitive response. You're talking about sexy trains and you're not even remotely familiar with the new signalling SEPTA is installing on the North Road which was designed to prevent the dumbest of engineers from crashing into another train.

3.
Anyway, money can change the signaling system

Again--you're not familiar with the history of SEPTA's projects and how throwing bags of money at them doesn't equal results. We also have a finite supply of money that can be dedicated to transit, which is why its really, really important that its not sqandered. Didn't they teach you economics at Penn State?

4.
Engineers deal with these kinds of limiting constraints on a daily basis, and they can come up with some pretty special ideas when forced to. Planners understand that rail's future viability depends greatly on commute time and cost, regardless of the transit methodology. And SEPTA can certainly go faster on parts of of it's system...haven't you ever ridden NJTransit, or DC Metro? They operate at much higher speeds...and yes the stations are further apart in general, but they also don't have a retarded schedule that builds in more time than necessary between stations so that the operator has to slow the train up because it can't get off schedule...


You must be part of the crowd that thinks that technology is also the solution for transit's woes. Alot (read alot, not all)of the solutions I've seen applied to transportation only seem to make it more expensive to operate, make expansion cost prohibitive and retard the system's performance.

There's no comparison between SEPTA, NJT and DC Metro. There's a reason they operate faster and if you know any details about the routes and history of the system you'll see the reason why they're faster, and politics and funding come into play as well.

I love the perception that we can change things in this country without spending money.

The Frankford El and Norristown High Speed line were much faster before we spent millions on downgrading their signal systems.

so you really have no clue either where money goes, what gets wasted because it's going into failed policies, etc.


Trust me I do. Waste is all around us, but you fail to grasp the concept that just because the money is out there, that someone's going to fork it over for your pie-in-the sky choo-choo project.

That doesn't even make sense, first of all. What does 15% of new riders mean?


Its means that 15% of those riding a proposed Newtown Train would be new riders. The balance would be overflow from neighboring lines (R2, R3). That's the figure that was quoted to me by a top level transit planner outside of SEPTA.

I highly doubt that SEPTA's planners have taken into account a) future population increase estimates b) the increased attention to rail transit in this new era from the general public or c) have conducted studies using personal interviews and questionnaires to find out where everyone in that region of the suburbs works and how they commute. I studied geography in college and I have a minor in GIS from Penn State. It's hard for me to say one way or the other, especially without seeing how they conducted their analysis, if reactivating the line is economically viable. But simply using GIS to conduct their study sounds like the same old SEPTA cheapo analysis to me. GIS is a powerful tool, but it needs to be used in conjunction with a larger array of techniques to come up with an all-encompassing statistic about how many people would use the train. I bet simply took a population density map from the 2000 Census and overlayed it with the proposed rail line, then defined several tiered buffer zones radiating out from the corridor, clipped it, and made a rough estimate of ridership based on that. Of course I could be wrong, but that's my hunch at least. That statistic strikes me as fuzzy.


The study wasn't done by SEPTA, but they did their own as well, and the results were strikingly similar. They do population projections as part of their analysis (and actually population in this region isn't growing much, its only shifting).

That's great that you have a minor in GIS, but it sounds like you lack alot of first hand knowledge from riding or working on the system. I've ridden every line that SEPTA operates many times over which has helped my understanding of how the system works and where people are going.

If you'd like more information on the Newtown feasibility study, you can PM me and I will forward you the contact info of the planners I've spoken with and I'm sure they'll be happy to answer your questions.

5.
You really should spend a little time on google maps and you'll see that there a definitely places along the line


Again, sitting in front of a computer is not the best way to plan your fantasy reopening of the Newtown line. If you've driven the line from start to end, you'd agree that there are very few places to dump a parking lot or garage without using eminent domain, but it sounds like you're in that camp.

6.
I guess that my beef is with the cynical attitudes that nothing can be done


Understood, and I'm not trying to jump on your enthusiasm, but you need to keep things realistic. I've been following this line since the day it closed and its pretty obvious it would take a act of God to bring trains back to this line. Honestly. Its just not feasible. And none of this is about me or you, its about the region and what it can support. And trains to Newtown just aren't in that scope at the moment. Trust me, I've had hope for 25 years, and its quite obvious now that there are more important transit needs that this region needs. I'm not saying give up, I'm saying the focus needs to be elsewhere because that's where the need is. So spin that around for awhile and think about what's practical and needed given everything that's going on in and out of the city over the past 10 years.
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Re: No Hope for Newtown

Postby dwm167 » Thu Sep 04, 2008 7:25 pm

Sigh
Last edited by dwm167 on Thu Sep 04, 2008 7:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: No Hope for Newtown

Postby dwm167 » Thu Sep 04, 2008 7:30 pm

After sitting down for the third time and finally being able to finish reading your post without being completely disgusted and leaving utterly pissed off (who says "didn't you learn economics at Penn State? and say some kind of smart alec, sny thing like "It didn't know text had tone..."), it looks like you finally calmed down about a third of the way into the post, when your comments actually became less hostile, presumptive, and arrived at being level-headed. Questioning my education is not cool, sir, and yea I don't have a full course in an economics class but it's really not rocket science, either. I focused on climatology so it wasn't necessary, and I'm now looking to shift my career back towards the center of of geography/urban planning. It's hard to make educated guesses when you don't have numbers in front of you like my situation.

I think we're butting heads because we're wired differently. I am naturally inclined to think about the world's problems on the highest levels in the grandest picture, and sometimes that can blind me to the details. However, I'm not naive to the mechanisms which must be utilized to implement change. You allocate money not just to carry-out projects, but you beef up the education so people can implement them correctly. This is a whole turn over we're talking about here, and when I talk about the future I don't mean that you just dump some money into the same antiquated system and expect different results. By definition, that's crazy. Under the current SEPTA, the R8 will never be restored. Under a new SEPTA - which is reasonable to expect to come someday even if the current political climate suddenly just shuts down (which won't happen) because the old heads at SEPTA will be retiring and moving on. And people on this forum should be happy that someone from outside of the tiny railfan culture - especially someone younger - actually wants to participate in the discussion. That's abnormal. I don't know many 20-year-olds that visit a regional rail forum...if SEPTA remains to be hostile to new ideas and new people - or at least continues to perpetuate that PERCEPTION which is certainly its current brand (I dunno, I don't work for SEPTA, maybe they do embrace new ideas, but it's certainly not manifested anywhere within their rail system that is visible to the public) - then SEPTA is doomed. Maybe I don't know everything about SEPTA and it's history, or transit planning etc. But I am interested, I do have world class training in a highly related field, and I do have an important voice that SEPTA needs to pay attention to.

I'm sorry if I've projected some of my annoyance onto you, Jeff. I've noticed that some people on this forum can be quite intolerant of newcomers...and I think a number of them work for SEPTA. It's funny...I've worked at National Geographic, which may be one of the most progressive organizations in the country, and you know what their execs do with their interns? They let them have hour-long discussions with their researchers and writers in residence, their famous photographers, and all of the heads of each department, including the CEO, President, magazines' editors, and the Chairman. Not only that, but they openly ask for suggestions from the younger generations, and then implement some of them as well. For example, I suggested that they do a feature story on the history and geography of beer because it would be a great way to reach out to young people since their readership is generally much older. And guess what was in the magazine three issues later? SEPTA and NGS are similar in the sense that they're both relics of a different age, except that NGS has successfully re-branded itself and thrived in a new generation. My generation is warming to rail transit, but it still views SEPTA as something of a fossil. We also travel more, and we see what other cities have, not just in the US, but abroad. Then we come home and go...huh? How is SEPTA so far behind the 8 ball? Now being trained in geography, I know the mechanisms that have created different landscapes in America and the in Europe, and how that affects the quality of railroads, and I know that you cannot make a fair comparison between the states of railroads in the US with that of Europe or Japan. However, I do look at them as models, and because it has happened elsewhere on this planet, I do not understand why the richest country in the world cannot do the same - and do it better as well. I spent a year abroad, and I do come back to the US with little patience for cynicism, cultural wars, and idealism being trampled on, so that's the context of my comments over the past few days, as well as what perspective I bring to this situation.
Last edited by dwm167 on Thu Sep 04, 2008 8:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: No Hope for Newtown

Postby limejuice » Thu Sep 04, 2008 8:27 pm

jfrey40535 wrote:The problem is, the real estate doesn't exist anymore to allow people to get to the train. Everything is built up right to the ROW from Newtown to Fox Chase. If you can't put in a 300 car park-n-ride, people won't use it. The 20 parking stations at Southampton isn't going to fill trains.


Well, the triangle of real estate between the railroad, Second Street Pike, and Street Road was acquired by a developer who had plans to construct a crapload of townhomes, but they would have needed to plow an entrance right through the train station. Luckily, the Southampton Railroad Station Society was able to block it. There's also room for expansion near Holland, Buck Road, and of course, the bypass. Certainly, the land would need to be acquired, but at least there aren't McMansions immediately in the way.
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Re: No Hope for Newtown

Postby SCB2525 » Fri Sep 05, 2008 5:05 pm

Would anywhere along Tamanend Park be usable? Village Shires/Stoneyford Rd? Buck Rd? At that wierd jog where E. Holland Road crosses?

These are all areas where it seems there's room, but I'm not up on whether its usable.
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Re: No Hope for Newtown

Postby R3 Passenger » Wed Nov 12, 2008 9:59 am

I was riding Train 4007 into work this morning (the first time I've ridden a train and it was still light out for a while) and saw the Newtown ROW on the south side of the R3 Line. I was surprised to see the overgrowth was cleared and what looked like the foundation for an asphalt-paved trail. It seems this is really going to go through.
Lines Frequented: SEPTA Trenton Line, West Trenton Line, Warminster Line; NJT Northeast Corridor and North Jersey Coast Line; Amtrak Northeast Corridor (PHL-NYP).
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Re: No Hope for Newtown

Postby scotty269 » Wed Nov 12, 2008 1:01 pm

R3 Passenger wrote:I was riding Train 4007 into work this morning (the first time I've ridden a train and it was still light out for a while) and saw the Newtown ROW on the south side of the R3 Line. I was surprised to see the overgrowth was cleared and what looked like the foundation for an asphalt-paved trail. It seems this is really going to go through.


Indeed.
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Re: No Hope for Newtown

Postby jfrey40535 » Wed Nov 12, 2008 4:16 pm

Yes, and a lovely trail it will be. Its also nice to know that the Route 24 bus is carrying a healthy load of people to Southampton everyday for jobs (a traffic study was recently conducted on it). I bet the powers that be didn't take into account the reverse commuters that already exist on the bus.

I had the opportunity to pass through Coopersburg today (without camera) and saw the lovely clearing and removal of railroad ties there as well. Now that the line is cleared you can see the still standing ABS south of Station Ave. What wonderous things we're doing with our railroad infrastructure!
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Re: No Hope for Newtown

Postby jb9152 » Tue Nov 18, 2008 12:30 am

What all of this pie in the sky wish-listing overlooks is that there are a lot of people in the corridor who don't want the train there. Trying to force it down their throats is not going to help, nor is talking about constructing parking garages and using eminent domain. Also proven not to work - telling people that you know what's good for them better than they do.

A consensus is what is needed if this is ever to get off the ground, and no one has spent the time to build that (if it's even buildable - 25 years is a long time, and every year that goes past without some movement is another nail in its coffin). This needs a unique combination of some big PR and some grass-roots type of consensus-building. I guess the central problem here is that SEPTA has never been very good at either. Might be time to get good at it, before the opportunity is completely lost, for all practical purposes.

Finally - remember that in order to qualify for federal funding a project has to meet very strict cost/benefit and local matching funds criteria. I don't believe that the Newtown service, in the planning studies that have been done, comes close to the user benefit numbers the feds will need before they commit funds to a project. In short, the service doesn't attract enough new riders to the system to qualify. What could possibly be done to remedy that (and get the ratio where it needs to be) is to reduce costs. This could be done by using a phased approach, either geographically or in terms of the level of investment (i.e. don't build the entire thing at once - do it in steps OR cut costs by cutting down on infrastructure, vehicles, and so forth).
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