March 22, 2006

RAISE GAS PRICES, RAISE RIDERSHIP:

Booming South Shore Line to add rail cars (Chicago Sun-Times, March 22, 2006)

With ridership growing, the South Shore Line is working on a $40 million plan to add passenger cars -- possibly including double-decker cars.

The South Shore Line's ridership grew 7.3 percent last year. For the first two months of this year, it has grown 10.7 percent.

"We are at capacity," said John Parsons, a spokesman for the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District, which operates the commuter rail line that runs between downtown Chicago and South Bend, Ind.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 22, 2006 9:35 AM
Comments

I used to work downtown w/a girl who was on the train 3 hours from Portage(?)Indiana. That's how much difference the pay was back then. But IN real estate taxes are getting to IL levels, they're building everywhere.

Posted by: Sandy P at March 22, 2006 9:42 AM

Not saying that gas prices don't have some bearing on this, but do you live in the Chicago area, OJ?

1. NW Indiana and South Suburbs of Chicago are experiencing big time growth.

2. Major reconstruction on the entire road system on the south side. In two weeks, the Dan Ryan's lanes are being cut in half for about a year's worth of work. Driving downtown will be a nightmare.

I would suggest this has a lot more to do with the growth in train ridership than gas prices.

Posted by: Dreadnought at March 22, 2006 10:43 AM

dread:

I did in the mid-90s--driving was always a nightmare. I took the bus or train or walked.

Posted by: oj at March 22, 2006 10:50 AM

For a supposed conservative blog I'm continually amazed by the resistance to the possibility that the invisible hand might work with fuel prices.

Posted by: Genecis at March 22, 2006 11:48 AM

Now that's an excellent argument for cutting gas taxes. We can get people off the train.

Posted by: pj at March 22, 2006 11:52 AM

The invisible hand will drive them lower--we need them higher.

Posted by: oj at March 22, 2006 11:53 AM

Riding those old 1920s era Ingersol cars in the 1970s was a surrealistic experience. So was the time I got stuck in the Gary station waiting several hours for the last train east. I still don't understand why people drink stuff like Thunderbird.

But the worst sin was CSX, when they bought the CSS&SB, getting rid of the "Little Joes" that worked around the Gary steel mills and going diesel on the freight service.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at March 22, 2006 11:54 AM

Raoul:

Especially when MD-20/20 costs the same.

Posted by: oj at March 22, 2006 11:58 AM

I remember the old jingle from the mists of my youth.

"What's the word? Thunderbird.
What's the price? Forty twice."

Nasty stuff.

Posted by: jdkelly at March 22, 2006 2:21 PM

As quaint as the old railcars can be, new rolling stock does tend to attract more passengers. Riding the 1908-vintage MP-54s on the Long Island Railroad in the early 1970s was also a trip back into time, and something of a riders' nightmare during the summer months (the LIRR is already phasing out their replacments, the M-1s, but from what I've heard, the new M-7 cars are their own sort of nightmare, especially for anyone trying to sit down in the three-across seating, if they're over about 5-7 and 120 pounds).

Posted by: John at March 22, 2006 2:36 PM

jd:

What's the action? Satisfaction.

Posted by: oj at March 22, 2006 3:14 PM

It's all well and good for more trips to move to rail, but if the fare is subsidised (and almost all are) isn't it a net financial loss to the region?

Posted by: Kirk Parker at March 22, 2006 3:21 PM

It has nothing to do with finances, but trips by car are more heavily subsidized.

Posted by: oj at March 22, 2006 3:25 PM

Et tu OJ? As the price increases the hand moves buyers to seek other alternatives. The reverse proves the rule.

Posted by: Genecis at March 22, 2006 4:19 PM

Increases require the visible hand.

Posted by: oj at March 22, 2006 4:28 PM

Don't remember that one, OJ.

Posted by: jdkelly at March 22, 2006 5:50 PM

Trips by car are not subsidized.

Posted by: David Cohen at March 22, 2006 5:54 PM

jd:

That's how it ended.

David:

Ah yes, the road and gasoline fairies make it all possible....

Posted by: oj at March 22, 2006 6:00 PM

No, drivers subsidize the rest of government by paying more in taxes than driving costs.

Posted by: David Cohen at March 22, 2006 6:10 PM

Non-drivers are still paying for roads, policing of same, pollution costs, the wars for oil, etc.

Posted by: oj at March 22, 2006 6:15 PM

Non-drivers? There must be all of 11 of them. Not counting under-16s and hippie college professors.

Posted by: Pete at March 22, 2006 6:21 PM

What Pete says. And how do these non-drivers think that their organic food gets to the market, or their Nouveau Beaujolais gets to the wine store, or their Birkenstocks get to the shoe store? The inventory fairies?

Posted by: David Cohen at March 22, 2006 6:26 PM

And even if we accept your lefty fantasy that we're fighting wars for oil, it is Europe's oil and Japan's oil that we're fighting for.

Posted by: David Cohen at March 22, 2006 6:29 PM

"We are at capacity now"

Haven't ridden the South Shore in forty years. Hope for the sake of those who must that it's a lot better.

Can't wait to see how they'll upgrade to absorb all that traffic from the Dan Ryan. Three hours from my son's house at North Avenue and Western to Springfield, if you travel non peak hours (I-55). The trains are totally unreliable. Even if you get to Springfield, no trains or trolleys to my little town. The railroad tracks were torn out long ago. Bike paths. Guess we'll all be staying home in OJ' Brave New World.

Posted by: jdkelly at March 22, 2006 6:35 PM

OJ, I was afraid that was the case. Guess my misty memories are already 1/3rd gone. Must have had too much Ripple back in college. :)

Posted by: jdkelly at March 22, 2006 7:29 PM

The thought that oil has nothing to do with why the U.S. are involved in the Middle East is likewise a fantasy.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 22, 2006 11:28 PM

jd - take heart, it won't be that bad, you can see video cams of your grandchidren as you watch them grow up.

Posted by: erp at March 23, 2006 4:10 PM
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