• Post COVID - Passenger Rail

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

Moderators: mtuandrew, gprimr1

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  by Gilbert B Norman
 
justalurker66 wrote: Mon Jun 07, 2021 12:28 pm I'd give it a year or two (2022/2023) to expect passenger loads to recover to 2019 levels. Longer if we have another pandemic spike.
Mr. Lurker, you couldn't be more "spot on".

"It could all come tumbling down" after this "business as usual" holiday weekend. Look for a resulting spike to occur in about another week.

Any such spike could include a "breakthrough" by one of these mutations that are ostensibly only overseas. Overseas is meaningless; think "over here".

I hope we are both mistaken with our thoughts, and that those holdouts will step up and roll 'em up.
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
Actually Mr. Olesen, I have started to think about Third and Fourth Quarter out of town travel plans (all auto; I've only driven 2K miles since "The Beginning")

My secondary (Prep) school will have Alumni Weekend in September, instead of the usual June after School recesses. It will be my 60th and our Class Agent (bring your checkbooks) reports about ten guys will be "on The Hill" at South Kent. I'll then go down to Greenwich for a few days with my No-VAX Sister (stay at a hotel).

October will be "Day at the Races" - a gathering at a hotel suite with several of my friends in Indianapolis (even though no race this year).

November, I've accepted a Thanx invitation with, again, friends in Indianapolis.

So I'm placing my bets that COVID is on the run.
  by Jeff Smith
 
Reminder: let's keep this to post-covid "recovery" as it specifically pertains to Amtrak's policies, and passenger counts, consist lengths, etc.
  by eolesen
 
Jeff Smith wrote: Tue Jun 08, 2021 11:10 am Reminder: let's keep this to post-covid "recovery" as it specifically pertains to Amtrak's policies, and passenger counts, consist lengths, etc.
That's not a meaningful set of ground rules, Jeff.

The goal/problem for rail isn't train schedules. It's getting people motivated to travel again. Public policy actions influence that more than than anything else.
Last edited by eolesen on Wed Jun 09, 2021 1:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
  by eolesen
 
Gilbert B Norman wrote: Mon Jun 07, 2021 7:18 pm "It could all come tumbling down" after this "business as usual" holiday weekend. Look for a resulting spike to occur in about another week.

Any such spike could include a "breakthrough" by one of these mutations that are ostensibly only overseas. Overseas is meaningless; think "over here".

I hope we are both mistaken with our thoughts, and that those holdouts will step up and roll 'em up.
Sorry, but I have to disagree a bit, Professor. States like Florida and Texas have been wide open for months now and were supposed to see similar spikes after their "neanderthal policy moves" and those spikes haven't really materialized. Not sure whether that's due to vaccination rates in those areas, or possibly a larger organic population who already had COVID. Either way, it's also not a coincidence there was an uptick in airline traffic to/from the states and other places like Mexico that opened their doors early.

International travel is another story altogether, but that's not a meaningful concern for Amtrak. If anything, the lack of international travel opportunities (aside from Mexico and perhaps the Caribbean) should be shifting some demand to domestic adventures... I know RV sales have been thru the roof two years in a row now, and campgrounds are packed...
STrRedWolf wrote: Sat Jun 05, 2021 10:17 pm Now? We're close, but not there yet. We need the "Everyone can take 'em off!" signal. Right now, out of the CDC, it's mixed.
Mixed messaging from CDC is an understatement. I don't think they actually intended to drop the mask mandate for vaccinated... It almost seemed like a mistake worthy of Günter Schabowski's praise.

Regardless, we're almost a month past that change, and the real-time stats continue to drop.

What I think would get more people off their couches and lawn chairs, and back onto trains is dropping mask mandates and removing other government imposed emergency measures (e.g. reduced seating in restaurants, social distancing in elevators, etc.) like what SEPTA has already done.

If the commuter agencies are signaling it's safe to travel, perhaps people might respond accordingly.
Last edited by eolesen on Wed Jun 09, 2021 1:40 am, edited 1 time in total.
  by eolesen
 
I've already given a prediction earlier, but will reiterate it again...

Business travel will be down 20-30% for the rest of 2021. They're already making do with Zoom and other means. Some client related travel may slowly return, but that's going to depend on offices re-opening as well as company policies being relaxed to allow external visitors. A good % of business travel is people traveling between company offices on internal company business (training, seminars, etc.) and that's not something that translates into revenue/sales so there will be a lot of pressure to keep that discretionary travel to a minimum.

Commuting will continue to be down 20-30% permanently. Anecdotal evidence is that it's still down 70% or more right now. Some agencies are adding trains back into the schedule, others aren't. But adding trains isn't the core problem -- it's still a lack of desire/demand to hop onboard and go into the office. That's due to offices slowly re-opening in the larger commuter rail markets, and then you have a lot of companies who have shifted to a permanent hybrid remote/in-office model.

With luck, most leisure travel will recover by summer 2022. It's too late for 2021. People have made their plans already, but on a long term basis, what works against Amtrak is a mix of confidence and need.

There's going to be a lag before senior citizens start to trust traveling as safe. Many of them will travel by car only if at all (Prof. Norman is an example above...). Across all modes of travel, it's not a huge hit for airlines, but for Amtrak and cruises, retirees and seniors are a large demographic, particularly on the long distance network.

As far as need..... Millenials and GenZ's (a group that disproportionately doesn't own cars and lived close to their downtown offices) already made up a good % of corridor riders prior to Covid lockdowns. This age group also is the most likely to embrace a remote working environment.

I know there are many here who think WFH was a fad, but I'm not convinced it is. Companies who were forced into it are now sticking with it, and employees who may have resisted at first are finding out that it's not as bad as they expected. That's factored into my 20-30% permanent drop for commuting, but it might even extend into leisure for Amtrak to the extent that some city dwellers used Covid as a reason to move out of downtown walkable apartments and out to houses in suburbs or exurbs. You really can't do that type of move without a car, and the temptation longer term will be to drive for leisure trips that might have previously been a hop on Amtrak.
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