Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Happy Day!!!

I received my letter of acceptance to Virginia Commonwealth University's Master of Urban and Regional Planning program! Now I can move forward professionally in this field, I'm so excited! Perhaps I will use some of my historic renovation tax abatement refund to buy books!

Friday, July 24, 2009

VA Beach business leaders say "No" to LRT referendum

They believe City Council should just make a decision.

"Top business leaders have come out against the city holding a referendum on a light-rail project, arguing it's a decision the City Council should make.

"It's a complex subject, but it's not above your pay grade," Jim Flinchum, board president of the Virginia Beach division of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce, told the City Council last week. "This is your job."

The comments mark the unofficial start to a debate sure to rage for at least a year while Hampton Roads Transit, the region's transportation agency, carries out its light-rail feasibility study.

In 1999, Beach residents derailed light rail 56 to 44 percent in a referendum. City referendums are nonbinding, but the City Council used it to guide its 1999 decision."

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Switching locomotives at Union Station, Wash DC

The passenger train tracks north of DC comprise what is called the Northeast Corridor. Fully electrified, this is the busiest rail corridor in the US. The electrification ends at DC though, so when traveling south it is necessary to change the train's locomotive from an electric traction unit to a diesel unit. Here engineers switch an electric EMD AEM-7AC for a diesel GE Genesis P42DC engine.

A few more random subway shots

We tried to ride the N train from Brooklyn to Astoria but only made it as far as Times Square due to debris on the track.

A train passes the 28th St station on the express tracks

Times Square Subway entrances

Crossing the Manhattan Bridge on the N train

Construction at Pacific Street

The N train at Pacific Street

In-car station display

MTA New York City Subway Tiles

Here's a few of the tile mosaics I saw in the subway last weekend.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Traveling by train and bus from Richmond to NYC

On July 16 I made the trip from Richmond to New York by a variety of public transportation modes. Admittedly the first leg was by car, from my house to Main St Station (hey that once again proves the rule that people won't take the bus unless they REALLY have to)

So I rode Amtrak from Main St to Union Station in DC. The train is extraordinarily slow on this leg. First it creeps through the Acca freight yard to Staples Mill. This 7.5 mile trip takes- wait for it- 40 MINUTES. Pathetic! Hopefully VA will get some stimulus money to fix this problem- keep your fingers crossed. Once the train gets on the mainline it moves faster, but not fast enough. Ideally we would have two electrified passenger-only tracks to handle more trains.

At Union Station I ate some Indian food before riding Metro's Red Line to Chinatown. Here I caught Megabus to New York. The ride was actually pretty great. I rode in the second row on the second floor so I had a great view of the road. It was actually a little vertigo-inducing sitting up there crossing the Delaware Memorial Bridge. Megabus arrived about 30 minutes late though, but the dropoff at 28th and 7th Ave is at a subway stop, so I bought a four-ride pass and rode the 1 train uptown to Times Square and met my friends for dinner.

So overall the trip took just under 11 hours. Of course it would have been faster to just stay on the train, or to take one of the dragon buses. But Megabus is a great bargain ($8.50) compared to Amtrak so that's why I did it this way. I couldn't get such a cheap ticket on the way home, so I took the train the whole way. More on that in another post.

Here we see the lone Quicktrack ticket machine out of order in Richmond. This was a huge hassle as the conductors asked me for my ticket at EVERY stop. Not sure why they couldn't look at my reservation and confirm that I had paid.

A GE P42DC diesel unit pulls my train along the viaduct into Main St Station. Note the single track configuration.

Passengers board at Main St. Note the low platform forcing passengers to climb the stairs to the car through only one or two doors. Penn Station in NYC has high platforms so passengers board level, it makes more sense.

Union Station's new bicycle transit center. How cool!

The front of Union Station

The bike center project at Union Station.

Union Station's grand interior.

Union Station shopping. Food court on lower level, retail on upper levels. You can also see the Acela ticket counter here.

A Metrorail Red Line train enters the platform under Union Station

An Acela locomotive in the yard. Note how the nose breaks away to couple the train.

Megabus at the 28th and 7th Ave stop in Midtown. It's a Van Hool coach built to special spec to fit through the Lincoln Tunnel. There are windows on the roof and let me tell you, it BARELY clears the tunnel!

An Uptown 1 train pulls into the 28th St station under 7th Ave

New Pedestrian Areas on Broadway

I got to visit this area over the weekend and it really is amazing! There are excellent bike paths full of riders, nice new planters that define the space, tons of chairs to relax in, people everywhere and best of all, a much safer and less chaotic walking experience because of all the traffic calming measures. The painted areas of the pavement send a clear message that tell the pedestrian it is "Okay to walk here" and tell the cars to "stay off!"

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Virginia applying for $1.5bn in federal rail money


Virginia's proposed $1.51 billion plan includes $491 million improvements in a six-mile stretch around Richmond's Acca rail yard and a 13-mile link between the yard and Main Street Station in the city's downtown. The improvements are necessary to remove bottlenecks that limit rail service to the renovated station

Other parts of the proposal include:

* $185 million to add a third rail track between Richmond and Fredericksburg;

* $152 million to improve conventional rail service between Main Street Station and Petersburg; and

* $195 million to upgrade the rail corridor between Richmond and Washington, D.C., to allow high-speed trains that could cut the trip to 90 minutes on a reliable basis.

Read full story at the RT-D

Monday, July 6, 2009

Richmond in top half of fastest growing US cities

Good news! Richmond ranked 123 of 273 in a list of America's fastest growing cities with populations over 100,000. The US Census Bureau estimated 199,991 City residents in 2007, and 202,002 residents in 2008, a net addition of 2011 people or 1% population change.

Meanwhile, Virginia's Tidewater region registered net population losses in all its cities. Virginia Beach City ranked 250th. While still VA's largest, the city lost 1,258 people, or 0.3%. Newport News and Hampton cities ranked 264 and 265 respectively, with a 0.7% population decline each. Norfolk came in at 267 also with a 0.7 negative gain and Portsmouth rounded out the bottom of the list at 271 with a 1.3% population loss.

Northern Virginia cities posted positive population gains. Arlington ranked near the top of the list at 18, with a 3.0% population gain. Alexandria was close behind at number 20 with 2.9% growth.

See the data here:
Table 3: Estimate of Resident Population Change for Incorporated Places Over 100,000

And here is the Census Bureau's page of Population Estimates

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Upcoming Transit MEGAtrip!!

I'm going to New York City in a couple weeks and I just nailed down the final details of the trip, I'm really excited! So here's my planned route, from Richmond's Jackson Ward neighborhood, to Manhattan's Times Square:

*Walk to 1st and Broad streets for the #6 GRTC bus to Main St. Amtrak

*Amtrak #94 regional from Main St. to Union Station in DC

*Lunch at Union Station

*Metrorail Red line to Gallery Place/Chinatown

*Megabus from Chinatown to 28th St and 7th Ave Manhattan

*MTA 1 train from 28th St to 42nd St Times Square

*Walk through Times Square to John's Pizzeria 260 West 44th St for Josh's wedding rehearsal dinner!