Amtrak to Launch Bike Storage Cars on Long-Distance Trains

The new bike racks. (Courtesy Amtrak)

The new bike racks. (Courtesy Amtrak)

Among the appeals of train travel is the ability to move between urban city centers easily, but until now, bringing your bike along for the ride was a burdensome venture. Well, good news cyclists. Amtrak is making it a whole lot easier to bring your bike aboard its trains. Gone are the days of having to break down your bike, pack it into a box, and stow it with luggage. The train operator is set to launch new storage cars that include bike racks.

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Denver’s Union Station Elevates Rail Travel in Colorado

(Courtesy Skidmore, Owings & Merrill)

(Courtesy Skidmore, Owings & Merrill)

Denver’s Union Station, a multi-modal transit hub built by architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, opened up last month. The ribbon cutting ceremony severed the notion that transportation hubs are drab, gray places that smell suspiciously of food products and cleaning chemicals. What does the Union Station Bus Concourse do differently? Everything, apparently. Its sweeping design acts as a converging point for local commuters, airport bound travelers, and out-of-city destinations.

COntinue reading after the jump.

Pictorial> Art Installation Transforms Philly’s Amtrak Corridor With Vibrant Color

The Drama Wall. (Courtesy Mural Arts Program)

The Drama Wall. (Courtesy Mural Arts Program)

An art installation along Philadelphia’s Northeast Amtrak corridor is adding some color to the travel experience for 34,000 daily riders. Berlin-based artist Katharina Grosse has been commissioned by the city’s Mural Arts Program to transform seven sites alongside the tracks with vibrant (and environmentally friendly) coats of paint: Orange and white streak across a warehouse, green and white do the same on an abandoned brick structure, and hot pink cover brush and boulders.

Continue reading after the jump.

#Amtrak Appeals to #Millenials in New #Video Touting Glamour of Train Travel

En Route to SXSW.  (Image via screengrab)

En Route to SXSW. (Image via screengrab)

Amtrak is out with a new promotional video, and it’s targeted right at millennials. As UrbanCincy reported, “On the heels of kicking off their new Writers Residency program, where writers can ride intercity passenger rail for free, Amtrak welcomed 30 prominent new media ‘influencers’ on a long-distance train ride from Los Angeles to SXSW in Austin.”

Watch the video after the jump.

Moynihan Station Moves One (Possible) Step Closer to Reality

Moynihan Station Renderings (Empire State Development Corporation)

Moynihan Station Renderings (Empire State Development Corporation)

After years of delays and dashed hopes of development, the plan to extend Penn Station into the Farley Post Office across the street might finally—possibly—be on track. According to The Wall Street Journal, “Empire State Development Corp., the state economic-development agency, is looking for a broker to sell 1.5 million square feet of unused real-estate-development rights attached to the property.”

The hundreds of millions that this could generate would go towards transforming the Post Office into Moynihan Station. The new space would include a grand waiting area for Amtrak inside the building’s main hall. While no concrete plan or timeline is in place, the state’s request could provide significant funds to kick-start construction. Key word: Could.

Contest Aims To Enliven Chicago’s Union Station

Midwest
Friday, June 21, 2013
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Chicago Union Station (J. Stephen Conn via Flickr)

Chicago Union Station (J. Stephen Conn via Flickr)

Although it gets more daily traffic than Midway Airport, Chicago’s main rail hub remains little more than a waypoint for most people—a bustling transit station buried beneath an often empty Beaux Arts volume.

The Metropolitan Planning Council wants to change that. Their new placemaking contest, Activate Union Station, calls on architects, landscape architects, planners and designers of all stripes to submit ideas for a design-build program that will enliven the underused West Loop hub.

Continue reading after the jump.

Tunnel Time: Amtrak Tunnel Beneath Hudson Yards Sets Stage For Gateway Project

East
Thursday, March 7, 2013
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Map of the Amtrak Gateway Project. (Hopeful in NJ / Flickr)

Map of the Amtrak Gateway Project. (Hopeful in NJ / Flickr)

Construction on the two-track Gateway project, a new tunnel between New Jersey and Manhattan, will commence this summer beneath Related Company’s Hudson Yards redevelopment site. Related Companies and Amtrak will build this 800-foot-long “box tunnel,” which will first serve as a shell for Amtrak’s rail connection linking the Hudson tunnel to Penn Station’s tracks, and, eventually, to the proposed Moynihan Station. The actual Amtrak Gateway Project is still years away, but construction on this first leg of the tunnel is happening now to coordinate with construction on Manhattan’s West Side. The project will be funded by the federal government including some funding from the Hurricane Sandy relief package meant to help mitigate flooding during future storms. It’s estimated to cost between $120 and $150 million.

High Speed Rail Picks Up Speed Between Chicago and St. Louis

Midwest
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
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An Amtrak train in Niles, Ill. (Courtesy Wayne Senville, Planning Commissioners Journal)

An Amtrak train in Niles, Ill. (Courtesy Wayne Senville, Planning Commissioners Journal)

Midwest train travelers will enjoy a quicker passage, as Amtrak approves a new top speed of 110 mph for a section of its Chicago-St. Louis route. Though trains will only accelerate to the new top speed over a 15-mile segment, officials said another $1.5 billion investment over three years of upgrades will bring the rest of the track up to speed.

The current top speed is 79 mph over most of the route. Instead of 5 and a half hours, future trips could be under 4 hours. Union Pacific Railroad and Amtrak tested a new system of triggers for highway crossing gates earlier this year.

Amtrak’s Midwest presence has seen a significant ridership boost, following trends around the country. Transit in general may be enjoying a small renaissance, with the CTA counting 16 months of rail and bus line increases. Despite setting ridership records, Amtrak is losing money and faces an uncertain future.

Rail Picking Up Steam in the East and Midwest.  (Bruce Fingerhood/Flickr) According to the New York Times, Amtrak is gaining riders in the northeast corridor thanks in part to arduous airport security procedures and frequent airline delays. Amtrak also beats airline shuttles in on-time arrivals and proximity to major business centers. In Chicago, the Chicago Transit Authority is counting 16 months of ridership increases for both rail and bus lines. The rail system has seen 51 consecutive months of ridership growth, including a 6.2 percent jump over the last six months. Last year the CTA carried 523 million riders. [Photo: Bruce Fingerhood/Flickr]

 

Quick Clicks> Forgiveness, Hiroshima, Farmers Markets, & Missing Maps

Daily Clicks
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
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Pop-up confessionals in Madrid. (Marta Ramoneda/NYTimes)

Pop-up confessionals in Madrid. (Marta Ramoneda/NYTimes)

Pop-Up Forgiveness. With Spain in the midst of an austerity plan, the NY Times reported that Madrid and the Catholic Church have spent $72 million for festivities centered around the visit of Pope Benedict XVI, which has drawn criticism from many in the city. Among the improvements lavished upon Madrid are 200 pop-up confessional booths in Retiro Park. Perhaps city leaders doling out funds will be among those in line at the booths.

Reminder! Tomorrow, Wednesday August 17th, the International Center of Photography will hold a panel discussion in conjunction with the exhibition Hiroshima: Ground Zero 1945. The discussion will feature authors Erin Barnett, Adam Harrison Levy, and Greg Mitchell who will speak about the exhibition’s compelling photographs of post-bomb Hiroshima along with a discussion of censorship and documentation of the the attack.

A farmers market in Jackson, Mississippi. (Natalie Maynor / Flickr)

A farmers market in Jackson, Mississippi. (Natalie Maynor/Flickr)

Fresh Jobs. Data from a USDA report released last week indicated that farmers markets are on the rise in the United States. The report counted 7,175 markets, a 17 percent increase since last year. States with the largest growth were Colorado, Alaska, and Texas, representing a robust local and regional food system. Grist and GOOD broke down the report.

Where’s the Map? Transportation Nation asks, Where’s the Amtrak map at Penn Station? It seems as though travelers are missing out on the opportunity to visually place their train journeys. As journalist Mark Ovenden said,“maps are part of the journey, and we shouldn’t forget that.” You can ask for a paper fold-out version, which pales in comparison as its streaking red lines give little real indication of the train’s path.

Eight Celebs Who Take High Speed Rail

Courtesy John H. Gray/flickr and Michele Asselin/Arrive

Courtesy John H. Gray/flickr and Michele Asselin/Arrive

The current state of rail is nowhere near its heyday in the 20th century, when train travel was luxurious and serviced most parts of the country. But high speed rail is making a comeback, championed by planners, environmentalists, and the Obama administration.

The mode of transport still has to contend with car and air travel (along with a reputation for inconsistency and irrelevance), but it got some help in March, when a commercial featured Mad Men‘s Pete Campbell and Harry Crane building a campaign for high speed rail. And Amtrak still has an surprising roster of famous passengers, which includes Angelina Jolie, Jesse Jackson and John Travolta, according to forums on Flyertalk.com and Trainorders.com. Check out these celebrities who take high speed rail:

8 famous Amtrak passengers

Quick Clicks> High Speed Rail Rescued, Buffalo′s Rebirth, Metrocard’s Demise

Daily Clicks
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
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High Speed Rail Rescued. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced $200 million for high speed rail projects in Michigan yesterday, as part of a $400 million package for high speed rail in the Midwest. The money came from funds rejected by Florida governor Rick Scott. Grist reports: “It looks like Scott’s tantrum will mean improved speed and performance in the Northeast Corridor, a high-speed line between Detroit and Chicago, better train cars throughout California and the Midwest, and forward movement on the planned L.A.-to-S.F. high-speed line. Thanks, sucker!”

Over the Hill. And speaking of rail, Grist brings us this infographic showing the dramatic decline of Amtrak‘s coverage since its heyday in the 60s. Maybe it’s time to bring Joe Biden in for a celebrity ad campaign.

Buffalo’s Berkeley Makeover. Can Buffalo, New York become the next hip college town? That’s what administrators at the University of Buffalo are betting on, staking $5 billion to expand the campus from the outskirts of the city to downtown. The city, which lost 1/10 of its population over the last decade, may not have Berkeley’s hippie past, but business leaders and local politicians envision bringing thousands of professors and staffers downtown, with “young researchers living in restored lofts, dining at street-side bistros and walking to work.”

Metrocards Out, Smart Cards In. The country’s oldest subway system foresees a future without the iconic Metrocard. The NY Daily News reports that the New York City MTA plans to replace Metrocards with smart cards in three to four years. Riders would tap the MTA Card, or a debit or credit card, to pay their fares.

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