Progression on Amtrak Chugs Along

The Spectrum

New York State is on track to receive nearly $150 million in federal transportation funding to improve the Amtrak line, yet so far none of it is going toward the line between New York City and Buffalo.

Instead, $91 million will go toward a new, 17-mile track between Albany and Schenectady. An additional $58 million will fund track and platform improvements at the Albany-Renesselaer and Schenectady stations.

According to Qian Wang, Ph.D., an associate professor of structural and environmental engineering, this second track between Albany and Schenectady will impact students travelling to and from Buffalo and New York City.

The existing single track will be shared with freight trains. If there is a second line, the process of travel time will speed up, resulting in less congestion in New York State, according to Wang.

In addition, Wang believes the increased train service will attract more people to trains, resulting in higher utilization of the train service, which in turn will reduce vehicle congestion, greenhouse gas emission, and the total number of car trips.

For UB, the demand for a sufficient ride to and from the city is high. About 19 percent of the undergraduate student body at UB, as of 2010, is from the New York City and Long Island area according to Michele M. Sedor, senior programmer analyst at UB's office of Academic Planning and Budget. Due to the new HUB system, the percentage for 2011 cannot yet be figured out.

Miguel Loor, a senior classics major, is from just south of New York City and believes his regular trips to and from UB via Amtrak can be much shorter. He said some of the money should have been put toward building tracks for the Amtrak alone, so it does not have to share one with multiple trains.

In addition to the constant stops on the Amtrak rail, sophomore environmental studies major Denzel Banks found that leg room is a major inconvenience.

"The money should really be going towards the train itself," Banks said.

Complaints that many New York City and Long Island students have include: expensive food, too few trains running through Buffalo, and congestion in Albany.

"[Amtrack officials] can stop that two hour delay in Albany for no reason. The last time I came here it was good timing, except for that two hour delay," Wilson said.

Although most students had negative opinions toward the Amtrak, freshman Allyson Colangelo, a biomedical sciences major, is indifferent to the changes. It is a seven-hour trip for her to travel between Buffalo and her Hudson Valley home, and she plans to continue using the rail system throughout her education at UB.

"I guess I'll see the change soon," Colangelo said. "And I'll see if I like it or not."

Construction on the projects is expected to start in late summer 2012.

Additional reporting by Nathaniel Smith