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Amtrak & Federal: Passenger Rail News

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Not necessarily Amtrack news, but, The Future of Mass Transit is the topic on NPR with Diane Rheam right now!!!

 

wcpn.org is where I'm streaming.

 

should be interesting.

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Three lanes is so much more pleasant a driving experience, especially with trucks on the road. I know all the data about the lack of benefit for expanding lanes, but three lanes gives a much freer flow to traffic. Trucks can't slow traffic so damn much.

 

Back to Amtrak, this sounds like a really strong first step. This should be the seed of a much larger shift. The real loser will be short distance air travel rather than cars (at least initially).

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The real loser will be short distance air travel rather than cars (at least initially).

 

Well, I'd say that short distance air travel has already lost.  It's no longer profitable for them to run short flights between regional destinations.  So I don't really see national passenger rail's opportunity as stepping on the toes of the airline industry.  Simply, it's a chance to fill the void for reliable and affordable passenger service.

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If we had European-style high-speed rail, you could take a high-speed train from Cleveland to New York City in just over three hours. Consider it's 500 miles from Paris to Marseille, which express TGVs covers in as little as 3 hours 3 minutes. Other trains which make enroute stops make the run in 3 hours 19 minutes. I've only ridden trains north and east of Paris, which are all tremendously fast and all-electric.

 

Back to America. We have a $100+ billion backlog in unfunded passenger train/high-speed rail projects in this country. The $15 billion Amtrak funding bill will eat away at that by only a few billion dollars, but it's more than our federal government has ever done for passenger trains in this country in one fell swoop.

 

If oil wasn't at $130+ per barrel and gasoline at $4 per gallon, Congress would never have passed this bill, let alone so quickly or at veto-proof margins.


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

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If oil wasn't at $130+ per barrel and gasoline at $4 per gallon, Congress would never have passed this bill, let alone so quickly or at veto-proof margins.

 

You've got that right.  Would you like to be one of the 104 Members of Congress who voted against HR-6003 and go back to their districts for summer recess and are asked the question: "What have you done to give me options other than driving a car that costs me upwards of $50 bucks every time I fill up?"

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We have a $100+ billion backlog in unfunded passenger train/high-speed rail projects in this country. The $15 billion Amtrak funding bill will eat away at that by only a few billion dollars, but it's more than our federal government has ever done for passenger trains in this country in one fell swoop.

 

Geez.  We borrowed $15 billion dollars in May just for Iraq and Afghanistan!  One month!

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If we had European-style high-speed rail, you could take a high-speed train from Cleveland to New York City in just over three hours. Consider it's 500 miles from Paris to Marseille, which express TGVs covers in as little as 3 hours 3 minutes. Other trains which make enroute stops make the run in 3 hours 19 minutes. I've only ridden trains north and east of Paris, which are all tremendously fast and all-electric.

 

Back to America. We have a $100+ billion backlog in unfunded passenger train/high-speed rail projects in this country. The $15 billion Amtrak funding bill will eat away at that by only a few billion dollars, but it's more than our federal government has ever done for passenger trains in this country in one fell swoop.

 

If oil wasn't at $130+ per barrel and gasoline at $4 per gallon, Congress would never have passed this bill, let alone so quickly or at veto-proof margins.

 

Yeah. Not to go too off-topic, but I'm just blown away by the government's stubborn inability to act and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Mass transit needs to be improved all across this country.

 

I would love to see a European-style high-speed rail system in America. I'm wondering how much something like that cost(s) them, and how it's been eventually funded?

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Construction costs for true high-speed rail systems (150 mph+) range from $10 million per mile for construction in flat, rural areas to in excess of $100 million per mile for construction in rugged countryside or through (or under) urban areas. California's proposed 700-mile HSR system is estimated to cost $40 billion, or $57 million per mile.

 

Like any major project, it's paid for by a mix of funds, local, state/province, federal and private.

 

The high-speed rail system generally cover their operating costs, but usually it's because they share stations with other, conventional-speed and urban rail services and have a high volume of connecting travelers with those rail systems. If those subsidized rail systems didn't exist, the political will wouldn't exist to build high-speed rail, nor would HSR be self-supporting.


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

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Construction costs for true high-speed rail systems (150 mph+) range from $10 million per mile for construction in flat, rural areas

 

Well we don't have any of that in Ohio, so it could never work here.

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Major news this afternoon.

 

The U.S. House just a few moments ago passed HR-6003, the Passenger Rail Investment & Improvement Act of 2008, by a veto-proof majority.... 311 to 104.

 

You'll recall the Senate passed its version of the bill (S-294) by a 93 to 6 margin late last year.

 

The next step will be for the bill to go to a joint House-Senate Conference Committee.  The conferees have not yet been named.

 

This bill, if it becomes law, will not only greatly increase funding for Amtrak, but carries the first-ever state matching grant program that can advance the Ohio Hub Plan and state-generated passenger rail plans like it around the nation.

 

Here's how Ohio's Congressional delegation voted today:

 

Nay OH-1 Chabot, Steven [R]

Nay OH-2 Schmidt, Jean [R]

Aye OH-3 Turner, Michael [R]

Nay OH-4 Jordan, Jim [R]

Nay OH-5 Latta, Robert [R]

Aye OH-6 Wilson, Charles [D]

Nay OH-7 Hobson, David [R]

Nay OH-8 Boehner, John [R]

No Vote OH-9 Kaptur, Marcy [D]

Aye OH-10 Kucinich, Dennis [D]

Aye OH-11 Jones, Stephanie [D]

Aye OH-12 Tiberi, Patrick [R]

Aye OH-13 Sutton, Betty [D]

Aye OH-14 LaTourette, Steven [R]

Aye OH-15 Pryce, Deborah [R]

Aye OH-16 Regula, Ralph [R]

Aye OH-17 Ryan, Timothy [D]

Aye OH-18 Space, Zackary [D]

 

Great news!  Surprised at central Ohio's GOP reps Tiberi and Pryce voting in favor of it.  Not surprised at Mean Jean Schmidt voting against it.

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What part of the state does she represent?


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

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SW Ohio - she is in Rob Portman and Willis Gradison's old district. It starts on Cincinnati's East Side and picks up the Appalachian border counties.

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What part of the state does she represent?

 

... She's the one that eeked out a razor-thin win over vet/ex-Clevelander Paul Hackett a few years ago in that nationally-watched, hotly contested race... If I recall, she earned the "mean" tag the nasty way she ran her campaign which should have been a cake walk for a Republican in that district... Talk about a regrettable election outcome.

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FYI... This was sent to the NARP board of directors June 12. It is not proprietary information....

 

 

My statement in response to the House action is at June 11 at bottom of this message and at

http://www.narprail.org/cms/index.php/news_releases/more/nr08_14/ 

 

At the very bottom of this message are instructions about how to find and read for yourself the bill that the House passed.

 

The following passage is quoted from the "Congestion Grants" section of the committee report (not the bill itself):

 

Amtrak provided the Committee with information regarding 18 congested points along the national network where Federal funding could immediately improve on-time performance and ridership growth. These corridors are

(1) Washington, DC, to Richmond, VA;

(2) Richmond, VA, to Selma, NC;

(3) Seattle, WA, to Portland, OR;

(4) Portland, OR, to Eugene, OR;

(5) Chicago, IL, to Porter, IN;

(6) Chicago, IL, to Detroit, MI;

(7) Chicago, IL, to Carbondale, IL;

(8) Chicago, IL, to Joliet, IL;

(9) Salinas, CA, to Paso Robles, CA; San Jose, CA, to Oakland, CA, to

Sacramento, CA;

(10) Oakland, CA, to Bakersfield, CA;

(11) San Diego, CA, to Los Angeles, CA, to Santa Barbara, CA;

(12) Selma, NC, to Jacksonville, FL;

(13) Sebring, FL, to Dyer, FL;

(14) Mineola, TX, to Ft. Worth, TX;

(15) Syracuse, NY, to Rochester, NY;

(16) Albany, NY, to Utica, NY;

(17) Poughkeepsie, NY, to Albany, NY; and

(18) Elkhart, IN, to Sandusky, OH.

 

The original version of H.R. 6003 included a shorter list of segments (shown below). The bill actually passed by the House had only a general statement that projects eligible for Congestion Grants included projects "identified by Amtrak as necessary to reduce congestion or facilitate ridership growth in intercity passenger rail transportation along heavily traveled rail corridors."

 

Here is the segment list that was in the original H.R. 6003:

 

SEC. 217. CONGESTION GRANTS.

 

...(b) Eligible Projects- Projects eligible for grants under this section include projects--

 

(1) to add a third track, crossovers, and Richmond-area track improvements to bypass Acca Yard and access the downtown Main St. Station on track from Washington, DC, to Richmond, VA;

 

(2) to add sections of second track, extend sidings, and add crossovers for Virginia and North Carolina service between Richmond, VA, and Selma, NC;

 

(3) to add a third track, crossovers, and sidings from Seattle, WA, to Portland, OR;

 

(4) to add new signals, reconfigure the Porter rail junction, add new siding, and construct flyovers and a separate passenger line from Chicago, IL, to Porter, IN; and

 

(5) designated by the Secretary as being sufficiently advanced in development to be capable of serving the purposes described in subsection

 

--Ross

 

 

Railroad Passengers Applaud House Action Corrected re Congestion Grants

 

Release #08-14-June 11, 2008

Contact NARP

 

Statement of Ross B. Capon

Executive Director

National Association of Railroad Passengers

 

Washington D.C., June 11, 2008 -- The House of Representatives is to be commended for its overwhelming approval today of H.R. 6003, the

Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act. The bill, which passed on a veto-proof margin of 311-104, aims in a number of ways to improve and expand U.S. passenger train service. That is exactly what the public has wanted for years. If properly funded through annual appropriations, tax credit bonds, cap and trade revenues, or some combination of these, this bill will allow for significant investment in rolling stock and tracks, including the addition of needed track capacity at key "chokepoints" where Amtrak and freight trains both suffer delays.

 

With Amtrak and mass transit ridership going off the charts as Americans respond to high prices for gasoline and jet fuel, it is disappointing

that over 100 members voted against the bill.

 

It is equally disappointing that the Bush Administration issued a veto threat because, in the Administration's words, the bill "provides scant

opportunity for competition on existing Amtrak routes and does not include provisions that would condition Amtrak's funding based on

progress on reforms."

 

To put those comments into perspective, one must remember that the Amtrak Board of Directors for a long time has been composed exclusively of Bush appointees, that the Secretary of Transportation is a board member, and that existing law gives plenty of opportunity for the

Administration to kill individual routes, which would make even less sense now than a year ago, but which is what some Amtrak critics consider a key "reform." Also, Amtrak largely operates over tracks of private railroads which have made clear their opposition to other carriers performing the same function.

 

The need for expanded train service is clear. Today's action shows that Congress wants to make that happen. The crucial test will be its ability

to provide the necessary funding.

 

X X X

 

TO SEE THE BILL AS IT WAS ACTUALLY PASSED (THE "MANAGER'S AMENDMENT"),

 

go to http://thomas.loc.gov/ and click on Congressional Record (from list at left). Then select "Daily Digest" from the four choices of "Section of Congressional Record," and enter 06/11/2008 in the date field. Scroll down about halfway (through the Senate activities to the start of House activities. Find this section, near the top of the House activities:

 

Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008:  The House passed H.R. 6003, to reauthorize Amtrak, by a yea-and-nay vote of 311 yeas to 104 nays, Roll No. 400.

 

Pages H5222-65

 

Note that the bill number is clickable. Click on it, and then on the third choice that comes up thereafter:

 

3.  Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 (Engrossed as Agreed to or Passed by House)[H.R.6003.EH]


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

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Q&A with Amtrak President Alex Kummant

 

 

BOSTON (Reuters.com) - As oil prices surge, many Americans are rediscovering the railroad. Amtrak, America's struggling passenger railroad, saw record numbers in May when ridership rose 12.3 percent from a year earlier, and ticket sales climbed 15.6 percent, according to company data. Reuters Boston Bureau Chief Jason Szep spoke with Amtrak President Alex Kummant. What follows are excerpts from that interview.

 

http://www.reuters.com/article/inDepthNews/idUSSIB27628520080612?sp=true

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Outstanding interview. Great replies by Kummant.


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

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An Amtrak comeback?[/b]

Eoin O'Carroll | 06.13.08

Christian Science Monitor

 

Things are looking up for Amtrak. The House overwhelmingly approved nearly $15 billion for the national passenger railroad Wednesday, more than doubling its funding, just as ridership is at the highest point in its 37-history.

 

 

 

Find this article at:

http://features.csmonitor.com/environment/2008/06/13/an-amtrak-comeback

 

www.baltimoresun.com/news/nation/bal-ed.amtrak15jun15,0,1379787.story

 

baltimoresun.com

Congress gets on board

Our view: A record $14 billion commitment to rail still falls short

June 15, 2008

 

Last week, the House of Representatives gave a big boost to the future of passenger rail service in this country. By approving the more than $14 billion, five-year spending plan by a veto-proof majority (which followed similar bipartisan action by the Senate last fall), Congress has not only taken a major step toward ensuring the survival of Amtrak but has also opened up opportunities for improved and expanded service across the nation and in Maryland.

 

 

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June 21, 2008

Travelers Shift to Rail as Cost of Fuel Rises

By MATTHEW L. WALD

 

WASHINGTON — Record prices for gasoline and jet fuel should be good news for Amtrak, as travelers look for alternatives to cut the cost of driving and flying.

 

And they are good news, up to a point.

 

Amtrak set records in May, both for the number of passengers it carried and for ticket revenues — all the more remarkable because May is not usually a strong travel month.

 

read more at:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/21/business/21amtrak.html?hp=&adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1214070537-oaoHQEJ4voLY6E92ytKhgw

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Amtrak’s fortunes also hinge on who wins the White House; Senator John McCain of Arizona, the presumptive Republican nominee, was a staunch opponent of subsidies to Amtrak when he was chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee. Barack Obama, the probable Democratic nominee, was a co-sponsor of the Senate version of the bill to provide an 80/20 financing match.

 

And another reason why my vote shifted from Clinton to Obama early on. That and his promises of increasing alternate transport means, we could see a huge fundamental shift in how it is funded come next year.

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I wonder what McCain actually supports in the way of rail.  As a conservative, I have a hard time with Amtrak on a philosophical level because I don't want the government to run a railway any more than I want them to run airlines.  I just honestly believe that it isn't the government's job to do this.  On the other hand, Amtrak is what we have currently, and I support rail, so I hope to see Amtrak improve.

 

What I'm getting at is that saying McCain opposes Amtrak subsidies implies that he opposes rail transit, but it really doesn't tell us anything other than that he's a conservative and thus doesn't think Amtrak should even exist.  It's possible that he'd like to see Amtrak dissolve in favor of private companies that are operating FOR PROFIT like freight rail, and therefore would have some incentive to increase efficiency and service.  I'm not necessarily opposed to that idea.  If he truly supports the further decline of our railways, I have a major problem with that, but so far I haven't heard anything either way.

 

I was hoping that the "oil hysteria" would lead to more conversation of rail transit on the national stage, but unfortunately that hasn't been the case thus far (outside of the passing of HR 6003, which has been virtually uncovered by the national news media).

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Some of the nation's foremost conservatives, such as Paul Weyrich, support transit and passenger rail.  In fact, Weyrich was one of the authors of the recent National Surface Transportation Policy Commission report.  Weyrich gets it that moving people on steel wheels is much more than creating mobility: it can be a powerful economic development engine that generates business and jobs, as well increasing access to things like education, health care, etc.

 

Weyrich was one of the most vocal critics of the Bush Administration to stifle the rail & transit sections of that report.  Sadly, Sen. McCain seems to view passenger rail through his own dislike of Amtrak.

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^Yeah.  I definitely support mass transit and passenger rail, as I believe that providing infrastructure is one of the most important charges of government.  However, I also believe that gov't bureaucracy is, by it's very nature, horribly bloated and inefficient.  So, if you asked me if I support Amtrak, I would say yes.  But if you asked me if I would prefer to see Amtrak replaced or augmented by the addition of several private corporations that do the same thing, my answer would also be yes.

 

Sadly, Sen. McCain seems to view passenger rail through his own dislike of Amtrak.

 

Maybe.  I still haven't heard McCain discuss passenger rail, outside of Amtrak.

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I don't need to tell you, JJ, that we have a lot of discontinuity in our transportation policy. My favorite is where government owns most highway, airport and waterway infrastructure, while private enterprise owns most railway infrastructure (a tradition since the early 1800s). When it comes to the ownership of vehicles and the management and marketing of them, its private enterprise that handles that aspect among the highway, airline and waterway modes. But at least when it comes to carrying people on the railways, it's the government which owns the vehicles, manages them and markets them. If ever there was a mirror image...

 

The freight railroads have resisted efforts to sell or otherwise turn over to public ownership their rights of way. They say that railway operations do not work when there are multiple users showing up to use a railroad line. Their evidence? During World War I, the federal government nationalized America's railroads and it was a disaster. Railway yards, stations and mainlines were jammed with trains with no crews assigned, dispatchers didn't know what to do and coal wasn't apportioned properly to power the steam locomotives. The federal government let the private railroads run the trains themselves in World War II and it worked like a charm.

 

Ever since, the railroads have resisted any governmental offers for financial support, which cost them as the federal government passed huge public works laws enabling construction of the Interstate Highway System in 1956 and the Airport and Airways Trust Fund in 1970. It was their own fault for not putting their pride aside and doing what they needed to do to adjust to the new infrastructure ownership paradigm.

 

The railroads pay more than $500 million per year in property taxes on their rights of way. They slashed overhead costs by cutting half of their route mileage since World War II. Now they have some pretty high-density traffic over what remains, yet they still earn a low cost of capital making it difficult for them to afford expasion. Only now are they willing to consider government funding to expand their capacity, yet they will retain ownership of their rights of way. Yet some companies like CSX or UP shy away from most public capital funding for fear they will lose some say over how their rail lines are operated.

 

Anyway, I wanted to point out the mirror-image approach of how infrastructure vs. vehicles are owned between the various modes, and why there is no easy solution to equalize the policies addressing them. The most obvious answer: either sell airports/airways, highways and waterways to private enterprise or sell railroad infrstructure to the government, then sell Amtrak to private enterprise. But if Amtrak is sold to private enterprise without some public support of railroad infrastructure, then we will never see a passenger train in this country again, except at the local museum.

 

 


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

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Will $4 gas save Amtrak?

 

http://www.theweekdaily.com/news_opinion/us_news_opinion/44721/will_4_gas_save_amtrak.html

 

What happened

A record number of passengers rode commuter trains in Los Angeles this week as record gasoline prices caused a dip in highway traffic. (Los Angeles Times) Congress recently passed—with enough support to override a threatened veto—a $15 billion bill that would help beef up the national passenger rail service. (AP in the Baltimore Sun)

 

 


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

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Good points, KJP.  That also brings to mind one of the major issues that economic conservatives like myself need to remember.  That is that rail isn't exactly like other forms of business.  We can't have an unrestriced number of railways competing like we can other types of companies, because there isn't enough Right Of Way to go around.  So there must be some level of government involvement.  The question is: how much? 

 

Personally, I'm thrilled that HR 6003 passed and I have hope for Amtrak's future.  However, I understand why some conservatives take the opposite stance.  I still haven't heard anything about where McCain stands on rail in general.  He definitely doesn't like the gov't owned & operated Amtrak, but that doesn't necessarily mean that he wouldn't support rail projects (though it tends to imply that).

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To go along with JJ, I'd rather see a passenger rail system that seeks to maximize revenue and profits rather than serve as transit of last resort. I have no problem with subsidies for rail per se, especially to rebalance rail with air and auto, but over the long term at minimum rail needs to be self-sufficient for operating costs - capital is far more within the bonds of useful gov't investment.

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Congress would either need to declare railroad rights of way as exempt from property taxes (that would hurt a lot of school districts) or allow the railroads to deduct on federal corporate income taxes the dollar amount they spend on property taxes. Railroads would also need to be eligible for tax-exempt bonds for capital improvements and expansions to their rights of way. I would also like to see the fuel taxes paid by the railroads either be wholly rescinded or be placed into a federal rail capital trust fund (like the federal highway and the aviation and the waterway trust funds). Oh, while we're at it, hire railroad security officers in state highway patrol departments paid out of the general fund so the railroads don't have to pay for their own police forces anymore.

 

I realize life isn't always fair, but it doesn't mean we shouldn't try to be fair.


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

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Why are conservatives stuck on rail having to be self-sufficient, but not the modes of transportation they prefer to use?

 

On this issue specifically, it's not about rail being self sufficient, it's about NOT having the government run an organization like Amtrak.  Government owned and operated railways, companies, factories, etc are a hallmark of socialism, not capitalism.  Conservatives tend to be lean heavily towards small government and capitalism, thus their problem with institutions such as Amtrak, which may or may not be a necessary evil.

 

As for rail projects in general, I have no clue why most conservatives demand that they be self sufficient.  If you're truly conservative, you believe that the 2 most important (and possibly the only) functions of gov't are to protect the citizens and provide the infrastructures of daily life.  Rail obviously falls under that second category.  If I were being generous, I would say that their opposition stems from a view that rail isn't necessary, while roads are.  But honestly, I think that most people (liberal AND conservative) don't examine WHY they believe what they do, they just believe it because they always have.  Pretty sad.

 

Oh, and I'm fully with dmerkow and oakiehigh on this.  Toll the whole interstate system already.

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My biggest complaint about having a toll-free Interstate system is that you completely remove price from the equation of regulating demand. The other option is to increase supply -- adding more lanes to the highway or building more highways. In the absence of tolls, expansion has been our only option. So now we have a huge highway system that is getting old and is very expensive to maintain. And with each expansion, the net increase in benefit from the expansion has a diminishing return in terms of fewer new vehicle-miles and thus progressively slower increases in gas tax revenues. That means the gas tax can't support the highway network, so it has to be raised for all highways. Throw in fuel price increases with all their inflationary pressures on steel, asphalt, construction fuel etc. and the cost of maintaining roads has jumped 60 percent in the last two years. Now the gas tax-funded highway trust fund to maintain the toll-free Interstate system is on a path to bankruptcy.

 

But if we want to discuss the options for resolving this imminent crisis, I encourage you to visit the U.S. transportation policy thread....

http://www.urbanohio.com/forum2/index.php/topic,14971.0.html


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

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Sadly, Sen. McCain seems to view passenger rail through his own dislike of Amtrak.

 

Maybe.  I still haven't heard McCain discuss passenger rail, outside of Amtrak.

 

 

I know what's he waiting for?          Christmas!!!    That's only 6 months away.   

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Privatized Rail, Roads, and Transportation in general doesn't really work.  Look at the UK for example that just privatized some of their rail operations.  What happens is that a particular carrier buys up all the leasing for a specific route so that no competitors remained.  When they tried to regulate the services, they reduced profits of certain carriers and they complained.  So basically, what you have in England is a nationalized railroad infrastructure system and several privatized carriers.  Most people just ride on the national carrier that still exists because it provides a better service.  The country is working towards nationalization once again instead of continuing the leases.

 

We had privatized rail service in the country before, it served 700 million people in 1946.  The system was highly regulated though almost to a point that put the railroads out of business.  If they would have unregulated it, prices would have been unaffordable on under served destinations.  We are a long ways away before we can even though about operating privatized rail services again in this country.  There is reason that Amtrak was formed in 1970.  The railroad companies were losing passengers to cars and planes.  Even at over 200 million annual passengers in 1964, they couldn't make a profit.  We barely have 30 million passengers now.

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Why are conservatives stuck on rail having to be self-sufficient, but not the modes of transportation they prefer to use?

 

On this issue specifically, it's not about rail being self sufficient, it's about NOT having the government run an organization like Amtrak.  Government owned and operated railways, companies, factories, etc are a hallmark of socialism, not capitalism.  Conservatives tend to be lean heavily towards small government and capitalism, thus their problem with institutions such as Amtrak, which may or may not be a necessary evil.

 

If rail was owned and maintained by states, as highways are, I think we'd have less problems on our hands.

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Privatized Rail, Roads, and Transportation in general doesn't really work.  Look at the UK for example that just privatized some of their rail operations.  What happens is that a particular carrier buys up all the leasing for a specific route so that no competitors remained.  When they tried to regulate the services, they reduced profits of certain carriers and they complained.  So basically, what you have in England is a nationalized railroad infrastructure system and several privatized carriers.  Most people just ride on the national carrier that still exists because it provides a better service.  The country is working towards nationalization once again instead of continuing the leases.

 

We had privatized rail service in the country before, it served 700 million people in 1946.  The system was highly regulated though almost to a point that put the railroads out of business.  If they would have unregulated it, prices would have been unaffordable on under served destinations.  We are a long ways away before we can even though about operating privatized rail services again in this country.  There is reason that Amtrak was formed in 1970.  The railroad companies were losing passengers to cars and planes.  Even at over 200 million annual passengers in 1964, they couldn't make a profit.  We barely have 30 million passengers now.

 

 

Which is why I said Amtrak may be a necessary evil.  But when someone asks why most conservatives oppose Amtrak, I stand by my reasoning.  Whether it's realistic or not, conservatives generally oppose the government running almost anything.

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