Take NJ Transit to Los Angeles

Amtrak locomotive and NJ Transit rolling stock in front of Gateway Plaza at LA Union Station

Amtrak locomotive and NJ Transit rolling stock in front of Gateway Plaza at LA Union Station

I spotted some NJ Transit rolling stock at Los Angeles’ Union Station last Friday.  I should have taken that instead of flying back to the East Coast.

New Jersey Transit in Los Angeles

New Jersey Transit in Los Angeles

National Train Day

Acela

Acela

Today marks the 140th anniversary of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad.  In celebration, Amtrak hosted National Train Day at 30th Street Station in Philadelphia.  I talked with some members of the National Association of Rail Passengers, picked up some new information on the Silverliner V, saw some great paintings of trains, heard a former Pullman Porter talk about his experiences, and saw Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood.  Probably the most exciting part was the rolling stock tour.  I got to walk through an Acela trainset as well as an old Santa Fe dining car.

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ACC Tower Rendering

The American Commerce Center Tower, which will soar above the recently completed Comcast Center in Center City, Philadelphia, passed its last zoning test last week.  When completed, the skyscraper will be the third tallest building in the United States.  It’s great that the developer is stressing SEPTA and AMTRAK accessibility and seeking LEED Gold Certification.  If construction goes as scheduled, the tower should be completed in 2012, the same year as the Cira Center South project.  It’s exciting that Philadelphia is becoming quite a hub of architecture.

Thanksgiving Travels

Out of service restroom at PHL

Out of service restroom at PHL

Unlike the many travellers who faced delays into the Philadelphia airport yesterday, my Thanksgiving travels went quite smoothly.   I rode the R3 from Swarthmore to 30th Street to catch an Amtrak train to Washington, DC on Thanksgiving morning.  After spending Thanksgiving at my cousins’ house, I drove down to Chapel Hill on Friday afternoon.  Other than some minor traffic congestion and an extended break (including stops at Wendy’s, Sonic, and Wawa) at I-95’s exit 61B south of Richmond, the trip was expedient.

My flight from Raleigh Durham to Philadelphia on Southwest was a piece of cake (and I used one of my stockpiled ATT Wi-Fi cards that PHL gives out to college students for internet at RDU), though taking the 37 to the 109 bus to get back to campus took a while.  The only hiccup I could find the whole weekend was a closed bathroom at PHL.

I had some great food over the weekend: the traditional Thanksgiving fare, Raclette, and my first tastes of pecan pie and Allen & Son’s Barbecue (the Ducks Unlimited stickers on the front window and the taxodermied mallard above my table completed this lovely North Carolina cultural experience).  And, in what has become a Thanksgiving tradition for me at my cousin’s house, I helped make (and devour) four trays of apple crisp.  I may be able to work off the calories by Christmas…

PennPIRG Releases Transit Report

I’m becoming less of a fan of the PIRGs after I spent the summer two years ago canvassing for them.  (Working for the PIRGs’ fundraising branch ended up being an ideal summer job for me two years ago.  I enjoyed it and am glad that I applied and interviewed on a whim when they were on campus through Career Services).  PennPIRG’s latest report, entitled “Getting on Track: Good Investments for Pennsylvania’s Public Transit System,” had some good suggestions but was not particularly well done.

I’m glad to see projects like the Roosevelt Blvd. subway in Northwest Philadelphia and Regional Rail extensions getting some good advocacy.  The report summarizes basic information about the importance of public transit in a way that seems pretty formulaic (cf. CalPIRG’s report on transit).  What really bothered me was a misleading caption on page 20 of the report.  A picture of Amtrak Acela trainset 4/20/24 is shown with a caption that reads, “Highly successful high-speed rail service from Philadephia to Harrisburg could be extended to Pittsburgh.”  While the Keystone Corridor serviced by Amtrak is a designated High Speed Rail corridor between Philadelphia and Harrisburg, I’d definitely be surprised to see an Acela trainset running along it.