Trains linking Baton Rouge with New Orleans: not just for emergencies.
Consider, as just one example of many, the 80-miles between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, the state capital of Louisiana. If you drive it, you’ll be on Interstate 10 most of the way, but there’s heavy traffic at either end and it’ll take you at least an hour-and-a-half … and that’s on a good day.

As an example of the hard-to-explain transportation trends in this country, a recent study showed that 26,000 people from the Baton Rouge area commute to work in New Orleans and almost as many people make the trip every day in the opposite direction … folks who live in or around New Orleans, but have jobs that take them to Baton Rouge. Furthermore, more than two million people live in towns and the rural areas along that 80-mile corridor.

It’s hard to imagine a more classic case for passenger rail. Conventional trains would made that run in just over an hour and high-speed trains would do it in half that time. Do you think a lot of those commuters, maybe even most of them, would give up slogging through that 90-minute commute every day and ride a train to and from their work for a proposed $10 fare?
I'm not sure about the farebox recovery at that $10 (each way?) fare, but "crumbling" highways or not, there are limits to what improving the interstates can do, and there's plenty of room to improve the Passenger Rail infrastructure of Louisiana.  I should write up my impressions from last fall's trip.


Dave Tufte said...

I moved from New Orleans 14 years ago, but heck, it had a lot more people then.

And I do not think that 26K number is remotely credible.

I'm sure there were commuters, but I met ... zero. Really.

There's a considerable amount of traffic on the interstates, but I think they may have extrapolated from that to get the 26K. There are many, many, people commuting from and between smaller towns in that area that may be biasing that number.

Further, I did some driving out and back into New Orleans at rush hour. I would count the moments until I passed the last two suburban exits in Kenner ... when almost all the traffic got off, leaving wide open two lane until you were almost in Baton Rouge.

Stephen Karlson said...

The value of a train is in the intermediate stops, for instance in Kenner.