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Old 12-01-2008, 03:01 PM
 
Location: Atlanta, GA
2,290 posts, read 4,949,733 times
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Vice President-elect Joe Biden rode the train from Delaware to DC nearly every day while serving as senator. Seems to me that he'd be a strong advocate of reinvestment in interstate AND intrastate rail service--especially for daily commuting and traveling.

Instead of a $25 billion loan to Big Auto--which is simply delaying the inevitable--why not invest that money in comprehensive rail service in high-growth, high-density metro areas like Atlanta, Houston and Phoenix?
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Old 12-01-2008, 03:20 PM
 
26,589 posts, read 52,993,749 times
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Several reasons. The train that he rode is the Northeast corridor line, on railways that have been in place to serve high density community public areas for over 100 years. Along with the tracks come parking lots and train stations that have also been there since just after WWII.

The infrastructure is there already, and instead of a total build out, it's simply ongoing maintenance and occasional upgrade. MUCH less annual expenditure, no bonding required.

Homes are already build out into the sprawl in Houston and Pheonix (not sure why you included Atlanta as they already have MARTA, a fairly comprehensive light rail and bus system that serves many of the suburbs) and it comes down to the NIMBY syndrome.

It would be far less expensive to use commuter bus lines where train service doesn't already exist.

BTW--train service in the northeast is far from "comprehensive." Unless you are in NYC or Boston it's about the same as it is in the greater Atlanta area. When I lived in NJ and commuted to NYC, I had to drive to the train station, take NJ Transit to NYC, then switch for the subway to get to my office.
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Old 12-01-2008, 03:23 PM
 
Location: Phoenix, AZ
3,088 posts, read 4,546,866 times
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I'm all for passenger train travel between major cities! What a great way to travel!
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Old 12-01-2008, 04:18 PM
 
Location: Portland, Oregon
7,091 posts, read 10,494,365 times
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I'm all for it if it's done right, I did a research project on Amtrak in a senior undergrad class and they just do a poor job managing their money. One thing caught my attention when I broke it out is that Amtrak settles accident suits for anyone hurt on the rails by any company.

Outside of the North East corridor they were losing money per passenger they transported for the 5 years ending 2003. Some of the lines were losing hundreds of dollars per passenger in long low volume lines. Things might have changed, but the people managing it then were not the people I wanted to continue.
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Old 12-01-2008, 04:39 PM
 
Location: Atlanta, GA
2,290 posts, read 4,949,733 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by annerk View Post
Several reasons. The train that he rode is the Northeast corridor line, on railways that have been in place to serve high density community public areas for over 100 years. Along with the tracks come parking lots and train stations that have also been there since just after WWII.

The infrastructure is there already, and instead of a total build out, it's simply ongoing maintenance and occasional upgrade. MUCH less annual expenditure, no bonding required.

Homes are already build out into the sprawl in Houston and Pheonix (not sure why you included Atlanta as they already have MARTA, a fairly comprehensive light rail and bus system that serves many of the suburbs) and it comes down to the NIMBY syndrome.

It would be far less expensive to use commuter bus lines where train service doesn't already exist.

BTW--train service in the northeast is far from "comprehensive." Unless you are in NYC or Boston it's about the same as it is in the greater Atlanta area. When I lived in NJ and commuted to NYC, I had to drive to the train station, take NJ Transit to NYC, then switch for the subway to get to my office.
Agreed about the established infrastructure in the northeast corridor. However, simply because the same kind of infrastructure doesn't exist in the rest of the country doesn't mean that it shouldn't.

This is why I can't quite support the idea of loaning Big Auto tens of billions for the purpose of doing what they've always done; namely, contribute to our nationwide transportation congestion.

As to metro Atlanta; it's regularly ranked as the worst traffic in the country, behind L.A. And that's with MARTA. See, the problem with light rail transit is that it's limited to core city areas, not the suburbs and exurbs where most people live. Yet in most metro areas across the country, there are existing heavy rail tracks and train routes. They're just poorly utilized.

This is the time to start investing our country's money in alternatives to the same old. If Dodge wants to keep building Ram pickups; and if GM wants to continue building Suburbans, then let them do so at their own risk. But we ought not invest the country's money in a business model that's already shown to be a failure.

Investing in rail is one of the most effective ways of congestion alleviation and oil/gas dependence.
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Old 12-01-2008, 04:50 PM
 
3,628 posts, read 9,030,291 times
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Alternately, if we didn't invest in commuter rail, and go along with the suggestion that another poster said, with commuter bus, it would seem that many of the automotive factories could be retooled to build buses (or rail, if there is substantial investment).

there is a group that i volunteer with which, i believe, is advocating for a $5 billion stimulus package to "lay down rails and buy new train cars," as someone said to me today.

we could do that.

or we can give five times that amount to the big 3, who has not given any indication of what they would do with it.
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Old 12-01-2008, 05:35 PM
 
Location: Nebraska
4,179 posts, read 9,123,686 times
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Oh, we already know what they will do with it - fly private jets to Washington DC to beg for even more bailout money, meanwhile trying to get the FedGov to not keep track of thier flight usage because it's "none of the government's business"!

I have a friend who is a higher-up in the rail system. He told me point blank that unless the government pays the full price, they will never expand rail service or tracks, anytime anywhere - period. While the Conneticut and NY and DC lines are feasible, because of the high user quantity traveling to those parts, even a rail system in a "big" city like Atlanta will never happen. First, big cities are already built up to accomodate roads, not rail. Second, the NIMBY factor does come in - having a rail line in residential areas decreases property values. Third, it would cost too much to purchase the (already occupied and used, in most cases) land for the rail, then to lay the rail, then to schedule, run, and man the trains. Then they would have to settle the lawsuits for noise and pollution abatement all the way along the line. Then they would have to have some sort of guarantee of regular ridership. The government of Las Vegas tried to initiate a rail system in spite of all this - and few local governments have as much readily available cash as Vegas! - and they are deeply in the hole with it, cannot finish it.

Where I just moved to in NE, the rails were ripped up and the train corporation still owns those paths, refused to sell them, cannot be taxed for them. They were proposed to be used as hundreds of miles of walking trails (put on your good boots - it's 10 miles at the least between tiny towns!) - but the locals use them as shortcuts between ranches for their heavy farm equipment. My friend told me they will never give up that property, and never build out on them again if they can help it - they are a tax deduction. As long as they keep their transportation between 90 and 120% useage, they can make money - so they are more likely to rip up rail, force more trains onto fewer lines, than lay more.

Before you get mad at them, though, they are trying to make money under the rules that Congress has made for them, and that they and the car companies have lobbied for, for years. Like the people who scream, "Drill, drill, drill!" - you can drill all you want but until Congress stops restricting the number of refineries that can be built, it doesn't matter how much oil you pull out of the US ground - we still have to ship it off to be refined, or let other countries like Canada (BP is pulling it out of the ground in ND as we speak) take it, refine it, and sell it back to us.

The very people who have promised to save us all are the ones who voted us into this mess, time and time again.
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Old 12-02-2008, 04:18 AM
 
Location: 602/520
2,441 posts, read 5,938,601 times
Reputation: 1815
Quote:
Originally Posted by backfist View Post
Vice President-elect Joe Biden rode the train from Delaware to DC nearly every day while serving as senator. Seems to me that he'd be a strong advocate of reinvestment in interstate AND intrastate rail service--especially for daily commuting and traveling.

Instead of a $25 billion loan to Big Auto--which is simply delaying the inevitable--why not invest that money in comprehensive rail service in high-growth, high-density metro areas like Atlanta, Houston and Phoenix?
It's too expensive. Atlanta, Houston, and Phoenix are not designed in a manner where rail service would be effective.
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Old 12-02-2008, 11:23 AM
 
Location: Atlanta, GA
2,290 posts, read 4,949,733 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by miamiman View Post
It's too expensive. Atlanta, Houston, and Phoenix are not designed in a manner where rail service would be effective.
Of course they are. I work in the Buckhead section of Atlanta, and the heavy rail tracks are right across the street from my building. Even better, there's a MARTA light rail station along those same tracks. With tracks running from Athens through Atlanta (the heaviest traffic in the state) there's no excuse not to have taken advantage of rail lines.

Same goes with Houston. Phoenix, Charlotte, even Minneapolis all have rail capability based on Amtraks routes alone.

Now that we're basically going to sit back and watch the government give our tax money to Big Auto, we have no more legitimate excuses about being resistant to rail service that extends to the suburbs.
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Old 12-02-2008, 11:28 AM
 
26,589 posts, read 52,993,749 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by backfist View Post
Of course they are. I work in the Buckhead section of Atlanta, and the heavy rail tracks are right across the street from my building. Even better, there's a MARTA light rail station along those same tracks. With tracks running from Athens through Atlanta (the heaviest traffic in the state) there's no excuse not to have taken advantage of rail lines.

Same goes with Houston. Phoenix, Charlotte, even Minneapolis all have rail capability based on Amtraks routes alone.

Now that we're basically going to sit back and watch the government give our tax money to Big Auto, we have no more legitimate excuses about being resistant to rail service that extends to the suburbs.
If Amtrack already services the route, then why do you need additional trains?
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