Category Archives: Rail

Presenting: The Curbing Cars Podcast

From Tucson to Kansas City, Denver to Detroit, it’s been a busy summer for transportation news.

Here, in our inaugural Curbing Cars podcast, Mark Remillard and I look at some of the stories he’s covered. They include:

Tucson’s new light-rail system, the Sun Link.

The Denver-based study showing that more bikes can actually be good for city safety.

The challenge posed to cities by parking craters.

Take a listen, and share it with  your friends.

Would you like to hear more episodes of the Curbing Cars Podcast? Take our survey.

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Filed under bicycling, bike sharing, cars, cities, Curbing Cars, public transportation, Rail, urban planning

See Tucson’s Light Rail System In Action

Our Mark Remillard recently told you about Tucson’s new light rail line — the second such system in Arizona. (Phoenix also has light rail.)

Based on your reaction via Twitter, we know that came as a surprise.

So here’s a look at the new Sun Link in action, via the Arizona Daily Star. Ride the entire route in three minutes. We’re definitely looking forward to hopping on board.

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Filed under public transportation, Rail

Tucson’s ‘Sun Link’ Light Rail System Is Open For Business

Tucson, Arizona is the latest city in the country, and second in Arizona, to open a light rail transit system. sunlink_2

The 18 stop, four-mile surface rail line has been in the works for 10 years, according to Sun Link Project Manager Shellie Genn. As the downtown core of Tucson has continued to grow, she said the need for light rail and an effective transit system has become increasingly important to keep the city connected.

“This has allowed us to connect areas that were previously divided by physical barriers,” Genn said. Some include the I-10 freeway and Santa Cruz River, which run through Tucson’s downtown.

Largely funded through a $63 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration, Genn said Sun Link has already created more than $800 million in economic development around the line.

“There’s a real interest in developing along this line, opening up business, housing (and) grocery stores,” she said. “It’s really turning into a place where you want to be versus what it used to be like five to 10 years ago.”

The light rail line is the latest in what Genn called a national demand for more convenient public transportation as more people are migrating to downtowns and embracing urban living. Continue reading

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Filed under cities, public transportation, Rail

From Dallas To Houston In 90 Minutes?

Just days after examining the transit options between the U.S. metropolises, Politico is reporting that Central Texas might have a brand new travel option that could give Amtrak a run for its money. The private Texas Central Railway, is working on a bullet train project between Dallas and Houston, which would connect Texas’ two largest cities.

N700 Shinkansen

Courtesy of Kanedavidson.com

Texas Central Railway is working in conjunction with the Japan Railway Co., which is the same company that created the N700-I bullet train between Tokyo and Osaka. Similar to the N700-I, the Texas Central Railway’s website said the train will travel upwards of 200 mph and be able to take riders between Dallas and Houston in only 90 minutes.

That means the Texas bullet train would be able to complete the 240-mile trip just under 2 1/2 times faster than a car and would take only about 30 minutes more than flying, according to Google Maps estimates. Continue reading

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A Personal View Of ‘Megalopolis’ Transportation

While going through the transportation options of the dozen U.S. “megalopolises” in Richard Florida’s article in the Atlantic’s City Lab, I realized how many of these various systems I’ve actually experienced myself.mega regions population

I’ve always felt that I’ve lacked experience when it comes to seeing much of the United States, but researching the transportation options in these mega-regions  jogged my memory quite a bit.

I grew up in southern California, where I can remember taking Metrolink’s $7 round-trip train ride to baseball games at Angels Stadium in Anaheim, and hopping between Metrolink and Amtrak trains in Los Angeles to get to my very first radio interview at Los Angeles’ KFI AM640.

When I lived in Seattle for a period between 2008 and 2009, I took a bus across the border into Canada to visit Vancouver. I also remember taking the BART to Oakland Coliseum to watch an A’s game.

Beside these places, I’ve ridden the subway and ferries of New York, and I also often take the light rail between Tempe, Ariz. and Phoenix.

When I lived in Seattle, or rode the BART in San Francisco, it had never crossed my mind that I would write transportation stories sometime in the future.

Continue reading

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Filed under cities, economy, public transportation, Rail, student stories

Public Transportation And America’s “Megalopolises” (Continued)

We continue our look into the country’s “Megalopolises” and what kind of transportation they provide. The Atlantic’s City Lab posted an article by Richard Florida in March defining these economic hubs of the United States, which combined create more than $13 trillion in economic output.

Yesterday, we looked at the four largest regions and how they are connected (view that post here.)

So-Flo: Home to 15 million people in the Miami, Orlando and Tampa regions of Florida, public transit riders have a brand new option of travel as Megabus began service there on May 15, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Service now runs daily between Miami and Orlando, and Miami and Tampa. Travelers can also use Amtrak, which according to the company had more than 400,000 boardings in Miami, Orlando and Tampa in 2012. Riders can use the Silver Star or Silver Meteor lines.

megabus orlando

Courtesy of @BenKennedyTV

Nor-Cal:  A very densely populated part of the country , this megalopolis combines San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland for a total of 13 million people and $900 billion in economic output, according to Florida. Much like the Bos-Wash region, travelers have a plethora options at their disposal. The BART system covers much of bay area, offering lines from the east bay in Richmond, Calif. south to San Francisco International Airport.

Continue reading

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Filed under cities, economy, infrastructure, public transportation, Rail, Travel

Public Transportation And America’s “Megalopolises”

In March, The Atlantic‘s City Lab, took a look into the power house economies of the so-called “megalopolises” of the United States. Author Richard Florida found that there were a dozen of the world’s 40 “mega-regions” here in America.

From the contiguous stretch of urban sprawl in New England, Florida named the Bos-Wash region, to the Pacific Northwest he called “Cascadia,” these dozen areas are the economic and population hubs of the country. According to Florida, “these dozen regions have a combined population of more than 230 million people, including 215 million from the United States, or 70 percent of the U.S. population.”

mega regions population

Courtesy of City Lab

Many of these areas have various forms of public transportation, some well known and extremely popular, while others are continuing to face the needs and challenges associated with creating a successful network of transportation.

Beginning today, and over the weekend,  we’ll take a look at how each of these regions are connected.

Bos-Wash: By far the largest population and economic output region on Florida’s list, Bos-Wash “stretches from Boston through New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore to Washington, D.C.” and is home to 56.5 million people. This densely populated part of the country has long had public transportation systems and in all shapes and sizes. Continue reading

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Filed under cities, public transportation, Rail

Beyond The Bar Car: 5 Ideas In Themed Rail Cars

The Metro-North Bar Car

The Metro-North Bar Car (Taken by Twitter user @jzaslav)

There’s been a lot of buzz about the end of bar cars on the New Haven line of New York’s Metro-North railroad. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs NYC’s public transit systems, discontinued the booze cruisers last week to make way for newer trains.

Though the idea of the bar car may seem novel, it’s not the first time a train has been re-purposed for commuter activities. Here are five other ways riders and transit operators have switched up their commute:

1. The Singles-Only Car

In hopes of helping Czechs find love in the big city, Prague transportation officials announced a program last summer that would dedicate one car per train for singles in hopes of facilitating some mass transit matchmaking, according to The Atlantic Cities. A spokesman told a reporter that the program would give commuters the time and place to find love amid their busy careers. Continue reading

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Can Trains Go Farther In Michigan?

Where the tracks are.

Where the tracks are.

By Matthew Varcak

Michigan is seemingly divided into two unequal sections, and that doesn’t just mean the Upper and Lower Peninsulas. When it comes to passenger rail service, the bottom half of the Lower Peninsula is serviced by three major corridors, while the rest of the state has none.

But plans are in the works for passenger rail service to reach one northern tourist destination – Traverse City.

While navigating the southern part of the state is fairly simple with the available trains, buses and taxis, the northern half is virtually inaccessible without a personal vehicle or plane. There are few alternatives besides a once-daily bus which departs from Kalamazoo heading north and includes several stops (namely Traverse City) before ending in Sault Ste. Marie, located on the Canadian border.

The lack of passenger rail to the northern half of Michigan will soon change, as the state looks to expand its light rail service.

 “We could possibly have a passenger rail to Traverse City under way in the next five to six years,” said Nick Schirripa, spokesman for the Michigan Department of Transportation. “It may happen sooner.” Continue reading

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