One by one, Amtrak stations along the Lake Shore corridor across Northern Ohio are becoming more intermodal. The reasons are fundamental to community growth: to improve connectivity, expand transportation choices and provide magnets for more jobs in our historic business districts.
Community leaders are working to make existing or new stations the “Go-To” site for all regional and intercity public transportation plus in-town connections with local transit, taxis/Uber/Lyft, car-share, bike-share and pedestrian access. All Aboard Ohio began advocating these intermodal concepts in 2014 to community leaders and transportation planners in this presentation (10mb). Amtrak stations at Cleveland, Elyria, Sandusky and Toledo saw their annual boardings grow anywhere from 37-91 percent in the five years between 2008-2013, making them the fastest growing stations in Ohio.
Each mode of travel – Amtrak, Greyhound, Megabus plus local and regional transit services – individually has a small number of boardings. But when combined they can become economic engines, attracting restaurants, shops and other spin-off commercial activity while encouraging further expansions of transportation services to each of these cities:
TOLEDO – Construction work is due to start as early as mid-May to relocate Greyhound and possibly Megabus into MLK Plaza, a mixed-use complex built in 1950 as the central railroad station which hosts Amtrak’s five daily train and bus departures plus several frequent Toledo-Area Regional Transit Authority bus routes. New Greyhound and Megabus bus loading areas will be established at the front of the station on the lower level. Greyhound ticket counters and offices will be at the existing Amtrak waiting room and at least one restaurant is planned (could be a 24-hour Subway). Combined Amtrak, Greyhound, Megabus and TARTA boardings would exceed 400,000 per year, exceeding that of the Key West International Airport.
ELYRIA – Engineering is complete and most of the non-federal funding is available to combine Amtrak with Greyhound at downtown’s historic Lorain County Transportation Center as well as to provide two ADA-compliant platforms that will reduce trip times and ease rail traffic congestion for 100 trains a day. The combined 11,500 annual inter-city boardings (not including intra-city Lorain County Transit bus boardings) would equal those of the Bar Harbor, Maine airport, a popular tourist destination. With an expanded station, more Amtrak train services can be accommodated on this busy mainline.
CLEVELAND – The city and Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority approved an interagency agreement to conduct a feasibility study of revenues, costs and legal issues of an intermodal station on the lakefront municipal parking lot just east of East 9th Street. This site could be served by Akron Metro RTA, Amtrak, GCRTA trains and buses, Greyhound, Megabus, Laketran, Portage Area RTA (Kent) and Stark Area RTA (Canton) whose combined annual boardings would be nearly 1 million per year, or more than those boarding planes at Akron-Canton Regional Airport.
SANDUSKY – Planning has yet to begin for expanding the station with two ADA-compliant platforms to reduce trip times and ease rail traffic congestion, as well as unite shuttle buses to the Jet Express boat dock downtown and possibly Greyhound at the city’s refurbished, historic New York Central depot (already served by Amtrak and transit buses), could unite nearly 200,000 boardings at one site, equal to those of the Montgomery Airport serving Alabama’s state capital and 200,000 residents. With an expanded station, more Amtrak train services can be accommodated on this busy mainline.
Stay tuned for more updates, with much more detail provided in the Ohio Passenger Rail News (FREE SAMPLE), a color newsprint newsletter mailed to members of All Aboard Ohio who are current in their dues. To join, visit the JOIN/RENEW page.