$66 billion for Amtrak

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Deni

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An interesting item in the bill - less important than other things of course, but interesting all the same - that got my attention is station staffing requirements. One of the rules states that any station that averaged 40 boardings per day in fiscal 2017 has to be staffed with at least one ticket agent. The question I have is, if anyone here might know where to find that info, are there any stations with that many boardings that are currently unstaffed that would have to be re-staffed if this provision survives the process?

It also says any station staffed on or after October 1st, 2017 will have to be staffed, meaning some more recent station agent cuts could be reversed and would also prohibit any more ticket agent cuts in the future.

I do like this.
 

cirdan

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An interesting item in the bill - less important than other things of course, but interesting all the same - that got my attention is station staffing requirements. One of the rules states that any station that averaged 40 boardings per day in fiscal 2017 has to be staffed with at least one ticket agent. The question I have is, if anyone here might know where to find that info, are there any stations with that many boardings that are currently unstaffed that would have to be re-staffed if this provision survives the process?

It also says any station staffed on or after October 1st, 2017 will have to be staffed, meaning some more recent station agent cuts could be reversed and would also prohibit any more ticket agent cuts in the future.

I do like this.
To me this sounds like exactly the sort of micro-management that ends up backfiring and making it easy for detractors to harp on about waste and ineffciency. It also potentially makes new routes more difficult to introduce. I feel this type of decision should be Amtrak's. Congress need to put able and competent pro-Amtrak people in charge and then give them as much freedom as possible in day to day decision taking.

There may be stations where an agent is justified and others where there is little point.
 

me_little_me

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To me this sounds like exactly the sort of micro-management that ends up backfiring and making it easy for detractors to harp on about waste and ineffciency. It also potentially makes new routes more difficult to introduce. I feel this type of decision should be Amtrak's. Congress need to put able and competent pro-Amtrak people in charge and then give them as much freedom as possible in day to day decision taking.

There may be stations where an agent is justified and others where there is little point.
I agree/disagree somewhat with this. Yes, they are micromanaging - but they have to with a management that has no concept on how to implement "manned" stations and/or provide those services that the local agent did other than the way it has always been done.

But getting "able and competent pro-Amtrak people in charge" has been a big problem for congress because of the diverging "representatives" who are more interested in promoting their political agenda than they are serving the American people.
 

joelkfla

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An interesting item in the bill - less important than other things of course, but interesting all the same - that got my attention is station staffing requirements. One of the rules states that any station that averaged 40 boardings per day in fiscal 2017 has to be staffed with at least one ticket agent. The question I have is, if anyone here might know where to find that info, are there any stations with that many boardings that are currently unstaffed that would have to be re-staffed if this provision survives the process?

It also says any station staffed on or after October 1st, 2017 will have to be staffed, meaning some more recent station agent cuts could be reversed and would also prohibit any more ticket agent cuts in the future.

I do like this.
Passenger counts for stations are available at State Fact Sheets | Amtrak for FY 2018 & 2019. If you really want the numbers for FY17, copy the link to the FY18 sheet and change the 18 at the end of the URL to 17.

Station amenities, including staffing, are available at At the Station | Amtrak (Ticket Office or not.)
 

Deni

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Passenger counts for stations are available at State Fact Sheets | Amtrak for FY 2018 & 2019. If you really want the numbers for FY17, copy the link to the FY18 sheet and change the 18 at the end of the URL to 17.

Station amenities, including staffing, are available at At the Station | Amtrak (Ticket Office or not.)
Cool, thanks for pointing me in that direction. Interesting to see just form a few searches how many stations would be getting ticket agents back under this bill. My old college town of Macomb being one of them.
 

Josh M

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Ferndale, MI
Passenger counts for stations are available at State Fact Sheets | Amtrak for FY 2018 & 2019. If you really want the numbers for FY17, copy the link to the FY18 sheet and change the 18 at the end of the URL to 17.

Station amenities, including staffing, are available at At the Station | Amtrak (Ticket Office or not.)
Looks like a lot of stations here in MI would be getting a ticket agent. I find it very interesting that Royal Oak (my "home" station) is one of them, when the Royal Oak station is literally just an outdoor platform with a shelter, but Pontiac, which has a small but nice and still fairly new actual station building, won't. (If they'd used FY 2019 numbers, then both of them would qualify.) I suppose maybe they could put someone inside the Royal Oak Transit Center across the street?
 

lordsigma

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This rule on station agents does not apply to state supported services - only long distance and the northeast corridor. State supported stations are still between Amtrak and the states. Amtrak can get around it by allowing commuter rail agents to sell Amtrak tickets. In a large number of NEC stations that could be affected by this they could address the issue by using the commuter rail agency as they do with NJ transit at a couple stops. The biggest issue I see for them on the NEC is a couple stops where them de staffing essentially caused the station building to close - ones I’m thinking are westerly and mystic - now the towns have gone on to put other venues in those station buildings so we’ll see how this gets interpreted. At places like Back Bay and Bridgeport it may just be easier to allow the commuter rail employees sell Amtrak.
 
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neroden

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To me this sounds like exactly the sort of micro-management
Congressional micromanagement is a reaction to blatantly incompetent Amtrak leadership, in this case Mr. Anderson. If Amtrak would stop scoring own goals and otherwise shooting at its own feet, Congress might be more inclined to be hands-off. On that topic, Amtrak needs to start publishing timetables again.
 

cirdan

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This rule on station agents does not apply to state supported services - only long distance and the northeast corridor. State supported stations are still between Amtrak and the states. Amtrak can get around it by allowing commuter rail agents to sell Amtrak tickets. In a large number of NEC stations that could be affected by this they could address the issue by using the commuter rail agency as they do with NJ transit at a couple stops. The biggest issue I see for them on the NEC is a couple stops where them de staffing essentially caused the station building to close - ones I’m thinking are westerly and mystic - now the towns have gone on to put other venues in those station buildings so we’ll see how this gets interpreted. At places like Back Bay and Bridgeport it may just be easier to allow the commuter rail employees sell Amtrak.
In principle, I like the idea.

The devil may be in the details however. How can you assure that commuter rail employees have the same level of training and detail knowledge as Amtrak employees and can answer customer questions competently? If you send them on courses and give them a qualification this may lead to problematic situations where employee A is not permitted to serve an Amtrak customer but employee B is, but the customer is angry because employee B has finished their shift and is going home and there is only employee A left to talk to.

Also, what will the Unions say about non Amtrak people doing Amtrak jobs?
 

GoAmtrak

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A Democratic Senate, even by a razor thin margin, and a Democratic House don't hurt.
I don't get it what the house members are waiting for. If all Democratic members of the House would approve it, couldn't it be passed then? Or is there a 2/3 majority necessary? Democrats should not calculate but just put all what they have to pass it. And then move on to the social bill.

And even if the infrastructure bill gets passed, there are numbers of years to upgrade tracks, stations etc. I read about the Rutland - Burlington extension in Vermont which was expected to start in 2018 or 2019 and now it seems to start in 2022. For me, even more bizarre is the delay of the Arrow commuter rail in California. It was projected for 2013 and although it is such a short distance between San Bernardino and Redlands, it seems to start just in 2022, with 9 years of delay for such a short distance?! If Amtrak would implement its improvements at this pace, the 2035 vision will be more of a 2135 vision :p


Generally I'm conviced a stronger Democratic Party ist way better for Amtrak expansion as most Republicans dont' seem to support passenger railway but spread conspiracy theories like "Public transport brings crime". If a politican in Switzerland would talk that non-sense, he would't be elected again for sure. Like Joe Biden, I really hope things move forward quickly.
 
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neroden

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I don't get it what the house members are waiting for.
The Senate has to pass bills in order for them to pass -- not just the House. Unfortunately.

Abolish the Senate, I say; it's undemocratic. But we can't do that just yet.

There are some absolutely critical infrastructure priorities in the reconciliation bill, and the majority of the Democratic members of the House insist that those get passed. The other, pseudo-bipartisan "infrastructure" bill is extremely highway-heavy and rural-heavy and frankly a lot of Democratic House members are very meh about it and don't really care about it; it doesn't have what's important to their constituents. So they'll pass the pseudo-bipartisan "infrastructure" bill but only if the reconciliation bill passes.

This was known months ago. So the Democratic Senators all promised to pass the reconciliation bill and the pseudo-bipartisan "infrastruture" bill together. But now two of them (Manchin and Sinema) are reneging and delaying everything. So they need to keep the promise they made earlier. The House is waiting for them to keep their promise and pass a reconciliation bill. Then the House will go ahead and finish passing both bills, as previously agreed.

The problem within the Democratic Party right now is 100% Manchin and Sinema, who have been grandstanding, changing what they want every week, refusing to say what they want, breaking promises they made -- it's really frustrating the other Senators as well as the House members. Frankly if they'd just be honest and give a price (pork barrel spending for West Virginia? money to things Manchin is invested in? whatever, fine) everything would be resolved, but they won't.

(Well, obviously the obstructionist Republicans who are rejecting things they supported last week just in order to be obstructionist are also a problem.)

The Swiss equivalent would be if the opposition parties were consistently voting against everything supported by the ruling coalition (even stuff they previously supported) -- AND there were two members of the ruling coalition in the Council of States who were breaking their promises and also obstructing the ruling coalition. You can perhaps see how this would make a giant mess. You'd probably go to new elections or a referendum but we don't have those options here.
 

IndyLions

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Yes - finally. It is put up or shut up time for Amtrak. I for one, am rooting for them to have their act together.

And on this forum – I hope we all remember that despite the fact that the majority of the funds are geared for Corridor type routes – that can do nothing but help long-distance.
 

Gemuser

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The infrastructure bill, with $66 billion for Amtrak intact, passed the House last night and is headed to Pres. Biden for his signature.
Are you sure about that last bit? I saw reporting [either MSMBC or CNN] last week that the House speaker was going to sit on each Bill until the other joined it & they would go to Biden together.
 

AmtrakBlue

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Are you sure about that last bit? I saw reporting [either MSMBC or CNN] last week that the House speaker was going to sit on each Bill until the other joined it & they would go to Biden together.
 

Steve Manfred

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Are you sure about that last bit? I saw reporting [either MSMBC or CNN] last week that the House speaker was going to sit on each Bill until the other joined it & they would go to Biden together.
Any bill that passes both houses of Congress automatically becomes law ten days after passage even without the President‘s signature, unless Congress is out of session when the tenth day comes up, which it isn’t going to be. Even if they want to sit on it in this way for symbolic purposes, and even if those other bills stall and don’t get done, this one will still be law as of November 15 or 16.
 
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jis

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There is much more to this bill as far as Amtrak is concerned, than just the $66 Billion. This Bill is also the Authorization for next five years, and it changes the fundamental structure of Amtrak and what it is all about. The emphasis for the first time shifts from becoming profitable to providing service, and the change is reflected in the amended Missions and Goals.

For more details see Jim Matthew (of RPA) letter from Friday night....

 

Ziv

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Interesting. I thought that if it wasn't signed the bill was not enacted and was in fact, subjected to a "pocket veto".
But it has been quite a few years since I watched "I am just a bill." LOL!
Kind of sad that I remember Schoolhouse Rock better than I remember the process of enacting a bill from the news or civics classes.

Any bill that passes both houses of Congress automatically becomes law ten days after passage even without the President‘s signature, unless Congress is out of session when the tenth day comes up, which it isn’t going to be. Even if they want to sit on it in this way for symbolic purposes, and even if those other bills stall and don’t get done, this one will still be law as of November 15 or 16.
 

jis

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Any bill that passes both houses of Congress automatically becomes law ten days after passage even without the President‘s signature, unless Congress is out of session when the tenth day comes up, which it isn’t going to be. Even if they want to sit on it in this way for symbolic purposes, and even if those other bills stall and don’t get done, this one will still be law as of November 15 or 16.
Indeed! And if Congress was about to adjourn before the ten days are up, the Speaker would have to be completely bonkers to sit on the bill and force a pocket veto or something like that. Either way the optics of sitting on this bill is not good and the Democrats would pay dearly for such an act down the line.
 

Steve Manfred

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Interesting. I thought that if it wasn't signed the bill was not enacted and was in fact, subjected to a "pocket veto".
But it has been quite a few years since I watched "I am just a bill." LOL!
Kind of sad that I remember Schoolhouse Rock better than I remember the process of enacting a bill from the news or civics classes.
The pocket veto only occurs if Congress is out of session when the ten days is up. This happened much more often back in history when Congress was out of session much more often than it is today. Nowadays it’s in session almost all the time, even if it’s not really doing anything…they keep doing just enough to be technically in session, so as to avoid pocket veto opportunities.
 

me_little_me

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The Senate has to pass bills in order for them to pass -- not just the House. Unfortunately.

Abolish the Senate, I say; it's undemocratic. But we can't do that just yet.
Unfortunately, you got it all wrong. The Senate has long since approved the bill. It was the House holding it up. The idea of the Democrats was to join the Senate-approved infrastructure bill with a House bill which also would add the additional $3T bill then use "Reconciliation" to adjust the differences between the two bills which would not then allow a filibuster to stop it so the Democrats could pass it with 51 votes. Of course, this is not the intention of Reconciliation which is to reconcile minor differences in a bill, not to add another bill twice the size. However, this is not the fist time it would have been done by either party. Both Republicans and Democrats have used Reconciliation to avoid filibusters.
 

Dakota 400

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When I read this news a few minutes ago, I was surprised. I thought that the House would do nothing before it went into recess before its week break. Certainly glad that the Bill did pass! And very pleased that some Republican members supported the Bill! (I wonder if my Republican member of Congress did. I'd be shocked if he did.)
 
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