Change the relationship between Congress and Amtrak from a subsidy to a contractual relationship.

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Change the relationship between Congress and Amtrak from a subsidy to a contractual relationship.
Posted by highball6868 on Thursday, July 16, 2020 11:07 AM

Congress wants long distance trains and trains in there district but does complains that Amtrak is losing money on those routes. The trains are a lifeline to the middle of this country and flying to/from small airports is expensive even with Essential Air subsdies. Congress should fund Amtrak by a "Purchase of Service Contract" which would state whatr exactly Amtrak will do for USDOT and Congress. I would even go as far as to put some routes out for open bid under Purchase of Service contracts that the Host Railroad could operate like BNSF does on some its commuter lines in Minnipolis and Chicago using its own crews. I believe that Amtrak as it stands now if we look at the annual billion and half or so money that they get from Congress as a social contract instead of a handout actualy makes a small profit. We need to agree that trains/transit like water and garbarge pick up is a essentiol public service.

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Wednesday, July 22, 2020 10:03 AM

It would literally take an Act of Congress to amend the Rail Passenger Service Act to set up such an arrangement.  When you look at what happened with the "Hoosier State", I doubt that you'll find too many bidders to provide service under a purchase of service contract.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
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Posted by PNWRMNM on Wednesday, July 22, 2020 8:26 PM

ATK is not an essential public service. It is a welfare program.

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Posted by BaltACD on Thursday, July 23, 2020 6:28 PM

PNWRMNM
ATK is not an essential public service. It is a welfare program.

In reality it is time to change Congress's relationship to the American Public.  The reality is that every dollar Congress authorizes to be spent is for a Welfare Program for whomever the recipents are.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Thursday, July 23, 2020 6:48 PM

PNWRMNM

ATK is not an essential public service. It is a welfare program.

 

I would agree with if you were to say LD services are not essential. 

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Friday, July 24, 2020 10:00 AM

BaltACD
 
PNWRMNM
ATK is not an essential public service. It is a welfare program.

 

In reality it is time to change Congress's relationship to the American Public.  The reality is that every dollar Congress authorizes to be spent is for a Welfare Program for whomever the recipents are.

 
Since the Constitution has established this country as a Federal Republic with the Houses of Congress representing the people (not just citizens), how would you change that relationship.
The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
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Posted by charlie hebdo on Friday, July 24, 2020 10:07 AM

CSSHEGEWISCH

 

 
BaltACD
 
PNWRMNM
ATK is not an essential public service. It is a welfare program.

 

In reality it is time to change Congress's relationship to the American Public.  The reality is that every dollar Congress authorizes to be spent is for a Welfare Program for whomever the recipents are.

 

 

 
Since the Constitution has established this country as a Federal Republic with the Houses of Congress representing the people (not just citizens), how would you change that relationship.
 

Overturning the Citizens United decision would help reduce the obscene spending on corporate welfare,  IMO,  as well as reaffirm the "one person,  one vote" principle. 

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Posted by highball6868 on Friday, July 24, 2020 5:11 PM

I like the relationship that Via Rail has with the Crown Goverment of Canada better then what Amtrak has with Congress in the United States. As far as Amtrak being a "Welfare Program" we have to look at what benifits that each passenger each passenger in $$$ spent in the towns that they travel to. Sure VT looses money on passenger fare but more then makes up for that on money that the toursit spends at Killington Ski and local hotels. Same with Whitefish MT another great place to visit by train and no real airport.

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Posted by BaltACD on Friday, July 24, 2020 7:24 PM

charlie hebdo
CSSHEGEWISCH
BaltACD
PNWRMNM
ATK is not an essential public service. It is a welfare program.

In reality it is time to change Congress's relationship to the American Public.  The reality is that every dollar Congress authorizes to be spent is for a Welfare Program for whomever the recipents are.

Since the Constitution has established this country as a Federal Republic with the Houses of Congress representing the people (not just citizens), how would you change that relationship.

Overturning the Citizens United decision would help reduce the obscene spending on corporate welfare,  IMO,  as well as reaffirm the "one person,  one vote" principle.

Much prefer one person one vote as opposed to the one dollar ten votes system that Citizens United decision has created.  The USA is a country of people not dollar bills.

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Posted by highball6868 on Tuesday, July 28, 2020 11:36 AM

If we open Intercity Passenger service to a public bid we could have Virgin Rail or the host railroads go back to running trains under a 5-10-20 year contracts

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Posted by BLS53 on Tuesday, July 28, 2020 3:16 PM

highball6868

If we open Intercity Passenger service to a public bid we could have Virgin Rail or the host railroads go back to running trains under a 5-10-20 year contracts

 

How many current Amtrak routes do you think Virgin or the freight railroads would be interested in operating?

Passenger trains work between city pairs in densely populated areas. Everywhere else, they're as obsolete now as they were 50 years ago.

If there were buyers and money to be made, Amtrak would've been sold off like Conrail. 

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Tuesday, July 28, 2020 4:59 PM

Let us look at the UK.  They privatized.  The first problem came from the private track and ROW operator.  Deferred maintanance became the norm followed by a fatal derailment.  UK Network rail took over but is getting twice the subsidity evey year of that originally planned to undo the deferred maintenance.  

Now we have the UK East coast train operators going under causing a march back to nationalization.  Also all the private operators increased fares way above amount of inflation that may have helped cause a reduction in passengers traveling.  Some UK fares are almost 4 times as much for the same type of service on the continent.

Private operators of any present Amtrak ?  All they will do is soak the passengers for evey dollar possible and then the private top dogs will get their bonus and leave.

We supporters of Amtrak need to worry alot about deferred maintenance,  Look at what PC did to the NEC. Amtrak's deferred work probably would only have needed half of what they are now spennding on deferred maintenance  And now what is going to happen with the freight RRs also deferring maintenance of tracks for PSR's almighty OR ?

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Posted by BaltACD on Tuesday, July 28, 2020 6:14 PM

blue streak 1
We supporters of Amtrak need to worry alot about deferred maintenance,  Look at what PC did to the NEC. Amtrak's deferred work probably would only have needed half of what they are now spennding on deferred maintenance  And now what is going to happen with the freight RRs also deferring maintenance of tracks for PSR's almighty OR ?

PSR will bring a recreation of the 1970's with even the 'profitable' carriers having their properties with BILLION$ in deferred maintenance.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Tuesday, July 28, 2020 6:20 PM

blue streak 1

Let us look at the UK.  They privatized.  The first problem came from the private track and ROW operator.  Deferred maintanance became the norm followed by a fatal derailment.  UK Network rail took over but is getting twice the subsidity evey year of that originally planned to undo the deferred maintenance.  

Now we have the UK East coast train operators going under causing a march back to nationalization.  Also all the private operators increased fares way above amount of inflation that may have helped cause a reduction in passengers traveling.  Some UK fares are almost 4 times as much for the same type of service on the continent.

Private operators of any present Amtrak ?  All they will do is soak the passengers for evey dollar possible and then the private top dogs will get their bonus and leave.

We supporters of Amtrak need to worry alot about deferred maintenance,  Look at what PC did to the NEC. Amtrak's deferred work probably would only have needed half of what they are now spennding on deferred maintenance  And now what is going to happen with the freight RRs also deferring maintenance of tracks for PSR's almighty OR ?

 

The answer is obvious from your post,  whether UK,  EU,  US or other nations/regions.

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Posted by CMStPnP on Wednesday, July 29, 2020 6:38 AM

blue streak 1
Private operators of any present Amtrak ?  All they will do is soak the passengers for evey dollar possible and then the private top dogs will get their bonus and leave.

I disagree and actually the biggest mistake with the approach Amtrak took with trying to preserve the LD train was they tried to market it and design it as a service for everyone without regard to financial sustainability.    The private model prior to Amtrak did the opposite.     The private model had a very expensive First Class option, a less expensive middle class option in some markets when the market told them First Class was a little steep, and then they had their Coach Class and not only Coach Class by itself but you could buy Coach Class with a Parlor Car upgrade if I remember correctly.    NONE of that price and market stratification carried over to Amtrak.     Amtrak marketed the one size fits all model with very cheap dining car and snack car meals, a sleeper suppliment which was not a whole lot of price difference between the cheapest sleeper accomodation and the most expensive sleeper accomodation.     Then you had the private railroad marketing programs which were far more extensive than the meager Amtrak vacations subsidiary, in my opinion and their advertising was better via the private railroads.

Granted the Private Railroads also had a passenger train boost financially from the mail contracts and the former REA.    Amtraks attempt at continuing that via Amtrak Express was underfunded and poorly managed.   Have you seen any attempt by Amtrak to modularize baggage handling via easier to manage and handle containerization of such?........nope.   Much innovation in the baggage cars besides the minor revenue improvement of carrying bikes?.......Nope.     I mean you would think they would move to improve revenue collection with the baggage car at a minimum after paying so much to have them replaced.    Nothing there.  The brief Amtrak expansion with carrying freight was poorly thought out and implemented.    They should have done it like they do with passengers.   Trucks first, build the traffic then trains (busses first with thruway bus).

This is why the LD service today is a substantial money loser.    Amtrak made the wrong choice in the 1970's and stuck with the model for far too long.   Their only innovation if you can call it that was to largely bring back the Auto Train service which was not even their idea but was a former privately run company that actually turned a profit in some years.    What did Amtrak do with that service?   OK well possibly an upgrade on equipment but as for marketing.........well the Auto Train in private hands had far better marketing.    What about spreading the concept into new markets?     Again the private Auto Train actually did manage a second market for a while.........Amtrak could only manage to fund a few studies internally on expansion..........no experiments there.

So back to your point.   I am OK with private operators if they are interested taking over the LD train if it means higher prices.   Because they would be enhancing what we have now with LD train travel, which pales in comparison to when the private railroads ran the service.   Private running of the LD trains would be a major accomplishment if it ever happens again in this country.    I think it can happen again with an innovative operator with deep pockets.   But it will never happen at Amtrak prices and within Amtraks current marketing budget.

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Posted by highball6868 on Wednesday, July 29, 2020 12:25 PM

Amtrak is aka as the National Passenger Corperation which was created by Congress to save what was left of the nations passenger service after the management of Penn Central wrecked the nations passenger and freight railroad system.

Since the United States of America is more then the East and West coasts and there is 31 states that are in the countrys heartland Amtrak and Congress has a moral and legal obligation to serve those constituents with rail passenger service that many citizens consider essential  and a lifeline to 500 stations.

If Amtrak is not needed in the heartland and only needed in the high population Megaloplises of the east and west coasts then have those states create a regional multistate authority and fund the service via their own internal revenues.

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Posted by MidlandMike on Wednesday, July 29, 2020 10:00 PM

My recollectionis that Amtrak Express was killed when the freight railroads complained to Congress about a subsidized entity competing with their private freight business.

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Posted by alphas on Thursday, July 30, 2020 1:20 AM

[quote user="MidlandMike"]

My recollectionis that Amtrak Express was killed when the freight railroads complained to Congress about a subsidized entity competing with their private freight business.

 

That was also what I thought.    It's only natural that a freight railway wouldn't like a taxpayer funded railway running freight over its private track at obsolete rates established back when Nixon was President. 

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Posted by Overmod on Thursday, July 30, 2020 3:49 AM

alphas
MidlandMike
My recollection is that Amtrak Express was killed when the freight railroads complained to Congress about a subsidized entity competing with their private freight business.
That was also what I thought.  It's only natural that a freight railway wouldn't like a taxpayer funded railway running freight over its private track at obsolete rates established back when Nixon was President.

The actual reasons I've always seen for abandonment of the MHC service was that it vastly ruined real-world operation of the trains as passenger trains, for not that much actual bottom-line revenue.  If you have to dwell while people dig around in the car, or need a switch engine and crew to detach or add it to a consist, or have to use road power jerking forward and back to spot one... you get the picture.  
Now had the thing been outsourced for traffic generation, handling and loading/unloading, it might have worked... I know that I proposed an alternative using COFC for some M&E to be attached to certain Amtrak trains, including the late '70s version of the Owl, but this would have involved special handling equipment and good, modern cars like the MHCs were cheaper with more prospective uses then.

Thinking about the sheer amount and type of small-load business now being shucked by "PSR" railroad management now, I easily see a market for 'enough MHC capability to use multiple-locomotive consists to full efficiency' -- but again, keeping Amtrak out of operating responsibility for much more than moving the cars in trains.

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Thursday, July 30, 2020 10:04 AM

That wasn't the reason although it wasn't for lack of trying.  The court ruled that mail and express had historically been considered part of the passenger business so it came within Amtrak's legal mandate.  David Gunn decided to end the mail and express business since it didn't generate much positive revenue above its costs and had a negative effect on passenger operations.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
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Posted by highball6868 on Thursday, July 30, 2020 12:43 PM

[quote user="alphas"]

MidlandMike

My recollectionis that Amtrak Express was killed when the freight railroads complained to Congress about a subsidized entity competing with their private freight business.

 

That was also what I thought.    It's only natural that a freight railway wouldn't like a taxpayer funded railway running freight over its private track at obsolete rates established back when Nixon was President. 

 

Railroads had abandoned LCL service and recently UP ended the Train X produce express to Upstate NY from Washington and California. NS ended Roadrailer service. Freight railroads are now known for encoucaging inovation

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Posted by CMStPnP on Tuesday, August 4, 2020 7:09 AM

Sorry man, Amtrak is doing just the opposite and breaking into business units subsidized regionally by states vs national by the Feds.   Hence you have Amtrak California, and now Amtrak Midwest.    Not sure what they will call the NEC because none of the NE states are really paying for that on a fair basis for the rest of the country, a large chunk of the NEC is still federally funded same with the NYC to Albany trains which were offered as a condition for NY State approving Amtraks original formation (true, read about Amtraks formation.   NY state would not agree unless Amtrak agreed to largely pay for NY to Albany out of it's own pockets......now some of that has shifted to NY state but I would be curious what the current subsidy formula is there on the NYC to Albany trains).    Pretty much NY state is freeloading on Amtrak, in my opinion.

Anyways back to your dream of a National LD system.   I have no problem with it and Amtrak does not either but both Amtrak and I are in agreement.    Congress has to fund the LD network at full price to include new trainsets and full fixed costs.   Something Congress has never done since Amtrak started.    Congress falls short each year.    Some years Amtrak defers maint (later Amtrak as a year which it restores the railroad to good repair) and other years Amtrak borrows money (which Congress eventually repays).    Congress needs to really fully fund Amtrak in order for Amtrak to keep to Congressional mandates.     Until it does so, I am fine with Amtrak looking for another means or vehicle to get out of the underfunding by Congress that takes place each year and for Amtrak to try and build a financial model where it can grow and eventually reach break even.

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Posted by CMStPnP on Tuesday, August 4, 2020 7:24 AM

charlie hebdo
Overturning the Citizens United decision

   

Highly unlikely as SCOTUS wrote it does not like to flip flop on past precedent if it can be avoided.    The same philosophy is also why Justice Stevens said Roe v Wade will never be overturned.

If you read what the SCOTUS wrote.    This decision was a reaffirmation of past court precedent it was not a new decision.    Long prior to this decision when I as at the University of Wisconsin, the whole philosphy of a Coporation having the same free speech rights as an individual was discussed in my Business Law course.....so again that is how I know it was an affirmation of past precedent. 

The Chief Justice did his best including shaking his head NO in a past State of the Union speech trying to communicate this as best he could.    However it is also written in his written decision.    This was not a new decision it was an affirrmation of existing precedent.    Some politicians framed it as a new decision for purposes of fundraising and exciting their base.    Your never going to overturn this precisely because of what the Chief Justice wrote in the decision.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Tuesday, August 4, 2020 12:58 PM

True.  It would require legislative action,  de minimus, thus highly unlikely. 

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Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, August 4, 2020 1:50 PM

Yeah, but if you can overturn Lochner or Plessey v. Ferguson, both with a crapload more tradition and money and dependent legislation around them than Citizen's United, let's not rule it out as impossible.

Now I'll grant you that it might take Congressional action, perhaps with even more tortured selective construal of the Constitution than in Heart of Atlanta, to circumscribe the 'personal' rights of corporations... or other types of group.  And that it's kinda hard to imagine the current type of elected Congress actually passing such a thing.  But in my opinion sooner or later it has to be done with respect to electoral politics.

Then you will have the fun trying to restrict manipulation by voluntary groups of individuals finding excuses to manipulate election details by consensus -- it's not collusion and it's facilitated by social-media platform engines and even by something as simple as e-mail reflectors over VPNs.  Regulating organized speech becomes a highly dangerous Constitutional interpretation in such a context.

Lord how I wish the Framers had some marketing and ad/promo research knowledge under their belts to know how systematic manipulations are done... faction was bad enough!

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Posted by highball6868 on Wednesday, August 5, 2020 10:33 AM

The  Overturn "Citizens United" SCOTUS case is a cry of the left. However this can be a two edge sword. Here in Vermont where I have been working this summer Non Profit NGOs do contract work under state and federal grants providing mental health services "Howard Center for Mental Health" ,Transit "Green Mountain Transit", Water- "Woodstock Aquaduct" and a host of other services like community development and planning and other social programs that otherwise would be provided in other states by county and regional goverments . Each has there own lobbying campaign to lobby for more public funding and also raise money from private donations. To overturn "Citizens United" would hurt Unions and PIRGS and Grassroots Orgs and even left of center lobbing groups. Futhermore NARP passenger advocy would be affected a silenced.

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Posted by jcburns on Wednesday, August 5, 2020 11:32 AM

The whole Citizens United case isn't an issue simply because of lobbying, it's an issue because it allows corporations, unions, and nonprofits to make UNLIMITED contributions to campaigns. It gives rise to the so-called "Super PACs"—Political Action Committees.

I don't think lobbying does a lot of good, even by Unions and PIRGs and so on. I certainly don't think mechanisms where vast vast amounts of money can go (often anonomously) to campaigns is a good idea.

I don't think money is speech, and I think moving into that territory is trouble.

I don't think nonprofits are well-served by having to budget big percentages of their budget for lobbying just to survive and get donations.

I don't think this is a left vs right issue...we really need to reform how we pay for politics.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Wednesday, August 5, 2020 11:46 AM

Getting anonymous big money out of politics is essential to preserve any semblance of democracy.  Ridding us of the concept that corporations are people is necessary.  It shouldn't have a negative impact on NGOs or unions. 

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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, August 5, 2020 12:02 PM

charlie hebdo
Getting anonymous big money out of politics is essential to preserve any semblance of democracy.  Ridding us of the concept that corporations are people is necessary.  It shouldn't have a negative impact on NGOs or unions. 

That is a start!

Personally I feel - no more should be spent for the position that is being campaigned for than is being paid for the position's year of service.  Which would create rubber stamp bankruptcies for all the media outlets - TV, Radio, Print.

 

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Posted by highball6868 on Wednesday, August 5, 2020 6:40 PM

 I am in favor of the concept that Corperations are people. That holds them Criminal Liable for there gross misconduct like GE dumping PCB Transformer Oil in the Hudson or Hooker Chemical in Love Canal or Arther Anderson in the Morgage Banking Fiasco and the Penn Central Execs should have gone to jail for wrecking the nations rail system in 1970

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