The best commuter agency

General discussion of passenger rail proposals and systems not otherwise covered in the specific forums in this category, including high speed rail.

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NJTforever
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The best commuter agency

Post by NJTforever » Sun Apr 21, 2013 11:29 pm

I have rode many different commuter railroads but I feel as if NJT is to me considered the most well funded, have the best maintained lines and equipment. I may be wrong but as commuter agency's go NJT is top dog. What do you guys think, who is better?

mtuandrew
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Re: The best commuter agency

Post by mtuandrew » Tue Apr 23, 2013 3:08 pm

Moderator's Note: Welcome, NJTForever!

Against my better judgment, I'll let this topic go forward :wink:

Three rules:

1. No flame wars over which agency is best or why a particular agency sucks.
2. No craft wars (if you don't know what this means, it probably doesn't apply to you.)
3. No political demagoguery - that is, no "transit agencies are the devil" and no "if my party was in control, we'd all be riding trains and cars would be illegal."
3 1/2. Keep the hovercats and sideswipe pictures to a minimum. :wink:

I'm standing by with the fire extinguisher and padlock, but am looking forward to a well-reasoned discussion!

kitn1mcc
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Re: The best commuter agency

Post by kitn1mcc » Tue Apr 23, 2013 6:46 pm

MNCR Hands Down
Ui Company Meter Services

Ocala Mike
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Re: The best commuter agency

Post by Ocala Mike » Tue Apr 23, 2013 6:52 pm

Hope this doesn't violate the moderator's ground rules, but ---

I have no idea which one is "best," but isn't a huge black mark on NJT's file its getting caught flatfooted vis a vis its preparedness for and response to Hurricane Sandy? Didn't they lose a substantial portion of their motive power and rolling stock by failing to move them out of harm's way? Just asking.

On a more positive note, my son, who lives in Murray, UT, has good reports on Utah Transit Authority, operators of FrontRunner in the SLC area.
Ocala Mike (formerly Hillside Mike and Deer Park Mike)

mtuandrew
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Re: The best commuter agency

Post by mtuandrew » Tue Apr 23, 2013 9:15 pm

Ocala Mike: I distinguish between "an agency failed at this thing, and it is a mark against its reputation" and "your agency sucks so hard, Hoover called for lessons." :wink: Thanks for adding perspective.

Along those lines, SEPTA had a similar issue and flooded out many of its cars during a recent hurricane. I don't think the other east coast agencies have had similar problems, though I may be forgetting about one of them.

doepack
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Re: The best commuter agency

Post by doepack » Tue Apr 23, 2013 11:23 pm

Being a native Chicagoan, I'll freely admit to bias when I say that Metra is one of the best commuter agencies in the country. I've rode other systems, such as SEPTA, LIRR, and Metrolink, and I don't think any one particular agency is "the" best, although some can be stronger in some areas than others. For instance, I've always been impressed by LIRR's ability to move massive amounts of people, but I'm equally impressed by the service levels Metra can provide despite having to navigate around the heavy freight presence of six class one railroads. Each does its thing very well...
--Dorian--

Bob Roberts
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Re: The best commuter agency

Post by Bob Roberts » Wed Apr 24, 2013 10:48 am

my vote goes to Metro North since (I hear) they still have bar cars.

disclaimer: I live in North Carolina so I very rarely get to ride any commuter service. I have spent some time on MARC and the Southshore, neither would get my vote.

MattW
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Re: The best commuter agency

Post by MattW » Wed Apr 24, 2013 10:58 am

I've ridden Metra BNSF and Electric, MARC Penn Line, and Long Island Railroad to and from Carle Place. Of the three agencies, my favorite would be the LIRR. Trains were the cleanest, most on-time, crews were the friendliest. For things the agencies don't have so much control over, LIRR seemed to be faster but that could simply be due to their EMUs accelerating faster. I'll have a chance to ride both Metro North and NJT in the near future and can't wait to compare them to my experiences!

amm in ny
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Re: The best commuter agency

Post by amm in ny » Wed Apr 24, 2013 12:06 pm

I'm going to vote for my home commuter railroad, Metro-North (Westchester County.)
Reliable, frequent, on-time 20/7 service, they fix things when they break, and the employees are friendly and respectful.

Minus: the Westchester County bus system is, to put it mildly, not well coordinated with MNCR. My impression is that this is a general problem in the USA -- lack of coordination between different transit modes.
Minus: no service to North central Westchester County. West-of-Hudson service is limited and misses Eastern Rockland.


I'll admit, I'm not familiar with all the commuter railroads in the USA. The ones I have used:

NJ Transit: I've mostly taken this on weekends.
Plusses: extensive area coverage, especially in Northern NJ.
Minusses: trains are slow. Other than the NEC, platforms are low-level, so boarding/deboarding is slow and hazardous. It's hard to tell what stop you're at. And personally, I hate the bi-level cars. (See my comments on another thread.) Off-peak coverage is poor on a number of lines.

SEPTA: mostly on weekend trips.
Plusses: extensive coverage. Lovely views of the neighborhoods they go through. The Reading-to-PRR connector was a great idea, IMHO. Schedules look well thought out.
Minuses: it's falling apart, and hasn't had anything modernized in decades. (The "why"s belong in a different thread.)

Plus for NJT + SEPTA: coordination of trains at Trenton.


Washington Metro:
Plusses: fast trains, still in pretty good shape.
Minuses: the fare system is impossible to understand. Most outlying stations are pedestrian-unfriendly. Trains (and stations?) don't seem to be designed to handle the number of people they carry. And I personally am turned off by dimly lit grey concrete stations (I'm sure others love them.)


I've also ridden the "T" (Boston), but not enough to have an opinion.

mtuandrew
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Re: The best commuter agency

Post by mtuandrew » Thu Apr 25, 2013 3:17 pm

My opinion of what I've seen or ridden:
-NJT Rail Ops is a class act, and should have operated the RIVERline (with a streetcar serving Camden)
-Metra is another class act, and has standardized excellently
-SEPTA also has standardization down, and the CCCT is a brilliant idea. But, it needs a total makeover, some stations should be closed, and speed limits could stand to be raised. Also, kudos for finally introducing fare machines.
-Metro Transit has two (well-run) lines in search of a system. If found, please send to: Metropolitan Council, Minneapolis, MN
-LIRR: like SEPTA in terms of being a bit dirty and constrained, but efficient and modern like NJT. Very professional.

EDIT TO ADD:
-WMATA is pretty much like amm in ny says, in my opinion. Also, they need automatic fare machines - don't make the commuter or confused tourist do the math.

Otherwise, I have yet to ride many commuter systems. If we were talking LRT and subways, I'd have a fuller opinion.

Patrick Boylan
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Re: The best commuter agency

Post by Patrick Boylan » Fri Apr 26, 2013 5:12 am

mtuandrew wrote: -NJT Rail Ops is a class act, and should have operated the RIVERline
of the few Riverline personnel with whom I've spoken most have readily volunteered that they're not NJT employees, but I bet it'd be a rare civilian who knew or cared that the actual operating entity's a contracting company and not NJT itself.
mtuandrew wrote: (with a streetcar serving Camden)
I assume you don't mean something like the existing operation just to the city line, transfer to the steetcar to get to Broadway station, in Camden, to transfer to Philly and local transit, but rather the existing service to Broadway, and a separate streetcar for local Camden rides past that.
mtuandrew wrote: -SEPTA ... Also, kudos for finally introducing fare machines.
you're jumping the gun. Septa had gotten rid of their railroad ticket machines, and has never had token vending machines at all their subway stations. If I understand correctly, current proposals don't yet call for vending machines at all railroad or subway stations. I think they're expanding the 3rd party sales places, which could in some cases be better, for example get fare instruments at your home bus stop's corner grocery is better than having to ride the bus to the railroad or subway station to find a vending machine.

mtuandrew
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Re: The best commuter agency

Post by mtuandrew » Fri Apr 26, 2013 9:39 am

Patrick Boylan wrote:
mtuandrew wrote: -NJT Rail Ops is a class act, and should have operated the RIVERline
of the few Riverline personnel with whom I've spoken most have readily volunteered that they're not NJT employees, but I bet it'd be a rare civilian who knew or cared that the actual operating entity's a contracting company and not NJT itself.
I did know, but it isn't obvious.
Patrick Boylan wrote:
mtuandrew wrote: (with a streetcar serving Camden)
I assume you don't mean something like the existing operation just to the city line, transfer to the steetcar to get to Broadway station, in Camden, to transfer to Philly and local transit, but rather the existing service to Broadway, and a separate streetcar for local Camden rides past that.
Yes, I meant your second option - a train from Trenton station to Camden Broadway, and a streetcar service to serve Camden localities.
Patrick Boylan wrote:
mtuandrew wrote: -SEPTA ... Also, kudos for finally introducing fare machines.
you're jumping the gun. Septa had gotten rid of their railroad ticket machines, and has never had token vending machines at all their subway stations. If I understand correctly, current proposals don't yet call for vending machines at all railroad or subway stations. I think they're expanding the 3rd party sales places, which could in some cases be better, for example get fare instruments at your home bus stop's corner grocery is better than having to ride the bus to the railroad or subway station to find a vending machine.
My mistake. I was under the impression they had implemented electronic fare collection and automated fare vending since my last visit. I don't care where they have machines, but the current system is tremendously difficult for visitors to decipher.

ExCon90
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Re: The best commuter agency

Post by ExCon90 » Fri Apr 26, 2013 12:57 pm

If you think the present system is tremendously difficult, come back after they introduce the new one -- they seem to be on a glide path to surpass themselves, particularly for first-timers, occasional riders, and out-of-town visitors.

25Hz
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Re: The best commuter agency

Post by 25Hz » Wed May 08, 2013 8:04 pm

Having ridden NJT, SEPTA, and LIRR extensively for many years, it has to be NJT hands down. LIRR has some real on time performance and service pattern issues & the physical plant needs some TLC around jamaica. SEPTA is a huge joke and though i love trains and transit, SEPTA makes using it torture.

I would also like to throw PATH in there, very well run, fully modern fleet and more to come in terms of sophisticated signaling and adding those flood doors saved their butt during hurricane sandy..
Next stop the square, journal square station next!

morris&essex4ever
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Re: The best commuter agency

Post by morris&essex4ever » Wed May 08, 2013 8:19 pm

I'd say it's a tie between NJT and MNCR.
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