The Elections

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russe...@delphi.com

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Oct 29, 1994, 1:26:40 AM10/29/94
to
I know a lot of you hate Clinton, but please keep in mind that
stingy Republican candidates for Congress want to cut Amtrak's subsidy,
while in general most Dems want to keep it. Your gut may tell you
to vote Republican, but your heart, the one that plays clickety-clack
to you in your dreams, should rule as you pull the lever ....

HarvardM

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Oct 29, 1994, 9:38:01 AM10/29/94
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In article <xkzW7AI.r...@delphi.com>, russe...@delphi.com
writes:

> please keep in mind that stingy Republican candidates for Congress
> want to cut Amtrak's subsidy,while in general most Dems want
>to keep it.

Right on. Remember the Ray-Gun years, when the only way to get funding
for _anything_ was to claim it was for defense?

-Harvard Morehead

-No cool .sig

RICH DEAN

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Oct 29, 1994, 10:02:00 PM10/29/94
to

-> I know a lot of you hate Clinton, but please keep in mind that
-> stingy Republican candidates for Congress want to cut Amtrak's
-> subsidy, while in general most Dems want to keep it. Your gut may
-> tell you to vote Republican, but your heart, the one that plays
-> clickety-clack to you in your dreams, should rule as you pull the
-> lever ....
I like Amtrak as much as most railfans, but I am an American
taxpayer first. Many railfans were worried when the greatest President
of my lifetime, Ronald Reagan, acted to sell Conrail. Well, we all know
what a success story a privatized Conrail has been.
I hope that the new Congress will consider setting up Amtrak as
a public corporation starting with a common stock issue to raise the
funds.
In answer to your post, I urge everyone to pull the lever
against the pork barrell politics of the liberal Democrats that have
controlled the House of Representatives for 40 years and the Senate for
all but 6 of those years.

Bobby Laverga

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Oct 30, 1994, 9:58:13 AM10/30/94
to
harv...@aol.com (HarvardM) writes:

I also remember how Reagan tried to kill Amtrak's subsidy year after year
after year, and how those horrible Democrats in Congress kept putting the
subsidy back in the budget.

Paul Voelker

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Oct 30, 1994, 10:34:00 AM10/30/94
to
On the elections I feel like how one of the Claytor brothers (I forget
which one) must have felt in trying to choose between a strong National
Defense (Republican thinking) and Amtrak subsidies (Democrat thinking).

In my case the National Defense wins every time, BUT I personally think
we can have BOTH!!! Its nice to get sentimental for rail travel but
there are BIGGER issues out there. Vote for THEM and pettion your
elected officals to retain Amtrak funding!

Paul V.V. NMRA L1441
Jurassic Locomotive Works

ps...@po.cwru.edu

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Oct 30, 1994, 3:53:16 PM10/30/94
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In article <38tj7p$h...@newsbf01.news.aol.com>,

Yeah, huh huh, that was cool!

Disaggreements in principle asside though...

(and please excuse brief yelling)


!!!QUIT COMPLAINING ABOUT REAGAN!!!

..Dems have had their way since 1930 to 1994. From 1980 till 1988 there was
a Republican administration that had *some* say over what was happening.
Question that? Tax revenues DOUBLED in the eighties, hardly a Reagan induced
deficit - the congress (dem or GOP, but mostly dem) controlled things, namely
spending, which grew more. That's not opinion, them 'ar are the facts. So
quit complaining about Reagan, you guys have had, have, and probable will
continue to have things *your* way. We've got one guy to be really proud of
(for doing anything large in the last few decades), let us have that and
don't blame everything on him, incl Amtrak. Can you imagine how *ANNOYING*
it would be if we blamed in every post the bad things in America on Roosevelt
and Johnson!?! (and believe me, we could) Come off it:

Amtrak did little worse in the eighties than it did in the seventies, and
made gains starting even at the end of Reagan through Bush. Don't blame
Reagan for Amtrak's trobles now - blame the guys in charge, and usually in
charge: Congress, and mostly dems. If Amtrak were important to people the
congress and esp dems would make sure the $ was there, and (suprise, suprise),
it's not.

And that's all I's got to say.
(for now)

Paul Didelius

--.-


ps...@po.cwru.edu

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Oct 30, 1994, 4:07:22 PM10/30/94
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In article <xkzW7AI.r...@delphi.com>,

--
Thank you, but I elect people to be stingy with the money I've worked long
hours for and could be spending on among other things film and gas:-). Don't
hate Clinton, but hate what she's doing. Most dems want to keep it?- Bad
enough to stay away from campaigning long enough to vote on it?

It's voters and congressmen not being principled enough to vote for what's
right for the country but for what gives them something at other's cost
that's got us into all the trouble we're in today. Vote with your head (well,
okay, I guess you can hold the pencil with your hand), for dem or GOP,
Amtrak supporter or not, etc.

Paul Didelius

--.-


@teleport.com Jill L. Pruett

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Oct 30, 1994, 4:27:20 PM10/30/94
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Subject: The Elections
From: RICH DEAN, rich...@syncomm.com
Date: Sat, 29 Oct 94 22:02:00 -0400
In article <89CB52A.0B37...@syncomm.com> RICH DEAN,

(Libertarian Party hat on/Flame suit on)

Also avoid voting for republicans - or any politician - that will support
special interests at the expense of the general taxpayer. I for one
would like to see a government that would vote no money for any
transportation related expenses and let the market sort it out. It may
be rough, but another conrail could be worse. Look at the thread about
"merger" of greyhound and amtrash.

I invite responses

Jill Pruett

Bob Niland

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Oct 30, 1994, 5:04:04 PM10/30/94
to
russe...@delphi.com wrote:

> I know a lot of you hate Clinton,

No, he's just a crooked hillbilly in way over his head, and a general
embarrassment to our species.

Keep in mind that the death of private passenger rail in this country
was largely the result of the Interstate Highway system, which was
launched by a Democratic administration. Democrats also classically
favor regulations, mandated benefits and pro-labor laws of the absurd
kind we just saw today in that FRA-vs-Trolley post. They subsize Amtrak
on the one hand, and it has to suffer the nonsense of compensating
competitors (when it opens new routes) on the other. This is perfect
Democratic logic.

In the long run, the Democrats are no friend of rail (passenger or
freight). The Republicans might be no friend of passenger in the short
run, but they offer more promise of getting the government out of the
way of a self-funding private passenger rail revival.

Regards, 1001-A East Harmony Road
Bob Niland Suite 503
Internet: r...@csn.org Fort Collins
CompuServe: 71044,2124 Colorado 80525 USA

Jon Roma

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Oct 30, 1994, 8:54:58 PM10/30/94
to
Bob Niland (r...@fc.hp.com) wrote:

> Keep in mind that the death of private passenger rail in this country
> was largely the result of the Interstate Highway system, which was
> launched by a Democratic administration.

You don't say? The Interstate Highway System was started by President
Dwight D. Eisenhower, a Republican who served in the White House from
1953 to 1961. Though the Interstate system drastically affected passenger
train patronage, rail passenger traffic had already begun to decline with
the advent of hard roads in the mid-1920's.

Regardless of the monumental benefits that came from the Interstate system,
one would be hard pressed to deny that the level of highway funding from the
federal treasury completely dwarfs any subsidies Amtrak or the freight
railroads have ever received.

> [Democrats] subsize Amtrak


> on the one hand, and it has to suffer the nonsense of compensating
> competitors (when it opens new routes) on the other. This is perfect
> Democratic logic.

Who compensates what competitors?

Many of the troubles that plague the railroad industry took root before the
turn of this century and blame can only be laid at the feet of BOTH major
political parties. The complex and often Byzantine regulatory system should
have been revamped in the twenties after railroads ceased to hold a monopoly
on interstate commerce. Yet, the 1880's regulatory philosophy held sway --
through Republican and Democratic Congresses. The U. S. transportation
industry did not achieve true deregulation until the Staggers Act was passed
during the Jimmy Carter administration. Both Staggers and Carter were
Democrats.

In addition, the federal statutes creating both Amtrak and Conrail were
both passed under Republican administrations, albeit during periods of
Democratic control over Congress. Neither bill, however, had sufficient
votes to override a presidential veto had the Republican administrations
declined to approve the bill.

I think following the "conventional wisdom" instead of some historical
research served your argument poorly. Democrats do not have a monopoly on
subsidies and regulations, just as Republicans aren't the only party that
have ever gotten the government off the back of private industry.
--
Jon Roma <ro...@uiuc.edu> Computing and Communications Services Office
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Find me <a href=http://ux1.cso.uiuc.edu/~roma>here</a> on the Web!

ps...@po.cwru.edu

unread,
Oct 30, 1994, 9:08:16 PM10/30/94
to
> Many of the troubles that plague the railroad industry took root before the
> turn of this century and blame can only be laid at the feet of BOTH major
> political parties. The complex and often Byzantine regulatory system should
> have been revamped in the twenties after railroads ceased to hold a monopoly
> on interstate commerce. Yet, the 1880's regulatory philosophy held sway --
> through Republican and Democratic Congresses. The U. S. transportation
> industry did not achieve true deregulation until the Staggers Act was passed
> during the Jimmy Carter administration. Both Staggers and Carter were
> Democrats.

Very good points. If you want to follow it all the way the back:

*The cause of the railroad's problems in regulation and labor can largely be
traced to the railroad's lack of self-discipline in the late 1800's.* Their
monopoly allowed them to mistreat labor and gouge shippers, and they ended up
paying dearly for it. The government surely should have quit mistreating
railroads, but the early railroad management caused the government meddling
in the first place.

The main reason dereg went through had nothing to do with philosophy - the
government realized what a pain railroading was once it was an owner. To
return Conrail to solvency they passed dereg. Similarly, Amtrak was created
to save the Penn Central from going down. Even that wasn't enough to avert
the largest bankruptcy ever. But PC's failure set the stage for the turn of
events that now has railroads well on the road to where they should be.

Paul Didelius

--.-


RICH DEAN

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Oct 30, 1994, 6:13:00 PM10/30/94
to
-> Thank you, but I elect people to be stingy with the money I've worked
-> long hours for and could be spending on among other things film and
-> gas:-). Don't hate Clinton, but hate what she's doing. Most dems want
-> to keep it?- Bad enough to stay away from campaigning long enough to
-> vote on it?

MEGADITTOS!!!

RICH DEAN

unread,
Oct 30, 1994, 6:25:00 PM10/30/94
to
-> Keep in mind that the death of private passenger rail in this country
-> was largely the result of the Interstate Highway system, which was
-> launched by a Democratic administration. Democrats also classically
-> favor regulations, mandated benefits and pro-labor laws of the absurd
-> kind we just saw today in that FRA-vs-Trolley post. They subsize
-> Amtrak on the one hand, and it has to suffer the nonsense of
-> compensating competitors (when it opens new routes) on the other.
-> This is perfect Democratic logic.
->
-> In the long run, the Democrats are no friend of rail (passenger or
-> freight). The Republicans might be no friend of passenger in the
-> short run, but they offer more promise of getting the government out
-> of the way of a self-funding private passenger rail revival.
MEGADITTOS!
However, I must ask for clarfication on the statement
"Interstate Highway System, was launched by a Democratic
administration". I believe that that construction of the "I" system was
begun in 1956 during the Eishenhower Administration. However, I have
heard that the initial idea of such a system dated back to the FDR
Administration after Hitler built the Autobahn.

RICH DEAN

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Oct 30, 1994, 6:20:00 PM10/30/94
to
-> On the elections I feel like how one of the Claytor brothers (I
-> forget which one) must have felt in trying to choose between a strong
-> National Defense (Republican thinking) and Amtrak subsidies (Democrat
-> thinking).
-> In my case the National Defense wins every time, BUT I personally
-> think we can have BOTH!!! Its nice to get sentimental for rail travel
-> but there are BIGGER issues out there. Vote for THEM and pettion your
-> elected officals to retain Amtrak funding!
Who are "THEM"? Do you mean the G.O.P.?
I agree with you on having both a strong national defense (which
to me is priority #1) and a great national passenger rail network. But
I think that what we need to do is privatize Amtrak with a common stock
issue through some legislation that will mandate that the private
railroads grant Amtrak trackage rights or lose at least some of their
transportation trust fund monies.

D. Andrew Byler

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Oct 30, 1994, 10:31:59 PM10/30/94
to
Excerpts from netnews.rec.railroad: 30-Oct-94 The Elections by RICH
DE...@syncomm.com
> I agree with you on having both a strong national defense (which
> to me is priority #1) and a great national passenger rail network. But
> I think that what we need to do is privatize Amtrak with a common stock
> issue through some legislation that will mandate that the private
> railroads grant Amtrak trackage rights or lose at least some of their
> transportation trust fund monies.

While "strong national defense" is getting a little of topic, let me
throw in my two bits. We could have a strong national defense for even
less money than is spent now - it is a matter of reprioritzing what we
are doing - namely why we are helping to defend various rich countries
like Japan, Germany, Italy, S. Korea, etc. Were the U.S. only to worry
about defending itself, it would spend a lot less money and would need a
smaller defense force - not a popular idea with the Military, Defense
Industry, or the Financial World (some people make a LOT of money with
government debt).

Second, Amtrak already is private. While widely misperceived as a
government agency, it is actually a mercantilist government-granted
monopoly (like the British East-India Teac Company was). Amtrak was
founded as a for-profit venture, unfortunately saddled with the twin
burdens of unprofitable "political" routes and vastly subsidized
competition (cars and planes).

There are two things which need to be done to solve Amtrak's money
problems. The first is to rachet up the gas tax to reflect the true
level of cost for driving. The second is to throw open airport gates
and arrival and departure slots to free market bidding (no doubt the
price would go considerably higher for the more desirable times). Once
the playing field is leveled, it is doubtful that Amtrak will continue
to need subsidies.

Andy Byler

ps...@po.cwru.edu

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Oct 30, 1994, 11:51:13 PM10/30/94
to
> > I agree with you on having both a strong national defense (which
> > to me is priority #1) and a great national passenger rail network. But
> > I think that what we need to do is privatize Amtrak with a common stock
> > issue through some legislation that will mandate that the private
> > railroads grant Amtrak trackage rights or lose at least some of their
> > transportation trust fund monies.

> Second, Amtrak already is private. While widely misperceived as a
> government agency, it is actually a mercantilist government-granted
> monopoly (like the British East-India Teac Company was). Amtrak was
> founded as a for-profit venture, unfortunately saddled with the twin
> burdens of unprofitable "political" routes and vastly subsidized
> competition (cars and planes).
>
> There are two things which need to be done to solve Amtrak's money
> problems. The first is to rachet up the gas tax to reflect the true
> level of cost for driving. The second is to throw open airport gates
> and arrival and departure slots to free market bidding (no doubt the
> price would go considerably higher for the more desirable times). Once
> the playing field is leveled, it is doubtful that Amtrak will continue
> to need subsidies.
>
> Andy Byler

Amtrak is not private. It is a government *corporation*. It is there to
provide a service. It is encouraged to be profitable. Those are both good
ideas you mentioned to level the playing field.

Paul Didelius

--.-


John McIntyre

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Oct 31, 1994, 5:05:51 AM10/31/94
to

In article <xkzW7AI.r...@delphi.com>, russe...@delphi.com writes...

I don't see a ;-) with the above, so I'll assume it's serious....

As for me, I've loved trains for all of my 48 years, but it'll be a
cold, cold day in hell when I vote for liberal Democrooks just to save
Amtrak!!!

jm


Bob Niland

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Oct 31, 1994, 11:07:21 AM10/31/94
to
Jon Roma (ro...@ux1.cso.uiuc.edu) wrote:

> Bob Niland (r...@fc.hp.com) wrote:

>> Keep in mind that the death of private passenger rail in this country
>> was largely the result of the Interstate Highway system, which was
>> launched by a Democratic administration.

> You don't say? The Interstate Highway System was started by President
> Dwight D. Eisenhower, a Republican

Yup. You caught me in an error. I suspect that Eisenhower's IHS was
not so much a Republican/Democrat issue, as it was result of his having
lead a troop convoy across the US when he was a junior officer in the
Army during the '20s. The journey took longer than "the slowest troop
train". Governments don't like to be dependent on privately owned
transport.

> Regardless of the monumental benefits that came from the Interstate system,
> one would be hard pressed to deny that the level of highway funding from the
> federal treasury completely dwarfs any subsidies Amtrak or the freight
> railroads have ever received.

During several long auto trips recently (no passenger rail between end),
I often wondered what sort of options I'd have if a tiny fraction of the
money spent on the highways I used had been invested in rail instead.

>> on the one hand, and it has to suffer the nonsense of compensating
>> competitors (when it opens new routes) on the other. This is perfect
>> Democratic logic.

> Who compensates what competitors?

My understanding is that when Amtrak opens a new route, it is obliged to
compensate any workers in other transport modes who lose their jobs.
This is presently delaying revival of passenger rail service from Boston
to Maine, I hear.

> Many of the troubles that plague the railroad industry took root before the
> turn of this century and blame can only be laid at the feet of BOTH major
> political parties.

...and railroad management. Any industry that attracts successful union
organizing (especially before pro-union legislation) is by definition
mis-managed.

Paul Voelker

unread,
Oct 31, 1994, 12:20:00 PM10/31/94
to
On Amtrak privatization: I AGREE!

PVV

RICH DEAN

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Oct 31, 1994, 7:26:00 PM10/31/94
to
-> As for me, I've loved trains for all of my 48 years, but it'll be a
-> cold, cold day in hell when I vote for liberal Democrooks just to
-> save Amtrak!!!
MEGADITTOS!!!

Jim Burrill

unread,
Nov 1, 1994, 8:59:21 AM11/1/94
to
Bob Niland (r...@fc.hp.com) wrote:

: ...and railroad management. Any industry that attracts successful union


: organizing (especially before pro-union legislation) is by definition
: mis-managed.

In addition to what Bob has said, I'd like to add a comment. I saw a document
recently containing the names of some of Amtrak's management, and I was
surprised at how many managers there were. It appeared there were more managers
than trains. This has to be expensive, yet when "in a crunch", the first
solution is service cuts.

I like Amtrak, and want to see them continue running, but it would seem to me
that "streamlining management" would allow them to show better at the bottom
line.

Jim "Keep the Pioneer running, cut a few fat cats" Burrill

Carl Henderson

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Nov 1, 1994, 3:32:34 PM11/1/94
to

On 1 Nov 1994, Richard Warren wrote:

> >I know a lot of you hate Clinton, but please keep in mind that
> >stingy Republican candidates for Congress want to cut Amtrak's subsidy,
> >while in general most Dems want to keep it. Your gut may tell you
> >to vote Republican, but your heart, the one that plays clickety-clack
>

> Only a numbskull would vote for someone just to keep
> Amtrak up. There are many many more important things
> to consider than Amtrak. Does your heart tell you to vote

Yes.

Carl Henderson

Jon Roma

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Nov 1, 1994, 2:13:28 PM11/1/94
to
Paul Didelius <ps...@po.cwru.edu> wrote:

> Jon Roma <ro...@ux1.cso.uiuc.edu> wrote:
> > Many of the troubles that plague the railroad industry took root before the
> > turn of this century and blame can only be laid at the feet of BOTH major
> > political parties. The complex and often Byzantine regulatory system should
> > have been revamped in the twenties after railroads ceased to hold a monopoly
> > on interstate commerce. Yet, the 1880's regulatory philosophy held sway --
> > through Republican and Democratic Congresses. The U. S. transportation
> > industry did not achieve true deregulation until the Staggers Act was passed
> > during the Jimmy Carter administration. Both Staggers and Carter were
> > Democrats.

> Very good points. If you want to follow it all the way the back:

> *The cause of the railroad's problems in regulation and labor can largely be
> traced to the railroad's lack of self-discipline in the late 1800's.* Their
> monopoly allowed them to mistreat labor and gouge shippers, and they ended up
> paying dearly for it. The government surely should have quit mistreating
> railroads, but the early railroad management caused the government meddling
> in the first place.

Indeed. Inevitably, government regulation is a response to a capitalist
enterprise that is perceived to have abused its customers. An industry that
polices its own activities seldom invites government regulation. The creation
of the Interstate Commerce Commission and its counterparts on the state level
are direct results of the "robber baron" era. In the 1880's, shippers had
little alternative other than to ship by rail and Congress and the state
legislatures stepped in in response to the loud public outcry about the rate
gouging and other financial shenanigans that were common.

This degree of regulation is not needed in a purely competitive situation;
the free market tends to eliminate the opportunity and benefits for a firm
gouging its customers. However, railroads and other industries (warehouse
firms, telephone companies, etc.) were considered fundamentally monopolistic
and placed under restraint by public utility regulation. This was part of
the evolution of the railroad industry. A contemporary example in the
cable TV industry: what started out as a largely unregulated industry is now
subject to an increasing amount of federal and local regulation because of
complaints of poor service, high rates, and the lack of competition.

Unfortunately, legislative bodies seldom show great depth of understanding
when it comes to complex technical issues or great reactiveness to changing
conditions. Legislative bodies tend to react only after some large crisis
has occurred and political forces compel them to act. For their part,
bureaucracies like the ICC -- while they may have the technical understanding
of their field -- seldom respond quickly to changing situations and seldom
acknowledge that they are "out of step."

I won't suggest that the level of government regulation of the railroad
industry was inappropriate in the context of the competitive situation of
1890. However, as other modes of transportation gained market share and as
the economics of railroading changed over the early years of this century, it
is fairly clear in retrospect that the existing regulatory system had outlived
its function and was in desparate need of revamping.

Not only did this burdensome level of regulation stifle the ability of the
railroad industry to be the masters of their own destiny by shedding
unprofitable services and starting lucrative ones, but it tainted the entire
way of thinking within railroad management. It's difficult to attract
innovative people if the regulatory system doesn't permit these people to
have no freedom to use their skills and innovations. This is one reason
the railroad industry has been slow to change.

> The main reason dereg went through had nothing to do with philosophy - the
> government realized what a pain railroading was once it was an owner. To
> return Conrail to solvency they passed dereg. Similarly, Amtrak was created
> to save the Penn Central from going down. Even that wasn't enough to avert
> the largest bankruptcy ever. But PC's failure set the stage for the turn of
> events that now has railroads well on the road to where they should be.

Actually, Penn Central declared bankruptcy in June, 1970, about four months
before the Amtrak bill passed Congress and was signed by President Nixon.
Nevertheless, as you state, Penn Central had the largest passenger train
burden of any of the railroads still in the passenger business; its plight
certainly weighed very heavily in the formation of Amtrak.

One of the reasons Conrail has been a success is that, in its formation, the
mistakes of Penn Central were not repeated. Recall that one condition to
the Pennsylvania-New York Central merger was an onorous labor protection
clause and recall that line and service abandonment petitions were subject
to the usual bureaucratic procedure and STILL could be denied by the ICC.
Look at the map of the Penn Central system in 1968 and in 1975 -- you won't
find an immense amount of difference in the track miles.

Without some way to trim its costs and gain the benefits of the merger, the
Penn Central was doomed to failure and (IMHO) should never have existed.
Given the predecessor roads' financial condition in 1968 and, given that the
merged companies were restrained from shedding unneeded trackage and workers,
is it any wonder that the sum of the two companies was a complete failure?
Conrail, on the other hand, was able to shed those lines that duplicated other
lines or were otherwise uneconomical and was not forced to retain the entire
payroll of its predecessor companies. These two factors are, in my mind,
the significant reason that Conrail was not simply a larger-scale repetition
of Penn Central, Reading, Erie Lackawanna, et al.

I do agree with the notion that the goverment's concern over its stepchild
(Conrail) certainly played a part in the deregulation of the industry in 1980.
However, the evidence indicates that deregulation came in part because it
finally dawned on the federal government that the regulatory system was broken.
In addition to the Penn Central bankruptcy and the subsequent collapse of
the railroad network of the Northeast, there were several other high-profile
signs (the Rock Island bankruptcy, for one) that the health of the entire
railroad industry was at stake.

Richard Warren

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Nov 1, 1994, 2:57:20 PM11/1/94
to
>I know a lot of you hate Clinton, but please keep in mind that
>stingy Republican candidates for Congress want to cut Amtrak's subsidy,
>while in general most Dems want to keep it. Your gut may tell you
>to vote Republican, but your heart, the one that plays clickety-clack

Only a numbskull would vote for someone just to keep


Amtrak up. There are many many more important things
to consider than Amtrak. Does your heart tell you to vote

to subsidize the National Endowment for the Arts too?

Richard Warren

Gregory Scott

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Nov 2, 1994, 12:10:01 PM11/2/94
to
In article <39158k$2...@tadpole.fc.hp.com> r...@csn.org writes:

>russe...@delphi.com wrote:
>
>Keep in mind that the death of private passenger rail in this country
>was largely the result of the Interstate Highway system, which was
>launched by a Democratic administration.
>
>Regards, 1001-A East Harmony Road
>Bob Niland Suite 503
>Internet: r...@csn.org Fort Collins
>CompuServe: 71044,2124 Colorado 80525 USA

A small correction. The US Highway system was launched by a
Democratic administration. The Interstate Highway system was
launched by the Eisenhower (Republican) administration. It was
the result of lessons learned in Europe during WWII where
strategic bombing of rail facilities greatly damaged military
supply lines. As a result, the War Department (later DoD) changed
its transportation policies from rail-based transportation to
truck and aircraft. This lead Congress to fund massive subsidies
for highway and airport construction and maintenance. With good
highways and airports, people bought cars and traveled in airplanes;
railroads were no longer considered a basic part of the US transport-
ation infrastructure. Add to that the government anachronism, ICC and
it becomes clear that the railroads were left to die.

greg scott
g...@wdl.loral.com
#include <std.disclaimer>

Myers Marty T

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Nov 2, 1994, 9:22:09 PM11/2/94
to
HarvardM (harv...@aol.com) wrote:
: In article <xkzW7AI.r...@delphi.com>, russe...@delphi.com


I personally would give anytihng to go back to the 80's. Clinton isn't
even a good recycled Lyndon Johnson, the worst Pres. of all time. I ask
you all: is the death of Amtrak a bad thing? Let the free market decide!
If Amtrash dies, we lose a substandard, but horribly expensive service.
I contend that there still would be passenger trains. Santa Fe may not
put the Super Chief back on the timetable, but there will be independant
operators who would. State agencies might take over, call them Motrak or
Caltrak for example. If Amtrak can't carry its weight, let it die. The
taxpayer has suffered enough, and will be suffering more under the
socialist we have in the White House now.

Marty Myers
"From the heart of Frisco Country, Springfield MO"
Vote Republican, Vote Often!

Tony Burzio

unread,
Nov 3, 1994, 12:27:51 AM11/3/94
to
In article <3994kv$p...@nntp1.u.washington.edu> ry...@u.washington.edu (Ryan Mcneilly) writes:
>
>All this talk about subsidies got me a thinken. I am going on a business
>am a train freak but the plane is looking better. If there was no
>subsidy for Amtrak then howmuch? This sounds like a pro-subsidy pitch

Airline subsidies come from several sources. First, free airports. Second,
the airline builders get mucho bucks from defense orders (both here and
overseas) which support R&D efforts. Three, free system control, radars,
etc. About 10 years ago I was talking to a SantaFe exec (on a plane!),
and he poo-phawed passenger service. What I couldn't get him to
understand is that the *REAL* purpose of passenger service is access
to the public purse, ala planes and cars...

Tony Burzio
AETC
San Diego, CA

RICH DEAN

unread,
Nov 3, 1994, 6:58:00 AM11/3/94
to
-> I personally would give anytihng to go back to the 80's. Clinton
-> isn't even a good recycled Lyndon Johnson, the worst Pres. of all
-> time. I ask you all: is the death of Amtrak a bad thing? Let the free
-> market decide! If Amtrash dies, we lose a substandard, but horribly
-> expensive service.
MEGADITTOS!

Albert H. Titus

unread,
Nov 2, 1994, 12:33:21 PM11/2/94
to
Howdy,
I don't think there should be a discussion of general poltical
beliefs, but it is impossible to keep all politics out of a discussion
of Amtrak.
That said, I toss out the question of why there is (real or imagined)
a party-line belief regarding Amtrak. Why are the Dems thought of
as pro-Amtrak, and the GOP as anti-Amtrak, or vice-versa?
Given past voting records, it seems that the GOP has generally been
anti-Amtrak. Why? I guess it's because of the anti-Big Gov't
philosophy. But, interestingly enough, you don't see too many GOPs
voting against airport improvement bills or highway funding. And
even with the DEMs backing Amtrak, they still vote to increase
highway and airport funding.
So I don't think the real pro or anti Amtrak sentiment in Congress
is due to the idea of big or little Gov't. It's due to the what the
Congresspeople, and maybe even their constituents, think of Amtrak.
I think there is some feeling that Amtrak is considered to fall into
the category of "subsidized service for low income people". In other
words, people think that it exists solely as a means for people who
can't afford to fly, or don't own a car, to travel. And, very often
this refers to poorer people. So people who are opposed to
providing Federal social subsidies (usually the GOP) vote against it,
and those who normally are for more social programs are for it (DEMs).
I DO NOT believe that this is a correct statement of why
Amtrak, or any rail service should exist. I just think this is what
many people think. Certainly poor people do take advantage of
Amtrak. But many other people do as well. The problem comes in if
Amtrak is being run as a service to lower income people, ie, you
can't raise rates because that might cause hardship to the poorer
people who want to ride Amtrak. This would mean to me that Amtrak
would then be being run not as a viable alternative to driving or
flying, but rather as just a service, with no goal to make a profit.
Personally, I don't believe anyone in the Fed. gov't is for
reducing spending, just for shifting the money to what they want...
Just my two Lincoln's worth...
regards,
Albert

-----------------------
Albert H. Titus
ti...@optica.mirc.gatech.edu
Optoelectronic Integrated Systems Lab
Georgia Institute of Technology
All Opinions are Mine and Mine Alone
-----------------------

Ryan Mcneilly

unread,
Nov 2, 1994, 5:42:39 PM11/2/94
to

All this talk about subsidies got me a thinken. I am going on a business
trip to Spokane from Seattle. I would like to take Amtrak but that would
cost me $76 minimum (to $160 max) round trip where a flight on Alaska or
Horizon will cost me about $90. I would like to take the train since I
am a train freak but the plane is looking better. If there was no
subsidy for Amtrak then howmuch? This sounds like a pro-subsidy pitch
ehh? Not so! If a company like Amtrak is subsidised by us, and charges
outrageous rates anyways then what is the point of the subsidy?

Seattle to Spokane is a short trip (6hrs by car). And if a plane can
provide the service faster and cheaper then a train in both long and
short haul then why are we subsidising Amtrak. I would like to see
Amtrak survive but not at the expense of my lively hood. A threat should
be done. Give Amtrak 5years to shape up or all susidies go bye bye.
This will shake them up. They need to turn a profit or die. I hate to
say it but hey, you can only beat the horse so much, then the stick
breaks. Err something like that :) --Ryan

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Ryan McNeilly Internet: ry...@u.washington.edu
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

"You can't deal from a position of weakness" --Alfred Thayer Mahan
Moral: Protect the 2nd Amendment!

My comments and opinions are my own and nobody elses!!!!

Orc

unread,
Nov 3, 1994, 6:28:36 PM11/3/94
to
In article <399hgh$s...@nic.smsu.edu>,

Myers Marty T <mtm...@nic.smsu.edu> wrote:
>is the death of Amtrak a bad thing? Let the free market decide!

There is no free market for transportation in the USA -- it's
ALL subsidised in one way or another. If you want to kill off
intercity rail transit, just say that's what you want and don't
hide behind the political mantra of the 80's.

____
david parsons \bi/ And this, boys and girls, is one of the reasons why
\/ I'll never vote for the Fas^H^H^HRepublican Party.

Robert Coe

unread,
Nov 3, 1994, 9:50:00 PM11/3/94
to
mtm...@nic.smsu.edu (Myers Marty T) writes:
>I personally would give anytihng to go back to the 80's. Clinton isn't
>even a good recycled Lyndon Johnson, the worst Pres. of all time.

Let me guess: You weren't born yet during the Johnson administration and
the Viet Nam war, right?

>I ask you all: is the death of Amtrak a bad thing? Let the free market
>decide! If Amtrash dies, we lose a substandard, but horribly expensive
>service. I contend that there still would be passenger trains. Santa Fe
>may not put the Super Chief back on the timetable, but there will be

>independant operators who would. ...

If you actually believe even a word of that, you're obviously not old
enough to remember the death throes of privately operated passenger
trains.
--
___ _ - Bob
/__) _ / / ) _ _
(_/__) (_)_(_) (___(_)_(/_____________________________________ b...@1776.COM
Robert K. Coe * 14 Churchill St, Sudbury, Massachusetts 01776 * 508-443-3265

Ryan Mcneilly

unread,
Nov 4, 1994, 12:46:19 PM11/4/94
to
In article <399h2v$j...@dscomsa.desy.de>, Erik Evrard <evr...@desy.de> wrote:
>Ryan Mcneilly (ry...@u.washington.edu) wrote:
>
[MY STUFF SNIPPED]
>
>Mmmm.... I wonder how much all the roads between Spokane and Seattle have
>costed and still cost (maintainance).

Yeh, but I don't have to pay toll to use it! Except in a slight gas
tax. At $.25 per mile it would only cost $45 round trip to drive. Lets
take the middle road on taking Amtrak, $110. That is over twice what I
pay to drive. Take into account the subsidy for everything, I still pay
less to drive.

>And the airports with all their facilities (air traffic control,
>security, emergency services, ...). Ever taken into account the hidden
>costs (environmental pollution, energy waste, road accidents) of those means
>of transport?

Yes. However, if you give me $110 to take the train, I would galdly do
so. Sometimes I can't take the more ecological route due to cost.

>
>: Amtrak survive but not at the expense of my lively hood. A threat should
> ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
>Is your livelyhood really at risk? Would the quality of your life be any less
>if there weren't any subsidies for the railways? Would you ever notice the
>difference?

When you consider the cost in taxes every year? YES! I don't make that
much at this moment but lets say my business pulls in $200,000 per year,
profit. At 36% tax rate I would pay $72,000 per year in taxes to the
feds alone. If I do this for 30 years that would be $2,160,000 payed to
the slimey government. Thirysix percent tax is very real for that level
of income. I can't justify paying that much to a bunch of broken down
government projects. Amtrak is but only one of the many problem in
government.

>
>Why would they have to make a profit? (see all the above) I think that,
>if you make the complete sum, transport by rail is quite efficient
>(well, there are regions where this isn't true). The problem is obviously that
>the costs of rail, road and air transport are differently spread. Despite
>subsidies, trains still look expensive to the customer (this is also true
>in many European countries). But if they would receive the same proportion
>of subsidy from the government as the roads do, I'm sure they would be able
>to attract a lot more passengers. You could, on the other hand, make the
>cost of using the roads higher too, thereby rewarding people who don't
>travel at all. From the macro economical viewpoint, I think it makes
>sense to spread the costs over the whole population, from the ecological
>viewpoint, it's more logical to let the user pay. So the ideal situation
>is somewhere inbetween. But then with equal conditions for both rail,
>road and air...

Making a profit says that the customer likes the product, uses it
frequently, and the business is managed properly. If one of the above
are deficient, then you can't make a profit. It doesn't help to have the
customer use it only once. If Amtrak were managed properly and forced to
make a profit, you wouldn't need a high subsidy. Service would be forced
to adjust to what the people want. Management would be forced to do the
right thing and adjust to changing conditions. Right now Amtrak has a
monopoly (illegal in the US but the government can break the rules) so
why should they improve service and reduce cost. There is no requirement
to improve customer service because the subsisdy is always there no
matter what. And if they do poorly they can always ask for more
subsidy. This is the state Amtrak and many other government services are in.

>
>To become more competitive, railways need a lot more money to investment in
>new equipment and services. A couple of high speed links would make them
>stronger competitors. Look at the experiences with the European high speed
>trains :) Despite the sometimes conflicting interests within Europe,
>the European Comission decided that the member states should start
>to build a modern, high-speed rail network throughout Europe, and that
>all the national initiatives, which were initiated a decade ago, should
>be coordinated and that networks should be connected. Year after year (too
>slowly imho) all the bits and pieces are appearing. We have enough motorways,
>now the trains will set the pace again.

I don't mind the idea of a government sponsered high speed rail system
but they failed to prove they could do anything right. Money is wasted
by the billions on failed projects like Amtrak. Why should I be in favor
of such a system when I already know the outcome will be dismal?

When the government proves it's ability to do something like a highspeed
rail system by fixing Amtrak then I will support a high speed rail system.

>
>Such a network would be very successful in the USA as well, and especially
>along the East and the West Coast it would be wise to plan such a
>system. I can only hope that the American politicians will be brave
>enough to make the step. But I'm afraid it won't happen in my
>lifetime.

Brave is not the word, stupid is. At this point, I hope it never happens.

>
>Erik Evrard
>Brussels
>
>evr...@hep.iihe.ac.be (Brussels)
>evr...@dice2.desy.de (Hamburg)
>evr...@lpnhp3.in2p3.fr (Paris)

Albert H. Titus

unread,
Nov 4, 1994, 12:46:29 PM11/4/94
to
mtm...@nic.smsu.edu (Myers Marty T) writes:

>I personally would give anytihng to go back to the 80's. Clinton isn't
>even a good recycled Lyndon Johnson, the worst Pres. of all time. I ask
>you all: is the death of Amtrak a bad thing? Let the free market decide!
>If Amtrash dies, we lose a substandard, but horribly expensive service.
>I contend that there still would be passenger trains. Santa Fe may not
>put the Super Chief back on the timetable, but there will be independant
>operators who would. State agencies might take over, call them Motrak or
>Caltrak for example. If Amtrak can't carry its weight, let it die. The
>taxpayer has suffered enough, and will be suffering more under the
>socialist we have in the White House now.

Oh goody! The free market! Does your free market include cutting all
subsidies to the airlines and cutting all road (re)building money?
No I am not a socialist, I believe in the free market completely, but don't
toss the term free market into this as justification for not having Amtrak.
I don't see too many class 1s knocking down the doors in order to start up
passenger service. Why do you think they were so happy to get rid of it in the
first place?? I doubt Sante Fe would start passenger service.
The taxpayer has suffered enough?!? You, assuming you are a taxpayer, are
suffering from funding Amtrak? Do you know how much Amtrak gets each year from
the Fed. Gov't? Do you know how much the FAA gets each year? Do you know how
much the Fed. Highway Admin. gets each year? The suffering comes in when you
see how much more is spent on those than Amtrak. Amtrak: $600 million,
FAA: $10 billion, FHA: $20 billion.
BTW, since you use the word "amtrash", I assume you have ridden on Amtrak
recently and base your statement on some poor experience? If not, why do you
use it? I have ridden Amtrak many times, and EVERY time has been more
comfortable and more relaxed than any airline trip I have taken.

Ryan Mcneilly

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Nov 4, 1994, 1:17:01 PM11/4/94
to
In article <89CC488.0B37...@syncomm.com>,

RICH DEAN <rich...@syncomm.com> wrote:
> I agree with you on having both a strong national defense (which
>to me is priority #1) and a great national passenger rail network. But
>I think that what we need to do is privatize Amtrak with a common stock
>issue through some legislation that will mandate that the private
>railroads grant Amtrak trackage rights or lose at least some of their
>transportation trust fund monies.

I heard about Baltimore School District privatizing. It was quite
interesting. They have the same size budget but every student has the
needed materials, repairs have been done to the schools and the teachers
love it. They call in a physical plant problem and it is imediatly fixed
instead of waiting till a capital projects levy is passed. Teachers
nolonger buy the supplies for their students and there are new books and
equipment for them. I am only affraid to see what would happen to Amtrak
if this were done. Oh my God, they might make a profit!!!! What an evil
concept :)

Like I said in another post--to make a profit you; must make the customer
happy, make them come back for more and have proper management. A
monopoly might help but Amtrak has proven that is a non factor.

I sincerely beleive that if you force management to make a profit or else
lose all subsidies, you would have a much stronger and meaner Amtrak in
the end. During the shakeup it might hurt but setting a broken bone also
hurts.

Of course it may have a few glitches during privatization, but it is
better then stuffing the hay in the dead horse's mouth. Not much of a
point ehh? (I love dead horse cliches)

I haven't heard a counter point yet that convinces me any different. I
own my own business, I know what it takes to be successful and what
destroys a business.

More pennies to add to the discussion. --Ryan

ps...@po.cwru.edu

unread,
Nov 4, 1994, 9:08:17 PM11/4/94
to

> Again, Amtrak is held to a different standard than any other mode of
> transportation. The airlines get a free ride with free airports, and the FAA.
> To the tune of billions of dollars. But Amtrak must not get any gov't money,
> they must be profitable. I would like to see Amtrak not rely on gov't money,
> but that can't happen unless they can compete fairly for passengers, which means
> no FAA money, and no non-toll roads.

Good point.

> Should we give the airlines 5 years to start paying for the FAA or else
> it goes bye-bye? We could stop all fed govt money for road construction and
> repairing immediately. Methinks the 6 hour car drive would become much
> longer.

No, if they don't pay for it in five years, *they* go bye-bye. Highways -
same thing - people should pay, or get lost.

Paul Didelius

--.-


ps...@po.cwru.edu

unread,
Nov 4, 1994, 9:26:06 PM11/4/94
to
SSNNIIIIP

> Making a profit says that the customer likes the product, uses it
> frequently, and the business is managed properly. If one of the above
> are deficient, then you can't make a profit. It doesn't help to have the
> customer use it only once. If Amtrak were managed properly and forced to
> make a profit, you wouldn't need a high subsidy. Service would be forced
> to adjust to what the people want. Management would be forced to do the
> right thing and adjust to changing conditions. Right now Amtrak has a
> monopoly (illegal in the US but the government can break the rules) so

Agree w/ some of your points, but,
Monopolies are easy if nobody else is interested. Post Office is another
story...

> why should they improve service and reduce cost. There is no requirement
> to improve customer service because the subsisdy is always there no
> matter what. And if they do poorly they can always ask for more
> subsidy. This is the state Amtrak and many other government services are
> in.

They can *ask*. "A request does not a dollar make".

> >To become more competitive, railways need a lot more money to investment in
> >new equipment and services. A couple of high speed links would make them
> >stronger competitors. Look at the experiences with the European high speed
> >trains :) Despite the sometimes conflicting interests within Europe,
> >the European Comission decided that the member states should start
> >to build a modern, high-speed rail network throughout Europe, and that
> >all the national initiatives, which were initiated a decade ago, should
> >be coordinated and that networks should be connected. Year after year (too
> >slowly imho) all the bits and pieces are appearing. We have enough motorways,
> >now the trains will set the pace again.
>
> I don't mind the idea of a government sponsered high speed rail system
> but they failed to prove they could do anything right. Money is wasted
> by the billions on failed projects like Amtrak. Why should I be in favor
> of such a system when I already know the outcome will be dismal?
>
> When the government proves it's ability to do something like a highspeed
> rail system by fixing Amtrak then I will support a high speed rail system.


I agree with you 1) on not liking Amtrak because it's owned by the gov, and
2) losing money
and I would like to see the end of both of these, even if were to mean the
end of passenger service in America, but those saying the Amtrak subsidy is
hardly out of line with other modes also have a good point. I would be
willing to lose Amtrak now if it would help the prospects of good passenger
service (and a lower tax burden) in the future, but others obviously aren't.
That seems to be the main disagreement here. ( 1) that they'd be willing, but
more importantly 2) that it would work. ) I think Amtrak could make a profit,
but if it couldn't it probably should exist the business. I don't know that
it helps the long term any to say "but they're subsidized too". Their
subsidies should stop too, and killing Amtrak (unless it shows a profit)
would hardly hurt the long term but would give us a better case for killing
the other subsidies. Then private industry would invest where proper.

Paul Didelius

--.-


Rock Miller

unread,
Nov 4, 1994, 9:27:52 PM11/4/94
to
In article <398ih1$7...@hardy.ee.gatech.edu> ti...@eecom.gatech.edu (Albert H. Titus) writes:

> That said, I toss out the question of why there is (real or imagined)
>a party-line belief regarding Amtrak. Why are the Dems thought of
>as pro-Amtrak, and the GOP as anti-Amtrak, or vice-versa?
>Given past voting records, it seems that the GOP has generally been
>anti-Amtrak. Why? I guess it's because of the anti-Big Gov't
>philosophy. But, interestingly enough, you don't see too many GOPs
>voting against airport improvement bills or highway funding. And
>even with the DEMs backing Amtrak, they still vote to increase
>highway and airport funding.
> So I don't think the real pro or anti Amtrak sentiment in Congress
>is due to the idea of big or little Gov't.

Why would you conclude that? The "anti-big-government" people find it
quite easy to jettison their so-called principles when it comes to the demands
of their constituents for highway subsidies, mortgage interest subsidies, and
all other kinds of handouts. Very few politicians are pure Taft Republicans
anymore: they just believe in eliminating handouts for people they don't care
about.

>It's due to the what the Congresspeople, and maybe even their constituents,
think of Amtrak.>I think there is some feeling that Amtrak is considered to
fall into>the category of "subsidized service for low income people". In other
>words, people think that it exists solely as a means for people who
>can't afford to fly, or don't own a car, to travel. And, very often
>this refers to poorer people. So people who are opposed to
>providing Federal social subsidies (usually the GOP) vote against it,
>and those who normally are for more social programs are for it (DEMs).

Amtrak is quite expensive, the fares are often higher than the plane,
when you count in the cost of meals, sleeping cars, etc, so it's hardly a
poor people's service. The exception is on the Northeast Corridor, where
Amtrak is an essential service (the Northeast's overtaxed air travel
infrastructure could not possibly carry the passengers that Amtrak services
carry) and would make an operating profit if it were independent.


-------------------------------------------------------------
Rock Miller (ro...@interport.net)
Metropolitan Transportation Authority, New York
(All opinions are personal)

Rock Miller

unread,
Nov 4, 1994, 9:29:18 PM11/4/94
to
In article <39bqlp$p...@usenet.INS.CWRU.Edu> ps...@po.cwru.edu writes:

>I agree such a network would be great, but I'd rather not rely on the pols
>to do it. Railroad abuildin is for Empire Builders. Too bad the gov seems not
>to like letting them do their job. The HSR network would be significantly
>completed in 15 years or so if the gov let things run the way they should,
>starting now.

You're reckoning without the environmental laws, which affect public and
private sector alike.

Erik Evrard

unread,
Nov 2, 1994, 9:14:54 PM11/2/94
to
Ryan Mcneilly (ry...@u.washington.edu) wrote:

: All this talk about subsidies got me a thinken. I am going on a business

: trip to Spokane from Seattle. I would like to take Amtrak but that would
: cost me $76 minimum (to $160 max) round trip where a flight on Alaska or
: Horizon will cost me about $90. I would like to take the train since I
: am a train freak but the plane is looking better. If there was no
: subsidy for Amtrak then howmuch? This sounds like a pro-subsidy pitch
: ehh? Not so! If a company like Amtrak is subsidised by us, and charges
: outrageous rates anyways then what is the point of the subsidy?

Mmmm.... I wonder how much all the roads between Spokane and Seattle have


costed and still cost (maintainance).

And the airports with all their facilities (air traffic control,
security, emergency services, ...). Ever taken into account the hidden
costs (environmental pollution, energy waste, road accidents) of those means
of transport?

: Seattle to Spokane is a short trip (6hrs by car). And if a plane can

: provide the service faster and cheaper then a train in both long and
: short haul then why are we subsidising Amtrak. I would like to see
: Amtrak survive but not at the expense of my lively hood. A threat should

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Is your livelyhood really at risk? Would the quality of your life be any less
if there weren't any subsidies for the railways? Would you ever notice the
difference?

: be done. Give Amtrak 5years to shape up or all susidies go bye bye.

: This will shake them up. They need to turn a profit or die. I hate to
: say it but hey, you can only beat the horse so much, then the stick
: breaks. Err something like that :) --Ryan

Why would they have to make a profit? (see all the above) I think that,


if you make the complete sum, transport by rail is quite efficient
(well, there are regions where this isn't true). The problem is obviously that
the costs of rail, road and air transport are differently spread. Despite
subsidies, trains still look expensive to the customer (this is also true
in many European countries). But if they would receive the same proportion
of subsidy from the government as the roads do, I'm sure they would be able
to attract a lot more passengers. You could, on the other hand, make the
cost of using the roads higher too, thereby rewarding people who don't
travel at all. From the macro economical viewpoint, I think it makes
sense to spread the costs over the whole population, from the ecological
viewpoint, it's more logical to let the user pay. So the ideal situation
is somewhere inbetween. But then with equal conditions for both rail,
road and air...

To become more competitive, railways need a lot more money to investment in


new equipment and services. A couple of high speed links would make them
stronger competitors. Look at the experiences with the European high speed
trains :) Despite the sometimes conflicting interests within Europe,
the European Comission decided that the member states should start
to build a modern, high-speed rail network throughout Europe, and that
all the national initiatives, which were initiated a decade ago, should
be coordinated and that networks should be connected. Year after year (too
slowly imho) all the bits and pieces are appearing. We have enough motorways,
now the trains will set the pace again.

Such a network would be very successful in the USA as well, and especially


along the East and the West Coast it would be wise to plan such a
system. I can only hope that the American politicians will be brave
enough to make the step. But I'm afraid it won't happen in my
lifetime.

Erik Evrard

Albert H. Titus

unread,
Nov 4, 1994, 12:32:23 PM11/4/94
to
Howdy,
ry...@u.washington.edu (Ryan Mcneilly) writes:

>All this talk about subsidies got me a thinken. I am going on a business
>trip to Spokane from Seattle. I would like to take Amtrak but that would
>cost me $76 minimum (to $160 max) round trip where a flight on Alaska or
>Horizon will cost me about $90. I would like to take the train since I
>am a train freak but the plane is looking better. If there was no

The plane is looking better? $76 is still cheaper than $90. What is
the $160 max? How much is first class on the airplane? The trip by train
may be longer, but it is certainly more comfortable, and it is easier to
get some work done on the train.



>subsidy for Amtrak then howmuch? This sounds like a pro-subsidy pitch
>ehh? Not so! If a company like Amtrak is subsidised by us, and charges
>outrageous rates anyways then what is the point of the subsidy?

Did you expect Amtrak to be free?
If a company like American or United or Delta or Horizon is subsidized
by us, and charges us outrageous (random) rates, then why are we paying for it?
$76 is outrageous?

>Seattle to Spokane is a short trip (6hrs by car). And if a plane can
>provide the service faster and cheaper then a train in both long and
>short haul then why are we subsidising Amtrak. I would like to see
>Amtrak survive but not at the expense of my lively hood. A threat should
>be done. Give Amtrak 5years to shape up or all susidies go bye bye.
>This will shake them up. They need to turn a profit or die. I hate to
>say it but hey, you can only beat the horse so much, then the stick
>breaks. Err something like that :) --Ryan

Again, Amtrak is held to a different standard than any other mode of


transportation. The airlines get a free ride with free airports, and the FAA.
To the tune of billions of dollars. But Amtrak must not get any gov't money,
they must be profitable. I would like to see Amtrak not rely on gov't money,
but that can't happen unless they can compete fairly for passengers, which means
no FAA money, and no non-toll roads.

Should we give the airlines 5 years to start paying for the FAA or else
it goes bye-bye? We could stop all fed govt money for road construction and
repairing immediately. Methinks the 6 hour car drive would become much
longer.

I don't mean to flame, but complaining solely about giving Amtrak money
and then saying that flying is cheap as is driving is neglecting to see the
whole picture.

Dick Lord

unread,
Nov 3, 1994, 1:55:12 PM11/3/94
to
In article <3994kv$p...@nntp1.u.washington.edu> ry...@u.washington.edu (Ryan Mcneilly) writes:
>
>All this talk about subsidies got me a thinken. I am going on a business
>trip to Spokane from Seattle. I would like to take Amtrak but that would
>cost me $76 minimum (to $160 max) round trip where a flight on Alaska or
>Horizon will cost me about $90. I would like to take the train since I
>am a train freak but the plane is looking better. If there was no
>subsidy for Amtrak then howmuch? This sounds like a pro-subsidy pitch
>ehh? Not so! If a company like Amtrak is subsidised by us, and charges
>outrageous rates anyways then what is the point of the subsidy?
>
>

Care to guess how much of your tax dollars "subsidizes" that airplane trip ?

The whole problem with our transportation infrastructure is that after the
railroad "robber barons" did their thing in the late 1800s, the govt. and
the populace in general decided penalize the railroads therafter to the
present day. The US govt has spent zillions of dollars subsidizing airports,
air-traffic control, highways, and the US trucking industry, while expecting
the railroads to maintain their own roadbads and pay stiff local property
taxes for the privelege. As a reader of rec.railroads, a railfan, and
someone who has "tried Amtrak, and liked it" several times, I would far
rather see my tax dollars go there than into the "marvelous new" Denver
airport boondoggle.

--
***____ __I_|HH|_ Dick Lord, Current Technology (603)868-2270
Y___|[]| ,~~~__ | x x | 99 Madbury Rd. Durham, NH 03824
>{|___|__|_|_____|_|_______| r...@curtech.mv.com DCC group NMRA #092225
/oo--@-@ oo oo oo oo HO B&M/MEC Mountain div. under construction.

ps...@po.cwru.edu

unread,
Nov 6, 1994, 1:03:57 PM11/6/94
to
> a party-line belief regarding Amtrak. Why are the Dems thought of
> as pro-Amtrak, and the GOP as anti-Amtrak, or vice-versa?
> Given past voting records, it seems that the GOP has generally been
> anti-Amtrak. Why? I guess it's because of the anti-Big Gov't
> philosophy. But, interestingly enough, you don't see too many GOPs
> voting against airport improvement bills or highway funding. And
> even with the DEMs backing Amtrak, they still vote to increase
> highway and airport funding.

That's the power the air and highway interests have - I'd bet most GOP don't
realize rail is at a real unfair disadvantage the way things are financed.
Anything having to do with rail looks like a boondoggle. Those interests,
more importantly than their lobbying, through their complete domination of
the market have made it appear as though there is no alternative, when really
there is, it's just stifled by the finacning scheme.

A lot of GOP aren't very fiscally conservative like they pretend to be. It's
too bad for the ones who are. It's like you said - they're conservative with
the programs that won't hurt them - like Amtrak. True for dems too. If
Amtrak were that important to the people the legislators of both parties
wouldn't survive the cuts they make to Amtrak.

> So I don't think the real pro or anti Amtrak sentiment in Congress
> is due to the idea of big or little Gov't. It's due to the what the

See above remarks.

> Congresspeople, and maybe even their constituents, think of Amtrak.
> I think there is some feeling that Amtrak is considered to fall into
> the category of "subsidized service for low income people". In other
> words, people think that it exists solely as a means for people who
> can't afford to fly, or don't own a car, to travel. And, very often
> this refers to poorer people. So people who are opposed to
> providing Federal social subsidies (usually the GOP) vote against it,
> and those who normally are for more social programs are for it (DEMs).

That's probably another good reason.

> I DO NOT believe that this is a correct statement of why
> Amtrak, or any rail service should exist. I just think this is what

Right-O

> many people think. Certainly poor people do take advantage of
> Amtrak. But many other people do as well. The problem comes in if

Amtrak's use by the poor and elderly (esp in lowly populated areas) has often
been mentioned as a reason for it to be there. Certainly it's interesting,
with the amount of tourists on it. You might say it is they who take
advantage of it, as it is not there for them. Call it the fed gov subsidized
vacation! Of course, so is flying, driving, etc....

> Amtrak is being run as a service to lower income people, ie, you
> can't raise rates because that might cause hardship to the poorer
> people who want to ride Amtrak. This would mean to me that Amtrak

I have a feeling the political pressure to keep rates low is one reason why
they can't break even.

> would then be being run not as a viable alternative to driving or
> flying, but rather as just a service, with no goal to make a profit.

The second part of what you said I believe is why it is there - as a gov
service.

> Personally, I don't believe anyone in the Fed. gov't is for

I wouldn't say *anyone*. I imagine there's quite a few.

> reducing spending, just for shifting the money to what they want...
> Just my two Lincoln's worth...

and my too sense worth as well.

Paul Didelius

--.-


Drewsy

unread,
Nov 6, 1994, 9:21:24 PM11/6/94
to
The cost of a sleeper compartment on Amtrak is cheaper the longer the
distance. And you get meals. Imagine if the airlines outfitted their jets
with sleeper compartments. The cost would be totally prohibitive to anyone
except the ultra-rich, like it basically is now.


Planes = yuppies
Trains = everyone else :)


Dre...@aol.com

Rock Miller

unread,
Nov 6, 1994, 11:57:48 PM11/6/94
to
In article <39ds1b$c...@nntp1.u.washington.edu> ry...@u.washington.edu (Ryan Mcneilly) writes:

>>
>>Mmmm.... I wonder how much all the roads between Spokane and Seattle have
>>costed and still cost (maintainance).

>Yeh, but I don't have to pay toll to use it! Except in a slight gas
>tax. At $.25 per mile it would only cost $45 round trip to drive. Lets
>take the middle road on taking Amtrak, $110. That is over twice what I
>pay to drive. Take into account the subsidy for everything, I still pay
>less to drive.

Well this is the key point. These roads are tax subsidized, so you don't pay
most of the costs as you go. Of course, you pay taxes too, but most likely not
nearly enough to offset these costs, and more to the point, you have to pay
them no matter what, which means they act like a prepaid ticket. By contrast,
the full cost of Amtrak tickets, if they were sold by a private company, would
include both capital and operating costs on a pro-rated basis.

If, on the other hand, all interstate highways were put in the hands of
private companies (as has been done in Mexico and many other places), the cost
of driving on them would be very high, because the tolls would have to
encompass all capital and operating costs, plus the company's profit (which,
given the economics of automobiles, would be extremely large: which is why
highways are in public hands). Then even an unsubsidized train would start
looking like a bargain.

Death Spa

unread,
Nov 7, 1994, 1:56:28 AM11/7/94
to
In article <39158k$2...@tadpole.fc.hp.com>, r...@fc.hp.com (Bob Niland)
writes:

> Keep in mind that the death of private passenger rail in this country
> was largely the result of the Interstate Highway system, which was
> launched by a Democratic administration.

No, I thought it was launched by Eisenhower, a Republican, in the 1950s.

Why isn't anyone talking about the GOP's attenpt to slash Amtrak's subsidy
in the recent budget debates? It seems to me that everone here is taking
the easy, talk radio way out here and blindly pointing fingers at
boogeymen like "pork barrel liberal Democrats" when the real problem is
dopey voters like ourselves. We must support pro-RR candidates, no matter
which party they belong to.

Jeff

ps...@po.cwru.edu

unread,
Nov 7, 1994, 3:32:06 PM11/7/94
to
> > Keep in mind that the death of private passenger rail in this country
> > was largely the result of the Interstate Highway system, which was
> > launched by a Democratic administration.
>
> No, I thought it was launched by Eisenhower, a Republican, in the 1950s.
>
> Why isn't anyone talking about the GOP's attenpt to slash Amtrak's subsidy
> in the recent budget debates? It seems to me that everone here is taking
> the easy, talk radio way out here and blindly pointing fingers at

Not quite everyone. Lots out there with good points. Some lousy.

> boogeymen like "pork barrel liberal Democrats" when the real problem is
> dopey voters like ourselves. We must support pro-RR candidates, no matter
> which party they belong to.
>
> Jeff

We should support pro-RR *positions*. We should *vote* for who we think is
best for society overall.

Paul Didelius

--.-


JOSEPH . DRBOHLAV

unread,
Nov 7, 1994, 4:29:48 PM11/7/94
to

>See above remarks.

>Right-O

>Paul Didelius

>--.-


It's much simpler then this. The democratic philosophy of government is to
be generous with other people's money (taxes). So, as long as you're being
generous with other people's money, why cut out ANY program??!? Heck, you
may as well be a hero to everybody!

The opinions expressed are mine only, if these were the opinions of my
employer, they would have been preceeded by approx. 6,000 pages of
regulations and under the advice of some 3 dozen lawyers.....

PDA

unread,
Nov 9, 1994, 2:20:27 AM11/9/94
to
I can't believe some of the stuff that I have read in some of the
preceeding 30 messages. It appears that the Republicans will come to
power in the House & Senate after yesterday's election. And all of us
will pay dearly for it. Amtrak will pay for it, and rail passengers will
pay for it. Amtrak will be gone by October '95, simply because the
Reagan/Bush effort will finally come to pass. They couldn't kill it, so
they just starved it to death. All the money that has been invested will
be wasted, any chance of some type of high speed rail will die, and we
will be left the laughing stock of the world, struggling with congestion,
pollution, etc all because some greedy Republicans and greedy taxpayers
could not come up with a penny extra gas tax, or some measly billion
dollars to support something that definately is worth while.
Amtrak cannot be blamed for the condition it is in. Amtrak management has
probably done the vesy best it could do under the circumstances of 20
years of underfunding, crisis management, and having to fight for it's
life every year. We can blame gridlock in congress, and Republicans who
have worked to starve the company. It is really a shame. And once
intercity passenger trains are gone, they will never return.

Paul Arden
p...@aol.com

ps...@po.cwru.edu

unread,
Nov 9, 1994, 2:10:03 PM11/9/94
to

Cigarette lighter flame reply follows. Not malice, but *dialouge*

---------------------


> I can't believe some of the stuff that I have read in some of the
> preceeding 30 messages. It appears that the Republicans will come to
> power in the House & Senate after yesterday's election. And all of us
> will pay dearly for it.

Yes, that is true, we pay for the choices we make. Evidently the majority
*currently* feels we pay less w/ the GOP than with the Dems.

> Amtrak will pay for it, and rail passengers will
> pay for it.

Amtrak would be in no danger if it was profitable. Amtrak would be on high
moral ground and worthy of preservation (unprofitable as it is) if it were
talking about it's uphill battle against the highway and air subsidies.
Instead of fighting these, it seeks to get more of its own.

> Amtrak will be gone by October '95, simply because the
> Reagan/Bush effort will finally come to pass. They couldn't kill it, so
> they just starved it to death.

In the interest of fact, Bush never tried a thing to kill Amtrak. Amtrak
expanded during his term. Amtrak has faired little better, and in some ways
worse under a Dem Pres. Obviously it's the Congress and the public and their
other priorities in Amtrak's way to greater funding.

> All the money that has been invested will
> be wasted,

Nobody has yet accused Congress of being thrifty.

> any chance of some type of high speed rail will die, and we
> will be left the laughing stock of the world, struggling with congestion,
> pollution,

I think if Amtrak is gone the chances for this will be greater. *True* fiscal
conservatives and freemarketeers (incl some GOP, a few Dem) will go after
highway and air interests as well. Once that is done passenger trains will
come back on their own stronger than they've been since the 40's (however in
different niches).

> etc all because some greedy Republicans and greedy taxpayers
> could not come up with a penny extra gas tax, or some measly billion
> dollars to support something that definately is worth while.

It is because there is disagreement about the "worth while" part of what you
say that things are going the way they are. I resent being called greedy -
name calling helps nothing. As greed is an inevitable human nature 'Tis more
honorable to be greedy with one's own money than with others as those who
like taxes do.

> Amtrak cannot be blamed for the condition it is in.

No, but I for one blame it for not getting out of that condition by making
it's case about subsidies.

> Amtrak management has
> probably done the vesy best it could do under the circumstances of 20
> years of underfunding, crisis management, and having to fight for it's
> life every year.

Those who tie themselves (or keep themselves tied) to the government for
the money are rightfully tied to the politics of the government.

> We can blame gridlock in congress, and Republicans who
> have worked to starve the company. It is really a shame.

You can blame the tilted playing field. Blaming lack of funding, etc is a
scapegoat. Attack the real root problem. Attacking the scapegoat will
frustrate you because it will not get the job done.

I wish the Republicans in Congress hated spending as much as you say.
Congress in general has been a problem for Amtrak - Dems not giving it much
priority has as much to do with it as GOP voting against it.

> And once
> intercity passenger trains are gone, they will never return.

Wrong there. Amtrak is a relatively small company that could be replaced
tomorrow by the market easily.

> Paul Arden
> p...@aol.com

You're right - it is a shame. But for the wrong reasons. I will sorely miss
the Pioneer out in Oregon. But I consider it a price to pay to have many
Pioneers in the future...

The Elections are over - I wish they weren't so negative (which complicates
what I next say). We should respect eachother and not question eachothers
motives, but try to move on and get things done. Try to have some confidence
in America and people in general - true, I'm not happy when the election
doesn't go my way but I don't lose hope - we have more in common as humans
than separates us into parties...

Paul Didelius

--.-


Rob Landry

unread,
Nov 11, 1994, 11:18:27 AM11/11/94
to
So why not privatize the Interstate Highway System? Sell the roads and
bridges to companies that will do their own MOW and make a profit by setting
up toll booths.

ps...@po.cwru.edu

unread,
Nov 11, 1994, 6:07:48 PM11/11/94
to
> So why not privatize the Interstate Highway System? Sell the roads and
> bridges to companies that will do their own MOW and make a profit by setting
> up toll booths.

Fine except it's hard to make competition. To draw an analogy - the argument
is similar to that in health care - competition is good but requires wasteful
duplication of facilities. Either that or companies "bid" for leasing the
highway for a while. The problem with this though is companies may bid really
low to get the road, but then have so little money to maintain it -> low
price, low quality (bumpy road). In fact, I understand in many states (and
perhaps the fed highways) the road depts are required to go with the lowest
bid - even if that means the roads will fall apart sooner (resulting in a
higher long term expense)...

So for infrastructure like roads it's probably best to leave them in
government hands and try the best to control costs (hard to do in a
monopoly).

Though it's not as serious, it's like how you shouldn't really "contract out"
the military - better to pay too much and get whatchuwant.

At least that's the way it seems to me - does anybody have any ideas on how
privitisation would be better?

What's this mean for railroads, ie, how to make things fair? Though the
logical conclusion to draw from this would be for the gov to own the
rail lines, that would require payment to the railroads - not likely. So the
railroads will have to put up with taxation. Yes, they operate as common
carriers for the public, but they are not exactly beholden to the gov. So
just like everybody else, it's probably fair they pay taxes. Perhaps. Anybody
have other ideas on this?

Thanks all,

Paul Didelius

--.-


Colin R. Leech

unread,
Nov 11, 1994, 11:31:30 PM11/11/94
to

In a previous article, ps...@po.cwru.edu () says:

> I don't know that it helps the long term any to say "but they're

> [cars, trucks, planes] subsidized too".

It is very relevant. If the other subsidies were ended, there would be an
incredible renaissance in rail, both passenger and freight. So you want to
kill Amtrak before such a thing happens?
--
Colin R. Leech |-> Civil Engineer by training,
ag...@freenet.carleton.ca |-> Transportation Planner by choice,
h:613-224-2301 w:613-741-6440 |-> Trombonist by hobby.
My opinions are my own, not my employer's. You may consider them shareware.

Colin R. Leech

unread,
Nov 11, 1994, 11:39:36 PM11/11/94
to

In a previous article, ry...@u.washington.edu (Ryan Mcneilly) says:

>>Mmmm.... I wonder how much all the roads between Spokane and Seattle have
>>costed and still cost (maintainance).
>

>Yeh, but I don't have to pay toll to use it!

Exactly. These roads were funded out of general tax revenues. The total
cost of the road trip is higher, but you are being subsidized by not
paying for most of the capital and operating costs of the roads. Your
Amtrak ticket is paying for a good part of the operating costs, and the
"subsidy" from the fed gov't to Amtrak is paying the rest. On the roads,
the "subsidy" is almost 100%, but it's also almost 100% hidden in the
budgets. Amtrak's "subsidy" is just a lot more visible. Same goes for your
local public transit agency.

>I don't mind the idea of a government sponsered high speed rail system
>but they failed to prove they could do anything right. Money is wasted
>by the billions on failed projects like Amtrak. Why should I be in favor
>of such a system when I already know the outcome will be dismal?

It's not _government_ that is incapable of doing things properly, just
_your_ government. Look at the successful high speed rail lines in Europe.
Built by governments. They realized that the HSR lines were an important
investment in the economic and social well-being of their country, and had
the ability to capitalize such a mammoth project, which private enterprise
would have trouble with. Come to think of it, how many multi-billion
dollar airports have been built by private interests?

ps...@po.cwru.edu

unread,
Nov 12, 1994, 2:32:17 AM11/12/94
to
> > I don't know that it helps the long term any to say "but they're
> > [cars, trucks, planes] subsidized too".
>
> It is very relevant. If the other subsidies were ended, there would be an
> incredible renaissance in rail, both passenger and freight. So you want to
> kill Amtrak before such a thing happens?

I guess what I am saying is this: Amtrak is so small we would really lose
nothing in terms of investment if all subsidies were suddenly to disappear -
It seems to me worth losing what little there is now if that brings closer
the day when all the subsidies end - much easier to argue if you receive no
subsidy yourself. Does that make sense you think?

In recent discussions the question of what would happen to Amtrak equipment
if Amtrak dies have come up. I would think the engines could find work
elsewhere - I don't know about the cars though. Thoughts?

Paul Didelius

--.-


Richard Miller

unread,
Nov 12, 1994, 6:00:30 PM11/12/94
to
ps...@po.cwru.edu writes:

> In the interest of fact, Bush never tried a thing to kill Amtrak. Amtrak
> expanded during his term. Amtrak has faired little better, and in some
> ways

Funny, that is not how I remember it. During the Reagan, Bush
years they never bothered to put any money into their budgets
for Amtrak. Congress added funding later.

> I think if Amtrak is gone the chances for this will be greater. *True*
> fiscal
> conservatives and freemarketeers (incl some GOP, a few Dem) will go after
> highway and air interests as well. Once that is done passenger trains will
>
> come back on their own stronger than they've been since the 40's (however
> in
> different niches).

Boy, lets get a grip on reality here. The politicians are going to
go after highway and air interests? What are they going to do, eleminate
the highway trust fund? Stop providing air traffic controllers?

I doubt it. Auto and air are how most people travel in this country.
Subsidies and interest groups for those modes are so heavily
entrenched, it is highly unlikely we'll see cutbacks in those areas.
Amtrak is a sitting duck, though.

I don't see anyone standing in line to run passenger trains. Take
a look at the high speed proposals which were under consideration over
the last few years. What's the status of the Ohio group trying to
link Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus with high speed, or the Texas
group interested in high speed rail in that state?

____ Rick Miller rmi...@execpc.com
\ / Milwaukee, Wisconsin
\/ Amiga 2500 Fidonet: Richard Miller 1:154/280

... "No matter what they're talking about, they're talking about money."

* Offline Orbit 0.70b *
яяя

Ron Newman

unread,
Nov 12, 1994, 8:11:03 PM11/12/94
to
In article <Cz50y...@freenet.carleton.ca>,

Colin R. Leech <ag...@FreeNet.Carleton.CA> wrote:
>It's not _government_ that is incapable of doing things properly, just
>_your_ government.

Maybe it's just the Federal government. All U.S. commuter rail lines
are government-run, and many are also well-run and well-regarded.
Hell, the MBTA's commuter rail lines are actually run by Amtrak, who
does a better job with them than the old Boston & Maine did.
--
Ron Newman MIT Media Laboratory
rne...@media.mit.edu

dave pierson

unread,
Nov 13, 1994, 7:49:20 AM11/13/94
to
In article <1994Nov13.0...@news.media.mit.edu>, rne...@media.mit.edu
(Ron Newman) writes, in part:

>In article <Cz50y...@freenet.carleton.ca>,
>Colin R. Leech <ag...@FreeNet.Carleton.CA> wrote:
>>It's not _government_ that is incapable of doing things properly, just
>>_your_ government.

World wide, government owned railroads run at huge deficits. Which is
why, at least as stated by those governments, they are selling off those
rrs. I am NOT syaing that "profit" is the be all and end all of well
run. But it is an important indicator....

>Maybe it's just the Federal government. All U.S. commuter rail lines
>are government-run, and many are also well-run and well-regarded.
>Hell, the MBTA's commuter rail lines are actually run by Amtrak,

AMTRAK is not the government. Its an independent entity. (HOW
indpendnet is another matter...)

>who does a better job with them than the old Boston & Maine did.

I guess. A lot of things have changed since the B&M dropped out of
the bizniss....

thanks
dave pierson |the facts, as accurately as i can manage,
Digital Equipment Corporation |the opinions, my own.
200 Forest St |I am the NRA.
Marlboro, Mass 01751 |pie...@msd26.enet.dec.com
"He has read everything, and, to his credit, written nothing." A J Raffles

Richard Miller

unread,
Nov 14, 1994, 11:44:24 AM11/14/94
to
In article <3a1r21$1...@usenet.INS.CWRU.Edu>, ps...@po.cwru.edu wrote:

> I guess what I am saying is this: Amtrak is so small we would really lose
> nothing in terms of investment if all subsidies were suddenly to disappear -
> It seems to me worth losing what little there is now if that brings closer
> the day when all the subsidies end - much easier to argue if you receive no
> subsidy yourself. Does that make sense you think?

Since you asked, no, it doesn't make any sense, because your fundamental
assumption that other subsidies will be eliminated is false. :)

The funding of airline and roadway support facilities is not considered
"subsidy", it is considered an investment in mobility and national
defense. You can't hardly justify Amtrak funding as defense
related, anymore, so we have to think of a new reason. How about
investment in freedom of choice for travel, increased mobility
options or some such in vogue buzzword.