Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Rail Transportation Study I (Mine)

Here is a link to the official March 2010 FINAL REPORT by Systra Consulting, Inc.

Here's a couple of highlights that I found interesting..* The proposed Allentown station would be located basically where the former LVRR terminal once stood. The property would have to be reacquired. The Bethlehem station would be located 1,500 feet from the Sands Casino.

* Norfolk Southern RR own most of the 'right of 'way' so this plan would be contingent upon their acceptance.

Although not stated in this report.. Norfolk-Southern RR previously indicated their freight would have the preference as to right-of-way on their mainline. Therefore passenger trains may on occasion have to wait on a siding for freight to pass. Although I suppose it's how wise the dispatcher organizes the scheduled runs. Also new lock switches and other signaling devices are going to have to be installed to upgrade the current freight mainline to satisfy the safety standards for passenger trains.

* Between Phillipsburg and Allentown is 16.94 miles. Rail construction would cost an estimated $20 million per mile. An estimated $658.9 million total.

* Trains would depart for High Bridge, NJ connection from 4 locations (ABE and Phillipsburg). Currently buses head to NYC from 9 (when you include P-burg).

* What I wasn't aware of is you would board the train. Get off in High Bridge, NJ to transfer trains. Then in Newark you must transfer to yet another train into NYC at the current time. There is a project scheduled to be completed in the future that may eliminate the switching trains for some passengers. But as I stated this is still in future plans and not the case currently.
Again I reiterate will people park their cars to take the train?

Will folks who use the current buses be willing to transfer to three trains which may not be timed to your exact arrivals? Will they stand out in the cold winter months on train platforms to do so?

Or would they prefer to just make a single boarding on a bus which takes them right into Port Authority one block from Times Square?

Will folks who can currently travel by bus to NYC in around 1.25 hours be willing to endure more then the 2 hours it would take by train?

Keep in mind the $658.9 million is in 2010 dollars and it does not include the rail line to High Bridge, NJ. If that extension should cost $20 million a mile, the price tag could easily come to over $1 billion. Then there's always those unforeseen costs overruns.

The buses are already running at no costs to the taxpayer. Should taxpayers spend what will most likely be over $1 billion to reinvent the wheel?

Thinking Outside The Box: If we were serious about using public transportation-- I would think far less money would be spent by encouraging current commuters to use the public transportation that we do already have.* This could done by creating incentives through the use of designated lanes for buses, car pool lanes, etc.

Why not create new highways designated for the exclusive use of commercial vehicles and public transportation only.

That may sound dumb on the surface, but isn't that exactly what we're already proposing to do when we create these train tracks? And I bet we could create these for far less the $20 million a mile! Plus it would take the huge 80,000 lb trucks out of the equation. These don't mix well with cars anyway on our current highway systems. I bet truckers would like that one!

Think about this and give this a second thought. What if when I-78 was built it was built only for buses and trucks. Drivers either would have had the choice to continue driving that sucky old Route 22 OR pile on a bus that that flies up I-78.

* Bus issued vouchers for discounted future rides. Perhaps a deduction on the state's income tax where you submit these with your state income tax returns. These could have already been paid for by what we already spent just studying this thing.

* Although I'd prefer incentives not punishment I'll throw this out there anyway. Since inspections already track mileage between inspections, this could be something else to consider since it directly relates to highway signaling, policing, wear and tear, etc.

* On a local level. Remember the days of Park & Shop when stores refunded your parking fees? How about LANTA in conjunction with retailers?
Point is rather then focusing on tossing $1 billion the public most likely resist, why not offer them a carrot instead?

Now this is what I call local transportation.. TOO LOCAL :-)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

D-Day Remembered

Did you remember it's today?
Better yet why hasn't anyone else? Not the newspapers or TV..
Am I the only one?

Today In History

Wikipedia: D-Day
The U.S. Army Center Of Military History: Normandy: 6 June-24 July 1944
The Official U.S. Army's Page- D-Day

Oops.. The Morning Call Posted This Later This Morning
(after I already visited TMC early today)