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National Train Day and More on the Rail Boom

train station stairs people

On Saturday, May 10 – 139 years to the date after the “golden spike” was driven into the final tie that created the nation’s first transcontinental railroad – Amtrak held the first ever National Train Day at Penn Station in New York and Union Stations in Washington, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

The Harlem Globetrotters made an appearance at Penn Station and the National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP) live-blogged the event at Union Station in Washington.

On Saturday, the Times gave more cause to the celebration when it reported a surge in mass transit riders across the country. According to the article, transit managers are predicting growth of 5 percent or more this year, the largest increase in at least a decade.

Mass transit systems around the country are seeing standing-room-only crowds on bus lines where seats were once easy to come by. Parking lots at many bus and light rail stations are suddenly overflowing, with commuters in some towns risking a ticket or tow by parking on nearby grassy areas and in vacant lots.

“In almost every transit system I talk to, we’re seeing very high rates of growth the last few months,” said William W. Millar, president of the American Public Transportation Association. “It’s very clear that a significant portion of the increase in transit use is directly caused by people who are looking for alternatives to paying $3.50 a gallon for gas.”

We’ve also included links to weekend stories about the Amtrak announcer at Penn Station and a repair project on the Northeast Corridor.

Read “Over the Bustle of the Everyday Commute, Her Voice Has Guided the Way,” by Vincent M. Mallozzi for The New York Times

Read “Straightening Out the Northeast Corridor,” by Ken Belson for The New York Times

Read “Gas Prices Send Surge of Riders to Mass Transit,” by Clifford Krauss for The New York Times