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Restarting Passenger Rail In Ohio's 3C Corridor

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Surveys done in the past by Amtrak and other passenger rail corridor entities indicates that while speed is not unimportant to the current and potential riders, it is not the top concern.  Reliable and timely service, as well as convenience are almost always named as the top concerns.

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Surveys done in the past by Amtrak and other passenger rail corridor entities indicates that while speed is not unimportant to the current and potential riders, it is not the top concern. Reliable and timely service, as well as convenience are almost always named as the top concerns.

 

Maybe so, but my point is that those who would oppose the project only seem to care about speed.  327 is right that speed is an important factor, but while it may not be a priority to current and potential riders, it is the primary talking point, argument against, critical flaw, or what have you, for the opponents.  Those are the people that need to be won over somehow.

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Those are people who claim to care about speed. I have no doubt that some do. But there were several people in Kasich's camp who were paid to be hitman for this rail project because it would start a change away from our over-dependence on cars in Ohio. They were (and some still are) looking for any and all reasons to kill (and keep dead) the 3C rail project. The initially proposed average speed of 39 mph made it vulnerable, no question. But when the operation simulation was conducted and it showed the average speed would make 3C the third-fastest new-start rail service in American in 30 years, the 3C hitmen needed a new tagline to quickly kill further thinking about 3C.

 

So they added the argument "now is not the time" with the state's $8 billion deficit -- even though the deficit is in the general fund. Instead the 3C funding would come from ODOT's budget which is legally and financially firewalled from the general fund. 3C would have NO IMPACT on the state's deficit.

 

So for many, this isn't about speed. This is about keeping transportation choices out of Ohio.


"Your community is your commodity, my commodity & everyone's commodity." -- borrowing on silly slogans in Cleveland's Ohio City

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The primary arguemnt used by the oppsition to the 3C was not speed.... it was the perceived costs to taxpayers and criticisms that enough riders would use trains.... however unfounded as those perceptions may bem, that's what they primarily threw up to make it an elecion year issue.

 

Critics did refer to "slow trains", but most of the critics (Kasich and certain state legislators) were hardly interested in high-speed rail (which is even more expensive to develop).  They ultimately aren't interested in pasenger rail at all.  Trying to convice them to spend more $$$ on faster trains is a waste of time and energy.

 

That said, there are passenger rail advocates who were vocal about the point that Ohio should just make the leap directly to high-speed trains.  Given the political condition described above (and in other posts on this thread) they will have an even tougher task than did proponents of the 3C project.

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Maybe so, but my point is that those who would oppose the project only seem to care about speed.

 

I disagree.  Those who oppose the project do so because the Republicans told them to.  Speed was just one of their rationalizations for opposing it.  If the train were to go 500 MPH, they would have found another reason to oppose it.

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A legit HSR propsal would garner a lot more public support than 3C did.  It may be more expensive but it's also modern and competitive, therefore arguably worth the investment.  Most 3C opponents I encountered were not even a little bit anti-rail, nor did they take orders from Republicans, but they cited speed as the overwhelming factor in their assessment of the project.

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Most 3C opponents I encountered were not even a little bit anti-rail, nor did they take orders from Republicans, but they cited speed as the overwhelming factor in their assessment of the project.

I would agree with this, but a true high speed plan would cost billions and I think the price tag would doom the plan. (As it has in the past when HSR was pushed for in Ohio.)

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I thought I recalled hearing that to build the 3c up to the expected 110mph capacity would cost somewhere in the range of $1.5 billion.  This is still not a high speed system but would be considerably faster than the original 3c plan.  If the system was built up to this level from the start what would the average speeds and trip times be?  Would it need more of a subsidy than the first proposal?  If the subsidy was similar but the trip times were somewhere in the range of 3-3.5 hours from Cleveland to Cincinnati I think the plan would have had more support.  Would Ohio have a chance in the future to get federal funding to build the 3c to this level from the start?  I also think that the 39mph number was the number 1 factor of why the 3c did not have enough support.  Among people that I talked to that were not paying close attention to the 3c ordeal, the first thing they said negatively about the train was that it was a bad plan because of its speed.  Among anyone with a clue, speed would not be a big issue but among the average highway driving Ohioan the 39mph figure appeared pitiful.

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A legit HSR propsal would garner a lot more public support than 3C did.  It may be more expensive but it's also modern and competitive, therefore arguably worth the investment.  Most 3C opponents I encountered were not even a little bit anti-rail, nor did they take orders from Republicans, but they cited speed as the overwhelming factor in their assessment of the project.

 

The incremental approach had pretty solid support according to an on-line survey conducted during the 3C planning process by ODOT:

 

9. 9. Like other states, Ohio is taking a step-by-step approach to expanding passenger rail service. First the state would introduce limited stop, 79 mph service linking Cincinnati, Dayton, Columbus and Cleveland with three trains in the morning and three trains at night. More trains, and possibly more station stops, would be added as more people ride the trains. As ridership grows, more improvements would be made to introduce up to 110 mph rail service in the 3C corridor and elsewhere throughout the state. Do you support this step-by-step approach? (pick one)

 

  a. Yes

  Number Of Responses 6432

Percentage Of Responses(79%)   

 

 

 

  b. No

  Number Of Responses1354

Percentage Of Responses(17%)   

 

 

 

  c. No opinion

  Number Of Responses396

Percentage Of Responses(5%)   

 

 

 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Total: 8182

 

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I downloaded all of the Ohio Hub plan and Ohio Hub Economic Impact Analysis documents a couple of weeks ago. 

 

After Kasich is sworn in tomorrow, a number of documents are likely to start disappearing from ODOT's website. Here are a few of the likely casualties. You might want to save these for your own records.....

 

http://www.dot.state.oh.us/policy/Documents/ODOT-Foundation_for_Transformation.pdf

 

http://www.dot.state.oh.us/policy/2010-2011BusinessPlan/Documents/ODOT2010-2011BusinessPlan-WEB.pdf

 

And just about everything at:

http://www.dot.state.oh.us/Divisions/Rail/Programs/passenger/3CisME/Pages/default.aspx

 

that last link prompts you for a login ID and password now. I'm presuming that was not previously the case?

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^ That question is poorly worded. People probably thought "79 mph service" meant 79 mph average service.

 

I don't think folks were considering average speed until those that wanted to end the project decided to run with it

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"9. 9. Like other states, Ohio is taking a step-by-step approach to expanding passenger rail service. First the state would introduce limited stop, 79 mph service linking Cincinnati, Dayton, Columbus and Cleveland with three trains in the morning and three trains at night. More trains, and possibly more station stops, would be added as more people ride the trains. As ridership grows, more improvements would be made to introduce up to 110 mph rail service in the 3C corridor and elsewhere throughout the state. Do you support this step-by-step approach? (pick one) yes/no/no opinion"

 

^ That question is poorly worded. People probably thought "79 mph service" meant 79 mph average service.

 

Yes... and the wording was designed to elicit a positive response.  Such is often the case with surveys, particularly when there's a conflict of interest involved.  Here we have ODOT casting its own plan in the best possible light then asking for approval.  Who's going to say no to that statement as worded?  It describes improvement, and everybody likes improvement.  It doesn't ask whether the incremental approach would be preferable to pursuing high speed service, or preferable to doing nothing.  It doesn't ask whether initiating 3C service would be preferable to upgrading existing service, or preferable to pursuing other new routes.  It's cast as all or nothing, or way or the highway, from the unnecessary first sentence to the limited answer choices.

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"9. 9. Like other states, Ohio is taking a step-by-step approach to expanding passenger rail service. First the state would introduce limited stop, 79 mph service linking Cincinnati, Dayton, Columbus and Cleveland with three trains in the morning and three trains at night. More trains, and possibly more station stops, would be added as more people ride the trains. As ridership grows, more improvements would be made to introduce up to 110 mph rail service in the 3C corridor and elsewhere throughout the state. Do you support this step-by-step approach? (pick one) yes/no/no opinion"

 

^ That question is poorly worded. People probably thought "79 mph service" meant 79 mph average service.

 

Yes... and the wording was designed to elicit a positive response. Such is often the case with surveys, particularly when there's a conflict of interest involved. Here we have ODOT casting its own plan in the best possible light then asking for approval. Who's going to say no to that statement as worded? It describes improvement, and everybody likes improvement. It doesn't ask whether the incremental approach would be preferable to pursuing high speed service, or preferable to doing nothing. It doesn't ask whether initiating 3C service would be preferable to upgrading existing service, or preferable to pursuing other new routes. It's cast as all or nothing, or way or the highway, from the unnecessary first sentence to the limited answer choices.

 

The wording of the question not withstanding, a vast majority of respondents supported the incremental approach.  Thiose who did not had the option of voting no.

 

But whether or not more people would favor high-peed rail has been rendered moot by the politicval reality of a Governor and legislative majority who have made it clear they are against passenger rail in any form and are even less interested in considering the options you suggest.

 

I'm not suggesting you shouldn't advocate for such options, but you will do so in a decidedly anti-passenger rail political atmosphere. 

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Most 3C opponents I encountered were not even a little bit anti-rail, nor did they take orders from Republicans, but they cited speed as the overwhelming factor in their assessment of the project.

I would agree with this, but a true high speed plan would cost billions and I think the price tag would doom the plan. (As it has in the past when HSR was pushed for in Ohio.)

 

Exactly. We've been there and done that ad nauseum

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Most 3C opponents I encountered were not even a little bit anti-rail, nor did they take orders from Republicans, but they cited speed as the overwhelming factor in their assessment of the project.

I would agree with this, but a true high speed plan would cost billions and I think the price tag would doom the plan. (As it has in the past when HSR was pushed for in Ohio.)

 

 

Exactly. We've been there and done that ad nauseum

Ergo, stop touting HSR as the end all of rail. Normal rail is great and we have to articulate how rail is worthwhile even when it isn't HSR. Obama missed a golden opportunity to pull an Eisenhower for rail.

 

The perfect is the enemy of the good.

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that last link prompts you for a login ID and password now. I'm presuming that was not previously the case?

 

No, it wasn't. You might try finding it in cache memory by Googling it.

 

I remember encountering a password prompt at one of the ODOT rail pages, and I just his Esc or cancel or something, then got right in.


"Your community is your commodity, my commodity & everyone's commodity." -- borrowing on silly slogans in Cleveland's Ohio City

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The DDN op-ed was pitching private-sector (or a public-private joint venture concept) for 3-C

 

If there’s any state where private investment might happen, some say, it’s here.

 

Certainly chambers of commerce and other business organizations like the idea of having passenger service to and from their cities. And developers showed during the fight about 3C that they were eager to site projects at train stations.

 

This is being considered up in wesern Mass.  A private freight rail owner is thinking about starting passenger service from the Berkshires down to a Metro North terminus, and is paying for the feasibility study.  The understanding is that the station development and construction would be born by the local municipalities.  So this would be an interesting example of local governments partenering with a short-line owner (or do we call this regional rail?) to get passenger service established.

 

@@@@

 

I'm leaning toward the above comments that improved bus service might be more realistic from a cost and ease-of-implemnetation POV, since there is a demand.  Those Chinatown busses seem to be pretty popular and are apparently in better condition or are better rides than Greyhound.

 

Seems there is a lot of denial here that 3-C is dead.  I'm wondering why this thread isn't being moved to the failed or never-started projects subforum.

 

 

 

 

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that last link prompts you for a login ID and password now. I'm presuming that was not previously the case?

 

No, it wasn't. You might try finding it in cache memory by Googling it.

 

I remember encountering a password prompt at one of the ODOT rail pages, and I just his Esc or cancel or something, then got right in.

 

The google cache is from 12/14, so it still works. However, if you click on the link at the top for Strickland's response to Kasich to stop progress on the train, it takes you to the Kasich for Governor website.

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The DDN op-ed was pitching private-sector (or a public-private joint venture concept) for 3-C

 

I'm leaning toward the above comments that improved bus service might be more realistic from a cost and ease-of-implemnetation POV, since there is a demand.  Those Chinatown busses seem to be pretty popular and are apparently in better condition or are better rides than Greyhound.

 

 

On a bus, I am a cow. On a train I am a man.

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Seems there is a lot of denial here that 3-C is dead.  I'm wondering why this thread isn't being moved to the failed or never-started projects subforum.

 

 

Jeff, I have been at this for 27 years and have seen 3C "die" seven times and each time we get a little closer to our goal. Never were we so close to construction until this last time. A transportation project dies only after its planning documentation shelf life has expired. And that shelf life is about five years. So technically, 3C has never died in my term of involvement.

 

Stay tuned. It is probably going to come back sooner than you may think.


"Your community is your commodity, my commodity & everyone's commodity." -- borrowing on silly slogans in Cleveland's Ohio City

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The DDN op-ed was pitching private-sector (or a public-private joint venture concept) for 3-C

 

Ironically, that is what 3-C was. By some estimates, as much as $3 billion in private development would have followed the $400 million invested by the Feds. Forest City, alone, had planned hundreds of millions of dollars in development. Economists (and some smart investors like Ray Kroc), have recognized, for decade, that private developent follows transportation.

 

But what do we expect most citizens to know when American school children don't even rank in the top 10 most educated in the world?

 

Don't expect the private sector to make any significant commitments when the American voters can't. It takes years and expensive studies, permits, etc., to get a project to groundbreaking.

 

It takes far less time to replace a politician and with him or her, a consistent vision for the future.

 

HL Mencken was talking about the US Presidency but he could have just as easily been referring to Ohio politics:

 

The larger the mob, the harder the test. In small areas, before small electorates, a first-rate man occasionally fights his way through, carrying even the mob with him by the force of his personality. But when the field is nationwide, and the fight must be waged chiefly at second and third hand, and the force of personality cannot so readily make itself felt, then all the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre - the man who can most easily disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum.

 

The Presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great a glorious day the plan folks of the the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.

 

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+1 for the Mencken quote.

 

Reminded me of this other one by him:

 

"Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard." -HL Mencken

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No link but I heard a recent poll about Ohio and its future showed the majority of the state supported killing 3C. Take it for what it is worth.

 

I got you covered.

 

http://www.quinnipiac.edu/x1322.xml?ReleaseID=1550

 

http://cincinnati.com/blogs/politics/2011/01/19/ohioans-back-kasich-killing-passenger-rail-fear-higher-taxes/

 

"By 48 percent to 42 percent, Ohioans support Kasich’s decision to kill passenger rail between Cincinnati and Ohio’s other major cities, returning $400 million to the federal government;"

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Especially when the opposition was successful in lying about "39 mph" and that 3C's operating cost would come from the general fund and had anything to do with the state's $8 billion deficit.


"Your community is your commodity, my commodity & everyone's commodity." -- borrowing on silly slogans in Cleveland's Ohio City

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Absolutely. But in some respects, there was even a problem with going after stimulus funding for a project that was a long way from being "shovel ready." So the entire project had to be pulled out of the more comprehensive Ohio Hub System plan and rushed through the planning process, which also meant there wasn't enough time to properly seek a consensus among the business community on how to proceed. And by advancing only 3C (rather than the entire Ohio Hub), it gave the false impression that a 79 mph 3C rail service would be the end-all, be-all result. But the fact that 3C lacked board support from the chambers of commerce in each of the 3Cs was a major reason why it failed. Had that process been more deliberate, less rushed and advanced moreso as part of the overall Ohio Hub System (the planning for which began under Republican leadership!), a consensus-based project could have emerged. That's all hindsight now, and given the circumstances at the time, I probably couldn't have resisted trying to get something built in 3C with stimulus funds.

 

If anything, I believe the lesson learned from 3C is to go back to the original plan -- the Ohio Hub System -- which was a public-private partnership (PPP) to develop freight and passenger rail infrastructure in the region. And, in ODOT, only the Ohio Rail Development Commission has the extent of PPP legal powers. So I'm hopeful the Ohio Hub planning and the ORDC survives Kasich.

 

EDIT: BTW, I'll write about this in greater detail in the next All Aboard Ohio newsletter (to receive it, join All Aboard Ohio at allaboardohio.org!), but the 3C project as proposed had little chance of happening even if Strickland had won re-election. The USDOT will probably redirect more federal funding from other states' passenger rail projects around the nation and give it to other ready-to-go projects to save Obama's high-speed rail legacy from budget austerity measures. Plus, the State Controlling Board was unlikely to approve 3C funding, even with a Democratic majority in the Ohio House. Now that it's all GOP, 3C would never have seen the light of day.


"Your community is your commodity, my commodity & everyone's commodity." -- borrowing on silly slogans in Cleveland's Ohio City

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great tagline KJP and thanks for explaining what you think what would have/will happen re: rail in America in the near term

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Crestline opts to disband its 3C rail committee

BY HENRY S. CONTE • News Journal • January 25, 2011

 

CRESTLINE -- There will be other opportunities for Crestline to grow, but city council President David Crokie believes a golden opportunity just passed.

 

Monday night, Crokie officially disbanded the "3C Rail" committee. The committee conceived a plan to make Crestline a stop in a proposed railway from Cleveland to Columbus to Cincinnati.

 

"In light of what the new governor (John Kasich) thought of the project, and he had no interest, we had no choice but to scrap it," Crokie said. "We had been in contact with Conrail and (the Ohio Department of Transportation) and had attended several meetings and we had come up with extensive plans.

 

Read More...

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Stops like Crestline amounted to speed bumps on a project whose main weakness was speed.  It wasn't really 3C... it was 3C+D, which made sense, but it was also 3C+D+c+r+s and whatever else.  Each stop made less and less sense, the more clear it became that travel time between the major markets was a critical issue.  Sorry Crestline. 

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Stops like Crestline amounted to speed bumps on a project whose main weakness was speed. It wasn't really 3C... it was 3C+D, which made sense, but it was also 3C+D+c+r+s and whatever else. Each stop made less and less sense, the more clear it became that travel time between the major markets was a critical issue. Sorry Crestline.

 

Kindly inform me: How can speed be the weakness for a project that offered the nation's third-fastest average speed for a new-start rail project? Isn't it funny how the other slower projects nationwide somehow managed to either attract ridership in excess of what 3C promised, and/or are getting their rail traffic choke points (for both freight and passenger) addressed with federal funds to offer increasingly higher average speeds? Boy, we sure are smart here in Ohio to refuse that bad 3C train because it would travel faster than all but two of 12 intercity rail services started since 1980.

 

That, my friend, was the last chance of seeing a new intercity passenger rail service in Ohio for many, many years. If we are lucky, and if the Congressional Tea Partiers aren't successful in eliminating passenger rail services nationwide, we may get a minimal expansion of train service here in Ohio. All Aboard Ohio is going to try for such an expansion later this year by advocating a restructuring of existing services, but it will involve only a single daily train between Cleveland and New York state destinations. And that will be extremely hard to get.

 

I don't think you and others realize how hard it is to get expanded passenger rail service, especially in a state that is not willing to pay for it. I've been at this since 1983 and I've seen only one new train service in Ohio during that time. You just lost your best chance at it for at least the next five years.


"Your community is your commodity, my commodity & everyone's commodity." -- borrowing on silly slogans in Cleveland's Ohio City

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No doubt it would have attracted ridership.  But the issue was attracting popular and political support to get it built.  Previous Amtrak projects elsewhere are not relevant benchmarks in this market.  Those have nothing to do with the travel options presented to Ohioans in 2010.  It's unfortunate that the rigid federal planning structure would not allow us to respond to market concerns and cut stops to increase the average speed upfront.

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No doubt it would have attracted ridership. But the issue was attracting popular and political support to get it built. Previous Amtrak projects elsewhere are not relevant benchmarks in this market. Those have nothing to do with the travel options presented to Ohioans in 2010. It's unfortunate that the rigid federal planning structure would not allow us to respond to market concerns and cut stops to increase the average speed upfront.

 

Everyone has to deal with those rigid federal planning requirements. That's not the problem. The problem is Ohio has low self-esteem and is unwilling to accept risk as a condition for growth. And as I've said a million times, you cannot grow without risk.


"Your community is your commodity, my commodity & everyone's commodity." -- borrowing on silly slogans in Cleveland's Ohio City

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No doubt it would have attracted ridership. But the issue was attracting popular and political support to get it built. Previous Amtrak projects elsewhere are not relevant benchmarks in this market. Those have nothing to do with the travel options presented to Ohioans in 2010. It's unfortunate that the rigid federal planning structure would not allow us to respond to market concerns and cut stops to increase the average speed upfront.

 

Cutting stops would barely decrease the average speed. The average speed was mostly brought down by bad sections of track (and single-tracking bottlenecks), mainly in the Cincinnati area. Adding stops is actually a plus as far as many voters are concerned (at least to a point of diminishing returns, which I don't believe the plan had hit). Each stop adds about 2-3 minutes total to the trip, yet it opens up access to the train for many people that wouldn't have been likely to ride it previously (if they had to drive many miles to the nearest stop).

 

Besides, I believe this train could have traveled 500 MPH and the voters would have still shot it down. The political climate was slanted towards people aligning themselves with Republicans, as all of the recent elections have shown, and most Republicans want roads, not trains (or at least they have since Obama said he wanted trains).

 

It's just politics as usual holding us back. The problem is with the system, not the 3C plan.

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jam40jeff I completely agree with you. I feel that if this was a seperate issue on the ballot that it would have been better informed to people and they would have been able to make the right decision. There was just too much republican alignment with the "we dont like trains" mentality that it was impossible to get done, even though all signs pointed otherwise.

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Stops like Crestline amounted to speed bumps on a project whose main weakness was speed.  It wasn't really 3C... it was 3C+D, which made sense, but it was also 3C+D+c+r+s and whatever else.  Each stop made less and less sense, the more clear it became that travel time between the major markets was a critical issue.  Sorry Crestline. 

 

I couldn't disagree with you, more. First, these stops take a few minutes at most. Hardly enough to make a dent in the overall speed.

 

Second, most metro-{Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati} residents don't live near the train station and making them drive or take other transportation into city center would be a waste if a stop along the way will do. I routinely take the Amtrak between DC and Pittsburgh and I work in Chantilly. Rockville and Harper's Ferry stops make it possible for people who live and work in the Metro DC area NOT have to travel to Union Station (which I love, but it isn't exactly convenient, especially since they decided not to make the Metro come out here when they first built the system).

 

Assuming that the majority of your riders would want to go from downtown A to downtown B is a pretty big (and, IMHO, fallacious) assumption. In my own experience, the destination may be downtown but the origin is often otherwise.

 

In fact, I live along the original Pittsburgh, Ft. Wayne and Chicago Railroad (Pennsylvania RR). five doors down from the old train station (now a VFW). When I don't take the train, one of the reasons is that it is too inconvenient for to get a car, drive downtown, and park, yet the Capitol Limited passes my house twice a day (and there is still a tunnel under the tracks).

 

Access and convenience are as or more important than speed, in my experience.

 

By the way, I got an investment newsletter, today. The lead article:

 

The Four Ways to Profit From $150 Oil

 

By Dr. Kent Moors, Ph.D., Contributing Writer, Money Morning

 

Crude oil is about to skyrocket in price.

 

In fact, I believe we'll be looking at $150-a-barrel oil by mid-summer.

 

For most U.S. consumers, higher oil will equate to higher expenses, and a bigger drain on the household budget.

 

MOD EDIT:  Added link to article in title.

 

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No doubt it would have attracted ridership. But the issue was attracting popular and political support to get it built. Previous Amtrak projects elsewhere are not relevant benchmarks in this market. Those have nothing to do with the travel options presented to Ohioans in 2010. It's unfortunate that the rigid federal planning structure would not allow us to respond to market concerns and cut stops to increase the average speed upfront.

 

Everyone has to deal with those rigid federal planning requirements. That's not the problem. The problem is Ohio has low self-esteem and is unwilling to accept risk as a condition for growth. And as I've said a million times, you cannot grow without risk.

 

That is an extremely offensive and sanctimonious sentiment, and therefore a horrible marketing strategy.  Or, forget strategy--it's simply a horrible assumption on which to base any marketing strategy, or to explain any failure of marketing strategy.  I could just as easily spout equally sanctimonious drivel that Ohio rejected the 3C plan because it has high self-esteem.  You can get away with venting that kind of sentiment here, since this forum is one of the virtual temples of the train cult, but to the extent you seriously believe that, ask yourself if that extremely unflattering sentiment might not have been tempering your public advocacy efforts notwithstanding any attempts you might have made to soften your disdain in public.

 

In a similar vein, I hardly think that insufficient appetite for risk in economic development characterizes a new gubernatorial administration that has proposed to privatize the Ohio Department of Development, among other things.  In addition, increasing passenger rail travel options would in many ways be a plan to reduce risk (both because of lower cost per passenger-mile when trains reach a certain capacity) and for simple diversification reasons; it would have been much better to market the 3C as a way of reducing exposure to sudden gasoline price spikes.  Ohio's electorate is indeed somewhat temperamentally risk-averse, but it would definitely be possible to come up with a marketing strategy playing into that mentality.

 

Sometimes the simplest explanation is the best: Ohio rejected the 3C plan largely because it elected a governor with significant personal antipathy to the project in an anti-incumbent wave year.  Most Ohioans probably really wouldn't care one way or the other about the project.  There were certainly other factors in play as well, ones that are much more legitimate and less patronizing than "low self-esteem" among those who felt differently than you, including the perfectly justified fear of Ohioans (and citizens of many other states) of ever-expanding federal spending (not that the rejection of those dollars actually reduced federal spending, of course--I'm well aware that the decision to reject the grant was materially contrary to Ohio's interests).

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jam40jeff I completely agree with you. I feel that if this was a seperate issue on the ballot that it would have been better informed to people and they would have been able to make the right decision. There was just too much republican alignment with the "we dont like trains" mentality that it was impossible to get done, even though all signs pointed otherwise.

 

You are forgetting the 3C project was already funded with $400-million in 100% federal dollars.  What would you have put on a ballot?....and why?

 

As for the opposition, as close as the election was (less than 2% margin), if Gov. Strickland had stepped up to the plate and fought for his own passenger rail initiative like he should have done, we might be talking differently today.  Instead, he went silent until after the election was over and only then did he speak up....too little too late.  The opponents arguments were full of holes you could drive a locomotive through.  But they kept throwing curveball after curveball and the Governor just stood there without taking a swing, as did the rest of the statewide Democratic candidates.

 

Despite that, passenger rail will happen in Ohio and it may come sooner if $150-a-barrell oil hits the market (as seanmcl rightly points out).  It may take a crisis to embarrass our new Governor and state legislators into taking action.... but an opportunity like Ohio had with the $400-million was a once in a lifetime chance.

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