Commuter rail in North America

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NJ Transit has an extensive commuter rail system connecting New Jersey to New York City and Philadelphia.
A Metra train in West Chicago, IL.
A rebuilt GO Transit Bombardier cabcar at Toronto's Scarborough Station.

Commuter rail services in the United States, Canada, Cuba, Mexico, and Costa Rica provide common carrier passenger transportation along railway tracks, with scheduled service on fixed routes on a non-reservation basis, primarily for short-distance (local) travel between a central business district and adjacent suburbs and regional travel between cities of a conurbation. It does not include rapid transit or light rail service.

Services[edit]

Many, but not all, newer commuter railways offer service during peak times only, with trains into the central business district during morning rush hour and returning to the outer areas during the evening rush hour. This mode of operation is, in many cases, simplified by ending the train with a special passenger carriage (referred to as a cab car), which has an operating cab and can control the locomotive remotely, to avoid having to turn the train around at each end of its route. Other systems avoid the problem entirely by using bi-directional multiple units.

Other commuter rail services, many of them older, long-established ones, operate seven days a week, with service from early morning to after midnight. On these systems, patrons use the trains not just to get to and from work or school, but also for attending sporting events, concerts, theatre, and the like. Some also provide service to popular weekend getaway spots and recreation areas. The Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) is the only commuter railroad that operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in North America.

Most commuter rail services in North America are operated by government entities or quasi-governmental organizations. Almost all share tracks or rights-of-way used by longer-distance passenger services (e.g. Amtrak, Via Rail), freight trains, or other commuter services. The 600-mile-long (960 km long) electrified Northeast Corridor in the United States is shared by commuter trains and Amtrak's Acela Express, regional, and intercity trains.

Commuter rail operators often sell reduced-price multiple-trip tickets (such as a monthly or weekly pass), charge specific station-to-station fares, and have one or two railroad stations in the central business district. Commuter trains typically connect to metro or bus services at their destination and along their route.

After the completion of SEPTA Regional Rail's Center City Commuter Connection in 1981, which allowed through-running between two formerly separate radial networks, the term "regional rail" began to be used to refer to commuter rail (and sometimes even larger heavy rail and light rail) systems that offer bidirectional all-day service and may provide useful connections between suburbs and edge cities, rather than merely transporting workers to a central business district.[1] This is different from the European use of "regional rail", which generally refers to services midway between commuter rail and intercity rail that are not primarily commuter-oriented.

Spread[edit]

The two busiest passenger rail stations in the United States are Pennsylvania Station and Grand Central Terminal, which are both located in New York City, and which serve three of the four busiest commuter railroads in the United States (the Long Island Rail Road and NJ Transit at Penn Station, and the Metro-North Railroad at Grand Central Terminal). The commuter railroads serving the Chicago area are Metra and the South Shore Line. Another notable commuter railroad system is Boston's MBTA Commuter Rail, the fifth or sixth busiest in the U.S. (after the New York, New Jersey, and Chicago area systems, and approximately on par with Philadelphia's SEPTA Regional Rail) with a daily weekday ridership of 130,600 as of Q4 2011. It serves the Greater Boston metropolitan area, and extends as far south as Wickford (North Kingstown), Rhode Island. The next-largest commuter railroads are SEPTA Regional Rail, serving the Philadelphia area; Caltrain, serving San Francisco to points south along the peninsula; and Metrolink, serving the 5-county Los Angeles area.

There are only three commuter rail agencies in Canada: GO Transit in Toronto, Réseau de transport métropolitain in Montreal, and West Coast Express in Vancouver. The two busiest rail stations in Canada are Union Station in Toronto and Central Station in Montreal.

Commuter rail networks outside of densely populated urban areas like the Washington D.C., New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, San Francisco, Montreal, and Toronto metropolitan areas have historically been sparse. Since the 1990s, however, several commuter rail projects have been proposed and built throughout the United States, especially in the Sun Belt and other regions characterized by urban sprawl that have traditionally been underserved by public transportation. Since the late 1990s, commuter rail networks have been inaugurated in Dallas, San Diego, Minneapolis, Nashville, Salt Lake City, Orlando, and Albuquerque, among other cities. Several more commuter rail projects have been proposed and are in the planning stages.

Rolling stock[edit]

Commuter trains are either powered by diesel-electric or electric locomotives, or else use self-propelled cars (some systems use both). A few systems, particularly around New York City, use electric power, supplied by a third rail and/or overhead catenary wire, which provides quicker acceleration, lower noise, and fewer air-quality issues. Philadelphia's SEPTA Regional Rail uses exclusively electric power, supplied by overhead catenary wire.

Diesel-electric locomotives based on the EMD F40PH design as well as the MP36PH-3C are popular as motive power for commuter trains. Manufacturers of coaches include Bombardier, Kawasaki, Nippon Sharyo, and Hyundai Rotem. A few systems use diesel multiple unit vehicles, including WES Commuter Rail near Portland and Austin's Capital MetroRail. These systems use vehicles supplied by Stadler Rail or US Railcar (formerly Colorado Railcar).

List of North American commuter rail operators[edit]

System Country Metropolitan area Province / State Number of lines Avg. Weekday
ridership
(Q4 2016)[2]
A-train  USA Denton County Texas 1 2,000
Altamont Corridor Express (ACE)  USA San JoseStockton California 1 (1 planned) 5,200
Caltrain  USA San FranciscoSan Jose California 1 (1 proposed) 62,190 (February 2017 average)[3]
Capital MetroRail  USA Austin Texas 1 (2 proposed) 2,700
Capitol Corridor  USA SacramentoSan Francisco Bay Area California 1 5,100
Coaster  USA San DiegoOceanside California 1 4,600
El Tren Suburbano  MEX Mexico City Mexico City 1 (2 under construction) 88,000[4][needs update]
FrontRunner[5]  USA OgdenSalt Lake CityProvo Utah 1 17,200
GO Transit  CAN Toronto, Hamilton Ontario 7 198,200
Hartford Line  USA New Haven / Hartford / Springfield Connecticut / Massachusetts 1[6]
Havana Suburban Railway  CUB Havana La Habana / Artemisa / Mayabeque / Matanzas 8
Long Island Rail Road  USA New York CityLong Island New York 11 (15 former) 354,800
MARC Train  USA BaltimoreWashington, D.C. Maryland / West Virginia
/ District of Columbia
4 33,300
MBTA Commuter Rail  USA BostonWorcesterProvidence Massachusetts / Rhode Island 14 (1 under construction, 5 former) 127,500
Metra  USA Chicago Illinois / Wisconsin 13 (2 planned) 283,700
Metrolink  USA Los AngelesSouthern California California 7 (3 planned) 39,500
Metro-North Railroad  USA New York City; New Haven;
Poughkeepsie
New York / Connecticut 8 305,700
Music City Star  USA Nashville Tennessee 1 (6 planned) 1,200
NJ Transit Rail Operations  USA Northern New Jersey-New York City
Philadelphia-Atlantic City
New Jersey / New York
/ Pennsylvania
12 (1 under construction, 1 former/planned, 3 proposed) 308,523 (FY2015)[7][note 1]
New Mexico Rail Runner Express  USA AlbuquerqueSanta Fe New Mexico 1 2,700
Northstar Line  USA Minneapolis–Saint Paul Minnesota 1 (7 proposed) 2,400
Regional Transportation District  USA Denver Colorado 2 (2 under construction) 19,400
Exo  CAN Montreal Quebec 6 83,100 [8]
Sonoma–Marin Area Rail Transit  USA CloverdaleLarkspur California 1
South Shore Line  USA ChicagoSouth Bend Illinois / Indiana 1 (1 proposed) 11,700
SEPTA Regional Rail  USA Philadelphia Pennsylvania / New Jersey
/ Delaware
13 (1 former) 134,000
Shore Line East  USA New HavenNew London Connecticut 1 1,900
Sounder  USA SeattleTacoma Washington 2 15,800
SunRail  USA Greater Orlando Florida 1 (1 proposed) 3,200 (Q4 2014)[9]
TEXRail  USA Fort Worth Texas 1
Tren Urbano de Costa Rica  CRI San JoséCentral Valley San José / Heredia / Cartago 4
Trinity Railway Express  USA DallasFort Worth Texas 1 7,700
Tri-Rail  USA Miami–South Florida Florida 1 (2 planned) 14,200
Virginia Railway Express  USA Washington, D.C. Virginia / District of Columbia 2 (1 planned) 17,900
West Coast Express  CAN Vancouver British Columbia 1 10,600 (Q4 2014)[9]
WES Commuter Rail  USA Portland Oregon 1 1,700

List of under construction and planned systems[edit]

There are several commuter rail systems currently under construction or in development in Canada, Mexico and the United States.

Metropolitan Area Country Province/State System Official
site
Other
sites
Halifax  CAN Nova Scotia Halifax Transit [10]
Ottawa  CAN Ontario / Québec Moose/Transport Pontiac-Renfrew* [11] [12]
Aguascalientes  MEX Aguascalientes Tren Suburbano (no official name yet) [13][14]
Guadalajara  MEX Jalisco Tren Suburbano [15][16]
Mexico City megalopolis  MEX Mexico & Mexico City Toluca–Mexico City commuter rail [17]
Alameda County  USA California Tri-Valley-San Joaquin Valley Regional Rail Authority [18] [19]
Anchorage  USA Alaska Alaska Railroad (existing long-distance railroad, proposed commuter service) [20] [21]
Ann Arbor  USA Michigan WALLY [22] [23]
Atlanta / Athens / Macon  USA Georgia Georgia Rail Passenger Program,
Georgia Brain Train
Atlanta / Clayton County  USA Georgia MARTA Clayton County commuter rail [24]
Charlotte  USA North Carolina LYNX Red Line [25] [26]
Cleveland  USA Ohio Cleveland commuter rail [27] [28][29]
Cincinnati  USA Ohio Eastern Corridor Commuter Rail [30]
Dallas  USA Texas DART Cotton Belt Rail Line [31]
Denver / Boulder  USA Colorado RTD commuter rail [32]
Detroit  USA Michigan SEMCOG Commuter Rail [33][34][35]
Fort Worth  USA Texas Burleson commuter rail [36]
Greensboro  USA North Carolina TRIAD Commuter Rail [37]
Harrisburg / Lancaster  USA Pennsylvania Capital Red Rose Corridor (Capital Area Transit) [38]
Houston  USA Texas Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, Texas [39][40]
Jacksonville  USA Florida First Coast Commuter Rail
Madison  USA Wisconsin Dane County Commuter Rail,
Transport 2020 Commuter Rail
[41][42]
Minneapolis  USA Minnesota Dan Patch Corridor [43]
Pittsburgh  USA Pennsylvania Eastern Corridor Transit Study
(no official name as of 2010)
[44] [45]
Raleigh / Durham / Cary
(Research Triangle)
 USA North Carolina Durham-Wake Corridor [46]
Redlands  USA California Arrow [47]
San Antonio / Austin  USA Texas LSTAR [48]
St. Louis  USA Missouri / Illinois St. Louis Commuter Rail [49]
Worcester / Providence  USA Massachusetts / Rhode Island Boston Surface Railroad [50]
  • The proposal in Ottawa is actually 2 organizations proposing similar systems.

Former[edit]

The following systems have ceased operations since the 1970s.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ This figure is from NJ Transit's Fiscal Year 2015, which covers the calendar period July 2014 to June 2015.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Public Transportation: Bus, Rail, Ridesharing, Paratransit Services, and Transit Security" (PDF). Transportation Research Record. Transportation Research Board. 1433: 81–112. 1994.
  2. ^ "Transit Ridership Report Fourth Quarter 2016" (pdf). American Public Transportation Association (APTA). March 3, 2017. Retrieved March 26, 2017 – via http://www.apta.com/resources/statistics/Pages/ridershipreport.aspx.
  3. ^ "2016 Annual Passenger Counts" (PDF). Caltrain. Retrieved 26 October 2016.
  4. ^ McKegney, Tony (Summer 2012). "¡Subir Tren Suburbano! Commuter Rail Emerges in Mexico's Largest City" (PDF). Rail Magazine: 39–43.
  5. ^ "Five Years of FrontRunner". rideuta.com. Utah Transit Authority. April 25, 2013. Retrieved 2014-01-08.
  6. ^ Transportation, Department of. "ConnDOT: New Haven-Hartford-Springfield Commuter Rail Implementation Plan". www.ct.gov. Retrieved 7 April 2018.
  7. ^ "NJ Transit Facts at a Glance Fiscal Year 2015" (PDF) (PDF). NJ Transit. March 2016. p. 1. Retrieved 2016-05-27.
  8. ^ https://www.amt.qc.ca/Media/Default/pdf/section8/amt-rapport-annuel-2016.pdf
  9. ^ a b "Transit Ridership Report Fourth Quarter and End-of-Year 2014" (pdf). American Public Transportation Association (APTA). March 3, 2015. Retrieved 2015-04-10 – via http://www.apta.com/resources/statistics/Pages/ridershipreport.aspx.
  10. ^ https://www.halifax.ca/transit/commuterrail.php[permanent dead link]
  11. ^ "home - Moose Consortium Inc". Moose Consortium Inc. Retrieved 2017-05-01.
  12. ^ Transport Pontiac-Renfrew Archived 2013-04-23 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ http://www.cddhcu.gob.mx/comisiones59legislatura/transportes/foro/Dr_Martinez.pdf[permanent dead link]
  14. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-06-25. Retrieved 2008-04-16.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  15. ^ http://www.notisistema.com/noticias/?p=130621[permanent dead link]
  16. ^ http://www.milenio.com/node/113320[permanent dead link]
  17. ^ "Tren InterUrbano". treninterurbano.cdmx.gob.mx. Retrieved 7 April 2018.
  18. ^ "Tri-Valley - San Joaquin Valley Regional Rail Authority". Retrieved 30 May 2018.
  19. ^ "AB-758 Transportation: Tri-Valley-San Joaquin Valley Regional Rail Authority". Retrieved 17 October 2017.
  20. ^ "The Official Site of the Alaska Railroad - Travel Alaska - Rail train travel, tours, and freight transportation for the Last Frontier". webarchive.loc.gov. Archived from the original on 8 August 2002. Retrieved 7 April 2018.
  21. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2005-05-11. Retrieved 2006-07-18.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  22. ^ "Wallyrail.org". www.wallyrail.org. Retrieved 7 April 2018.
  23. ^ The Ride - Ann Arbor Transportation Authority Archived 2012-10-13 at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^ "Clayton County". MARTA. Retrieved 15 January 2019.
  25. ^ "Red Line Project". Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS). Retrieved 2014-09-06.
  26. ^ "Home". RedLine Regional Rail. Archived from the original on 2014-09-06. Retrieved 2014-09-06.
  27. ^ Appendix D Archived 2010-12-29 at the Wayback Machine
  28. ^ Ohio News - OH News | The Morning Journal Archived 2007-09-27 at the Wayback Machine
  29. ^ Rachel Carson (2007-01-13). "Lorain to Cleveland commuter rail | GreenCityBlueLake". Gcbl.org. Archived from the original on 2012-09-22. Retrieved 2012-08-15.
  30. ^ Oasis Rail Transit Introduction Archived 2011-07-16 at the Wayback Machine
  31. ^ "Cotton Belt Public Private Partnership Request for Information". DART.org. Retrieved 2012-08-15.
  32. ^ "Redirect page". www.rtd-denver.com. Retrieved 7 April 2018.
  33. ^ "Annar Borde Troitrapid Transitstud - Find Your True Transitstud Today!". www.annarbordetroitrapidtransitstudy.com. Retrieved 7 April 2018.
  34. ^ (PDF) https://web.archive.org/web/20070816070736/http://www.annarbordetroitrapidtransitstudy.com/news/pdfs/CRT01%20Board%20091505.pdf. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 16, 2007. Retrieved December 24, 2006. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  35. ^ (PDF) https://web.archive.org/web/20070928025601/http://www.annarbordetroitrapidtransitstudy.com/news/pdfs/CRT02%20Board%20091505.pdf. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 28, 2007. Retrieved December 24, 2006. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  36. ^ Basnet, Neetish (3 January 2019). "Burleson first on list for new commuter rail service". Burleson Star. Retrieved 15 January 2019.
  37. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-05-29. Retrieved 2007-04-10.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  38. ^ "Welcome to our Site". mtptransit.org. Retrieved 7 April 2018.
  39. ^ METRO, webmaster@ridemetro.org. "METRO Home". www.ridemetro.org. Retrieved 7 April 2018.
  40. ^ "All about Metro and public transport vehicles in the United States". Metrosolutions.org. Archived from the original on 2013-04-15. Retrieved 2012-08-15.
  41. ^ Dane County Commuter Rail Archived 2007-04-09 at the Wayback Machine
  42. ^ "Transport 2020 Project Site". www.transport2020.net. Retrieved 7 April 2018.
  43. ^ "redrockrail.org - Cocktail im Casino trinken". www.redrockrail.org. Retrieved 7 April 2018.
  44. ^ "Eastern Corridor Transit Study: Transitional Analysis To Locally Preferred Alternatives". www.spcregion.org. Retrieved 7 April 2018.
  45. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-06-28. Retrieved 2008-01-08.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  46. ^ "Durham-Wake Corridor". ourtransitfuture.com. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 7 April 2018.
  47. ^ "Redlands Passenger Rail Project - Home". www.redlandsrailproject.org. Retrieved 7 April 2018.
  48. ^ "Lone Star Rail". lonestarrail.com. Retrieved 7 April 2018.
  49. ^ "Moving Transit Forward - Metro Transit – St. Louis". www.movingtransitforward.org. Retrieved 7 April 2018.
  50. ^ Boston Surface Railroad Company
  51. ^ Baer, Christopher T. (April 2015). "A GENERAL CHRONOLOGY OF THE PENNSYLVANIA RAILROAD COMPANY ITS PREDECESSORS AND SUCCESSORS AND ITS HISTORICAL CONTEXT: 1980-1989" (PDF). Pennsylvania Railroad Technical & Historical Society.
  52. ^ Sanders, Craig (2006). Amtrak in the Heartland. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press. p. 184. ISBN 978-0-253-34705-3.