• An Indictment of American Rail Travel??

  • For topics on Class I and II passenger and freight operations more general in nature and not specifically related to a specific railroad with its own forum.
For topics on Class I and II passenger and freight operations more general in nature and not specifically related to a specific railroad with its own forum.

Moderator: Jeff Smith

  by 2nd trick op
If the original articeel si a reflection of anything, it is thatwe have all lost our sense, not so much of "community" but of "balance" in the current political polarization. That debate, in turn, revolves not so much around the proportion of the public sector's involvement in our daily lives, as about its management.

Just as almost all of us agree to the need for a highway system, but do not agree on whether certain users are paying their fair share, or whether the entire infrastructure is adequately and fairly funded, so we have descended into a very ugly brawl over both the size and funding of the "safety net" in general. Both major parties are skewing the facts and tailoring their appeals to either their "captive clientele" or the easily-led "swing voter" as the situation at the moment (and only the moment) dictates.

I believe the most sensible answer to this would be to return control of as much of the process as clodse to the local level as practicable. Unfortunately, this suggestion flies in the face of those behind the levers of power withing both major parties, and at both ends of the political spectrum since [u}unlike those of us who scratch for a living on a daily basis, as with all the entities mentioned so far, all rail passenger operation today is part of the public sector, and therefore, operates according to a bureaucratic, rather than an enbtreprenurial mindset[/u].

I have no formula for reversing the process under present conditions all he major players behind the levers of power have little to gain, and nothing to lose. Like the Eastern trunk lines 1945-1985, It will likely have to break down completely before any repair/reform can be attempted.
  by Launcher
You are better off dealing with the separate agencies, no matter how long it takes to wait in line.

add the two lines together and it would still be faster than having one go-to window person be trained in everything. The window agents aren't even knowledgable about other regional rail lines on the system, half the time. You want to compound that by asking them when the next train to DC leaves? They'd go look that up for the first time since the last person asked, or worse yet, they'd tell you when it left last week but not realize that a schedule change had just taken place that very day! By the time they get notified, if they get notified, they will be lost in a sea of information about temporary schedule changes, permanent schedule changes, and service/fare increases, for a tri-state wide area.

This kind of consolidation makes no sense, increases training cost, reduces overall reliability, not necessarily making it a smoother process for the 1% of people that need to transfer, but probaly making it into an ordeal.

This is the real world. It's complicated sometimes, but we know how to deal with it. Journalists like to pretend to have all the answers.
  by Steampunk
Jeff Smith wrote:This is a really thought-provoking article. I am going to start it in Amtrak, move it to Chicago, LIRR, MARC/VRE, NJT, MNRR, MBTA, SEPTA/PATCO, usw., and then park it in Class I. I may move it back to Amtrak.

Anyway, it raises one, really good, point. Amtrak's and other agencies not sharing services such as ticketing where it makes sense. Imagine a Penn Station that wasn't three terminals, but a single, unified terminal. Does it make sense?

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Yet is it a lack of funds that make the three agencies that call it home - Amtrak, New Jersey Transit, and the Long Island Railroad - act as though the others don't exist? The three railroads have completely separate ticketing areas, signage systems, etc. This is hardly the only case in America. For some reason, Amtrak seems to despise sharing ticket agents with other carriers. There are separate windows for Amtrak and commuter lines everywhere I've been. Given that many journeys include both commuter and inter-city segments, this seems crazy. If you can't have integrated ticketing (and actually, I don't see why you can't), at least you should be able to have a single agent help you.

The worst example of this I know is in Providence, where Amtrak monopolizes the four ticket windows. If you want to buy an MBTA T ticket, you have to go to a cafe next door. This tiny little coffee shop found a way to sell both pastries and train tickets (albeit from separate registers), so why can't Amtrak figure out how to sell two kinds of tickets?
Umm.. Commuter Passengers are in much more of a hurry and outnumber intercity passengers. The last thing as a occasional user of local commuter trains is try and get my ticket for the 5:15 VRE train behind a Amtrak Passenger who has a problem with her roomet reservation. Been there and done that at DC Union Station.