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Weekly Newsletter: Do we have to choose between commuter and transit?

April 20, 2015

Heavy Rail Rapid Transit is not an oxymoron. Or rather, it doesn’t have to be.

In America we have rapid transit (lots of stops, frequent service, located in city centers) and heavy rail (commuter trains once an hour, traveling between distant suburbs). Conceptually, they have very different purposes. People use rapid transit to reach all sorts of opportunities whenever their schedule demands. On the other hand, people usually use commuter trains to, well, commute. The two don’t mix – which is a problem for places on heavy rail lines that would like transit, and the economic benefits that come with it.

In European cities – like Munich, Paris and Copenhagen (see right, next to a conventional commuter train) – there’s something in between. Beyond their metros and regional trains, these cities have a hybrid – light, quick accelerating trains that run transit-like service in urban neighborhoods and near suburbs on conventional tracks. These services – called the S-Bahn in German, RER in French and S-Tog in Danish - bring similar connectivity as rapid transit, without the cost of building completely new tracks. Toronto is currently introducing similar service, which could inspire other agencies in North America.

In many places in the U.S., introducing Heavy Rail Rapid Transit would be about as simple as buying some new equipment – likely lightweight EMU’s or DMU’s - and running them at 15-minute frequencies. In Chicago, the transit starved South Side, which is covered by commuter rail lines, would be a perfect place to start. Other corridors, where stops are spaced every mile would also be prime candidates.

Improving connectivity often takes substantial investments – investments that cost billions of dollars and can be disruptive to communities a project passes through. When there is a chance to significantly improve connectivity with relatively small changes, it should be a no brainer.

All the best,

Julius Parod
Manager of Communications
Julius@MidwestHSR.org

Last Week at MHSRA:

MHSRA participated in a press conference in Carbondale, IL, where regional leaders including Senator Forby weighed in on the impact of proposed cuts to Amtrak in Illinois. Check out some of the coverage the event generated:

Daily Egyptian
Herald Review
WSIU
The Southern

Executive Director Richard Harnish traveled to Michigan to work withother rail advocates on improving the Chicago-Detroit Amtrak route.

MHSRA representatives attended Iowa Pacific President Ed Ellis’ presentation on his vision for the Chicago-Indianapolis Hoosier service at a Lafayette Chamber of Commerce event.

We helped organize letters of support for the Texas high-speed rail project in response to new attacks from Central Texas lawmakers.

Executive Director Richard Harnish gave a presentation on CrossRail Chicago to the Rotary Club in Homewood, IL

Articles We Enjoyed:

New operator has big plans for Chicago – Indianapolis rail service.
"Iowa Pacific Holdings Inc. President Ed Ellis [says] that he wants to increase round trips from four a week to 12 per day."

Debunking 5 Myths About Texas High-Speed Rail
“The ‘Berlin Wall’ is not being built on your farmland, for one.”

How Car-Reliance Squeezes the Middle Class
Auto-dependence puts huge costs on middle class households.

Bad Planning and Bad Transit Put Jobs Out of Reach for Milwaukeeans
Making it difficult for people to work is bad economic policy.

Why Can’t America Have Great Trains?
A detailed look at the state of Amtrak

Amtrak Routes Reimagined As A Subway Map
Cool!

Upcoming Events:

April 29th - Illinois Rail and Transit Summit in Springfield, IL. We’re inviting allies across Illinois to show how important trains are to their communities. Join us in Springfield to demonstrate your support.


A donation of $15 or more today will go directly towards educating elected officials. Can you help us move forward in 2015?


Julius Parod
Midwest High Speed Rail Association
4765 N. Lincoln Ave.
Chicago, IL 60625
773-334-6758
Join today at MidwestHSR.org/Join-Us
       

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