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WICT106

How to rebut common criticisms of passenger trains

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Maybe it is meant to put the critical person to sleep. I thought it was going to be short and sweet. Have to read it later when I am more awake.

 

I just skimmed it a few minutes ago. It's worth a look. There are a few points in there I might disagree with, but there's a lot of pretty detailed information in there. It's geared toward HSR, but much of it also can relate to rail passenger transportation policy in general.

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If this is all about promoting rail, how come there are tire treads on the front?

 

Looks like the highway lobby ran over it...

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This huge document almost froze up my computer. No way I'm reading it!

 

Huge? I have a standard dsl connection and it took less than a minute to load. 88 pages is not an unusually large PDF. We routinely download 300+ page service manuals for stuff we work on.

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I don't have to read 88 pages to justify my argument for additional and improved train service.

1. It serves the public interest

2. Its the most energy efficient means of transporting people and it saves energy.

3. It helps alleviate traffic congestion and saves you from being stuck in it.

4. It can be a vital transportation link in case of natural and man made disasters. Trains run when the planes can't. During the blizzard of 2009 the NEC was "standing room only".

5. Its a stress free, relaxing and enjoyable mode of transportation.

6. It helps the economy of the towns and cities that it serves, and creates jobs both within and outside of the system.

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I don't have to read 88 pages to justify my argument for additional and improved train service.

1. It serves the public interest

2. Its the most energy efficient means of transporting people and it saves energy.

3. It helps alleviate traffic congestion and saves you from being stuck in it.

4. It can be a vital transportation link in case of natural and man made disasters. Trains run when the planes can't. During the blizzard of 2009 the NEC was "standing room only".

5. Its a stress free, relaxing and enjoyable mode of transportation.

6. It helps the economy of the towns and cities that it serves, and creates jobs both within and outside of the system.

 

Yes, but around here we are converts. These criticisms find fertile ground in the many parts of the US where there is little to no train service. The criticisms also find considerable support among those who see no need to spend any funding on anything other than driving (E. g. many parts of Wisconsin, Florida, Ohio, and other states). If there is to be expanded train service in more parts of the nation, then we will have to confront and defeat the numerous distortions and lies about train service.

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"But we taxpayers do not subsidize driving and flying - like we do Amtrak!" rolleyes.gif

 

But the transportation budget only gives roads and airports a pittance of the total transportation subsidy. Amtrak is the real problem behind the deficit. Eliminate the service and all of America's problems are solved. Its also common knowledge in Washington that those who ride the trains are either old fashioned or subhuman.

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"But we taxpayers do not subsidize driving and flying - like we do Amtrak!" rolleyes.gif

 

I know that that was tongue-in-cheek. But, by chance, I just wrote this in Afigg's ridership forum, on the topic of air subsidies:

 

"I think that the US general fund contributes an operating grant of something like $4 billion a year, above and beyond the $10+ billion that come in from taxes levied on airlines and their users, to maintain the air traffic control (ATC) system. There is always some mumbling about that being a "defense" expenditure (ATC covers military craft, as well), but that is a falsehood. The Department of Defense pays for more civilian ATC than the FAA pays for DOD movements: if anything, the system is further subsidized by our military budget.

 

If the airlines are "profit making private corporations," where did my $4 billion go?

 

Many airports are tax-free municipal authorities. Another subsidy.

Pollution costs? So we all live a few months less, and the Carolina coast gets washed out to sea. We can certainly do that to support our Fortune 500 "private corporations."

"Essential" air services? Yeah, why not. Lancaster, PA, certainly needs flights to BWI (see parallel thread): it would take nearly 2 hours to drive that! And there are no trains, EXCEPT THE TEN A DAY via Philadelphia.

And let's not even talk about the capital costs of new runways and air terminals.

Pension guarantees for employees effected by the revolving airline bankruptcies? No problem. We the people will be happy to pay the pensions of all the employees working for American Airlines.

 

And, yes, we poured $8 billion directly into the companies after 9/11, and never asked for it back, but, well, they were having a bad day. It would be impolite to bring that up."

Just a partial, of course... professionals can do that better.

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