Author Topic: Amtrak's Auto Train: A Daily Visitor  (Read 8363 times)

Metro Jacksonville

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Amtrak's Auto Train: A Daily Visitor
« on: October 15, 2007, 04:00:00 AM »
Amtrak's Auto Train: A Daily Visitor



Few people realize that Jacksonville briefly hosts the longest passenger train in the world, twice a day, 365 days a year. The Auto Train is considered America's most unique passenger train operation for many reasons.

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http://www.metrojacksonville.com/content/view/602

Ocklawaha

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Re: Amtrak's Auto Train: A Daily Visitor
« Reply #1 on: October 15, 2007, 09:34:21 AM »
History, and an incredible lack of vision, or leadership in Congress and Amtrak have conspired to keep Auto-Train unique. Europe and other countries have spread this concept to the far corners of the globe, but we seem content to shuttle back and forth from Sanford to Lorton forever. Auto-Train in the Pre-Amtrak days, had the right idea to expand to Louisville, sadly they chose the wrong city and the wrong railroad. The CSX from (Jacksonville) to South Georgia - Louisville, is a twisting, beat-up freight line, with severe speed and lack of signals that hold any train to a rocking, bouncing, roller coaster at a crawl. Had they chosen any other route the corporation would probably still be with us today. The fact that Amtrak has never experimented with New York to Chicago, Los Angeles to Seattle, Chicago to Denver, etc. speaks volumes to the impossible budget constraints and corporate soul sleep in the highest places. Only JTA could do better at messing up a great idea.

Why have they stuck with Sanford, expanding it or rebuilding it several times when the Federal DOT originally proposed the service between Washington and JACKSONVILLE? Why not use real railroad hubs such as Jacksonville and expand to Chicago? New Orleans? Los Angeles? Sunset limited anyone? Imagine throwing some of those auto carriers on the rear of that beauty? Why isn't Auto-Train picking up passengers in limited stops up the coast? Why not Jacksonville, Savannah, Charleston, Fayetteville and Richmond? Why turn down extra revenue? Has this idea been "sold" to Cal-Trans? Tex Dot? Oklahoma DOT? IL Dot? Bet they would jump on this. Has Amtrak or anyone else ever considered setting out cars en-route? An example would be a Los Angeles - Seattle train, pausing and setting out some car carriers at Oakland, CA and Portland, OR.. What would happen if they tried this on shorter distance routes? Imagine this from Jacksonville to Atlanta? Miami? Tampa? Forgive me if I'm not excited with the prospects, they fly the thing out of "Sanford" so the folks in Jacksonville and Orlando won't have to hear it LAND! After all, it's what Gene Garfield decided back in the 1970's.


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will

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Re: Amtrak's Auto Train: A Daily Visitor
« Reply #2 on: October 15, 2007, 10:25:22 AM »
I took my family on the auto train this summer on our way to and from Vermont. We booked one of the family sleeper cars. It was a great experience. My two young daughters loved the sleeper car and the dining room. It's a long ride, but the train travels by night, so you sleep through most of it. I love the slower pace of train travel. It's a luxury these days to take the time to travel through this beautiful country, rather than skip over it from one identical airport to the other. I highly recommend the auto train.

hightowerlover

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Re: Amtrak's Auto Train: A Daily Visitor
« Reply #3 on: October 15, 2007, 10:30:21 AM »
i rode that once.  it stunk.

all the noise from the train whistle blowing at every intersection.  randomly stopping in the middle of nowhere it took forever.  we would've been better off driving.

even more reason why jacksonville doesnt need to waste money on a train system, we already have one and its underutilized.

we can't even fill the needs of all the new developments that were supposed to come downtown.  there is no critical mass in downtown struggling to find transporation.  jacksonville residents drive because the town was poorly planned to support any public transportation with all the sprawl.

i would never vote in support of tax dollars being spent on trains or bus rapid transit. NEVER.

thelakelander

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Re: Amtrak's Auto Train: A Daily Visitor
« Reply #4 on: October 15, 2007, 10:35:30 AM »
Would you vote for tax dollars being spent for new roadways?  If so, why?  What's the difference?
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

downtownparks

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Re: Amtrak's Auto Train: A Daily Visitor
« Reply #5 on: October 15, 2007, 10:57:47 AM »
Uhm... Hightower... Amtrak and regional or localized rail/trolley are completely different.

I agree, train is not fast, but neither is the bus... are you advocating we shut down the buses too?

Ocklawaha

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Re: Amtrak's Auto Train: A Daily Visitor
« Reply #6 on: October 15, 2007, 11:54:05 AM »
Forgive me y'all, I had some fun with this as I didn't take any of it seriously, after all, didn't the last Neanderthal die in Detroit, during the 1970's fuel crisis??? My friends, enter the realm of APOCALYPTIC CIVIC THOUGHT.

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i rode that once.  it stunk.

Very Interesting, all of the Indians in South America walk in single file lines, at least the ONE I saw did...

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all the noise from the train whistle blowing at every intersection.  randomly stopping in the middle of nowhere it took forever.  we would've been better off driving.


Baggage cars have large doors which, when open, are noisy and allow air and dirt to blow in.


Sleeping in the baggage car is always noisy, most people sleep in the SLEEPING CAR. The random stops could be controlled with a few dollars, unless of course you prefer that your engineer play chicken with a Million Pound Freight train barreling at you at 60 MPH.
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even more reason why jacksonville doesn't need to waste money on a train system, we already have one and its underutilized.


Graduates of the Jacksonville School of Advanced Transit Thinking.

True, we don't need to waste money on any system, we need to INVEST it. The railroad that is so underutilized, is so crowded with freight trains that your Auto-Train kept having to go in the hole to let freights blow past. Hardly anyone's idea of underutilized. Just imagine how much faster and quieter it would have been had there been double or triple track and overpasses instead of crossings.

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we can't even fill the needs of all the new developments that were supposed to come downtown.  there is no critical mass in downtown struggling to find transportation.  jacksonville residents drive because the town was poorly planned to support any public transportation with all the sprawl.


Other Cities have invested in BRT... They too were told it MIGHT be as good as RAIL, it MIGHT be as fast, it MIGHT carry as many passengers...but it hasn't!

BRT will return not one dime in development to our fair city and Light Rail has a NATIONAL AVERAGE of returning better then $1,200 dollars for every dollar invested. Every City with Light Rail that I can think of is "struggling" with a building boom of about 1 BILLION dollars. Jacksonville residents drive because the city was laid out along it's railroads and Trolley lines, and highway tainted JTA, is too STUPID to see the obvious. Sadly, their infection seems to be spreading.

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i would never vote in support of tax dollars being spent on trains or bus rapid transit. NEVER.


Neither did these people!

Comrade, don't worry, with this sort of mentality, you won't have too. JTA will make that decision for you.We'll get the whopping 7% of development that BRT creates, and your hightower's will reach the astounding heights of 4 floors. As a famous Field Marshall at Stalingrad once said, "Advance to the REAR!"

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big ben

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Re: Amtrak's Auto Train: A Daily Visitor
« Reply #7 on: October 15, 2007, 12:02:11 PM »
i rode that once.  it stunk.

all the noise from the train whistle blowing at every intersection.  randomly stopping in the middle of nowhere it took forever.  we would've been better off driving.

even more reason why jacksonville doesnt need to waste money on a train system, we already have one and its underutilized.

so you're one more reason is that you personally didn't like it, or is your reason because of the underutilized jacksonville train system that we currently have, which is not this?

Ocklawaha

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Re: Amtrak's Auto Train: A Daily Visitor
« Reply #8 on: October 15, 2007, 12:15:39 PM »
Great point BigBen, I'll stop supporting Light Rail in Jacksonville, the first time I hear of our Trolley having to go in the siding in Pee Dee, SC, to allow CSX to run past them. Like THAT will ever happen!


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hightowerlover

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Re: Amtrak's Auto Train: A Daily Visitor
« Reply #9 on: October 15, 2007, 09:00:50 PM »
im still not convinced. at all.  jacksonville likes their cars.  get over it. i was born and raised in jacksonville and i know the residents are really not fond of public transportation as a whole. 

excuse me for having an opinion that contradicts your own.  not everyone in jacksonville wants to ride around on your trains and buses.  they're happy in their cars.  why do you think everyone drives?  the buses are there, people choose to live without all the aggravation, stench, heat and low-class standard they carry with them. 

oh and the reason why the "hightowers" dont exist isn't because there isnt a choo-choo next door, it's because the housing market tanked.  i live within a few blocks of some train tracks now and i'm so tired of hearing all that racket when they go by.  I could not fathom people paying half a million for a railside condo.  ugh.  i cant wait to move away from that noise.

Feel free to rip this one to pieces too.  I'm still not convinced.

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Re: Amtrak's Auto Train: A Daily Visitor
« Reply #10 on: October 15, 2007, 11:16:02 PM »
Hightowerlover, no need to be convinced or "see it my way", just try and understand our fight...

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im still not convinced. at all.  jacksonville likes their cars.  get over it. i was born and raised in jacksonville and i know the residents are really not fond of public transportation as a whole.


Jacksonville hasn't had public transportation since the days of the old Traction Company. We held a reunion of the old Trolley guys back in 1981, with just word of mouth and over 100 persons turned out. The old motormen were even presented with keys to the city! It's easy to say no one likes the City Bus or the Skyway to no-where, neither do I. However exposure to a REAL transit solution, an easy in, easy out park and ride lot, comfortable seats, table, wall plug, internet, phone, restrooms at a price that is better then driving (which is now .70 cents a mile + fuel) and the City would come around to a new way of life.

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excuse me for having an opinion that contradicts your own.  not everyone in jacksonville wants to ride around on your trains and buses.  they're happy in their cars.  why do you think everyone drives?  the buses are there, people choose to live without all the aggravation, stench, heat and low-class standard they carry with them.

Again, we agree on this point. True there are some that need the independence of their own automobiles or just won't give them up. But they're more rare then you think. Two points for you to consider. In the 1960's The US DOT stated "The last great stand of the passenger train would be to and from Florida, the passenger train capital of that state is Jacksonville..." This was true, the forerunner of CSX didn't even want to go with Amtrak until some big government pressure was brought to fill a hole in the system. Point two is consider Los Angeles, the most auto-centric society in history (I was there) suddenly abandoned their automobiles in record numbers when exposed to excellent rail and bus services. The rail offered is Subway, commuter train, and Light Rail (some of it on the historic Pacific Electric Railway Interurban lines, they have even painted some of the new LRV's into PE paint!). The system in LA is fine, I have always driven there, know it like the back of my hand so I wasn't sure when I too took the transit plunge with my family. We took a 4 minute drive to a commuter rail station, boarded a beautiful bi-level coach, sat at a lounge table, watched the fools on the Golden State Freeway I-5 as we passed them like they were in reverse. Pulled into LA Union Station, down a flight of stairs, boarded a subway, got off in Hollywood minutes later. Next back to the Subway, to a transfer station, up a flight, onto LRT and zip, Long Beach! Unreal! All comfort, all "new car smell", fast, safe, smooth as silk, cheap too. We talked and even played cards, some did computer work, some read, others just enjoyed the views. Really nothing but the talking could have been done in an automobile. For a Jacksonville native, that trip on 3 modes was equal to going from Fernandina to Union Station, Union Station to Orange Park, back to Riverside, Riverside to St. Augustine... All for about $5.00 wow.

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oh and the reason why the "hightowers" dont exist isn't because there isnt a choo-choo next door, it's because the housing market tanked.  i live within a few blocks of some train tracks now and i'm so tired of hearing all that racket when they go by.  I could not fathom people paying half a million for a railside condo.  ugh.  i cant wait to move away from that noise.
Certainly the market has crashed, but not as much in Jacksonville as other places. We are the lucky ones. The national numbers right now are: For every dollar invested in Light Rail, $1,200+ DOLLARS are returned in INVESTMENT in TODS or RODS. Bus doesn't get but 7% of that, including the BRT bus system, which JTA keeps saying is going to spur all sorts of development...NOT!! Our fight is not because you have fell into a nest of choo-choo lovers, it is because JTA is not telling the truth to the Jacksonville public. BRT just doesn't have the numbers to back it's claims. It has the powerful highway lobby pushing it, the fuel lobby pushing it, and JTA and their political friends pushing it. The down side is it has a terrible record is is going to be another skyway at about 5 times the cost! We simply MUST FOCUS on this issue until they get a reality check or fired from this job. TOD's might not equal hightowers, but they do equal BILLIONS of new investment in every city that now has LRT under construction. The fact that you think trains are noisy, or slow, or ugly, just isn't the point. We need to follow the money, play smart and get into LRT before we take a Billion dollar bath.

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Feel free to rip this one to pieces too.  I'm still not convinced.

No rip needed, good points and I hope, complete, kind answers. As I said, I was just having some fun earlier... Something I picked up while stumbling through the 1960's on the Left Coast. I'm also a Jacksonville boy. A long time railroader...from the business end. BTW, if your interested in train noise, do a search online for the trolleys called PCC CARS that were introduced in the 1930's. These "Presidents Conference Cars" could be ordered with noise dampening "PAPER WHEELS". (train wheels have a hardened TIRE of polished steel fitted to them, in the old days, someone discovered a thick layer of paper between the wheel and polished tire would kill the noise. Another interesting point is the last time I heard of them was in the tragic German High Speed wreck in which "PAPER WHEELS" were said to blame. One wonders if they are all gone or just speed restricted today??).

As for hightowers? I love em too!

Ocklawaha

gatorback

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Re: Amtrak's Auto Train: A Daily Visitor
« Reply #11 on: October 16, 2007, 05:28:50 AM »
ah haha...
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BRT will return not one dime in development to our fair city
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the reason I laugh gramps  ;D is because you said
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Very Interesting, all of the Indians in South America walk in single file lines, at least the ONE I saw did

I'm ready for  BRT.  How do you know it wont work in Jacksonville given our rich history of sitting back and watching the mistakes(that may have accidently worked) of other cities and the replicating those issues on a grander scale.  We're not going to return one dime in development to our city, we're going to return negative dimes...the anti-matter of the industrial revolution chasing development away.  Excpect closing in the North first, followed by the east.  Later, the west and south will fall.  Downtown was gone decades ago.

Austin isn't building new roads I don't think...they are just going to control the traffic signles with the rabid busses.  Funny, busses in Jacksonville had strobe lights that controlled the traffic signals years ago--what happened to dat?

For real, don't you think a mix of BRT, light rail, commuter rail, busses, HOV lanes, tolls roads,  along with  carpooling as well as single passenger high emisson love effeciency SUV and retro designed american classics, hybirds and all electric and (I'll say the words for give me) bikes and walking works!
« Last Edit: October 16, 2007, 05:43:49 AM by gatorback »
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big ben

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Re: Amtrak's Auto Train: A Daily Visitor
« Reply #12 on: October 16, 2007, 08:32:56 AM »
excuse me for having an opinion that contradicts your own.  not everyone in jacksonville wants to ride around on your trains and buses. 

i personally don't care what your opinion is, but i do care when you make arguments for your opinion that use incorrect statements.

jacksonville likes their cars.  get over it. i was born and raised in jacksonville and i know the residents are really not fond of public transportation as a whole. 
they're happy in their cars.  why do you think everyone drives?  the buses are there, people choose to live without all the aggravation, stench, heat and low-class standard they carry with them.

well, believe it or not, many people move to jacksonville without having grown up here.  i am one of those people.  these people are just as much a part of jacksonville as those who grew up here. 

other people may be happy driving, but i am not.  the reason i don't take the bus is not because of stench, heat or low-class standards, it's because it would take way too long.  from what i have found on jta's website, i would have to spend at least an hour on multiple buses instead of driving 15 minutes.  i did, however, move after only 6 months of living here because i hated the 40 minute drive.  i also haven't been on a commuter bus that had a stench or excessive heat problem.

the previous paragraph is mostly opinion.  it was included as an argument against the statements that seemed to say that all of jacksonville residents want to drive and will not ride public transportation.  i do not care if anyone agrees with my opinion or not.

downtownparks

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Re: Amtrak's Auto Train: A Daily Visitor
« Reply #13 on: October 16, 2007, 09:31:49 AM »
... i was born and raised in jacksonville and i know the residents are really not fond of public transportation as a whole. 

How can they know anything, or feel strongly about something they havent had since 1920?

hightowerlover

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Re: Amtrak's Auto Train: A Daily Visitor
« Reply #14 on: October 16, 2007, 10:56:59 AM »
oh well.  i guess i'm the only one in jacksonville that doesn't like public transit.  i guess i'll just stop having an opinion now so i won't get everyone's panties in a wad.