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Author Topic: Great News....But
Gilbert B Norman
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Amtrak was quick to note - and they should - the impressive traffic gains seen during FY08:

Amtrak Press Release

NBC News even picked up on the story;

Video

While of course I continue to hold my reservations regarding efficacy of Long Distance service, it is my conviction that Corridor services have an important role to play in 21st century passenger transportation - this notwithstanding a possible revisit of $3/ga.

What is of great concern to me is, Authorization Bill notwithstanding, that this success at the farebox will be an impetus to cut the FY 09 Appropriation. Lest we forget that when Amtrak has a banner year at the farebox, they are not required to return any of their appropriation. However, when Congress is looking for somewhere to cut....there's Amtrak....."they're doing better at the farebox; they don't need us".

I sincerely hope such concerns prove unfounded.

Posts: 9374 | From: Clarendon Hills, IL USA (BNSF Chicago Sub MP 18.71) | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
amtraxmaniac
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I think it goes to the argument that you have to spend money sometimes to make money...and I certainly hope others in Congress can see it that way. I hope the congress critters view it as a wise investment in a successful program rather than a reason to pull the purse strings. No offense, but I second that hope that GBN is wrong.

--------------------
Patrick

Posts: 387 | From: Bakersfield, CA | Registered: Jan 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
RR4me
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I will be intersted in seeing if the presumed (short term) reduction in gas prices will result in lower ridership. I know auto industry pundits think consumers will view any gas price reductions as temporary, and continue to buy smaller more efficeint cars (if they buy at all). I would hope that the view on Amtrak is that it is finally moving in the right direction, and not to pull what support there is.

To be honest, I was selfishly quite happy to ride taxpayer subsidized trains, where I knew I could find a double seat. For the past year, that has not been the case with the San Joaquins. I am taking the train to San Diego for a business trip next Sunday; I'll see if the San Joaquins are as crowded as they have been.

By the way, I have a business class reservation from LAUPT to SD; is this car usually up front?

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rresor
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Mr. Norman:

I think when you review the numbers, you'll find that the largest ridership growth was on "corridor" trains in the NEC, in the West, and out of Chicago. I seem to recall seeing, just a few years ago, that 3.8 million passengers rode Amtrak LD trains in FY 2008. If that's correct, it's down 20% from the number of LD riders a decade ago (around 5 million).

So it's pretty clear, to me anyway (and I suspect you'll agree) that Amtrak's future lies in short- and medium-distance, daytime services.

Posts: 614 | From: Merchantville, NJ. USA | Registered: Aug 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Gilbert B Norman
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Mr. Resor, even if you or I are not exactly the best friend the Long-Distance passenger train has around here, we should note that a comparo between 1998 and 2008 ridership is misleading if only 'raw" numbers are considered. This is because there have been considerable cutbacks to the LD system over that period in view of the discontinuance of the Pioneer, Desert Wind, Three Rivers (Hbg-Chi), Palmetto (Sav-Mia), and Sunset East.

Since Amtrak was not publicly disclosing ridership stats with the same detail they do today within their publicly circulated Monthly Performance Reports, it would be difficult to determine how much ridership was attributed to the discontinued trains and/or routes. Likely the fairest comparison would be, using publicly disclosed stats, would be passengers carried per train mile - and even this comparo could hold fallacies. While this is simply a "gut" conclusion on my part, I think that the existing LD passenger trains have "held their own" over the past ten years.

However, allow me to note that I have not become St Paul or Emperor Constantine with regards to the LD's. They exist for one reason and that is political expediency. While I have no first hand knowledge of such, my best understanding (from water cooler and washroom talk) was the "Amtrak plan" was "sold" to the industry on the strength that 'they'd be gone in about five years". Albeit some three years late, the Carter Cuts appeared to be the first step in delivering on that possible "understanding' with the industry and the Mercer Cuts (Clinton) were merely a "pruning" of what had been added since the Basic System was set forth pursuant to RPSA '70.

But finally, here we are thirty five years later and no end in sight. I think the industry has entered Kubler-Ross' Phase Five - Acceptance - regarding the Amtrak intrusion. Denial and Anger have come and gone and the "detente" I have previously outlined appears to be in place.

Posts: 9374 | From: Clarendon Hills, IL USA (BNSF Chicago Sub MP 18.71) | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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