Your daily source of fresh takes on news affecting America's passengers. See also the weekly NARP Hotline.

Megabus Expanding; But Most Towns Left Out

Written By Sean Jeans Gail With ticket sales on Megabus and its intercity passenger bus lines booming, the company is setting its sights on expansion. But if you live outside a major city or college campus, don’t expect to see any benefits Yesterday’s Financial Times describes how the company is looking to take advantage of trends drawing young people away from cars—the same trends that have led to unprecedented growth on passengers trains. Stagecoach, the bus line’s parent corporati

The future is multi-modal: Miami edition

Written By Malcolm Kenton A major project, 20 years in the making, to bring all of the ground transportation modes serving America’s 7th-largest city together within easy reach of Miami International Airport, the world’s 28th busiest and the nation’s 12th-busiest airport, and a major international gateway to the Americas, is finally coming together. The $1.7 billion Miami Intermodal Center (MIC, commonly pronounced “mick”) will bring together the second-biggest car rental facility in

NARP defends Amtrak's rural routes

Written By Colin Leach Amtrak's westbound Southwest Chief near Trinidad, CO. Photo credit to Steve Wilson via the Wikimedia Foundation. Readers of our blog know that one of the most common criticisms aimed at Amtrak is its requirement for federal subsidy. At hearing after hearing, congressional passenger rail critics such as John Mica, Jeff Flake, and Paul Broun have claimed that the railroad is a huge burden on the taxpayer, particularly with respect to the long-distance routes. Why, they

Airlines Put the Squeeze on Passengers

Written By Sean Jeans Gail As if you needed another reason to take the train, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that airlines have been shrinking the average size of plane seats to cram more passengers in, and maximize profits: Airlines' push to lure high-paying fliers with flatbed business seats and premium economy loungers is leaving economy-class passengers with less space. A push over the past decade by carriers to expand higher-fare sections has shrunk the area devoted to coach on

Roads less travelled become railroads more travelled

Written By Colin Leach Amtrak's Empire Builder near East Glacier, MT. Credit to Steve Wilson via Wikimedia Foundation. How should we pay to maintain highways? This question no longer has a straightforward answer. As a recent article in theEconomist suggests, state and federal governments are finding it increasingly difficult to raise the needed revenues to maintain roads. For most of our history, highways have been paid for through straightforward gas taxes: Under these, a portion of eac

Train advocacy in the Sunshine State

Written By Malcolm Kenton Image: Wikimedia Commons Tomorrow afternoon, I will board Amtrak's southbound Silver Star here at Washington Union Station to travel overnight to Jacksonville, Florida, where NARP will hold its annual Fall Meeting on Saturday and Sunday. Every October, the NARP Council of Representatives--an all-volunteer advisory body--meets in a different city in the country, and all NARP members are invited to join them. These meetings offer not just an opportunity for leaders i

Amtrak Says “Thank You” to America’s Passengers for Best Year Ever

Written By Sean Jeans Gail What’s the best way to celebrate a record year of train ridership in the U.S.? Riding more trains, of course. Amtrak is thanking the passengers that helped set a record ridership of 31.6 million trips in Fiscal Year 2013 by offering a 31% discount on companion rail travel: To take advantage of this discount, passengers must purchase tickets between Oct. 15 through Oct. 21, for travel Oct. 22 through Dec. 12. The discount is available on regular full adult fare

Roll-up bike carriage tested on Capitol Limited

Written By Malcolm Kenton On today’s eastbound Capitol Limited (yesterday evening’s Chicago departure), Amtrak conducted its first over-the-road test of vertically-mounted bicycle restraints installed in the lower-level baggage area of one Superliner coach. This represented the first time unboxed bikes were carried on a Superliner-equipped train since they were carried on the Cardinalbefore the train was re-equipped with single-level cars in 2002. A selected group of cyclists, myself inc

Amtrak moving in Roanoke's direction

Written By Malcolm Kenton Virginia State Senator John Edwards (D-Roanoke), a long-time train supporter, hosted a town hall meetingin his home city on Wednesday to discuss the Commonwealth of Virginia’s plan to extend the state-supported Northeast Regional train currently terminating in Lynchburg west to Roanoke. Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation Director Thelma Drake said that although the state’s projected opening date for the extension is in 2017, the state had also gi

Preventing train collisions

Written By Malcolm Kenton In a presentation organized by the Japan International Transport Institute in Washington DC, Grady Cothen today made an excellent presentation on Positive Train Control (PTC). He retired from the Federal Railroad Administration in 2010 after over 36 years there working on safety and policy initiatives. He sees PTC as relevant to the administration’s higher-speed rail initiatives, as well as to enabling railroads to make the most efficient use of their infrastructu