Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Let's Get Back to Pittsburgh to Harrisburg

Pittsburgh is part of the Great Lakes megaregion ( some 54 million census),  being at its southeastern end.

Harrisburg is part of the North East megaregion ( some 50 million census),  being at its western end.

Connecting the two megaregions with improved and restored rail passenger service will provide for anticipated economic growth. For all essential purposes, highway and air modes are today saturated or nearly saturated.

When Jean Gottman in 1961 published the book, Megalopolis, he described the continuous city from Washington, DC to Philadelphia to New York to Boston. He described the phenomenon of a continuous band of light that could be observed from the air at night created by a megalopolis, a chain of roughly adjacent metropolitan areas.The the description  of a megalopolis was unique then to the North East. Today that is no longer the case. The USA has 11 megaregions.  (See: http://www.america2050.org/megaregions.html )

The importance to restoring passenger rail service to Pittsburgh to Harrisburg is that it is is a first step in connecting the Great Lakes megaregion with the North East megaregion with an alternative to highway and air.

Probably, Pittsburgh has more need for restored passenger rail service from Cleveland to Youngstown to  New Brighton to Pittsburgh to Greensburg to Latrobe and Johnstown. Certainly, the Great Lakes megaregion extends through Pittsburgh to Greensburg.  On the east, the probable most immediate need for restored rail passenger service is Huntingdon to Lewistown to Harrisburg. Rail service from Huntingdon to Lewistown to Harrisburg would support the transient student population at the State College. Huntingdon and Lewistown are the closest points to State College on the Pittsburgh to Harrisburg line.

In order to attain Cleveland to Youngstown to New Brighton to Pittsburgh, an interstate effort is required. Accomplishing Pittsburgh to Harrisburg restoration is  intrastate and simpler. However, what is needed is restored passenger rail service that is interstate from the east coast to the midwest. By restoring passenger rail service rail service from Pittsburgh to Harrisburg, a significant part of restoring rail passenger service from the east coast to the midwest will be accomplished.

Long distance passenger trains have a certain passenger load that travels the length of the trains route.
A substantial portion of the fares are for intermediate travel along a long distance train's route. The existence of a long distance train will create demand in unexpected ways for intermediate travel.

The emphasis for this blog has been Pittsburgh to Harrisburg.  But Pittsburgh is closer to the Washington, DC and Baltimore sections of the North East megaregion via the former Baltimore and Ohio Railroad line now owned by CSX than via the Pittsburgh to Harrisburg line. Restoring rail passenger service to that line would be a significant transport asset for Pittsburgh. As in restoring rail passenger service to Cleveland, the problem is that it is interstate.

1 comment:

  1. Pittsburgh is more in need of a connection to the east than one to youngstown (dying) or cleveland (not much traffic)...it can be seen in megabus' operations which have much more robust traffic between pittsburgh and ny, philadelphia and washington (in that order). to the extent that pittsburgh ever was part of the great lakes megaregion, it becomes less so year after year. the reality is, pittsburgh is the link between east and midwest, cut off by mountains to the east, and cultural bias from the midwest.