1999 Commuter Rail Wrapup November 21st, 1999
Speaking of Dallas, here is their Summer, 1999 ridership report:
Total ridership for FY 98 was 85.7 million, a 15.8 million (28%) increase over FY 97 and 37.2 million (76.6%) increase over FY96.
Bus ridership during the second quarter of FY99 was 11.6 million–a 6.7% gain over the second quarter of FY98.
The increasing accessibility of DART’s fixed route services is helping to reduce demand for more costly paratransit curb-to-curb service. During the second quarter of FY99, paratransit passenger trips decreased nearly 13.7% compared to the second quarter of FY98.
Light rail ridership during the second quarter of FY99 was 2.8 million – up 8.3% over the first quarter of FY98; total light rail ridership for FY98 was 11 million – a 37% increase over FY 97.
Commuter rail ridership on the Trinity Railway Express during the second quarter of FY99 was 143,000 – up 26.2% over the first quarter of FY98. Total commuter rail ridership for FY98 was 503,000 – up 162% percent over FY97. Don’t forget, the Dallas commuter rail system has ONLY THREE STATIONS.
San Francisco Bay: The Altamont Commuter Express is carrying in excess of 1,000 passengers daily as of September 8, when it hit 1077. ACE reports 79% of their passengers previously drove alone in their cars, meaning “there were 850 fewer cars on the highway” that morning, relieving the congested I-580. A celebration is planned for October 16 marking ACE’s first year of “overwhelming success,” which will start in Stockton at 5:00AM, and at 12:00 Noon at the newly rebuilt Centerville station.
Los Angeles Metrolink has ordered 28 new bilevel cars from Bombardier. A $47 million contract was announced October 5 detailing this order, which is for all coaches, but no cab cars. These new cars will be used to expand capacity on existing trains, not to add new service. Bill Davis, Metrolink Board Chairman and Simi Valley Mayor, said, “We are literally running out of seats on some routes during the rush hour.” Deliveries, however, are not scheduled to begin until January, 2001, and will be spread out over five months. Metrolink is now carrying 28,000 average daily riders on its 130 trains serving 46 stations over its 416-mile network.
The new SOUNDER commuter rail service in between Seattle and Tacoma, Washington, according to the South County Journal, will commence on September 18th next year. Initially there will be three trains every weekday, with up to eighteen daily trips introduced over the next several years. Sound Transit has been working with BNSF to finish $250 million in track and signal upgrades, but the work has taken longer than expected; service was formerly expected to begin late this year. The September 18th date was chosen to coincide with the fall bus schedule change.
1999 Rail-Volution Comments November 21st, 1999
This year’s Rail-Volution was held in Dallas. A few observations:
- Amtrak’s infamous “Market Based Study” may not ever be fully released to the general public. Instead, it “might” come out in piece-meal form, with the information contained in various business plans, over time. The first portion of the so-called “Study” will most likely be seen in November, and that will probably be nothing more than a basic overview of where Amtrak is right now (in Trouble) and where they would like to go (someplace other than Trouble)â€¦
- The “Study” will not contain any specific recommendations for additional routes to be added to Amtrak’s basic system! It may contain (eventually, but not at first) some examples of system expansion that would be possible with (and only with) State assistance (but most likely not including the price tag)â€¦
- Conversely, there are no specific routes set aside for immediate elimination, either (that was the “good news”). The “Marketing Study” will most likely concentrate on train specifics (by spring 2000?) reviewing, for example, the presence of Dining Cars on one train and Lounge cars on another.
- All of Amtrak’s energy will be focused on Corridor Plans. If any geographical area expects expanded service, they need to be prepared to pay. PERIOD.
- There are apparently no plans for additional “non-high speed” equipment orders. Long Distance trains are seen by most Am-officials as nothing more than useless drains on the system, hopeless for anything except (insert the “L” word) travel. If you ever want to watch someone’s eyes glaze over (it can be fairly entertaining, in a macabre sort of way), mention something like the potential use of long-haul trains for overnight business transportation to a Management-level Amtrak employee.
– Garl Latham
November 1999 President’s Letter November 21st, 1999
We owe a debt of gratitude to Bob Hart, a longtime active ARPA member, for his role in the inaugural session of the Silver Hair Legislature, a group which hopes to influence action in the State House. Under Bob’s guidance, the Silver Hair Legislature adopted a resolution that the Governor’s Office should, as its first priority, consider the creation of an Arizona Public Transportation Authority. The Transportation Authority Resolution was sent with four other resolutions to the Governor’s office for consideration in next year’s legislative session.
The City of Phoenix is expected to ask for a public vote in support of bus and light rail in March of 2000. The amount of sales tax that is to be asked for the twenty-year initiative has yet to be determined by the City Council. The full Steering Committee’s plan is expected to be unveiled the at the City of Phoenix Council Chambers on the morning of Saturday, 20 November 1999 (10 AM to Noon.)
Also on November 20th will be the Third Annual ARPA Awards Dinner, at Bashas’ Corporate Art Museum in Chandler. Please join in extending our warmest thanks to Eddie Basha for his generous sponsorship and making his unique museum available for this evening of dinner and recognition. Awardees this year will be Jack Tevlin, Phoenix Deputy City Manager; and Max Biegert, C.E.O. of Grand Canyon Railway. We certainly hope to see you there. - Sam Morse
Lines and Stations, Nov. 1999 November 17th, 1999
by Gary Thorne, et al
As of mid October there has still been no construction activity at the long-delayed Maricopa site. The railcar which was to be placed at the site is still being refurbished, and is not yet ready to be transported.
Williams Junction, the long-awaited stop on the SOUTHWEST CHIEF, is open. The city of Williams and the Grand Canyon Railway first proposed this stop in 1991, with ARPA’s support.
The station at Willcox has been upgraded, but Amtrak apparently has no plans to serve the station at this time.
Benson, which is the site of the recently opened Kartchner Caverns, is hoping to see quite an influx of tourists. Amtrak’s SUNSET LIMITED/TEXAS EAGLE serves Benson four times a week.
Reports indicate as many as six freight trains a day now traverse the Phoenix East Line between Phoenix and Picacho. Meanwhile, the Phoenix West Line seems to be well used with shiny rails as far west as the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station, but west of that point, it is not clear how often UP is presently using the line.
Union Pacific has completed the installation of welded rail on the “Tempe Branch” south of Tempe Junction, and part of the Phoenix Line east of Phoenix has seen welded rail laid. West of Phoenix, however, the 1950′s jointed rail is still the rule.
Robert Barber on Light Rail November 11th, 1999
[Recent news, about light rail in the Phoenix metro area, is] not convincing. Twelve years after ValTrans was initiated, we’re still mired in vacillation about rail transit – indeed, about transit in general. Los Angeles started planning Metrolink about the same time as ValTrans, but Metrolink has been operating – and expanding -since 1992. It now operates 126 trains each weekday on 416 miles of six routes, serving 46 stations. Two light-rail routes and a subway supplement Metrolink. [source: June 1999 TRAINS magazine] Rail passenger transit systems, including light-rail, have also been established in several other states during this decade, while some older systems have been expanded or improved. A few months hence, we’ll know if Phoenix voters will help fund the initial 13-mile light rail system from their downtown to east Apache Blvd. in Tempe. If not, forget the whole idea. If so, we may have, by 2005, some light rail vehicles traversing Washington St., a Rio Salado bridge, assorted streets in downtown Tempe and a mile or so of Apache Boulevard. If Mesa is ever served by this system, the first cars will arrive 20 years after the ValTrans proposal. Discouraging, isn’t it? In the meantime, maybe this disjointed and indecisive region can conjure up a scheme to lay another track near the Union Pacific – Superstition Freeway commuters might be interested.