• connecting commuter rail lines

  • General discussion of passenger rail proposals and systems not otherwise covered in the specific forums in this category, including high speed rail.
General discussion of passenger rail proposals and systems not otherwise covered in the specific forums in this category, including high speed rail.

Moderators: mtuandrew, gprimr1

  by eolesen
 
You're asking transit districts to expand into territories they don't collect taxes in. All for that where it makes sense, but it's not going to happen if their charters require tax levies where they serve. Nobody will agree to paying two separate transit agency taxes...

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  by electricron
 
eolesen wrote: Thu Oct 07, 2021 11:31 am You're asking transit districts to expand into territories they don't collect taxes in. All for that where it makes sense, but it's not going to happen if their charters require tax levies where they serve. Nobody will agree to paying two separate transit agency taxes...
And let's suppose they eventually do meet at some station halfway between the major cities, they still will not be happy. They will want a one seat ride all the way, not having to transfer trains at the halfway station.
How many times have we read proposals for VRE trains from Manassas to DC be extended all the way to BWI, Baltimore, or Wilmington? Or Metro North EMUs be extended all the way to Trenton, or NJT trains be extended all the way to New Haven or Hartford? These extremely cheap nickel and diming passengers keep ignoring that is what Amtrak provides.
  by STrRedWolf
 
electricron wrote: Thu Oct 07, 2021 2:14 pm And let's suppose they eventually do meet at some station halfway between the major cities, they still will not be happy. They will want a one seat ride all the way, not having to transfer trains at the halfway station.
How many times have we read proposals for VRE trains from Manassas to DC be extended all the way to BWI, Baltimore, or Wilmington? Or Metro North EMUs be extended all the way to Trenton, or NJT trains be extended all the way to New Haven or Hartford? These extremely cheap nickel and diming passengers keep ignoring that is what Amtrak provides.
Well... yes, but no.

Lets take a recent example. Lets say I'm going from Odenton, MD to Crystal City, VA, because I landed a job at Amazon's new HQ in Crystal City.

The morning commute, currently: Take MARC down to Union Station and then two WMATA trains to Crystal City. Commute's about an hour because WMATA is slow. Cost: About $7 + $2.75 = $9.75 one way. Monthly? $189+60.60=$249.60

The morning commute, via Amtrak: Park at BWI (costly, Odenton's free), catch the right train, and get off at Alexandria.. and commute back via WMATA to Crystal City. Yeah, it's faster all right, all the way until they swap the electrics for the diesels... and you're going the wrong direction twice. Oh, and it's more to ride Amtrak. $33 for an 1h10m ride, plus some more for WMATA (both time and money), one way.

What's being proposed (and will probably happen): MARC Penn Line diesel down to DC and Alexandria, stopping a Crystal City. 45 minutes, likely. No engine change. $8 one way, or $216 monthly.

Now take Paoli to NYC. Amtrak "direct" is $67 one-way and is roughly 2 hours. SEPTA + NJ is... 6:11a to 8:36a to 11:16a. That's over FIVE hours... and I can't tell you how much money because SEPTA doesn't lets you calculate fares and they don't publish any fare info at all.

The point I'm making here is that it makes sense in certain areas, but doesn't on others.

Like in the DC example, if you can afford to take Amtrak in every day, ether you're in a position that lets you do that and charge it to the business, or you're making enough money that it makes more sense to move closer to DC. Amtrak for a commuter isn't cheap nor fast here! MARC down to Alexandria will work nicely.

But in the PA/NYC example, It's faster than the alternative. There's too many stops.

Commuter rail works if it takes no more than 3 hours to get anywhere. Otherwise, you need faster service that skips commuter rail stops.

Now, going city to city? It's still situational. DC to Baltimore? Depends if you need to get there in 30 minutes or can mind an hour. San Francisco to San Jose? Similar deal. San Francisco to Los Angeles or DC to New York? Amtrak.
  by photobug56
 
In my last job I took LIRR from East Northport to Penn Station, IRT to Times Square, Shuttle to GCT. Fairly expensive. Then one day I'm told that I have to start commuting to White Plains (where all the major bosses live), even though my job is handicapped there - I'm better off working remotely most days and going to meetings in Manhattan a couple days. No one I need to work with in WP, but doing it takes my old commute, than I add a Metro North train to WP. Daily round trip goes from 4 hours to, on a good day, 6. And costs a fortune. IOTW, not viable, and I lost my job, shortly before the pandemic.
  by STrRedWolf
 
STrRedWolf wrote: Sun Oct 10, 2021 5:25 pm (comparison)
A bit of a follow-up: SEPTA makes it hard to find fares, and NJ Transit requires going through the scheduler. Daily Paoli to Trenton is $9.25, $204 montly; Trenton to NYC on NJ Transit is $16.75, $480 monthly.

Of course, a monthly multiride Amtrak pass... you can't get the cost anywhere but in person.
  by kitchin
 
photobug56 wrote: Sun Oct 10, 2021 6:14 pm In my last job I took LIRR from East Northport to Penn Station, IRT to Times Square, Shuttle to GCT. Fairly expensive. Then one day I'm told that I have to start commuting to White Plains (where all the major bosses live), even though my job is handicapped there - I'm better off working remotely most days and going to meetings in Manhattan a couple days. No one I need to work with in WP, but doing it takes my old commute, than I add a Metro North train to WP. Daily round trip goes from 4 hours to, on a good day, 6. And costs a fortune. IOTW, not viable, and I lost my job, shortly before the pandemic.
East Side Access will open up so many possibilities. At least 1.2 years to go.
  by photobug56
 
It would (if I were still employed by that firm), eliminate the subway commute and fare. On a normal day, 40 odd minutes would be my guess. Still well over 5 hours commuting, still not viable. BUT, if I were still at the location north of GCT where I actually needed to be a couple days per week to meet with users, vendors and do some training, it would be 40 odd minutes less than the 4 hour commute I've had at times, and that would be nice.

And you are right - at LEAST 1.2 years to go. My guess a lot longer than that. That escalators (built by a low bidder with, I've heard, a less than stellar track record) may take a while to sort of work. Plus, after the horror stories I'd head from contractors, I'm guessing it will take a few years before tracks, switches and signals are truly ready, if ever. We have no idea who will maintain them, so far. We don't know if the tunnels are properly protected from flooding (hopefully they are). Plus LIRR refuses to tell those of us from 'diesel country' will access GCT (no assumptions, please). Will we lose the very small number of direct, almost in rush hour trains to NYP from the PJ branch? Will a transfer, somewhere, make up for the '20' minutes estimated saving each way so our commutes don't become any faster?

If someone thinks I'm wrong about quality and testing issues, think about the fairly well run Elizabeth Line project that TFL is running in the UK, or the ESA like mess Washington Metro Silver Line extension to Dulles. The former, at least, is turning over station after station to TFL and doing heavy testing of trains on the whole length with increasing frequency and speed, and will probably open next year as expected (years late), while the latter keeps running into one major new problem after another, with piles of 'rework' adding up to numerous and lengthy delays.

Ignoring MTA's problems with ESA, Long Island and areas north of NYC badly need direct rail connections between them. For instance, shuttle trains between Jamaica and White Plains. Our roads are jammed full with people doing this in cars now, so while it would be difficult and expensive we need it. And likely NJT trains to Long Island and LIRR trains into NJ, even Amtrak on Long Island. Those would add all sorts of possibilities that reflect what commuters already have to do - by car.
  by electricron
 
STrRedWolf wrote: Sun Oct 10, 2021 5:25 pm Lets take a recent example. Lets say I'm going from Odenton, MD to Crystal City, VA, because I landed a job at Amazon's new HQ in Crystal City.

The morning commute, currently: Take MARC down to Union Station and then two WMATA trains to Crystal City. Commute's about an hour because WMATA is slow. Cost: About $7 + $2.75 = $9.75 one way. Monthly? $189+60.60=$249.60

The morning commute, via Amtrak: Park at BWI (costly, Odenton's free), catch the right train, and get off at Alexandria.. and commute back via WMATA to Crystal City. Yeah, it's faster all right, all the way until they swap the electrics for the diesels... and you're going the wrong direction twice. Oh, and it's more to ride Amtrak. $33 for an 1h10m ride, plus some more for WMATA (both time and money), one way.

What's being proposed (and will probably happen): MARC Penn Line diesel down to DC and Alexandria, stopping a Crystal City. 45 minutes, likely. No engine change. $8 one way, or $216 monthly.

Like in the DC example, if you can afford to take Amtrak in every day, ether you're in a position that lets you do that and charge it to the business, or you're making enough money that it makes more sense to move closer to DC. Amtrak for a commuter isn't cheap nor fast here! MARC down to Alexandria will work nicely.
Please explain why taxpayers in Maryland should subsidize your morning commute to Virginia, or vice versa? You've also crossed two state lines, MD to DC and DC to VA.
MARC train subsidies average 59% while VRE train subsidies average 73%, and WMATA train subsidies average 58.6%.
From VRE 2021 budget:
https://www.vre.org/about/financial-inf ... udget-pdf/
"The Recommended FY 2021 Operating and Capital Budget totals $163.9 million. The budget projects average daily ridership of 18,900 passengers which results in a total of $44.1 million in fare revenue. "
163.9 - 44.1 = 119.8 , therefore 119.8 / 163.9 x 100 = 73.09
From MARC
https://mgaleg.maryland.gov/Pubs/Budget ... ration.pdf
Per the graph on page 7, the last 5 years MARC farebox recovery was 41%, therefore the last 5 years MARC subsidy was 59%.
From MWATA
https://www.wmata.com/about/board/meeti ... O-POST.pdf
Per the graph and text on page 29, operating expenses was $1,977.8 Million with a subsidy of $1,159.2 Million.
More math = 1,159.2 / 1,977.8 x 100 = 58.6%

Why should Virginia taxpayers subsidize their trains at a higher percentage rate than DC or Maryland on that same seat ride? Sure, no doubt it will be more convenient for you to have a one seat ride across two state lines, but how would you ever equalize the different tax rates and train fares the three different transit agencies charge?
  by photobug56
 
I know next to nothing about MARC, but we can't forget that (ignoring COVID) people often need to commute from one side of a region to another. Too short a distance to move or way too disruptive to one's family, but one day your employer opens up a site near, say, where the execs live, far from the 'center' of a metro area. For instance, New York metro area, job moves to White Plains or farther north - because the execs want to eliminate their own commute. Employees who had a 1 to 2 hour commute EACH WAY suddenly have a 3 hour commute each way because connections between these spots are so poor. For instance, let's say you have a 2 hour each way from Long Island to Manhattan. Now with the work site moved to White Plains, instead of a commuter train and two subway trains (ignoring walking), you add a 2nd commuter train on top of the rest. Now a lot of people, those who can, will drive, making already bad, polluting traffic even worse. Others lose their jobs. So if regional transit entities can find a way to provide a more efficient rail commute, one that's viable, for such commuters, there is reason to do so - and yes, it has to be subsidized. So corporate greed and other factors put a lot of pressure on transit agencies to do more and more. And no, there are no easy answers.
  by STrRedWolf
 
electricron wrote: Tue Oct 12, 2021 7:11 pm Why should Virginia taxpayers subsidize their trains at a higher percentage rate than DC or Maryland on that same seat ride? Sure, no doubt it will be more convenient for you to have a one seat ride across two state lines, but how would you ever equalize the different tax rates and train fares the three different transit agencies charge?
By operational contract.

Remember, the MARC Brunswick Line runs into Martinsburg, West Virginia for select trains. West VA funds those trains, and there's a surcharge on the tickets on top of a separate zone.

MARC has experience doing this. I'm not going to sweat something that they know how to do.
  by HenryAlan
 
Yeah, this objection seems like an intentional effort to confuse a situation that's actually quite clear. Other examples are on the MBTA's Providence line, which serves multiple stops in Rhode Island, or the MNR's Connecticut service. It's an objection based on a problem that doesn't exist.
  by scratchyX1
 
STrRedWolf wrote: Wed Oct 13, 2021 6:16 am
electricron wrote: Tue Oct 12, 2021 7:11 pm Why should Virginia taxpayers subsidize their trains at a higher percentage rate than DC or Maryland on that same seat ride? Sure, no doubt it will be more convenient for you to have a one seat ride across two state lines, but how would you ever equalize the different tax rates and train fares the three different transit agencies charge?
By operational contract.

Remember, the MARC Brunswick Line runs into Martinsburg, West Virginia for select trains. West VA funds those trains, and there's a surcharge on the tickets on top of a separate zone.

MARC has experience doing this. I'm not going to sweat something that they know how to do.
Also, points to why regional agencies are needed to link various systems together.
Just look at the njny pa, and do opposite of what they do
  by electricron
 
STrRedWolf wrote: Wed Oct 13, 2021 6:16 am By operational contract.

Remember, the MARC Brunswick Line runs into Martinsburg, West Virginia for select trains. West VA funds those trains, and there's a surcharge on the tickets on top of a separate zone.

MARC has experience doing this. I'm not going to sweat something that they know how to do.
MARC may know how to do it, but do VRE and WMATA do as well?
When MARC starts running their trains over VRE rail corridors, will West Virginia also subsidize VRE as well?
  by STrRedWolf
 
electricron wrote: Wed Oct 13, 2021 5:50 pm MARC may know how to do it, but do VRE and WMATA do as well?
When MARC starts running their trains over VRE rail corridors, will West Virginia also subsidize VRE as well?
WMATA won't be involved (not a subway).
West Virginia won't be involved (out of their jurisdiction).

VRE is already involved and subsidy will come from them. VRE has worked with MARC before with ticket cross-honoring. So yes, VRE knows a bit. Arlington and VA State may also be involved as well.

It'll get worked out. Don't sweat it.
  by electricron
 
STrRedWolf wrote: Wed Oct 13, 2021 6:38 pm VRE is already involved and subsidy will come from them. VRE has worked with MARC before with ticket cross-honoring. So yes, VRE knows a bit. Arlington and VA State may also be involved as well.

It'll get worked out. Don't sweat it.
MARC has existed since 1984, VRE has existed since 1992. to date they have NOT worked it out.
Why have they not worked it out 5, 10,15,20,,25, up to 30 years ago?
Could the reason be it is far more difficult to work out than you suggest?