Why Privitazation Won't Work or Save Money

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AlanB

Engineer
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Aug 22, 2002
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Some private companies that screen airline passengers are charging more for their services now that the government is footing the bill, says a federal report that found one company nearly doubled its rates.
The Transportation Department's inspector general also found cases where the companies billed the government for absent employees and work that was never completed. And it found lax oversight by government officials.
Like I said in the title, this post is not really about trains and Amtrak per se.

That said the above article from 1010 WINS News, only goes to show why privatization will never accomplish the goals of lowering costs for the Federal Government with regard to train travel. Any train travel in this country will always require some government help, without it no company will ever agree to run trains. No company will ever be able to survive running trains without Government help. Remember that’s why Amtrak was formed, because the freight companies were going bankrupt trying to run passenger service.

Once they know that they are getting government help, the exact same situation described in the article above will occur. They will look for any and every way to get more money from the Feds money pot, just like these private security companies. Just like the company that sold the Air Force those 20,000 dollar coffee pots, or that other company that sold the Air Force those 1,000 dollar toilet seats.

So to all those who might think that privatization will fix what is wrong with Amtrak, I say stick with the devil you know. The private sector’s track record when it comes to working for the Government is worse than Amtrak’s record and since any train service will require subsidy, this means that they will be working for the Government.

For those who wish to view the entire article, you can see it here.
 

GWR

Train Attendant
Joined
Aug 25, 2002
Messages
40
It is very dangerous going down the privatisation the passenger routes and it does not really work

Guy
 
G

Guest Responder

Guest
Public passenger rail transportation is like the U.S. mail: nobody wants to run it, but you have to provide it.

None of the world's passenger rail services makes money. The U.K. system is an example of what happens when society forgets why passenger rail systems exists, and starts to believe the fantasy that someone can make money operating a passenger rail enterprise. The United States is the only industrialized economy on earth without a passenger rail system. You can’t elevate Amtrak to that status until it is runs like a modern service whose arrival times correspond with its published schedules, its equipment functions most of the time, and the network overlays the population centers it proposes to serve (stopping at Wichita instead of Newton for example).

Amtrak is in the mess it is today, because it was created back in the 70’s under a false premise: that it could be operated with a profit. Not only is this pure fantasy from any perspective, but the stupid way the government has “funded” Amtrak over the years has drawn the fantasy down into a sick joke – a fraud on the American people.

Even the most strident libertarian will agree that some things are properly in the scope of government: defense, flood control, postal service, law enforcement, and, yes, passenger rail. Either fund Amtrak like the government enterprise it is supposed to be, or get out of the business. Get out, and be prepared for the consequences, all of which are bad.

If the airlines had pay for the airports, the subsidized fuel, the strategic fuel storage network, the loan guarantees, and the air traffic control system themselves, they would be in exactly the same mess Amtrak is in today. The same goes for those of us who use the highways everyday. Nobody in any industrialized society pays anything near what transportation actually costs, why should Amtrak be the only entity on earth expected to do so?
 
G

Guest

Guest
Couldn't say it better myself.

For any rail service [passenger or freight] to operate efficiently its infrastructure and equipment have to be owned and operated by the same entity. That's exactly why Amtrak doesn't work effectively outside the NE corridor. Remember the days when the RR's operated passenger service? I do. Rode trains all over this country which operated on properly aligned track, usually on time and by competent people. Not so any more. UP, in particular, seems bent on trying to kill off Amtrak.
 

tp49

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Aug 23, 2002
Messages
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Public transit agencies also know that running passenger/commuter rail and urban mass transit are not profitible. For the most part they realize that a percentage of operating revenue comes from the fare box while the rest comes from the onmibus transit and highway funding bill, special taxes (sales, gasoline, etc.). The sooner Congress understands that passenger rail is not something that should or will be successful as a for profit venture will Amtrak begin got receive the funding it needs.
 
A

Amtrak Watcher

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In support of AlenB’s premise on the folly of private control of Amtrak, please note that U.S. railroads have been cherry-picking their markets since the 1950s when the bulk of U.S. government subsidies (and the corresponding obligations) began to fade. Today, for example, the freight railroads own only 5% of the nation’s perishable goods transport (the stuff carried in refrigerated devices), having given that segment of the market up to the highway trucking segment these past 30 years. The rails so much as admitted that trucks could transport perishables quicker and more reliably. Now that the perishable transport market has grown so large, the freight railroads are taking embryonic measures to gain a larger portion of that market. But why did the railroads give up that market in the first place? In my view, the reason has the same origin as all the other stupid things the railroads have done to themselves these past 50 years: too many government subsidies, and too much government meddling. In return for all the land grants and other goodies handed out to the railroads in the nineteenth century, the government demanded discount rates and priority services up until the early 1950s in some instances. By then the railroads had grown to depend on subsidies of diminishing value paid for through obligations of increasing cost. Like a drug addict in the street, the railroads could not say “No!” Today, the U.S. rail infrastructure is a shambles compared to places like India, Thailand, and Egypt. It’s a disgrace. When you accept gifts, no matter how poisonous, you are generally obliged to allow the gift-giver to meddle in your affairs. Today, the rules and regulations surrounding the railroads are so contradictory and oppressive that the government couldn’t possibly expect Amtrak to survive even under the most agreeable circumstances.

Amtrak has not been much better in dealing with the government than the companies that allowed it to be created. Since its formation in 1971 (on especially stupid and fanciful foundations), Amtrak management shared the fantasy (like little kids playing house) and agreed to all the non-sense conditions that changed with every election and the whim of every passing administration. It is only today, when everything seems to finally be coming to a noisy and messy end, that we see Mr. Gunn finally doing what should have been done 31 years ago: telling the government that it is wrong, it has always been wrong, and it should stop smoking whatever it is smoking and get real.

America needs something like Amtrak. But Amtrak needs to be a real service, not the phony, half-baked political football it is today. I believe the only reason Amtrak exists at all today is through the tenacious dedication of the “train buffs” who use the service regardless of how awful it becomes, and the patience and perseverance of its workers who put up with a steady stream of unbelievable situations. It’s as if the workers and the customers are resolved to sweat it out together until Congress finally “gets it.” Amtrak and its customers: it will be an amazing story if Mr. Gunn pulls it off.
 

Amfleet

Engineer
Joined
Aug 24, 2002
Messages
3,390
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Southeastern, Massachusetts
Alan,

This video clip from NBC Nightly News kind of goes along with what you talked about in you origonal post. :)

If the link above does not work go to www.msnbc.com and do a search for "Amtrak"
 

Miami Joe

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Aug 22, 2002
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420
Location
Miami,Fla
I think it's fair to say, America is starting to fall apart. The rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer!!! Major companies are falling apart, transportation is falling apart, the economy is falling apart, and Bush is hoping that by starting a war, it will jump start the economy at the expense of military lives. We can't protect our borders, but we can fight halfway around the world!! Where the [email protected]#$ is Bill when you need him???
 

Amfleet

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Aug 24, 2002
Messages
3,390
Location
Southeastern, Massachusetts
Bush doesn't know what the h**l he's doing. Yes, WWII did bring America out of the great depression, but we went to war for a reason. There is no reason for a war and it will not help are economy. It's time we stay inside our borders a deal with the problems we need to deal with to keep are country alive and safe (mabey after Gunn tackles Amtrak he could move on to the President of the US :D ).
 
A

Amtrak Watcher

Guest
There was a story on TV earlier this week about how dangerous it is to fly National Forrest Service aircraft because of their advanced ages. The story included videos of two such aircraft crashing to earth as their wings fell off!

The story forced me onto the Internet and into the library to see what else was falling apart in the U.S. I was not surprised to discover that we have lots and lots of old bridges, tunnels, and dams on the verge of falling apart. Our largest cities in the eastern half of the country are still functioning off of water and drainage systems from the nineteenth century. Our troops come home from Afghanistan to live in “dumps” they call base housing. Most of our harbors and dry docks are too dangerous to use. Our gas pipelines are too old to run at even 30% of their original capacity.

As someone who travels all over the world, it is easy for me to notice what a mess the U.S. infrastructure is in relative to most other countries I visit. It seems that unless war forces a society to fix or replace aging infrastructure, that society is condemned to spend most of its treasure doing so on the fly. The railroad mess is only a symptom of a much larger mess looming in our future. American society is going to have to spend $trillions to replace most of the aging infrastructure about the same time Social Security will need to be funded at new levels.
 
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