Amtrak NEC Inland, Springfield Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield Route

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ExCon90
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Re: Amtrak NEC Inland, Springfield Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield Route

Post by ExCon90 » Fri Oct 11, 2019 3:00 pm

danib62 wrote:
Fri Oct 11, 2019 8:12 am
Your average non-foamer in 2019 is going to have no idea where to even find an amtrak timetable. They don't print them anymore and it's not like they really advertise them on the website. I think you're both woefully out of touch with how the average passenger engages with the system.
Actually that sort of thing goes back many years; you could always hear some passengers bragging that they couldn't read a timetable. I still remember when the Long Island concourse in Penn Station had two information clerks serving fairly long (but fast-moving) lines of passengers who would state a destination and receive an instantaneous reply [time--track no.]. Those guys had the timetable in their heads, and there were plenty of printed timetables in racks as well as signs posting destinations and track numbers.

Safetee
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Re: Amtrak NEC Inland, Springfield Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield Route

Post by Safetee » Fri Oct 11, 2019 6:19 pm

The Valley Flyer/ Knowledge Corridor is a spanking new passenger rail corridor compared to the NEC. There is some perception that there are thousands of potential rail passengers just lurking in Holyoke and Greenfield burning with desire to go to New Haven and NYC. There may very well be tons of potential rail customers in the Pioneer Valley, the question is how do you lure these potential railers into the fold. With a paucity of information about the new service on and off line, inadequate station facilities, high cost relative to bus, and a handy dandy interstate 91 beckoning with no timetable restrictions, just where and why will those non railers come from to ride the Flyers?

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shadyjay
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Re: Amtrak NEC Inland, Springfield Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield Route

Post by shadyjay » Fri Oct 11, 2019 7:14 pm

I think something to make the service more user friendly is to not require reservations. These are shuttle trains anyway. The southern 62 miles of these trains don't require reservations, as they're part of joint ticketing with CTRail. To have the 2-car shuttles fall under the same ticket limitations/ restrictions as the Vermonter seems a bit ridiculous for, essentially, the Valley Flyer as a shuttle service.

ExCon90
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Re: Amtrak NEC Inland, Springfield Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield Route

Post by ExCon90 » Sat Oct 12, 2019 2:21 pm

True--the attractiveness of frequent service is greatly diminished if reservations are required. I think that even on the NEC as a whole there should be at least one car with no reservations required: if you don't have a reservation you sit in that car, or if all the seats are taken you have the option of standing or waiting for another train. "Back in the day" there were no reservations required on the Corridor by PRR or NH--people took their chances in peak periods but if they had to get somewhere at a particular time they could at least get on the train. No way of going back to that today, because reserves of standby equipment aren't available. The only thing that made it possible then was that when postwar streamlined equipment was acquired, many of the previous coaches, by then long since fully depreciated, were retained.

The original reason for requiring reservations on the Metroliners was that the target speed was 150 or so and it was feared it would be unsafe to have passengers standing at those speeds; it now appears that we won't have that problem for some years yet. I believe the current reason for retaining the reservation requirement is to make more predictable demand estimates possible. That would still be the case if one car in each consist were set aside for last-minute walk-ups.
Last edited by ExCon90 on Sun Oct 13, 2019 1:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

lordsigma12345
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Re: Amtrak NEC Inland, Springfield Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield Route

Post by lordsigma12345 » Sun Oct 13, 2019 6:20 am

Safetee wrote:
Fri Oct 11, 2019 6:19 pm
The Valley Flyer/ Knowledge Corridor is a spanking new passenger rail corridor compared to the NEC. There is some perception that there are thousands of potential rail passengers just lurking in Holyoke and Greenfield burning with desire to go to New Haven and NYC. There may very well be tons of potential rail customers in the Pioneer Valley, the question is how do you lure these potential railers into the fold. With a paucity of information about the new service on and off line, inadequate station facilities, high cost relative to bus, and a handy dandy interstate 91 beckoning with no timetable restrictions, just where and why will those non railers come from to ride the Flyers?
Northampton is the target audience of this service with Holyoke and Greenfield being bonuses. (Originally the state only intended for Greenfield and Northampton. The city of Holyoke worked hard to push for their station to get added and got it built. That’s why Holyoke’s station is actually the fanciest of all three even though it accounts for the least ridership.)

Safetee
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Re: Amtrak NEC Inland, Springfield Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield Route

Post by Safetee » Sun Oct 13, 2019 7:24 am

I do realize that the Amherst/Northampton ridership is the mother lode. But with all the significant less expensive bus competition to and from Amherst/Northampton and the easy access to I-91 for automobiles, I still don't think that they're going to achieve meaningful market penetration in the Pioneer Valley. The market itself is not large for travel to New Haven and NYC from the PV but, if they really want to go for it, they're going to have to go a lot faster, much cheaper, with more amenities on and off the train to make a difference. It will be interesting if not illuminating to see some actual numbers, but in the mean time, i don't believe that dog as is will hunt.

lordsigma12345
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Re: Amtrak NEC Inland, Springfield Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield Route

Post by lordsigma12345 » Sun Oct 13, 2019 8:18 am

I would agree that The convenience of I91 is a significant competitor. I don’t think any of the services north of New Haven have as significant market penetration as they could. Many more people drive to New Haven or Stamford to access Metro North and Amtrak service than using Rail all the way from both the Hartford and Pioneer valley markets . The fares also create a challenge. One going from Holyoke to New Haven can pay almost double the fare as simply driving a little further to Springfield to pay the commuter level fare. I think the cheaper fares and more frequent service up to Springfield has probably won over a few more people, but you need a convenient schedule to get even metro north riders to use these services.

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Re: Amtrak NEC Inland, Springfield Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield Route

Post by njt/mnrrbuff » Sun Oct 13, 2019 10:09 am

How have the Valley Flyer trains been doing north of Springfield, ridershipwise?

Even though the Valley Flyer just started running, yes, there will always be people who might live between Springfield and Greenfield who will still drive to Springfield to pick up the train for points south. There are more options there. There will be people who will drive much further down 91 to New Haven for a lot more options but driving to New Haven takes a lot of time.

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Re: Amtrak NEC Inland, Springfield Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield Route

Post by daybeers » Wed Oct 16, 2019 10:21 pm

shadyjay wrote:
Fri Oct 11, 2019 7:14 pm
I think something to make the service more user friendly is to not require reservations. These are shuttle trains anyway. The southern 62 miles of these trains don't require reservations, as they're part of joint ticketing with CTRail. To have the 2-car shuttles fall under the same ticket limitations/ restrictions as the Vermonter seems a bit ridiculous for, essentially, the Valley Flyer as a shuttle service.
Many people, including organizations like Trains in the Valley, and citizens like myself, tried to advocate for lower commuter fares like CTDOT did with the Hartford Line, but MassDOT decided they didn't want to or couldn't subsidize it enough for this to be possible, which is unfortunate. Sortof shooting themselves in the foot with that one. Plus, the schedule padding is way more than it needs to be. I would think it would be better to actually have people on the train and have it a minute late or two occasionally instead of turning passengers away because it takes a fair bit longer than the bus or driving.

I also would love to hear if anyone has any ridership data or first-hand experiences.

westriverrr
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Re: Amtrak NEC Inland, Springfield Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield Route

Post by westriverrr » Thu Oct 17, 2019 10:05 am

Living in southern Vermont, i had high hopes for Greenfield service. Just park in Greenfield, get my ticket from a kiosk on the station platform and off I go.

Now that I see the high fares it's much more economical to head to Springfield and take a Hartford Line train. Not to mention I don't have to fumble around with Amtrak's website and then pay an exorbitant fare to go to Hartford or, say New Haven. And I don't have to get off Route 91 to navigate through Greenfield to the station. And do they really think they'll get any Northampton - Holyoke - Springfield commuters?

This service should definitely be on a no reservation basis except for the Vermonter. And fares? MASSDOT better talk to the Connecticut folks.

lordsigma12345
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Re: Amtrak NEC Inland, Springfield Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield Route

Post by lordsigma12345 » Thu Oct 17, 2019 7:49 pm

westriverrr wrote:
Thu Oct 17, 2019 10:05 am
Now that I see the high fares it's much more economical to head to Springfield and take a Hartford Line train. Not to mention I don't have to fumble around with Amtrak's website and then pay an exorbitant fare to go to Hartford or, say New Haven. And I don't have to get off Route 91 to navigate through Greenfield to the station. And do they really think they'll get any Northampton - Holyoke - Springfield commuters?
I think they'd get some commuters if they ran a northbound trip in the late afternoon. You can commute southbound but you'd have to take a bus home. This service is all about people in Northampton going to New York and other NEC cities. I live in Holyoke but I am right off an I-91 exit so its not that much longer to drive to Springfield and Holyoke to Springfield can take 30 minutes on the train with the need to reverse directions at Sweeney and all. I'm also just used to using Springfield as I used to live in Longmeadow - I also prefer the full indoor station that Springfield offers over just an outdoor shelter. The service is also not usable for weekend day trips it only works during the week so if your doing that you have to drive to Springfield or New Haven anyway on weekends. The fixed fares from Springfield to New Haven are a great plus. Also at Springfield you can buy from the Amtrak ticket office for the same price if you don't want to fiddle with the CTDOT kisok (unless you qualify for a CTDOT discount which can be better than Amtrak discounts.) I always do this as I have AGR points.

jxzz
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Re: Amtrak NEC Inland, Springfield Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield Route

Post by jxzz » Tue Oct 22, 2019 4:07 pm

This may not work beyond pilot. Ridership requirement of 24k per year is not easy to beat. Fares are high comparing to Hartford line, schedule is not very commuter friendly. There was also reporting of parking fees too high at Northampton . It appears that MassDot is designing this line to fail.

Safetee
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Re: Amtrak NEC Inland, Springfield Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield Route

Post by Safetee » Tue Oct 22, 2019 5:33 pm

The planning, which had little or nothing to do with any marketing surveys, was based on the fact that a whole train load of money had been spent on rehabbing the knowledge corridor for one lousy train in each direction. Springfield and its' Pioneer Valley Planning Commission enabler along with Mass Dot desperately want to make Springfield the rail Kansas City of western mass and the Valley Flyer shuttle service is the opening bid. They're throwing mud on the wall and hoping it will stick. But in the meantime, two of the stations that are involved have no bathroom facilities or all weather shelter. And Greenfield station is not open for the earliest train or the weekends. On and on. The support services and related stuff that could help make it work just are not in place and nobody seems to be ashamed.

jxzz
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Re: Amtrak NEC Inland, Springfield Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield Route

Post by jxzz » Tue Oct 22, 2019 6:35 pm

Safetee wrote:
Tue Oct 22, 2019 5:33 pm
The planning, which had little or nothing to do with any marketing surveys, was based on the fact that a whole train load of money had been spent on rehabbing the knowledge corridor for one lousy train in each direction. Springfield and its' Pioneer Valley Planning Commission enabler along with Mass Dot desperately want to make Springfield the rail Kansas City of western mass and the Valley Flyer shuttle service is the opening bid. They're throwing mud on the wall and hoping it will stick. But in the meantime, two of the stations that are involved have no bathroom facilities or all weather shelter. And Greenfield station is not open for the earliest train or the weekends. On and on. The support services and related stuff that could help make it work just are not in place and nobody seems to be ashamed.
To be fair, CTrail Shore Line East most stations other than New London/New Haven have no bathroom, no heating to speak of. I checked Northampton/Greenfield stations, the buildings are up just like Shore Line East stations, and maybe better.

Station costs money and probably less priority. But fares, schedules and convenience and affordability of parking are extremely important. Also driving a short distance to Springfield Union Station to get CTrail Hartford Line is not that difficult. Valley Flyers does not look promising.

CHTT1
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Re: Amtrak NEC Inland, Springfield Shuttle/Regional/Greenfield Route

Post by CHTT1 » Tue Oct 22, 2019 6:42 pm

Boy, there's an awful of handwringing about this relatively minor service that's only run for a couple of months.

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