NY Times believes Amtrak dining cars have merit

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NY Times believes Amtrak dining cars have merit
Posted by blue streak 1 on Tuesday, November 28, 2017 5:33 PM
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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, November 29, 2017 1:03 PM

blue streak 1
Article seems to support dining cars as a way to bring the country closer.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/28/arts/gabriel-kahane-amtrak-8980-brooklyn-academy-of-music.html?emc=eta1

The caption to the lead picture seems to be wrong - 'Travelers taking a smoke break' - I don't see anyone smoking.  Secondly from their dress it would appear to be a group of Menonites stretching their legs duing a station stop.

         

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Posted by Deggesty on Wednesday, November 29, 2017 1:21 PM

Please re-read the caption--it is "Travelers during a smoke break aboard the Empire Builder in Stanley, North Dakota. " Yes, they look like Mennonites; the smokers are probably a proper distance away from the door.

I have stepped off during the smoke break in Ottumwa--and avoided the smoke from the smokers.

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Posted by runnerdude48 on Thursday, November 30, 2017 4:16 PM

I think the title of this post is misleading.  The NY Times doesn't believe Amtrak dining cars have merit, the writer of the article seems to think so. 

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Posted by BLS53 on Wednesday, December 27, 2017 8:44 PM

BaltACD

 

 
blue streak 1
Article seems to support dining cars as a way to bring the country closer.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/28/arts/gabriel-kahane-amtrak-8980-brooklyn-academy-of-music.html?emc=eta1

 

The caption to the lead picture seems to be wrong - 'Travelers taking a smoke break' - I don't see anyone smoking.  Secondly from their dress it would appear to be a group of Menonites stretching their legs duing a station stop.

 

Do you really think the NYT is going to identify them as Mennonites? 

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Posted by Deggesty on Wednesday, December 27, 2017 8:57 PM

blue streak 1

A quotation from the reference "Limping along obsolescent track at speeds averaging 55 m.p.h., the American train is tremendously inefficient; it takes almost four full days to cross the continental United States via rail. "

I wonder what he considers up-to-date-track to be.

Johnny

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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, December 27, 2017 9:00 PM

BLS53
 
BaltACD
 
blue streak 1
Article seems to support dining cars as a way to bring the country closer.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/28/arts/gabriel-kahane-amtrak-8980-brooklyn-academy-of-music.html?emc=eta1 

The caption to the lead picture seems to be wrong - 'Travelers taking a smoke break' - I don't see anyone smoking.  Secondly from their dress it would appear to be a group of Menonites stretching their legs duing a station stop. 

Do you really think the NYT is going to identify them as Mennonites? 

I suspect the NYT caption writers could probably identify all the Jewish sects from their attire, however, they most likely have never seen the Amish or Mennonites.

         

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Posted by Deggesty on Wednesday, December 27, 2017 9:07 PM

BaltACD

 

 
BLS53
 
BaltACD
 
blue streak 1
Article seems to support dining cars as a way to bring the country closer.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/28/arts/gabriel-kahane-amtrak-8980-brooklyn-academy-of-music.html?emc=eta1 

The caption to the lead picture seems to be wrong - 'Travelers taking a smoke break' - I don't see anyone smoking.  Secondly from their dress it would appear to be a group of Menonites stretching their legs duing a station stop. 

Do you really think the NYT is going to identify them as Mennonites? 

 

I suspect the NYT caption writers could probably identify all the Jewish sects from their attire, however, they most likely have never seen the Amish or Mennonites.

 

That could well be. I have seen Mennonites on several of the long-distance trains and have seen them in the first-class lounge in the Chicago station. I even ate breakfast with three of them one morning.

At times they have asked me if I, also, was taking a tour up to Alaska.

They certainly do not travel in the state of undress that is becoming quite common among coach passengers.

Johnny

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Posted by PJS1 on Wednesday, December 27, 2017 9:08 PM

 

I wonder if the author knows that Amtrak loses $70 million to $85 million per year on its food and beverage services and roughly 85 percent of the losses are incurred by the long distance trains.

Amtrak's long distance trains carry less than one percent of intercity travelers in the United States.  How socializing in the dining car or lounge car of a long distance train brings the country closer together escapes me.  It strikes me as  wishful thinking. 

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Posted by Deggesty on Wednesday, December 27, 2017 9:20 PM

JPS1

 

I wonder if the author knows that Amtrak loses $70 million to $85 million per year on its food and beverage services and roughly 85 percent of the losses are incurred by the long distance trains.

Amtrak's long distance trains carry less than one percent of intercity travelers in the United States.  How socializing in the dining car or lounge car of a long distance train brings the country closer together escapes me.  It strikes me as  wishful thinking. 

 

I have had some conversatins in diners with people who, I believe, are certifiable for a change of residence and cannot see reason in views that collide with theirs.

And, I have also had conversations with reasonable people.

Johnny

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Wednesday, December 27, 2017 9:44 PM

Deggesty

 

 
JPS1

 

I wonder if the author knows that Amtrak loses $70 million to $85 million per year on its food and beverage services and roughly 85 percent of the losses are incurred by the long distance trains.

Amtrak's long distance trains carry less than one percent of intercity travelers in the United States.  How socializing in the dining car or lounge car of a long distance train brings the country closer together escapes me.  It strikes me as  wishful thinking. 

 

 

 

I have had some conversatins in diners with people who, I believe, are certifiable for a change of residence and cannot see reason in views that collide with theirs.

 

And, I have also had conversations with reasonable people.

 

I guess you save your snarkiness for people who take exception with your sense of entitlement to subsidized conversations for the benefit less than 1% of intercity travelers.

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Wednesday, December 27, 2017 10:13 PM

JPS1

Amtrak's long distance trains carry less than one percent of intercity travelers in the United States.  How socializing in the dining car or lounge car of a long distance train brings the country closer together escapes me.   

 

 
Wrong  statistic.  LD trains receive what in revenue  ?  ~ 40% ?
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Posted by PJS1 on Thursday, December 28, 2017 8:47 AM

blue streak 1
 JPS1 Amtrak's long distance trains carry less than one percent of intercity travelers in the United States.  How socializing in the dining car or lounge car of a long distance train brings the country closer together escapes me.    
Wrong  statistic.  LD trains receive what in revenue  ?  ~ 40% ? 

 
The "less than one percent" is taken from DOT's National Transportation Statistics.  It includes all modes of passenger transportation, e.g. air, bus, car, trains, etc.  It is not just passenger rail travel.  DOT defines intercity travel as more than 50 miles.  
 
In 2016 the long distance trains brought in 20.7 percent of Amtrak's total operating revenues and 20.5 percent of the company's ticket revenues.  
 
The long distance trains racked up 38.1 percent of operating expenses.  They recorded an estimated operating loss of 19 cents per passenger mile compared to three cents for the State Supported and Other Short Corridor trains before state support payments.  The estimated loss after state support was 15.2 cents per passenger mile.  The NEC recorded an operating profit of approximately 24 cents per passenger mile.  
 
The long distance trains carried 14.9 percent of the company's passengers and accounted for 40.1 percent of passenger miles.  These numbers have been fairly consistent for the last five years. 
 
I ride the Texas Eagle between Dallas and San Antonio six or more times a year.  I usually book a seat in an economy room, and I usually have lunch in the dining car.  I have had some very pleasant table mates, but it is a bit of a stretch to say that breaking bread on a once a day train through Texas brings the state or the country closer together.  
 
As an aside the food in the dining car has improved dramatically over the last year or so.  Of course, taste is a personal thing, but at what I tend to order is better prepared and tastier.

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Posted by MidlandMike on Thursday, December 28, 2017 9:12 PM

If the LD trains handle 40% of the passenger-miles and incur 38% of operating costs, it sounds like their costs are in line with the service rendered.

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Posted by Overmod on Friday, December 29, 2017 8:45 AM

MidlandMike

If the LD trains handle 40% of the passenger-miles and incur 38% of operating costs, it sounds like their costs are in line with the service rendered.

Problem being that 'cost in line with service rendered' is still the wrong metric for service that is at least politically tasked with showing a nominal profit.  The 'income' from that 40% is inadequate to cover that ~38% ... until that fact is fixed (e.g. by charging rates that cover actual costs, not unthinkable for at least the parts of LD service now typically booked to 100% capacity) it does not matter that cost per mile happens to near-coincide with long-distance mileage run -- that is an important thing to recognize, but not enough to justify retention outside of accepted and perpetual subsidy.

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Posted by MidlandMike on Friday, December 29, 2017 9:14 PM

Overmod

 

 
MidlandMike

If the LD trains handle 40% of the passenger-miles and incur 38% of operating costs, it sounds like their costs are in line with the service rendered.

 

Problem being that 'cost in line with service rendered' is still the wrong metric for service that is at least politically tasked with showing a nominal profit.  The 'income' from that 40% is inadequate to cover that ~38% ... until that fact is fixed (e.g. by charging rates that cover actual costs, not unthinkable for at least the parts of LD service now typically booked to 100% capacity) it does not matter that cost per mile happens to near-coincide with long-distance mileage run -- that is an important thing to recognize, but not enough to justify retention outside of accepted and perpetual subsidy.

 

Not sure where "service that is at least politically tasked with showing a nominal profit." comes from.  Is this a concept evolved from the original Amtrak creation, or something from PRIIA?  The concept has never measured up to what actually happens.  Amtrak's political task is to maintain legislative support for its continued existance, which it does by serving 46 of the continous 48 states.  Amtrak might be compared to the proverbial 3 legged stool.  One leg is the NEC which serves the populous (read voter rich) Northeast; The LD trains serve rural America (electoral rich); and the state supported corridor trains fill in the center.  If you remove one of the legs, the political stool will fall over.  And as implied, the state supported corridors get additional public money from the states, and the NEC (while it shows an operating profit) needs tens of $billions of capital monies to get it in a state of good repair and replace aging infrastructure.

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