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Trump and Amtrak/Budget cutting funding


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#461 FrensicPic

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 10:36 AM

An interesting graphic which compares side-by-side, before and after.

"A visualization shows hundreds of cities that would lose long-distance trains under the president’s proposed budget."

 

https://www.citylab....utm_source=feed

 


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#462 Thirdrail7

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 09:51 PM

I suppose this should go under the Budget thread, but these two paragraphs are key:

 

 

How likely is it Congress will embrace the White House’s vision when it receives its more-detailed budget (which typically happens in mid-May)? Since the railroad association put out its alert it has witnessed a “huge public outpouring,” with thousands of its members calling their elected representatives, says Sean Jeans-Gail, vice president of government affairs and policy. “We can verify Congress is hearing this outcry, and they’re taking notice. We’ve seen a shift among Republicans from guarded, noncommittal statements to guarded statements that emphasize that Congress has the power of the purse. That’s progress.”

 

Trump-leaning politicians might want to listen to these voices, as many of them are coming from the rural denizens that fed the president’s rise to power. “The majority of passengers on these trains aren’t using them to go from big city to big city,” says Jim Mathews, the railroad association’s president and CEO. “They’re small-town Americans who don’t have a lot of transportation alternatives. The ridership figures on these trains are lower because the towns they serve are smaller. If you live in McGregor, Texas, and you’re trying to get to Fort Worth for business or a medical procedure, the [Texas] Eagle is as important to you as the Northeast Corridor is to a New Yorker—probably more important, since Temple doesn’t have access to a LaGuardia or JFK.”

 

Some of the off corridor trains are just as important to their riders as the NEC is to the passengers they serve. Hopefully, the message is delivered.


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#463 Poindexter118

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Posted 20 April 2017 - 12:52 AM

I wrote a letter to President Trump asking him to reconsider cutting Amtrak funding.  I haven't heard back from him, but I'm sure I'm not alone in requesting to keep Amtrak with a good budget.  

I also wrote a letter to our Senator in California asking her to vote against the budget concerning Amtrak.  



#464 Crescent ATN & TCL

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Posted 21 April 2017 - 01:10 AM

According to Amtrak reports they are only off by 6% from the break even point, surely if push comes to shove 6% could be temporarily made up for in one way or another.... 6% "making America great" surcharge on all tickets with a message about making small sacrifices to bigly support the most tremendous yuge president....

#465 CSXfoamer1997

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Posted 21 April 2017 - 06:46 AM

I wrote a letter to President Trump asking him to reconsider cutting Amtrak funding.  I haven't heard back from him, but I'm sure I'm not alone in requesting to keep Amtrak with a good budget.  

I also wrote a letter to our Senator in California asking her to vote against the budget concerning Amtrak.  

Good for you, man!



#466 siena1965

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Posted 23 April 2017 - 05:46 PM

i don't think trumps budgets  cuts for Amtrak is going to make America great again. i hope he does not get away with this.



#467 Don Newcomb

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Posted 24 April 2017 - 08:04 AM

I wish there was a way to subsidize Amtrak's long-haul trains that didn't involve the general fund. I'd support a few cents increase in gasoline taxes dedicated for that purpose. Unfortunately, there's little political motivation for increasing any taxes right now. Trump, wants to cut taxes, at least for some people. I'd like to see a radical change in what the US taxes, moving generally from taxing productivity to taxing consumption, even though this would hurt me personally.  I believe it's the only way we can start manufacturing stuff here in America again.  



#468 WoodyinNYC

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Posted 24 April 2017 - 12:53 PM

... I'd support a few cents increase in gasoline taxes ... a radical change in what the US taxes, moving generally from taxing productivity to taxing consumption ..

The gasoline tax at the national level has been flat for years and years. With inflation it has been cut, actually. Any increase in the gas tax would be good in simple fairness, to help phase out air pollution, to cut greenhouse gases contributing to global heating, and to reduce our tendency to get into wars in areas where oil is plentiful but peace is rare.

 

The tax on alcohol (beer, wine, liquor) at the national level has been flat, again for decades, in effect a 'sin tax' cut.

 

There's no national tax on 'soft drinks' like Coke, Pepsi, Diet Coke, Arizona Iced Tea, etc. that appear to contribute heavily to the national obesity epidemic and the rise in diabetes.

 

Of course, legalizing marijuana at the national level would allow a federal tax on it to produce millions in revenue, while cutting wasted tax money going to cops, courts, and prisons.

 

Looks like $1 or $2 Billion a year for new equipment could easily be budgeted to renew and expand the fleet. Likewise $4 or $5 Billion a year might be the realistic amount, the cap, really, on what could be invested in passenger rail infrastructure, given the long lead time on projects -- the studies, the public outreach, the engineering, and the construction. (That's spending for Amtrak, not counting the NEC or CAHSR, and before any subsidies for expanded service.) These modest sums are easily affordable by our great country, easily payable with modest new taxes on consumption.



#469 Philly Amtrak Fan

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Posted 24 April 2017 - 04:24 PM

 

 

 

There's no national tax on 'soft drinks' like Coke, Pepsi, Diet Coke, Arizona Iced Tea, etc. that appear to contribute heavily to the national obesity epidemic and the rise in diabetes.

 

 

 

 

No but there is a soft drink tax in Philly now. There's plenty of people who pushed to stop the tax before it was implemented and still push to have it repealed.

 

 

 

 

 

Of course, legalizing marijuana at the national level would allow a federal tax on it to produce millions in revenue, while cutting wasted tax money going to cops, courts, and prisons.

 

Looks like $1 or $2 Billion a year for new equipment could easily be budgeted to renew and expand the fleet. Likewise $4 or $5 Billion a year might be the realistic amount, the cap, really, on what could be invested in passenger rail infrastructure, given the long lead time on projects -- the studies, the public outreach, the engineering, and the construction. (That's spending for Amtrak, not counting the NEC or CAHSR, and before any subsidies for expanded service.) These modest sums are easily affordable by our great country, easily payable with modest new taxes on consumption.

 

 

I think it's a given what I would expect is included in that $4-$5 billion.

 

I hope for that money there are more new routes and new areas (Vegas, Nashville, Columbus, etc) served.


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#470 Carolina Special

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Posted 24 April 2017 - 04:53 PM

How about taxing coffee instead? The Starbucks tax to fund Amtrak.

#471 WoodyinNYC

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Posted 24 April 2017 - 05:28 PM


 

There's no national tax on 'soft drinks' ... that appear to contribute heavily to the national obesity epidemic and the rise in diabetes.

No but there is a soft drink tax in Philly now. There's plenty of people who pushed to stop the tax before it was implemented and still push to have it repealed.

Of course, legalizing marijuana at the national level would allow a federal tax on it to produce millions in revenue ...

 

... $4 or $5 Billion a year might be the realistic amount, the cap, really, on what could be invested in passenger rail infrastructure, given the long lead time on projects -- the studies, the public outreach, the engineering, and the construction. (That's spending ... before any subsidies for expanded service.) These modest sums are easily affordable by our great country, easily payable with modest new taxes on consumption.

I think it's a given what I would expect is included in that $4-$5 billion.

 

I hope for that money there are more new routes and new areas (Vegas, Nashville, Columbus, etc) served.

We may be getting off topic. But I'd put the $4 or $5 Billion into upgrading corridors, the way the Stimulus money was invested. So more money into CHI-St Louis and CHI-Detroit, and then CHI-Indy-Cincy/Louisville-Lexington KY, CHI-TOL-CLE, Detroit-TOL-CLE-PGH, CHI-Ft Wayne-Columbus, CHI-Madison-St Paul, CHI-Memphis, Mobile-Biloxi-New Orleans, New Orleans-Baton Rouge, New Orleans-Lafayette-Houston-San Antonio, Orlando-Jacksonville-Tallahassee, D.C.-Richmond, Richmond-Petersburg-rebuilt 'S'-line-Raleigh, L.A.-Santa Barbara-San Louis-Obispo-San Jose, among others. And I'd happily promise Congress, no new LD routes for 10 years (except daily Cardinal and Sunset Ltd, CONO extended to Orlando, and maybe the flavor du jour, ATL-Meridien-Jackson-Shreveport-Dallas-Ft Worth).

 

Of course, all of these corridor trains overlap, or feed traffic to, existing LD lines. And the expansions would help to spread the overhead of system-wide fixed costs more widely, to less heavily burden each existing train -- LD, NEC, or state-supported.

 

Perhaps soonish Amtrak can claim that half of its LD trains actually make a positive contribution or at least break even: (AutoTrain, Palmetto, Silver Meteor, Silver Star, Crescent, Lake Shore Ltd, Coast Starlight, CONO?, Cardinal if possible to go daily with three sets not four needed?). THEN it will be in a good position to propose new or revived LD routes.


Edited by WoodyinNYC, 24 April 2017 - 05:29 PM.


#472 RSG

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Posted 25 April 2017 - 12:07 AM

 

 

 

 
There's no national tax on 'soft drinks' like Coke, Pepsi, Diet Coke, Arizona Iced Tea, etc. that appear to contribute heavily to the national obesity epidemic and the rise in diabetes.

 

 
No but there is a soft drink tax in Philly now. There's plenty of people who pushed to stop the tax before it was implemented and still push to have it repealed.

 

Which, I would note appears to be failing miserably at bringing in the projected revenue, while businesses outside the City & County are doing bang-up sales in soda (or what anything Philadelphia legally calls "soda").
 
Meanwhile, NYC is poised to proudly hike the cigarette tax. Apparently they didn't learn anything from the Eric Garner incident.
 
Having consumption taxes is one thing; using them just to generate excess revenue or control behavior is something else. 


#473 WoodyinNYC

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Posted 25 April 2017 - 12:54 AM

 

 

 

 

There's no national tax on 'soft drinks' like Coke, Pepsi, Diet Coke, Arizona Iced Tea, etc. that appear to contribute heavily to the national obesity epidemic and the rise in diabetes.
 ... there is a soft drink tax in Philly now.
Which ... appears to be failing miserably at bringing in the projected revenue, while businesses outside the City & County are doing bang-up sales in soda (or what anything Philadelphia legally calls "soda").
 
Meanwhile, NYC is poised to proudly hike the cigarette tax. Apparently they didn't learn anything from the Eric Garner incident.

Cigarette taxes vary widely from state to state, and city to city. New York State ($4.35) a pack) and New York City have very high taxes, which is said to have helped reduce the rate of smoking.

 

But the tobacco-growing states like Virginia (30¢ a pack), Georgia (37¢), and North Carolina (45¢) have very low rates.

 

The price differences, of course, calls forth investors who arbitrage the markets. In this business, it's the Mob. The gangsters buy truckloads of cigarettes in the South, and tho it is illegal to do so, send them to the North to sell in competition with highly taxed and therefore high priced legal cigarettes. (Funny how the police were willing to kill Eric Garner for his illegal marketing efforts -- Black Lives Don't Matter to cops? -- but they seem completely unable to stop the Mob from its activities.)

 

In any case, a high national tax could not so easily be circumvented. Not unless or until someone begins to send low tax cigarettes over or under the magnificent Wall we are all getting ready to pay for instead of investing in better trains. (Keeping my rant On Topic.)

 

I'd like to see a national tax of at least $4 a pack, and would be happier to see $5 a pack. NY State and NY City then might, or might not, lower their rates in order to undermine the Mob's arbitrage. I'd bet on 'Not'.



#474 winterskigirl

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Posted 30 April 2017 - 02:57 PM

President Trump thinks like a businessman and not a politician.  He will most likely push for cuts to those routes loosing money.  Same goes for other federal programs loosing too much money.  He said he's going to drain the swamp and that includes spending.  Elections have consequences but remember that Congress has to approve the budget and allot can happen before it is finalized.  



#475 A Voice

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Posted 30 April 2017 - 03:01 PM

President Trump thinks like a businessman and not a politician.  He will most likely push for cuts to those routes loosing money. 

 

That would mean he would push to cut every single route or train Amtrak operates, including Acela and the Northeast Corridor (and again, that's not happening).  They all lose money (aside from the 'polite fiction' of above the rail profit).  


Edited by A Voice, 30 April 2017 - 03:02 PM.


#476 afigg

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Posted 30 April 2017 - 09:51 PM

President Trump thinks like a businessman and not a politician.  He will most likely push for cuts to those routes loosing money.  Same goes for other federal programs loosing too much money.  He said he's going to drain the swamp and that includes spending.  Elections have consequences but remember that Congress has to approve the budget and allot can happen before it is finalized.  

When discussing the budget slashing proposals from the Trump administration, it is quite likely that President Trump himself has not even read the budget specifics for the various transportation department items, let alone has had said anything to his staff about funding the Amtrak LD routes. That is, if Trump is even aware of Amtrak's long distance trains. It has become quite clear that Trump is not a details guy at all. Not even close. So let's not talk about the budget cut proposals as something Trump himself is involved in. The decisions on what is in the Administrations proposed budgets are being made by the staffers, the ideologues who have landed positions in the White House and agency heads. I suggest we stick to referring to the proposed budget as coming from the "Trump Administration" and not Trump himself in any way.

 

Besides the appropriations funding amounts from Congress, what will matter to Amtrak is who fills the key positions in the Department of Transportation, like the head of the FRA. If those positions get filled by anti-passenger rail and anti-transit advocates, they could make for a challenging 4 years for Amtrak and the major city transit agencies.



#477 afigg

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Posted 30 April 2017 - 10:38 PM

We are getting a clue in the fate of the Trump's Administration budget slashing proposals in the FY2017 appropriations. The federal government has been running on continuing resolutions since the start of October. The Hill reports that a budget agreement has been reached in Congress, so the FY2017 appropriations may be passed in the next few days. Yes, seven months into the fiscal year with only 5 months left. It may be stupid, but that is what our political process has come to.

 

The Hill: Congress has deal to fund government through September

 

Besides the Amtrak capital and operational funding levels, I have not seen any recent reports on how much funding, if any, the TIGER grant program will get going forward. Even if the TIGER program survives, the guidelines may be revised to favor road and highway projects over transit, commuter & intercity passenger rail, and local pedestrian and bike trail projects. Even if the TIGER grant guidelines are left mostly unchanged, the political appointees in the US DOT will weigh in on the decisions on which project applications get funding.



#478 Lonestar648

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Posted 30 April 2017 - 10:49 PM

Is anyone in Congress really wanting to discuss the Budget?  Neither side wants to discuss a budget, thus the continuation of the continuing resolutions to avoid a nasty fight, a and everyone (Congress) can party together after hours.  Next year at this time the House will be worrying about re-election, so anything budget will be postponed until after the 2018 election. 



#479 afigg

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Posted 01 May 2017 - 10:12 AM

An early report from the Washington Post on what is in the FY2017 omnibus appropriations agreement:

AMTRAK:

The nation’s passenger rail service, a quasi-government organization, gets $1.5 billion, a $105 million increase from the last budget year.

 

 

From another news report that didn't get specific, I suspect that much of the $105 million in additional funding is for the NEC. Regardless, the takeaway is that the big funding cut proposal is not getting any traction for the current fiscal year.  Anyway, the news and public interest organizations will be spending days, if not weeks, figuring out all the pieces that are in the 1600 page $1 trillion plus appropriations bill.



#480 jis

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Posted 01 May 2017 - 11:05 AM

Is anyone in Congress really wanting to discuss the Budget?  Neither side wants to discuss a budget, thus the continuation of the continuing resolutions to avoid a nasty fight, a and everyone (Congress) can party together after hours.  Next year at this time the House will be worrying about re-election, so anything budget will be postponed until after the 2018 election. 

There have been significant discussions going on about the 2018 budget in addition to the 2017 CR. Nobody expected 2017 to be anything but a CR anyway, since it really is not a full appropriation, but a filler. Trump tried to tack on all sorts of additional stuff and was mostly beaten off.

 

2018 involves substantive discussions since Congress has to put a budget together as there is no one there that pays much attention to Trump's proposals as far as I can tell. It should be interesting to see how things go after the appropriation passes this week. From NARP our goal is to get the full appropriation in line with the FAST Act Authorization. We have generally heard that full appropriation will be difficult, but also an appropriation significantly less than 2017 levels is unlikely. But we'll see. As usual the Senate is more sympathetic than the House, but even the House will probably not be proposing significantly less than 2017 levels.






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