Amtrak Boss Stresses Higher Speeds On Northeast Corridor

Map of the Northeast Corridor, traced on USGS ...

Map of the Northeast Corridor, traced on USGS topos. Legend: Red – Amtrak ownership Blue – NEC commuter services and NEC commuter rail agency ownership Black – off-NEC Amtrak lines not owned by Amtrak Green – stations on the NEC (Amtrak only) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WASHINGTON – Amtrak’s planned new Acela Express trains will carry more passengers and be more reliable than the current ones, even if they won’t travel much faster, Amtrak president Joseph Boardman said Thursday.

Amtrak is seeking proposals, with the California High-Speed Rail Authority, for new high-speed trains that can run at 220 miles an hour on the West Coast and 160 miles an hour on the Northeast Corridor.

Proposals from train-builders are due by May 17. A builder will be selected by the end of the year, Boardman said.

The first of the new Acela trains are supposed to be in service between Washington and Boston by 2018.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/transportation/20140328_Amtrak_boss_stresses_higher_speeds_on_Northeast_Corridor.html#v1btxHH7FQXZeq6R.99

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Mass Transit Ridership In 2013 Highest In 57 Years

Ridership on buses, trains and subways in 2013 was the highest in 57 years, the American Public Transportation Association said Monday.

The growth in transit ridership continued a 20-year trend attributed to higher gasoline prices, a shift by young adults away from automobiles, increased use of mobile technology, and the increasing allure of urban areas.

“There is a fundamental shift going on in the way we move about our communities,” said APTA president Michael Melaniphy.

In 2013, riders made 10.7 billion trips on U.S. public transit systems, up 1.1 percent from 2012. That was the most since 1956.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/transportation/20140311_Mass_transit_ridership_in_2013_highest_in_57_years.html#4DxdR5HbEf6VkPFv.99

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Drexel, Amtrak, Brandywine Weigh Giant Development Plans

English: 30th Street Station In Philadelphia. ...

English: 30th Street Station In Philadelphia. Roughly speaking, the center of commuting in Philly, the former center of the Pennsylvania Railroad. Philly’s main Amtrak station (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Officials at Drexel University, Amtrak, Brandywine Realty Trust and other city and West Philly institutions have been sitting down with developers in recent days to review proposals to build over the tracks at 30th Street Station and link the grandiose proposed Drexel Innovation Neighborhood and its high-rise, Rockefeller Center-like “Superblock” at 33rd and Market — whose 6.5 milllion sq ft, by itself, would be more than four times larger than the proposed new Comcast office tower — and other new Drexel-area construction to Center City, highways, the airport, Penn, and, you know, the rest of the world.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/inq-phillydeals/Drexel-Amtrak-Brandywine-weighing-giant-West-Philly-redevelopment.html#cKEU5LqSCK8zdcLb.99

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Amtrak’s Routes Through Pittsburgh See Ridership Increase

Amtrak’s two routes with Pittsburgh stops saw ridership increases in the past fiscal year, according to ridership data the railroad announced this morning.

The Pennsylvanian, which runs between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia via Harrisburg, saw a 3.3 percent ridership increase, to 218,917, and a 12.4 percent gain in passenger revenue.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett announced in March that the state would commit $3.8 million to keep the service operating in the coming year.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/region/amtraks-routes-through-pittsburgh-see-ridership-increase-707557/#ixzz2hiDUs3yx

Lancaster Train Station Repairs Speed Up

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lancaster’s Amtrak station is finally getting a much-needed facelift.

Scaffolding reaches the ceiling in the main hall, and workers from Lobar, Inc., are repairing and patching the ornate plaster to prepare for the final paint job.

Meanwhile, members of the Lancaster Train Station Advisory Committee were told Wednesday, Amtrak workers are in the process of finishing plaster work on the west side of the concourse leading to the train platforms and putting the final coat of paint on the eastern concourse walls.

Work on the ceiling is being postponed until after a new heating/ventilating/air conditioning system is installed on the concourse roof.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/article/local/863292_Lancaster-train-station-repairs–speed-up.html#ixzz2Wi3O0O5E

Public Wants More Transit Funding, Officials Say

SEPTA logo with text

SEPTA logo with text (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Amid state and federal wrangling over transportation funding, transit leaders meeting in Center City said growing public support should mean more money for trains, buses, and subways.

“The people of the nation are way ahead of some of their elected leaders,” Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff said Monday, citing a new survey for the American Public Transportation Association that showed 74 percent of respondents supported using tax dollars to “create, expand and improve public transportation.”  That was up from 69 percent last year.

In Washington and Harrisburg, lawmakers are debating how to pay for mass transit as well as highways and bridges.  Transit agencies, which typically get at least half of their budgets from taxpayers, are lobbying for increases to replace outdated equipment and vehicles and to bring derelict systems into a state of good repair.

A vote is expected this week in the Pennsylvania state Senate on a transportation-funding bill that would increase the gas tax on wholesalers (who likely would pass it on to motorists at the pump), and raise most vehicle fees and fines for traffic violations.  The measure would produce about $2.5 billion in additional transportation funding after three years, according to its sponsor, Senate transportation chairman John Rafferty (R., Montgomery).

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/transportation/20130604_Public_wants_more_transit_funding__officials_contend.html#Ygr2fvsOhvgMWo0W.99

Lititz Pike Detours Set To Begin May 29

750 mm by 600 mm (30 in by 24 in) Pennsylvania...

750 mm by 600 mm (30 in by 24 in) Pennsylvania shield, made to the specifications of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), 2003 Edition (sign M1-5). Uses the Roadgeek 2005 fonts. (United States law does not permit the copyrighting of typeface designs, and the fonts are meant to be copies of a U.S. Government-produced work anyway.) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lititz Pike motorists will soon be forced to learn some new tricks.

On Wednesday, May 29, PennDOT is implementing the first set of road closings and altered traffic patterns necessitated by construction of a new Route 501 bridge over the Amtrak and Norfolk Southern train tracks.

That means drivers who have been using Route 222/501 for years to enter and exit the city will encounter some major changes in their routine.

McGovern Avenue will be closed from the Lititz Pike to Queen Street.  Consequently, southbound drivers unable to make the right turn onto McGovern Avenue will continue straight, to a new intersection at Liberty Street.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/article/local/850759_Lititz-Pike-detours-set-to-begin-May-29.html#ixzz2TfDre4N0

Amtrak Reports Increase In Ridership On Keystone Line, Says Lancaster Is Third-Busiest Station In State

Ridership on Amtrak’s Keystone line through Lancaster County grew by 5.2 percent in the last six months, the nation’s passenger railroad corporation announced Tuesday.

Amtrak has 13 trains each weekday stopping at the Lancaster, Mount Joy and Elizabethtown stations on the Keystone line and nine weekend trains.  The Keystone line carries passengers between Harrisburg and Philadelphia.

The Keystone carried 723,461 passengers in the first half of the fiscal year, compared to 687,860 during the same period last year.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/article/local/836140_Amtrak-reports-increase-in-ridership-on-Keystone-line–says-Lancaster-is-third-busiest-station-in-state.html#ixzz2QAEZu4bn

Philly To NYC In 40 Minutes?

English: Map of Northeast, Keystone, and Empir...

English: Map of Northeast, Keystone, and Empire corridors, federally designated high-speed rail corridors. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Obama administration will weigh 15 alternatives for improved passenger rail service between Boston and Washington, ranging from modest upgrades to a new high-speed Northeast Corridor that would allow trips between Philadelphia and New York City in about 40 minutes.

The 15 “preliminary alternatives” were unveiled Tuesday by the Federal Railroad Administration.

The FRA plans to come up with a single “preferred alternative” by mid-2015, complete with cost estimates and possible construction schedules.

The goal is to lay out a feasible plan for investing in the nation’s busiest rail corridor through 2040, with proposals for updated equipment, more trains, new stations and possible new routes.

Read more: http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20130402_Various_visions_for_Northeast_Corridor.html#ixzz2PLaQhVws 
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Amtrak’s Regulars Treasure The Pennsylvanian

English: An locomotive arriving at the Johnsto...

English: An locomotive arriving at the Johnstown train station in Johnstown, . The train is Amtrak’s #42 Pennsylvanian. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

ABOARD THE AMTRAK PENNSYLVANIAN — The steady rumble of steel wheels on tracks is punctuated by the wail of a locomotive horn and then, oddly, by the pop of a champagne cork.

It’s 8:30 a.m., and Amanda McCoy and Kim Christen are living it up in the cafe car. On the table are boxes of a Polish pastry called paczki, orange juice and a bottle of Barefoot Bubbly.

It’s mimosa time.

Ms. McCoy, of Indiana Township, and Ms. Christen, of West View, also have bread, garlic bologna, lettuce, tomato and a travel Scrabble set for the long ride. “We’re veterans,” Ms. McCoy says. “We know how to do it.”

Like many others aboard the train, they swear by it, and recoil at the possibility that the one daily Amtrak train serving Pittsburgh and Harrisburg will be eliminated in October.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/state/amtraks-regulars-treasure-the-pennsylvanian-675749/#ixzz2LDMwXNd9

Amtrak Raises Monthly Fares On Keystone Line

English: 30th Street Station In Philadelphia. ...

English: 30th Street Station In Philadelphia. Roughly speaking, the center of commuting in Philly, the former center of the Pennsylvania Railroad. Philly’s main Amtrak station (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For the third time in 18 months, Amtrak recently increased its monthly fares for commuters.

The 2 percent increase imposed in June adds $3.28 to the cost of a monthly pass between Lancaster and Harrisburg.  With the increase, the cost of that pass is now $164.

For a Lancaster commuter traveling to Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station, the monthly pass increased by $5.64, to $282.

The increase affects only Amtrak’s Keystone line between Harrisburg and Philadelphia.  Lancaster is the busiest station between those two points.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/article/local/686619_Amtrak-raises-monthly-fares.html#ixzz20N4lfowz

Amtrak Seeks Leisure Travelers

Philadelphia's 30th St. Station has SEPTA Regi...

Image via Wikipedia

A banner hanging in Lancaster‘s Amtrak station advertises a special promotion for travelers going to the current Philadelphia flower show.

The 15 percent reduction on tickets on Amtrak’s Keystone line is an effort to get more people to ride the rails rather than drive.

In the near future, there could be similar signs hanging in Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station or the Harrisburg train station advertising First Fridays in Lancaster.

Amtrak and the state Transportation Department — Amtrak’s partner in the Keystone line — hope to build more leisure travel on the 104-mile line between Philadelphia and Harrisburg, Toby Fauver, deputy secretary for local and area transportation, said.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/article/local/601295_Amtrak-seeks-leisure-travelers.html#ixzz1ojKUHhx7

Yet Another Copper Thief – Caught Stealing From Amtrak

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Chester County

Image via Wikipedia

WEST CHESTER, PA — A father of four who struggles with a heroin addiction told a Common Pleas Court judge that he planned to pay back thousands of dollars he owes Amtrak for stealing copper wire from the railroad’s Philadelphia to Harrisburg line, but he did not say how.

William James Stauffer, 29, of Honey Brook pleaded guilty on Tuesday to charges of theft by unlawful taking and criminal mischief for the December 2010 theft about 800 pounds of copper electrical wire. In addition to a prison term of six to 23 months in Chester County prison and three years of probation, he was ordered to pay $28,650 to the railroad for the cost of the wire and the considerable disruption its loss caused operations along the line.

“As soon as I get back home, I’d like to get back to work,” Stauffer told Jude William Mahon, who accepted the plea agreement between the prosecution and Stauffer’s attorney. “I want to give it 100 percent to pay my restitution, and to keep my nose clean.

Read more: http://www.dailylocal.com/articles/2012/01/23/news/srv0000016938238.txt?viewmode=fullstory

Lack Of Competition On Nonstop Flights Between Philly And Pittsburgh Will Skyrocket Ticket Prices

English: A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-3H4 a...

Image via Wikipedia

This is a classic example of why competition is necessary in an economy.  Southwest Airlines is ending their Philadelphia to Pittsburgh nonstop service on January 8th.  Starting January 9th, US Airways will be the only carrier with nonstop flights between Pennsylvania‘s two largest cities. 

Today, a nonrefundable round-trip ticket will set you back $118.00 before taxes.  After Southwest ends their nonstop service, the same ticket, for the same flight, will cost you $698.00 on US Airways.

Taking a flight with one connecting stop makes flying almost equivalent to driving across the state.  Amtrak and Megabus are also not options for business travelers who need to make same-day round-trips.

Just another example of corporate greed.

Harrisburg Area Starting Massive Cleanup And Return Of Services

The Harrisburg area is starting to clean up and services are coming back online after the Great Flood of 2011.  The Susquehanna River is back under flood stage along with the Swatara Creek

Capital Area Transit services will resume on Monday.

Linda Thompson, Harrisburg‘s Mayor, is ending the curfew and state of emergency tonight at 9 p.m.  The mayor said she was pleased with Harriburg’s overall condition.

Amtrak service between Harrisburg and Lancaster is still out of commission today.  Still no word on train travel between the two cities for Monday.

There are still about 500 PPL customers in Shipoke, Midtown and Uptown without power.

City Island Parking is closed on Monday.

Amtrak, NJ Transit and SEPTA Trains Halted By Flood Waters From Irene

SEPTA logo

Image via Wikipedia

Things have not returned to normal after Irene.  Amtrak service between Philadelphia and Boston was halted due to high water that flooded the Trenton Station and tracks, making train travel north of Trenton impossible.

SEPTA had seventeen cars stranded at Trenton when water from a nearby creek overflowed over the tracks.  The water is not expected to recede until Monday evening and then the damage will be assessed before a timeline to re-establish train service can be determined.  SEPTA still has four train lines without service: Trenton, Paoli/Thorndale, Norristown and Cynwyd.

NJ Transit trains are only operating on the Atlantic City Line.

Amtrak service between Philadelphia and Harrisburg is expected to resume about 3 p.m today.