10/11: Should local business, government support Amtrak?

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Amtrak is on the comeback trail. Amtrak is a subsidized mess.

Whatever your view, a few major cities in the Southeast are wrestling with how to spruce up the national rail service and connect it to local transportation alternatives. Amtrak’s search for a new terminal in Atlanta is in the early stages, but it’s certain to fuel debate.

Read the  commentary saying Atlanta shouldn’t be left behind, and then an opposing opinion that Amtrak is a waste of money.

Should local government and business support it?

15 comments Add your comment

Mason Hicks

October 11th, 2011
4:58 pm

Thanks for your input Zeke…
Now… MOVING FORWARD… I would suggest ultimately that a location for a new AMTRAK station at the proposed Armour Station that appears on the Concept3 Transportation Master Plan, as adopted by both ARC and GDOT. This would in fact be a second Multi-modal passenger terminal, (MMPT), like the one planned in the railroad “Gulch”, adjacent to Five Points Station. The configuration of the AMTRAK Crescent rout does not lend itself to coming downtown to the Downtown MMPT as is largely envisioned. I hope that future additional routes will use the MMPT.
The Armour Station site is adjacent to MARTA’s Armour Yard Maintenance Facility, where MARTA’s Red (North) and Gold (Northeast) lines cross Peachtree Creek and the CSX tracks, running alongside. It is there that everything will someday cross. To the southeast, the CSX tracks will be the right-of-way of the Clifton Corridor rail line, and also what was once known as the “Brain Train”, the Atlanta to Athens Commuter rail line will branch off there… To the west, the Beltline will follow parallel to the CSX tracks as it departs the area. Both the Beltline and the “Brain Train” approach this location from the southwest along the Norfolk Southern right-of-way, which is also used by the AMTRAK Crescent, and is paralleled by the MARTA Red and Gold lines… Of course, these connections will not be available for some time; therefore in the interim, I would perhaps locate a transfer facility at Lindbergh. I worked at the architecture firm that Master planned the Lindbergh Transit Oriented Development. Despite pioneering the first TOD development in Metro Atlanta, I remember being dismayed at the plan’s lack of foresight for not recognizing the need, or the opportunity to relocate the AMTRAK station service here. (I had not at that time heard of the Brain Train, and the Atlanta Beltline was probably still in Ryan Gravel’s head…). My suggestion to the point was immediately shrugged off…
Ronald Utt’s, (Of the Heritage Foundation) opposing piece, referring to funding updated and better connected AMTRAK facilities a waste of money points to the meager numbers of passengers entering and leaving Atlanta by rail… I couldn’t have stated better myself how abysmal current rail service in Atlanta is, or how desperately it needs to be augmented. When you consider that a city of the size and with the rail heritage of Atlanta has only one passenger train passing through in each direction daily, this says a great deal about Georgia and Metro-Atlanta’s lack of commitment to transportation means other than laying pavement… Consider that once the Crescent reaches Charlotte, (at 2:00 in the morning); North Carolina travelers then have three trains, (soon to be four…) for leaving for points north at different times during the day. North Carolina has been quite proactive in the support of rail-based alternatives, and while their levels of service pale in comparison to passenger rail service in Washington, DC and points beyond in the Northeast Corridor; and around most of the rest of the world, better service is being planned for connections to other parts of the North Carolina…
We are so far behind that it’s really pathetic; and people like Mr. Utt just want to hold us back to the unsustainable options we have today…

Dumb and Dumber

October 11th, 2011
1:48 pm

Subsidize roads, not rail!

Only poor folks ride the train. If they have a way of getting to my neighborhood all the will do is steal stuff and make their getaway on mass transit. I know that’s true because I read it on the internet!


October 11th, 2011
11:18 am

Put the station somewhere near a MARTA train and it will be successful. Part of the problem is that there’s only two train stops each day (one New Orleans-bound, one Washington DC-bound) but if ridership were higher I imagine that could be revisited. Traveling on the train is much more pleasant than traveling on a plane, but with the current station location it’s hard to get there.


October 11th, 2011
11:12 am

A new terminal with public parking would go a long way toward making Amtrak more viable. I’ve ridden the train in the past and would again if parking @ the current station wasn’t such a hassle.

Why couldn’t that $47 million that’s earmarked for a downtown trolley to nowhere be diverted to a worthwhile project like Amtrak?


October 11th, 2011
9:56 am

Right on, Mr. Liberty! ANYTHING RUN BY ANY GOVERNMENT WILL NEVER BE SUCCESSFUL! It is moronic to think that a government, financed by the taking of money from taxpayers, can or will do anything reasonably intelligent with that money! Witness, medicaid, adc, wic, food stamps, amtrack, etc.! A rail system will only work if it is self supporting, on dedicated passenger rails, safe from criminals and wrecks, and, convenient so that riders can get to where they need to go without changing to buses 3 or 4 times! You can see by the results at marta, THAT WILL NEVER HAPPEN!!!