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

New Swiss study: it’s not just the farebox

Written By Colin Leach Koln, Germany (Wikicommons; calflier001)A traditionally vexing problem for public transportation systems has been that of measuring economic utility. Is farebox recovery the best measure of a system’s economic value? What percentage of costs should be covered by ticket sales? Thinking along these lines, as Eric Jaffe argues in an Atlantic Cities article, causes policymakers to take a narrow view of what constitutes economic benefit. Such a view, he argues, allows them t

National Train Day 2013 Roundup

Written By Malcolm Kenton This year's National Train Day was likely the best-attended and most widespread celebration of the occasion in its six-year history. Amtrak endorsed events in over 90 cities and towns, while dozens more independently organized celebrations took place, many in places that don't currently enjoy passenger train service. NARP Ambassadors were present at 63 events, and those who have sent us reports so far say that each one had hundreds of attendees, and that NARP's giveaw

The Multi-Modal Era is Upon Us (Again)

Written By Malcolm Kenton During the Great Recession of the 2000s, Americans traveled considerably less--both within and between cities and regions--as many lost jobs, worked fewer hours, and had less money to spend. After previous economic downturns in the "automobile age," vehicle miles traveled (VMT) was one of the first indicators to resurge. But while general travel rates have rebounded over the past couple of years, the amount of miles Americans drive has continued to drop. Chart from Ad

President Pushes Bold Plan for Passenger Rail

Written By Sean Jeans Gail The Obama Administration released its budget request for Fiscal Year 2014 today, and the President has once again put forth a bold plan for transforming and expanding train service in the United States, with $40 billion in passenger rail investment over the next five years. The Administration’s budget allocates $6.6 billion to the Federal Rail Administration for fiscal 2014, with increasing amounts each subsequent year through 2019, then decreasing amounts to 2023.

Amtrak breaks another ridership record

Written By Sean Jeans Gail Amtrak announced yesterday that ridership has continued to increase during the first half of Fiscal Year 2013, with the railroad setting a new single month ridership record in March. Individual monthly ridership records were also set in October, December, and January. The announcement comes the same week that Amtrak President and CEO Joseph Boardman will appear before the House Committee on Transportation to discuss the company’s FY 2014 budget request. Demand fo

NARP responds to another attack on trains by CNN's Anderson Cooper

Written By Sean Jeans Gail So is Anderson Cooper still a real journalist? He headlines a daily talk show, and was swimming with crocodiles on last Sunday’s 60 Minutes. Perhaps Cooper has completely transitioned into the role of “television personality.” Honestly, that’s the most generous conclusion we can come up with. Because after the fact-light, context-free piece showcased on Anderson Cooper 360 last week, we have to say: if Cooper still considers himself a reporter, he is doing a

Why Long-Distance Trains Matter

Written By Malcolm Kenton Long Distance Trains: A Foundation for National Mobility, a white paper by NARP and theMidwest High-Speed Rail Association, aims to correct common misconceptions about Amtrak's national network of overnight trains and to demonstrate the valuable role they play in connecting small towns and rural areas to larger cities, with multiple city-pair "corridors" served by one highly productive train. NARP believes that the long distance trains should remain a federal responsi

NARP member’s vision map draws coverage, spurs action

Written By Malcolm Kenton NARP member Alfred Twu of Berkeley, CA designed a map of a possible future American passenger train network, with ten high-speed trunk lines supplemented by an expanded network of conventional passenger trains. It is partially based on NARP's own 40-year Grid and Gateway Vision map, released in 2007. The map invites you to imagine the distance between points not in terms of miles, but in terms of travel time by rail, with one centimeter on the map roughly equaling o

Leaders Agree: Infrastructure is Critical and Congress Must Pay for It

Written By Malcolm Kenton New Jersey's decrepit 103-year-old Portal Bridge. Photo by Andrew Bossi on Flickr.comYesterday, the US House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee heard testimony from a former Governor of Pennsylvania who leads an infrastructure investment advocacy group, the head of the nation’s largest business lobby, and the chief of a major labor union. All three agreed that the federal government must continue to play the leading role in maintaining and developing the nat

High Speed Rail Returns to State of the Union

Written By Sean Jeans Gail “Ask any CEO where they'd rather locate and hire: a country with deteriorating roads and bridges, or one with high-speed rail and internet; high-tech schools and self-healing power grids. The CEO of SiemensAmerica– a company that brought hundreds of new jobs toNorth Carolina– has said that if we upgrade our infrastructure, they'll bring even more jobs. And I know that you want these job-creating projects in your districts. I've seen you all at the ribbon-cutti