Redrawing the Amtrak Map

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jcpatten
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Redrawing the Amtrak Map

Post by jcpatten » Tue Sep 10, 2019 5:26 pm

In light of the discussion about Amtrak long distance and corridors, I think that maybe it's time to redraw the Amtrak map. Unencumbered by the past, let's look at it based on population. Below is one such map, a heat map of county population - red is higher/denser population.
amcorridors.png
The idea behind this is that we need to connect East-West and North-South, based on population. The lines are thick to get across the concept of where it should go, not to specific locations. The North-South corridors are:

A: The coasts clearly each need a corridor - which looks a lot like they do now. East coast is really tough because there's a lot of density, but we end up in Florida.

B: There should be a corridor along the Mississippi, given the density. "Unfortunately", Chicago is a very high density city, so I swung the corridor that way, then back to the River.

C: There needs to be at least another corridor between the MIssissippi and the West Coast. I stuck one along the eastern side of the Rockies (the blueish line) but I was struck by the lack of population density. So I created another line (the greenish line) between the two lines that captures a lot more people.

East-West: the US is "narrow" enough between north and south that three corridors seem to work.

D: North: East Coast to West Coast along the Canadian border. The Great Lakes get in the way, so we have to dip down to Chicago. I wanted to terminate in Boston, but the line is wide enough that I decided to terminate in NYC. This looks much like the existing lines.

E: Central: From somewhere in the middle of the East Coast to around San Francisco. Since it's pretty close to DC, I terminated in DC. The line passes through St. Louis and Denver. Between DC and St. Louis, the line could really dip south toward Tennessee.

F: Southern: From somewhere in the middle of the South to Los Angeles. Atlanta's a big population center, so it would make sense to make it the termination point, but that would miss the East Coast corridor - although that could be swung west to hit Atlanta. Note that the corridor misses New Orleans to hit central Texas.

The idea behind all of this was to give each region of the US equal access to every other region. It basically ignores existing infrastructure and geography. Also it was interesting thought exercise. I'd encourage others to submit their own maps!
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nkloudon
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Re: Redrawing the Amtrak Map

Post by nkloudon » Tue Sep 10, 2019 6:51 pm

The major problem in your plan is that it isn't about where the population IS, but where it wants to GO! A better planning tool would be a map showing traffic density BETWEEN population centers.

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Rockingham Racer
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Re: Redrawing the Amtrak Map

Post by Rockingham Racer » Tue Sep 10, 2019 6:56 pm

How are you ever going to connect Havre, going south through Wyoming, and on down to Denver?

prokowave
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Re: Redrawing the Amtrak Map

Post by prokowave » Tue Sep 10, 2019 11:36 pm

The current map is very similar, except it accounts for track realities. What your map is missing is a gulf coast line. Your idea of a line connecting Dallas east to Meridian and on to Atlanta has been on the drawing boards, and apparently isn't all that far away from happening, should the funding remain.

Imo the biggest hole in the current long distance network is a line from Cleveland south to Akron, Columbus, Cincinnati, Louisville, Nashville, Huntsville, Birmingham, Montgomery and Mobile, connecting to New Orleans. That would be a goldmine with a major city every 50-80 miles or so.

David Benton
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Re: Redrawing the Amtrak Map

Post by David Benton » Tue Sep 10, 2019 11:56 pm

Isn't there some unused lines on the West cost of Florida? Looks like they would tick the boxes for population and travel .
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Rockingham Racer
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Re: Redrawing the Amtrak Map

Post by Rockingham Racer » Wed Sep 11, 2019 5:37 am

Rockingham Racer wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 6:56 pm
How are you ever going to connect Havre, going south through Wyoming, and on down to Denver?
I was assuming Havre. You could do it going south from Shelby, using the BNSF Great Falls Sub, then south from Great Falls to Denver.

Philly Amtrak Fan
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Re: Redrawing the Amtrak Map

Post by Philly Amtrak Fan » Wed Sep 11, 2019 7:28 am

I've been saying since I've started posting here Amtrak needs to base their map on population trends and also tourism demands: "where people live and where people want to go". They instead listen to the "218+51+1" and choose Byrd Crap over other routes which serve more populous areas and that's why they have the Amtrak they have now. Any system where Havre, MT has more trains a week than Houston or Las Vegas clearly needs to be redrawn.

Arborwayfan
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Re: Redrawing the Amtrak Map

Post by Arborwayfan » Wed Sep 11, 2019 9:25 am

[Feels bad about ranting, deletes most of post.]

I like the idea of looking at population and travel demand to figure out where routes might go. I don't think it's the only question (the CZ's slowest segment probably attracts a lot of its pax because of the views in the Rockies) but it's a big question, especially for where there could be multiple trains a day. If we're going to have real train service that people will choose to use, we need it to connect big cities and tourist destinations in a way that makes it easy to go by train. Morning, noon and evening departures from most bigger towns on a route start to make the service flexible enough to use. Get to hourly and stop penalizing people for buying at the last minute, and you've made it flexible enough to be convenient for people who don't know quite when they want to come back. To get there, we need a whole new look at what we're trying to do with our trains, and probably also a whole new look at the way we expect train travelers to get to and from the station, and even at the way we build our cities and our suburbs. We don't need to fight over a few scraps or about which of a dozen LD routes should be moved or eliminated to allow some other one-a-day LD route (compared to the whole Amtrak appropriation, or to the total road construction and maintenance spending, the costs of the LD network are scraps). We need a strong case for a whole network of frequent trains along busy travel routes. We need to demonstrate that funding those trains really could reduce the need to expand roads and airports -- that it could save public money -- and that it could do it in a way that made people's lives easier. Americans tend to think that a car is freedom and mass transportation is not freedom. When the service is good enough, mass transportation can free people from parking, free people from traffic, free people even from owning a car. We need to persuade people -- a lot of people -- that it can work for them. And that means the high-population corridors, but it probably costs more to build them up than can be saved by shifting the LD trains around.
Last edited by Arborwayfan on Thu Sep 12, 2019 8:18 am, edited 2 times in total.

rcthompson04
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Re: Redrawing the Amtrak Map

Post by rcthompson04 » Wed Sep 11, 2019 9:27 am

I like the premise of this exercise, but think a better map would be to look at the trip data and see what metros people are travelling between most frequently.

There are some obvious ones from the density map: (1) "Northern Keystone" running from Scranton to NYP, (2) Louisville to Cleveland via Cincinnati and Columbus, (3) further buildout of Florida (Miami to Orlando to Tampa to Naples), and (4) Texas Triangle.

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Re: Redrawing the Amtrak Map

Post by mtuandrew » Wed Sep 11, 2019 2:45 pm

Additionally to what Mr. Thompson says, there sure appear to be intrastate travel possibilities in Michigan, Ohio, Texas, New York State, elsewhere in Pennsylvania (glaring at SEPTA for tearing out the Reading between Philadelphia and Scranton), and Georgia. In fact every state on the southeast coast ought to have an east-west (or southeast-northwest) line resembling the NCRR.

ExCon90
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Re: Redrawing the Amtrak Map

Post by ExCon90 » Wed Sep 11, 2019 3:06 pm

Actually there never was a really good route from Philadelphia to Scranton; the best you could do was RDG-LV to Wilkes-Barre, then the Laurel Line, with not very frequent service. The only alternate I can think of was PRR to Manunka Chunk via Trenton, then DL&W, with a change at Stroudsburg, and that only once a day. For some reason that never was a strong corridor, even in the heyday of rail travel.
And you can't really blame SEPTA for the gap between Lansdale and Bethlehem; it's outside SEPTA's service area and when the county involved was asked to support continuance of the service they declined.

jcpatten
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Re: Redrawing the Amtrak Map

Post by jcpatten » Wed Sep 11, 2019 5:07 pm

nkloudon wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 6:51 pm
A better planning tool would be a map showing traffic density BETWEEN population centers.
That's a great idea. A quick Google search didn't bring up anything, but I'm sure I wasn't using the right search terms.

Drucifer
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Re: Redrawing the Amtrak Map

Post by Drucifer » Wed Sep 11, 2019 7:51 pm

jcpatten wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 5:07 pm
nkloudon wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 6:51 pm
A better planning tool would be a map showing traffic density BETWEEN population centers.
That's a great idea. A quick Google search didn't bring up anything, but I'm sure I wasn't using the right search terms.
Try US traffic density map

Image

R36 Combine Coach
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Re: Redrawing the Amtrak Map

Post by R36 Combine Coach » Wed Sep 11, 2019 8:40 pm

The Zephyr, Crescent and Chief can be seen on the high density lines, but still lacking passenger service on the north-south Cleveland-Louisville-Nashville-Memphis corridor.
Since my friend continues to chain smoke nonstop, she is probably an Alco.

Drucifer
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Re: Redrawing the Amtrak Map

Post by Drucifer » Wed Sep 11, 2019 8:51 pm

That map needs an Amtrak overlay

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