Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Confessions of a Foamer

I have to confess that I am an unabashed Foamer. For my whole life, I've been fascinated by trains. I don't know why this is the case, but I certainly live up to the moniker given to railfans by foaming at the mouth at the mere sight of a train. I am particularly interested in transit, again for reasons beyond my comprehension. This proclivity has labeled me as a "metrophile".

One of my life goals is to ride every rail transit system in America. I've done a fairly good job, I think. There are plenty left for me to visit. I have finished riding all the systems in Canada, but that trip didn't get me any closer to my American goal.

I've created this map to show the heavy, light, and commuter rail systems in the United States. For simplicity's sake I've left off other modes, but they are mentioned below. This is a diagrammatic map, it does not represent actual alignments.

I've listed the all of the Rail Transit Systems in the United States below. I have ridden those in boldface. I did not include heritage streetcars or systems that are completely self-contained, such as airport people movers and the like.

Heavy Rail (11/13, 85%)
  • Atlanta: MARTA
  • Baltimore: Metro Subway
  • Boston: T (Red, Orange, Blue)
  • Chicago: L
  • Cleveland: Red Line
  • Los Angeles: Metro (Red, Purple)
  • Miami: Metrorail
  • New York: PATH
  • New York: NYC Subway
  • Philadelphia: PATCO Speedline
  • Philadelphia: SEPTA (BSS, MFSE)
  • San Francisco: BART
  • Washington: Metro

Light Rail (10/24, 42%)

  • Baltimore: Light Rail
  • Boston: T (Green)
  • Buffalo: Metrorail
  • Camden-Trenton: River Line
  • Charlotte: Lynx
  • Cleveland: Blue/Green Lines
  • Dallas: DART
  • Denver: The Ride
  • Houston: Metrorail
  • Jersey City: Hudson-Bergen Light Rail
  • Los Angeles: Metrorail (Blue, Green, Gold)
  • Minneapolis: Hiawatha Line
  • Newark: City Subway
  • Philadelphia: SEPTA (Subway-Surface, Routes 101/102)
  • Pittsburgh: T
  • Portland: MAX
  • Sacramento: Light Rail
  • Saint Louis: Metrolink
  • Salt Lake City: TRAX
  • San Diego: Trolley
  • San Diego: Sprinter
  • San Francisco: Muni Metro
  • San Jose: VTA Light Rail
  • Tacoma: Link

Light Rail Under Construction

  • Phoenix (Dec. 2008)
  • Seattle (summer 2009)
  • Norfolk (2010)

Commuter Rail (7/20, 35%)

  • Albuquerque: Railrunner
  • Boston: T (Purple)
  • Chicago: Metra
  • Chicago: South Shore Line
  • Dallas-Fort Worth: TRE
  • Los Angeles: Metrolink
  • Miami: TriRail
  • Nashville: Music City Star
  • New Haven: Shore Line East
  • New York: Long Island Railroad
  • New York: Metro-North
  • New York: NJ Transit Commuter Rail
  • Philadelphia: SEPTA Regional Rail
  • Salt Lake City: Frontrunner
  • San Diego: Coaster
  • San Francisco: Caltrain
  • San Jose: ACE
  • Seattle: Sounder
  • Washington: MARC
  • Washington: VRE

Commuter Rail Under Construction

  • Portland (Jan 2009)
  • Austin (April 2009)

Modern Streetcar (1/3, 33%)

  • Portland, Portland Streetcar
  • Seattle, South Lake Union Streetcar
  • Tampa, TECO Streetcar
Miscellaneous (1/7, 14%)
  • Detroit: People Mover
  • Jacksonville: Skyway
  • Las Vegas: Monorail
  • Miami: Metromover
  • Morgantown: PRT
  • Philadelphia: Norristown High Speed Line
  • Seattle: Seattle Center Monorail


kenf said...

You are missing New York, Staten Island Rapid Transit.

Matt' said...

I count it as part of NYC Subways.

The Staten Island Railway uses old R44 subway cars, has third rail power, is fully grade separated, and has high-platform boarding. Thus I count it with the rest of the NYC Subway system, whether fairly or unfairly.

I have to draw the line somewhere when listing America's transit systems. For instance, Philadelphia is home to both the Broad Street Subway and Market-Frankford Subway/Elevated. Each of these systems has unique rolling stock, though they share a common operator (SEPTA). For the purposes of this discussion, I have lumped them together. Incidentally, I have ridden both.

Philadelphia also has another heavy rail system, again with unique rolling stock. This time, however, the system has a different operator (PATCO) and I count it separately. Is this fair? You tell me.

Coming back to NYC, I don't count the IND, BMT, or IRT lines as different systems, and think it's consistent not to give special recognition to SIRT.

I certainly appreciate the comment though. Maybe I should revise my methodology?

Anonymous said...

You know, the map would be cooler if you did this:
(1) Marked the rail systems as colored "station" dots, with multicolored dots for multiple systems (special notation when one systems run between two cities)
(2) Connected the systems according to their Amtrak connections.

Would be interesting.

I think SIRT should count separately because it's disconnected from the NYC subway system (you have to take the Staten Island Ferry to get there). PATCO, however, is really functionally not separate from SEPTA even if it has a separate operator; they have a joint station and PATCO leases tunnels and tracks from SEPTA. Whether to count PATH as seperate from the NYC subway system is tricky.

davistrain said...

I can relate to your quest--when I retired in 2005 one of the reasons I gave was that having a "day job" made it harder to ride electric railway lines. Should you have a chance to visit Southern Calif., send me an e-mail (davistrain 'at' if you'd like to have advice from a "native guide"--I date back to the Pacific Electric days.
Bob Davis
San Gabriel CA

davistrain said...

You might want to change the Chicago entry of "North Shore". Most likely you mean "South Shore"/NICTD. North Shore (CNS&M) was abandoned in 1964. Several of its interurban cars have been preserved in various railway museums, and a few miles survive at the CTA "Skokie Swift" line.

Matt' said...

Quite right. Thanks for noticing it. I alternate between calling it the Northern Indiana Interurban and the South Shore Line. In this case I suppose I inadvertently split the difference.