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Bring back the Clocker


Forest Glen

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Today I was at Penn Station. At the NJ Transit office there was a SEPTA R7 schedule. Much to my dismay I found out that the average trip from NY to Center City Philadelphia on the NJ Transit and SEPTA combo is over 2 and a half hours. Megabus and Greyhound take two hours to travel the same distance. As most of you know Amtrak used to operate a commuter service from NY to Philadelphia called the Clocker. I propose that it is restored. However, NJ Transit would operate the service. The super express would use NJ Transit's bilevel trains. It would stop at NY, Secaucus, Newark, Newark Airport, Princeton Junction, Hamilton, Trenton, and then nonstop to 30th street before terminating at Market East. This would attract many of the people who currently use the bus to travel between NY and Philly.

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Just spring the extra money and take the Keystone, the Clocker slots were given to both NJT and SEPTA. NJT uses theirs for expresses, not to sure what SEPTA does with theirs. Frankly I rather see a Morrisvile Station rebuilt and just have NJT stop there before heading into the yard. Also NJTRO(Rail operations) is not trying to compete with bolt and megabus for service, now if you had said Amtrak should bring back the Clockers I would agree with you as they are in direct competion with both bolt and megabus.

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I'm for the super-express though have it go to the lower level of 30th Street since SEPTA wants to keep upstairs coming and going. Very soon as a matter of fact, with the holidays coming up don't be surprised to see NJ Transit down in Philly for extra Amtrak service.

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I agree, morrsiville station, combined with more frequent R7 would be easier on many levels.

 

Amtrak needs free/included wifi on its trains to get more people to ride, i think if they did, a lot of bolt bus folks would switch to amtrak. I know calevision/comcast have their wifi at stations along the :nec:, but you need an account to use it. If amtrak deployed wifi on every car nationwide, it would have just one more thing at minimal cost to draw even more pax. I mean some people are taking bolt bus to philly, then flying from PHL, imagine them taking the train the entire way instead! That combined with higher speeds......................

 

There are a lot of good ideas out there, a lot of them just need funding and it would draw enough new pax to be self supporting.

 

- A

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A few things that I would like to add:

 

Even though there is a sizeable market to cater to folks commuting between Philly and NYC, with the economy the way it is and the demographics behind it - there is simply not enough ridership to offset the extra cost of bringing NJT sets down to Philadelphia. With all of this talk about restoring the Clocker service, there lies of all of the logistics behind that which includes facilities for the trains to be serviced, the actual maintanence servicing agreement, who would use what crew and where would they report to, etc. You then deal with taking seats away from passengers at Trenton, Hamilton and Princeton Junction, as those would be the train slots you would have to use in order to run the service, as the 23 trains an hour limit into New York make it impossible to create any new slots. Even with the THE Tunnel, the provisions stated that only one or two extra slots would be created for NEC trains into New York. All of this cost money and all of this would have to be co-coordinated between three different entities to accomodate the service during the rush hour (in effect SEPTA would have to re-adjust times on the R7's into Trenton and Amtrak would have to open up slots at 30th Street).

 

The whole issue of wi-fi (as brought up by MetsFan) will be addressed when Amtrak rolls out their wireless network for the Acela Express come January/February - with an expansion to the regional to come shortly thereafter. That may attract a few people back from Bolt and Mega, but not many. After all, remember what their main selling point is: low fares - they really can't match the yielded structures both companies have. Also to that end, Bolt typically sells out their morning runs to the city - thus proving earlier points about demand. But as I said earlier, the costs and bureaucratic non-sense that has to take place for there to be a through transit train will prevent that from happening for a long time.

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