• 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

  by eolesen
 
Being a Senator may be a full time job but they only really need to be in DC to vote. I'd guess Biden was there Tue-Thu, so one round trip a week...

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  by STrRedWolf
 
Gilbert B Norman wrote: Sat Feb 27, 2021 9:45 pm Read and take to heart this Peggy Noonan column appearing today in The Journal:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-old-ne ... eatst_pos1

Fair Use:
In the past year the owners of great businesses found how much can be done remotely. They hadn’t known that! They hadn’t had to find out. They don’t have to pay that killer rent for office space anymore. People think it will all snap back when the pandemic is fully over but no, a human habit broke; a new way of operating has begun. People will come back to office life to some degree, maybe a significant one; not everything can be done remotely; people want to gather, make friends, instill a sense of mission; but it will never be what it was.......The closed shops in and around train stations and office buildings, they’re not coming back. The empty towers—people say, “Oh, they can become luxury apartments!’ Really? Why would people clamor for them, so they can have a place in the city and be near work? But near work has changed. So you can be glamorous? Many of the things that made Manhattan glamorous—shows, restaurants, clubs, museums, the opera—are wobbling. .
Peggy is the most level headed and insightful columnist in the Journal's "stable". She is always the first thing I read on Saturday.
Sadly, this is paywalled for me. I want to see how her opinion would align with mine on this subject. It looks like it will closely hew to it.
  by STrRedWolf
 
Gilbert B Norman wrote: Sun Mar 07, 2021 9:47 am Mr. Wolf, if you don't succeed at first, try again:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-old-ne ... _permalink
Got the article... and it doesn't hew to my thinking. The big thing is that it assumes a complete work-from-home environment everywhere. But that assumes the best case scenario: Ultra-fast Internet connecting to ultra-fast systems end to end that never fail, and everyone is comfortable with that.

That scenario is basically impossible.

Equipment fails. Some person has to go in and swap it out. The closer you are to potential failure, the quicker you are to react to it. So someone has to be in various offices.

Infrastructure fails. The Internet isn't as robust as you think, namely because the ISPs are cheap-ass (insert favorite swear word here) that push profit over sustainability. If it breaks or is too slow to do the job, you have to go where the Internet is better... and the first/best solution is in the office.

Humans fail. Some are able to work from home and concentrate, while others (*raises hand*) are easily distracted and need that psychological shift to go from home to work and back. They need that regular structure. They want to go into the office.

This is where I get my "65-75%" guestimate figure. I believe that after we get a full "masks off" order, it will take a year to have the effects shake out and settle down. Offices will shrink but they won't go away. Businesses that support them (restaurants, tech repair, etc) will come back but not all of them. It all depends on the people who want to go back into work.

Back to the NYC perspective (although it can be extended to any major city with regular rail transit), the short term is to survive that year of shake-out. Tax revenue will be lower for quite a while, so NY will need to tweak it's taxes. There will probably be some property ownership consolidation, and the rental rates will start dropping as owners realize the market no longer can sustain such high rates. But by how much? That's something I know I cannot predict -- all I know that it will be a bit of a wild ride there.

Lets just say COVID-19 shook everything up, and it'll take a few more years to settle it back down again.
  by Literalman
 
Doing business remotely is not all it's cracked up to be, says I. One big national bank told me my phone number was invalid, then it told my wife that our Zip code is invalid, and calling the bank achieved nothing. I tried responding to a Red Cross appeal for donations of my blood type, and the Red Cross gave me a list of "local" blood drives; one of them was at our church, but when I clicked on it, it took me to a blood drive at a church with the same name in Nebraska (I eventually found and signed up for a drive here in Alexandria, Va.). When we picked out an engagement ring last year, we had to order it online, and the department store canceled the order three times until we gave up. The gas company also says my phone number is invalid. We tried to buy shoes online but couldn't get the clearance price; I went to the store and was told that the discount is available only in the store, but the shoes are available only online. I signed up for the CDC symptom tracking when I got my first Covid vaccine, and when I tried to log in via my computer, the CDC website said it would send a message if it could find my account. No message. These are just anecdotes, but I would bet that all these places think they have an excellent online presence. I'm glad our credit union has an office; it's one of the few places I can go and talk to someone and get things straightened out. Maybe a lot of businesses will stop doing commerce in person and think that everything's fine.
  by Myrtone
 
Alphaboi wrote:I seriously hope mandatory doesn't become the new norm; I hate almost everything about it.
Do you have nostalgia for the pre-covid normal?
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
Messrs. Literailman and Wolf; off rails, but here are thoughts from a Times reporter who, like you both, "wants to get back":

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/13/insi ... ffice.html

Fair Use:
A year ago this week, The New York Times shut down its offices because of the pandemic. It happened so fast that we didn’t have time to say goodbye...No one knew what to expect, and it still feels that way, almost more than our brains can process, dread mixed with hope. We all long for different things and feel bruised in different ways, and I have tried not to dwell too much on this particular subject, because it is complicated. But I really miss going to the office.

The Times’s office is on several floors of a building that stretches from 40th to 41st Streets on Eighth Avenue near Times Square. It’s not normally the quietest place in the world — what do you expect, when your nearest neighbor is the Port Authority Bus Terminal? — but it’s our not-quiet place. It has an electricity to it, a frisson, a sense of community and a sense of purpose. It feels like something bigger than itself.

The modern newsroom isn’t the sort of place that’s immortalized in old movies, where disheveled reporters swig whiskey from the bottle and sprint to the editor’s office, ties askew, waving bits of paper and shouting “I got the story!” Its soundtrack is a gentle hum rather than a loud clamoring.

I miss spying the editors in the daily news meeting. I miss the unexpected conversations. I miss a little fish in his little fish bowl. He used to live in one of the meeting rooms on the third floor. I miss the chatter, serendipity, the energy, the sense of purpose, the feeling in the air, the buoyancy that comes when you’re with other people and can get out of your own head. If I think hard, I can imagine this building the way it should be, filled with people again. And I really can’t wait to get back there.
I think it all boils down to anyone who has "neuro-divergent" characteristics, i.e. any measure on the autism scale, is more comfortable WFH, as the environment set forth by the reporter "clashes" with one such's well-being. Those "neuro-typical", i.e. no measurement, as immediately noted " can’t wait to get back".
  by eolesen
 
Yeah, no. Full stop no. If anything, your 'neuro divergent' were the ones most disrupted by the change in habits...

My reasoning for WFH is pretty simple - it's family time and it's economic.

I'm no longer losing two hours driving to/from the office and saving $200 a month on gas and $200 in takeaway or frozen meals for my mid-shift meal.

I've gained four hours a day for my family. If one of them need a few minutes of my time when I'm working, it's nowhere near as disruptive as it was getting a phone call later about whatever problem they had waiting for me when I get home.

My social network doesn't revolve around work, so I'm not missing all that water cooler banter or the drop-ins from a second or third degree removed co-worker selling Girl Scout cookies or whatever grade school fundraiser their kids are involved in....

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  by STrRedWolf
 
Gilbert B Norman wrote: Sun Mar 14, 2021 1:24 pm Messrs. Literailman and Wolf; off rails, but here are thoughts from a Times reporter who, like you both, "wants to get back":

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/13/insi ... ffice.html
...
I think it all boils down to anyone who has "neuro-divergent" characteristics, i.e. any measure on the autism scale, is more comfortable WFH, as the environment set forth by the reporter "clashes" with one such's well-being. Those "neuro-typical", i.e. no measurement, as immediately noted " can’t wait to get back".
I think you took the psychological aspect of it and ran it to New Jersey there. It's not that simple. You got:
  • People who readily adapt to WFH, and can change from "work" to "home" roles on a whim.
  • People for whatever reason have to WFH, with occasional visits to the office. A good chunk of staff at my office is like that.
  • People who need some routine to switch that "work" and "home" role. I'm one of them -- the commute is where I do the switch.
  • People who need to come into the office for whatever reason (usually due to the function of the job)
You can say that the pandemic has been stressful in disrupting that routine, and I'll agree -- although 2020 was doubly stressful as my mother died on March 9th, 2020 (I made it public on Twitter back then -- but please, lets keep on topic, sympathies to PMs please).

When we get to "masks off" we'll definitely get the last two in. We'll have to reserve space for some who are partially in. It's why I do see most offices shrinking the floorplan space. I will not be surprised if half of my office gets walled back up again and split into two offices...

... heh, I wonder if the dev staff will get shoved into the corner office. ;)
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
Those around here, such as Mr. Wolf, who "can't wait to get back", can take heart from Paul Krugman's colum appearing today in The Times:

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/15/opin ... -work.html

Fair Use:
The advantages of remote work — either from home or, possibly, in small offices located far from dense urban areas — are obvious. Both living and work spaces are much cheaper; commutes are short or nonexistent; you no longer need to deal with the expense and discomfort of formal business wear, at least from the waist down.

The advantages of going back to in-person work will, by contrast, be relatively subtle — the payoffs from face-to-face communication, the serendipity that can come from unscheduled interactions, the amenities of urban life.........But these subtle advantages are, in fact, what drive the economies of modern cities — and until Covid-19 struck these advantages were feeding a growing economic divergence between large, highly educated metropolitan areas and the rest of the country.
  by justalurker66
 
MattW wrote: Sat Feb 13, 2021 2:47 pm I think that at worst, the morning commute load will be more spread throughout the day with the evening rush hour rebounding quicker. It may take a year or two, but it's likely that most of the commuter crowd will rebound.
I agree. I have been working from home and have been reasonably productive, but my team gets more done together when we are together in one room in our usual office. There is a lot that is better done in person than via "Zoom."

The corporate plan is to continue work from home for some departments indefinitely and have other departments end their work from home when services return to normal. There is a year long transition starting that has nothing to do with COVID-19 other than the virus interfering with our cash flow and our plans. After a COVID year of work from home we are starting a blended year with most working from home "except as needed" to free up office space. That will be followed by a return to the office in another year (not sure how work from home will be handled then).

If corporate America is anything like my small part of it we will see the desire for face to face meetings and actually showing up at the office be restored within the next year.
  by west point
 
[quote=justalurker66

If corporate America is anything like my small part of it we will see the desire for face to face meetings and actually showing up at the office be restored within the next year.
[/quote]

Public radio this evening reported that airlines are reporting a fairly large increase in corporate travel bureau's bookings
  by Pakenhamtrain
 
If it's anything like down here in Melbourne traffic congestion is now worse than before covid. I expect people will get sick of it and get back on public transport.
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
west point wrote: Tue Mar 16, 2021 10:00 pm
justalurker66 wrote:
If corporate America is anything like my small part of it we will see the desire for face to face meetings and actually showing up at the office be restored within the next year.
Public Radio this evening reported that airlines are reporting a fairly large increase in corporate travel bureau's bookings
All we can hope for is that impetus translates over to Amtrak's only route that can offer viable business travel - the Northeast Corridor and its premium priced Acela (OK; maybe some selected route segments in CA).
  by rcthompson04
 
west point wrote: Tue Mar 16, 2021 10:00 pm [quote=justalurker66

If corporate America is anything like my small part of it we will see the desire for face to face meetings and actually showing up at the office be restored within the next year.
Public radio this evening reported that airlines are reporting a fairly large increase in corporate travel bureau's bookings
[/quote]

“Fairly large” is not really clear. Considering business travel is down like 90%, any movement is probably a fairly large increase at this point.

I am not seeing any substantive business travel going on anytime soon. Corporate travel is the first thing cut during tight budgets anyway.