Amtrak may face worse service

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

MrEd

Conductor
Joined
Dec 11, 2007
Messages
1,023
Location
Charlotte, NC
Amtrak, the U.S. long-distance passenger railroad, may face worse service and mounting mechanical woes unless it begins replacing its aging fleet next year, Chief Executive Officer Joseph Boardman said.

Amtrak, which could compete with private operators under President Barack Obama’s high-speed rail plan, is asking Congress for $2.5 billion for the 2011 fiscal year, including $446 million to buy rail cars and locomotives.

“If we continue to delay, we risk a significant worsening of the mechanical problems and failures that degrade our service quality and increase the already considerable maintenance expenses associated with the maintenance and repair of a fleet far past its prime,” Boardman said today in testimony prepared for a Senate Appropriations Committee panel hearing.

Boardman requested funding two days after Obama’s debt commission held its first meeting on reducing the federal deficit. Moody’s Investors Service has said it will consider cutting the government’s bond rating if the outlook doesn’t improve.

...

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?sid=a5g...mp;pid=20601087
 

sunchaser

Conductor
Joined
Feb 12, 2009
Messages
1,716
Location
Salt Lake City, Ut
Quoting Patty Murray-

“We owe it to future generations to not burden them with debt,” said Senator Patty Murray, the Washington Democrat who is chairman of the appropriations panel overseeing transportation spending. “But we also owe it to them to continue making the investments we know will strengthen our economy and make our country more competitive long-term.”

Too late Patty! The future generations are already burdened with debt! Compared to the huge amounts of new debt, the Amtrak requests are small change, and would be something useful.
 

amtrakwolverine

Conductor
Joined
Mar 14, 2008
Messages
4,002
Location
Warren MI
unlike the other pork that lead us to debt this will benefit the US cause for new railcars and locos you need factory's and workers so this will create jobs and help turn the economy around. too bad the government doesn't see it like that.
 

Green Maned Lion

Conductor
Joined
Dec 27, 2007
Messages
8,209
Location
NJ
Meh, bankruptcy is the eventual conclusion to all of this. Why bother sticking your finger in the small hole on the dyke with a break the size of the Titanic in it?
 

volkris

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 7, 2009
Messages
339
Location
Newport News, VA
unlike the other pork that lead us to debt this will benefit the US cause for new railcars and locos you need factory's and workers so this will create jobs and help turn the economy around. too bad the government doesn't see it like that.
Every bit of pork comes with a similar argument. Everyone believes their cause to be justified and somehow good for the economy and country, generally making jobs somehow.

In the end every bit of deficit spending requires loans to fund the operation, making the US government compete with private industry for the capital, and keeping a "real" business, factory, or service from expanding and creating jobs while creating future uncertainty in the market which very obviously keeps the economy from turning around. We've seen a textbook case of that recently with capital available but businesses not expanding due to competition from the federal deficit and uncertainty caused by promises of change.

Fortunately there are a few politicians who seem to understand the need for fiscal responsibility and not writing checks without the cash to pay. Unfortunately there are all too few people in the public who understand deficit spending, even for their pet projects, will affect them directly right now, not just decades down the road.
 

Ryan

Conductor
Joined
Apr 14, 2008
Messages
17,285
Location
OTN
Fortunately there are a few politicians who seem to understand the need for fiscal responsibility and not writing checks without the cash to pay. Unfortunately there are all too few people in the public who understand deficit spending, even for their pet projects, will affect them directly right now, not just decades down the road.
Even more fortunately, people that share your political views are in the minority. I like my government the way that it is and happily pay the taxes to support it. Amtrak isn't "pork", which seems to be a term that means "any spending that doesn't benefit me and therefore I disagree with".
 

goodnightjohnwayne

Train Attendant
Joined
Mar 25, 2009
Messages
75
The recapitalization of Amtrak's rolling stock is hardly a deficit buster. The real problem is that the request is coming far too late in the current political cycle. Amtrak was largely ignored in the first stimulus and was mostly frozen out of the $8 billion in HSR funding. Now, it's far from clear that even the modest Viewliner II order is going to be funded? Were there even any bidders?
 

volkris

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 7, 2009
Messages
339
Location
Newport News, VA
Fortunately there are a few politicians who seem to understand the need for fiscal responsibility and not writing checks without the cash to pay.
Ah, but they never remember this when they are in power.
Even more fortunately, people that share your political views are in the minority. I like my government the way that it is and happily pay the taxes to support it. Amtrak isn't "pork", which seems to be a term that means "any spending that doesn't benefit me and therefore I disagree with".
Both of the above replies proposed to politicize something that's not a political statement. They are absolute truths, no matter what your political persuasion, that there's an indirect cost to government spending, that there's a cost to deficit spending in the here and now, and that uncertainties caused by proposals for increased spending and increased regulation put up a roadblock to economic expansion through the uncertainties they put before businesses. That's no more political than the point that the grass is green.

Maybe it is or is not worth the costs to expand rail and expand government services. Fine. That IS a political, ideological, and subjective position and can be debated in the halls of congress.

But before we decide whether or not to spend money on Amtrak or anything else people need a better understanding of the costs. These notions of funding Amtrak because it will hire people and expand the economy with no downside are nonsensical.

Pay for trains because you want trains and are willing to pay the cost for them, not because of a delusion that paying for trains will somehow buy everyone a puppy too. We've seen entirely too much of that kind of talk from the politicians lately.

Oh, and every single study I've ever seen--and I've specifically looked--show that when presented with the costs the majority of Americans don't want to fund rail. They love trains right up until the bill comes due.
 

AlanB

Conductor
Honored Member
Joined
Aug 22, 2002
Messages
28,406
Location
Queens, New York
Oh, and every single study I've ever seen--and I've specifically looked--show that when presented with the costs the majority of Americans don't want to fund rail. They love trains right up until the bill comes due.
If that's the case, then the studies that you've been seeing aren't presenting the correct information to the people or are not showing the costs of the alternatives. While I'm less certain about Amtrak, in most cases for commuter/heavy/light rail, the alternatives are far more expensive.
 

volkris

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 7, 2009
Messages
339
Location
Newport News, VA
Oh, and every single study I've ever seen--and I've specifically looked--show that when presented with the costs the majority of Americans don't want to fund rail. They love trains right up until the bill comes due.
If that's the case, then the studies that you've been seeing aren't presenting the correct information to the people or are not showing the costs of the alternatives. While I'm less certain about Amtrak, in most cases for commuter/heavy/light rail, the alternatives are far more expensive.
Legitimate studies about the wants of the people are, by nature, not about presenting information to them. You ask a question and record the answer; you don't try to convince the person before recording their answer. That--push polling--crosses the line into pure propaganda and makes the study itself meaningless.

Often people are polled to see if they like rail and want to see it expanded. A whole lot of people say yes, and railfans tend to rejoice and go home, smug in the knowledge that other people like trains. However, the next question is just as important: the study asks the respondants if they want tax dollars going to fund rail and all of a sudden the majority responds in the negative, often overwhelmingly so.

It's not only a question of economics. People like cars for reasons ranging from nostalgia to appreciation of the freedom they bring. Even if staying highway-centered is more expensive in terms of infrastructure costs--and that calculation does go either way depending on the way costs are added up--people may be willing to pay the extra to go that direction, and that comes down to a values decisions where there is no right or wrong.

But in the end it's not a matter of one or the other. Rail stands on its own as a form of transportation that most Americans simply don't want significant tax dollars going towards. Right or wrong, for better or worse, that seems to be the state of affairs presently, and if railfans want to see expansion of rail then they need to recognize this fact and address it.

You want to see Amtrak get more funding? Then show individual Americans the value of rail to the point where they actually want to fund it. Until then you'll be stuck griping about the ebbs and flows of politics that occasionally throw Amtrak a bone before leaving it dry once again.
 

Ryan

Conductor
Joined
Apr 14, 2008
Messages
17,285
Location
OTN
Both of the above replies proposed to politicize something that's not a political statement. They are absolute truths, no matter what your political persuasion,
Bollux. Your statement is inherently political.
When properly informed about the costs of ALL forms of transit, there's no reason that rail should be excluded from government dollars. Fortunately the current administration agrees.

Legitimate studies about the wants of the people are, by nature, not about presenting information to them. You ask a question and record the answer; you don't try to convince the person before recording their answer. That--push polling--crosses the line into pure propaganda and makes the study itself meaningless.
Amazing, people with false information make bad choices. Give people all the facts and they change their mind. Only someone with an axe to grind would say that's a bad thing.
 

Ispolkom

Conductor
Joined
Nov 27, 2007
Messages
3,058
Location
St. Paul, Minn.
Fortunately there are a few politicians who seem to understand the need for fiscal responsibility and not writing checks without the cash to pay.
Ah, but they never remember this when they are in power.
Even more fortunately, people that share your political views are in the minority. I like my government the way that it is and happily pay the taxes to support it. Amtrak isn't "pork", which seems to be a term that means "any spending that doesn't benefit me and therefore I disagree with".
Both of the above replies proposed to politicize something that's not a political statement.
Nonsense. Your statement was inherently political.

The politicians in Washington who call for fiscal responsibility now showed little of it when they were in power. What was the national debt on January 20, 2001, vs. January 20, 2009?

The politicians who denounced filibusters on judicial nominations in 2005, and proposed the "nuclear option" now lead filibusters against judicial nominees.

The politicians in the house of representatives who brought up bills under the tightest of rules when they were in control now complain that they can't offer amendments.

I spent a decade toiling in Washington DC, and developed a deep and abiding appreciation for hypocrisy.

In the case of Amtrak, it's small beer. Do a few billion dollars matter either way?
 

AlanB

Conductor
Honored Member
Joined
Aug 22, 2002
Messages
28,406
Location
Queens, New York
You want to see Amtrak get more funding? Then show individual Americans the value of rail to the point where they actually want to fund it. Until then you'll be stuck griping about the ebbs and flows of politics that occasionally throw Amtrak a bone before leaving it dry once again.
Don't need to do that at all. Just need to show most American's that the roads that they think are paid for fully via fuel taxes aren't actually fully paid for via fuel taxes. Most people have no clue how heavily roads & highways are subsidized, which is why they oppose subsidies to rail.
 

volkris

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 7, 2009
Messages
339
Location
Newport News, VA
You guys just don't live in the real world, but you need to get with it if you really want to see lasting success for Amtrak and rail in general. Right now you're sitting in echo chambers, preaching to choirs of fantasies woven from wishes and cherry-picked data instead of getting out there and doing what needs to be done to make rail a viable and more effective means of transportation. We'd all be better off with legitimate expanded rail service, I think, but the current attitudes of railfans will ensure that rail remains little more than a footnote in the transportation infrastructure.

There's no reason rail shouldn't be funded, Ryan? Of course there is! There's the best reason there could possibly be: the taxpayers don't want to pay for it! Talk all you want about how expensive roads are, about how deluded the taxpayers are, about how uninformed they are, blah blah blah... fact is, they don't want to pay for rail, and attacking the costs of roads (not that even that is going on) is probably not going to give rail a huge boost.

Dismissing the notion that government debt costs the private sector as a political statement? It's not political any more than is saying 2 + 2 = 4! I take it the insistence of falsely politicizing the statement--which happens to harm some arguments for increased rail spending--is just an defense reaction to maintain the fantasies you guys cling to. It's not different than the false criticisms I see you guys use to attack other bits of analysis that threaten to burst your bubbles.

You want rail to succeed? Then open your eyes and see where it really is at the moment, find the actual problems to overcome, and support the efforts to solve them in a sustainable fashion. You guys aren't even doing step one at this point, and what you are doing is as often as not working against your goals in the longrun.

The main solution, I believe, is to demonstrate to Americans the value that rail can bring them, and yet most of you are focused on the opposite, trying to tear down others instead of building yourselves up.

I'm sorry to be so negative, but it's really frustrating to see the biggest allies of rail shooting themselves in the foot through a mixture of delusion and disinterest in the real problems.
 
G

Guest

Guest
I too am an old government hand, and I have no problem with true fiscal conservatives, there really is no free lunch! ;)

However, the facts are that more government money (ie our money!) is handed out in corporate welfare, stolen overseas, wasted on obsolete weapon systems etc. than all spending that actually benefits actual people! :eek: With con men stealing billions by playing financial flim flame games while millions losse their jobs, our so called "Leaders" want it both ways, they vote against all government spending except corporate welfare, and then show up @ ribbon cuttings taking credit for bringing home the bacon! Want some examples of these con men and women getting rich off the government:

The Gov. of Texas, Rick"Goodhair"Perry, Sarah"Half a Governor" Palin and John "Amtrak runs through Arizona?"McCain, all of whom spent their entire lives on the Government payroll, have become wealthy and now are against Government!" All the Fixed News medicine men (Beck/O'Riley/Hannity etc) and the biggest blowhard of them all, Rush, are getting rich on Government Dole, ie the airwaves that belong to the people! The anti-gobvernment no nothings need to wake-up and quit carrying water for the corporate thieves and politicos that get rich off their backs! :eek:

I'm far from a T-Party sympathizer (we already had the ****s and Racial haters, dont need 'em!)some of them have a few ideas such as "Dont let the Government mess with my Medicare'/ Hands off my Social Security and VA benefits" etc. Who do they think runs these programs that actually work, also last time I checked the military was a government program and theyve done pretty well over the years!

You live in Virginia, if you havent done it take a trip to California or the CHI corridor or the NEC and imagine what the roads would be like if there were no trains like most Republicans (and psuedo Republicans like Carter and Clinton want!)Florida wants to run off a Gov. that got them money for HSR to elect a Cuban conman, hope they get what they vote for! :blink:

The new Gov. of NewJeresy is trying to hurt rail in his state while shoveling out money (ie graft) to his pals and supporters, lots of which are the highway lobby!The true cost of operating highways and airlines would shock most people, and we're the lowest taxed country on earth, you coulds look it up! Im proud of politicians like Obama, Amtrak Joe and the Congress people that actually want to spend money that benefit everyone, not just the rich and their political and corporate puppets! Ill support rail by voting against idiots and con men like the Republicans seem to be trotting out everywhere! ;)
 

Ryan

Conductor
Joined
Apr 14, 2008
Messages
17,285
Location
OTN
There's no reason rail shouldn't be funded, Ryan? Of course there is! There's the best reason there could possibly be: the taxpayers don't want to pay for it! Talk all you want about how expensive roads are, about how deluded the taxpayers are, about how uninformed they are, blah blah blah... fact is, they don't want to pay for rail, and attacking the costs of roads (not that even that is going on) is probably not going to give rail a huge boost.
Your argument boils down to "facts don't matter, opinion does".
Pretty much the opposite from the direction where we should be going.
 

Big Iron

Conductor
Joined
Nov 13, 2009
Messages
1,028
Location
Virginia
I too am an old government hand, and I have no problem with true fiscal conservatives, there really is no free lunch! ;) However, the facts are that more government money (ie our money!) is handed out in corporate welfare, stolen overseas, wasted on obsolete weapon systems etc. than all spending that actually benefits actual people! :eek: With con men stealing billions by playing financial flim flame games while millions losse their jobs, our so called "Leaders" want it both ways, they vote against all government spending except corporate welfare, and then show up @ ribbon cuttings taking credit for bringing home the bacon! Want some examples of these con men and women getting rich off the government:

The Gov. of Texas, Rick"Goodhair"Perry, Sarah"Half a Governor" Palin and John "Amtrak runs through Arizona?"McCain, all of whom spent their entire lives on the Government payroll, have become wealthy and now are against Government!" All the Fixed News medicine men (Beck/O'Riley/Hannity etc) and the biggest blowhard of them all, Rush, are getting rich on Government Dole, ie the airwaves that belong to the people! The anti-gobvernment no nothings need to wake-up and quit carrying water for the corporate thieves and politicos that get rich off their backs! :eek:

I'm far from a T-Party sympathizer (we already had the ****s and Racial haters, dont need 'em!)some of them have a few ideas such as "Dont let the Government mess with my Medicare'/ Hands off my Social Security and VA benefits" etc. Who do they think runs these programs that actually work, also last time I checked the military was a government program and theyve done pretty well over the years!

You live in Virginia, if you havent done it take a trip to California or the CHI corridor or the NEC and imagine what the roads would be like if there were no trains like most Republicans (and psuedo Republicans like Carter and Clinton want!)Florida wants to run off a Gov. that got them money for HSR to elect a Cuban conman, hope they get what they vote for! :blink:

The new Gov. of NewJeresy is trying to hurt rail in his state while shoveling out money (ie graft) to his pals and supporters, lots of which are the highway lobby!The true cost of operating highways and airlines would shock most people, and we're the lowest taxed country on earth, you coulds look it up! Im proud of politicians like Obama, Amtrak Joe and the Congress people that actually want to spend money that benefit everyone, not just the rich and their political and corporate puppets! Ill support rail by voting against idiots and con men like the Republicans seem to be trotting out everywhere! ;)
Idiots...come on.....don't resort to name calling because some choose to spend tax dollars differntly that you'd like. Rush is getting rich from advertising dollars generated by for profit radio stations. I guess if funding got cut for NPR Amtrak could run a few more trains. The corporate thieves fuel the governemnt tit that you've been sucking on for far too long.

I'm with Volkris, get involved, get involved with your local planning districts that discuss road, air, rail, transit and formulate plans for implementation. Generally the same/similar people at each discussion, private business, elected officials and government employees/specialists. You get to hear all planning items, peoples agendas for each, funding sources (scant) available. This is where I spend my time because spending tax dollars wisely is an enourmous economic development engine and focusing an organized, well rounded transit effort in a Region helps grow business (more taxes, grow residents (more taxes). Amtrak does generate an economic return for the localities it serves, this needs to be shouted out loud. Tax dollars spent on Amtrak are not thrown in a black hole. It's easy to roll out the numbers that the taxpayer pays x amount of dollars per passenger. What is less easy to quantify is the tax revenue generated by those passgengers along the way in the communities they visit/live. What is given to Amtrak in Federal tax dollars gets spread around to the states which ultimately gets back to the Feds but the taxpayer gets to keep some of that money in return.
 

Ryan

Conductor
Joined
Apr 14, 2008
Messages
17,285
Location
OTN
don't resort to name calling
the governemnt tit that you've been sucking on for far too long.
Pot, meet kettle. It's not name calling when it's true. Sometimes, the truth is painful.

Advocating any form of transportation on a purely economic basis is foolish. Moving stuff from point "A" to point "B" costs money no matter how you do it.
 

Green Maned Lion

Conductor
Joined
Dec 27, 2007
Messages
8,209
Location
NJ
Both of the above replies proposed to politicize something that's not a political statement. They are absolute truths, no matter what your political persuasion, that there's an indirect cost to government spending, that there's a cost to deficit spending in the here and now, and that uncertainties caused by proposals for increased spending and increased regulation put up a roadblock to economic expansion through the uncertainties they put before businesses. That's no more political than the point that the grass is green.
Pfui, sir. I can say:

"Amtrak, which moves thousands of Americans each day, costs a mere $590 million a year in operating subsidies, presenting many Americans with option of other transportation."

Or

"Amtrak costs us an unbelievable $590 million each year to move a handful of people using an antiquated alternative to driving ones own car."

They are both full of facts- and plenty of opinion, too. If there was but one solution to economic problems, if there was a definite, unequivocal solution that would fix everything, we'd provide all the information and take it. Fact: We don't know what the best course of action to take financially is, was, or will ever be.

Fact: All generally accepted predictive measures of the future economic trends have goofed at some time in their life.

Fact: Your point of view, Volkris, is your point of view and nothing more.

Fact: As a believer in generally Keynesian economics, I disagree with you down the line, forward, backwards, and sideways.

Fact: That is also my opinion.

Another opinion: Your vitriol and vituperation is unwarranted, unwanted, and makes you look like a jerk. You'd find it to the betterment of your credibility to tone it down.

You guys just don't live in the real world, but you need to get with it if you really want to see lasting success for Amtrak and rail in general. Right now you're sitting in echo chambers, preaching to choirs of fantasies woven from wishes and cherry-picked data instead of getting out there and doing what needs to be done to make rail a viable and more effective means of transportation. We'd all be better off with legitimate expanded rail service, I think, but the current attitudes of railfans will ensure that rail remains little more than a footnote in the transportation infrastructure.
Correction, at least for my part: I don't live in yours. I can honestly say, with neither fear nor favour, that I do not spend my time at this forum preaching to the choir! I do not sit with fantasies from cherry picked data. I sit here burdened down with the real data, knowing what will and will not work, and how the political orientation of various people, and the general idiocy of human beings in general, stop things that should be done from being done inspite of all empirical data as a result of power struggles, misinformation, and even general vanity.

There's the best reason there could possibly be: the taxpayers don't want to pay for it!
The tax payer is, statistically, a freakin' idiot. The taxpayer is getting more or less what he asked for. Which is six million bajillion services, all of which cost money. And low taxes. Which has left us in the financial quandary we are now discussing.

We have attempted to give the taxpayer what he wants. And we have found ourselves neck deep in some impressively rancid fecal matter. The idea that we should then do what the taxpayer wants as an exit stratagem for this problem is an exercise in faulty logic. Indeed, it is a poster child for the concept of exercises in faulty logic!

Moderator, may we please lock what has become a sad excuse for a thread?
I humbly put forth that this topic is relevant and might be productive. I'd rather let the mud fly a little longer, for my part.
 

jis

Conductor
AU Lifetime Supporter
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2003
Messages
28,383
Location
Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
The funny thing about supply siders is that they do talk a good talk, but when their fanciful theories fail miserably, they first blame the Democrats and then fall back on Keynes to pull their bacon out of the fire, or just simply crash and burn and say "Ooops sorry!".

But this is way way OT, unless we want to rename the board. Economic Theories Unlimited. :)
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Top