• Will They Ever Return?

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

Moderators: mtuandrew, gprimr1

  by Ridgefielder
I have personally seen a sea-change on MN post-Labor Day, when the new schedules kicked in. The trains are full in a way that they haven't been since pre-pandemic. Stood on the way in from Bronxville this morning for the first time since Feb. 2020. Huge contrast from January of this year, when I was sometimes one of only 1-2 people in the car on a 5:23 outbound Crestwood express.

Things are reopening in GCT, too. The other day there were lights on in the Oyster Bar and dishes stacked on the tables. Last night I noticed there were new Hudson News signs on the shuttered space under the stairs to the East Balcony and the "for lease" signs were gone.
  by Gilbert B Norman
While possibly the Empire State Building is no longer "Wagyu Prime" real estate, it is still "Prime".

Their management has been more open with the media than have others regarding what they foresee when there is complete post-pandemic and life is deemed to be at a "new normal"

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/202 ... -york.html
  by russellsal8
The observation about Fridays being a slow day from that NYTimes article rings true. My company will be adopting a 3 day a week in office starting in November, and I can't imagine anyone is going to want to come in on Fridays. Travel patterns on Friday will likely resemble those weekdays before a holiday weekend, so I could see a situation where some weekday morning peak trains would be limited to Monday-Thursday, if the commuter travel data supports that.
  by Gilbert B Norman
Even though Mr. Ridgefield has now ridden "full trains" on his commute to NYC, and anyone who has flown lately knows only "full flights", now that I am starting to have occasions to return to the Chicago Loop (that's the Downtown Business District) for the Symphony @ Orchestra Hall, 220 S Michigan opposite the Art Institute, I am starting to hold "it's NEVER coming back".

Further, I'm starting to hold that, while it will become "manageable", COVID is never going away. I think that will continue to be the case and even if the roundly 30% population (28M) continue their anti-VAX ways, the underlying virus will remain and there will still continue to be cases.

But COVID notwithstanding, both well paid professional employees and their employers have found "they can work anywhere" and, save exceptions, are happy about the "win-win". Employers can greatly reduce their need for office space, and employees can "tumble out of bed to the screen". There will continue to be need for occasional "on-site" presence, and certain professionals will still need to "get out to seal the deal", but most will need not.

The impact on the social and economic sides of life will be severe. Of course, Amtrak premium service such as Acela will be hurt as will last minute bookings of such resulting is less "yield" as reduced fares are offered. Same applies to airlines - especially "Forward of the curtain".

But the real "hurt hurt" is the small family owned restaurants that support the Lunch hour around the now "depopulated" business districts.

Here is Times material appearing today related to this discussion.
  by eolesen
Without disclosing confidences, a lot of these full weekday flights are filled more and more with leisure travelers who can take advantage of "work from anywhere" policies as opposed to last-minute business travelers.

Watch sites like Kayak and you'll see no shortage of $50-70 one way tickets at the last minute.

That's not something you saw often before COVID. I know some folks who've been using that as a way to take advantage of their WFA policies... taking meetings in the hotel room as scheduled, and using the rest of their day/night to have some fun.

Sent from my SM-G981U using Tapatalk

  by kitchin
NJT was once one of the best run transit systems in the US, but I get your point, it was on a suburban model.

People feel safer from the virus traveling in cars than on buses and trains. Then again, they have proved happy to attend large sports and entertainment events in person recently. As for air travel, it has the advantage against contagion of shorter time in the cabin than on a train. All unfortunate.
  by eolesen
I'd expect the growing fear/uncertainty/doubt over the new Omicron variant will cause large numbers of firms revert back to a remote stance starting as soon as this week.

To be clear, nobody is said to have been hospitalized let alone died from Omicron, but the severity of symptoms never seems to matter to some public health officials... the fact it's a mutation of COVID-19 is all we need to know apparently.
  by west point
Omicron -- no real data until 2 weeks from South Africa.
  by Gilbert B Norman
Mr. West Point, it's been a few years, as in try sixty, since it was time for "PLEDGE, recite!!!!" to which one replied to the Pledge Master "Alpha, Beta, Gamma....."

It appears a few Greek letters have been skipped over; or are the health agencies controling such just picking them at random?
  by kitchin
Lambda and Mu are only "variants of interest." And then "WHO skipped two letters of the Greek alphabet, Nu and Xi, as Nu is too easily confounded with 'new' and Xi is a 'common last name', particularly in China." (Wikipedia)

Delta airlines did not get such a consideration.
  by Gilbert B Norman
I've even learned an acronym; RTO - Return To Office.

Now that's saying something for an 80yo:

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/11/busi ... -2022.html

Fair Use:
The executives had a good feeling about Jan. 10, 2022 — the date when DocuSign’s 7,000 employees worldwide would finally come back to work.

This deadline wouldn’t be like that earlier one in May 2020, which was always a fantasy, or August 2020, which was a bit ambitious, or October 2021, a plan derailed by the Delta variant. Fourth time’s the charm.

“Every time we delay this we’re pushing off the inevitable,” said Joan Burke, the chief people officer, in a late November interview. “At some point in time DocuSign is going to be open.”

That some point in time is no longer in January. The Omicron variant interjected. Just as companies from Ford Motor to Lyft have done in the past week, DocuSign postponed again. In place of a new date came the company’s promise to “reassess our plans as 2022 unfolds.”
Mr. Wolf, I know you want to get back; and some out there, be they a production line worker, or a Locomotive Engineer, never left. But I have to wonder if on-site work for professionals will EVER return.

That will be the "death knell" for commuter rail, and who knows how many other related businesses, as we have known it.
  by scratchyX1
Basically, To survive, the routes need to create additional service, to be more metro like.
Which means DMU/EMU/BMU that can be operated by one person and be ADA compliant,
ticket system integrated with local transit systems.
And someone negotionating with freight lines whose tracks are used, for additional slots.
Last edited by nomis on Mon Dec 13, 2021 4:59 pm, edited 1 time in total. Reason: removed immediate qoute
  by STrRedWolf
Gilbert B Norman wrote: Mon Dec 13, 2021 1:52 pm Mr. Wolf, I know you want to get back; and some out there, be they a production line worker, or a Locomotive Engineer, never left. But I have to wonder if on-site work for professionals will EVER return.
Taking a look at ridership off of MTA's site... it's hovering around 60% for subways and LIRR, 50% for Metro North... NJ Transit put out press releases saying things are getting more towards 100%...

That said, mentioned before, it's how all the variants act. Previously, I thought it would be over by Nov 2020. We then got vaccines over the next few months... then Delta hit. And now Omicron. I get jabbed a third time this weekend.

*sigh* Yeah, I want to go back to work AT work instead of home. Too bad the coffee shop is gone...
  by unichris
It's very easy to loose perspective here.

But while transit is better than driving, not physically commuting is drastically better than even transit.

Yes, there are follow-on costs to people ceasing to travel as much. But people making unnecessary trips to support service industries has never made the remotest bit of economic sense.

The challenge for rail is that it does take a minimum volume to justify the investment. But we have to look at that in terms of long-term strategy.

Hoping people will engage in unnecessary travel just so that things can keep running, is, at a very fundamental level, wrong.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 29