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Trump Proposes 50% Cut to Amtrak Funding (2018-02-12)


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#61 neroden

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Posted 17 February 2018 - 08:00 PM

I'm going to go back to my standard political pitch: there is no such thing as a "long distance train".

 

The *so called* long-distance trains are simply corridor trains stuck end to end for lower operations costs, with sleeper service on the overnight sections for added profits. 

 

(After looking at a lot of numbers, I am entirely sure that sleepers are more profitable than coaches on the Lake Shore Limited, and probably on most of the other Amtrak trains which have sleepers too.  One should be restored to the Night Owl.)

 

The only long-distance train which really doesn't fit this model is the Sunset Limited, due to the vacant deserts in West Texas and in Arizona. Arguably the Capitol Limited, with unusually high end-to-end traffic, also doesn't fit this model.  All the other so-called long-distance trains very clearly do fit the model of "strings of corridors", and I believe should be thought of in this manner.  This does drive my support for certain proposed reroutes -- any reroute which hits a bunch of siginficant downtowns instead of hitting tiny rural towns is likely to improve the route's "corridor" character.

 

As for dining cars... well, you want to feed people if they're on the train too long.  How much people care about this (versus brown-bagging it) seems to be regional, though.  According to the last set of studies I read, namely the PIPs, the only train which gets high coach patronage in the dining cars (I think it's around half coach passengers) is the Lake Shore Limited.  It's evidently the most profitable train to put a dining car on.  (So Amtrak, put the dining car back already, ya dopes!)  I figure this is because it goes to three areas with high restaurant prices (NY, Chicago, and Boston) -- also three cities where there are a lot of well-to-do people who don't drive -- and so I think it attracts non-price-sensitive riders more than some of the other trains.


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#62 williamn

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Posted 17 February 2018 - 09:14 PM

I'll admit I haven't read all of this thread in detail, but I am always struck (as someone not from the US) on Amtrak by the number of staff involved in its operations. On today's Maple Leaf there were three crew, plus the cafe car attendant. I don't know how many people are up front - two? And at major stations there seem to be so many staff involved in the over complicated boarding process. Back in my native UK (though I currently live in Canada), you have one driver, one conductor and maybe one person in the cafe. At major stations you simply make your own way to the train, no need to be herded into lines.

Anyway I am sure making staff reductions is incredibly hard.

Still enjoy riding the train in the USA despite my many Amtrak gripes, and I do hope the network survives relatively unscathed.

#63 Lonestar648

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Posted 18 February 2018 - 01:31 AM

With a do nothing Congress loaded with Democrat and Republicans, both are the same, who want the path of least resistance, I expect the budget can to be kicked down the road again.



#64 neroden

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Posted 18 February 2018 - 11:28 AM

Given the state of Congress, I am frankly surprised that we are getting anything other than full-year "continuing resolutions".

 

An accurate description is that the Republicans are so divided that they can't agree among themselves on what to do -- except for "tax cuts for the rich" -- and so they need help from Democrats to pass anything.  The Democrats have absolutely no reason whatsoever to help them, since for a decade the Republicans in the House have been following an idiotic rule called the "Hastert rule" under which they won't allow a bill to come to the floor if it has majority support but not a majority of Republicans.  After seeing dozens of very popular bills blockaded by the Republicans because of this bad attitude, the Democrats have no reason to help the Republicans out, so they aren't going to.  But the Republicans can't get their act together because they don't agree with each other on anything (except "tax cuts for the rich".)  Hence, gridlock.


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