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Old 12-03-2008, 01:46 AM
 
3,460 posts, read 4,792,436 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by texdav View Post
Actually you need to look where the funding for roads comes from. It comes from road usage taxes on those that use the roads exclusively.
I might believe that if my city ever stops raising my property taxes to pay for road projects....or assessing me for the curb and gutter work they're promising next year.

Why can't we marry the roads and rails instead of spending trillions of dollars buying new right of ways?

I'd like to see medium duty rail right in the interstate lanes, connected to light rail in city streets. We could run 'mini trains' of 10 semi-trailers on the tracks cross country instead of having ten trucks pulling ten trailers. If you could mix passenger cars in with the freight, it wouldn't be hard to have a 'train' leaving the station every 15 minutes from Minneapolis to Chicago, LA to Vegas, Dallas to Denver, or anywhere else that freight moves on a regular basis.
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Old 12-03-2008, 03:19 AM
 
955 posts, read 1,917,946 times
Reputation: 393
Quote:
Originally Posted by backfist View Post
This is the time to start investing our country's money in alternatives to the same old. If Dodge wants to keep building Ram pickups; and if GM wants to continue building Suburbans, then let them do so at their own risk. But we ought not invest the country's money in a business model that's already shown to be a failure.

Investing in rail is one of the most effective ways of congestion alleviation and oil/gas dependence.
Point One: According to an MSN Money study, after ten years the hybrid Prius still does not make money.

"But we ought not invest the country's money in a business model that's already shown to be a failure."

Point Two: Why has spending (investing) in rail always failed to break even everywhere it is attempted? Studies abound.

"But we ought not invest the country's money in a business model that's already shown to be a failure."
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Old 12-03-2008, 05:15 AM
 
Location: 602/520
2,441 posts, read 5,935,279 times
Reputation: 1815
Quote:
Originally Posted by backfist View Post
Of course they are. I work in the Buckhead section of Atlanta, and the heavy rail tracks are right across the street from my building. Even better, there's a MARTA light rail station along those same tracks. With tracks running from Athens through Atlanta (the heaviest traffic in the state) there's no excuse not to have taken advantage of rail lines.

Same goes with Houston. Phoenix, Charlotte, even Minneapolis all have rail capability based on Amtraks routes alone.

Now that we're basically going to sit back and watch the government give our tax money to Big Auto, we have no more legitimate excuses about being resistant to rail service that extends to the suburbs.
Not true. MARTA is not effective in Atlanta. Sure, you can take MARTA from the airport to Sandy Springs or Doraville. However, once you get off of MARTA, you quickly return to an a car dependent area. Cities of the Northeast have effective transportation because you can walk to your final destination, even if it's not on the transit line. MARTA is/was a waste of money.

Houston's transit only works in the downtown pedestrian-friendly area. Again, Houston is one of those cities where most areas outside of downtown are not pedestrian friendly.

Don't even get me started on Phoenix again. Phoenix, first of all, does not have Amtrak service. The existing rail in Phoenix does not go where the people are or where they want to go. Couple that with the 115 degree summer temperatures, and you have a metropolitan area that WILL be auto-centric.
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Old 12-03-2008, 06:39 AM
 
Location: Atlanta, GA
2,290 posts, read 4,948,013 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by miamiman View Post
Not true. MARTA is not effective in Atlanta. Sure, you can take MARTA from the airport to Sandy Springs or Doraville. However, once you get off of MARTA, you quickly return to an a car dependent area. Cities of the Northeast have effective transportation because you can walk to your final destination, even if it's not on the transit line. MARTA is/was a waste of money.

Houston's transit only works in the downtown pedestrian-friendly area. Again, Houston is one of those cities where most areas outside of downtown are not pedestrian friendly.

Don't even get me started on Phoenix again. Phoenix, first of all, does not have Amtrak service. The existing rail in Phoenix does not go where the people are or where they want to go. Couple that with the 115 degree summer temperatures, and you have a metropolitan area that WILL be auto-centric.
Trust me; I never said MARTA was effective. It's borderline ineffective if you ask me. But we can thank many of the narrow-minded folks of Cobb, Gwinnett, Henry, and Fayette counties who would rather spend $10/gallon on gas, rather than have their precious tax dollars expand MARTA to their communities. That's why I'm such a proponent of federally-subsidized and federally-mandated heavy rail. I'm tired of the low-IQ local bubbas making policy that benefits their narrow interests, rather than the greater good.

And I'll take your word for it regarding Phoenix Metro. But even though there's no Amtrak service per se, it doesn't mean that their couldn't be infrastructure laid down for new heavy rail service.
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Old 12-03-2008, 06:57 AM
 
Location: Atlanta, GA
2,290 posts, read 4,948,013 times
Reputation: 784
Quote:
Originally Posted by macmeal View Post
You MAY know this...though apparently many people don't....and that is the fact that AMTRAK DOES NOT ACTUALLY "OWN" ITS TRACK...(with the exception of most of the busy NE Corridor...DC to Boston).

Otherwise, Amtrak is in the position of a 'forced'..(and sometimes unwelcome) "guest" using the privately-owned lines of the major freight carriers. THESE companies, having long ago abandoned passenger service as unprofitable, now find themselves in the position of having to accomodate 'foreign' traffic on their own busy lines. Some companies work very well with Amtrak (for example, BNSF on the Portland/Seattle -to -Chicago route)...but OTHERS have a 'less than cozy' relationship (like Union Pacific, on the Portland- Los Angeles or LA- New Orleans routes).

I'm a big fan of long-distance rail and have traveled most of the long-distance routes many times. The problem as I see it is in the inherently conflicting relationship...the freight carriers, swamped by MASSIVELY increasing freight volume, being forced by "government decree" to squeeze in "guest" traffic....and not always being reimbursed as much as they'd like.

I don't know how you'd resolve this to everyone's satisfaction. It's a case of conflict of interest. That's not the WHOLE story, but it does have a bearing on the problem.
Much of what you say is true regarding Amtrak being more of a vendor and not an "owner" per se, and that the good ole boy freight carriers have almost all the power. That, to me, is business as usual. And I suppose if we're willing to let that be the case, then nothing changes. But what if:

> President Obama's Transportation Department intervened and said "enough! the need for daily commuting and travel shall outweigh the need for transport. From now on, freight transport via rail shall be restricted to non-peak hours of commute and travel."

> Congress decided not to give in to Big Auto's hostage demands, and instead decided to pay for more track, trains, and rail infrastructure.

> Congress gave track "owners" an ultimatum: free up the infrastructure for priority commuting and travel, or the government exercises eminent domain.

I realize that no one likes a heavy-handed government, but at some point when those in private industry won't do the right thing by the public they serve, then the government needs to step in and do so.
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Old 12-03-2008, 09:04 AM
 
8,973 posts, read 14,617,384 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by backfist View Post
> Congress gave track "owners" an ultimatum: free up the infrastructure for priority commuting and travel, or the government exercises eminent domain.

I realize that no one likes a heavy-handed government, but at some point when those in private industry won't do the right thing by the public they serve, then the government needs to step in and do so.
That may HAVE to happen at some point...yet it would be an extremely "tough sell", since virtually ALL American long-haul railroads, AND their track and infrastructure, are privately owned and privately maintained. It's true that early-day RR construction was heavily subsidized by government..but that was a century ago. The fact remains that railroads today are owned by private corporations, and it would be very awkward at this point for government to 'step in'...though I'll agree with you that this MAY someday come to pass.

Amtrak in some respects could be called "government stepping in PART way"..it's not enough to really be effective. At this point, long-distance rail travel has few backers in high office.

As you may know, in most "modern" countries, the railroads are government-run...similar to the postal system or the telephone system. Not so here, though. It might be easier to push your ideas in the future when gas is $12 per gallon and air travel becomes an untenable nightmare. For now, few people take rail travel seriously, and that's a pity.
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Old 12-03-2008, 09:48 AM
 
Location: Southeast
4,296 posts, read 6,116,687 times
Reputation: 1444
Alas we have a conundrum.

On the one hand, we must distinguish and decide which is more important;

a.) Railroads for vacation/long distance travel. This service competes with airlines

b.) Railroads for mass transit.

Choice a cannot be effective without Amtrak having its own dedicated lines. You could just build a line next to existing freight corridors, however, Amtrak should have broader curves, less grades, concrete crossties, and 160lb+ rail. This way, trains in excess of 250mph could be operated safely and efficiently. Recently, France tested their first 523Kph trains (roughly 300mph+). With Amtrak's own dedicated lines, they could effectively compete with airlines where railroads are most successful - the medium haul (i.e. Richmond-Washington D.C., Atlanta-Birmingham, Dallas-Houston, Chicago-Detriot, Los Angeles-San Francisco, etc.).

Of course, if you reall want passenger rail to come back, build new tracks, then privatize Amtrak. Bring back some routes from the 1970's that fell through due to poor equipment and track conditions. The Floridian (Chicago-Florida) had successful ridership, but probably the crappiest service and equipment in the nation. Implement Auto-Train in more places to encourage people to ride the train.

Most people say, well Amtrak take too long. True, but if you add how early you have to arrive at airports to check bags, go through security, fight crowds, etc. it all comes out in the wash.

However, without a massive overhault and dedicated passenger lines, I see no way it can be successful. Time will tell.
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Old 12-26-2008, 02:03 AM
 
Location: Tucson/Nogales
16,477 posts, read 20,016,951 times
Reputation: 22402
Default Crime of the Century

After reading long ago about the demise of our once-great streetcar system in our American cities I wonder even today if those same parties to that coalition aren't lobbying heavily today to stop the spread of any rail commutes in this country. You do know that back in the 30's, GM, Firestone, Phillipps Petroleum, STandard Oil of California along with Mack Truck Manufactring set up a company called National City Lines, which then bought up all the street car lines in 45 American Cities and deliberately drove them into the ground so we'd all become more car dependent. Even today, with that unspeakable crime, I wonder if these parties don't have lobbyists all over the country speaking out against any new transit lines or interstate lines to keep us forever and ever wedded to the automobile. I refuse to believe that even today they're at work doing whatever they can to safeguard jobs in the auto industry and oil industry.
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Old 12-26-2008, 02:55 AM
 
706 posts, read 1,313,117 times
Reputation: 308
Rail sucks. It's not as flexible as road transport (cars, buses, taxis, etc) for short distances, and not as fast as air travel for long distances. The only thing that's keeping it alive is government interventionism and government restrictions on energy production.
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Old 12-26-2008, 07:22 AM
 
Location: Nebraska
4,179 posts, read 9,118,711 times
Reputation: 9523
How many of you would give in to 'eminent domain for the greater good' and have your homes demolished at cut-rate prices to build more track? How many of you would cheerfully vote to have your neighbors' homes demoished for the same scenario and end up by drastically lowering your already sinking property values, putting you upside down in your homes?

How many of you would be willing to live with less - less toilet paper, less food, less clothing, less readily available items - because the freight trains are running at "non-peak" hours? BTW, you're "non-peak hour" fantasy is exactly that - rail runs at a constant between 80% to 120% capacity now. And the price of everything ... would go up.

It isn't just the conglomeration of industries keeping rail at minimum and roads at maximum. It is the demands of folks who don't want to lose their investments or their accessibility to items. While it may be fun to declare that the heavy hand of government should step in, too bad about that - be careful what you ask for when you have no conception of the consequences.
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