Saturday, December 27, 2008

Real Rail Access for Raleigh

Logan Nash over at Trains for America blogs about how increased train ridership means that some Amtrak stations are overburdened.

I'm all in favor of increasing station capacity to meet demand - in terms of station size, facilities and staffing, but much of the article is concerned about parking. The News and Observer writes, "A record Thanksgiving crush saw as many as 900 passengers a day streaming through a station that has only 57 parking spaces." As you may remember, I don't believe that park-and-rides are the answer, because they undermine transit-oriented development. Amtrak, the State of North Carolina and the various local governments should at least look into other ways of getting people to and from the station.

This map shows that in 1895 there were thirteen train stations in Wake County. The population then was around 50,000, and last year it was 833,000. The N&O says that Patrick B. Simmons, Rail Division chief for the North Carolina state Department of Transportation, "lives in North Raleigh, but he drives to Durham when he has to catch a train because it's easier to find parking there."

In what's now North Raleigh, there were stations in Forestville, Wyatt, Neuse and Millbrook. What if Mr. Simmons were able to convince the State to fund the extension of the Piedmont trains to Wake Forest or even Henderson? They could restart service in some of the in-between stations - with small parking lots, enough to take the burden off of the Raleigh station. Reopening of stops at Garner, Auburn and Clayton along the Carolinian would also help, as would some of the stops that both trains pass, such as Method and Nelson.

It's great that some people are changing part of their trips to train. What would it take for them to make the whole trip by train?

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