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^^I'd go with generally misinformed for the vast majority of people opposed to Amtrak spending.  I don't think people realize that the extra funding necessary to move Amtrak from survival mode to expansion mode would be cheap for the government but make a big difference for the future of the service and the country's infrastructure future.

 

I still have the optimism that if the facts could be reasonably communicated to the masses, most people would be on board with moving the country's transportation/infrastructure policies into the 21st century.

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OK.... here's my attempt at a reasonable factoid:

 

Nothing in the way of major infrastructure in this or any other nation gets done

unless there is a strong and significant involvement of the national government:  the Interstate Highway System, the St. Lawrence Seaway, Tennessee Valley Authority, the national aviation system (General & Commercial).

 

There needs to be that same strong federal funding partner for what is being discussed on these and other web blogs as far as passenger rail and improved local mass transit.

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National Association of Railroad Passengers

900 Second Street, N.E. Suite 308 Washington, D.C. 20002-3557

Phone 202-408-8362  Fax 202-408-8287  narp@narprail.org  http://www.narprail.org

June 24, 2008

 

The Honorable Daniel K. Inouye, Chairman

Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation

U. S. Senate

 

Dear Mr. Chairman:

The National Association of Railroad passengers appreciates your providing a forum to consider how the transportation sector can innovate and adapt to address increased demand in a manner which mitigates the negative impacts of global climate change. I ask that this letter be made part of the record in today’s hearing.

Based on 2005 data reported last year by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Amtrak energy consumption per passenger-mile was 17% lower than by airlines and 21% lower than by automobiles. However, these numbers may understate the rail advantage because:

(1)

Amtrak ridership has increased since 2005 while its energy consumption has been reduced.

(2)

While airlines and auto owners are constantly investing in newer, more fuel-efficient units, Amtrak’s youngest locomotives are seven years old; the main fleet of road diesels was acquired between 1996 and 2001. The well-known Acela train sets, due to safety-related design changes, will remain over-powered until additional passenger cars can be added.

(3)

Oak Ridge numbers do not reflect the added environmental damage that results from high-altitude emissions; there apparently is not yet scholarly agreement on how to quantify this added impact.

(4)

Externalities:

(a)

The ability of trains to stimulate pedestrian- and transit-friendly development in town centers such as at Washington Union Station and in many other Amtrak-served communities of all sizes.

(b)

Good intermodal connections among trains and other forms of transportation make public transportation more attractive by more closely emulating the auto’s flexibility. Of particular note this summer is the planned August opening of the St. Louis Gateway Station which will give St. Louis Amtrak and Greyhound passengers their first attractive,

Our Mission: A modern, customer-focused national passenger

train network that provides a travel choice Americans want

The Honorable Daniel K. Inouye

Page Two

visible terminal, and connection to local buses and the highly successful light rail line (that serves both the airport and Illinois suburbs).

Amtrak is now in its sixth year of increasing ridership, one of many indications that Americans remain way ahead of policymakers in willingness to embrace energy-efficient travel. President Bush and many other leaders tend to focus on “technology” as the solution to our climate change and energy problems but to overlook the fact that the most feasible “technology” we have at our disposal is adequate development of train service, which our Association has been promoting since our founding in 1967.

As Americans across the nation struggle with record fuel prices and rapidly congesting roadways, the choice to ride trains, to some extent, has become a forced one—at least where seats are still available for sale. Amtrak's nationwide ridership jumped 11% in the last seven months—clear evidence that Americans are turning to intercity passenger trains in reaction to skyrocketing gas prices and turmoil in the airline industry.

Now, the nation needs to address the consequences of funding priorities that continue to neglect rail-transport—relative both to rail-development needs, and to federal spending on other modes of transport. When people read reports of your good work on S. 294 and the House’s recent passage of H.R. 6003, they are tempted to think that spending priorities have changed and “real” passenger train development is just around the corner. Last week’s action on Fiscal 2009 funding by the House appropriations subcommittee brought us back to reality. Tough budget limits and heavy demands by other programs limited the increase in passenger train spending to $144 million—enough to cover the back pay recommended by Presidential Emergency Board 242 and increase the tiny U.S. DOT fund for matching state investments to $60 million from the current $30 million.

Options to augment appropriated funds for passenger trains include an allocation of revenues from any cap and trade bill that may eventually become law, as well as tax credit and tax exempt bonds which Congress has considered as a high speed rail funding source.

We, as a nation, have too long been building cities predicated largely upon the assumption that every citizen has an auto. Instead of planning communities which take into account the changes that come with economic and population growth, we have continually utilized instruments and methods to delay facing the consequences of this growth. This is reflected in the growing cost of transport. A new Brookings Institute report says transportation is now the second largest expense for most American households—consuming on average 20 cents out of every dollar. The Surface Transportation Policy Project previously documented that transport takes a bigger share of household income where public transport is less developed. Auto-oriented housing configurations, in large part, limit the short-term relief the transportation sector can provide.

The Honorable Daniel K. Inouye

Page Three

Long-term costs benefit analysis of our options underscores the importance of today’s decisions and how they will shape the landscape and potential of our future cities and networks. By expanding passenger train capacity, we can quickly allow more Americans to use trains to cut transportation costs, avoid traffic stress and air travel headaches, and minimize our oil dependence and negative impacts on climate change. Beyond that, we will lay the foundation for enabling a growing share of our population to enjoy the economic and quality-of-life benefits that come with pedestrian-friendly development.

Thank you for considering our views.

Sincerely,

Ross B. Capon

NARP Executive Director

cc: The Honorable Ted Stevens

Other Committee Members

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This is sort of off-topic.. BUT, it deals with Amtrak..

 

If they list "snack car"  does that mean they serve booze in it?

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Yes.


"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond." -- Coach Lou Holtz

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It isn't cheap though. I haven't bought beer on the train since before 2003, but it was more than $4 for a 12-ounce can of beer back then. There were times that I took store-bought six-packs on the train with me. People bring their food on the train with them, too. I wouldn't be too obvious about doing either, however.


"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond." -- Coach Lou Holtz

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Sweeeeeet.. Booze train on the way to Albany!!

 

Are you old enough to drink? If you are, you lil whippersnapper, can you hold you liquor. :-D

 

Be careful, they close periodically and there is usually only one attendant.  the prices are pretty steep as well.

 

Here is the menu

http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer?cid=1093554054835&pagename=Amtrak%2Fam2Copy%2FTitle_Image_Copy_Page&c=am2Copy

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Sweeeeeet.. Booze train on the way to Albany!!

 

On the train I took back from LA to Chicago, the snack car had a happy hour where it was $1 or $2 a can for beer between 5 and 6pm. It was like a stampede of people trying to go down that little staircase. You'd think people had never drunk warm Bud before :-)

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I've brought my own booze on board the train to Chicago before.  They usually don't mind on the long distance routes, but I hear they sometimes crackdown on the shorter routes.

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McCain's agenda on Amtrak

By Derrick Z. Jackson

July 1, 2008

 

http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2008/07/01/mccains_agenda_on_amtrak/

 

Train travel is finally becoming a third rail of politics. The first one to fry over it might be John McCain.

 

For years, McCain, in the comfort of cheap gasoline for autos and airplanes, made Amtrak a personal whipping boy. Despite the fact that governments in Western Europe and Asia zoomed far ahead of the United States by supporting high-speed trains to relieve congestion, promote tourism and now as we are coming to know, save the planet, McCain has spent considerable capital in denying the passenger rail system the capital to modernize.

 

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^ Good article.  But I'm irked by this bit:

 

"light rail (streetcars) was up 10 percent in the first quarter of this year"

 

If this guy doesn't know the difference between light rail and a streetcar, it makes me question the rest of what he's said in the article. 

 

I really do think that McCain needs to reexamine his stance on rail, though.  One thing I do like about the guy is that he's open minded.  People say that he "flip flops", but I think he makes assessments based on what the facts are now, and isn't afraid to reverse his position when those facts change, as opposed to an complete ideologue, who would bury his head in the sand and hold the same viewpoint no matter what happens.  The fact is that today we have $4+ gasoline, a far cry from the $1-$2 range that gas was in when McCain was opposing Amtrak so heavily.  I have some hope that this trend of ever increasing prices will convince McCain that rail really is part of the answer.

 

I'm encouraged by what Obama says about rail.  If he gets elected, I pray that it's more than campaign rhetoric.

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I took the Empire Service from Penn Station to Albany, and the Ethan Allen from Schenectady back to Penn Station this past weekend.  Here is my review:

 

To Albany: The track was not announced until 2 minutes before the train was supposed to depart, so there was a mad dash to the track (which was not fun with a suitcase).  The train itself was decent, I was in an older car, so it was very hit or miss if you'd get a nice car.  The snack car was closed which frustrated me because I assumed it would be open and had not had dinner yet.. so 3 hours on a train while hungry = no fun.  The Albany station was very nice, except all the food was closed in the station so I had to get something on the NY turnpike.

 

From Schenectady: Very station which was basic at best.  (Side note: Schenectady is a really cool town, too bad I didn't have any time to spend exploring).  The train was 15 minutes late, but I got a car that was from the Acela line, so it was pretty new, nice, and clean.  I wanted to leave from Albany again but for some reason tickets from Albany were sold out, but not Schenectady, which I found off since Albany is the stop following Schenectady.  Anyways, the one huge downside again was the snack car.  It was open, however the credit card machine was broken and they made no mention of it, therefore, again, I couldn't get anything to eat.  Also, the woman who ran the snack bar was a complete b!tch and was very rude when telling me I couldn't use credit card.

 

Overall: I'll definitely take Amtrak again (especially on the Eastern seaboard), but I'll make sure to carry more cash or bring a sandwich with me.

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Editorial: Congress should clear the tracks for Amtrak

A needed bill would help resolve conflicts with freight carriers over access to rails

Published 12:00 am PDT Thursday, July 3, 2008

Sacramento Bee

 

http://www.sacbee.com/110/story/1057554.html

 

With airlines cutting service and gas topping $4 a gallon, ridership on Amtrak is chugging ever upward.

 

A record 25 million passengers traveled on Amtrak trains in fiscal year 2007, and a new record is sure to be set when the government releases figures for the most recent fiscal year.

 

Amtrak is also enjoying increased popularity in Congress. Last month, the House passed the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act, the first five-year reauthorization of Amtrak in more than a decade.

More at the link above:

 

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I asked him to. I posted here so that, just in case someone else at UO sees the editorial, they'll know there's something very wrong with it.


"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond." -- Coach Lou Holtz

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It was the Republican Administration of Richard Nixon (and every subsequent Republican Administration) that has hand-cuffed Amtrak at every turn.

 

Your friend makes a lot of good points, but he would be well served by checking the emotion and finger pointing at the door, especially when addressing the Wall Street Journal.  They're less likely to be sympathetic to an anti-Republican opinion than to a cogent pro-rail argument, and may just write off the whole thing as a rant.  "It's not like Clinton or Carter did much for Amtrak," will be their thought as they read this, not recognizing the valid argument that is present as well.  But he's 100% correct on the airline industry AND the way rail should work.

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Not bad for an Ohio boy! (born in Amherst, first job was on the USS Steel railroad at the Lorain plant).


"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond." -- Coach Lou Holtz

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Counterpoint to the Wall Street Journal editorial:

 

Editorial Comment: The Wall Street Journal missed the train

 

With gas prices at $4.00 a gallon and airlines imploding under soaring costs and long delays that make flying a generally unpleasant experience, American travelers are returning to passenger trains in volumes not seen in years. Yet, here’s The Wall Street Journal with yet another misinformed, wrong-headed editorial criticizing Amtrak for operating slow, “money-losing service.” This particular editorial, “The Need for Speed,” which was posted July 7 on the WSJ’s website, takes aim at Amtrak’s Acela Express service in the Northeast Corridor.

 

 

http://www.railwayage.com/breaking_news.shtml

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http://www.narprail.org/cms/index.php/hotline/more/hotline_561/

 

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved $1.65 billion in passenger rail funding for Fiscal 2009 on Thursday, including a record $1 billion in capital and debt service funds for Amtrak, $550 million for Amtrak operations and retroactive wages (for a total of $1.55 billion for Amtrak), and $100 million for state matching capital grants. 

 

The committee said that $550 million in operating assistance “will keep all Amtrak routes operational and ensure the availability of funds for the retroactive wage payments called for under Amtrak’s newly-ratified labor contracts.” This back pay was also called for by Presidential Emergency Board 242.  However, if the back pay comes to the $114 million frequently cited, and assumed by the House subcommittee, the Senate’s $550 million represents a $39 million de facto operating grant reduction from the current year, and raises the specter of Amtrak continuing to cut corners on service in order to survive.  The subcommittee doubtless recognized that, while operating grants are “scored” at a 100% first-year spend-out rate, capital funds are not and thus are easier to secure.

 

The numbers were initially approved at the Subcommittee on Transportation and Housing and Urban Development markup on Wednesday.  Subcommittee Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) highlighted the work the subcommittee has been doing to improve mass transit.  She noted that the $1 billion in Amtrak capital would be the highest level ever appropriated.

 

Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) applauded Murray’s work as Chair, especially on mass transit.  She made the case for rail’s necessity for her constituents in Maryland, saying “we can’t make it without MARC [commuter rail].” She also said that, with Maryland as a Northeast Corridor state, “the robust funding is appreciated, and an acknowledgment of the employees.” She also supported the goal of true high-speed rail.

 

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) also called for more investment in rail, citing the shift in travel patterns taking place among the American public, brought about by a high fuel prices and congestion on our highways.  Labeling New Jersey the crossroads of America, Lautenberg argued that “there is a desperate need to increase capacity on the Northeast Corridor and its trains… including tunnels under the Hudson River.” He also cast the NEC as an important part of the ARC (Access to the Region’s Core, Trans-Hudson tunnel) program.  He again touted S. 294, the reauthorization bill that is waiting for reconciliation with House version H.R. 6003,

 

Sen. Robert Bennett (R-UT) said Amtrak won’t be viable in “the wide-open West” which lacks the “critical mass.” But, he conceded, “we obviously have to recognize the value of Amtrak in the Northeast Corridor… as a solution to congestion.” Lautenberg responded that creating a viable rail system by definition means creating a fully-developed national system.  He noted that S. 294 is a bill “that’s interested in corridors around the country.” He also mentioned the great success of rail transit in Utah, alluding to TRAX light rail and FrontRunner commuter rail.

 

In a July 7 letter to Senate Appropriations Committee leaders, Sen. Lautenberg had urged the committee to fund passenger rail programs at the $2.218 billion level that would be authorized under S. 294, including $1.07 billion for Amtrak capital, $600 million for Amtrak operations, $302 million for Amtrak debt service, and $246 million for state capital grants.

 

Please urge your Senators and Representatives to approve at least the $1.65 billion for passenger trains that the Senate Appropriations Committee passed. Go to our Action Alert center for full details.

 

Further action on appropriations is unclear.  The process stalled in the House before the transportation bill reached the full appropriations committee, because of Republican plans to attach domestic oil drilling provisions to any and all appropriations bills.  Yesterday Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said the Senate will consider at most two FY 2009 appropriations bills—presumably defense and military construction—before passing a continuing resolution, although Senate Appropriations Chairman Robert Byrd (D-WV) said he would “continue to urge that we complete our work,” that is, pass individual appropriations bills. 

 

Continuing resolutions, as the name implies, normally mean that spending continues at current levels—bad news for programs that might other get an increase.

 

Byrd also said he plans to mark up a second supplemental spending bill on July 22 and that infrastructure projects will be included.  House leaders likewise are talking about a second supplemental or stimulus bill

 

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The Wall Street Journal knows mostly how to talk about dollars and cents, not dollars and sense—the cost of everything, and the value of nothing.

 

Wow.  What a great closer!

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July 14, 2008

Editorial

New York Times

Give Amtrak a Fighting Chance

 

It started out as a real victory for passenger rail: the House and the Senate voted to give significantly more money to Amtrak to improve service and upgrade tired cars, tracks and other equipment.

 

Full editorial at:

 

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/14/opinion/14mon2.html?_r=1&th&emc=th&oref=slogin

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Sometimes I feel that if we have to wait on the politicians in this country, then we might as well start dreaming of the flying car.  They NEED to get on the ball with this and as a past hard core republican, I can tell you that if none of these clowns see the urgency for rail RIGHT NOW, well then I won't find the urgency to give them my vote come Nov. :shoot:

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OK slightly off topic here but CNN or FoxNews, can't remember who, had a video showing thousands in California mooning amtrack trains as they go by.  Aparantly it is an anual event.  What is this all about, anyone know?  I was thinking when I first saw it was a political protest against Amtrack.

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No protest... just a bunch of fun-loving Californians exposing their bottoms.  But this is, as you say, off topic.  So, let's get back to it.

 

oakiehigh.... I agree with you.  I've already told my State Rep. and at least one candidate for Congress that if they want my vote... get me a train.

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There is also a video available at:

 

http://www.newsweek.com/id/145869

 

PROJECT GREEN

All Eyes on Amtrak

July 14 2008

By Daniel Stone | NEWSWEEK

 

All Eyes on Amtrak Soaring gas prices and higher airfares are causing Americans to take a closer look at their rail system.

 

Daniel Stone NEWSWEEK Updated: 2:21 PM ET Jul 12, 2008

 

The storybook plight of the Little Engine That Could, struggling to make it up a mountain, is a pretty apt metaphor for America`s rail system. Limited access, outdated equipment and high ticket prices have been the sorry story of Amtrak, the nation`s principal rail carrier, from its beginning—pushing most would-be riders to other ways of getting around. But $4-a-gallon gas and chaotic airways are working in Amtrak`s favor. In an era when green is hip and mileage matters, trains can`t be beat. A diesel locomotive at its most efficient can move a ton of weight 436 miles on a single gallon of fuel, according to the Association of American Railroads, making a full train about 10 times thriftier than your new hybrid. ``Hands down, traveling by rail is the most fuel-efficient and least-carbon-intensive way you can go,`` says Nancy Kete, director of the World Resource Institute Center for Sustainable Transport.

 

 


"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond." -- Coach Lou Holtz

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Editorial Comment: The New York Times got it right

Bill Vantuomo

Editor/ Railway Age

 

The New York Times is about the only newspaper more influential than The Wall Street Journal. We are encouraged by an editorial that appeared in today’s Times that forcefully puts passenger rail in a context based on its real value, rather than ideology.

 

 

http://www.railwayage.com/breaking_news.shtml

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Please look a couple of posts farther up.  :wink:


"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond." -- Coach Lou Holtz

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http://www.timesrecordnews.com/news/2008/jul/14/all-aboard/

 

Our opinion: All aboard

Government funding of Amtrak important as gas prices rise

Monday, July 14, 2008

 

On a recent trip to Chicago, a Wichita Falls husband turned to his wife in the seat next to him, tapped his beer bottle to her tea glass and said, "This is the way to go."

For the family of four, this was the only way to go.

 

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Or a few Florida votes four years before...


"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond." -- Coach Lou Holtz

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I don't know about that. I seem to recall supportive statements from Kerry during the campaign. For sure, either Kerry or Gore would have been light years ahead of that Great Amerikan, George "Shrub" Bush.

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I don't know about that. I seem to recall supportive statements from Kerry during the campaign. For sure, either Kerry or Gore would have been light years ahead of that Great Amerikan, George "Shrub" Bush.

 

I don't think it breaks on party lines necessarily.  The Democrats had the White House for 8 years in the 90s and I don't recall any major rail pushes during that time period.  A major economic change centered around oil has made rail spending more popular.  Chalk another one up to the free market.

 

 

^^ Doubtful, on both counts. $4+ gasoline is the driving force behind this.

 

$4+ gasoline is why it might survive a veto.

 

Yes, that's probably more accurate.

 

 

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I think this is a masterful way of taking the wind out of Rep. Mica's sails.  His amendment is nothing more than a straw dog that aims to kill and not promote high speed rail, as he knows full well the following...

 

One.... that no private entity is about to step up and build a new HSR corridor on the East Coast largely because of...

 

Two.... the astronomical costs of land acquisition and eminent domain to build an entirely new corridor in the most densly populated and developed part of the nation.  I doubt Sen. Kerry's bill will make it as a stand-alone piece if legislation, but perhaps as an counter-amendment to Mica's.  The concern I've heard from my DC sources is that allowing Mica's amendment in the first place was a way to ensure the veto-proof majority for S-294/HR-6003 (The Passenger Rail Investment & Improvement Act).  Kerry's move could possibly help maintain that margin and allow a compromise.

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I don't know about that. I seem to recall supportive statements from Kerry during the campaign. For sure, either Kerry or Gore would have been light years ahead of that Great Amerikan, George "Shrub" Bush.

 

I don't think it breaks on party lines necessarily.  The Democrats had the White House for 8 years in the 90s and I don't recall any major rail pushes during that time period.  A major economic change centered around oil has made rail spending more popular.  Chalk another one up to the free market.

 

 

I'm only referring to the last two Democratic candidates. It's very true there is more than enough blame to go around. Carter tried to kill Amtrak and Clinton's tenure was one benign neglect. Other Republicans might have been better than Bush on Amtrak, but I don't know who they might have been.

 

Meanwhile we have an election coming up and it's no secret what McCain would do with Amtrak: He'd kill it.

 

 

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http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/chi-tue-amtrak-chicago-service-0jul15,0,3619762.story

 

Amtrak rides high as price of fuel soars

By Rick Popely

 

Chicago Tribune reporter

 

July 15, 2008

 

Soaring fuel prices are filling seats on Amtrak trains and prompting fare increases at the national passenger railroad.

 

Amtrak raised fares 5 percent last week on routes between Chicago's Union Station and Milwaukee and on three Chicago- Michigan routes, citing the higher cost of the diesel fuel that powers locomotives and other operating costs. Amtrak also raised fares on some routes in the Northeast.

 

 

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I don't know about that. I seem to recall supportive statements from Kerry during the campaign. For sure, either Kerry or Gore would have been light years ahead of that Great Amerikan, George "Shrub" Bush.

I don't think it breaks on party lines necessarily.  The Democrats had the White House for 8 years in the 90s and I don't recall any major rail pushes during that time period.  A major economic change centered around oil has made rail spending more popular.  Chalk another one up to the free market.

 

 

I'm only referring to the last two Democratic candidates. It's very true there is more than enough blame to go around. Carter tried to kill Amtrak and Clinton's tenure was one benign neglect. Other Republicans might have been better than Bush on Amtrak, but I don't know who they might have been.

 

Meanwhile we have an election coming up and it's no secret what McCain would do with Amtrak: He'd kill it.

 

True.  I agree that both parties are to blame up until now.  The Democrats and some Republicans have certainly done an about face on the issue recently though, which is great to see. 

 

I'd still like to hear John McCain discuss his current beliefs on rail transit (local, regional, and national) in a general sense.  I've already gone into this once in this thread, so I'll spare everyone the rehash of it, but opposing Amtrak doesn't necessarily equate to opposing rail.  It's also possible that he could change his stance on Amtrak based on the economic realities of the future, as what seemed superfluous to him with $1 gas might appear to be a necessary evil with $4+ gas, so I'd be happy to see him address this in an interview or debate.  He's fairly liberal and open-minded (as far as Republicans go), so I wouldn't be surprised to see him support the expansion of rail in the US, even if it is Amtrak.

 

 

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McCain makes no mention of passenger rail on his website. 

 

In 2002, he proposed a bill to abolish Amtrak altogether, saying passenger rail should be privatized. Link: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,45743,00.html

 

Given that he is one who believes that government should not be involved in passenger rail development at any level, it seems to be a safe bet that he won't be supportive of legislation like the Passenger Rail Investment & Improvement Act...which would assist states in advancing their own plans.

 

On this issue, he is every bit as much of an idealogue as the President. I'd better not see him campaigning from the back of a train, because that would be the ultimate hypocrisy.

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I don't have any problem with Amtrak being privatized.... as long as all the rights of way they use are sold by the private railroads to states or the federal government, or to publicly owned port authorities that don't pay property taxes, and all are financed by tax-exempt bonds retired by a federally held, interest-bearing trust fund with an initial capitalization of $100 billion from the U.S. Treasury.

 

That would put passenger rail on equal policy footing with its competition and likely allow passenger service providers to earn a profit on their operations. Any mode of transportation can make a profit when enough of its direct costs are externalized among other balance sheets.

 

But the chances of having public right of way for passenger rail in this country will happen only if the federal government builds it. They won't be buying the right of way. The freight railroads will likely never trust the feds to own and operate their rights of way.


"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond." -- Coach Lou Holtz

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McCain makes no mention of passenger rail on his website. 

 

In 2002, he proposed a bill to abolish Amtrak altogether, saying passenger rail should be privatized. Link: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,45743,00.html

 

Given that he is one who believes that government should not be involved in passenger rail development at any level, it seems to be a safe bet that he won't be supportive of legislation like the Passenger Rail Investment & Improvement Act...which would assist states in advancing their own plans.

 

On this issue, he is every bit as much of an idealogue as the President. I'd better not see him campaigning from the back of a train, because that would be the ultimate hypocrisy.

 

I think that's probably a fair assessment, but I don't think that McCain is beyond hope on this.  He's always seemed to be the type of politician who's position is based on the facts as they exist currently, meaning that his stance on rail could change as the oil based economy continues to sputter.  I suppose that could be defined as reactionary.  I don't know if I'd go so far as to call McCain an anti-rail ideologue, though.  I think that until recently A LOT of people in this country, citizens and politicians alike, viewed passenger rail as completely unnecessary because gasoline was so cheap.  And to be honest, that cheap gas gave them a strong argument to that effect.  Now those days are over, and an increasing number of people are opening their minds to rail.

 

I don't have any problem with Amtrak being privatized.... as long as all the rights of way they use are sold by the private railroads to states or the federal government, or to publicly owned port authorities that don't pay property taxes, and all are financed by tax-exempt bonds retired by a federally held, interest-bearing trust fund with an initial capitalization of $100 billion from the U.S. Treasury.

 

That would put passenger rail on equal policy footing with its competition and likely allow passenger service providers to earn a profit on their operations. Any mode of transportation can make a profit when enough of its direct costs are externalized among other balance sheets.

 

But the chances of having public right of way for passenger rail in this country will happen only if the federal government builds it. They won't be buying the right of way. The freight railroads will likely never trust the feds to own and operate their rights of way.

 

I'm someone who ideally would like to see EVERYTHING privatized, but what I'm most interested in is "what will actually work".  If the gov't is going to spend money on something, there'd better be results and accountability.  That doesn't mean transit has to be profitable, just that it needs to be efficient and the taxpayers need to see service in return for their money.  If Amtrak can deliver that, so be it.  I think your assessment of privatization and the attitudes/tendacies of freight rail companies is spot on.

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