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Amtrak's stimulus train keeps a rolling on





handfleisch
Good to see Obama's stimulus package producing this much needed result. Amtrak is getting more and more popular and hopefully it's a sign of the future for the USA. Maybe within the near future the US will have bullet trains and a good network of rail transit like they have in Europe.

Quote:
Amtrak unveils first rail car funded by stimulus

BEAR, Del. (AP) - Amtrak has wasted little time using its $1.3 billion slice of the federal stimulus package, unveiling the first of 81 passenger cars to be restored with the help of economic recovery funds.

Passenger car no. 25103, damaged a few years ago in a yard collision but now completely refurbished - complete with that "new car" interior smell - was shown off Monday at Amtrak's maintenance facility in Bear. More than 100 hard-hatted workers joined Amtrak president and CEO Joseph Boardman in celebrating completion of its restoration.

The car, refitted at a cost of about $687,000, will rejoin the Amtrak fleet next week and will be used on long-distance routes stretching from Toronto to Miami.

With ridership increasing by about 25 percent over the past three years, Amtrak is welcoming the additional seating capacity that will be provided by cars brought out of storage for repairs. Cars like the one displayed Monday can seat 60.

http://www.omaha.com/article/20090713/AP09/307139834
Voodoocat
Just what we need: more money wasted on Amtrack. Here is some history:

Amtrak is structured as a private company, but virtually all its shares are held by the United States Department of Transportation (DOT).

Does that sound familiar? You know, that lil' ol' car company that the Government now owns.

Don't worry, it gets better.

Amtrak was created by Congress in 1970 to maintain a
minimum level of intercity passenger rail service, while relieving the railroad
companies of the financial burden of providing that money-losing service.

Yeah, you read that right- Amtrack was created to be a money loser!

You do have to give the Government credit, though. At least they tried to make money (even though the entire premise was that Amtrack was a guaranteed money loser!) Only a politician can make sense out of this:

Although created as a for-profit corporation, Amtrak, like intercity passenger rail operators in
other countries, has not been able to make a profit.

At least it did not cost much money, right? After all, the government is using hard earned tax dollars from real working families to fund this fiasco.

During the last 35 years, federal assistance to Amtrak has amounted to approximately $30 billion

So much for responsible government spending.

I am not alone is condeming Amtrack as a money waster. Here are the words of the Department of Transportations:

More fundamentally, the DOT IG has stated that a new federal intercity passenger rail strategy is needed:

The current model for providing intercity passenger service continues to produce
financial instability and poor service quality. Despite multiple efforts over the
years to change Amtrak’s structure and funding, we have a system that limps
along, is never in a state-of-good-repair, awash in debt, and perpetually on the
edge of collapse.
In the end, Amtrak has been tasked to be all things to all
people, but the model under which it operates leaves many unsatisfied.

Did you get that? The DOT itself says that Amtrack is pathetic.

What is the President to do? His own administration publicly admits that Amtrack does not work and is not a wise investment. Of course he listens to his administration, right? Eh, no. Enter ObamaMan! He brings CHANGE! He ignores his own administration and dumps an additional 1.3 BILLION dollars into a failed rail system!

What is my source? A report created for congress Embarassed
http://www.bletdc.org/legislation/facts/amtrakb.pdf

Sorry ObamaMan, you screwed up again. Shame on you
Bikerman
I don't see why the fact that a transport company looses money is something bad at all.
Many European countries have rail systems which loose money (in fact I can't think of one that actually makes money).
The whole point is that you need public investment to make a modern clean and efficient rail system. The UK decided to privatise the rail network in order to 'make money'. Terrible decision.
handfleisch
Voodoocat wrote:
Just what we need: more money wasted on Amtrack. Here is some history:


Actually, to paraphrase the following analysis, your stats are true but your conclusions are not. It is a mass of talking-points, absurd in context, that have long been repeated against Amtrak. Or do you also characterize the 30 billion tax dollars spent per year on US highways, or the billion on the airlines, as "money wasted"?

http://www.nationalcorridors.org/papers/PressRel10022006.html

Quote:
How misleading statements propagate across the news media spectrum

“Amtrak has debt of more than $3.5 billion and its operating loss for 2005 topped $550 million. It has never made a profit in its 35 years of operation.”

All perfectly true. And completely misleading.

The fact is that Amtrak 1) has a debt; 2) gets a subsidy; and, 3) has never made a profit. And taken together, time after time, week after week, story after story, those facts paint and then re-enforces a sad picture of a woebegone, mismanaged mess of a company, always looking for public handouts, and always coming up short. Indeed, that’s the way the right-wing pundits talk about Amtrak. The AP’s coverage just gives them a fig leaf to hide behind. Perhaps that’s what the AP reporter believes, too. It would certainly seem to be the case.

The right way to write about Amtrak, we believe, is to tell the whole truth, not half of it. If in every Amtrak story you summarize its existence the way the AP’s Donna de la Cruz does, then put the facts in context. We’ve put them in italics:

Amtrak is in debt $3.5 billion, a result of a more than $6 billion shortfall in capital appropriations by Congress since 1970, according to the Government Accountability Office.

Amtrak, like every transportation system in existence, makes no profit. However, while every year, it must go to Congress to ask for a subsidy, other modes of transportation get their [far larger] subsidies automatically, or in ways that are hidden from the public.

Highways get $30 billion a year in Federal tax subsidies, from a highway bill written by Congress every six years, and spent by state DOT’s whose professional staffs consist almost 100 per cent of highway engineers. Highways also get more than $100 billion a year in state and local tax-subsidized funding. Amtrak gets perhaps 1% of that amount every year, yet is expected to operate trains over a 25,000-mile national system.

Airlines are heavily subsidized by tax-payer funded agencies. The Federal Aviation Administration supports airline operations as does Congress, with frequent Congressional bailouts. And of course billions of dollars in airplane R&D are spent every year by the Defense Department, since new technologies almost always appear first on warcraft. Inland canals systems and levees are built by the US Army Corps of Engineers and their subcontractors, and are almost 100% taxpayer subsidized. While Amtrak is indeed subsidized, it gets the smallest subsidy, by far, of any national transportation system, and compared to Europe and Asia, is the least costly rail system of any major country in the world.
Voodoocat
Quote:
Or do you also characterize the 30 billion tax dollars spent per year on US highways, or the billion on the airlines, as "money wasted"?


Unlike Amtrack, the roads actually work!
deanhills
Bikerman wrote:
I don't see why the fact that a transport company looses money is something bad at all.
Many European countries have rail systems which loose money (in fact I can't think of one that actually makes money).
The whole point is that you need public investment to make a modern clean and efficient rail system. The UK decided to privatise the rail network in order to 'make money'. Terrible decision.
I have to agree on this one. Government has not been appointed to make profits, but to provide services, and transportation to places that are not that profitable has to be part of it. Same with the postal services. One would not want them to squander money, however, should expect that this is a service that should be available to all citizens, including travel to remote areas.

@Voodoocat Agreed the roads do work well, but there is also a place for rail, rail works too.
Vrythramax
Amtrak has been around for so long I don't even know what I'd do without it. Yeah it's been running at a barely sustainable level for sometime...but so has the car industry, and we still care for the roads. Amtrak, I believe is still needed, and a viable business entity.
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