• 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.
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 fl9m2004
Metro North if you want my opinion
Because of how good the train crews are at notifying passengers of delays while enroute
And also because of their station announcements
  by Tadman
I'd say any of the bigger agencies, save for SEPTA. SEPTA gets a lot of guff from their commuters and visitors. Otherwise, we could argue all day between Metra, MNCR, LIRR, and NJT for who is better. If you have to move somewhere north of half-million people per day, you generally do it pretty well.
  by fl9m2004
I think the Long Island Railroad does a pretty good job to
I happen to take 2 trains every other 4th of July
Once it was an old train non M7's during regular weekday
I must say the LIRR's fleet of M7's are really nice and clean
And the same with Metro North
I'm sure Amtrak must do a good job out west commuting passengers
  by M&Eman
Systems I've travelled on

I'd say MNCR wins overall, running the most express service, and quality off-peak and weekend schedules, but they also have the easiest job, having inherited close to the ideal physical infrastructure in a terminal to call their own, and multiple multi-track mainlines that they control completely.

NJT runs the most efficient peak-hour service, not being afraid to be creative with stop patterns to make sure trains are both fast and full and working around the massive capacity crunch in Penn Station and the North River Tunnels, but their off-peak local service is unnecessarily slow due to a reliance on push-pull trainsets and weekend service leaves much to be desired off of the NEC (more Amtrak's fault than their own due to the tunnels).

LIRR's peak service can be a headache with lots of delays, but they run 24/7 and run pretty solid weekend service.

SEPTA makes do on a shoestring budget, but their cars and infrastructure both are old and tired, and their schedules are really slow due to low track-maintenance standards. The CCCT is a truly wonderful thing go and makes going from one side of the metropolitan area to the other pretty easy.
  by Nasadowsk
In order:

Metro-North: Easy number one. Compares to European operations.
LIRR: Close number 2, but a slow system. Though they have easily the most congested track in the US.
SEPTA: Unjustly bashed, this system seems to be better every time I ride it.
MBTA: Slow and steady but usable.
NJT: Needs to be dragged out behind the shed and have some sense kicked into it.

My two trip sample of Metra? I wasn't impressed. And the Highliners are dogs.
  by DutchRailnut
Nasadowsk wrote:In order:

Metro-North: Easy number one. Compares to European operations.
Must be that Dutch touch ;-)
  by lirr42
The LIRR does very well considering that they are at capacity on a large majority of their system (or at least the parts of the system that are the most important) Not to mention that their busiest station and primary western terminal is run by the almighty National Passenger Railroad Corporation (Amtrak) of which the LIRR is subject to the whims and desires of.

Furthermore the timed transfers at Jamaica are great. Can you think of any other railroad that operates three terminals and orchestrates the schedules to line up in such an awesome way?

The LIRR has begun to excel in communicating information to passengers. All stations now have the AVPS system (destination screens, automatic and manual announcements, the works) and they have improved their e-mail and social networking systems.

Metro-North is another quality railroad. They do seem to have their act together when it comes to operations. They've been expanding service off-peak and on weekends, adjusting service patters and trains to fit the needs of their passengers, and not to mention that Grand Central beats out Penn Station in terms of niceness in just about every category,

NJT, let's just say I don't hold this system in such a high regard as the others. They do run the NEC (and probably most of the Newark Division for that matter) pretty well. They have good service patterns, decent peak express service, and the like. The off-peak service leaves a lot to be desired. Crowded trains that are either too infrequent or spaced too close together to do Amy good.

Now the Hoboken Division, that leaves a lot to be desired. Yea, it moves a lot of people, but there are defiantly ways to make it better. Some of the stations are way to close together (the 14 stations in the Oranges and the 108 in Montclair...) so that makes speeds inbetween them abysmal.

Furthermore, NJT's fare system is all confusing. With the two divisions having different fare structures, different ticket prices for the same distances traveled, change in terminal fees, how havinng a SEC ticket costs more than a NWK/HOB ticket even though you're going to the same place, hold-down fares with Metro-North, how weekly rail tickets are only good for one bus zone even though they're valid on the HBLR which requires a bus pass valid for two bus zones, how peak fares apply only on certain lines to or form certain stations in certain states, and more. Someone needs to do an 'ol "Ctrl+A, Backspace" on their tariff policy and start over.

SEPTA has often been nicknamed INEPTA, enough said.

I haven't ridden too many other systems enough to offer valid opinions on them, other than my brief encounter with the MBTA subway system, where I had to wait 15 minutes for a lady to get out of the bathroom to give me a CharlieCard and then when I went to go put $6 on it, put in a $20, the machine gave me $5 back (subtraction's too difficult for it, I guess). If that's indicative of how their commuter railroad works, it makes me wonder how Bosteners stay sane.
  by 25Hz
To clarify about SEPTA: I think their actual employees (bus drivers, trolly/train operators, engineers, conductors and station agents) do a wonderful job, it's the lack of trains per hour and very long trip times with no real attempt at connecting trains & modes that knock it down a large number of notches. Ironically the only place SEPTA waits for connections is at trenton, because they can't afford to piss off the 60 people transferring from a NJT train. If only that kind of emphasis of connecting was a higher priority expressed by schedule modifications systemwide. Every SEPTA employee I've ever spoken to has been cheerful, kind, and done their job well, and they seem as irritated as I am about the issues stated above, not that they can do anything about it. I do feel bad for them, as it's hard to have a huge amount of pride doing something you know could be done better & could serve the region better, but they do the best they can and for that i have massive respect. :)
  by SouthernRailway
As a NYC resident, I'd say Metro-North.

If NJT and LIRR didn't have to use Penn Station, their standings would rise.
  by Patrick Boylan
lirr42 wrote: Furthermore the timed transfers at Jamaica are great. Can you think of any other railroad that operates three terminals and orchestrates the schedules to line up in such an awesome way?
Maybe some description's in order. I haven't been there in a while, but my first visit was on a sunny summer Saturday around 1980. They'd have 3 trains arrive and use the middle of the 3 act as a platform for passengers to transfer from train 1, across its platform shared with train 2, through train 2, then across its platform shared with train 3. My mind boggles to think how they managed it in the days before automatic doors.
lirr42 wrote: NJT...
Crowded trains that are either too infrequent or spaced too close together to do Amy good.
I'm not sure how you expect them to improve on crowded trains that are spaced close together. If they're crowded despite being close together I'd expect spacing them further apart would make things worse.
  by kitn1mcc
i do have to say that ConnDot is right up there the SLE service is great
the MBCR ahh not so much
  by DutchRailnut
ConnDot may be funding SLE, but Amtrak operates it.
  by MattW
Now having ridden MNRR and NJT over the past few days, I can change my answer to Metro North. It just barely edges LIRR out, they're both excellent railroads in my opinion, but the thing that pushes Metro North over LIRR is knowing what platform to be at long before departure, which seems to reduce crowding and gives people a change to grab something to eat, station themselves near the gate maybe instead of having to all cluster around a screen, then have a huge horde trying to cram onto the platforms all at once! I know LIRR, NJT and Amtrak all have unique issues, but surely platforms are known farther in advance than the passengers find out?
  by NJTforever
Well, I was at GCT this weekend (parade of trains) and I must say Metro North does a great job in weekend or off peak service. The availability of service, express and local service is great mix. After having to go back to Penn Station to catch the mid-town direct train home, NJT weekends service felt empty or un-serviced. Every off-peak/weekend makes all make local stops. And outside of the main three lines service is nonexistence or so rare what is the point. A great example is on the Boonton Line, this weekend all trains terminated at Bay Street, and they were every two hours apart. And after 5 or so no train service. What the heck! The reason I feel this way is I missed my train at Glen Ridge, thinking a train is an hour away but when I noticed the timetable, it would becoming in the next two hours! Not a happy camper, but I told New Jersey Transit Complaints Department and I have gotten emails from them, angrily. But their weekday service is decent, a great mix of Express trains and locals, (especial if your railfanning the Morris and essex line's) Wish this was the case on the weekends.