New Atlanta Station

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Re: New Atlanta Station

Postby SouthernRailway » Sun Sep 03, 2017 6:33 pm

$1.5 billion for a new station on a route that, for now, has just 1 train a day in each direction?

It seems to me that the first step should be to add more trains, and then build stations to meet demand.

Considering the inane station situations in both Atlanta and Charlotte, with massive projects studied an nauseam but nothing ever built, and huge budgets for those projects, would Birmingham-Atlanta-Chalotte-Raleigh be a candidate for Brightline?

Atlanta has a very vibrant Midtown, Charlotte has a very vibrant downtown, and Greenville, SC (although much smaller) has a very vibrant downtown as well (with much of the city's retail and residential development there). I-85 between those three cities is a mess, with increasing congestion. The region is basically a Southeastern version of New Jersey, with a dense and growing population.
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Re: New Atlanta Station

Postby gokeefe » Sun Sep 03, 2017 7:33 pm

SouthernRailway wrote:$1.5 billion for a new station on a route that, for now, has just 1 train a day in each direction?

It seems to me that the first step should be to add more trains, and then build stations to meet demand.


The current station is so small that it can't even handle what it has so this idea seems pointless to me.

At least with transit oriented development you can build a good sized station and let the developers bear the cost.
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Re: New Atlanta Station

Postby mtuandrew » Sun Sep 03, 2017 7:56 pm

I could see Atlanta-Raleigh via Spartanburg and Charlotte, but why Birmingham?
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Re: New Atlanta Station

Postby Greg Moore » Sun Sep 03, 2017 9:47 pm

gokeefe wrote:
SouthernRailway wrote:$1.5 billion for a new station on a route that, for now, has just 1 train a day in each direction?

It seems to me that the first step should be to add more trains, and then build stations to meet demand.


The current station is so small that it can't even handle what it has so this idea seems pointless to me.

At least with transit oriented development you can build a good sized station and let the developers bear the cost.


Eh, you could handle other trains, just not at the same time.

Schedule a day train from WAS-ATL to arrive/leave say 2 hours after the Crescent, and perhaps one other. You'd make better use of the existing station w/o overtaxing it.

The problem isn't the station itself, it's CSX. I highly doubt they'd allow additional trains to tie up that line for any length of time.
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Re: New Atlanta Station

Postby gokeefe » Sun Sep 03, 2017 10:35 pm

Greg Moore wrote:
gokeefe wrote:
SouthernRailway wrote:$1.5 billion for a new station on a route that, for now, has just 1 train a day in each direction?

It seems to me that the first step should be to add more trains, and then build stations to meet demand.


The current station is so small that it can't even handle what it has so this idea seems pointless to me.

At least with transit oriented development you can build a good sized station and let the developers bear the cost.


Eh, you could handle other trains, just not at the same time.


There are gas stations in downtown Manhattan with more parking than Peachtree Station in Atlanta. This station has done what it was intended to do. Make intercity passenger trains utterly irrelevant to transit in Atlanta (and by consequence much of the Southeast). Atlanta had 79,915 passengers through Peachtree in 2016. That's exactly 200 fewer passengers than Exeter, New Hampshire which saw 80,115. I find it sickening that a city of 420,003 people (Census 2010) had similar ridership figures to a town of 14,306.

Even if we account for the difference in size Exeter has 729 people per square mile vs. Atlanta's 3,306 per square mile. Taking it a step further ... if we assumed that Atlanta's 134 square miles produced similar numbers of passengers as Exeter the implied ridership figure is 536,770. If we multiplied that figure by 4.53 which is the difference in population densities then the implied ridership rises to 2,431,570. This figure would put Atlanta squarely between Chicago and Los Angeles in Amtrak's rankings of stations by ridership which is probably about exactly where they should be.

For all intents and purposes Amtrak might as well not exist in Atlanta. Peachtree is a placeholder for a much brighter and bolder future.
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Re: New Atlanta Station

Postby SouthernRailway » Mon Sep 04, 2017 7:02 am

A $1.5 billion station just doesn't seem to be very cost-effective when you look at the dollars spent on the station vs. the ridership and revenue gained. Any substantial spending on passenger rail in Georgia should be aimed at increasing the number of trains first, to build ridership.

I would just build a Metro-North-style station somewhere for now, or spent a few million to increase parking at the Peachtree station (which I've used many times). Maybe just buy a few adjoining plots of land and and sell the current station, and those other plots, to a developer (hopefully for a profit) when the new station is complete.

That Brightline can quickly build large stations, compared to the glacial pace of station construction in Charlotte and Atlanta, shows the superiority of the private sector vs. the public sector in some situations.
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Re: New Atlanta Station

Postby Greg Moore » Mon Sep 04, 2017 9:34 am

I think your comparison of Atlanta to Exeter is backwards.

Don't compare the city size, compare the number of trains per day.

Given that Atlanta has ONE train each way, it's doing pretty good ridership.
As for parking at Atlanta Peachtree station, they have use of the parking lot across the street at the Mason temple. Parking isn't a real huge issue.

There's pent up demand in Atlanta, but the station size isn't the issue.
The single usable track/platform that CSX is loathe to allow more Amtrak trains on is the problem.

Keep in mind, when the Crescent DOES arrive, it basically blocks CSX traffic in both directions for around an hour.

It's the tracks, not the station.
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Re: New Atlanta Station

Postby MattW » Mon Sep 04, 2017 10:24 am

Greg, it's Norfolk Southern, not CSX.

But the $1.5 billion isn't just the cost for an intercity rail station, it's the cost for the redevelopment of the entire "gulch" area into the MMPT to serve not only the Crescent, but also future commuter rail, and existing local, intercity and Xpress buses. That's in addition to the immense amount of planned mixed-use development.
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Re: New Atlanta Station

Postby SouthernRailway » Mon Sep 04, 2017 11:27 am

Yes, that's partially my point: there is no commuter rail yet so it's silly to build a station for it. If metro Atlanta is anything like the rest of the Southeast, commuter rail won't be built for decades to come. Privately-owned bus lines (for intercity buses) can pay for their own station. So that leaves MARTA buses that might need a new station at taxpayer expense, plus 1 train a day in each direction. Something like the uptown Charlotte bus station (built, I think, in the '90s) plus a Metro-North style train station will suffice, and the difference between $1.5B and the costs of those small stations can be spent on more trains, not more stations.
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Re: New Atlanta Station

Postby MattW » Mon Sep 04, 2017 11:52 am

And my point is that most of that $1.5 Billion, won't go to rail infrastructure at all. I'm also not sure that most of the funding will be government funding anyways.
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Re: New Atlanta Station

Postby mtuandrew » Mon Sep 04, 2017 2:58 pm

SRY, MattW, and Mr. Moore: as an example of municipal transit-oriented redevelopment, see St. Paul Union Depot. Its renovation was part of the larger Lowertown District renovation - there aren't any more mainline trains yet (only LRT) but the implication to residents and businesses moving to the area is that there will be more. A reasonably grand downtown station shows a willingness to invest in community that isn't demonstrated at places like the former St. Paul Midway and the current Detroit New Center, Miami Hialeah, or Atlanta Peachtree.

Besides, such an Atlanta station will (should) serve as a MARTA and bus hub.
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Re: New Atlanta Station

Postby SouthernRailway » Mon Sep 04, 2017 4:13 pm

I am not aware of any need that MARTA has for a new transit center. Its bus routes feed into subway stations, and no commuter rail lines are under construction.

There is also plenty of private-sector development in Midtown and northern Atlanta and the northern suburbs.

This new station is a waste of money.
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Re: New Atlanta Station

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Mon Sep 04, 2017 8:43 pm

Tangentially related, but isn't it time for MARTA to add a Cobb County line that would serve the expanding region along I-75?

Simply because I'm not any kind of sports fan does not mean there aren't any of such. In the past when riding MART to get somewhere for a reason, i.e. Airport, Symphony, I've seen enough Braves fans to keep the trains full. Now with the stadium relocated to Cobb County, do we need to add those drunks to already congested I-75?

Building out MARTA would seem to be a more rational way to meet the regions mass transportation needs than building a commuter rail system that will only interfere with efficient operation of the rail system to do what it is there for. When the existing Amtrak Peachtree Station was a suburban stop made on the quick and freight traffic half what is today, that was one thing. Not so anymore as outlined in previous postings.
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Re: New Atlanta Station

Postby Bob Roberts » Tue Sep 05, 2017 8:02 am

Gilbert B Norman wrote:Tangentially related, but isn't it time for MARTA to add a Cobb County line that would serve the expanding region along I-75?.


That would make a great deal of sense. Unfortunately Cobb has been clear since MARTA's inception that they were not interested in hosting or contributing to such a line. Most observers would attribute this reluctance as a vestigial element of the segregationist South.
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Re: New Atlanta Station

Postby gokeefe » Tue Sep 05, 2017 9:53 am

SouthernRailway wrote:There is also plenty of private-sector development in Midtown and northern Atlanta and the northern suburbs.


I think advocating for less dense development in the middle of a major urban area makes no sense whatsoever. Atlanta should be far bigger and far more developed within its urban core than it is.
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