Currently viewing the tag: "Amtrak"

Dear Transit Miami Readers,

The recently released budget proposal from the Republican Study Committee cuts federal funding for transit. And it doesn’t stop there. Amtrak gets cut to zero.

It eliminates New Starts, the transportation program that funds all new transit projects in the country, and slashes high-speed rail funding — the same program touted by President Obama to great fanfare in last week’s State of the Union.

It even chops all federal funding for Washington DC’s transit authority, the very transit system that legislators’ staff and neighbors rely on every day to get to and from work.

This budget is a trial-balloon for the budget fight to come. We need to waste no time making it clear that these kinds of cuts are short-sighted and unacceptable.

Sign our petition objecting to this assault on public transportation funding. We’ll deliver the petition with your signature along with a letter from us and our partners to lawmakers.

The plan from the Republican Study Committee, which represents 165 of the 242 Republican members of Congress, calls for eliminating the $1.5 billion annual payment for Amtrak, $2.5 billion in high-speed rail grants and $150 million in annual funding for Metro.

The lawmakers who crafted this budget clearly aren’t aware that millions of Americans – including their own constituents – rely on passenger rail and the types of transit projects these programs fund.

These are also the very projects that pay far-reaching dividends. Study after study has shown that every dollar spent on public transportation generates more jobs than any other form of transportation spending. This proposed budget cuts the investments that create the most jobs – an especially poor decision in the face of a recovering economy.

We can keep this proposal from becoming law if we speak up now and make it clear that Americans aren’t going to sit by as federal investments in transit are gutted.

Sign our petition to protect federal support for transportation and jobs!

Thank you, once again, for all you do.


Stephen Lee Davis
Deputy Communications Director

Transportation for America

Image courtesy of National Association of Railway Passengers

Image courtesy of National Association of Railway Passengers

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He may not have possession of Air Force One yet, but Obama is riding on what you might call “Amtrak One” on his way from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C. today. Retracing the train tour of another famous Illinois president, Obama will be making stops to greet people and celebrate on his way to claim the throne assume the presidency. It sure is more friendly than flying along in a private jet away from everybody else or cruising down the highway with a motorcade isolating him from the rest of humanity.

The Baltimore Sun has a good article on the long history of railroad cars and Presidents. The very car he rides in was used before by other Presidents. The heyday of train-traveling Presidents died off with Eisenhower and the advent of jumbo jets and the interstate system. This symbolic action by Obama brings us hope that he will also resuscitate inter-city and inner city rail as more effective modes of transportation.

Updated 1/17 with picture by Flickr user will.quale. Obama arrived in D.C at 6:30 pm. Read of the stages of his ride at the Detroit Free Press.

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We aren’t endorsing any candidates yet, but this column by David Beard from the Boston Globe offers some interesting insight into John McCain’s history of support for Amtrak. Or should I say, lack of support?

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Three Great articles I highly recommend.

An entire generation of Americans has grown up thinking public faucets equal filth, and the only water fit to drink comes in plastic, factory sealed. It’s time to change that perception with public fountains in the city’s busiest quadrants, pristine bubblers that celebrate the virtues of our public water supply, remind us of our connection to upstate watersheds and reinforce our commitment to clean water for all.

Oil fueled our ambitions and dreams. The more we drank, the happier we felt, the bolder we acted. We believed in the eternity of oil, the everlasting cheapness of it; we looked askance at anyone who questioned our faith.

In all of this, we had enablers, politicians who supported our habit, told us not to worry, that there was more cheap oil to be found somewhere — in another country, perhaps, if not our own. They said they would fix whatever needed fixing.

It is one thing to meet with an Amtrak worker for a photo-op. It is another to get on board for the rail service America needs for a green economy, less urban congestion, and a more civilized future. Obama says, ‘‘Detroit won’t find a better partner than me in the White House.’’ In the past, that has also meant making a pariah out of Amtrak. Nothing would symbolize a break from this past more than a whistlestop tour in the presidential campaign, to promote trains themselves.

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Running a day behind, today’s metro (Monday) attempts to illustrate just how fast our “High Speed” Rail system is. Imaging one of these suckers crossing the state to Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa, and Tallahassee. Certainly makes more sense than funding more road projects…

Last year, Amtrak’s high-speed Acela Express train carried a record 593,000 passengers from Boston to New York. An Amtrak rep says Acela’s market share on the busy route grew from 36 percent in 2006 to 41 percent last year.

Follow the link for the reasons behind Acela’s recent success…

Via Overhead Wire

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Twins, originally uploaded by RadioKate.
Why do European business travelers have a 30-minute jump on us? Well, one reason is the amount we’re willing to invest. The U.S. Senate is proposing to spend just $11.4 billion to keep the entire nationwide Amtrak network running for the next six years. And even that level of funding is a political hot potato. When Trent Lott, the right-wing Mississippi Republican, is on the same side of a funding debate as Frank Lautenberg, the left-wing New Jersey Democrat, you know for sure that Amtrak is a party-bending, policy-warping, money-eating conundrum.

-Full article

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Like many on their Thanksgiving holiday, I had the arduous task of traveling in order to meet up with the family. Only this time I decided to travel to Tampa, Fl by train rather than car. The Amtrak experience was more interesting than what I thought. For starters the Miami station was a bit of a disappointment, it looked dilapidated and in need of an upgrade. Then again, it probably won’t get one since Amtrak will be moving into the MIC, Miami Intermodal Center, once it finally gets completed.

The Miami station has only two trains leaving a day, the Silver Meteor at 7:50 a.m. and the Silver Star at 8:50 a.m., and both end up in New York-Penn Station. Of the two the Silver Star connects to Tampa while the Silver Meteor travels directly to Orlando.

The train was quite comfortable with ample room for your carry on bag, your luggage and still had room to spread your legs. Also, every row of seats had its own power outlet which came in handy during the trip. During the five hour and twenty minute trip the only annoyance was the constant stop and go in the urban areas of South Florida and Tampa. I have to believe that these stops where for dispatching in order to get permission to access the track and/or other trains where ahead of it. If these stops where eliminated or kept to a minimum I believe at least one hour would have been saved on the trip.

I was impressed to see that the train was sold out to Tampa, and it was evident when the train stopped at the historic Tampa Union Station in downtown Tampa.

Let’s just say I was glad I was able to keep my luggage with me. In such a populous state as Florida the need for its own rail system is obvious. Rather it’s on a high speed train system or not the demand is there.

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The last time I was in Berlin the new Hauptbahnhof was still under construction and a year or so away from the May 2006 grand opening. The Berlin Hauptbahnhof now handles over 1,800 trains and 350,000 passengers per day. This digital representation provides a good example of what Europe’s largest train station is like and the type of rail catalyst the MIC should become for our region…

As you may already know, I support bicycles. I am a huge advocate for improved bicycle infrastructure in Miami, including a comprehensive Bicycle Master Plan.

Nonetheless, I often speak to people who have concerns about using bicycling as a legitimate form of transportation, even if Miami had hundreds of miles of separated bike lanes.

Some of the more popular concerns include fear of theft, lack of secure racks, and problems with the bike’s generous proportions, particularly when on a crowded train or attempting to store it inside of a building. Fortunately, I’ve found a solution to most of these concerns: folding bikes.

The folding bicycle certainly isn’t new technology, but it’s rare I see people using these bikes and even rarer to hear people talk about them.

A couple weeks ago, I was introduced to the amazing convenience of the folding bike. I was in Brooklyn at the time, and was planning on going down to Philly for the weekend to visit some old friends. Lucky for me one of my friends allowed me to borrow their new Dahon.

After learning how to fold and unfold the bike, I packed some clothes in a backpack, and raced off through Brooklyn, over the Brooklyn Bridge, and into Lower Manhattan. I decided to test its convenience on the subway – no problem. Even fumbling at bit, it only took about one minute to fold up the bike and it was light (only like 20-25 lbs.) enough to carry right over the turnstile. The C train was relatively crowded, but I was still able to get a seat comfortably while holding the folded bike.

At Penn Station, I didn’t have to worry about maneuvering a regular sized bike through masses of people, nor having to lug it up or down stairs/escalators. I boarded Amtrak, stowed the bike in the rack above my seat, and read a book during the hour and change trip.

Upon arriving at 30th Street Station in Philly, I didn’t even have to bother with cab fare – I just unfolded the bike and road off to meet my friends about 12 or 13 blocks away. Upon arriving at my friends’ place, I folded the bike back up, walked past the doorman without any looks or objections, took the elevator with ease, and stored it in their small apartment without feeling guilty about space.

I was hooked. I just ordered a Dahon myself, and can’t hardly wait another day for it to arrive. In the meantime, let me share with you just a short list of benefits for folded bikes:

  • Integrates flawlessly with all forms of transit. Instead of taking up a bunch of space on a Metrorail car, or loading and unloading a regular sized bike on the front of a bus, the folded bike is easy to carry on board
  • They usually fold up in just 15-30 seconds
  • Most of them fit conveniently into a duffel bag or suitcase – perfect for carry-on luggage on planes
  • They take up a fraction of space in your home (especially great for smaller living spaces)
  • No longer do you have to worry about them getting stolen from some random chain-up or even a rack. You probably won’t even need to buy any chains or locks in the first place
  • You could even bring it into the office. Put it in a carrying bag, it stores easily
  • Performance is as good as or better than regular sized bikes, depending on what model and/or brand you use
  • Allows you the freedom to go just about anywhere; its convenient integration with transit is particularly beneficial
To learn more about folded bikes and their benefits, check out this great link.

Photo courtesy of joelmann’s flickr account

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It’s official; France’s bullet train, the V150, set a record yesterday for fastest speed ever by a rail train. How fast, you ask? Only 357.2 MPH! For some perspective, at that speed someone could go from Miami to Jacksonville in about an hour. Only the Japanese mag-lev trains have gone faster, but they utilize different technology with much less resistance. The fastest train the U.S. has put on the table…the Amtrak’s Acela Express, which tops out about 1/3 as fast as France’s bullet train.

Check out how fast this thing whips by the folks on the overpass.

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I came across a great article which addresses the ineffectiveness of our country’s passenger rail network: Amtrak. Alexander Kummant, Amtrak’s newest director, is plotting a course to expand the floundering passenger rail market. The article highlights Amtrak’s flaws while discussing the future of overseas rail which may soon be linking Europe with Africa. Well worth the read…

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