Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Local commuter passenger rail services and Southern California

The New Haven Register reports ("Commuters call Metro-North Waterbury branch ‘an outhouse on wheels’") that people on the Waterbury line of the MTA commuter railroad service in Connecticut (run by New York State in conjunction with the State of Connecticut) that the service is substandard, which has resulted in dropping ridership.

Metrolink rail car.

Like the contrast between the Pacific Surfliner and regular Amtrak service, Southern California commuter railroad services have a newness advantage over "legacy" services in the Northeast and Maryland (I haven't ridden the Virginia Railway Express) in that they have newer cars and have invested in marketing, wi-fi and other services, whereas comparable railroad passenger services in the Northeast (oh, and Metra too in Chicago) have been shaped more by how railroad passenger services used to be run by the for profit railroads "back in the day," rather than in the era of maxi marketing and competition from multiple modes.

Metrolink bicycle parking is placed on the lower level of two floor rail cars.  All the cars are two levels.

Granted, I didn't ride from Orange County to Los Angeles, which has much greater ridership, I rode from Orange County to San Diego, on Metrolink to Oceanside in San Diego County, where I transferred to the Coaster, which is run separately from Metrolink, by the North County Transportation District in San Diego County.

The Metrolink was pretty empty.  The Coaster was not so empty.  Metrolink trains are known also for their bike accommodations.  Both have wif-fi and some tables in cars.

The view can be incredible.  I was buried in a newspaper, looked up, and saw the Pacific Ocean, and in spots, surfers.  It's nicer than the Northeast corridor...

Granted, the ridership levels on MTA (Greater New York State), NJ Transit, SEPTA (Pennsylvania), MARC (Maryland to DC), Metra (Greater Chicago) are likely much higher than some of the services in California.

Still, it would be worth considering a marketing and service upgrade for East Coast railroad passenger services.... and wi-fi (not on MARC, VRE, or SEPTA).

Metrolink runs a number of promotions in association with professional sporting events.

Metrolink service map.

Metrolink denotes train cars for bikes with a logo or full train wrap.

Wi-fi screen on the Coaster train.

Bike accommodations on Coaster trains aren't quite as elaborate compared to Metrolink (or Caltrain in the San Francisco Bay).

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At 9:12 AM, Anonymous Christopher said...

Some of those smaller lines in Metro North have pretty old cars (M2/M4/M6) cars that have been upgraded and some have replaced by M7 and new order of M8s. As CT pays for the lines in CT so some of those upgrades are up to CT. Many lines in MNR are pretty new cars (the M7s have only been in service since 2001). That being said, the cars are pretty nice with individual seats. And most are single level. I remember the first time I road a MNR car in the mid-90s I was shocked: that it was so expensive and up market the train cars were. Hardly the $7 trips on basically school buses on rails of the METRA of my youth. Commuter rail around NYC might have legacy issues, but having substandard equipment isn't one of them. There are operational issues and that sounds like what the complaints are about.

At 4:19 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Thanks. It's been so long since I've ridden MNR or LIRR (or NJT for that matter).


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