The news of the latest Trump budget has brought fear on some people at this board and a "we've been here before" from others. At the post about the Trump budget the suggestions were to contact Congress because it's clear that no budget will be passed without Congressional approval. I'm going to discuss the "compromise" option that another round of Amtrak cuts will happen as opposed to no cuts or a complete shutdown of the LD system. Normally people start with an extreme option before compromise and negotiation begin. Back in 1979 Brock Adams suggested cutting many more cuts than they actually did. If his report were implemented fully, the Crescent, the Inter-American (now the Texas Eagle) would've been killed (in addition to the Lone Star,meaning no service from Texas northward) and the Southwest Limited (now Southwest Chief) and California Zephyr would've been combined into a single train which probably would've been much slower than the Southwest Limited/Chief. I am more likely to believe that the final result of the budget negotiations will be the compromise to cut some trains as opposed to cutting all of them.
I'm sure most if not all of you would prefer none of the LD trains to be canceled. NARP has suggested "National or Nothing". Sometimes when you demand all or nothing you wind up with nothing. It sounds like most of you on this group don't know the meaning of the word compromise. I certainly don't want to see all of the Amtrak NEC trains canceled (granted I'm right along the line). And to me if Amtrak cuts half of the LD routes then that's still better than none at all. It probably won't happen either. If Congress truly cuts off Amtrak funding, they do make enough in ticket revenue to cover 94% of their operating costs. So Amtrak certainly would be able to afford some of the LD routes and if Congress doesn't give them a dime they have no right to demand any of the routes be kept so Amtrak will choose the routes that benefit them the most financially (which is what I want). Money from the government comes with strings attached, that they call the shots. We've seen that in the past. To me there's nothing wrong with wanting to keep all of the routes. But I am not going to go with the "all or nothing" mentality.
Amtrak/Congress has done cuts or pruning of the LD system several times in its history. Back in the mid 90's, the internet was just in its infacy (remember Mozilla/Netscape?) And back then, I wasn't on this board. Back in 1979 I was a kid and during A-Day I wasn't born. So if they are considering another round of cuts I feel I should voice my opinion on which trains to cut and which to keep so they don't cancel the "wrong ones". IMO you can still have your "national" LD system with fewer than 15 routes. Certainly you should be able to go coast to coast and connecting north and south and east and west in some fashion. I feel New York/Washington DC, Florida, Texas, California, and Chicago need to be covered for sure. I am not a fan of the fact that there is no east-west connection between Florida and New Orleans but it almost sounds like any additions now would be a pipe dream. So imagine the LD system as a house of cards and you have to figure which cards you can remove without the whole house coming down (or Jenga if you're more familiar with that).
I think most of you other than the newbies can figure out the trains I want to cut and in this post I will not single out any specific trains. My philosophy is to serve the most number of people in this country as possible. It is not about who needs Amtrak more than others but who can contribute the most to Amtrak's financial well being. If you have only so many train miles, I'd rather those train miles serve 60% of America than 50%. The phrase "mass transit" has the word mass in it. Transportation systems often depend on population/ridership. If you have a larger population base you have a higher potential ridership/revenue. To me, it's about going from Point A to Point B, where do people live and where do people want to go to? Some people (including Wick Moorman himself) are more concerned about rural areas losing their train service. I don't feel rural areas deserve rail travel more than anyone else just because they don't have other transportation options. Amtrak should not be a charity. To me, it's also bad areas like Las Vegas, Nashville, and Columbus have no trains. What if in the next round of cuts Houston loses their service? What if there's no service at all to Florida? How would someone afraid of flying get there? Spend a day or two on a bus or take a really long drive? I would absolutely hate to never see my friends and family in California or even Chicago again. So yes, I do consider some routes more important than others. In most dream future HSR maps (America 2050 among others), the emphasis is on the largest cities and states and urban as opposed to rural.
If most of you had access to the internet back in 1979 or 1994 you'd be saying they shouldn't cut any trains. While some (especially me) complain about the LD system you'd have to admit that it's still better than none at all. I think if cuts have to be made (and if you can find a way for none of them to be cut, more power to you) then they need to cut the trains that will cause the least amount of collateral damage and not cut a route that would leave a giant hole in the Amtrak system or freeze out a major city like they did Vegas or Nashville or significantly downgrade service to a major city.
Then the question comes if cuts are made which ones are cut and who decides it? I think we all know what the answer to that is, Congress. Honestly, I don't believe many Congressmen/women really care about Amtrak nationally, they're looking out for their areas. So it's going to come down to who fights more and if too many people fight it could come down to who has more power than others (and we've seen it before). The sad thing is chances are representatives/senators in rural states will fight for Amtrak more than states with large populations and we'll have a mostly rural system with no access to Florida or Texas or interstate service to California and Amtrak ridership will plummet. I've said many times this pipe dream of Amtrak "serving everyone" will never happen. As much as you tell me not to cannibalize/pit one area/train over another, inevitably Amtrak will have to choose (unless you'd prefer them to just shut down Amtrak altogether). I want the routes that are saved to be the ones that serve the most number of people/passengers and contribute the most to Amtrak as opposed to who has the most power in Congress.