electricron wrote: ↑Thu Oct 07, 2021 2:14 pm
And let's suppose they eventually do meet at some station halfway between the major cities, they still will not be happy. They will want a one seat ride all the way, not having to transfer trains at the halfway station.
How many times have we read proposals for VRE trains from Manassas to DC be extended all the way to BWI, Baltimore, or Wilmington? Or Metro North EMUs be extended all the way to Trenton, or NJT trains be extended all the way to New Haven or Hartford? These extremely cheap nickel and diming passengers keep ignoring that is what Amtrak provides.
Well... yes, but no.
Lets take a recent example. Lets say I'm going from Odenton, MD to Crystal City, VA, because I landed a job at Amazon's new HQ in Crystal City.
The morning commute, currently: Take MARC down to Union Station and then two WMATA trains to Crystal City. Commute's about an hour because WMATA is slow. Cost: About $7 + $2.75 = $9.75 one way. Monthly? $189+60.60=$249.60
The morning commute, via Amtrak: Park at BWI (costly, Odenton's free), catch the right train, and get off at Alexandria.. and commute back via WMATA to Crystal City. Yeah, it's faster all right, all the way until they swap the electrics for the diesels... and you're going the wrong direction twice. Oh, and it's more to ride Amtrak. $33 for an 1h10m ride, plus some more for WMATA (both time and money), one way.
What's being proposed (and will probably happen): MARC Penn Line diesel down to DC and Alexandria, stopping a Crystal City. 45 minutes, likely. No engine change. $8 one way, or $216 monthly.
Now take Paoli to NYC. Amtrak "direct" is $67 one-way and is roughly 2 hours. SEPTA + NJ is... 6:11a to 8:36a to 11:16a. That's over FIVE hours... and I can't tell you how much money because SEPTA doesn't lets you calculate fares and they don't publish any fare info at all.
The point I'm making here is that it makes sense in certain areas, but doesn't on others.
Like in the DC example, if you can afford to take Amtrak in every day, ether you're in a position that lets you do that and charge it to the business, or you're making enough money that it makes more sense to move closer to DC. Amtrak for a commuter isn't cheap nor fast here!
MARC down to Alexandria will work nicely.
But in the PA/NYC example, It's faster than the alternative.
There's too many stops.
Commuter rail works if it takes no more than 3 hours to get anywhere. Otherwise, you need faster service that skips commuter rail stops.
Now, going city to city? It's still situational. DC to Baltimore? Depends if you need to get there in 30 minutes or can mind an hour. San Francisco to San Jose? Similar deal. San Francisco to Los Angeles or DC to New York? Amtrak.