Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Rail Transportation Study (Mine) II

Easton Mayor Sal Panto Jr. wants to form his own task force to study rail travel. With that in mind I decided to do my own rail transportation study. Best part is, mine won't cost anybody a dime. Since I don't have horse in the race mine might be a whole lot less skewed then those who possibly stand to personally gain in some way with this tentative $659 million dollar project.

Side Note: After it's completion it is estimated to cost $11.7 million in operation deficits yearly, according to one study..

Inventorying What We Already Have Available
Bieber BusesBieber makes 13 trips from Kutztown between 3:45 AM and 9:30 AM with an additional 6 more up until 8:00 PM. I will focus on those commuter hours for purposes of this analysis.

Depending on the bus size, each bus holds from 49 to 56 passengers. For the sake of this discussion I'll use the figure of 50 passengers per busload. This means currently there are 650 seats available between 3:45 AM and 9:30 AM.

Anyone who has taken the Bieber into NYC also realize that they always have a standby backup bus to accommodate additional passengers if the need arises. On more then one of our trips into NYC, Bieber used the backup bus. Meaning more then 50 were accommodated on that regularly scheduled run. No one is denied a seat who wish to leave on one of the runs which are scheduled 15 minutes to 1/2 hour apart.
Trans-bridge BusesI will use the NYC runs that depart from their terminal in LVIP. They have 15 runs between 4:10 AM and 9:30 AM. So they are making another 750 seats availableThis brings about 1,400 riders into NYC daily.

My Conclusions
(1) Commuters who claim they are so interested in mass transit fail to use what is already available. They whine about the clogged conditions on I-78 but still insist on sitting in their cars. Why not get out of their cars right now and take the bus? It seems to me if your not using public transportation now, why would any of these be any more likely to take a train?

(2) If these drivers already don't like the bus, which in Bieber's case makes only one stop between Allentown and NYC, they certainly will object to a train making dozens of stops. Also considering they'd have to delay their travel even further by having to switch trains in New Jersey I simply don't believe they'd use this rail system.

(3) It is highly unlikely all 1,400 riders would switch from their current bus seats to board trains. So you'd need 1,000's of commuters into addition of those who presently use buses.

(4) Ask me why we should invest $659 million in a rail to High Bridge, New Jersey when you can drive the 20 miles into High Bridge, NJ only 28 minutes away and catch the train which is there already! Or from Allentown it's 42 miles in 52 minutes. Too far to drive you say..

(5) Well then drive to Hellertown or LVIP which is less then 10 miles from Phillipsburg. Sure beats driving from Allentown for the 91 miles for 1 3/4 hours into NYC yourself.

(6) Private bus company's are making profit from these runs. Why should taxpayers foot over $11 million every year in deficits when we already have efficient transportation that creates profitable jobs and businesses? Note that these didn't require millions in taxpayers' $'s for their initial startup costs.

(7) The rational is because people have moved to this area from the 'big city' there is now is a transportation need. Well people come and go. Housing developments move from time to time to other areas. Buses can reroute to serve those needs. Once those tracks are laid, they cannot be moved.

(8) Buses currently leave the terminal every 10 to 20 minutes during peak hours that fits the requirements of their ridership. How many trains would it take to schedule all these back to back departure times? The obvious answer it would be impossible.

(9) Here's a sample of what most likely the train schedule will look like. It's the old LVRR passenger train time table from 1952 (page 5).

Note on page #5 there were only three trains a day that left Allentown for New York City (5:18 AM, 6:49 AM and 9:09 AM). Each of the runs to New took between 2 hours and 25 minutes to 2 hours and 42 minutes. Consider that this was w/o switching trains in High Bridge, NJ. and to a third train going into New York City itself as the current plans are indicating.

My Final Thoughts On This Matter
From the standpoint of economic costs, travelers' commute times nor passengers' scheduling requirements, does any of this meet the criteria to bring this project to a successful conclusion.

Yes I would like to see passenger trains once again. But as long as drivers willing to sit 30 minutes waiting to get in the Lincoln tunnel. Driving around Manhattan for another 20 minutes to their $20 a day parking decks. You'd most likely have to pry their cold dead hands from their steering wheels before you'll get them on public transportation. Until buses can no longer handle capacity, then and only then could a see a need for alternative mass transit.

Fortunately I will always have yesteryear's memories of the gorgeous views from the train ride into NYC when I was a kid. It's sad, really.

Here is a video from 1955 when Jim Lantz retired from being the engineer of the famous Black Diamond train for Lehigh Valley Railroad

Here's Why The LVRR No Longer Exists

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