Advertisement

Letters to the Editor

Amtrak option

December 29, 2009

Advertisement

To the editor:

Reading about the holiday travel woes of the Jayhawks’ Morris brothers (“Many happy returns”, Dec. 28) reminded some of us of a secret that Lawrence-based travelers rarely consider. When winter weather grounds Chicago flights, return to Lawrence on Amtrak! Instead of spending 10 hours in the airport, Marcus and Markieff Morris could have been on the train and home with two hours to spare! That is, if there had been space available.

There’s more good news about train travel to and from Lawrence. Train travelers don’t have to stand in long security lines requiring them to take off their shoes. Amtrak’s coach seats are wide, with plenty of leg room. Passengers can get up and move around the train. They can move from their comfy coach seats to the good viewing in the dome car or to the good dining in the dining car, or to the snack bar to play card games and, in the case of the Morris twins, sign autographs. Passengers who plan ahead can reserve private sleeping accommodations.

Next year, rather than risk stormy weather that fouls flight plans, players should consider taking the time to travel in the gracious and civil manner afforded by Amtrak. It’s convenient (the depot is downtown), affordable, safe and more reliable than air travel in winter. Because Amtrak ridership goes up during the winter holiday, players should make that reservation online.

Comments

Boston_Corbett 4 years, 8 months ago

What could be more convenient than waking up in the middle of the night to get on a train to get me to a destination that I'm not going to?

It apparently looks like the city could entirely fund a 6-8 year snow removal budget for what she wants us to spend on the depot.

0

grammaddy 4 years, 8 months ago

There are very few trains passing through Lawrence.The depot is only open a total of 3 hours each day. And the pay phone there doesn't work. Who would want to get stuck there, waiting for a ride in a snowstorm?

0

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 8 months ago

"What could be more convenient than waking up in the middle of the night to get on a train to get me to a destination that I'm not going to?"

What the hell are you talking about?

0

SettingTheRecordStraight 4 years, 8 months ago

Ask yourself: Why aren't there any private companies offering passenger train service (save for a few tourist trams and "murder mystery" trains)? Because train travel is an incredibly expensive and inefficient means getting people to their destinations.

The only reason Amtrak even exists is because of annual taxpayer subsidies that run into the billions of dollars annually.

And remember which Americans primarily use our heavily-taxpayer-subsidized Amtrak system: residents in Boston, New York City and Philadelphia. Kansans are suckers for allowing their tax dollars to be so foolishly spent.

0

Flap Doodle 4 years, 8 months ago

On Amtrak Lawrence to Chicago = 9 hr 31 min (leaving Lawrence at 5:49AM) Chicago to Lawrence = 9 hr 17 min ( arriving at Lawrence at 12:32AM)

0

monkeyhawk 4 years, 8 months ago

No thanks, Ms. MM. I ain't buying what you're selling. You are just another thief with your hand in our pocket, telling us why we should like it.

0

Douglas Redding 4 years, 8 months ago

Man, I love that little depot. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lawrence... But the 'projected estimated cost' is pure 'd' baloney. It wouldn't cost even $100,000.00 dollars to rehab that sucker. Folks just want to get a mite bit too fancy with materials and sundry. Don't be wasteful, just plug the leaks in the roof, patch the parking lot, shore up the corners of the platform and you're good.

0

Douglas Redding 4 years, 8 months ago

My link fails. What's up with that?

0

Randall Barnes 4 years, 8 months ago

OHHHH MY GOD TERRORIST WAIT...IT'S A PLANE OR A TRAIN OR A CAR OR A MALL OR A STADIUM OHHH MY GOD WERE NOT SAFE ANYWHERE...(LMAO) GROW YOU AND TAKE YOUR MEDS...I HAVE BEEN ON AMTRACK JUST SLOW DOWN AND ENJOY THE RIDE.

0

georgiahawk 4 years, 8 months ago

You guys are anti-train?!?! Have you ever been on one? It is a diferent style of travel that is relaxing and dare I say, fun. Open your minds, quit being such fuddy-duddies! Maybe, just maybe, there might be a possibility, that there is a chance, you don't know all there is to know since you have not experienced it. I know it is hard to believe, but that might also apply to other parts of life as well as people you don't know!

Oh, never mind, I was just being silly!

0

Alexander Neighbors 4 years, 8 months ago

Amtrak is awesome I take it all the time. they have Huge seats and you can bring as many bags as you want aboard free and your not charged per bag. You can also spring for a hotel like room on the train if you have kids.

you can see schedules and fare prices here. www.amtrak.com

0

George_Braziller 4 years, 8 months ago

Five years ago I took the train to Chicago and then continued on to Toronto. The trip was pleasant but Amtrak could definitely learn a few things from the Canadian train system. Theirs are on time and run about 85-90 mph. Amtrak was always at least an hour late and some of the rails were in such bad shape the train had to crawl along at about 30 mph.

0

Alexander Neighbors 4 years, 8 months ago

the Amtrak trains could do 115... problem is the condition of some of the tracks. They just cant handle fast trains......

observation car http://www.vistadome.com/trains/amtrak/inside_amtraklounge.jpg high speed train http://www.vistadome.com/trains/amtrak/acela2037_boston.jpg Cafe http://insidevancouver.files.wordpress.com/2009/08/img_0241.jpg

0

AlanB 4 years, 8 months ago

SettingTheRecordStraight wrote: "Why aren't there any private companies offering passenger train service (save for a few tourist trams and “murder mystery” trains)? Because train travel is an incredibly expensive and inefficient means getting people to their destinations."

Actually trains are the most efficient means for getting people to their destinations. This is why most cities are putting rail back in, because it costs less to operate. According to the National Transit Database maintained by the Fed, it costs 80 cent in operating costs to move one passenger one mile on a bus. On light rail it costs 60 cents, on commuter rail and subways/El's it costs 40 cents.

The reason that no private companies continue to operate trains is that they cannot compete against our subsidized roads and planes.

SettingTheRecordStraight wrote: "The only reason Amtrak even exists is because of annual taxpayer subsidies that run into the billions of dollars annually."

While the annual subsidy is currently around $1.3 Billion, half of that amount goes towards just paying off debt from the years when Congress underfunded Amtrak.

SettingTheRecordStraight wrote: "And remember which Americans primarily use our heavily-taxpayer-subsidized Amtrak system: residents in Boston, New York City and Philadelphia. Kansans are suckers for allowing their tax dollars to be so foolishly spent."

Before you make statements like this you should first check the facts. Last fiscal year (2008) Amtrak carried 10.9 million passengers between Boston, NY, Philly, and DC. Amtrak's total ridership system wide was 28.7 million, meaning that 17.8 million people or more than 2/3rds did not ride between the aforementioned cities.

By the way, for every dollar a Kansas resident paid to the Federal government on average the State of Kansas has gotten back $1.11 from the Fed over the six year period from 2000 - 2005. NY's average is $0.82 and Massachusetts $0.82.

0

SettingTheRecordStraight 4 years, 8 months ago

georgia,

If you want to pay for all the "relaxing" you'll do and all the "fun" you'll have riding around on trains, by all means, start a non-profit and raise some funds.

Just don't ask the rest of us to fork over our paychecks to pay for your notion of social utopia.

0

georgiahawk 4 years, 8 months ago

STRS, I hope that you aren't using any of the government paid infrastructure that I am not! If you are, then stop making me pay for your social utopia.

I am wondering though, how much did you pay in for my relaxing fun. I don't recall getting anything from you! I know, you are talking about taxes, right? Still, how much taxes have you paid in over the years for me to ride Amtrak? Is it up to a dollar yet?

0

AlanB 4 years, 8 months ago

SettingTheRecordStraight wrote: "Just don't ask the rest of us to fork over our paychecks to pay for your notion of social utopia. "

For fiscal 2009 every man, women, and child paid $8.72 towards Amtrak. During the same year every man, women, and child paid $113 towards our nation's highways without regard for whether they actually own a car, much less can drive one. If you actually do own a car and drove it, then you paid even more thanks to the Federal fuel tax which covered about half of the $69.116 Billion the fed laid out for highways.

Put another way, Georgia helped subsidize your notion of social utopia.

0

Douglas Redding 4 years, 8 months ago

@Marion: "dredding, it costs more than your $100K just to bring the old gas station-lookin' building into ADA compliance." Why would it cost that much to bring it up to ADA standards?! Is it a federal problem/compliance issue that requires solving? What is the difference between its condition now and what could be, I mean what are the conditions that aren't being fulfilled? If it currently fails, why aren't fines being levied? Something about this goes against all natural common sense. Maybe links or citation could educate me... Thank you for your time and civility, Marion.

0

Brent Garner 4 years, 8 months ago

As has been noted, what killed passenger travel on trains was the advent of cars, the interstate highway system, airplanes, and airlines. None of those genies are going back in the bottle. As a consequence, passenger rail service will never return to profitability in this country. I cannot speak for passenger train travel in Europe or in Japan. However, I also believe that I can safely say that the incidence of automobile ownership per 1000 of population is lower in those areas than here. I also doubt strongly that any rail system used in either area is self-funding. The other problem we have in the US is, that outside of the east and west coasts--most notably California, population densities per square mile do not approach anything like Europe or Japan. Why does this matter? Higher population densities mean people are living closer together. Such concentration favors a mass transit--train--approach to travel. Someone posted costs for train/light rail/subway travel earlier but did not mention how much of that was paid by the passenger and how much was paid for through tax dollars. Finally, someone else posted that our rail system is falling apart. This is very true and needs to be addressed particularly since a great deal of our interstate commerce moves by rail in the form of freight trains. Also remember how much wheat gets moved out of Kansas in rail cars and, now to rile the environmentalists, how much coal gets shipped by rail car. Those are just two commodities that do not lend themselves to big truck transport over long distances.

0

SettingTheRecordStraight 4 years, 8 months ago

georgia and alan,

First, I'm willing to pay for infrastructure that works. Amtrak does not work. It is a money vacuum enjoyed by the tiniest scintilla of our population, and it should be scrapped or completely privatized.

Second, our nation's highways are fully funded through taxes and fees levied on highway users. The Highway Trust Fund is one of the few government programs that has a dedicated stream of revenue that comes exclusively through end users. There's plenty of info out there on this.

Finally, I would be the first to vote for repealing any taxes that force citizens to pay for government "services" which do not benefit them - including the nation's highways. Just give me my ballot.

0

AlanB 4 years, 8 months ago

bkgarner wrote: "As has been noted, what killed passenger travel on trains was the advent of cars, the interstate highway system, airplanes, and airlines."

You're almost correct with that statement, but you left out a critical word. That word is "subsidized." The sentence should read "As has been noted, what killed passenger travel on trains was the advent of cars, the subsidized interstate highway system, subsidized airplanes, and subsidized airlines.

It also didn't help that we taxed the RR's fuel at a rate of 4.3 cents per gallon for over 40 years to help finance the highways and of course the trucks which are the RR's competition.

As for what's being paid for by the passengers, on Amtrak the riders and other sources paid for about 70% of Amtrak's total expenses in Fiscal 2008. The 2009 numbers are not yet available. Take away the other sources and the riders cover about 64% of the costs.

Looking at commuter/subway/El/Light rail trains, on average the users pay about 44% of just the operating costs. On average the bus rider on public systems pays 26.6% of the operating costs.

And just for comparison, for fiscal 2009, users of the highways paid just about 50% of the costs at the Federal level.

Turning to freight movements, 40% of our nation's freight moves via rail. The next highest percentage is via truck at 28%.

0

AlanB 4 years, 8 months ago

SettingTheRecordStraight wrote: "Second, our nation's highways are fully funded through taxes and fees levied on highway users. The Highway Trust Fund is one of the few government programs that has a dedicated stream of revenue that comes exclusively through end users. There's plenty of info out there on this."

From the Federal Government:

"Ending balance for FY 2008 includes $8.017 billion transferred from the General Fund in September 2008 pursuant to Public Law 110-318."

"Ending balance for FY 2009 includes $7 billion transferred from the General Fund in August pursuant to Public Law 111-45."

http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/highwaytrustfund/index.htm

Both statements are below the first graph at the above link and clearly indicate that the Highway Trust Fund failed to pay for the full outlays from the funds generated by the users of the roads via the Federal Fuel tax.

Then we turn to the numbers provided by the DOT in the graph at the following link.

http://www.dot.gov/budget/2010/bib2010.htm#fhwa

Note the 27,500 in the 2009 Enacted Total column, entitled "Highway Infrastructure Investment, Recovery Act", the fancy name for the Stimulus. So in total, $34.5 Billion was spent this year on our nation's highways that was not paid for directly by the users of the highways.

So warm up your ballot and if it passes, be prepared for still more bridges that fall into rivers and other similar disasters seeing as how it's estimated that despite having spent $69.116 billion this year, there is still more than $200 billion in needed work to return our highways to a state of good repair. And of course with each passing year, that number grows larger thanks to more work cropping up and inflation.

Also please remember that this is just Federal dollars. Most cities, counties, and states further spend monies on roads and highways, some of which is paid for via user fees like fuel taxes and registrations, some of which comes out of general funds or property taxes.

0

AlanB 4 years, 8 months ago

Oops, I forgot to add that according to one UC Davis study the gas tax on average might need to be raised by as much as 70 cents per gallon in order for the users of our roads & highways to actually fully pay for the roads & highways.

They included numbers like paying for police and rescue services, plowing, lighting, as well as general repairs, repaving, and new construction.

0

SettingTheRecordStraight 4 years, 8 months ago

Alan,

Money for the Highway Trust Fund goes into the General Fund first, just like Social Security dollars do. Just like contributions to the FDIC do. Funds are then allocated for accounting purposes as needed to different categories, e.g. highways, Social Security. In fact, until the late 1990's the Highway Trust Fund was a net contributor to the federal government's General Fund.

0

KansasPerson 4 years, 8 months ago

Healthcare_Moocher,

I'm sorry to read that you had such a bad experience on what I'm surmising was the Southwest Chief. Since I have ridden that train at least once a year since the mid-nineties and have never had a ride as bad as the one you describe, I can only conclude that you had some very bad luck, or you tend to accentuate the negative.

Yes, there is a scheduled maintenance stop near Kansas City and it is figured into the timetable.

Yes, there are many types of people on a train. Not all of them are going from Chicago all the way to the west coast, but the ones who are, sometimes can't tend to their personal hygiene to the same extent as they would if they were at home. On the other hand, some people just smell bad no matter where you encounter them.

I don't mind people reading to their children (not too loudly) but I agree that the cell-phone talkers are very annoying. I have had exposure to them on the short-distance east-coast trains (one guy on NJ Transit talked loudly and inanely all the way from Philadelphia to Atlantic City) more than on the long-distance trains, though. As for the people running up and down the aisle, that is definitely not supposed to be tolerated and if you had mentioned this to any passing crew-member, I am sure they would have put a stop to it. They are in business to make happy customers. I have had uniformly good service from the crew on many long-distance trains and I'm sorry you were found them to be unfriendly. The crew in the dining car, although they are super-busy and probably underpaid, are not only competent but downright entertaining.

I agree that a plane ticket is half the price and about one-fifth the time; sometimes the difference is essential. But during the times in my life when train-travel has been preferable, I have been very glad to take Amtrak.

0

Boeing 4 years, 8 months ago

I'm not anti-rail, I am anti-Amtrak. I have tried them twice...once to LA (San Bernardino, actually) to visit my parents, family, friends, and once to Chicago to visit family.

LWC - SB - LWC: Leaves Lawrence at 12:42am, not bad, but not great. What makes it bad is when it is already 3 hours late in just the 9 hours it takes from Chicago to Lawrence to pick you up. All in all, ended up in San Bernardino 9.5 hours late. The return trip was a bit better, only 3 hours late, which made the 5:49am arrival time into a bit more acceptable 8:45am or so.

LWC - Chi - LWC: Leaves Lawrence at 5:49am, which is pretty bad, but gets you into Chicago at 3:20pm. Again, fine, unless you have a delay which pushes it back 2.5 hours like mine. The return, again, arrived into Lawrence at 1:00am, which was only about 28 minutes late...that was great! Still, 1am is something I like to avoid.

At least the airlines are usually on time, which is better than I can say for my 75% to 100% delayed streak for Amtrak.

0

AlanB 4 years, 8 months ago

STRS,

Had you rolled down on the page where I linked to the HTF site, you would have noticed the accounting for all of the dollars for the HTF. There are no transfers to/from the General Fund. All monies are deposited directly into the HTF. The only transfers are between the HTF and the MTF (Mass Transit Fund).

And while President George H W Bush did divert some fuel tax monies to the general fund in 1990, it was 2.5 cents per gallon that went to the General Fund. A very small amount that was supposed to be used to pay down the deficit. A deficit that was caused in part at least by the Fed trying to fund the Interstate Highway System.

President Clinton added another 4.3 cents to the fuel tax in 1993 that also went to the General Fund. The Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 however stopped all transfers to the General Fund.

Now the bulk of the Federal fuel taxes goes to the HTF, with a very small amount, about 2.86 cents per gallon, going to the MTF.

0

notajayhawk 4 years, 8 months ago

AlanB (Anonymous) says…

"Actually trains are the most efficient means for getting people to their destinations. This is why most cities are putting rail back in, because it costs less to operate."

Seriously? 'Most' of the more than 18,000 cities in the United States are putting rail back in? Shouldn't be a problem to name 100 or so off the top of your head then?

"According to the National Transit Database maintained by the Fed, it costs 80 cent in operating costs to move one passenger one mile on a bus. On light rail it costs 60 cents, on commuter rail and subways/El's it costs 40 cents."

Based on what? A full subway car compared to a single-occupancy bus?

And what about cars?

And why are you comparing light rail or subways? The story is about Amtrak? You know, inter-city?

"The reason that no private companies continue to operate trains is that they cannot compete against our subsidized roads and planes."

Oh, puhleeeze.

Half of every Amtrak tcket sold is paid for in tax dollars. And that doesn't even include the cost of building the rails and the stations.

The bulk of our roads are paid for in user fees of one kind or another. The rest is paid for through GR-type taxes, yes - but that's because there isn't a single person in this country, whether they drive or not, that doesn't benefit from the roads. There is no other way to transport goods, services, and people to the 99.999% of places where the trains don't go.

In other words, the roads are paid for by the people that use them. Amtrak is not.

"Last fiscal year (2008) Amtrak carried 10.9 million passengers between Boston, NY, Philly, and DC. Amtrak's total ridership system wide was 28.7 million, meaning that 17.8 million people or more than 2/3rds did not ride between the aforementioned cities."

What portion of the population is in that corridor? More than 1/3? What portion of the country's area?

"By the way, for every dollar a Kansas resident paid to the Federal government on average the State of Kansas has gotten back $1.11 from the Fed over the six year period from 2000 - 2005. NY's average is $0.82 and Massachusetts $0.82."

By the way, the population density of those areas permits ridership levels that contribute a higher percentage of the operating costs. And even with that population density, most of the people that ride the trains do so because the roads and the air routes are completely saturated, something that does not apply to most of the rest of the country.

0

notajayhawk 4 years, 8 months ago

georgiahawk (Anonymous) says…

"Have you ever been on one? ... Maybe, just maybe, there might be a possibility, that there is a chance, you don't know all there is to know since you have not experienced it."

Nice A$$umption. I've been on plenty of trains, and it is without doubt the most miserable way to travel between cities. Perhaps why people travel three times as many miles via inter-city BUS as the 1% of our long distance travel that's done by train.

0

notajayhawk 4 years, 8 months ago

bkgarner (Brent Garner) says…

"However, I also believe that I can safely say that the incidence of automobile ownership per 1000 of population is lower in those areas than here."

It is in Europe. But even that number is growing. Seems the Europeans would rather drive cars, too, with gas costing what - about $10/gal?


AlanB (Anonymous) says…

"For fiscal 2009 every man, women, and child paid $8.72 towards Amtrak. During the same year every man, women, and child paid $113 towards our nation's highways without regard for whether they actually own a car, much less can drive one."

How much was spent per person that actually USED the trains versus how many benefitted from the roads - "without regard for whether they actually own a car, much less can drive one"?

"The sentence should read “As has been noted, what killed passenger travel on trains was the advent of cars, the subsidized interstate highway system, subsidized airplanes, and subsidized airlines."

And yet still the heavily subsidized trains can't compete.

The roads and airports were built because that's how people prefer to travel. Deal with it.

"Take away the other sources and the riders cover about 64% of the costs."

Again, not counting the cost of building or maintaining the infrastructure.

"And just for comparison, for fiscal 2009, users of the highways paid just about 50% of the costs at the Federal level."

Really, Alan?

How do you think that computer you're posting from got to the store you bought it from?

“Ending balance for FY 2008 includes $8.017 billion transferred from the General Fund ..."

Then ...

"There are no transfers to/from the General Fund."

Um - huh?

"So warm up your ballot and if it passes, be prepared for still more bridges that fall into rivers and other similar disasters seeing as how it's estimated that despite having spent $69.116 billion this year, there is still more than $200 billion in needed work to return our highways to a state of good repair."

And it would cost what to revitalize the rail infrastructure? Let alone expand it? For that 1% of the population that wants to use it?

"Oops, I forgot to add that according to one UC Davis study the gas tax on average might need to be raised by as much as 70 cents per gallon in order for the users of our roads & highways to actually fully pay for the roads & highways.

"They included numbers like paying for police and rescue services, plowing, lighting, as well as general repairs, repaving, and new construction."

Just out of curiosity, Alan - how do you plan to get to the train station?


JackRipper (Anonymous) says…

" Why can we take +40000 killed each year and many more injured so lightly?"

How many people die per air travel mile compared to train travel mile, Jackie?

Why do you want people to die, Jack?

0

Randall Barnes 4 years, 8 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

0

Richard Heckler 4 years, 8 months ago

Yes Maynard Moody is correct. Train rides are fun. Very relaxing as a matter of fact. Club car,dome car and just walking around. Trains were part of our honeymoon which worked out swell.

If a layover is part of the ride why not be laid over in the city instead of the airport with little to nothing to do. Getting laid over in Lawrence or Kansas City would not be a bad deal.

A five hour layover in Chicago allowed this family to see the sights,ride the bus and visit the American Girl doll museum.

Getting stranded in an airport is simply boring.

0

AlanB 4 years, 8 months ago

notajayhawk wrote: "Seriously? 'Most' of the more than 18,000 cities in the United States are putting rail back in? Shouldn't be a problem to name 100 or so off the top of your head then?"

Seattle; Tukwila, WA; Portland; Sacramento; San Francisco; San Jose; LA; Oceanside, CA; Stockton, CA; San Diego; Phoenix; Santa Fe, NM; Albuquerque, NM; Salt Lake City; Denver; Houston; Dallas; Fort Worth, TX; Austin, TX; New Orleans; St. Louis; Minneapolis; St. Paul; Detroit; Buffalo; Pittsburgh; Philly; NY City; Hoboken/Jersey City, NJ; Camden, NJ; Newark/Bloomfield, NJ; Baltimore; DC; Charlotte, NC; Norfolk, VA; Nashville, TN; Miami; Orlando; Tampa; Cleveland; Memphis; Little Rock, AK; are all cities that are either considering rail or currently expanding their rail systems, or have built something new within the last 20 years. To name a few.

notajayhawk wrote: "Based on what? A full subway car compared to a single-occupancy bus?"

Based upon passenger miles. Put one person on a train and move it 10 miles you have 10 passenger miles. Put 10 people on a bus and move it one mile and you have 10 passenger miles.

notajayhawk wrote: "And what about cars?"

The NTD doesn't track cars and there is no easy way to track cars anyhow, since there are too many unknown variables.

notajayhawk wrote: "And why are you comparing light rail or subways? The story is about Amtrak? You know, inter-city?"

I'm comparing light rail and subways because someone stated that "Trains were the least efficient way to move people." They didn't specify Amtrak, they said trains. The stats prove that trains are the most efficient way to move people.

notajayhawk wrote: "Oh, puhleeeze.

Half of every Amtrak tcket sold is paid for in tax dollars. And that doesn't even include the cost of building the rails and the stations."

Please yourself. I've already shown that the rider pays more than half of the cost of their transportation, and that does include all costs. Not that Amtrak is building rails or stations anyhow. In most cases Amtrak runs on tracks owned by freight companies, it's only in the northeast and Michigan that Amtrak actually owns the tracks. And most of the stations that Amtrak stops at are not owned by Amtrak. The majority of the stations are either owned by the local town/city or the freight RR. Amtrak probably owns maybe 50 stations, if that.

0

AlanB 4 years, 8 months ago

notajayhawk wrote: "The bulk of our roads are paid for in user fees of one kind or another. The rest is paid for through GR-type taxes, yes - but that's because there isn't a single person in this country, whether they drive or not, that doesn't benefit from the roads. There is no other way to transport goods, services, and people to the 99.999% of places where the trains don't go.

In other words, the roads are paid for by the people that use them. Amtrak is not"

No, that is incorrect. Please go back up to my earlier post where I linked to the Federal Government's websites that quite clearly show that out of $69.116 Billion this year spent on our highways, the users did not pay for $34.5 Billion of that. That's 50% that was not paid for by the users. Amtrak is averaging 64% paid for by the users.

As for transporting goods, 40% moves by train. Only 28% moves by truck. We certainly don't need 12 lane freeways to move that freight, we're spending billions every year so that people can drive their cars.

notajayhawk wrote: "What portion of the population is in that corridor? More than 1/3? What portion of the country's area?"

Not that it has anything to do with why I posted this, since I posted this to refute the argument that most of Amtrak's passengers ride only in the northeast. However, to answer your question, a quick survey of the various counties served by the Northeast Corridor between Boston and DC shows that less than 10% of the country's total population lives along the corridor.

0

AlanB 4 years, 8 months ago

notajayhawk wrote: "By the way, the population density of those areas permits ridership levels that contribute a higher percentage of the operating costs. And even with that population density, most of the people that ride the trains do so because the roads and the air routes are completely saturated, something that does not apply to most of the rest of the country."

This statement has anything to do with what I had posted and you had quoted.

That said, the corridor pays a higher percentage of its operating costs because the demand allows it to charge more. However, it's not because the roads and airports are totally saturated. They choose Amtrak because it's more reliable, more comfortable, and because they can actually get work done while traveling. They can't do that on an airplane where you can't use your phone or laptop, and it's not very safe using your phone in the car.

And one thing that the corridor doesn't do is pay its capital costs. And the capital costs are much higher for the NEC than they are throughout the rest of the system, because Amtrak owns the tracks and because of the higher speeds on the corridor.

So while the NEC recovers its operating costs, when you factor in the capital costs it looses more than the rest of the system.

notajayhawk wrote: "Perhaps why people travel three times as many miles via inter-city BUS as the 1% of our long distance travel that's done by train."

According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, that's not true. In 2001, last year for which data is reported, people traveled 9,945 million person miles by bus. Trains saw 10,546 million person miles. And train ridership has gone up, while bus ridership has gone down, which is why Greyhound has eliminated more than 600 routes over the past few years.

If we factor in tours and charters to the bus numbers, then they do exceed trains, but that's not a fair comparison.

http://www.bts.gov/publications/national_transportation_statistics/html/table_01_39.html

0

AlanB 4 years, 8 months ago

notajayhawk wrote: "How much was spent per person that actually USED the trains versus how many benefitted from the roads - “without regard for whether they actually own a car, much less can drive one”?"

I already told you that 64% of the costs were paid for by the users directly, plus of course they also paid their share via Federal Income taxes. That worked out to everyone paying about 8 bucks last year for Amtrak, compared to the $113 everyone paid for the roads. And that number is just Federal dollars, does not include what people paid via fuel taxes, and it doesn't include the monies spent by cities, counties, and states on the roads.

And guess what; even you, benefited from having Amtrak. Every passenger on Amtrak was a person not in a car or a bus potentially in front of you on the road. And it was one less person on the road causing damage to the road and further driving up the monies needed for the roads.

notajayhawk wrote: "And yet still the heavily subsidized trains can't compete.

The roads and airports were built because that's how people prefer to travel. Deal with it."

You have a funny definition of "heavily subsidized". Which do you think is going to cause your taxes to go up faster? Spending $1.35 billion on Amtrak or spending $34.5 Billion on our highways?

Highways were subsidized with nearly 25 times the amount of money given to Amtrak. That's a heavy subsidy.

And no, that's not why roads and airports were built. They were built for the National defense of our Country, unless of course you're going to call President Eisenhower a liar.

It was once people saw how cheap the Federally subsidized Interstate highways were that cars really took off. Many of our airports were also former military installations.

0

AlanB 4 years, 8 months ago

notajayhawk wrote: "Again, not counting the cost of building or maintaining the infrastructure."

That includes everything, including interest payments for Fiscal 2008. Again, Amtrak doesn't own much infrastructure, only about 650 route miles. Nearly 71% of the miles traveled by Amtrak's trains occur on freight tracks.

notajayhawk wrote: "Really, Alan?

How do you think that computer you're posting from got to the store you bought it from?"

Yes, really. Go look at the links provided. $69.116 billion was spent, and only $34.616 billion came from the users. That's 50% by my calculations.

And not that my computer has anything to do with whether or not the users paid for the roads, but it got to the store first by traveling on rail, then by road.

notajayhawk wrote: "“Ending balance for FY 2008 includes $8.017 billion transferred from the General Fund …”

Then …

“There are no transfers to/from the General Fund.”

Um - huh?"

My apologies for being unclear. Yes, there was a special transfer between the General Fund and the HTF for this year and last. But in the context that I was answering that original question, there are no "routine" and continuous transfers between the General Fund and the HTF.

Although it is becoming more routine that the users' aren't paying enough, so I've no doubt that we'll continue to see transfers from the General Fund to the HTF to keep it from going bankrupt. Estimates are that the HTF will need $10 Billion this year.

notajayhawk wrote: "And it would cost what to revitalize the rail infrastructure? Let alone expand it? For that 1% of the population that wants to use it?"

It will cost far less than the roads, and last far longer than the roads.

And while Amtrak may only carry about 1% of the population, remember that most improvements that would benefit Amtrak will also benefit the freight RR's which carry 40% of our country's freight. Additionally many freight RR's, as well as Amtrak's own tracks, also carry commuter railroad passengers which drive the number of people receiving a benefit even higher.

0

Matthew Herbert 4 years, 8 months ago

I think while we are at it, we should revive the rotary telephone, the "ice box" and other outdated crap.

0

notajayhawk 4 years, 8 months ago

AlanB (Anonymous) says…

"This is why most cities are putting rail back in"

Then

"are all cities that are either considering rail or currently expanding their rail systems"

Why, those are almost exactly the same thing! And, um - 41 (or so) is not exactly 100, let alone 9000+ (especially as many of those 41 are in the "considering" or "expanding" state).

BTW, you forgot Kansas City, MO - they "considered" it, too. And decided against it.

"Based upon passenger miles. Put one person on a train and move it 10 miles you have 10 passenger miles. Put 10 people on a bus and move it one mile and you have 10 passenger miles."

Yeah, got that part, dipstick. And I'll ask again - based on what kind of occupancy? If you have a full bus compared to a car with just the driver, your cost per passenger-mile is lower for the bus. If you put five people in the car and compare it to a typically almost-empty Lawrence mT bus, the cost per passenger-mile is lower for the car.

"I'm comparing light rail and subways because someone stated that “Trains were the least efficient way to move people.” They didn't specify Amtrak, they said trains. The stats prove that trains are the most efficient way to move people."

Except, possibly, for cars. Because "The NTD doesn't track cars and there is no easy way to track cars anyhow". We certainly wouldn't want to include the mode of transportation that is far and away the most widely chosen mode of transportation in this country, you know, those 250,000,000 registered passenger vehicles, when you're talking about "the most efficient way to move people."

And, um, Alan? Did you happen to notice the headline? It's about Amtrak. Perhaps STRS didn't think it necessary to specify 'Amtrak' in a thread attached to a story about Amtrak. And BTW, he said "train travel is an incredibly expensive and inefficient means getting people to their destinations," not “Trains were the least efficient way to move people" as you misquoted.

"I've already shown that the rider pays more than half of the cost of their transportation, and that does include all costs."

Average passenger fare for Amtrak, 2006 (the most recent numbers I could find): $56.45

http://www.bts.gov/publications/national_transportation_statistics/html/table_03_15a.html

Average subsidy per passenger in 2008 (admittedly not an exact comparison): $32

http://www.usatoday.com/travel/news/2009-10-27-amtrak-passenger-subsidies_N.htm

From the story:

"Subsidyscope says its review counted certain capital expenses that Amtrak doesn't consider when calculating the financial performance of its routes, namely wear and tear on equipment, or depreciation."

And, as you admitted, they're not paying for new infrastructure.

[continued]

0

notajayhawk 4 years, 8 months ago

[continued]

"No, that is incorrect. Please go back up to my earlier post where I linked to the Federal Government's websites that quite clearly show that out of $69.116 Billion this year spent on our highways, the users did not pay for $34.5 Billion of that. That's 50% that was not paid for by the users. Amtrak is averaging 64% paid for by the users."

That breeze you felt was the point going over your head.

Everyone uses the roads, Alan. Everyone. Whether you own a care or drive or not, everyone uses the roads. So yes, the roads are paid for by the people that use them. And as I just demonstrated, Amtrak passengers pay less than half the operating costs, let alone the infrastructure costs.

"As for transporting goods, 40% moves by train. Only 28% moves by truck."

Based on what - weight? Virtually every item in your home was on a truck at some point or another. Or did you think the trains pull up to the loading dock at Wal-mart?

"Not that it has anything to do with why I posted this, since I posted this to refute the argument that most of Amtrak's passengers ride only in the northeast. However, to answer your question, a quick survey of the various counties served by the Northeast Corridor between Boston and DC shows that less than 10% of the country's total population lives along the corridor."

STRS's statement was "remember which Americans primarily use our heavily-taxpayer-subsidized Amtrak system: residents in Boston, New York City and Philadelphia." I'd say 10% of the population making up 1/3 of the train riders makes them the "primary" users.

Besides, if we're talking about all trains, not just Amtrak:

"Two-thirds of rail passengers in the United States live in New York City, also home to the nation's busiest rail passenger station, Penn Station."

[continued]

0

notajayhawk 4 years, 8 months ago

[continued]

"However, it's not because the roads and airports are totally saturated."

Have you ever been there? I suppose the 30-35% delay rate at the NYC airports has nothing to do with saturation. And this:

"An indication that the Boston-Washington route may be saturated came when AirTran last month abruptly dropped plans to offer four daily Logan-Dulles round trips beginning in February, which would have competed with both United and JetBlue."

http://www.boston.com/business/articles/2006/01/16/dc_is_top_destination_for_logan_travelers/

"So while the NEC recovers its operating costs, when you factor in the capital costs it looses more than the rest of the system."

How do you figure that, when the rest of the system doesn't pay any capital costs, at least as far as tracks go? You're basing your argument that train travel is more efficient on the fact that they're using tracks built by and for someone else?

"According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, that's not true. In 2001, last year for which data is reported, people traveled 9,945 million person miles by bus. Trains saw 10,546 million person miles. ... If we factor in tours and charters to the bus numbers, then they do exceed trains, but that's not a fair comparison."

Why is that not a fair comparison? And even without those, inter-city bus still has more person-trips than passenger rail.

"And train ridership has gone up, while bus ridership has gone down, which is why Greyhound has eliminated more than 600 routes over the past few years."

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/10/12/ap/national/main5379079.shtml

"(AP) Amtrak said Monday its ridership dropped by more than 1 million passengers during the past year, but was still the second-highest year in the railroad's history."

http://www.hollandsentinel.com/news/x1662361766/Derailing-Amtrak-ridership-down-senators-look-to-cut-funding

"Ridership figures on the Grand Rapids to Chicago line show 9,735 people boarded the state-subsidized service in May 2008, while 8,503 did in May 2009, according to Amtrak."

"Ticket revenue also decreased 13.5 percent during the same period."

"Train advocates blamed the declines on lower gas prices this spring, a poor economy and surprising success in 2008."

Just as during the gas crunch of the 70's, train ridership went up - temporarily. It really had no other direction to go in.

0

notajayhawk 4 years, 8 months ago

"I already told you that 64% of the costs were paid for by the users directly, plus of course they also paid their share via Federal Income taxes. That worked out to everyone paying about 8 bucks last year for Amtrak, compared to the $113 everyone paid for the roads."

And I already told you, no, it's not. And again, I said per USER. Let's see - just using your numbers, that's $34.5B for 2.3 billion person trips by car, vs. $1.35B for 21.1 million persontrips by train. That's $15 per car trip vs. $64 per train trip.

"Every passenger on Amtrak was a person not in a car or a bus potentially in front of you on the road."

False premise. That assumes 1) that every one of those trips by train would have been made had the trains not been there, 2) that all those trips would have been made by car, 3) that everyone would have been traveling alone in a separate car, and most importantly, that they were going anywhere I was going. Believe me, the three or four people that take the train from Douglas County to the KC metro daily really wouldn't make much of an impact on my commute.

"And no, that's not why roads and airports were built. They were built for the National defense of our Country, unless of course you're going to call President Eisenhower a liar.

"It was once people saw how cheap the Federally subsidized Interstate highways were that cars really took off. Many of our airports were also former military installations."

The Federal Aid Highway Act of 1925 went into law when Eisenhower was a major and chief of staff to General Connor in Panama. There were coast-to-coast roads even before that. And the demand for roads was spurred by the availability of affordable cars (ever hear of the Model T?), not the other way around.

"Go look at the links provided. $69.116 billion was spent, and only $34.616 billion came from the users. That's 50% by my calculations."

I don't know why you're having such a hard time grasping this, Alan. The entire $69B came from the users because everyone, yourself included, is a user of the roads. Again, I ask how that computer you're using got to the store you bought it from - not to mention how you got to the store. Whether you drove, took a taxi, rode the bus, rode a moped, even a bike, you were on the road, and so was the truck that delivered the computer to the store. If you've ever ridden in an ambulance or had the police or fire department respond to your home, you use the roads. If you've ever had a UPS or FedEx delivery, or, for that matter, mail delivered, you use the roads.

Again: How were you planning on getting to the train station?

"And not that my computer has anything to do with whether or not the users paid for the roads, but it got to the store first by traveling on rail, then by road."

Glad it didn't have anything to do with you using the roads. And, um, while it was on a train, it wasn't sitting in an Amtrak seat.

0

notajayhawk 4 years, 8 months ago

"And while Amtrak may only carry about 1% of the population, remember that most improvements that would benefit Amtrak will also benefit the freight RR's which carry 40% of our country's freight."

And that is the major reason passenger rail will never work.

As you pointed out, Amtrak owns their rails in the NEC. That's why they can schedule as many trains as it takes to 1) meet demand and 2) offer a convenient schedule. Sharing tracks with freight means you can't do either of those things.

The American public made their choice a century ago. Cars offer convenience in being able to travel point-to-point whenever you choose, door-to-door on your schedule. In most cases it's both cheaper and faster to drive long distance rather than taking a train. You can flush away all the money you want on trains. People aren't going to ride them.

0

Alexander Neighbors 4 years, 8 months ago

I would, do and have ridden the train and I love it ! when Gas is around 4 dollars a gallon people will flock to trains

0

Richard Heckler 4 years, 8 months ago

Without billions in subsidies commercial airplanes would not be in the air.

Why do CEO's draw such high wages? from our tax dollars?

Without billions in subsidies cars would not be driving on as many roads or smooth roads.

Face it cars are huge tax dollar budget items for Lawrence,Kansas and KDOT. So So So many many ,many only have one person in them = very high dollar transportation.

Planes,trains,bus,commuter trains and The T carry hundreds of thousands to millions in fewer vehicles = the better bang for the tax dollar.

Sidewalks are a better bang for the tax dollar because thousands of trips are by way of sidewalks either on foot or bicycles.

Cars do not pay back the taxpayer no way. The recent snow storm will likely add another $750,000 tax dollars to the cost of vehicular traffic. Yes developers and cars are huge budget items.

0

commuter 4 years, 8 months ago

Alan and Merrill- give it up men. If you guys like riding trains so much. Put your money where your mouth is and start a train business. Come on quit talking about it, do something anything.

I have ridden on trains both in the US and Europe. The European trains are better and have better schedules. To the Europeans riding a train is part of their culture, here is Kansas- it is not for a majority of the people.

If you two like riding on trains so much, please feel free to move back east or to Chicago. I would personally pay for your tickets to leave. I know it would be a great investment.

0

bisky1 4 years, 8 months ago

in chicago right now after taking the train yesterday, got upgraded all the way to a sleeper with toilet and shower for $18.00 more than the reserved seats (2 @ $222.00), 2 people, 4 meals, private facilities, very comfortable and our porter gave us 2 bottles of sparkling wine. southwest for the same guarantee of arriving when we wanted was $360.00. the main reason to fly is only if time is important to what you are doing.

0

Kawatchi 4 years, 8 months ago

I would travel by train if it weren't so much more expensive than flying or driving. I am trying to think of an advantage to a train.

Faster? No. Safer? No. More convenient? No. Cheaper? No.

0

jayhawklawrence 4 years, 8 months ago

I just checked out the AMTRAK website and I think the cost and length of time to get somewhere would be prohibitive for me.

Also, the website is not as user friendly as I would like it to be.

It takes over 22 hours to get to Denver and it costs me $384 with my wife and 2 children to go one way.

Does not sound like a good deal to me.

That being said, the idea of riding a train is very appealing. If it was $100, I would strongly consider it.

0

KansasPerson 4 years, 8 months ago

jayhawklawrence, were you trying to get to Denver from Lawrence? I don't think there's a direct route, unfortunately. The California Zephyr goes from Chicago to Denver (and beyond) but it goes through Nebraska.... I don't think it enters Kansas at any point. The only train that stops in Lawrence is the Southwest Chief. After it leaves Lawrence it goes through Topeka, Newton, Hutch, Dodge City, and Garden City before it hits CO -- and then it only goes through the SE corner of it (Lamar, etc.).

You can save a lot of money on Amtrak by keeping on eye on the weekly specials. (I agree that the website is not the easiest thing to navigate, but I've seen worse!)

If the train happens to be passing through the exact place that you need to go, it can be a godsend, When we were visiting colleges last year, there was one in particular that was right on the Southwest Chief route. Step on in Lawrence.... step off at our destination. Couldn't have been easier.

0

Flap Doodle 4 years, 8 months ago

HR 676 would have given us magical trains with unicorns and candy.

0

KansasPerson 4 years, 8 months ago

Another thing that helped us last year was the Campus Visit program. If you're visiting a prospective college with your high-school junior or senior, you can get a buy one, get one for half-off ticket deal. Visit http://www.campusvisit.com/amtrak/ if you're interested. We did this when we visited Knox College and it was a good deal.

Things to know in general for Amtrak travel:

Children under 2 ride for free. Children from 2 to 15 ride for half-fare. Seniors (62 and over) can get a 15% discount. AAA members can get a 10% discount. Active military (and their spouses/dependents) 10% off. Veterans can enroll in the "Veterans Advantage" program which gives them 15% off Similarly, college students and H.S. seniors can get a "Student Advantage" discount card. Again, a 15% discount. Lastly, there is a "Guest Rewards" program which is similar to frequent-flyer programs.

Finally, if you're looking at a train trip, always check the weekly specials (direct link http://tickets.amtrak.com/itd/amtrak/weeklyspecials). For instance, one adult can go from Lawrence to Albuquerque NM for $75.75 on January 10, 17, 24, or 31.

Hope this info is helpful to someone.

0

Alexander Neighbors 4 years, 8 months ago

amtrak also has Rail passes you can pay 250 to 275 dollars a month and use the train in a given segment an unlimited number of times.

this is cheaper then it would cost me in gas to drive to the next city and back Everyday for work. breaks down to $8.01 dollars a day to get too and from work.

0

bisky1 4 years, 8 months ago

Kawatchi (Anonymous) says…

I would travel by train if it weren't so much more expensive than flying or driving. I am trying to think of an advantage to a train.

Faster? No. Safer? No. More convenient? No. Cheaper? No.

bisky1 sez faster? but this may not be important or the trains amenities are of value and offset speed. safer? sure don't agree here, don't know the safety issues per passenger, but your are sure more likely to survive a train incident and not many nigerians are on trains with bombs in their pants more convenient? pretty subjective, in kansas city the parking is easier, faster, less expensive and you don't have to take your clothes off to get on the train. i have never had a problem with amtrak employees. costs? just compared prices for 2 people january 20, the train was $30 bucks less expensive. trains are a different kind of travel than flying, you wouldn't compare driving and flying to chicago straight up and you shouldn't compare trains and planes

0

AlanB 4 years, 8 months ago

notajayhawk wrote: "Why, those are almost exactly the same thing! And, um - 41 (or so) is not exactly 100, let alone 9000+ (especially as many of those 41 are in the “considering” or “expanding” state)."

First, the phrase “putting rail in” means that they are installing rails in the ground. Second, the reference to considering was in regard to one city that already has rail service and therefore a proven track record that is considering an expansion. Kansas City doesn’t have a proven track record, and they made a mistake in voting it down. Finally, I named the major cities, however in almost all cases the tracks extend into other cities that also contribute and benefit from the rail service. If you really want to keep playing this stupid game, I’ll pull out the map and fill up the board with a list of cities that have rail service.

notajayhawk wrote: "And I'll ask again - based on what kind of occupancy? "

Transit agencies don’t track ridership in that simple manor that you want. The best that I can give you, which you could have gotten yourself if you had but headed to the NTD, is passenger trips per vehicle revenue mile. For buses it’s 2.7, for heavy rail it’s 5.4, commuter rail 1.5, and for light rail it’s 5.1.

notajayhawk wrote: "We certainly wouldn't want to include the mode of transportation that is far and away the most widely chosen mode of transportation in this country, you know, those 250,000,000 registered passenger vehicles, when you're talking about “the most efficient way to move people."

If you don’t like what the NTD tracks, then complain to your Congressman. They established the agency to track public transit and not cars.

And if cars were the most efficient way to move people, then the demand for all types of rail would not be going up and neither would ridership.

notajayhawk wrote: "Average passenger fare for Amtrak, 2006 (the most recent numbers I could find): $56.45"

I went to Amtrak, pulled up the Monthly performance report for the final month of 2008 and calculated my numbers from there. Since they list all revenue and all expenses, including interest, it provides a far more accurate number. And it’s a calculation that is not affected by the issues outlined in that one story you linked to.

notajayhawk wrote: "And, as you admitted, they're not paying for new infrastructure."

I never said that they weren’t paying for new infrastructure. I said that they aren’t paying for most of the infrastructure that they use.

notajayhawk wrote: "STRS's statement was “remember which Americans primarily use our heavily-taxpayer-subsidized Amtrak system: residents in Boston, New York City and Philadelphia.” I'd say 10% of the population making up 1/3 of the train riders makes them the “primary” users."

I said it was a quick survey. I quickly added up the populations of the closest counties to the corridor, hardly accurate or scientific and I have no doubt that I missed several counties.

0

AlanB 4 years, 8 months ago

notajayhawk wrote: "Everyone uses the roads, Alan. Everyone. Whether you own a care or drive or not, everyone uses the roads. So yes, the roads are paid for by the people that use them."

No, not everyone uses the roads. There are people who don’t own cars. If you don’t own a car, then you don’t use the road. The fact that you may be a passenger on a bus does not make you a user of the road, at least in the sense that you’re talking about. A user of a bus pays the bus company for the ride. The bus company factors into that fare the amount of money that they have to pay to support our roads. So a bus rider shouldn’t have to get double dipped to support the roads. They paid for their ride and their share of the road. If we’re going to do it based upon the Federal Income Tax way, then the bus companies should not be allowed to pass on the costs associated with the roads to the riders.

notajayhawk wrote: "Based on what - weight? Virtually every item in your home was on a truck at some point or another. Or did you think the trains pull up to the loading dock at Wal-mart?"

Based upon ton miles. And how things got to my home is irrelevant. I already paid for those trucks via shipping fees if it came directly to me, or via higher prices that the store used to pass on the shipping charges that they paid. Those shipping charges landed with the truck owners so that they can pay for the roads.

notajayhawk wrote: "Two-thirds of rail passengers in the United States live in New York City, also home to the nation's busiest rail passenger station, Penn Station."

I’m not sure if that stat was ever true, but it certainly isn’t today. At best, about 1/2 the rail passengers live in New York City and that assumes that we use the subway numbers provided, which we know includes many riders who don’t live in NYC.

According to APTA, total average daily ridership on rail transportation is 13,855.90. Two thirds of that number would be 9,237. Ridership on the NYC subways, the only rail transit that provides transit to NYC residents is 7,430.4 or just slightly more than half of the total rides taken on rail.

0

AlanB 4 years, 8 months ago

notajayhawk wrote: "I suppose the 30-35% delay rate at the NYC airports has nothing to do with saturation. And this:

An indication that the Boston-Washington route may be saturated came when AirTran last month abruptly dropped plans to offer four daily Logan-Dulles round trips beginning in February, which would have competed with both United and JetBlue"

Now you’re in effect changing the definition of saturation from the context you used before. Earlier you claimed that people had to go to Amtrak because the airlines couldn’t handle more people, now you’re providing evidence that an airline decided not to run more flights because they can’t get enough passengers to pay the bills.

notajayhawk wrote: "How do you figure that, when the rest of the system doesn't pay any capital costs, at least as far as tracks go? You're basing your argument that train travel is more efficient on the fact that they're using tracks built by and for someone else?"

I figure that by looking at the numbers. The corridor covers its operating expenses from the fare box. The rest of the system does not cover its operating expenses from the fare box. The rest of the system has very little in the way of capital expenses, beyond a few stations and the cars and engines. The corridor however does have capital expenses beyond those of the rest of the system, in terms of tracks and catenary. Those tracks and catenary are maintained to very precise standards that are necessary for high speed operations. Subtract those capital expenses from the operating profit of the corridor and it becomes a money loosing operation.

And I’m not basing my argument about trains being more efficient on Amtrak.

notajayhawk wrote: "Why is that not a fair comparison? And even without those, inter-city bus still has more person-trips than passenger rail."

It’s not a fair comparison because charter buses and tours are not regularly scheduled public transportation; they are special operations. As for more person-trips, that’s not what you were arguing. Let me remind you what you said:

notajayhawk wrote: “Perhaps why people travel three times as many miles via inter-city BUS as the 1% of our long distance travel that's done by train.”

Clearly that’s not true with the evidence at hand.

notajayhawk wrote: "Let's see - just using your numbers, that's $34.5B for 2.3 billion person trips by car, vs. $1.35B for 21.1 million persontrips by train. That's $15 per car trip vs. $64 per train trip."

First, if you’re going to play that game, at least get the numbers right. Amtrak ridership in 2008 was 28.7 million. Second where does the 2.3 billion number come from? Finally, if one is really worried about one’s taxes, which do you think is going to cause your taxes to go up first? $34.5 billion? Or $1.35 billion?

0

AlanB 4 years, 8 months ago

notajayhawk wrote: "Amtrak said Monday its ridership dropped by more than 1 million passengers during the past year, but was still the second-highest year in the railroad's history"

First, make note that I said train ridership, not Amtrak ridership. Second, make note that I said over the past several years when I compared to Greyhound. Yes, Amtrak ridership did take a dip this year when compared to 2008, where the high price of gas pushed the ridership numbers higher. However, the 2009 number is still higher than the 2007 number and the immediately preceding years.

Except for the slight blip in 2008 caused by the high price of gas, over the last 10 years both Amtrak ridership has continued to increase as well as all other forms of rail ridership.

notajayhawk wrote: "False premise. That assumes 1) that every one of those trips by train would have been made had the trains not been there, 2) that all those trips would have been made by car, 3) that everyone would have been traveling alone in a separate car, and most importantly, that they were going anywhere I was going."

Nothing false about it. 1) If you’re going to get on a train, then you’re going somewhere you either need to go or want to go. Therefore you’re going to do it by one means or another. 2) note I said bus, I didn’t assume that they would do it by car 3) again note I said bus and I wasn’t assuming that everyone would be going where you’re going. But at least a few were and therefore you will still benefit. It may be marginal, but you will benefit.

notajayhawk wrote: "The Federal Aid Highway Act of 1925 went into law when Eisenhower was a major and chief of staff to General Connor in Panama. There were coast-to-coast roads even before that. And the demand for roads was spurred by the availability of affordable cars (ever hear of the Model T?), not the other way around."

Please note that I said “Interstate Highways” as in the federally funded Interstate Highway System, not US routes like for example the infamous Route 66.

And it wasn’t until after the Interstate Highways were built that the average number of cars per family went from about 1 per family to 2.28 per family in 2008. In 1960 21% of the families owned 2 or more cars, in 2000 a little more than 56% of the families owned 2 or more cars. And the number of families owning no cars went from 21.5% to 9.35%.

notajayhawk wrote: "As you pointed out, Amtrak owns their rails in the NEC. That's why they can schedule as many trains as it takes to 1) meet demand and 2) offer a convenient schedule. Sharing tracks with freight means you can't do either of those things."

Baloney! Sorry. Go look at the Capital corridor between San Francisco and Sacramento. Amtrak runs 32 daily trains on tracks owned by Union Pacific. Both co-exist quite nicely with each other and the freight movements have benefited from the track improvements made by Amtrak & the State of California.

0

AlanB 4 years, 8 months ago

notajayhawk wrote: "I don't know why you're having such a hard time grasping this, Alan. The entire $69B came from the users because everyone, yourself included, is a user of the roads. Again, I ask how that computer you're using got to the store you bought it from - not to mention how you got to the store. Whether you drove, took a taxi, rode the bus, rode a moped, even a bike, you were on the road, and so was the truck that delivered the computer to the store. If you've ever ridden in an ambulance or had the police or fire department respond to your home, you use the roads. If you've ever had a UPS or FedEx delivery, or, for that matter, mail delivered, you use the roads."

I’m not having a hard time grasping this, sadly you are. Let’s look at the computer again. If I order a computer from Dell for example, I pay a shipping fee. That shipping fee goes to the company that transports my new computer to my house. The trucking company, be it UPS or whatever, is the user of the road. They pay for the use of the road. I paid Dell that shipping fee, which they in turn after taking a cut most likely paid that fee to the trucker. The trucker in turn paid for the use of the road.

I have no need to pay for the use of the road once again via my income taxes. I didn’t use the road in the traditional sense and I paid for the passage of my computer via the shipping fees.

If I go down to the store to by my computer, unless I take my car in which case I’m paying a user fee, I’m not using the road. If I take a bus, well we already covered that above. As for the computer that I buy in the store, factored into the price of that computer is the shipping fees that the store had to pay to get the computer delivered by whatever means, including the roads. Once again, the trucker paid the user fees up front. The store paid the trucker, and then passed the cost onto me via a higher price on the computer.

Again, I have no need to further subsidize the roads via my income taxes.

If the truckers are the ones not paying enough for the roads, then we need to raise the shipping fees. Otherwise, if the drivers of the cars are the ones not paying enough, then we need to raise the price of gas. We shouldn’t be subsidizing the roads via the Federal Income Tax.

However, for as long as we continue to do that, then the users of the roads have no standing to demand that rail pay its own way without subsidies.

0

AlanB 4 years, 8 months ago

notajayhawk wrote: " The American public made their choice a century ago. Cars offer convenience in being able to travel point-to-point whenever you choose, door-to-door on your schedule. In most cases it's both cheaper and faster to drive long distance rather than taking a train. You can flush away all the money you want on trains. People aren't going to ride them.”

No, the American public choose the cheaper, government subsidized option. Only now as the costs of our roads continue to increase at ever faster rates is the public starting to realize that trains need to be an important part of our transportation mix.

That’s why ridership on Amtrak has gone from a low of 15 million passengers in 1972 to the current 2008 number of 28.7 million, almost a 90% increase. That why rail transit ridership has gone from a low of 2 million rides in 1971 to 4.338 million in 2007, more than double. This is also why voters in 16 different states went to the polls and approved 24 ballot measures that included rail projects out of 32, giving rail a 75% approval rating.

0

AlanB 4 years, 8 months ago

commuter wrote: "I have ridden on trains both in the US and Europe. The European trains are better and have better schedules. To the Europeans riding a train is part of their culture, here is Kansas- it is not for a majority of the people."

It's a part of their culture because trains are available to a much higher percentage of the public than they are here. They got to that point by having the government spend the money to put the trains in. And as we all know, governments spending money means that tax payers cough it up.

The difference is that those tax payers were smart enough to see that it was a wise choice. Heck, we even showed them the way by rebuilding much of their train network after WW II. They took the ball and ran with it, while we stupidly ripped our trains out.

commuter wrote: "If you two like riding on trains so much, please feel free to move back east or to Chicago. I would personally pay for your tickets to leave. I know it would be a great investment."

Thanks, but you had best save your money to pay for those more expensive roads you seem to be advocating for.

0

notajayhawk 4 years, 8 months ago

was_freashpowder2 (Alexander Neighbors) says…

"I would, do and have ridden the train and I love it ! when Gas is around 4 dollars a gallon people will flock to trains"

Um - gas WAS $4/gal. People didn't "flock" to the trains. When gas hit $4, car travel did go down some. But only a tiny fraction of that decrease was picked up by trains. Percentagewise, ridership was up - but then, it started at 1% of long-distance travel miles. It didn't even make it to 2%, and it's already going back down, just as it did after the gas crunch of the 70's.

"you can pay 250 to 275 dollars a month and use the train in a given segment an unlimited number of times ... breaks down to $8.01 dollars a day to get too and from work."

Except the average month only has 21.67 work days (if there are no holidays, sick days, or vacation days). Works out to $11.54 - $12.69 per day.


edjayhawk (Anonymous) says…

"Oh Nota, I don't know if they wouldn't ride them if they had more rouutes and destinations."

I think it would go up somewhat. The problem is that trains can't go everywhere at any time. When I compared them to cars, as I said, with a car you can go door-to-door on your schedule.

To get anything approaching that flexibility with trains, you have to have the population density to support it. I rode the trains all the time into/out of NYC. But those trains run all day and night, as little as 5 minutes apart during peak times, and get you there faster than a car will. And the public transportation in the City is just as convenient. You rarely have to walk more than a couple of blocks or wait more than a few minutes. (Of course, you still have to drive to, and park at, the train station.)

Unfortunately, the population density of the middle part of the country is never likely to make such flexibility economically feasible.

That, of course, is commuter rail. Will long-distance rail ever catch on? Even with high speed rail, I doubt it. A train would have to average more than 500 mph - everywhere along the route - to beat a plane. And as you mentioned, the cost of building those rails is astronomical.

The biggest problem I see is that no matter how much you expand passenger rail service, you will always still need cars/roads and aircraft. But with cars/roads and aircraft, you don't need passenger trains. As resources dwindle, if one of the three has to go, which one should be first?

0

notajayhawk 4 years, 8 months ago

AlanB (Anonymous) says…

"First, the phrase “putting rail in” means that they are installing rails in the ground. ... If you really want to keep playing this stupid game, I’ll pull out the map and fill up the board with a list of cities that have rail service."

I'd love to keep playing, Alan.

Please put up your map and show us all the 9000+ cities (you said "most cities are putting rail back in") are "installing rails in the ground."

"And if cars were the most efficient way to move people, then the demand for all types of rail would not be going up and neither would ridership."

Oh.

Except it's not.

"And it’s a calculation that is not affected by the issues outlined in that one story you linked to."

'The issue' in the story I linked to is that the average fare is $56 and tax dollars pay $32 of it.

"I never said that they weren’t paying for new infrastructure."

Except here:

29 December 2009 at 9:37 p.m. AlanB (Anonymous) says… "Not that Amtrak is building rails or stations anyhow."

"I said it was a quick survey. I quickly added up the populations of the closest counties to the corridor, hardly accurate or scientific and I have no doubt that I missed several counties."

Take your time. You have a lot of counting to do to prove more than 100 million people live along that corridor. Otherwise, STRS's statement that those people are the "primary" users is accurate, as they make a disproportionately higher percentage of train trips.

"First, make note that I said train ridership, not Amtrak ridership."

Fair enough.

Ridership falls on Metro-North Railroad's New Haven Line http://www.newstimes.com/default/article/Ridership-falls-on-Metro-North-Railroad-s-New-5934.php

GO 'excursion train' ridership drops on weekend http://www.wellandtribune.ca/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=1754180

Subway Ridership Falls, Fares May Go Up http://cityfile.com/dailyfile/5847

Lower gas prices, economy blamed for drop in Metrolink ridership http://www.pe.com/localnews/transportation/stories/PE_News_Local_S_trainriders07.3a7b7f1.html

Want me to keep going, Alan?

[continued]

0

notajayhawk 4 years, 8 months ago

[continued]

"That’s why ridership on Amtrak has gone from a low of 15 million passengers in 1972 to the current 2008 number of 28.7 million, almost a 90% increase ... "

As I mentioned, it only had one possible direction to go in. That 90% increase still didn't bring it up to 2% of person-trips. And it's already falling back again.

"Second where does the 2.3 billion number come from?"

Um - from the link YOU posted at 9:39 last night. Don't you read what you link to?

http://www.bts.gov/publications/national_transportation_statistics/html/table_01_39.html

"Please note that I said “Interstate Highways” as in the federally funded Interstate Highway System, not US routes like for example the infamous Route 66."

The statement that I replied to, re: Eisenhower, was: Please note that I said “And no, that's not why roads and airports were built. They were built for the National defense of our Country, unless of course you're going to call President Eisenhower a liar." The U.S. routes are roads, Alan.

Don't you read what you write, either?

"It’s not a fair comparison because charter buses and tours are not regularly scheduled public transportation; they are special operations. As for more person-trips, that’s not what you were arguing. ... Clearly that’s not true with the evidence at hand."

Whether I'm riding Greyhound to visit aunt Ethel in Sheboygen or a charter to a casino in Vegas, I'm still riding an inter-city bus, Alan. And when did you change the context to include only "regularly scheduled public transportation"?

"I’m not sure if that stat was ever true, but it certainly isn’t today. At best, about 1/2 the rail passengers live in New York City ... "

Care to back that up with a citation of your own?

"Now you’re in effect changing the definition of saturation from the context you used before. Earlier you claimed that people had to go to Amtrak because the airlines couldn’t handle more people, now you’re providing evidence that an airline decided not to run more flights because they can’t get enough passengers to pay the bills."

The 30-35% delay rate at the NYC airports is because there aren't enough passengers, Alan? So what - the delays are caused by waiting for a few more people to come along and board?

Let's just cut to it, shall we?

" If you don’t own a car, then you don’t use the road. The fact that you may be a passenger on a bus does not make you a user of the road, at least in the sense that you’re talking about."

At least that explains your claims that trains are more efficient when you don't have to include capital costs. After all, by your logic, people that ride the trains don't use the rails.

Really, Alan, as much fun as this has been, if you're going to be deliberately ignorant and make such pedantic and moronic statements such as bus riders aren't using the roads, it's pretty pointless to keep discussing this.

0

Richard Heckler 4 years, 8 months ago

15,000 or more commuters leave Lawrence everyday. If 8,000 drivers ( 16,000 trips) would use commuter service daily think how much nicer K-10 highway and the KTA would be. That would be success.

General Facts * The name Amtrak is the blending of the words "American" and "Track". The railroad's official name is the National Railroad Passenger Corporation. * Amtrak began service on May 1, 1971 when Clocker No. 235 departed New York Penn Station at 12:05 a.m. bound for Philadelphia. * In 1971, Amtrak announced a schedule of 184 trains, serving 314 destinations. * When service began on May 1, 1971, Amtrak had 25 employees. Today, the company employs 22,000 people. * Since the beginning, even-numbered trains have traveled north and east. Odd-numbered trains travel south and west. Among the exceptions are Amtrak's Pacific Surfliners, which use the opposite numbering system inherited from their former operator, the Santa Fe Railroad, and some Empire Corridor Trains.

Service * Amtrak serves more than 500 stations in 46 states. Those not included are Alaska, Hawaii, South Dakota, and Wyoming. Wyoming is served by Amtrak Thruway Motorcoaches. * Amtrak operates over more than 22,000 route miles. It owns 730 route miles, about 3 percent of the total nationwide, primarily between Boston and Washington, DC, and in Michigan. In other parts of the country, Amtrak trains use tracks owned by freight railroads. * On weekdays, Amtrak operates up to 265 trains per day, excluding commuter trains. * Amtrak trains operate every minute of the entire year. * Amtrak's twenty busiest train stations in fiscal year 2003 were:

Rank Code City/Station Boardings 1 NYP New York, NY 4,367,553 2 WAS Washington, DC 1,888,459 3 PHL Philadelphia, PA 1,844,887 4 CHI Chicago, IL 1,179,955 5 NWK Newark, NJ 684,050 6 LAX Los Angeles, CA 644,845 7 TRE Trenton, NJ 499,399 8 BOS Boston, MA 488,912 9 BAL Baltimore, MD 455,059 10 PJC Princeton Jct., NJ 449,608 11 SAC Sacramento, CA 443,827 12 SAN San Diego, CA 398,720 13 WIL Wilmington, DE 372,104 14 ALB Albany-Rensselaer, NY 323,160 15 NHV New Haven, CT 309,268 16 SEA Seattle, WA 299,466 17 BWI BWI Airport, MD 296,756 18 PRO Providence, RI 239,209 19 EMY Emeryville, CA 237,766 20 IRV Irvine, CA 236,090

0

Richard Heckler 4 years, 8 months ago

Train Trips * The Auto Train, which travels between Lorton, Virginia and Sanford, Florida is the longest Amtrak passenger train with two engines and 40-plus rail cars. * At 1,480 feet, the platform at Amtrak's Auto Train station in Lorton, Virginia is longer than the Sears Tower. * At 2,768 miles, the Sunset Limited between Orlando and Los Angeles is the longest Amtrak intercity passenger train route. * At 86 miles, the Hiawatha, which travels between Chicago and Milwaukee, is Amtrak's shortest intercity passenger train route.

Train Equipment/Infrastructure * Passenger Cars: Amtrak operates 2,141 railroad cars including 168 sleeper cars, 760 coach cars, 126 first class/business class cars, 66 dormitory/crew cars, 225 lounge/café/dinette cars, and 92 dining cars. Baggage cars make up the remainder of the fleet. * Locomotives: Amtrak operates 425 locomotives -- 351 diesel and 74 electric. * 19 Acela Express trainsets currently provide high-speed rail service along the Northeast Corridor between Washington and Boston. * Amtrak owns three heavy maintenance facilities in Wilmington, and Bear, Delaware and Beech Grove, Indiana, as well as other maintenance facilities in Boston, Chicago, Hialeah, FL., Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York City, Niagara Falls, Oakland, Rensselaer, NY, Seattle, and Washington, DC. * Amtrak owns 17 tunnels consisting of 29.7 miles of track and 1,186 bridges consisting of 42.5 miles of track.

Commuter Service * Amtrak is the nation's largest provider of contract-commuter service for state and regional authorities * Through its commuter services, Amtrak serves an additional 61.1 million people per year. * Amtrak currently provides commuter service for the following state and regional authorities: o Caltrain (California) o Coasters (California) o Maryland Area Regional Commuter (MARC) o Metrolink (California) o Shoreline East (Connecticut) o Virginia Railway Express (VRE) o Amtrak provides maintenance services for the

Sounder Commuter Rail system in the Seattle area.

0

slowplay 4 years, 8 months ago

I wish there was a way to "ignore" certain posters. The clip and paste practice of Merrill and notajayhawk are a real annoyance. My Mother often said, "When you have nothing intelligent to add to a conversation, quote someone else." I don't even care what side of the fence they are on, I just scroll right by.

Back on topic. We are talking about a minimal amount of money. It may prove to be a very worthwhile investment.

0

bliddel 4 years, 8 months ago

Lots of oversimplification here, and lots of being argumentative in order to win an argument, rather than educating anyone.

Trains are only going to serve passengers who want to go where the trains go. The economics of installing new rail simply do not pencil-out. This is why light-rail fails in Kansas City. Land is too expensive for new rails.

None of that changes some very basic assumptions about how people decide how to get from point A to point B.

People will "consider" all viable options that they are aware of. You have to know that an option exists, in order to consider it. I still run into people who don’t know that Lawrence has an airport! So, advertising plays a role. Ever see an ad for Amtrak? I didn't think so. Roads go to a lot more places than those served by airlines or passenger rail service. Lots of people do not have cars for a variety of valid reasons. Interstate busses don’t go to as many places as they used to. Horses and helicopters can go even more places than any of the above, but these are frightfully expensive, so even fewer people have these options, but those who do, typically love them. I know I would.

People care first and foremost about how fast a method will get them "there". For very long distances on earth, airliners and military interceptors will always win. For distances under 400 miles, (I’m excluding private aviation in this comparison), personal automobiles usually win, but not always. You can actually fly an airliner from Topeka Forbes to Kansas City International airport, or take a train from downtown Topeka to downtown Kansas City, but driving is generally faster and more convenient. Of course, you have to have an automobile (or be able to rent one) and you have to be licensed and insured to drive it. Limo service, where available, is sometimes more convenient than train or airline service between these two specific points. Boats (if they even go where you want to go) and of course, burros, are usually slowest.

Second, people care about costs when the distances are great. Cost is driven by taxes, capital acquisitions, maintenance, labor, and fuel costs. Buses get about 4 miles per gallon, whether they are empty or full (40 passengers). Trains get about 1 mile per gallon whether they are empty or pulling a dozen full carloads (1,200 people). Cars may get between 3 and 60 mpg, and may carry 1-7 people. Fuel ranges from $1.49 per gallon (Kansas - late fall 2008), to over $6 per gallon in remote areas (Alaska). As capacity increases, so does the sensitivity to ridership levels. At anything above 5% capacity, the train beats the fuel efficiency of any alternative, but this oversimplification ignores labor costs. Trains are labor-intensive, because some rail switches are still not automated, and they freeze in snow and ice, and the rails also require traffic control. This, and low ridership, are why rail tickets are so expensive.

Third, ...

0

bliddel 4 years, 8 months ago

Third, some people actually have principles. Some United States citizens do not like being treated as a terrorist. How long will it be before airline passengers have to be stripped, palpated, probed with a speculum (or two), forced to put on diapers and prison suits, and then be gagged and shacked to their seats, with electrodes attached, so that anyone who squirms or whimpers can be immediately disciplined? Given the underwear bomber, I doubt airline travel will become any more pleasant any time soon.

I've ridden Amtrak from Lawrence to Washington DC, and from Lawrence to Albuquerque. I liked some things (e.g. the ability to safely doze off), and not others (e.g. the level orange security at Chicago which prevented our sightseeing during the layover, or the armed guards that forced us to remain in our seats the last 30 minutes before arriving in Washington DC). I'd consider the train again. My brother loves it, or did, until his baggage was stolen. Ridership is up over most previous years, at least at Lawrence.

Ask train riders why they aren't on a plane. Some are afraid to fly just because airplanes “leave the ground”, or they fear terrorism. Some are too wide to squeeze into an airline seat. Some, like me, refuse to patronize airlines until some semblance of constitutional liberty is restored. Some think they are single-handedly saving the planet from global warming. Some just don’t have cars, or cannot drive. Some are taking the train because it is faster than the bus and has better restrooms, and goes exactly where they want to go.

It does not matter why people take the trains. Amtrak should be allowed to continue as long as there is enough ridership to justify it. Apparently, 2% is enough to justify it. Right now, that 2% looks pretty loyal for the foreseeable future. If you’ve never ridden Amtrak, don’t knock it! Try it. You might like it. If you don’t like it, then use another method. Freedom! Use it or lose it!

0

Alexander Neighbors 4 years, 8 months ago

BTW, There are coupon codes you can use to get deep discounts.

http://www.retailmenot.com/view/amtrak.com

for example right now there is a coupon code to get 1/2 off rail fair.

Save 50% on Companion Ticket to Missouri

0

notajayhawk 4 years, 8 months ago

slowplay (Anonymous) says…

"The clip and paste practice of Merrill and notajayhawk are a real annoyance. My Mother often said, “When you have nothing intelligent to add to a conversation, quote someone else.” I don't even care what side of the fence they are on, I just scroll right by."

First, the term is 'cut-and-paste.'

Second, if you hadn't just scrolled right by before criticizing posts you evidently hadn't read, the parts I cut-and-pasted were quoted from the posts I replied to (just as their posts contained an equal number of quotes from my posts), unlike merrill's which are regurgitations of either his own posts or passages from his favorite propaganda sites.

My posts here have been long, even by my usual standards, but that was because I was responding to numerous points from equally long comments. My posts were directed to a particular person in response to specific points in their comments, if you don't want to read them I really won't lose any sleep over it. Why should it bother you?

Hope that cleared up the difference, and it wasn't too long for your attention span.


JackRipper (Anonymous) says…

"most people from the rail days still have fond memories of the superior system that was sold out by governments"

You could substitute "stagecoach" for "rail" and the statement would be equally as valid.


bliddel (Anonymous) says…

"Third, some people actually have principles. Some United States citizens do not like being treated as a terrorist. How long will it be before airline passengers have to be stripped, palpated, probed with a speculum (or two), forced to put on diapers and prison suits, and then be gagged and shacked to their seats, with electrodes attached, so that anyone who squirms or whimpers can be immediately disciplined?"

Then he says:

"I liked some things (e.g. the ability to safely doze off), and not others (e.g. the level orange security at Chicago which prevented our sightseeing during the layover, or the armed guards that forced us to remain in our seats the last 30 minutes before arriving in Washington DC)."

The reasons why this is a less frequent occurence on the train are 1) nobody rides the trains, and 2) there hasn't (yet) been a terrorist attack on one. As soon as a train explodes pulling into Penn Station or Chicago's Union Station, the "constitutional liberty" you complain of losing at the airport will be gone forever from the train stations as well.

"Amtrak should be allowed to continue as long as there is enough ridership to justify it. Apparently, 2% is enough to justify it."

As long as more than half the costs are subsidized.

"If you’ve never ridden Amtrak, don’t knock it!"

I have.

That's why I'll continue to knock it.

0

Richard Heckler 4 years, 8 months ago

Information always adds something to a discussion. The fact that roads are rarely discussed as money losers seems a bit puzzling.

Roads probably never pay back because they wear out quickly then more resurfacing and more resurfacing and more resurfacing must take place.

Then the costly endeavor of snow and and ice removal can never pay back but must be done.

So many many many one passenger vehicles cannot be efficient nor match the efficiency of bus and commuter trains. It is simply impossible.

Bus and commuter trains are partners in that both help each other work in order to get people where they need to go. If commuter trains were implemented then bus schedules would be arranged accordingly on either end of the service. It works in other cities experience tells me.

10,000 - 15,000 riders each way between Topeka/Lawrence/JOCO/KCMO 5 days a week might make such a system viable.

Just because we live in a busy Kansas corridor is a good reason to make it work.

0

Richard Heckler 4 years, 8 months ago

Highways and local roads are not money makers. Cars do not pay back. Face it cars are a huge budget expense.

Federal and KDOT transportation funds would be the mechanism for trains and commuter trains.

JOCO commuter bus service is a smart move.

0

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 8 months ago

"I would tend to guess that more people in Lawrence use US-59 between Lawrence & Ottawa in one hour than people getting on or off at the Amtrak station in Lawrence in a month."

Wholly irrelevant, given that the Amtrak station will never cost even a small fraction of the hundreds of millions of dollars that the new 59 will cost.

0

Richard Heckler 4 years, 8 months ago

Then there is the other pork barrel socialism project for cars aka trafficway. $250 - $300 million which is ONLY the construction costs. This project will never pay back the taxpayers.

0

notajayhawk 4 years, 8 months ago

JackRipper (Anonymous) says…

"We have all the roads we need and what we have been building have only been enhancing the problems we will deal with when oil goes sky high."

We have all we need, jack?

Is the population growing or shrinking, jack?

Is the number of places people travel to and from growing or shrinking, jack?

Is the number of cars on the road growing or shrinking, jack?

You really need to get out more, jack. Kansas City isn't far away - a city with more miles of highway than any other city in the country (by a very wide margin), and even with the recent flurry of construction, widening some portions of the highways to five lanes in places, it's still overly congested at peak hours.

And lay off the chicken-little 'peak oil' rant, jackie. In some of your rare lucid moments, you've admitted that train travel will not return to feasibility unless there's a massive switch to new technologies. Yet you consistently refuse to acknowledge that there are other ways to power cars, too.

"A smart corridor would be one with a rail system, that is smart but Lawrence hasn't demonstrated “smart” in most things it does."

You can't even make a train route feasible between KC and Topeka and you think it would be "smart" to include one between Lawrence and Ottawa? Seriously, jack, I hear there are resources that can help pay for your Aricept.

Face it, jackie - up above you pretty much acknowledged your justification for trains is based on nothing more than the nostalgia factor. Let go of the past, jackie. Join us in the 21st century.


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus (Anonymous) says…

"Wholly irrelevant, given that the Amtrak station will never cost even a small fraction of the hundreds of millions of dollars that the new 59 will cost."

I think you phrased that wrong, Herr Klowne. I believe you meant to say 'The train station is wholly irrelevant, as it will never serve even a small fraction of the people that the new 59 will cost.'

There, wasn't that easy? You're welcome.


merrill (Anonymous) says…

"If commuter trains were implemented then bus schedules would be arranged accordingly on either end of the service. It works in other cities experience tells me."

Cities the size of Larryville, merrill?

"10,000 - 15,000 riders each way between Topeka/Lawrence/joco/kcmo 5 days a week might make such a system viable."

The largest city on your list has cut their bus schedules to the point of being useless. How are people supposed to get from the train station to Independence? South Kansas City or Corporate Woods? North of the river?

0

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 8 months ago

"There, wasn't that easy? You're welcome."

No, that was simplistic. But that is your specialty.

0

puddleglum 4 years, 8 months ago

notajay: you are sounding like a desperate, third-rate high school debater.

your argument needs to be augmented by a superior means... this is why the republican party is pretty much dead in the water. They just argue obvious negative agenda with no alternative. why don't you make a case for the airplane or bus? work it.

Marioni:

That tea kettle gas station is awesome. I agree that these buildings should be saved, but I like most transportation architecture. Of course, gas stations are typically owned by private individuals wanting to get the most money out of their land possible, so they bulldoze them. Can't really blame them, but it would be great if more of our society agreed with me and enjoyed these old quirky buildings enough to house coffee shops or whatever new business they can be used for. The drive-up possibilities are endless! you could have a drive up: kleenex store. you pull in and you need to blow your nose and there is a dude or dudette with a hanky for ya. .35 per blow. recyclable and fun! everybody wins.

LJ world thread update store. On your way home, you could pull in real quick and see if anyone has responded to your comment. The 'clerk' can read you the comments section in your choice of voices (spanning from moronic to intellectual-you decide)

handy dandy compliment store: stop on in and receive a compliment or two. heck, you can even get one free if you sign up now for a monthly package. spruce up your day!
example: clerk leans out window: "Heya Bill! wow, did you lose some weight or just buy bigger clothes?"
or for after-lunch special: "good afternoon Stacy, your husband loves you very much and everyone likes being around you.." OR early-bird special: "Top of the morning to you, Hank. yeah, everybody hates gong to their job, but you wear it with style! You look ten years younger in that sporty little PT cruiser"

there are probably some lesser-gooder ideas out there, but these are just what pops up, ya know.

At least the old phillips 66 downtown is still charming, even if some idiot chopped up the old sign and painted over it. (moron)

0

puddleglum 4 years, 8 months ago

planes are fast, but you are stuck breathing in everybody elses' stale air-and the quality is really really bad. Also, the seats are just too small for the average mcdonald's eatin' american to fit comfortably in. I can fit, but the airlines be packing in people so tightly these days, usually some fat person is 'over-flowing' into my personal space. bathrooms suk. I had a broken tailbone from combat a couple years back and when I am sitting in one of those seats for more than 2 hours-the pain becomes unbearable-and of course, it always strikes right before we fly into 'turbulence' and the stewardesses will not allow me to walk around. The train seats are much more comfortable and walking around is fun. but alas, I am usually flying because the time factor involving business. Next vacation will be by rail, though. Private room is the way to go, if you are afraid of being around other people.

0

notajayhawk 4 years, 8 months ago

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus (Anonymous) says…

"No, that was simplistic. But that is your specialty."

I used your exact same argument, reversing the variables. If the argument was simplistic, Herr Klowne, blame the clown who came up with it.


puddleglum (Anonymous) says…

"notajay: you are sounding like a desperate, third-rate high school debater."

I have to talk down to the level of the audience, puddles.

Sorry if it was too advanced for you, though.

"this is why the republican party is pretty much dead in the water. They just argue obvious negative agenda with no alternative."

And who was the first to try to turn this into a Republican vs. Democrat issues, puddles? Are you saying only Democrats ride trains and only Republicans drive cars?

"why don't you make a case for the airplane or bus?"

Um - first, can you see anything that would suggest to you I'd want to make an argument for the bus? Or much of where I mentioned planes? Most of what I have been arguing has been whether we should spend more on roads vs. trains. Please do try to keep up.

But mostly, puddles, I don't have to argue anything. The status quo is that most people travel by passenger car for distances up to about 1500 miles and planes beyond that. I don't have to argue for anything - that's already the way it is. It's up to the train proponents to come up with a convincing argument to change that status quo - and I'm certainly not going to apologize for the fact that the arguments being presented are so easy to dispute.

0

AlanB 4 years, 8 months ago

notajayhawk wrote: "Kansas City isn't far away - a city with more miles of highway than any other city in the country (by a very wide margin), and even with the recent flurry of construction, widening some portions of the highways to five lanes in places, it's still overly congested at peak hours."

Huh?

Kansas City - 1,925 lane miles - 23% of the lane miles are congested. St. Louis - 2,350 LM - 32% Dallas - 3,180 LM - 43% Houston - 2,550 LM - 49% Atlanta - 2,525 LM - 58%

And that's just from a quick review of the central section. I didn't even venture into the west and eastern sections.

http://mobility.tamu.edu/ums/congestion_data/central_map.stm

0

AlanB 4 years, 8 months ago

notajayhawk wrote: "“And if cars were the most efficient way to move people, then the demand for all types of rail would not be going up and neither would ridership.”

Oh. Except it's not."

Except that it is. Cities/States continue to add new routes and not withstanding this year’s slight downturn in ridership due to the economy, over the past 20 years ridership has continued to grow.

On the other hand, cars have continued to loose number of trips for a second year in a row. They didn’t come back from when the gas prices fell to the previous level, while trains maintained the level that they had gained during the high gas prices and didn’t start to loose ridership until unemployment soared.

“Despite falling gas prices and an economic recession, increasing numbers of Americans took 10.7 billion trips on public transportation in 2008, the highest level of ridership in 52 years and a modern ridership record, according to a report released today by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). This represents a 4.0 percent increase over the number of trips taken in 2007 on public transportation, while at the same time, vehicle miles traveled (VMTs) on our nation’s roads declined by 3.6 percent in 2008, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.”

http://www.apta.com/mediacenter/pressreleases/2009/Pages/090309_ridership.aspx

“Nationally, nearly 2.6 billion trips were taken on public transportation in the first quarter of 2009, according to a report released today by the APTA. Even with significant declines in gasoline prices, higher unemployment, a general economic downturn, and lower state and local revenue, public transportation use in the first quarter is essentially flat – almost matching last year’s modern record first quarter ridership –declining by only 1.2 percent. This 1.2 percent decline is less than the decline of vehicle miles traveled on our nation’s roads, which declined by 1.7 percent (representing 11.6 billion vehicle miles), according to the U.S. Department of Transportation during the same period.”

http://www.apta.com/mediacenter/pressreleases/2009/Pages/090615_ridership.aspx

notajayhawk wrote: "'The issue' in the story I linked to is that the average fare is $56 and tax dollars pay $32 of it."

And clearly based upon Amtrak’s numbers, that isn’t the case. If total expenses for 2008 are $3.47 billion and revenue from tickets is $1.96 billion, then on average the users are paying more than 60% of the costs. Throw in the other revenue sources, and total revenue is $2.45 billion, further reducing the taxpayer subsidy.

That article talked about difference in how Amtrak handles depreciation and a few other factors when it calculates the costs per route. Since the numbers that I’m providing are not by route, but instead are the actual total expenses for all of Amtrak for the year, the “issue” that they talk about in the article does not apply here.

0

AlanB 4 years, 8 months ago

notajayhawk wrote: "“I never said that they weren’t paying for new infrastructure.”

Except here:"

Now go back and read the entire paragraph and please stop taking things out of context. Had you read the entire paragraph you would have noted that I qualified that statement.

notajayhawk wrote: "As I mentioned, it only had one possible direction to go in. That 90% increase still didn't bring it up to 2% of person-trips. And it's already falling back again."

It took a one year drop, that’s not a trend. And it was a drop against a year that saw gas prices pushing ridership up faster than normal. It’s still higher than 2007 and prior years, and I’ve no doubt that it will continue to go up in the future.

And while it is only a small sampling, ridership on Amtrak for the Thanksgiving holiday was up over both 2007 (666,716) and 2008 (659,184) with a record of 685,876 passengers.

notajayhawk wrote: "Um - from the link YOU posted at 9:39 last night. Don't you read what you link to?"

No, I don’t always study every number. Even if I had, that still doesn’t mean that I would remember it. However, thank you for pointing me back to it as it has highlighted the flaw in your calculations. You took that number for all trips in the US over 50 miles, divided it by the Federal subsidy for the Interstate Highways.

First, not all trips of that length are necessarily taken on federally subsidized highways. Second, the fed typically only pays for a maximum 80% of the costs and often less, the cities and states pick up the rest of the tab. So you’d need to collect all the subsidies towards our highways from every city and state and add them into the federal number to arrive at an accurate cost. Additionally you would need to figure out how many trips over 50 miles did not take place on a federally subsidized highway.

notajayhawk wrote: "Whether I'm riding Greyhound to visit aunt Ethel in Sheboygen or a charter to a casino in Vegas, I'm still riding an inter-city bus, Alan. And when did you change the context to include only “regularly scheduled public transportation”?"

I didn’t change the context; it’s always been “regularly scheduled public transportation.” That’s what Amtrak is, regularly scheduled public transportation. Charters are not regularly scheduled transportation.

notajayhawk wrote: "Care to back that up with a citation of your own?"

http://www.apta.com/resources/statistics/Documents/FactBook/2009_Fact_Book_Appendix_A.pdf

I took the total average daily ridership from Heavy Rail, Light Rail, and Commuter Rail and then subtracted the average daily ridership for the NYC subway.

0

AlanB 4 years, 8 months ago

notajayhawk wrote: "The 30-35% delay rate at the NYC airports is because there aren't enough passengers, Alan? So what - the delays are caused by waiting for a few more people to come along and board?"

Please don’t be silly. My point was that you initially told me that ridership on Amtrak was so high because the air market was too saturated, indicating that people went to Amtrak because they couldn’t get on a plane. Then you provided a link to an article that contradicted that idea, because they decided that they couldn’t make a profit because there are already too many flights and not enough people.

notajayhawk wrote: "At least that explains your claims that trains are more efficient when you don't have to include capital costs. After all, by your logic, people that ride the trains don't use the rails."

First, again, I said that I based my efficient remark on commuter, subways, and light rail; not on Amtrak. So stop putting words in my mouth. Second, I did include capital costs in my Amtrak numbers.

Finally, you missed the entire point of the comment that you quoted prior to your response. A bus rider is already paying for his/her passage on the road via the fees that the bus company charges. If the bus company isn’t paying enough for those roads, then the Fed should raise the fuel taxes, which in turn would make the bus company raise its rates.

The bus rider shouldn’t be paying a flat fee via their income tax for the road and paying via the price of a ticket. That’s hardly the fair way to do it, since someone who steps on two buses is getting far less value for their rides than someone who steps on 30 buses in a year.

The same is also true of shipping and trucking; the fees should cover the full value of the passage on the roads. It shouldn’t be subsidized with income tax money.

Mind you the fuel tax isn’t exactly the best method either, as it doesn’t take into account weight and MPG, but it’s still better than a flat fee.

notajayhawk wrote: "Really, Alan, as much fun as this has been, if you're going to be deliberately ignorant and make such pedantic and moronic statements such as bus riders aren't using the roads, it's pretty pointless to keep discussing this."

Funny how I’ve been completely polite and civil with you; yet you continue to resort to insults, this is the second time. And you've done so with other too, something in clear violation of the rules here.

But then that is usually the weapon of those without facts to back up their loosing arguments.

0

AlanB 4 years, 8 months ago

Brier, Edmonds, Everett, Lynnwood, Mill Creek, Mountlake Terrace, Mukilteo, Woodway, Shoreline, Lake Forest Park, Algona, Auburn, Burien, Des Moines, Federal Way, Kent, Normandy Park, Pacific, SeaTac, Tukwila, Beaux Arts, Bellevue, Bothell, Clyde Hill, Hunts Point, Issaquah, Kirkland, Medina, Mercer Island, Newcastle, Redmond, Renton, Sammamish, Woodinville, Yarrow Point, Bonney Lake, DuPont, Edgewood, Fife, Fircrest, Lakewood, Milton, Orting, Puyallup, Ruston, Steilacoom, Sumner, Tacoma, and University Place, WA.

Fairview, Beaverton, Tigard, Tualatin, Wilsonville, Hillsboro, Gresham, Troutdale, Milwaukie, Estacada, Oregon City, Forest Grove, Lake Oswego, and West Linn, OR.

These are all cities from just two systems that have been busy installing rail over the past several years. Couple them with the others from my original post and I've more than met your original request for 100.

And an interesting side note is that those cities in the State of Washington in 2007 voted down a ballot initiative that include both road projects and rail projects. In 2008 all the road projects were stripped from the initiative, leaving all the rail projects intact. The initiative passed, despite the fact that it included a tax increase to support the projects.

0

AlanB 4 years, 8 months ago

Marion (Marion Lynn) says… "OK, so I take the choo-choo from Looneyville to, say, Flagstaff, N.M.

I need to get to my ultimate destination, which is 22 miles from the choo-choo station.

Do I use my Special Titanium Folding Bicycle, which I carried in my luggage, or what?

How do I get around in Flagstaff?"

You do what anyone who took an airplane does. You rent a car, you take a taxi, you have friends or family pick you up.

If we had used that argument for air travel it wouldn't exist.

0

AlanB 4 years, 8 months ago

none2 wrote: "Your arguments are so poor. To think that somehow that only benefiting indirectly from the existance of roads lets you off the hook for paying them is miopic as well as selfish. Whether it is funded via a gas tax, income tax, sales tax, some other tax, or a mixture of taxes, we will continue to need roads. Roads have been part of civilization for eons. The essential need for roads will not go away just because you prefer trains. "

First I'm not suggesting that the roads go away. I drive on them, I do use them. And I have no problem with paying for them.

My point is a simple one. People who demand that Amtrak should not get monies taken from income tax should be demanding the same thing for the roads. You can't have two different standards. Either the users pay for everything with both modes, or both modes are allowed a subsidy.

By the way, airlines get a subsidy too and oddly enough I don't see anyone here crying about that. At least with roads and Amtrak you're not really subsidizing a private company to operate them. You are subsidizing the for profit airlines.

0

AlanB 4 years, 8 months ago

none2 wrote: "The real demise of the train wasn’t just that the building of the interstate system, but also the fact that the train in and of itself was not enough. You had to get people to the starting station from their homes and likewise you had to get people to their final destination from ending station."

If that were true, then the airlines would have failed too for the very same reasons.

They didn't however, because we subsidized them right along with our roads, while taxing our trains to help build the roads.

0

Alexander Neighbors 4 years, 8 months ago

Alanb, IF you want to know how to get around in NM you have choices, you can get a rental car. Or have fam pick you up. You would do the same as if you had taken an airplane.

you act like a train is a completely foreign concept.....

I think the train should be more subsidized than air travel... If there was a nation wide high speed bullet train or just a high speed train I think more people would use it !

0

AlanB 4 years, 8 months ago

Alexander,

I was simply responding to someone who couldn't figure out how to get around after taking the train. At least to them, apparently it was a foreign concept.

I know very well how to get around when I get off the train.

0

pace 4 years, 8 months ago

you can not take as many bags as you want on a train. two fifty pound carry on, three fifty pound check in, and $100 bucks for each bag more. I love trains. I wish the station would be the central bus change spot, not 9th and Mass. I think a diner in the station would carry itself. The building should be kept up and some of it should be dedicated for infomercial use. It is a good location.

0

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 8 months ago

There are advantages and disadvantages to any and all modes of transportation. But it's a simple fact that in the present economy, and likely future availability of fossil fuels, if all modes are put on an equal playing field, rail travel will increase substantially, while car, truck and air travel will decrease, also substantially. Long-distance freight would follow a similar pattern.

0

AlanB 4 years, 8 months ago

None2,

So you're ok with lining the pockets of CEO's and stockholders with public monies because you somehow think that airlines never have bad employees? But you don't want to subsidize Amtrak because of its bad employees? And would you be ok with subsidizing some other company to run the trains, even if it means lining the pockets of shareholders and CEO's, as long as they provide good customer service?

And I'm sorry, but that's not true that Amtrak doesn't try to improve things. I won't deny that there are bad employees out there, and it's not always a simple matter to get rid of them, but they are trying and at least IMHO they are making some progress.

Regarding rerouting the Chief through Texas, that won't be Amtrak's decision; that will be up to New Mexico who now owns the tracks over Raton Pass. If they decide to stop maintenance on those tracks, Amtrak will have no choice but to go the other way. Regardless the Chief won't skip Wichita for the simple reason that BNSF's tracks to Texas go through Wichita.

As for getting the dead wood out of management, that's kind of hard to do for two reason. One, of late every time we get a new US President we get a new Amtrak President, or so it seems. We've had 4 in the last 9 years, plus two interim presidents. Two, it's hard to attract good people when they can make twice as much in private industries.

Next, I'm not suggesting that we go back to what we had years ago. In part because it wouldn't work, in part because what we really need is high speed. However, if we had given Amtrak even once in it's lifetime what the roads got this year, Amtrak would be totally different.

(continued)

0

AlanB 4 years, 8 months ago

Finally, Amtrak is working with the bus companies, car rentals, and such. For at least 10 years Amtrak has had an arrangement with Hertz and many stations actually have a Hertz desk right in the station. One can also book car rentals with any company right from the Amtrak site as you complete your Amtrak reservation.

As for buses, Amtrak does try very hard to work with them and there are many thruway buses, as their called. I haven't counted recently, but I see to recall that there are at least 300 runs if not more. However, part of the problem is that the bus companies don't always want to work with Amtrak. I'll cite two examples.

One is Indian Trails in Michigan. They continually lobby the State of Michigan to pull its funding for Amtrak claiming that it's hurting their business to subsidize Amtrak. They conveniently forget however that the State helped them to buy many of their buses, not to mention that they don't pay the full expense of their passage on the roads.

My second example was something that I personally witnessed several years ago in I think 2002. I had an occasion to change trains in Toledo Ohio. At that time Amtrak had a Thruway connection to Detroit from a train called the Pennsylvanian. That train still runs, but now only from NY to Pittsburgh.

The bus company was Greyhound. IIRC there were between 20 to 25 passengers that had just arrived on the westbound Pennsy holding ticket for the connecting bus. The bus pulls up; driver walks in and announces that he only has 3 empty seats for 20+ passengers. I'm sure that you can imagine the mad dash for the bus.

Once those who had tried and lost had returned and rejoined those who didn't even try, the station agent then took over and started making alternative arrangements. He kept making announcements to keep everyone informed, and eventually after about an hour, he had managed to secure enough taxis to get everyone to where they were going.

I have no idea how much money Amtrak had to blow that evening doing that, but I'm sure it was substantial. And all because Greyhound refused to honor their commitment to Amtrak in favor of their own passengers. And it's not like Greyhound didn't know how many would be there, Amtrak gives them plenty of warning about how many tickets they've sold.

If Amtrak can't sell a ticket for a bus knowing that the seat will be there, then Amtrak is on the hook and they get the blame. So how does one work with that kind of problem?

0

notajayhawk 4 years, 8 months ago

AlanB (Anonymous) says…

“Huh?”

That about sums up your arguments, Alan. Any credibility you had was pretty much shot when you said bus riders weren't users of the roads. And yes, I got your a**inine point, that the use of the roads should be covered in the price of the bus ticket or package delivery or whatever. If doing it that way makes more sense to you, then you need much more help than I'm capable of giving you.

“My point is a simple one. People who demand that Amtrak should not get monies taken from income tax should be demanding the same thing for the roads. You can't have two different standards. Either the users pay for everything with both modes, or both modes are allowed a subsidy.”

While I realize you directed that statement to someone else, you have tried to make the same argument with me and I don't feel like scrolling up to find it, so I'll just respond to that comment.

The difference is that everyone is a direct or indirect user of the roads, while only 1% uses Amtrak. You keep leaving that part out of the equation. I have no problem with only taxing the people who use the roads for their cost (since that would be everyone), and only taxing the 1% who use Amtrak for those costs.

“But then that is usually the weapon of those without facts to back up their loosing arguments.”

At least I can spell “losing,” Alan. And I have provided numbers and citations backing up everything I said. If you can't understand them, or are too obstinate to accept them, that doesn't mean you 'won' the argument.

I see no point in another lengthy dispute of your rehashing of the same invalid arguments. But since you felt it necessary to interject your two-cent’s worth (I'm being generous here) into a point I was making to jack:

First, I apologize; I somehow omitted the words per capita when I posted my comment. (It would be nice to think that any reader would have surmised I wasn't saying a metro area of 1.5M ppl would have more roads than NYC or LA, but c'est la vie.) However, I said nothing about lane-miles, Alan, I said miles of highway, and I specified congestion during peak periods.

http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policyinformation/statistics/2007/hm72.cfm

If you go to that link and are capable of doing a little math, you'll find that the Kansas City urban area has 0.259 miles of freeway per 1000 ppl, 43% more than #2 St Louis at 0.181. (It also has the most miles of total roads per capita with 6.0 miles per 1000 ppl, compared to #2 Providence with 5.1.)

But thanks for the numbers you posted, as they only reinforce the point I was making with jack, who claimed that we have all the roads we need. St, Louis does, indeed, have the most lane-miles of highway, at more than two-thirds above the national average. And yet, according to your numbers, one in three of those is congested.

As for the rest of your posts, Alan, why bother. If you want to ride the trains, fine.

Pay for it, the way I pay for the roads I use.

0

notajayhawk 4 years, 8 months ago

JackRipper (Anonymous) says…

"Oh nota, you only know the status quo."

Whereas you only know the past, jackie, and want to drag all of us back there with you.

And the status quo I was referring to, jack, was that personal passenger vehicles take (by far) the most people on trips up to about 1500 miles and airplanes take the vast majority beyond that. I don't want the status quo for all things, jackie. I want more roads. And I'd like to see more cars using alternative fuel sources. Oh - and I'd like to see Amtrak finally taken off life support and allowed to die like it should have decades ago.

"KC is a perfect example of what's wrong with sprawl that can only be supported by massive road project that will never end ... yada yada yada ..."

Yeah, jackie, sprawl is baaaaad, commuting is immoral, we should all walk to school ten miles, barefoot, in the snow, uphill both ways, just like the Great Generation had to. We should all live in barracks in the city core, preferably walking to work but taking public transportation anywhere beyond that.

[sigh]

I'd really like to know, jack. Seriously. I'd really like to know what killed off any spark of individuality, any spontaneity, any sense of personal freedom. What was it, jack, that beat you down so bad, got you to believe that the epitome of human existence is conformance, doing what you're told, going where they tell you, when they tell you. Accepting what they're willing to give you.

What was it, jack?

0

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 8 months ago

So, to sum up, your opinions about rail travel are almost all pure ideology and emotionalism, none2-- government employees are all lazy, uncaring jerks, unlike employees in the "real world." And all those folks in flyover territory will have their feelings hurt if high-speed trains don't make a stop every 30 miles (meaning, of course, they would not be high-speed.) And, of course, none of the problems with delays that Amtrak experiences have anything to do with the fact that they don't have their own tracks, and are ALWAYS secondary (or worse) to the freight that gets hauled on the same tracks.

0

AlanB 4 years, 8 months ago

none2 wrote: "I am aware of Witchita subsidizing an airline. However, according to the article below the tax payers actually get more back because of the subsidy than if they didn't have it."

If we're going to use the logic displayed in that piece, then you should be very supportive of Amtrak, along with the politicians, since Amtrak is putting money back into Kansas too.

In 2008, the subsidy for Amtrak was $1.332 billion. Divide that by the US population of 304,059,724 and you get a per person subsidy of $4.38 towards Amtrak. Multiply by the US Census Bureau's estimate for Kansas of 2,802,134 in 2008 and we find that Kansas sent $12,273,346.

In 2008 Amtrak spent $22,863,296 in Kansas. That's direct expendatures. I have no means to quantify tourist dollars brought in by Amtrak, which I've no doubt are included in the calculations in that news article. But even without that, for every $1 Kansas sent to Amtrak, it got back $1.86.

http://www.amtrak.com/pdf/factsheets/KANSAS08.pdf

That also doesn't include the ripple effect that spending all that money causes as employees and companies that made money from Amtrak go out and spend some of that money.

0

AlanB 4 years, 8 months ago

none2,

I never said that they were volunteers. No place, at no time. I did indicate that it's hard to attract top quality management when your salary cap is say for example $120K when the same person can go make $350K elsewhere.

And no place did I say anything about them not wasting/abusing funds. I'll be the first person to tell you that it does happen. I've seen it plenty of times.

I simply asked you why is it ok for public monies to be used to support the private airlines, which have their fare share of bad employees, but it's not ok to do the same with the publicly owned Amtrak? Why would you rather see some CEO from a private company getting fat and rich on the tax payer's dime? That's not worse in your mind than someone abusing something within Amtrak?

And please, I'm not trying to be insulting with that; I'm just trying to understand your logic.

Next, regarding the Thanksgiving incident, I'll again tell you quite bluntly that Amtrak still needs work in that area. Sometimes they handle things quite well, like when an accident closed down the BNSF line west of Albuquerque three years ago while I was on the Chief to LA. That time Amtrak quickly found buses and swapped the westbound passengers with the eastbound passenger by buses us from ABQ to Gallup, NM. The two trains then essentially reversed directions and went back to where they had started from.

But there are also still horror stories out there too. Like a recent issue last winter with a train in Michigan. Not that it excuses things, but I will say that part of the issue is that you've got many players in the game. The host RR isn't always keeping Amtrak updated, or at least Amtrak management, and it's not always possible either to round up some buses. Especially around the holidays when all transportation systems are strained.

But horror stories aren't just confined to Amtrak either. Consider that the President just signed into law changes that will give the airlines heavy penalties if they leave people sitting on a plane for more than 3 hours. That came about because of the horror stories like Jet Blue sitting at JFK for 9 hours, IIRC.

(continued)

0

AlanB 4 years, 8 months ago

One thing that I will tell you is that you either got the wrong person at Amtrak when you called, or perhaps they misunderstood what you wanted I’m not sure; but Amtrak's policy has always been quite lenient when it comes to refunds.

And looking at an old TimeTable from 1995, the stated policy in effect at that time (it's still in effect today) states that once the train was more than 2 hours late you could have turned your ticket in for a full refund. (I'm paraphrasing, that's not the exact verbiage) So I'm not sure just what happened there, but if you were told that you couldn't have a refund, then you were most definitely given the wrong info. It still remains far easier to exchange and/or get a refund with Amtrak today than it is with any airline.

Finally regarding high speed rail, one doesn't eliminate conventional rail in favor of high speed. So for the smaller communities, you ride the conventional rail to the nearest high speed stop, where you can then transfer.

Mind you I don't ever expect to see a high speed version of the SW Chief, at least not without a major shift in travel habits. But high speed between KC and St. Louis and Chicago is certainly a possibility.

0

AlanB 4 years, 8 months ago

notajayhawk,

So making people pay for things upfront doesn’t make sense to you, or to use your word a**inine. I guess that means that we can assume that you won’t mind at all if the next time you walk into a store, pick up an item for say $25, charge it, and then bring it home; that you won’t mind if 3 months later the store charges your credit card for another $10. After all, things shouldn’t be paid for up front according to you.

Turning to your next point, since it’s ok to tax people if everyone uses it, I can assume that you whole heartedly support universal health care. “Since that would be everyone” who needs to use health care, it should be supported by tax dollars.

I also expect that you’ll be out supporting those who want the airlines stopped, since not everyone uses them, or that you’ll at least be out advocating to stop the subsidies. And no doubt you’ll be out lobbying against parks, fire departments, and things like that, since again, “not everyone uses them.” I know that I haven’t used a park in at least 20 years, and I’ve never used the fire department.

notajayhawk wrote: “But since you felt it necessary to interject your two-cent’s worth (I'm being generous here) into a point I was making to jack:”

If that isn’t the pot calling the kettle black, I don’t know what it is. I know it’s tough for you, you’ve already told us how hard it is to roll back up the page, but try it. You’ll find out that it was you who first decided to interject your two-cent’s worth into points that I was making to STRS. It was you who jumped into things first, not me. So you can get off your high horse on that one!

As for my slight misspelling of the word losing I bow down to your superior knowledge. All I did was give you an extra “o”, which while changing the meaning of the word, is still a valid word and one was still able to figure out my true intent. Unlike you who left out an entire key phrase, yet somehow figured that everyone else would be able to figure out what you really meant by some form of divine intervention. And then you needed to exaggerate things on top of it. Note, I never mentioned LA or NY.

Funny how divine intervention failed for you when I didn’t explicitly state just for you that I really meant “most major cities” when I said “most cities are putting rail back in.” However in my case, even what I did say is probably still correct, as for every major city with rail there are dozens more that are part of the system as I proved.

Next, thanks for proving how stupid it was for the voters in KC for turning down the proposed light rail system. If they have the most roads per capita and some of the worst congestion, then clearly they need rail service.

Finally, once again, no you aren’t paying for the roads fully.

0

Alexander Neighbors 4 years, 8 months ago

yea, if we spend a fraction of the defense budget on high speed rail, we would have trains everywhere.

0

AlanB 4 years, 8 months ago

Marion,

My checkbook is too busy paying for your roads. Maybe if you started paying for them I might be able to free up some money for high speed rail.

Otherwise the only answer probably is to do what we've been doing with the roads, print more money.

As for those wars, think back a bit and try remember who got us into those wars. President Obama is simply trying to clean up the wars he was handed by someone else who started them.

0

AlanB 4 years, 8 months ago

none2,

Yeah, I too noticed that and thought it a bit odd that so much was spent in Wichita. I have no idea or explanation, especially since I’m pretty sure that the train is refueled in KC, so it's not like they're trucking fuel north to Newton.

Regarding the stats for the various stations, what you've discovered is typical of most of Amtrak's long distance trains, a much higher percentage of people in the more rural areas ride the train. However, I'm afraid that your percentages are incorrect. They're too high, as you've taken boardings and alightings and factored them into the equation.

One would expect that most people are making a round trip, be it from one of those cities and then returning or to one of those cities and then return. Yes, there probably is some ridership where someone only went one way by the train, but I suspect at most that might represent maybe 1/4th of the ridership and I’d bet that it’s less than that.

So to be fair, you'd need to take probably 55% to 60%, max 65%, of the total ridership at each station before you make your calculations.

0

AlanB 4 years, 8 months ago

Marion,

This so called "poor and obviously financially challenged Pseudo-liberal/Neo-socialist" not only happens to own a car that he drives frequently, he's also the owner of a small business that setup up networks and does general computer work for other small companies.

He’s also smart enough to know that he doesn't pay his way without regard to whether he sets foot on Amtrak or takes his car on the highway. I certainly don't expect anyone to pay my way, but unfortunately with the way things are I have no choice. I can't stop the subsidies to our roads. I don’t have the power to raise the gas taxes to the levels that they need to be at to actually pay for the roads.

I'm also smart enough to know the full costs of what a true high speed rail system will be. I follow rail news and I'm well aware of what's been spent in Europe, Japan, China, and other places. I've no doubt that I'm far more aware of the cost than you, especially seeing as how you couldn't even figure out how to get around when you arrive at a train station.

Finally it's interesting how most of those Valiant men and women who are fighting the wars, without regard to how they actually feel about the war, can manage to actually get the President's name right.

0

Michele Dillon 4 years, 8 months ago

Wow, one person makes a comment about how they enjoy taking the train and all of a sudden there is lambasting and hatred. Here's a solution. If you have time on your hands and like the scenery take a train. My friend has two kids and loves to take the train because the kids are calmer and have fun. If you don't want to take the train then don't/ My husband prefers to drive and I prefer to fly. We don't sit there and put each other down. It's just a matter of preference.

0

Commenting has been disabled for this item.