Background: Recent media coverage of Ohio’s proposed 3C Corridor train service appears to be feeding off itself. We are concerned about this dangerous turn as inaccuracies are starting to be reported as fact. So All Aboard Ohio, a nonprofit educational organization, has prepared this document to identify those inaccuracies and share our 36 years of experience with passenger rail issues.
Fact-check us! We encourage it! When you go see things for yourself, you tend to believe facts more. We encourage reporters to visit other states with comparable, state-supported intercity passenger rail services. In the end, we hope you recognize that Ohio’s approach to developing passenger rail is not pioneering or risky, but is a model that has repeatedly proven itself elsewhere in the U.S. and worldwide.
THE MYTHS… THE FACTS!
Ohio’s 3C Corridor is too Ohio’s 3C “Quick Start” rail service is just that – a starting point.
Ten states began all-new state-supported train services since the slow to succeed.
mid-1980s and all began with average train speeds ranging from
30-53 mph. Low fares (8-14 cents per mile), not speed, are the
biggest draw for most rail travelers, per a California Capitol
Corridor Joint Powers Board study. Ohio is not unique!
Ohio is going to be stuck Other states’ train speeds, departures and ridership increased
with investment. Ohio’s will too. This year, ODOT will start with this slow train.
environmental planning over 18-24 months so it can tap more
federal funds for 90+ mph trains on five Ohio routes: Cleveland
– Columbus; Columbus – Cincinnati; Toledo – Columbus; Toledo
– Cleveland; Cleveland – Pittsburgh. These investments will build
on the 3C “Quick Start”!
The proposed train schedule It is unfortunate that Amtrak’s draft schedule, issued for planning
purposes, has been considered by many as the final word. ODOT doesn’t meet travelers’
has yet to conduct negotiations with freight railroads or Amtrak needs.
to determine the final schedule, average speeds and more. The
draft schedule was issued as a starting point for talks, no more.
Who will ride 3C trains? The same people who are filling trains in 15 other states that
sponsor intercity (not commuter!) rail. We’re talking about Maine,
Michigan, Missouri, Oklahoma, North Carolina – not just the
Northeast Corridor or California! In those states, ridership more
than doubled since the first year because more trains and station
facilities were added, trains were speeded up and services were
improved. Go see for yourself who’s riding!
THE MYTHS… THE FACTS!
OK, I can’t get my editor to OK, according to the departments of transportation in other
states, the people using their trains are college students (ODOT: send me to Oregon to go
220,000 students attend college along 3C), the elderly (Census: ride a train. Just tell me who
1.1 million people 65 years+ in 3C and growing!), the car-less is going to ride!
(Census: 500,000 people without cars in 3C for physical,
economic or personal reasons), and households with just one
vehicle (Census: 610,000 households or 1.5 million people). That
is 3.3 million people total, or half of 3C’s population. Plus
many young professionals, tourists, families, conventioneers and
business travelers (especially state workers!) will ride.
Ohio should sidetrack this Ohio is 0-4 (1977, 1982, 1985, 1992) in trying to go from 0 to
more than 110 mph. No state or nation has either. High-Speed train for High-Speed Rail.
Rail is a major investment that requires evolving a supportive
culture, politics, center-city density and a network of connecting
and parallel regional rail and local transit services. It takes
decades for these support systems to evolve, just as it did prior
to the Interstate Highway System or Europe’s HSR. California
invested $2.2 billion over 30 years to develop rail to where it
could pass a HSR bond issue after prior failures. Illinois, Michigan,
Pennsylvania and the Pacific Northwest may be only a few years
behind. Ohio is not ready to make the leap to high-speed.
If this corridor was such a They are crowded – enough that Greyhound in 2008 instituted a
priority boarding fee of $5 at Cleveland and Cincinnati. Others are draw for rail, intercity buses
put on waiting lists and, if available, extra buses are chartered. would be crowded.
Greyhound is not so interested in short-distance markets like 3C.
Instead, most 3C buses travel to far-off cities like Dallas or Miami
to keep more seats filled longer, blocking out Ohio riders. There
is no intercity bus service to Dayton (requires a 50-minute city
bus ride out to Trotwood), you cannot get to Columbus before 10
a.m. unless you leave Cleveland at 4:30 a.m., and there are no
direct daytime buses between Dayton (Trotwood) and Cleveland
anymore. Yet riders continue to fill the buses.
There will be no local transit Stations are proposed to be built next to major transit services.
Cleveland’s Amtrak station is served by a frequent downtown when I arrive. th loop bus. The Southwest Cleveland stop at the Puritas-W.150
Rapid Station provides rail access to the city and airport. The
Columbus station will be on the busy High Street bus line to
downtown, OSU, etc. Dayton’s station will be at Main Street on
multiple bus routes including electric trolleys. Both Cincinnati-area
stops are next to bus routes to downtown and the universities.
This will take money from Transit funding will not be touched. It is only 0.25% of Ohio’s
$3.8 billion transportation budget. Ohio should reconsider its needed public transit.
priorities, however, as it spends less on transit than it does on
cutting grass along its Interstates. Existing federal grant dollars
will be used to pay 3C’s first three years of operating costs
starting in 2012. The balance, including subsequent years, will be
funded from ODOT’s Logo sign program, corridor/train naming
rights, advertising revenues, franchise fees for train/station
concessions, wi-fi services, etc.
THE MYTHS… THE FACTS!
If 3C made so much sense, it If roads and airports were cost-effective, they would be privately
owned and funded. Instead they are government controlled but wouldn’t need a subsidy.
private vehicles use them. It is the exact opposite with passenger
rail. Nearly all railroad infrastructure is privately funded and
owned, incurring huge taxes, interest and insurance costs that
roads and airport don’t pay. To offset the infrastructure costs,
passenger trains are government funded and owned.
Ohio lacks the population Population density is not a case for or against rail. See Norway,
its 34 PPSM (people per square mile) and its excellent rail density for rail.
system. But we’ll play along. Ohio has 267 PPSM, similar to
France’s 256 PPSM (per World Almanac) which has tens of
thousands of slow and fast trains. Of America’s 17 most densely
populous states, all but two have state-supported regional or th intercity passenger services: Ohio (8most dense) and Hawaii th(13). When it comes to rail, Ohio acts like it is an island.
3C trains are too slow The Dayton rail corridor is only 8 miles longer and has 1 million
more residents along it than the most direct rail corridor via because they go through
Wilmington which requires more costly improvements. The Akron Dayton, and won’t carry
rail corridor is 49 miles longer than the direct route, will cost enough people because they
$100 million more to improve and add more than 1 hour to the don’t go through Akron. 3C travel time, resulting in no net ridership or revenue gains.
These trains may create Smart Growth America, the Center for Neighborhood Technology,
and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group disagree. They say some jobs, but they’re not
rail and transit stimulus spending creates nearly twice as many worth $400 million.
jobs per dollar as highway stimulus projects. Ohio is home to
more than 100 rail industry suppliers who would rather do
business in their own state than build rail systems for other states
and nations. The U.S. Dept. of Commerce says the economic
benefit from 3C will be three times greater than the initial capital
investment. Traveler savings from having low-cost train service
will pump into Ohio’s economy $111 million per year – that’s five
times the state’s $17 million annual operating expense.
Ohio could end up with these Hopefully! The 3C trains will use existing freight tracks that will
be improved to benefit both passengers and freight. Because of trains forever!
that, the 3C “Quick Start” by itself doesn’t commit the state to
anything long-term. If the trains and their infrastructure are
nurtured, improved, expanded and speeded up, then Ohio will
probably enjoy them for many, many decades.
THEIR MYTHS HAVE BEEN BUSTED.