Monday, January 26, 2009

Webb, Perriello Ask for Better Amtrak Service in Danville

Congressman Tom Perriello and Senator Jim Webb asked Amtrak to improve rail service into Danville last week. This is especially timely for me, since I rode the Amtrak to Danville on the way back from D.C. Thursday night. They make some very good points about ways to improve ridership; Tom's money quote is in bold:

"I'm pleased to join with Sen. Webb to press for options that make it easier for people to travel to and from Danville by rail, and look forward to working with Amtrak and city officials to make our plan a reality," he said. "It's time to look for game-changers, and increased access is part of that answer."

Among the upgrades to Amtrak service, Webb and Perriello requested the placement of a Quick-Track automated ticket machine at the Danville station and the consideration of marketing strategies, in partnership with the city, designed to increase ridership.

They also asked for more convenient train schedules--something other than a 4:57 AM departure time would be a good place to start, and arriving in Danville at 11:14 PM wasn't particularly awesome either. More trains at more reasonable times would almost certainly put more people on the rails, especially as gas prices start to head north again. Their request for automated on-site ticketing would be especially helpful, as there is currently no way to purchase a ticket at the train station--this could be a nasty surprise for any unsuspecting tourist or businessperson hoping to catch a train home.

One thing they didn't mention is that the train station/science museum is located in the heart of downtown Danville, near a community market that hosted Vice President Joe Biden in October and a music pavilion that brings in some pretty large acts during the summer months. Along the same street are several blocks of what appear to be old tobacco warehouses sitting vacant (Danville readers, correct me if I'm wrong.) Those structures could be converted into office and retail space, as well as roomy apartments for families and young professionals. Having a train nearby such mixed-use urban areas could help revitalize downtown Danville and boost the overall economy of the region.

1 comment:

Doug said...

Man, I'm all for it. Telisha and I have tried, on several occasions, to travel by rail out of Danville. It's just too hard and inconvenient. There aren't enough trains, the schedule is crazy hard to figure out if you're trying to get somewhere that isn't on the Crescent line, and you can't even buy a ticket at the station? Whew- Go Webb and Perriello! I would LOVE to see more viable rail scenarios!