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http://www.arktimes.com/blogs/arkansasblog...speed_rail.aspx

Interesting link on the Ark Times website about a regional highspeed rail system with Texas, Oklahoma and us

Pie-in-the-sky. There are better more traveled routes, like that between the big cities in the upper midwest, west coast....etc...

edit:// wow, I realized I used the exact same quote as the AT without even looking at its blog post.

Edited by johnnydr87
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That would be wicked, and with a little coaxing of people could definitely work. I've always thought that if our nation did start investing in passenger trains again, Little Rock-Memphis would be a really logical route. It's really too short a distance for flying, IMO. There's already very straight track/ROW along this route, so it would be easy to adapt to high speed trains.

Seconded!!!! The flight from LR to Memphis takes less time than a brief stop at a social gathering (UNDER 40 mins from takeoff to touchdown) and is barely worth all of the airport hassle. If we had a high speed system like the ones in Europe, the LR to Memphis trip would be an hour flat, provided that the train could travel at 140mph.

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That is very cool. I would ride it to Austin and Dallas over flying.

Has there ever been any studies on a possible rail to outlier cities such as Conway or Benton? I know there are major drawbacks to such a rail but this just made me wonder if something like that would ever be a possibility. With growing gas prices the demand for something like that may grow.

i think a small metro rail would be great for this area. I don't think the coaxing needed would be all that difficult so long as the "last mile" was well planned. Would it get funded? Not in my lifetime I'm afraid. I also agree and LR-Memphis express would be awesome but again...won't happen in my lifetime.

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  • 11 months later...

Just curious if anyone had any more up to date info about River Rail. There's a group of us talking about the possibility of a streetcar/trolley in Fayetteville. Learning more about the River Rail would be a great way to get the discussion going. :D

Right now there is a study going on about the possibility of expansion to the airport. Besides that not too much going on. If Fayetteville is serious about a trolley system then they should make sure it is promoted after it is built. This has not happened here in Little Rock. It is under the control of Central Arkansas Transit and they do very little are far as promotion. Sometime I think they don't care one way or the other if it succeeds or not.

One of the first things they should do is try to get some of the upcoming infrastructure money to build trolley stop structures and then try to get money to expand into the CBD , South Main and Riverdale. They also need another track over the river. It is not a good idea to have to shut a transit system down during its busiest time of the year so fireworks can be launched off next to the trolley tracks.

Things that could be done to promote the trolley:

Trolley Festival

Pub Crawl

Work with downtown hotels to promote riding the trolley with visitors.

Look for a way to finance the everyday operations of the system.

Example of what should work but doesn't. I don't have actual figures for this but this is my observation. The stop that serves the Clinton Library and Heifer International should be busy but his is not true. I have seen very few people use this stop and I have never seen anyone coming from or going to Heifer International use it. There are a number of other ways for visitors to travel to the Clinton Library and all of them stop at the Clinton Museum Store and the trolley does not. This stop to the Clinton Library is included on the NLR route and therefore extends the amount of time it takes to go across the river from the River Market.

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Right now there is a study going on about the possibility of expansion to the airport. Besides that not too much going on. If Fayetteville is serious about a trolley system then they should make sure it is promoted after it is built. This has not happened here in Little Rock. It is under the control of Central Arkansas Transit and they do very little are far as promotion. Sometime I think they don't care one way or the other if it succeeds or not.

One of the first things they should do is try to get some of the upcoming infrastructure money to build trolley stop structures and then try to get money to expand into the CBD , South Main and Riverdale. They also need another track over the river. It is not a good idea to have to shut a transit system down during its busiest time of the year so fireworks can be launched off next to the trolley tracks.

Things that could be done to promote the trolley:

Trolley Festival

Pub Crawl

Work with downtown hotels to promote riding the trolley with visitors.

Look for a way to finance the everyday operations of the system.

Example of what should work but doesn't. I don't have actual figures for this but this is my observation. The stop that serves the Clinton Library and Heifer International should be busy but his is not true. I have seen very few people use this stop and I have never seen anyone coming from or going to Heifer International use it. There are a number of other ways for visitors to travel to the Clinton Library and all of them stop at the Clinton Museum Store and the trolley does not. This stop to the Clinton Library is included on the NLR route and therefore extends the amount of time it takes to go across the river from the River Market.

Good thoughts. It also should've been routed with stops at Alltel Arena and Dickey Stephens for packing accessability.

I think a limited trolley service along Dickson, the Square, and the UA campus itself would do well. I think Morgantown, WV has something like that.

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Right now there is a study going on about the possibility of expansion to the airport. Besides that not too much going on. If Fayetteville is serious about a trolley system then they should make sure it is promoted after it is built. This has not happened here in Little Rock. It is under the control of Central Arkansas Transit and they do very little are far as promotion. Sometime I think they don't care one way or the other if it succeeds or not.

One of the first things they should do is try to get some of the upcoming infrastructure money to build trolley stop structures and then try to get money to expand into the CBD , South Main and Riverdale. They also need another track over the river. It is not a good idea to have to shut a transit system down during its busiest time of the year so fireworks can be launched off next to the trolley tracks.

Things that could be done to promote the trolley:

Trolley Festival

Pub Crawl

Work with downtown hotels to promote riding the trolley with visitors.

Look for a way to finance the everyday operations of the system.

Example of what should work but doesn't. I don't have actual figures for this but this is my observation. The stop that serves the Clinton Library and Heifer International should be busy but his is not true. I have seen very few people use this stop and I have never seen anyone coming from or going to Heifer International use it. There are a number of other ways for visitors to travel to the Clinton Library and all of them stop at the Clinton Museum Store and the trolley does not. This stop to the Clinton Library is included on the NLR route and therefore extends the amount of time it takes to go across the river from the River Market.

Yeah I've been trying to figure out what people in central Arkansas thought of River Rail. It's been hard for me to judge. But overall I sometimes get the overall feeling that people don't care for it that much. Not sure why some people seem to be set against it. I've been trying to figure out if something similar could happen up here if Fayetteville ever moved in that direction. I remember seeing earlier in the topic that only 20% of the funds came locally. Getting a lot of outside funding to get things going certainly helped. I've heard of CAT but don't really know much about it. No idea who would be in control of one in Fayetteville. We don't have a centralized public transportation authority.

Good thoughts. It also should've been routed with stops at Alltel Arena and Dickey Stephens for packing accessability.

I think a limited trolley service along Dickson, the Square, and the UA campus itself would do well. I think Morgantown, WV has something like that.

I agree with having one from campus going through Dickson then heading to the Square. I think this would have to be the starting point of getting one going. But for now I think the biggest thing we're going to have to do up here is get word out. I've never really heard any Fayetteville official even address the idea of a trolley. I don't think it's really on the radar right now for the city.

I was curious does anyone have any recent figures on the number of riders on River Rail? Most info I've seen is a bit old.

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I was curious does anyone have any recent figures on the number of riders on River Rail? Most info I've seen is a bit old.

There was an article in a local paper (Sync) recently about people riding the rail and the numbers for 2008 were included. It said that for the first 10 months of 2008 just over 100,000 people rode. Not bad. Before I read the article I expected it to be less.

http://sync.arkansasonline.com/news/2008/d...s-riding-rails/

edit:

That article got me interested so I began looking around for more info on the River Rail. I found an article out of Augusta talking about Little Rocks River Rail. I found a particularly interesting comment that some of you might like from Betty Wineland, the executive director of the Central Arkansas Transit Authority.

Little Rock is looking at another one that will serve the airport and western suburbs, Ms. Wineland said.

http://chronicle.augusta.com/stories/082408/bus_470453.shtml

Is this just talk or has there been any word of a rail out to West Little Rock? This is the first I have heard it mentioned by someone of authority.

Edited by ndark
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There was an article in a local paper (Sync) recently about people riding the rail and the numbers for 2008 were included. It said that for the first 10 months of 2008 just over 100,000 people rode. Not bad. Before I read the article I expected it to be less.

http://sync.arkansasonline.com/news/2008/d...s-riding-rails/

edit:

That article got me interested so I began looking around for more info on the River Rail. I found an article out of Augusta talking about Little Rocks River Rail. I found a particularly interesting comment that some of you might like from Betty Wineland, the executive director of the Central Arkansas Transit Authority.

Little Rock is looking at another one that will serve the airport and western suburbs, Ms. Wineland said.

http://chronicle.augusta.com/stories/082408/bus_470453.shtml

Is this just talk or has there been any word of a rail out to West Little Rock? This is the first I have heard it mentioned by someone of authority.

Cool, thanks for the links.

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There was an article in a local paper (Sync) recently about people riding the rail and the numbers for 2008 were included. It said that for the first 10 months of 2008 just over 100,000 people rode. Not bad. Before I read the article I expected it to be less.

http://sync.arkansasonline.com/news/2008/d...s-riding-rails/

edit:

That article got me interested so I began looking around for more info on the River Rail. I found an article out of Augusta talking about Little Rocks River Rail. I found a particularly interesting comment that some of you might like from Betty Wineland, the executive director of the Central Arkansas Transit Authority.

Little Rock is looking at another one that will serve the airport and western suburbs, Ms. Wineland said.

http://chronicle.augusta.com/stories/082408/bus_470453.shtml

Is this just talk or has there been any word of a rail out to West Little Rock? This is the first I have heard it mentioned by someone of authority.

This is the first time I have heard anything about an extension to West Little Rock. It is not on any of the plans put out by Metroplan. Unless LR wants to pay for the extension itself it will have to wait its turn. NLR is up next but they have said they would like to see the airport extension first. I don't think they would feel that way for an extension to WLR.

Her comment: "We don't do a lot of marketing for it," enforces what I said that it is not promoted. I guess she it not interested in lowering the burden to the taxpayer because of low ridership.

I think it is odd that Ms. Wineland did not even mention extending the rail a few blocks to the River Cities Travel Center so someone using the bus system could board the trolley at the same location.

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This is the first time I have heard anything about an extension to West Little Rock. It is not on any of the plans put out by Metroplan. Unless LR wants to pay for the extension itself it will have to wait its turn. NLR is up next but they have said they would like to see the airport extension first. I don't think they would feel that way for an extension to WLR.

Her comment: "We don't do a lot of marketing for it," enforces what I said that it is not promoted. I guess she it not interested in lowering the burden to the taxpayer because of low ridership.

I think it is odd that Ms. Wineland did not even mention extending the rail a few blocks to the River Cities Travel Center so someone using the bus system could board the trolley at the same location.

A WLR extension would be exhorbitantly expensive and I don't think worth the effort at this point in time. I think the extensions that make the most sense in the short term are the airport of course and another to the Capital area with a stop at the Amtrak station.

Edited by Stormcrow
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A WLR extension would be exhorbitantly expensive and I don't think worth the effort at this point in time. I think the extensions that make the most sense in the short term are the airport of course and another to the Capital area with a stop at the Amtrak station.

Agreed. It's not light rail (rapid - with dedicated right-of-way), and even if it were or could be, there's just not enough demand in LR to justify the cost. By demand, I mean that it's not inconvenient enough NOT to drive. If it were, that would be a different matter.

Mith - to address your original question, there has been some controversy to the streetcar system, but I really don't get why. To be honest, you have to start somewhere if you're interested in increasing urban density and providing a catalyst for mixed-use developments.

It started in the very dense urban core (where it makes most sense), with plans to extend to next-tier high density areas such as Main (and maybe South Main)/Quapaw Quarter, then perhaps Hillcrest/Heights (the "original" streetcar suburbs), etc. with first priority being connection to the main transportation hub - that being Little Rock National. I think this extension is highly probable, and in fact, will somewhat legitimize the existing infrastructure.

Relating to Fayetteville/NWA, I know that there have been discussions/proposals about light rail from Bentonville-Fayetteville, but I think the demand/traffic for that is even less than LR - so that's not realistically viable, at least in the near term (long term, who knows?!). But as far as a local electric streetcar system, I could see that working with quite a bit of success running east-west from campus along Dickson, and then over to the square. In fact, that being (arguably) the only true urban district in the region (NWA), I think it would be a fantastic addition!

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A WLR extension would be exhorbitantly expensive and I don't think worth the effort at this point in time. I think the extensions that make the most sense in the short term are the airport of course and another to the Capital area with a stop at the Amtrak station.

I agree with a route to the Capitol area that would include Children's Hospital. In the past a double line ran down Capitol Ave. I really don't see a need for a stop at the Amtrak station due to the fact there are only two trains a day and one is at 11:30 P.M. and the other is around 3:15 A.M., when they are ever on time.

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This is the first time I have heard anything about an extension to West Little Rock. It is not on any of the plans put out by Metroplan. Unless LR wants to pay for the extension itself it will have to wait its turn. NLR is up next but they have said they would like to see the airport extension first. I don't think they would feel that way for an extension to WLR.

Her comment: "We don't do a lot of marketing for it," enforces what I said that it is not promoted. I guess she it not interested in lowering the burden to the taxpayer because of low ridership.

I think it is odd that Ms. Wineland did not even mention extending the rail a few blocks to the River Cities Travel Center so someone using the bus system could board the trolley at the same location.

CATA doesn't market River Rail much because it has a small marketing budget. Most of the federal funds that CATA gets has to go to capital expenditures: buses, maintainance facitilies, etc. Operations are paid for by fare revenue from the bus service, adverstising revenue and payments paid by the local governments: Little Rock, North Little Rock, Maumelle and Pulaski County. So their operations mainly depends on what the local governments provide to them. When CATA asks for more money and they don't get it they have to operate with what they have so one of the things that goes is marketing.

Ms. Wineland also made another good point. River Rail wasn't built to make money. It can provide transportation to those who live and visit downtown LR and NLR, but it is never going to make money. Just like the bus system is never going to make money. It is a quality of life issue. With more people moving downtown and more tourist options being put in place along River Rail, ridership should continue to rise.

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I agree with a route to the Capitol area that would include Children's Hospital. In the past a double line ran down Capitol Ave. I really don't see a need for a stop at the Amtrak station due to the fact there are only two trains a day and one is at 11:30 P.M. and the other is around 3:15 A.M., when they are ever on time.

The whole concept of a stop at Amtrak would be the under the presumption that fuel costs will again escalate past consumer tolerances like the past year and increase heavy rail usage over air. Totally speculative on my part. Children's would be a good stop!

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Agreed. It's not light rail (rapid - with dedicated right-of-way), and even if it were or could be, there's just not enough demand in LR to justify the cost. By demand, I mean that it's not inconvenient enough NOT to drive. If it were, that would be a different matter.

Mith - to address your original question, there has been some controversy to the streetcar system, but I really don't get why. To be honest, you have to start somewhere if you're interested in increasing urban density and providing a catalyst for mixed-use developments.

It started in the very dense urban core (where it makes most sense), with plans to extend to next-tier high density areas such as Main (and maybe South Main)/Quapaw Quarter, then perhaps Hillcrest/Heights (the "original" streetcar suburbs), etc. with first priority being connection to the main transportation hub - that being Little Rock National. I think this extension is highly probable, and in fact, will somewhat legitimize the existing infrastructure.

Relating to Fayetteville/NWA, I know that there have been discussions/proposals about light rail from Bentonville-Fayetteville, but I think the demand/traffic for that is even less than LR - so that's not realistically viable, at least in the near term (long term, who knows?!). But as far as a local electric streetcar system, I could see that working with quite a bit of success running east-west from campus along Dickson, and then over to the square. In fact, that being (arguably) the only true urban district in the region (NWA), I think it would be a fantastic addition!

My memory is poor, but I thought the concept of rail out to the end of 630 HAD been floated. I thought we even debated on this forum. I'd agree with you though that it's not inconvenient enough for many folks to consider taking rail from WLR. 99% of the time, taking rail would be a decision someone would consciously make for other reasons. And the number of people who would make that decision would be quite small.

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My memory is poor, but I thought the concept of rail out to the end of 630 HAD been floated. I thought we even debated on this forum. I'd agree with you though that it's not inconvenient enough for many folks to consider taking rail from WLR. 99% of the time, taking rail would be a decision someone would consciously make for other reasons. And the number of people who would make that decision would be quite small.

I agree with your assessment exactly regarding an I-630 WLR-Downtown rail line. It would be cool, but not practical at all - just not enough demand. And as preposterous as this proposal is, I think the NWA light rail proposal is that much more-so.

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My wife and I rode the trolley from the LR side to NLR Friday night for a concert at Alltel. It was a cold walk from the stop to the arena due to the fact it was 19 degrees. After the concert we boarded the trolley again for the return trip to the River Market. The trolley is listed with a capacity of 80 people but there were more than that on board when they told the people waiting to get on that it was full and they would have to wait for the next one. I think with a little thought River Rail could figure out that it might be wise to have two trolleys at least on the NLR side waiting to pick up riders after an event at Alltel.

After being picked up at the Alltel stop the trolley ran the NLR loop before going across the river. No one got off on the NLR side.

People will ride the trolley if it takes them where they want to go. When the vacant land in NLR is developed and can no longer be used for event parking the trolley will be in greater demand.

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A West LR extension is just a silly idea. It would be very expensive and unused. It would take an hour to go by trolley the distance it takes 15 minutes to drive.

The airport and River Cities Travel Center connections just make sense and should be a priority.

I would rather see as an ultimate goal an extension down Main to the Quapaw Quarter and another west down Markham to the Capitol and eventually to Hillcrest and possibly the Heights, which was one of the city's major original trolley routes. Those areas have density and the kind of residents that are likely to take the trolley to work, eat, or get groceries.

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  • 5 weeks later...
  • 4 weeks later...
  • 4 months later...

The first studies have been released and the estimated cost for the extension to the airport is between $70 and $105 million depending on which route. I don't think, at this time, an extension to the airport is the best use of funds. Although it is NLR's turn I think the best extension would be down Main St. in LR. It would not only service LR but the citizens of Argenta would have service to the CBD in LR.

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I agree, I would MUCH rather see a line down main street to the SOMA neighborhood. With the demolition on Main Street, and new buildings in the works for the sites eventually, I think it would be a prime time to plan and build the line and maybe continue to spur the changes that are beginning to take place. (Don't get me wrong, I'm upset about the demolition of the fabric on Main Street and especially the loss of the historical context, but new construction will provide a breath of fresh air at least.)

I think a lot of people agree, the trolley would not run sufficient enough trips or hours in the day to facilitate visitors to the LR airport. The shuttle buses work better for now.

But fair is fair, and it is North Little Rock's turn, (since we used our trolley expansion turn to travel through the scenic parking lots, warehouses and vacant lots of east Little Rock to dead end at the heifer project) and they could maybe consider an extension of the main street line to park hill or something. I'm not sure what their next planned phase is.

Edited by Arkansasfiddler
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  • 1 month later...

It is official the River Rail will not be expanded to the airport at this time. The cost is too great for the return. The study estimated that only 84 riders a day would use the extension. The company hired to do the study still has leftover funds and will now explore other areas for expansion. It is NLR's turn for expansion.

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