Archive for June, 2008

Amtrak – Will They Get it Right?

June 12th, 2008 Comments off

Well it appears that the House has passed a 15 Billion USD blll for funding Amtrak again.. Most people
will likely think it’s a waste of more money.. I am so tired of the general consensus on Amtrak being a waste of money.. They are under-funded and have to
lease the right of way from freight lines.. Because of this Amtrak has been doomed to fail with every bill. This one is proposing privatization for parts
of the DC to NY stretch, which sounds like a Disaster since the NE corridor is the only part of Amtrak worth a shit..

I am a big proponent of the
train, I take it a few times a year to see my parents in Charlotte; I must add that the train service in NC is heavily funded by NC itself not the federal
government.. In light of rising cost of oil when will America realize that the cost of moving ANYTHING be it freight or people on the rails is FAR cheaper
than any other mode.. I can’t find the exact statistics I am looking for now, but the energy per passenger mile shows the train being the closely tied
with the motorcycle at around 2100BTU/mile. Next is the bus, car and plane all closely tied for the other places at around 3500-4000 BTU/Mile. You can
see the stats yourself here or look for your own, I feel like the freight costs are even lower and more greatly separated. Beauru of Transportation Statistics.

Public transport rarely is a profitable business, yet most opponents of Amtrak say that it is not profitable
and is therefore a waste.. When did the DOT say that the “roads were making money?”, we have massive road taxes and road budgets because the roads are not
self sufficient. With the talk of toll roads in NC does that not weaken the argument that the train has to be self sufficient?

I think in
America there is a desire for rail service that is usable. Amtrak is seen as a lame duck to most Americans.. Why?

  • It’s always late
    - If Amtrak were to own their own tracks, or were given higher priority on the rails this issue could be resolved
  • It doesn’t go where I
    – Amtrak has been forced to close many routes because they were not able to maintain the tracks to passenger safety standards. See there are
    different standards for Class I railroads, one for passengers and a lower standard for freight. If Amtrak has to lease rails from other companies that
    are only interested in moving freight you can see where the issue lies.. That is why there are major cities across America with no Amtrak service
    anymore.. Louisville and Phoenix come to mind off the top of my head.
  • The schedule sucks – I always have said this. No one will take
    a train from the Carolinas to New Orleans if you have to leave at midnight. The scheduling issue is really one of money. The only trains in NC are in
    the morning or the evening, nothing mid-day. I am sure it is a less profitable time, but it still should be available. The only place outside the North
    East Corridor that I have seen good schedules is Oregon/Washington State. Might I add that these routes are heavily funded by the two

That being said there are some initiatives in NC to make service better. They are looking at High Speed Rail from DC to
Atlanta (which was the original plan for Acela, but we wanted to spend our money on wars instead), service to Asheville through Charlotte Greensboro, and
also studies into service to Wilmington from Raleigh or possibly via Fayetteville. I can dream that this country will decide to sink some money into rail

With the amount of money our country spends on presidential campaigns, killing people in foreign countries for oil, and who knows what
else can’t we please let this 15 billion dollar bill go all the way? It may not be perfect but 15 billion could go a long way.. Please? Pretty Please?

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