Monday, May 13, 2013

Solve AMTRAK's problems

AMTRAK has several serious problems with it. The largest collection is that the trains are never filled, the tickets are overpriced, and they don't run on time.

I took the train today, and it was the best ride I have ever had on AMTRAK. The problem was that the train got to the station too early. I arrived around 30 minutes early to my planned destination. The train was going from point to point without a single unscheduled stop due to freight, the first time this has ever happened and I've rode about 5 round trips from my original destination. This is due to the train automatically correcting for being held up by freight trains. People were missing the train due to it being early, and it didn't self correct which is not acceptable. The Wifi was excellent, food was reasonably priced, but I hate to think of how many people missed the train due to it not being on time. When it comes to transportation there is only one appropriate time, which is ON TIME. It is better to leave a minute late than to leave a minute early because you will miss passengers if you leave early, while if you leave late you will only have annoyed passengers.

Last weekend I took Greyhound and it was about half an hour late to the station. Granted, it was a cross-country route and I was close to the end of its route, but still, there need to be some serious changes in how mass transit operates in this country.

So, what are the solutions to these problems?

  1. Give AMTRAK priority on our railways. AMTRAK needs to have reliability and speed which will come through requiring freight to wait for AMTRAK to pass, because passenger trains are (or should be) faster than freight given how they are smaller and have better acceleration.
  2. AMTRAK needs to follow its schedule precisely, and by not correcting for early arrivals at stations, people miss the train. If the train waits at the station, so be it.
  3. There need to be bypasses past train stops so that no one will be held up in the possible event that one train is stopped but another train doesn't have to stop at a station.
  4. The prices for AMTRAK need to be set as if the train was going to be filled, because it is a very expensive mode of transportation currently. By doing this they will be more likely to fill, by simple supply vs. demand curves.
This needs to be advertised so people will try riding AMTRAK and find that it is more convenient than riding a car.

Fortunately, this is starting to happen with new trains that will make AMTRAK an even better system.

The future looks bright.

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