Charlottesville Rail Service for Tourists

Lamentably, the new rail service being launched by Amtrak will be targeted at tourists and leisure riders rather than those who might get more use from such a service – if it were timed appropriately.

Thanks to Congressman Tom Perriello for supporting a more intelligently-timed schedule. It’s embarrassing when working with clients from other countries who are accustomed to having transportation options – having to describe how we have virtually no efficient options other than cars for traveling or commuting.

From Charlottesville Tomorrow:

Meredith Richards, Chairman of the Piedmont Rail Coalition, and Congressman Tom Perriello (D-5th) convened a regional summit on Thursday to discuss service improvements and whether Amtrak should be lobbied further for an earlier departure time.

The train was originally scheduled to leave Lynchburg at 5:05 a.m. and arrive at D.C.’s Union Station at 8:40 a.m. At the time, Amtrak officials said such a service would be targeted towards business travelers.

“The Lynchburg departure at 7:43 a.m. and Washington arrival at 11:20 a.m. will effectively eliminate day travel for business purposes,” wrote Perriello in a letter to Amtrak’s CEO. “The adopted schedule provides no means to demonstrate that there may be a substantial, untapped market in the US29 corridor.”

Perriello told participants at Thursday’s meeting that, in response to his letter, Amtrak said its customers along the corridor were more interested in consistent and reliable access to New York, Philadelphia and other cities in the northeast.

Rex Hammond, the Chairman of the Lynchburg Regional Chamber of Commerce, said continued efforts to alter the schedule would send the wrong message to Amtrak.

"We have to agree to emphasize the positive elements of the schedule,” Hammond said. “This new service will not serve everyone to the extent they’d like to be served."

Can the public see the market studies that they did that demonstrated this service schedule would serve the most people?

And what exactly are those "positive elements"? Now we can say, "we have train service!"?

Additionally, neither the City of Charlottesville nor the County of Albemarle (or its urban ring) have efficient transit options to accomodate those tourists or travelers once they get here.

What about this? (bolding mine, but thanks to TrvlnMn’s comment last year for the original emphasis)

One interesting aspect of the Transmilenio explored in the movie is its feeder lines. While red buses circulate along main arteries, smaller green buses circulate in the neighborhoods, picking up passengers for free and feeding them into the main stations. Making feeder buses free (while still recognizing the need for easy access to stations) gave the city a serious incentive to pave bike paths to stations. After all, every twenty or so people who bike to the Transmilenio equal one less green feeder bus that the city needs to operate.

Further, I’m finding in my business that I’m selling more and more real estate in the Charlottesville area to clients who are interested in being within walking or biking distance to something – usually coffee shops, grocery stores, schools … I perceive the demand to exist, but no real options to satisfy this demand.

Related Stories:

Gas prices and real estate

A Great Comment on Mass Transit in Central Virginia

Charlottesville’s Town Centers

A few Infrastructure Discussions Worth Paying Attention To

Inter-City Rail in Virginia! To which I now say, "meh."

As as aside, regarding the Daily Progress/Charlottesville Tomorrow content partnershipCharlottesville Tomorrow’s format is much cleaner and legible when compared with the Daily Progress’.

Daily Progress

Charlottesville Tomorrow

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6 Comments

  1. Daniel August 28, 2009 at 15:36

    The schedule is frustrating for sure, but perhaps one small incremental change can lead to others in the future. A tad more use of the train could be the tipping point for redevelopment around the station (there are acres of abandoned lots on Main right now within a two minute walk of the station). More redevelopment could lead to more train use in the future, creating a positive cycle. Maybe we’ll get a true commuter route one of these days.

    There is a time line, of course, because VA will want to see some success in three years to justify continuing (or expanding?) their investment. I plan on riding to visit family in the northeast. The station a 5 minute walk for me, and $44 round trip is pretty reasonable. Not only will it be convenient, it’s a way to vote with my money.

    Reply
  2. Jim Duncan August 28, 2009 at 16:11

    What I think is more likely is that in three years they (whoever “they” are) will say, “see? we tried to do rail, but no one used it.”

    The more I’ve thought about it, I really would like to see their market research. One would think it should be publicly accessible as Amtrak is publicly funded, right?

    Reply
  3. Mark August 28, 2009 at 17:05

    I was hoping the am train would follow more of a commuter schedule, as I will be working in the DC area temporarily and don’t really want to buy a car.

    However, the evening train departs DC at 4:50pm, which is a decent time. I have a car ride up Monday morning and right now I plan to take the Friday 4:50 train home (it arrives C-ville 7:20pm).

    If the train service is as unreliable as the comments I’ve read under other local rail-related stories say it is, though, it might be RideShare or craigslist time. I hear the current DC-Cville train is chronically late and slow.

    Reply
  4. Jim Duncan September 1, 2009 at 07:22

    One of the arguments that frequently gets brought up when discussing increasing rail service from Cville to DC is that we don’t want to become a “bedroom community” for DC …. I think that’s a far-fetched argument from no-growth folks, but it’s one that must be fought.

    Reply
  5. Kat B September 11, 2009 at 07:02

    Thought I’d add my .02: I went looking to book fares today and discovered that the Crescent’s advance fare discount from Lynchburg has disappeared in October: all fares are now starting at $62. Was that discount just a seasonal thing? That means if I use the Regional on the one day I go to NoVA I either get in to my McLean office at close to noon and leave at 4:00 (way too short of a day) or I’ll have to pay a heftier price. I was thinking the new train option would mean I could still get in to my office by 10:30 and leave at 4 for only slightly more money, not at least twice as much!

    I’ve only been using the train for a month now, but this has me re-thinking my plan to invest in a home in Lynchburg.

    Reply
  6. Pingback: New Charlottesville Train Service Late on Day One | Real Central VA

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