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Covid will dictate the future

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20th Century Rider

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CEO Flynn has explicitly asked for $1.5 Billion to restore full service by July. This is the exact amount that has been included in the Draft Bill. If anyone here wants second guess the CEO maybe they should send a missive to him and argue with him 😬
Yes he did... as 'additional funding' to help restore service.

"Amtrak requires additional COVID relief funding to sustain and restore operations and recall employees through the remainder of FY21 and into FY22 and beyond. In the coming weeks, we are requesting $1.541 billion in FY21 and will outline our FY22 needs in our annual Legislative and Grant Request."

With the positives from the Biden administration my intuitive instinct is Amtrak will come out of the COVID crisis ok. We shall see what happens... no one is sending missives or arguments to Flynn that I know of. :oops:

Below is a PDF of his January 22, 2021 letter to Congress...
 

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PaTrainFan

Service Attendant
Joined
May 1, 2017
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Pittsburgh, Pa.
While I am pleased to see such potential support for a full return of service, until the public's confidence is restored and many restrictons are listed, how much sense is there to throw money at this if people do not ride? I sincerely hope by summer the desire to travel will return but I am skeptical and believewe are talking fall, at the earliest.
 

flitcraft

OBS Chief
Joined
Jan 10, 2018
Messages
749
I have a beard. A friend told me that the particles could sneak under the Mask. Any opinions, here? Triple mask, shave, a Divers Helmet, move to Taiwan? 😷 😷 😷
If you really are looking for solutions, there are 'beard friendly' masks out there, that come down further over the chin and have adjustable ear loops to tighten them down. Tom Bihn, a company in Seattle, makes them--their Version 6 is recommended for bearded guys (except maybe the ZZ Top crowd). They aren't cheap but they're locally made by workers that are paid a living wage. I've used all of their versions, I think, and like the flannel ones best for winter wear. Oh, and they have a built in neck lanyard so you can easily put the mask on around your neck before you need it--like driving--and then easily slip it on when you do. I don't know if there are restrictions on links to companies here, but google Tom Bihn and you'll find it. I don't have any connections to them, except being a happy customer.
 
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flitcraft

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And in my case, having sinusitus and moderate emphysema, and taking a medication that has side effects that mimic allergies (especially sinus congestion and sneezing), whenever I put a mask on, I'm good for maybe 5-10 minutes before I realize that I am being starved of oxygen, eg, hypoxia, light headedness and all. I have no choice but to remove my mask for a minute or so to catch my breath, as it were. Double masking? Would literally end up on my dead body, in my opinion.
Actually, medical experts recommend that patients with lung problems wear masks. Importance of Patients with Chronic Lung Disease Wearing Facial Coverings

People with severe lung issues who believe that masks are impeding their oxygen intake should buy and use a pulse oximeter to measure their oxygen level. (You can order them online.) Most who try this discover that they actually are getting enough oxygen, but in those rare cases where they aren't, they can consult with their doctors and show the doctor their blood oxygen levels while masked and get medical advice on that basis.

People with severe lung issues are also recommended to take maximum caution to avoid getting COVID, where they are at extreme risk for fatal complications. That means staying inside and away from others, using delivery services rather than in-person shopping, having friends or neighbors do necessary errands, and postponing unnecessary ones, etc. Stay safe out there!
 

20th Century Rider

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While I am pleased to see such potential support for a full return of service, until the public's confidence is restored and many restrictons are listed, how much sense is there to throw money at this if people do not ride? I sincerely hope by summer the desire to travel will return but I am skeptical and believewe are talking fall, at the earliest.
Just imagine how difficult this is for restaurants, airlines, Walt Disney World, cruise lines, hotels, and all other businesses that rely on person to person services. Amtrak like others is trying to walk the tight rope and keep in balance. To be sure there is pent up demand... it's just a matter of pushing down that bell curve and getting what appears to be an 'endemic pandemic' under control.

Folks are tired of sitting home and we still have a way to go. The Amtrak folks and our government continue to struggle as slowly but surely the vaccines become available. Only time will tell!

Egads! I can't even find a prediction timetable for COVID.
 

MARC Rider

Conductor
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Baltimore. MD
2) I haven't gotten any kind of infectious illness this year. Along the same lines
Oh yeah, same for me. Every spring and every fall, I used to come down with some 24-48 hour crud. Sometimes I'd get nailed in the winter, too. This past year, I seem to have missed out on that particular experience.

There is definitely something to be said for social distancing.
 

MARC Rider

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I can only go by what people tell us they want and what Amtrak does with limited funds. Apparently the in-room toilet is not as big of a deal as previously assumed. That said, if you have evidence that most of the general public needs in-room toilets and that improved ventilation and cleaning would be insufficient to keep them safe then post it here.


What standards and which hotels are you talking about? Over the last few decades I've visited around 70 brands across hundreds of locations but I have not seen the "million times better" improvement you have.
I've been staying at hotels since the 1970s (and earlier, when traveling with my parents.) In nearly every place, in every price-point where I've stayed, the bathrooms were as good as they are today. That is, all hotels in the US that I have stayed in, the bathrooms were en-suite, they were clean, and the sanitary plumbing worked fine. (OK, one place in Watkins Glen NY where we stayed had a water main break, not the hotel's fault, and the toilets wouldn't work, but we were leaving that morning anyway.) I had two experiences where there wasn't hot water in the shower. I stayed in a place in London, UK with a shared bath and toilets. While not as convenient, these were well maintained and perfectly clean, and standing in line in the morning to take a shower was a pleasant social activity.

With regard to Amtrak, while I have seen some incredibly clean restrooms in coach on overnight trips (a ride on the Silver Star in 2012 comes to mind), they really have a problem keeping those public restrooms clean on long trips with high load factors. I particularly remember (and not fondly) a ride on the Vermonter, which was standing room only between White River Junction and New Haven, and still pretty crowded all the way into New York. After we left New York, the odor from the restroom wafted to our seats at practically the other end of the car. However, in the sleepers, I've never had any problems with foul restrooms, even the upper-level ones in the Superliners. I also have no problem with the in-roomette toilet in the Viewliner I's if I'm traveling by myself. I always sleep in the upper bunk, anyway, and it's kind of convenient to just climb down and deal with a call of nature, instead of having to get dressed to go down the hall. On the other hand, if I'm sharing the roomette, it's a pain, I either have to shoo my partner into the hall while I do my thing, or head down to the coaches. I balance, I'll be looking forward to having a puplic restroom in the sleepers the next time I ride a Viewliner 2 sleeper. The one time I rode in a bedroom, I was fine with the en-suite shower-toilet combo, though you have to be careful to make sure it drains completely inside the bathroom, and you need to keep the cover over the toilet paper roll completely closed when you take a shower. In any event, I don't think that any of these options are particularly risky in terms of transmitting respiratory viruses. However, it would be helpful if Amtrak pair more consistent attention of en-route cleaning of all toilets.
 

MARC Rider

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People with severe lung issues who believe that masks are impeding their oxygen intake should buy and use a pulse oximeter to measure their oxygen level. (You can order them online.) Most who try this discover that they actually are getting enough oxygen, but in those rare cases where they aren't, they can consult with their doctors and show the doctor their blood oxygen levels while masked and get medical advice on that basis.
Yeah, but what do you do if the pulse oximeter says your blood oxygen is fine, but you still feel like you're suffocating?
 

MARC Rider

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Mask wearing is also good for those places that have lots of Air Polution, of which we still have far too many!😣
Absolutely. Some of the masks I've ordered come with a little pocket for an extra filter layer and a PM 2.5 filter. They were all made in China, and funny how it is that the Chinese have a lot of PM 2.5 filters in stock and ready to sell. :) When I got sent to Beijing, we were warned about the legendary Beijing smog, and I was a little disappointed that we didn't get any, just one Code Red PM 2.5 day that wasn't any different from a smoggy day in any American big city. You could even see across the street. (Of course, my lungs weren't disappointed about missing out on the smog.)
 

MARC Rider

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If you're the boss make it possible for your employees to stay home, quit obsessing about who might try to game the system. Greed should not take priority over public health.
The easiest way for companies to have their workers avoid gaming the sick leave system is to allow the employees to keep accumulated sick leave from year to year without limit. If unused sick leave has a value to the employee, then they'll be less likely to use it as some sort of additional vacation time. In my case, the accumulated unused sick leave had 2 benefits for me: (1) it served as a very nice short-term disability policy (that I never needed) that is free of the usual insurance-company red tape, and (2) when I retired, it counted as credit for service, which jacked up my annuity a little bit. Despite that, I never felt any pressure not to use sick leave if I was actually sick.
 

Bob Dylan

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The easiest way for companies to have their workers avoid gaming the sick leave system is to allow the employees to keep accumulated sick leave from year to year without limit. If unused sick leave has a value to the employee, then they'll be less likely to use it as some sort of additional vacation time. In my case, the accumulated unused sick leave had 2 benefits for me: (1) it served as a very nice short-term disability policy (that I never needed) that is free of the usual insurance-company red tape, and (2) when I retired, it counted as credit for service, which jacked up my annuity a little bit. Despite that, I never felt any pressure not to use sick leave if I was actually sick.
Should be that way everywhere!
 

flitcraft

OBS Chief
Joined
Jan 10, 2018
Messages
749
When I got sent to Beijing, we were warned about the legendary Beijing smog, and I was a little disappointed that we didn't get any, just one Code Red PM 2.5 day that wasn't any different from a smoggy day in any American big city. You could even see across the street. (Of course, my lungs weren't disappointed about missing out on the smog.)
Believe it or not, the smog there has actually gotten better in the past few years. Back in the early 90's, I spent six weeks in Beijing without seeing a single 'blue sky day.' Still, particularly in the colder months, the air is of abusive quality. When I left China fall of 2019, I left my supply of masks with a student, knowing they'd be needed later on. Little did I realize that the person who was going to need masks later on would be me!
 

Ferroequinologist

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Jan 18, 2016
Messages
275
I've been staying at hotels since the 1970s (and earlier, when traveling with my parents.) In nearly every place, in every price-point where I've stayed, the bathrooms were as good as they are today. That is, all hotels in the US that I have stayed in, the bathrooms were en-suite, they were clean, and the sanitary plumbing worked fine. (OK, one place in Watkins Glen NY where we stayed had a water main break, not the hotel's fault, and the toilets wouldn't work, but we were leaving that morning anyway.) I had two experiences where there wasn't hot water in the shower. I stayed in a place in London, UK with a shared bath and toilets. While not as convenient, these were well maintained and perfectly clean, and standing in line in the morning to take a shower was a pleasant social activity.

With regard to Amtrak, while I have seen some incredibly clean restrooms in coach on overnight trips (a ride on the Silver Star in 2012 comes to mind), they really have a problem keeping those public restrooms clean on long trips with high load factors. I particularly remember (and not fondly) a ride on the Vermonter, which was standing room only between White River Junction and New Haven, and still pretty crowded all the way into New York. After we left New York, the odor from the restroom wafted to our seats at practically the other end of the car. However, in the sleepers, I've never had any problems with foul restrooms, even the upper-level ones in the Superliners. I also have no problem with the in-roomette toilet in the Viewliner I's if I'm traveling by myself. I always sleep in the upper bunk, anyway, and it's kind of convenient to just climb down and deal with a call of nature, instead of having to get dressed to go down the hall. On the other hand, if I'm sharing the roomette, it's a pain, I either have to shoo my partner into the hall while I do my thing, or head down to the coaches. I balance, I'll be looking forward to having a puplic restroom in the sleepers the next time I ride a Viewliner 2 sleeper. The one time I rode in a bedroom, I was fine with the en-suite shower-toilet combo, though you have to be careful to make sure it drains completely inside the bathroom, and you need to keep the cover over the toilet paper roll completely closed when you take a shower. In any event, I don't think that any of these options are particularly risky in terms of transmitting respiratory viruses. However, it would be helpful if Amtrak pair more consistent attention of en-route cleaning of all toilets.
If Covid is transmitted in the air, how can a tiny public toilet be safe? If a Covid + passenger has used the toilet doesn't the virus linger, trapped in that tiny space?
 

AmtrakBlue

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If Covid is transmitted in the air, how can a tiny public toilet be safe? If a Covid + passenger has used the toilet doesn't the virus linger, trapped in that tiny space?
If the person wore a face mask, as mandated, the virus should only be on his mask (at least enough that what did escape is not enough to sicken someone else). And if you're wearing your mask, even less chance you get the virus.
 

MARC Rider

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If Covid is transmitted in the air, how can a tiny public toilet be safe? If a Covid + passenger has used the toilet doesn't the virus linger, trapped in that tiny space?
This is getting a little obsessive. First, even with the pandemic, the vast majority of people aren't infectious. There's a finite number of people per trip who use a particular restroom. Most of those who do aren't going to be both infectious and not wearing a mask. And even if they are infectious and not wearing a mask, their exhalations will eventually dissipate -- the restrooms, however tiny, are ventilated, and being tiny make the exchange of air faster. And if you're wearing a mask, this further reduces the number of virus particles that can enter you, further reducing the risk. Of course there's some risk, but not so much that I would worry about catching Covid 19 in a restroom while wearing a mask.
 

jis

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Yeah. I would not worry about it any more than I do in any restroom anywhere, specially if I am wearing an N95/KN95/FN95 mask, and even more so if I am vaccinated with a high grade vaccine. Of course people who want to irrationally worry will continue to do so no matter what. But that will never justify significantly changing the provision of toilet services in public places, unless the overall risk profile of COVID changes very significantly because of extraneous factors. But we can cross that bridge when we come to that river.
 

Ziv

OBS Chief
Joined
Oct 25, 2011
Messages
726
I don't know about everyone out there, but taking off a mask in a toilet is not one of the most pleasant actions a person can do... One of the upsides of a mask is that they screen out a lot of unpleasant odors.
My gut on this is that using a shared restroom on an LD train is not the safest thing you can do, but it is a lot safer than riding a subway with a higher turnover of people. But that is just my take on it.
;-)

In the privacy of a restroom, that's a big "if".
 

Barb Stout

OBS Chief
Joined
Mar 13, 2019
Messages
677
If the person wore a face mask, as mandated, the virus should only be on his mask (at least enough that what did escape is not enough to sicken someone else). And if you're wearing your mask, even less chance you get the virus.
And wearing a mask in the loo helps cut down on bad odors also.
 

20th Century Rider

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This is getting a little obsessive. First, even with the pandemic, the vast majority of people aren't infectious. There's a finite number of people per trip who use a particular restroom. Most of those who do aren't going to be both infectious and not wearing a mask. And even if they are infectious and not wearing a mask, their exhalations will eventually dissipate -- the restrooms, however tiny, are ventilated, and being tiny make the exchange of air faster. And if you're wearing a mask, this further reduces the number of virus particles that can enter you, further reducing the risk. Of course there's some risk, but not so much that I would worry about catching Covid 19 in a restroom while wearing a mask.
What I find upsetting in a really big way is the 'dangling of the carrot' by health providers who pop on my screen with 'We have big news regarding vaccines!' Then you must read forever to find out when and where they will be available... then you get to a small blue box that says 'click here for location and place of shots.'

So you click.

Then it says... 'sorry, we have no information for your area at this time.'

So it depends on where one lives and local and state governments controlling how much comes to the state and where it is to be distributed.

Meanwhile a really really do fear this thing... and read about folks dying in my small town who never thought they'd get it.

I am not obsessive enough as more and more people in my immediate area are catching COVID 19 and dying.
February 11, 2021 Pandemic Stats.png

rawImage.jpg
Just get your mask? Gimme a break!.png
 

Jean

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Blue Mts, Australia
I have seen medical advice in Australia, given by a Professor of Epidemiology, that Covid particles are excreted by humans, making sharing toilets a risk. This would be in addition to any virus particles left in a shared restroom, just by someone breathing. Who can tell if the previous occupant didn’t pull down their mask for a short break because they feel it inhibits breathing or fogs up their glasses.
Not sure if this happens in the US, but one strategy in Australia is to check for Covid particles in sewerage plants. So obviously it is excreted. When such traces are found, warnings for the areas covered by the affected sewerage plant are announced in the media and extra testing conducted.
We have also just been made aware of another way to become infected. There is a current small (13 cases so far) outbreak in Melbourne, where the source was a nebuliser in a quarantine hotel. It was against the rules, but it still happened. Super fine particles from an infected person were pumped out by the nebuliser and drifted into the corridor, infecting staff, who passed it on etc. With the new strains, it doesn’t take much to catch it.
 

Devil's Advocate

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I have seen medical advice in Australia, given by a Professor of Epidemiology, that Covid particles are excreted by humans, making sharing toilets a risk.
So what is the infection vector in this scenario? I've yet to see any evidence Covid can be absorbed through the skin.

This would be in addition to any virus particles left in a shared restroom, just by someone breathing. Who can tell if the previous occupant didn’t pull down their mask for a short break because they feel it inhibits breathing or fogs up their glasses.
I think the key is to improve ventilation and filtration. Shared bathrooms come with a risk but technically sleeping compartments are also shared with no way to know what the prior occupant was up to.
 

Jean

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Blue Mts, Australia
The infection vector? A person uses the toilet, then because Covid virus particles are excreted, some are in the air, ready to be breathed in by the next occupant/s, depending on how long they hang around. This process is encouraged by flushing, sending even more particles into the air. IIRC the Professor recommended closing the toilet lid before flushing to minimise risk. The particles must also fall on surfaces and could be transferred to eyes, noses etc without thinking. This must happen even if the previous occupant is wearing an effective mask, or two.
Obviously all shared toilets and other smaller spaces are a risk, not just train ones. And wearing a mask must help, but some masks are not so effective as others.
I guess everyone has to weigh the risk and make their own decision. Some have to travel for work, no choice there.
 

20th Century Rider

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The infection vector? A person uses the toilet, then because Covid virus particles are excreted, some are in the air, ready to be breathed in by the next occupant/s, depending on how long they hang around. This process is encouraged by flushing, sending even more particles into the air. IIRC the Professor recommended closing the toilet lid before flushing to minimise risk. The particles must also fall on surfaces and could be transferred to eyes, noses etc without thinking. This must happen even if the previous occupant is wearing an effective mask, or two.
Obviously all shared toilets and other smaller spaces are a risk, not just train ones. And wearing a mask must help, but some masks are not so effective as others.
I guess everyone has to weigh the risk and make their own decision. Some have to travel for work, no choice there.
The Blue Mountains in Australia are one of the most beautiful places on earth. I visited there once when younger and a blue moon ago. Just a dream in the past now...

As for the COVID virus... that it found it's way there cements it as a world tragedy.

Yup... you be careful of those public toilets... anywhere in the world you may be!

The Blue Mountains make a statement about the majesty of Australia... glad I was able to visit there!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 😇 😇 😇

GettyImages-558894273-5a70d3d58e1b6e0037bba9ae.jpg
 
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