The impact of Amtrak performance in the Northeast Corridor
Author(s)Ogunbekun, Tolulope A. (Tolulope Ayoade)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
Joseph M. Sussman.
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The performance of Amtrak's Acela and Regional services in the Northeast Corridor (NEC) is a topic that, while frequently discussed as substandard by some travelers, has received minimal attention in the compendium of open source research literature. Amidst leading discussions in U.S. Congress to reduce Amtrak's funding, the finances and policies required for track renovation, infrastructure maintenance and quality train operations are also compromised. This provides a backdrop and motivation for the work done in this thesis. Amtrak is a vital transportation provider on the Northeast Corridor serving travelers between Boston, MA and Washington, DC, including major cities such as Providence, RI; New Haven, CT; New York, NY; Philadelphia, PA; and Baltimore, MD. In Fiscal Year 2014, Amtrak had a record high of 11.6 million passengers on the Acela and Regional services combined. However, in FY 2014 only 3.9 million passengers arrived at their destination at the scheduled arrival time, that is, 7.4 million passengers experienced delays for a myriad of reasons. Furthermore, in 1981, Amtrak advertised Acela's predecessor (Express Metroliner) as trains that made the trip between Washington, D.C. and New York in 2 hours, 59 "civilized" minutes with a 92% on-time performance. Thirty-three years later, travel times in the NEC have barely improved; the Washington, DC - New York trip currently takes 2 hours 44 minutes on Acela and 3 hours 24 minutes on the Regional. Additionally, in FY 2014 overall on-time performance on the Acela and Regional services were 74% and 77%, respectively, despite a 10-minute delay threshold. This thesis focuses on Amtrak's Acela and Regional passengers, as well as the travel time performance of these services in the last ten years (2005 to 2014). The thesis evaluates different factors that lead to variability in ridership and service performance, as well as the impact of service performance on ridership. Another objective of the thesis is to hypothesize about how service performance affects future demand on the Acela and Regional services. This research lays the foundation for future work on the impact of Amtrak's performance, and measures needed to strengthen and improve intercity passenger rail in the Northeast Corridor.
Thesis: M. Eng., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, 2015.Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (pages 193-197).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Civil and Environmental Engineering.