According to the New York Times, Amtrak is gaining riders in the northeast corridor thanks in part to arduous airport security procedures and frequent airline delays. Amtrak also beats airline shuttles in on-time arrivals and proximity to major business centers. In Chicago, the Chicago Transit Authority is counting 16 months of ridership increases for both rail and bus lines. The rail system has seen 51 consecutive months of ridership growth, including a 6.2 percent jump over the last six months. Last year the CTA carried 523 million riders. [Photo: Bruce Fingerhood/Flickr]
Posts tagged with "Amtrak":
Pop-Up Forgiveness. With Spain in the midst of an austerity plan, the NY Times reported that Madrid and the Catholic Church have spent $72 million for festivities centered around the visit of Pope Benedict XVI, which has drawn criticism from many in the city. Among the improvements lavished upon Madrid are 200 pop-up confessional booths in Retiro Park. Perhaps city leaders doling out funds will be among those in line at the booths. Reminder! Tomorrow, Wednesday August 17th, the International Center of Photography will hold a panel discussion in conjunction with the exhibition Hiroshima: Ground Zero 1945. The discussion will feature authors Erin Barnett, Adam Harrison Levy, and Greg Mitchell who will speak about the exhibition's compelling photographs of post-bomb Hiroshima along with a discussion of censorship and documentation of the the attack. Fresh Jobs. Data from a USDA report released last week indicated that farmers markets are on the rise in the United States. The report counted 7,175 markets, a 17 percent increase since last year. States with the largest growth were Colorado, Alaska, and Texas, representing a robust local and regional food system. Grist and GOOD broke down the report. Where's the Map? Transportation Nation asks, Where’s the Amtrak map at Penn Station? It seems as though travelers are missing out on the opportunity to visually place their train journeys. As journalist Mark Ovenden said,“maps are part of the journey, and we shouldn’t forget that." You can ask for a paper fold-out version, which pales in comparison as its streaking red lines give little real indication of the train's path.
The current state of rail is nowhere near its heyday in the 20th century, when train travel was luxurious and serviced most parts of the country. But high speed rail is making a comeback, championed by planners, environmentalists, and the Obama administration. The mode of transport still has to contend with car and air travel (along with a reputation for inconsistency and irrelevance), but it got some help in March, when a commercial featured Mad Men's Pete Campbell and Harry Crane building a campaign for high speed rail. And Amtrak still has an surprising roster of famous passengers, which includes Angelina Jolie, Jesse Jackson and John Travolta, according to forums on Flyertalk.com and Trainorders.com. Check out these celebrities who take high speed rail: Vice President Joe Biden, known as Mr. Amtrak in Congress, commuted between Wilmington and Washington DC over 7,000 times during his years in Congress. The former Senator penned a piece in Arrive magazine last spring professing his love for rail travel:
Amtrak doesn’t just carry us from one place to another–it makes things possible that otherwise wouldn’t be. For 36 years, I was able to make most of those birthday parties, to get home to read bedtime stories, to cheer for my children at their soccer games. Simply put, Amtrak gave me–and countless other Americans–more time with my family.Newt Gingrich, who just announced his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, has been sighted on Amtrak, even though he opposes Amtrak funding. He traveled between LaGuardia Airport and DC, as a member of Club Acela no less. BJ Novak, who produces and plays Ryan on NBC's The Office, was seen on the Pacific Surfliner 583 heading to Los Angeles. He rode business class. Bill Cosby takes Amtrak. The comedian has been spotted going from Philadelphia to Washington, and on the Texas Eagle 22. One excited passenger made this video of him, and reports:
A man on the back deck of the dome car alerted us of Bill Cosby being on board. We pointed out cameras towards the window he was sitting at. A few days later, Andrew Sax told me Bill visited his school.Bruce Springsteen "charters a car on the NEC once in awhile. Guy likes trains and brings the entire band along," according to one observer. Have you spotted a celeb while riding the train? Share your star-studded encounters in the comments.
High Speed Rail Rescued. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced $200 million for high speed rail projects in Michigan yesterday, as part of a $400 million package for high speed rail in the Midwest. The money came from funds rejected by Florida governor Rick Scott. Grist reports: "It looks like Scott's tantrum will mean improved speed and performance in the Northeast Corridor, a high-speed line between Detroit and Chicago, better train cars throughout California and the Midwest, and forward movement on the planned L.A.-to-S.F. high-speed line. Thanks, sucker!" Over the Hill. And speaking of rail, Grist brings us this infographic showing the dramatic decline of Amtrak's coverage since its heyday in the 60s. Maybe it's time to bring Joe Biden in for a celebrity ad campaign. Buffalo's Berkeley Makeover. Can Buffalo, New York become the next hip college town? That's what administrators at the University of Buffalo are betting on, staking $5 billion to expand the campus from the outskirts of the city to downtown. The city, which lost 1/10 of its population over the last decade, may not have Berkeley's hippie past, but business leaders and local politicians envision bringing thousands of professors and staffers downtown, with "young researchers living in restored lofts, dining at street-side bistros and walking to work." Metrocards Out, Smart Cards In. The country's oldest subway system foresees a future without the iconic Metrocard. The NY Daily News reports that the New York City MTA plans to replace Metrocards with smart cards in three to four years. Riders would tap the MTA Card, or a debit or credit card, to pay their fares.
Microbe Road. Designers Thomas Kosbau & Andrew Wetzler have proposed scrapping asphalt in favor of a more eco-friendly sandstone paving surface created with locally harvested sand and cemented together by a common microbe. Yanko Design points out that the Incheon International Design Awards entry would save oil and help relieve the urban heat island effect. Super-circle XLVI. While the buzz surrounding this year's Superbowl has yet to subside, Indianapolis has focused its eyes to next year's big game. Urban Indy reports that the city's iconic Monument Circle will be pedestrianized during the week-long festivities, which could bode well for future car-free endeavors. ARC Resurrected. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie may have derailed the proposed ARC train tunnel connecting Manhattan and NJ last year, but a new plan floated by Amtrak could provide a new tunnel opportunity. The Transport Politic has details on the so-called Gateway Project. Ben van Bistro. Just in time for spring, the New Amsterdam Pavilion designed by UN Studio principal Ben van Berkel in Manhattan's Battery Park will offer eco-friendly food, craft beer, and organic wine. DNAinfo says the pinwheel-shaped restaurant will be called Battery Bistro.
Moynihan Station might not be welcoming its first passengers for years to come, but a heavy-hitting group of officials gathered at the James A. Farley Post Office to sledge-hammer a cinder block wall and declare Phase I ground officially broken. When complete, Moynihan Station will offer relief to the adjacent Penn Station (whose predecessor was regrettably demolished in the mid-1960s) and its 550,000 daily commuters. The brainchild of late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the project has been planned for almost two decades. Among the political celebrities gathered on the 100th anniversary of the original Penn Station were Mayor Bloomberg, Governor David Patterson, Senator Charles Schumer, and Secretary of Transportation Ray Lahood who brought tidings to the tune of $83 million in Recovery Act TIGER funding. The first phase is estimated to cost $267 million, jointly funded by State and Federal governments. Phase I construction will puncture two new entrances into the Farley Post Office to expand Penn Station and provide a larger West Concourse to accommodate Amtrak trains. It's slated to take about six years to complete the project as work is relegated to nights and weekends, a time span the NY Daily News points out is only two years shorter than the construction time for the original Penn Station and 5-miles of tunnels. Planning is currently underway for Phase II which includes a grand hall in the center of the Farley building.
With any luck, Moynihan Station will finally get off the ground thanks to last's months grant of $83 million in stimulus funds. Having gone through what seems like dozens of iterations, it's unclear exactly what shape the new station will take, but we do have one piece of advice for whatever cabal of designers takes up the massive project: Don't forget the signs. While no hardened New Yorker would admit to getting lost in Penn's warren of tunnels and concourses, Slate's Julia Turner uses the underground mess as Exhibit-A of bad signage for her series running this week and next about just how important wayfinding is in our increasingly confusing world. As Turner puts it, signage is "is the most useful thing we pay no attention to." The Jane Jacobs in all of us will point to the low-ceilings and poor layout, the ugly stepchild of McKim, Mead & White's glorious station, as the reason for the confusion Penn causes in visitors new and old alike. But Turner says the real problem, and potential solution, lies with the signage. While some of the signs work, the problem is the whole of the station, or lack thereof. The main issue, according to Turner, is that the busiest station in the country must serve three masters, Amtrak, New Jersey Transit, and the MTA (both LIRR and subways). We actually chuckled when David Gibson, principal of design firm Two Twelve, pointed out in the video above, "Here we are, we're at the intersection of three sign worlds." Could you imagine facing the same problem at busy intersection? Just as signs can create a problem, they can also fix them. As Turner points out in her third installment today, signs are already helping to take the confusion and congestion out of London's Underground—and the city in general—by directing people to stay above ground and walk, with the help of some new signs, of course. Granted Grand Central Terminal does not face the hodge podge of constraints Penn Station does, nor was it decimated by Robert Moses, but during a stroll through last night, it was clear to us how relatively easy it can be to get this right. Given how long it's taken to get Moynihan Station off the ground, and the obstinacy of transit bureaucracies to begin with, we'd be surprised if anything gets done before the arrival of the new station. Let's just hope they heed this warning and get it right next time.