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  #901  
Old Posted Apr 10, 2012, 9:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by electricron View Post
Ignoring costs completely isn't being non political, even if most of you think so.

For example, looking at the data posted previously, just to air this issue.
Just looking at the regional ridership gains projected earlier.

Midwestern gains = passengers
3,800,000 - 815,290 = 2,984,710

Northeastern gains = passengers
20,300,000 - 7,200,000 = 13,100,000

California gains = passengers.
5,800,000 - 1,100,000 = 4,700,000

Total projected gains in ridership = 20,784,710
Considering Amtrak's total yearly ridership is around 30,000,000 today, that's a significant increase.

But, to rub salt into the wounds, or twist the knife in the taxpayers back.....
Amtrak subsidizes on average $5 on every passenger NEC regional ticket today. Assuming the same subsidy will be required in the future for corridor services nationally, that's an additional $104 Million in yearly subsidy.
20,784,710 x $5 = $103,923,550

Source of $5 per ticket subsidy for NEC Regional trains
http://www.usatoday.com/travel/news/...ubsidies_N.htm

That's being very generous, I doubt MidWestern and California per passenger subsidy will ever be that low. Non NEC Amtrak trains subsidy are averaging $32 per ticket today. I'm not even going to calculate what the additional subsidy would be at $32 subsidy exactly, but it should be around 6 times larger.

That's an additional $104 Million per year subsidy each and every year from additional ridership at today's money value. That's right, when you're losing money on every passenger, having more passengers mean you're losing even more money.

While some may think increasing infrastructure is always a great idea, no matter the costs, some of us think infrastructure should at least maintain the status quo within the existing subsidy and budgets.

We're already running record deficits. You can't keep increasing the budgets of all agencies in today's dollars. For some agencies to gain, some must lose. The Federal budget is finite. The pie or cake is only so large. We can't agree Amtrak should get a bigger slice because we can't agree which agency should get a smaller slice. Some of us think Amtrak should be amongst the agencies getting that smaller slice.

And really, how many passengers would Amtrak lose if they raised all NEC regional fares $5, or long distance fares $32, so they shouldn't even need a yearly subsidy?
All lines are growing , weather its by bus or LRT or Amtrak , but funding isn't and if we continue this trend by 2030 were going to be in serious trouble. Ridership grew by 40,000 on some lines last year.
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  #902  
Old Posted Apr 10, 2012, 9:32 PM
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The news on addressing the slow orders for the Michigan lines appears to have been overlooked. Norfolk Southern will begin track maintenance and repairs on April 16 which will cause some Wolverine trains to either be canceled or get bustituted for segments. Amtrak latest press release on the Wolverine and Blue Water changes is here: http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/BlobSe...ck_Repairs.pdf. Anyone planning to take the Wolverine or Blue Water from April 16 through early May should check for service alerts and schedule changes.

The Wolverine and Blue Water trains are expected to be back to normal travel times by early May.

Michigan has also filed a notice with the STB for the purchase of the Norfolk Southern tracks, so the deal for Michigan to buy the 135 miles of tracks and then turn them over to Amtrak to maintain and operate is moving ahead.
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  #903  
Old Posted Apr 10, 2012, 9:58 PM
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Isn't Amtrak near the top of the list in terms of ridership when being compared with individual airlines?
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  #904  
Old Posted Apr 10, 2012, 11:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by schwerve View Post
subsidy/passenger is not a fixed cost.
Exactly! Electricron, are you an idiot?
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  #905  
Old Posted Apr 11, 2012, 3:28 AM
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Mispost...sorry
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  #906  
Old Posted Apr 11, 2012, 4:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ch.G, Ch.G View Post
Exactly! Electricron, are you an idiot?
No, I'm not an idiot. Is it really necessary for you to call everyone an idiot that disagrees with you? Sure, subsidy per passenger isn't a "fixed" cost, I thought I was being generous using the $5 per passenger average subsidy vs the $35 per passenger average subsidy. I didn't invent the numbers, and did provide a link to where I found them. Those subsidy numbers I provided were real.

Additionally, in my earlier argument I used the phrase, "Assuming the same subsidy will be required in the future for corridor services nationally," which is common to do with what if logic exercises. Can you comprehend what is written?

I could argue that as long as Amtrak maintains the policy to set fares so low that the trains lose money, that some subsidy is "fixed" by that policy. As long as Amtrak's fare setting policy is to fill seats instead of turning a profit, you'll find some subsidies will be needed. And I might add, it doesn't take a genius to figure that out.

Last edited by electricron; Apr 11, 2012 at 4:13 AM.
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  #907  
Old Posted Apr 11, 2012, 4:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by electricron View Post
No, I'm not an idiot. Is it really necessary for you to call everyone an idiot that disagrees with you? Sure, subsidy per passenger isn't a "fixed" cost, I thought I was being generous using the $5 per passenger average subsidy vs the $35 per passenger average subsidy. I didn't invent the numbers, and did provide a link to where I found them. Those subsidy numbers I provided were real.

I could argue that as long as Amtrak maintains the policy to set fares so low that the trains lose money, that some subsidy is "fixed" by that policy. As long as Amtrak's fare setting policy is to fill seats instead of turning a profit, you'll find some subsidies will be needed. And I might add, it doesn't take a genius to figure that out.
The more passengers Amtrak attracts, the lower the subsidy per passenger because the subsidy is fixed. It's obvious you don't understand the logic at work here because you wrote:

Quote:
That's right, when you're losing money on every passenger, having more passengers mean you're losing even more money.
Mind-boggling!

I guess someone should also point out to you that the majority of the roads in this country also don't "turn a profit." User fees (fuel tax and tolls) only provide for a portion of construction and maintenance. I don't think that even includes the billions of dollars of initial investment!
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  #908  
Old Posted Apr 11, 2012, 4:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by electricron View Post
No, I'm not an idiot. Is it really necessary for you to call everyone an idiot that disagrees with you? Sure, subsidy per passenger isn't a "fixed" cost, I thought I was being generous using the $5 per passenger average subsidy vs the $35 per passenger average subsidy. I didn't invent the numbers, and did provide a link to where I found them. Those subsidy numbers I provided were real.

Additionally, in my earlier argument I used the phrase, "Assuming the same subsidy will be required in the future for corridor services nationally," which is common to do with what if logic exercises. Can you comprehend what is written?

I could argue that as long as Amtrak maintains the policy to set fares so low that the trains lose money, that some subsidy is "fixed" by that policy. As long as Amtrak's fare setting policy is to fill seats instead of turning a profit, you'll find some subsidies will be needed. And I might add, it doesn't take a genius to figure that out.
I'm not going to use insults but I'm sorry, you are still using these numbers incorrectly. The gov't doesn't subsidize fares or on a per passenger basis, but overall operating and capital expenses. Just looking at operating subsidy on a single line for example, amtrak could technically lower fares and increase ridership. If the marginal increase in ridership made up for the marginal drop in revenue per passenger it could actually increase its overall revenue and reduce necessary operating subsidizes (controlling for other costs) and decrease its subsidy per passenger (squared, smaller subsidy, higher ridership). That's a generic example and not necessarily true of any particular line but point being, subsidy per passenger is a non-linear relationship which you attempt to use linearly (increased ridership * subsidy/passenger = increased total subsidy or increased fares * fare/passenger = increased revenue). It's not that simple.
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  #909  
Old Posted Apr 11, 2012, 5:25 AM
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Just took the Hiawatha to Chicago today.

The train was half an hour late.

That's the kind of disappointing stuff that will continue to turn off potential riders, especially since this is supposedly the most successful line, with the best on-time performance, in the midwest.

We need to do much better than this to make passenger rail a viable means of intercity transportation.
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  #910  
Old Posted Apr 11, 2012, 9:15 AM
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Quote:


Dearborn's new train station unveiled at Greenfield Village

by Melanie D. Scott | Detroit Free Press

April 11, 2012

City officials, legislators and the federal railroad administrator gathered Tuesday to celebrate the construction of the new Dearborn train station.

The federally funded, $28.2-million project could be open as early as fall 2013.

...

Dearborn will consolidate its two passenger rail stations into an intermodal station on Elm Street near South Brady in the west section of downtown. Construction has begun on Michigan Avenue near the Southfield Freeway.

...

The new station is expected to be 16,000 square feet and is to continue to handle existing service on the Wolverine Line from Pontiac to Detroit. The plan calls for high-speed service between Detroit and Chicago.

The station is expected to offer access to SMART, DDOT and charter buses, corporate and hotel shuttles, taxis and personal vehicles. The station also is expected to provide easy access to University of Michigan-Dearborn and the River Rouge Gateway Trail.

...


http://www.freep.com/article/2012041...text|FRONTPAGE
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  #911  
Old Posted Apr 12, 2012, 4:40 AM
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This is a weird bit of postmodernism. I haven't seen anybody really push for something truly modern except Milwaukee and St. Louis.

It's also seriously overbuilt - just like at Sturtevant. Why does a station with six daily trains need a pedestrian bridge? There are literally hundreds of Metra stations with flat crossings. Talk about wasteful.
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  #912  
Old Posted Apr 12, 2012, 7:39 AM
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It has a pedestrian bridge, because it's literally on the other side of the tracks from Greenfield Village and the Henry Ford, the largest outdoor/indoor museum complex in the nation. Oh, dear tea party.
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  #913  
Old Posted Apr 12, 2012, 2:18 PM
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Yeah, not at all a fan of the cheap convoluted retrograde architecture, I don't expect it will age well. The bridge, necessary or not, looks like what the theme for the rest of the station should have been. It is ambitious in terms of scale though, and certainly will be an improvement over the Amshack that's there now even if the design makes me grumpy.
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  #914  
Old Posted Apr 12, 2012, 3:13 PM
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It has a pedestrian bridge, because it's literally on the other side of the tracks from Greenfield Village and the Henry Ford, the largest outdoor/indoor museum complex in the nation. Oh, dear tea party.
The station should be built much smaller, but I'm not saying it shouldn't be built.

I really don't understand this... in Troy they downscaled the station after Tea Party opposition, leaving virtually nothing BUT a pedestrian bridge.

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  #915  
Old Posted Apr 12, 2012, 3:52 PM
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Aren't there new regulations to prevent people from crossing tracks at level? It seems like a good idea to keep pedestrian bridges in place.
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  #916  
Old Posted Apr 12, 2012, 3:58 PM
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I understand what you're trying to suggest about building a smaller station. But, this station is going to be much more than just a train station. It's going to be an intermodal hub for that city. The new intermodal hub in Fort Worth doesn't have a pedestrian overpass. So you do have a valid point about that.
But I don't think this station design is any larger than the new Amtrak station in St. Louis, which by the way is much smaller than the old train terminal in St. Louis. It's the locals that build these train stations and intermodal hubs, and they should build what they want. If Dearborn or Troy wants a pedestrian overpass and is willing to pay for it, then it's okay for them to build it.

As for pedestrian safety, I don't think there is a requirement to have an overpass or tunnel. I think common sense gets applied here. At the Fort Worth ITC, every train using the tracks comes to a stop at the station, so they're all going fairly slow. All the freight trains use different tracks. I'm not so sure this mode of operation will be true in Dearborn or Troy.

Last edited by electricron; Apr 12, 2012 at 4:15 PM.
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  #917  
Old Posted Apr 12, 2012, 4:06 PM
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Costs are without doubt higher for underpass construction, but does anyone know about what the cost difference would be for a "European style" underpass to connect the tracks?
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  #918  
Old Posted Apr 12, 2012, 4:10 PM
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Could the large size of the Dearborn station be due to the fact that it may be a main amtrak station for the entire Detroit area? I mean this doesn't scream "main terminal" in Detroit proper. Not to mention this Dearborn station is situated on the west side of Detroit, towards Chicago where I assume most trips will be to/from in the entire metro.


http://www.detroit1701.org/Graphics/Amtrak.jpg

I imagine if St. Louis, MO were flipped into Illinois, the middle ring suburban station in Kirkwood would be a lot bigger on the line to Chicago instead of being a station to KC.
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  #919  
Old Posted Apr 12, 2012, 6:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ardecila View Post
This is a weird bit of postmodernism. I haven't seen anybody really push for something truly modern except Milwaukee and St. Louis.

It's also seriously overbuilt - just like at Sturtevant. Why does a station with six daily trains need a pedestrian bridge? There are literally hundreds of Metra stations with flat crossings. Talk about wasteful.
Considering Metra's track record regarding pedestrian fatalities, it doesn't seem like that big of a waste. Over a seven year period there were 260 pedestrian deaths of which there were 120 suicides, 43 deaths at crossings, 16 deaths at stations, and 81 deaths of trespassers not at a crossing or station. Granted it is a big system but how much more does a pedestrian bridge add to the cost? It seems like a prudent thing to do to not have to worry about pedestrians and every plan that I have ever read wants to increase the frequency on this line, sure that may be pie in the sky thinking now but that is where the money was supposed to go.

source
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  #920  
Old Posted Apr 12, 2012, 6:54 PM
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^^ Funny you should mention that, Centropolis, as Alton is trying to do exactly this with their new station. Amtrak crawls across the industrial flats, so it is indeed more time-effective for St. Louisans to drive to Alton and catch a train to Chicago.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Busy Bee View Post
Costs are without doubt higher for underpass construction, but does anyone know about what the cost difference would be for a "European style" underpass to connect the tracks?
Very little.

The Northstar Corridor in MN included an underpass at the Fridley station, cost $1.5M in 2008. This includes some nice interior finishes.

The overpass at the Troy station costs $1.6M in 2012.

If you're looking at life-cycle costing, the underpass is far cheaper because you don't need elevators. A typical underpass is 10'-12' below the tracks, which can be accessed with simple stairs and a ramp. A typical overpass needs to be 20'-22' above the tracks, which pretty much requires an elevator (two actually). The underpass might require a pump to keep from flooding, but this is less of a maintenance burden than a pair of elevators.
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Last edited by ardecila; Apr 12, 2012 at 7:05 PM.
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