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Old 06-15-2013, 09:35 AM
 
Location: Marietta, GA
7,887 posts, read 16,411,209 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Born 2 Roll View Post
On the whole, Amtrak is experiencing record ridership as Amtrak set a new all-time record with 31.2 million passengers in fiscal year 2012 (the fiscal year ending September 30, 2012), the 9th such ridership record in the past 10 years.

Amongst the highlights of Amtrak's highest-ridership year ever in 2012:

>Amtrak set 12 consecutive monthly ridership records; July was the single best month in the history of Amtrak

>Northeast Corridor had best year ever with more than 11.4 million passengers

>State-supported and other short distance routes had best year ever with 15.1 million passengers

>All 15 long-distance routes saw an increase in riders and combined had best ridership in 19 years with 4.7 million passengers

>From FY 2000 to FY 2012, Amtrak ridership is up 49 percent

http://http://www.amtrak.com/ccurl/6...ATK-12-092.pdf

More people are riding trains nowadays and even more people will ride trains when more trains are available for them to ride.
I am very experienced with the northeast corridor, going back to the late 1970s. I lived in NY and MA used to ride Acela between Route 128 and NYC weekly in the 2003-2004 timeframe.

The question I have for you is....if ridership is at an all time high, why is it that Amtrak cannot make ends meet? Why are they constantly in the pockets of the taxpayers for more subsidy? And if the answer is that the NE corridor does make money, then why don't they ditch the unprofitable lines or privatize the NE corridor?

Britain privatized their rail throughout the country years ago, and it's working out fine. Maybe we should do that here, and then lines that have ridership and can make money and sustain themselves will, and lines that don't have the ridership and cannot support the operation will not exist.

As for Europe and Japan, you cannot compare. The distances are incredibly smaller between major capitals and the cost to build through countryside is much lower. There is no real air travel and the cost to drive is much higher within the small countries of Europe or Japan, or where there is air service, it's much easier to take the train and takes the same time. The US is many, many times larger with huge distances between major cities. The sole exception to that fact is the northeast corridor, where Amtrak has made attempts to institute European style rail transport, and it's been marginally successful.
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Old 06-15-2013, 09:44 AM
 
Location: Marietta, GA
7,887 posts, read 16,411,209 times
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Just to add....the FY2012 annual operating subsidy to Amtrak was nearly half a BILLION dollars, not including grants and other money spent for specific capital projects. Take a look at the income statement. This has been the story for more than 40 years....never ending.

http://www.amtrak.com/ccurl/963/948/...INAL-wAppx.pdf
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Old 06-15-2013, 04:30 PM
 
Location: Decatur, GA
7,216 posts, read 5,819,458 times
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Oh wow, a whopping $500 million for a NATIONWIDE rail system including a major, electrified backbone route. Moving people isn't profitable period. Britain didn't just toss the rail network into private hands and say "here, have fun." The United States rail network is already privatized, with government-operated passenger trains running on parts of the network. The British system is also far more heavily subsidized than you think. The private train operators there receive large subsidies from the government to the tune of 4.5 Billion GBP. The various companies that operate the trains also are allowed (by virtue of bring a private company) ventures in other areas, such as real estate. Amtrak has neither the luxury of that, nor the need, nor really the ability to pull it off successfully.
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Old 06-15-2013, 08:06 PM
 
7,112 posts, read 9,550,577 times
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^Why spend that $500 million for passenger rail at all? We can redirect it towards other more productive things. Better to have one less money losing program. Rail freight can pay its own way so let's stick with that. Even the country most like us, Canada, isn't investing in passenger rail and likewise their rail system is mostly freight. We should just go on supporting rail for freight and if the time comes that passenger rail makes sense, we should be in a good position to take advantage of it.

In the meantime, raise the Amtrak ticket prices to cover the true costs and the freight companies can continue to maintain the tracks that Amtrak runs on.
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Old 06-15-2013, 08:33 PM
 
Location: Decatur, GA
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Ok, while we're cutting rail passenger subsidies, let's cut all subsidies to airlines, and the highways. If it's better to have one less money losing program, it's certainly better to have three less money losing programs. Trucks and airlines can pay their own way so let's stick with that. Canada also has 11% of the population of the United States, over a similar landmass at least in terms of straightline distance, and their "corridor" serves far fewer, and less dense cities, than some of the "low density" Amtrak corridor routes outside of the NEC.

You can't have it both ways. Either cut funding for all transportation modes, or cut funding for none. There should be no middle ground.
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Old 06-15-2013, 08:38 PM
 
31,670 posts, read 33,517,814 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MattCW View Post
Ok, while we're cutting rail passenger subsidies, let's cut all subsidies to airlines, and the highways.
We subsidize air travel in all kinds of ways, including paying the airlines a couple of hundred million dollars a year for empty seats.

PJ Media ¬Ľ How We Pay $3,700 Per Passenger to Subsidize Airline Tickets

And that barely scratches the surface.

The Practical Nomad blog: Government subsidies to airlines
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Old 06-15-2013, 09:31 PM
 
7,112 posts, read 9,550,577 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MattCW View Post
Ok, while we're cutting rail passenger subsidies, let's cut all subsidies to airlines, and the highways. If it's better to have one less money losing program, it's certainly better to have three less money losing programs. Trucks and airlines can pay their own way so let's stick with that. Canada also has 11% of the population of the United States, over a similar landmass at least in terms of straightline distance, and their "corridor" serves far fewer, and less dense cities, than some of the "low density" Amtrak corridor routes outside of the NEC.

You can't have it both ways. Either cut funding for all transportation modes, or cut funding for none. There should be no middle ground.
Well, passenger rail is about at tops 30 million people now. Atlanta's airport moves more than 3 times that many alone. And roads are off the chart. Let's stick with the bigs, roads and air. No need to pull it down to zero. Or should be bring back steamboats and stagecoaches because we can't let any possible mode of passenger transport go. Passenger rail had its shot and would be dead now had it not been for federal intervention.

A lot of Canadians are in its southern areas so their effective density not counting the the vast northern regions might be more like the US. And they aren't really into trains for passenger travel either.
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Old 06-15-2013, 09:48 PM
 
Location: Decatur, GA
7,216 posts, read 5,819,458 times
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The cost for those 30 million folks per your own sources is $16.66 per passenger. Now go find the cost per passenger for highways, and airlines, keeping in mind that the highways and roads also receive local funding, while Amtrak only receives local funding for a handful of routes, and the odd capital project.
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Old 06-15-2013, 10:08 PM
 
Location: Marietta, GA
7,887 posts, read 16,411,209 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MattCW View Post
Ok, while we're cutting rail passenger subsidies, let's cut all subsidies to airlines, and the highways.
Sorry, but when you talk about "subsidizing highways" you lose all credibility. One of government's primary responsibilities is to build and maintain roads. Roads are used for commerce, public safety, defense, even transit (how do you think buses get from A to B?).

The $500 million operating subsidy (doesn't count capital expenditures) is year after year after year, and Amtrak is used by a fraction of Americans in a small part of the country. Roads are used by every American in every city, town, and county in America.

As for airline subsidies, I agree we shouldn't be subsidizing directly. I don't consider local gov't subsidies to airports or to attract air service to smaller cities as the same thing, since those are investments made for an underserved need and economic development. If you could convince me that new rail lines would serve an underserved demand or generate economic development, the I could possibly agree with you.

However, the facts are that passenger rail in the US since the 1960s has be a losing proposition. If there was money to be made, private companies would want into the business, since they own the lines and rights of way in most cases. Amtrak typically leases from or subcontracts to the actual railroad.
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Old 06-15-2013, 10:30 PM
 
Location: Decatur, GA
7,216 posts, read 5,819,458 times
Reputation: 4955
Quote:
Originally Posted by neil0311 View Post
Sorry, but when you talk about "subsidizing highways" you lose all credibility. One of government's primary responsibilities is to build and maintain roads. Roads are used for commerce, public safety, defense, even transit (how do you think buses get from A to B?).
Why are roads a responsibility and railroads not? Aren't they also just transportation from A to B for freight and passengers and public safety and defense?
Quote:
The $500 million operating subsidy (doesn't count capital expenditures) is year after year after year, and Amtrak is used by a fraction of Americans in a small part of the country. Roads are used by every American in every city, town, and county in America.
No they aren't. I travel on exactly 1 of Marietta's roads. I've never been on Anderson St. there in Marietta and never will be, and it's not a main road so under your logic, it shouldn't be built because it's only used by a fraction of Americans in a small part of the country and doesn't even connect anywhere.
Quote:
As for airline subsidies, I agree we shouldn't be subsidizing directly. I don't consider local gov't subsidies to airports or to attract air service to smaller cities as the same thing, since those are investments made for an underserved need and economic development. If you could convince me that new rail lines would serve an underserved demand or generate economic development, the I could possibly agree with you.
Look at the news. There are all kinds of developments springing up next to rail stations all over the place, not just transit, but along intercity rail lines as well. Many of the smaller communities on the long distance routes, see them not as simply a landcruise, or relic from the 50s, but a vital transportation lifeline, that connects them to the airports. In the Northeast, intercity train times are directly competitive with air travel when you factor in actually getting to the airport, then from the airport to your final destination. The trains have well over 50% of the air-rail market, that is the percentage of passengers who choose to take the train instead of flying. Amtrak has greater than 50% share in three other markets outisde the NEC, and is making significant inroads to other markets. Most of the towns Amtrak serves CAN NOT be served with less subsidy through an airline due to the single-use nature of a flight, rather than the string of stations served by a train.
Quote:
However, the facts are that passenger rail in the US since the 1960s has be a losing proposition. If there was money to be made, private companies would want into the business, since they own the lines and rights of way in most cases. Amtrak typically leases from or subcontracts to the actual railroad.
All Aboard Florida
That is the only place that a private company would even think of starting their own passenger service, but they've already admitted that their profit won't come from the passenger trains. This is basically a way of dramatically increasing their real estate holding values along the line (goes back to the point above) as well as opening up the Orlando freight market. The passenger service is just public service in order to shoehorn the line through the red tape. However, let me reiterate, this is the ONLY locale in the United States that this can work. Nowhere else has a unique line, like the Florida East Coast that also has substantial real estate holdings, with complete control over their property (no stockholders to pacify), in the middle of one of, if not the area of greatest travel demand in the entire nation.
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