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  #61  
Old Posted Sep 28, 2017, 10:39 PM
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I get all this talk about highways vs rail. There isn't really money to have an exceptional rail system and an exceptional highway system - it's sort of a 'choose one or the other' situation.' Or I guess you could settle for two mediocre systems.
We know which one the USA has chosen overall. The USA generally does have an amazing highway system compared to most other countries, and in general Amtrak is lacking. But it isn't the very worst, either. Have a look at this map:


What I find interesting is that, even with Amtrak's 'bare bones' system, Almost all the major cities or regions are served. Perhaps not served very well, but at least everyone gets something.
What this suggests to me is that perhaps connecting more cities isn't the most important problem for getting better national rail service... frequency is. So perhaps the better question to answer in this thread is which existing routes deserve more frequency than Amtrak (or others) currently offer?
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  #62  
Old Posted Sep 28, 2017, 10:48 PM
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For reference, there is this:


It is very old and there have been some changes, but it is a decent starting point.
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  #63  
Old Posted Sep 29, 2017, 12:44 AM
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  #64  
Old Posted Sep 29, 2017, 2:01 AM
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  #65  
Old Posted Sep 29, 2017, 3:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Busy Bee View Post

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Touche. Point taken.

I would like to point out, though, that even if the US were to spend half as much on military, it wouldn't necessarily justify spending the other saved half on transportation. You can really justify spending only 'so much' of your GDP% on transportation before things get out of control - you reach the point of diminishing returns.

Overall I think the US has not reached the point of diminishing returns in transportation investment. In many areas its not even close, but in other areas, such as where I live out west, it is very nearly at the point of diminishing returns. That's part of what makes the conversation so hard to conduct at a national level - funding is so unequally distributed, and the distribution patterns rarely match the situations the funding is meant to address. Which is why I think the better discussion is not to talk about increased service area, but about increased frequency. If there really is a demand for more service in new places, then a private operated like BrightLine can step in and address it. I think that with the huge changes in transportation that are about to hit us - autonomization and electrification of vehicles - we will be in a very good position to get more capitalism back into the feedback loops of transportation funding and create a better-fitting national transportation system. My $0.02.
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  #66  
Old Posted Sep 29, 2017, 3:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Hatman View Post
There isn't really money to have an exceptional rail system and an exceptional highway system - it's sort of a 'choose one or the other' situation.'
This is not true at all. Plenty of other countries do it. German highways are arguably better than ours, and they have a world-class train system. China will probably beat us on both soon enough too, if they don't already.

And I don't want to hear anything about how European countries can do it because they're geographically small. Geography miiiiight be why we don't have great cross-continent rail in the US, but it doesn't explain why we don't have good systems in each of the megaregions.

The US sucks at this for three main reasons. Compared to other first-world peers, the United States:

1. Has taxes that are too low, reducing the government's ability to build things

2. Spends too much of our budget on the military, further reducing the government's ability to build things

3. Has unusually high costs to build infrastructure, reducing the amount/quality of infrastructure we can build with the money we have

You could argue that we benefit from #1 and #2 in other ways and therefore they're good policies even if they result in underdeveloped infrastructure. Arguably. #3 really has no upsides.
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  #67  
Old Posted Sep 29, 2017, 3:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Cirrus View Post
This is not true at all.
The rest of what you say is valid, but I'm going to pick at this statement, because it is common sense that there is a finite amount of money in the world and that you can't get everything you want.

I think what the underlying root of our arguments will be the definition of 'exceptional' as used I used it in the phrase "There isn't really money to have an exceptional rail system and an exceptional highway system" Because it is obviously true that if you want a highway system of average utility you will definitely have enough money left over to pay for a rail system of equally average utility. If you want something that is above average, you're going to need to spend more on it, and that money has to come from somewhere.

We build our highways here in the US to be our everything transportation mode. We've built our freeways so that most people can get anywhere by driving to it in their own cars. Rail transportation has been deemed a mere supplement to this system, like a peaker-plant that handles the peak load of electrical demand on our electric grid. We made our highways have very high utility, and in so doing we've robbed the rail network of a chance to have any utility.

There is only so much demand for transportation, and it is silly to overbuild for it. I agree that we have the balance wrongly tipped too-much in favor of roads and highways, but I'm not confident that will change anytime soon - because in order to readjust the balance, you'd need to reassign some of the utility each mode has in the community. A road network will have to become stagnant enough that its utility in a certain traffic route degenerates from a high(ish) utility to at least a moderate utility before it becomes a problem worthy of money spent to address it.

So I think there is at least some truth in it.
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  #68  
Old Posted Sep 29, 2017, 5:08 PM
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The U.S. is the wealthiest country on the planet. Obviously we could have both exceptional roads and (passenger) rails, but we choose not to. We would rather spend megabillions on defense and other priorities.
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  #69  
Old Posted Sep 29, 2017, 5:55 PM
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Yes, Cirrus' #2 & 3 are accurate, but #1 is garbage. Our taxes are arguably too high for what we get. And regardless there isn't an appetite for large tax increases anyway. We need to re-allocate defense spending and greatly improve the efficacy of our health care and infrastructure spending.
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  #70  
Old Posted Sep 29, 2017, 7:08 PM
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some areas you cant make trains run more though because they wind through mountains and no one wants to ride a train for a day to get somewhere

wish there was a train that went north to south between the rockies and the cascades. that woud be perfect. you would miss salt lake city and thats a big city
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  #71  
Old Posted Sep 30, 2017, 6:51 PM
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Detroit, Toledo, Columbus, Cincinnati, Louisville, Nashville, Atlanta & Jacksonville. At the very least reestablish service between Detroit and Toledo.
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  #72  
Old Posted Oct 2, 2017, 11:48 AM
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Originally Posted by electricron View Post
Excellent point I would suggest elapse time is more important than speed.
The area of France is 248,573 mi², Spain is 195,364 mi², Great Britain is 93,628 mi², and England is 50,301 mi². FYI, the area of Texas is 268,597 mi² (2nd largest), California is 163,696 mi² (3rd largest), Michigan is 96,716 mi² (11th largest), and Louisiana is 51,840 mi² (31st largest).

The point of all the area data is to point out how far people will be riding trains within their own country, where the vast majority commute daily or travel weekly and monthly. One of the reasons why England ride intercity trains in larger numbers than elsewhere is the relatively short distances between major metros. It's only been within the last 15 years that they could ride trains off Great Britain with the Chunnel opening on May 6, 1994. Even though the train speeds aren't super fast, the shorter distances to travel means doing it in less time.

So what is that sweet spot where the numbers riding trains soars? Less than 1, 2, 3, or 4 hours? I'm not sure there is a study general enough to define it. Whenever it is, at some point most passengers will choose to fly.
Another consideration in attracting higher ridership besides elapse time, is frequency. How many trains per day and per hour can passengers take between two cities? There is no doubt that in most of America; Spain, England, and France provide more intercity trains per day. There is only just one train a day between Chicago and Los Angeles, there's dozens of flights per day from many airlines.
The shorter distances between the major population centres in the UK certainly counteracts the speed difference to a degree, but I would add that the high frequencies, deregulated market for coaches, station location, onward connections, catchments and constant passenger (leisure and business) demand throughout the day are certainly big factors as well.

In Europe, I believe that HSR generally makes sense <4hrs, going beyond that and you’re stretching the economics. There needs to be a broader idea of the purpose of a line other than linking X and Y and it needs to overcome political motivations.
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  #73  
Old Posted Oct 2, 2017, 6:13 PM
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Yes and yes, though geography might force the SD-Phoenix line to route through Temecula and the Coachella valley. Also, Phoenix-Tucson is a short, logical extension that adds 1 million people.
Downtown San Diego to Phoenix would most likely run via Yuma using the existing San Diego and Arizona Railway tracks. The infrastructures is somewhat in disrepair, and it goes through Mexico, so I'm not sure if modern passenger traffic would work.

But it'd be quite a scenic ride through the mountains/deserts east of SD:


Source
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  #74  
Old Posted Oct 2, 2017, 7:36 PM
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Not sure when this was first created but I think we're going to miss some of these completion dates...

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  #75  
Old Posted Oct 2, 2017, 7:44 PM
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It's pretty nuts that every route west of the Mississippi gets funneled through either Chicago or New Orleans before continuing east. Incredibly inefficient.

... Denver <---> KC <---> STL <---> Louisville <---> Cincy <---> Charleston <---> DC or Richmond

or

... Denver <---> KC <---> STL <---> Indy <---> Cincy <---> Charleston <---> DC or Richmond

seem like obvious routes.

I assume most routes would have to go through Charleston because of the mountains?
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  #76  
Old Posted Oct 2, 2017, 7:55 PM
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I always thought that Chicago - New York would be a good line.

Last edited by SFBruin; Oct 2, 2017 at 8:25 PM.
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  #77  
Old Posted Oct 2, 2017, 8:34 PM
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  #78  
Old Posted Oct 2, 2017, 11:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BG918 View Post
Not sure when this was first created but I think we're going to miss some of these completion dates...
Probably somewhere around January 20, 2009 when we had hope for the future.
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  #79  
Old Posted Oct 3, 2017, 2:04 AM
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How about the largest USA cities (metros) without daily services? How about starting with the largest metros first and work our way down the list?
(5) Houston, (12) Phoenix, (28) Cincinnati, (29) Las Vegas, (33) Columbus, (36) Nashville, (44) Louisville, (53) Tucson (54) Honolulu, (55) Tulsa, (64) Knoxville, (66) McAllen, (68) El Paso, (69) Allentown, (70) Baton Rouge, (72) Dayton, (78) Fort Myers, (79) Colorado Springs, (81) Boise, (86) Madison, (87) Wichita, (88) Daytona Beach, (89) Des Moines, (93) Augusta, GA, (95) Melbourne, (99) Scranton, and (100) Chattanooga

Come on Amtrak, you can’t provide daily train services for 27 of the top 100 metros in the country? Only one of them is impossible to reach half way across the Pacific Ocean. That still leaves one in four within it daily rail services.......
If you reduce the scope to the top 50 metros, 7 of them don’t have daily rail services either, and 4 of them have no services at all. Just looking at the data and judging by numbers alone, the next cities Amtrak should provide some rail services to are Las Vegas, Columbus, Nashville, and Louisville.

Last edited by electricron; Oct 3, 2017 at 2:55 AM.
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  #80  
Old Posted Oct 4, 2017, 6:01 PM
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I love how everyone on here is quick to mention defense spending yet ignores the much larger portion of entitlement spending.
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