Officials push for extending MARC service to Elkton, Newark

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Officials push for extending MARC service to Elkton, Newark

Postby themallard » Tue Mar 20, 2007 6:29 pm

ANNAPOLIS - A state transit official balked Friday at a bill that would force his agency to find a way to extend commuter rail service from Perryville to Elkton.

Under the proposal, the Maryland Transit Administration would be required to negotiate with Amtrak to extend Maryland commuter service to Elkton by July 1, 2010.

Perryville is the current northern end of the Penn Line for MARC trains.

MTA would also have to begin negotiations with Delaware to connect commuter service with Newark, Del., the last stop for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority (SEPTA).
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Postby amusing erudition » Tue Mar 20, 2007 6:46 pm

If it's going to be an unfunded mandate, then he's right not to like it. If the state is going to fund it, then he shouldn't care.

Do we know specifics on this bill? Would MARC and SEPTA be interested in a joint yard (finally)? Would MARC ever (could they) go north of Newark overlapping with SEPTA and Amtrak or would that be too crowded (which unlike at Trenton would be good because of the peak directionality of the R2 past Wilmington and the Penn Line generally)?

-asg
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Postby jb9152 » Wed Mar 21, 2007 6:23 am

Although the story makes reference to the MTA negotiating with Delaware, a pertinent question to be asked, in addition to asg's very appropriate query about whether or not there will be money to actually run the service, is whether or not MTA has the authority to run outside of its defined service territory.

A secondary question to the first is - would MTA *want* to run outside its defined service territory, if it increases operating costs for only a marginal increase in ridership?

I don't know the answer to either, but it seems to me that MTA officials will be asking both in response to the bill.
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Postby Matthew Mitchell » Wed Mar 21, 2007 7:41 am

amusing erudition wrote:Would MARC ever (could they) go north of Newark overlapping with SEPTA and Amtrak or would that be too crowded (which unlike at Trenton would be good because of the peak directionality of the R2 past Wilmington and the Penn Line generally)?

The study completed in 2005 and reported on in the April 2006 DVARP newsletter <plug>subscribe at http://www.dvarp.org/member</plug> suggested that Wilmington would be a better terminus than Elkton or Newark.
DVARP newsletter wrote:The primary focus of the study was extending the MARC Penn Line North service from Perryville to Elkton or Wilmington. In practical terms, running to Elkton means running to Newark, since there is no interlocking to turn trains around at Elkton. The study said If you have to continue to Newark, then you might as well consider going all the way to Wilmington.
The biggest concern is track capacity, particularly between Davis interlocking in Newark and Prince interlocking at Perryville. The railroad is three tracks from Davis to Bacon (North East), and only two from Bacon to Prince. The study proposes a third track on the latter segment, costing a total of 22.6 to 26.1 million dollars.

There's a lot more in the article, including a discussion of crewing and potential ridership. See http://www.dvarp.org/newsletter/ for a link.
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Postby walt » Wed Mar 21, 2007 10:12 pm

Actually, the driving force behind this bill ( House Bill 681) is the BRAC ( Federal Base Realignment and Closure) process which will result in base military base closures around the country, with many of the functions of the closed bases being relocated to Maryland's Edgewood Arsenal, Aberdeen Proving Ground ( both in Harford County, MD) and Fort Meade ( in Anne Arundel County, near the Howard County line)-- I am looking at the actual Bill as I write this.

Because of this, this bill has a much better chance of resulting in some expansion of MARC service north of Perryville than one might think. Maryland officials are expecting a large influx of new employees, both in the Edgewood-Aberdeen area and in the Northern Anne Arundel County- Eastern Howard County ( Ft. Meade) area. If Newark, Del. experiences an influx of new residents made up of people working at either of the two Harford County bases, you could see more of a reason for MD. to begin discussions with Delaware ( and Amtrak) with a goal of extending Marc Service further north, or Septa Service further south.---- And, the idea might not be dead, even if HB 681 isn't passed this year. Legislation often has to be introduced in several sessions of the Legislature before it is passed. Also remember that the Maryland General Assembly is a part time Legislature-- it is only in session from January through mid April-- so this bill might run out of time this year-- if it does, I would expect it to be re-introduced at next year's session.
BTW--- the Legislature has approved a study of extending DC Metrorail's Green Line to BWI---through Fort Meade, with a possible branch to Columbia----also prompted by the BRAC process.
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Postby islandtransit » Mon Apr 30, 2007 11:01 pm

I don't see Wilmington being a better terminal. Wilmington only has 3 tracks, while Newark has 4. The 3rd track is hardly used(only to make up for lost time on late trains). What's the story with Elkton? 2 tracks, 3 tracks, 4?

I'm still trying to decide which is better, SEPTA to Elkton, or MARC to atleast Newark. I know Elkton is still commuting territory for Philly, but Newark has the Chrysler Plant and University of Delaware. Would an overlap be allowed? It's physically possible, but I doubt the states would fund it
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Postby Irish Chieftain » Mon Apr 30, 2007 11:08 pm

I'm still trying to decide which is better, SEPTA to Elkton, or MARC to at least Newark
The former would result in SEPTA serving four states, which would make it unique among commuter rail agencies.
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Postby islandtransit » Mon Apr 30, 2007 11:10 pm

Very true. I've always seen that as awkward, but hey, according to the article, Delaware is willing to fund the extension to Elkton, so hey, why the hell not?
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Postby amusing erudition » Tue May 01, 2007 12:09 am

Irish Chieftain wrote:
I'm still trying to decide which is better, SEPTA to Elkton, or MARC to at least Newark
The former would result in SEPTA serving four states, which would make it unique among commuter rail agencies.


The latter would result in MARC serving four state-like jurisdictions, which is equally unique.

-asg
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Postby cpontani » Tue May 01, 2007 9:44 am

But who's call is it for Septa to go there or not? Delaware service is funded by DelDOT, rigth? So Septa is just operating it for DelDOT. Or does Delaware need to get voting representation on Sepat's board? By the same token, does Jersey have any say about the two Septa stops in Jersey?
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Postby amusing erudition » Tue May 01, 2007 9:54 am

cpontani wrote:But who's call is it for Septa to go there or not? Delaware service is funded by DelDOT, rigth? So Septa is just operating it for DelDOT. Or does Delaware need to get voting representation on Sepat's board? By the same token, does Jersey have any say about the two Septa stops in Jersey?


Well, presumably they can regulate them the same as they can regulate anything within their state, except where trumped by federal law (including interstate compacts).

Neither New Jersey nor Delaware has any representation on the SEPTA board. Service to Delaware is funded by DelDOT, and, as a contractor, SEPTA doesn't need to offer representation on its board. If DelDOT wants SEPTA to extend to Maryland and will pay for it, and as long as Amtrak is okay with it, SEPTA will do it.

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Postby kevikens » Tue May 01, 2007 11:32 am

Geez, I'd hate to go from Maryland to Philly in a SEPTA coach with no bathrooms on board.
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Postby amusing erudition » Tue May 01, 2007 11:37 am

kevikens wrote:Geez, I'd hate to go from Maryland to Philly in a SEPTA coach with no bathrooms on board.


Elkton isn't really much farther away than Parkesburg (by about two miles I think), which SEPTA previously served without bathrooms.

Remember: Cecil County is in the Philadelphia metro area still.

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Postby islandtransit » Tue May 01, 2007 12:11 pm

Exactly! Newark always has cars with Maryland plates in the parking lot
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Postby CHIP72 » Tue May 01, 2007 12:51 pm

Besides the important factor that Elkton is actually now part of the Philadelphia urbanized area, another factor to consider in the "SEPTA to Elkton vs MARC to Newark" argument is Baltimore's urbanized area does not extend to any part of Cecil County at this time. (The urbanized area at the western end of that county is part of the Aberdeen-Havre de Grace-Bel Air area, not the Baltimore area.) Stated another way, there would probably be a lot more rail traffic going from Cecil County/Elkton to greater Philadelphia than from Newark to greater Baltimore/Washington. There probably is a good bit of rail traffic between Wilmington and Baltimore/Washington, but Amtrak can provide a one-seat ride to serve those riders.
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