The experiences of four cities (Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, and New York) in which rail is still a principal commuter mode are discussed. Ridership decline has become a national phenomenon. The basic problems are (1) public preference for the private transportation mode; (2) unbalanced public assistance to transportation programs which emphasize highway construction; (3) decentralization of the metropolitan core; (4) difficulty of adjusting rail services in response to changing patterns of urban growth; (5) peaking of ridership demand, which creates uneconomical utilization of equipment and manpower; (6) fare structures which do not adequately reflect costs; (7) unreasonable rules for union labor, which inflate operating costs; (8) deterioration of existing equipment; and (9) insufficient private capital for investment in service improvement programs. The history of a commuter rail operations in Washington is one of steady erosion. At present, fewer than 20 trains continue to serve the nation's capital, carrying only approximately 1,100 riders daily. In addition, these few remaining services are threatened by rising fees at Union Station, restrictive labor work rules, terminal location, and aging rolling stock. An analysis of existing plans for regional rail service notes that during the 1960's area planning agencies envisioned a combination of regular commuter trains and rapid transit. Under the current planning arrangements, three railroad commuter systems would be coordinated with various segments of metro. However, management, labor, and financing problems may threaten realization of these plans, and all railroad commuter service may be abandoned before completion of the rapid transit. A viable rail system is possible and desirable, given sufficient support by government agencies and potential customers.

  • Corporate Authors:

    Consortium of Universities

    Urban Transportation Center, 1717 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20036
  • Authors:
    • Smith, A J
  • Publication Date: 1970-8

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00044208
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: Urban Mass Transportation Administration
  • Files: ITRD, TRIS, USDOT
  • Created Date: Jun 15 1974 12:00AM