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CHamilton

Don't forget to vote!

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Don’t forget to vote for passenger rail supporters in the Senate, the House, in state legislatures, and locally!

 

The National Association of Railroad Passengers has a list of local transit measures on their website here but they can't endorse candidates because of their 501(c )(3) nonprofit status. If anyone knows of candidates who are worthy of endorsement by passenger rail supporters, please post them here or on the Grow Trains Facebook page.

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Somebody should create a voter recommendation list based upon various candidates support/lack thereof of passenger rail.

That would be good. I would dare say that you won't see a long list in states like Texas or Florida, though.

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Down ballot you would find plenty at least in Florida, ironically, including Mica, for local Florida passenger rail. Both Sunrail and AAF have found strong support from Mica.

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Unfortunately here in Texas the Congress Critters that are supporters of Amtrak could ride in the Family Room on a Superliner. (this is out of a delegation of 2 Senators and 36 Reps! 😬)

 

I'm happy that my Rep, Lloyd Doggett D-Austin, is a strong supporter of Rail and Mass Transit! 😁

Edited by Bob Dylan

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In Illinois, there's a constitutional amendment on the ballot to limit transportation funding to being spent on transportation only. It is not a mere "road money for roads" law but expressly includes mass transit and intercity passenger rail.

 

I early-voted already :) and voted "yes" on the amendment. I understand the counter-argument that it takes discretion away from the legislature. However, the fact that transportation capital funding typically involves the State having to match available federal money -- the State can lose an equal sum of federal money, or up to 10 times for projects subject to 90/10 matching, for every $1 the State diverts away from transportation -- makes transportation funding different IMHO.

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Mica may be great for passenger rail in FL but he seems staunchly anti-rail for most of the country. He's pro-rail in the Northeast but has made it clear he doesn't want Amtrak involved there either.

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Mica is unabashedly anti-Amtrak. No doubt about that. But there is more than Amtrak that provides passenger rail service. There are mane other passenger rail proponents that are anti-Amtrak. So Mica is not unique in this sense either.

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Mica is unabashedly anti-Amtrak. No doubt about that. But there is more than Amtrak that provides passenger rail service. There are mane other passenger rail proponents that are anti-Amtrak. So Mica is not unique in this sense either.

Did I say Mica was unique? Amtrak is the only passenger rail where I live. Amtrak is probably the only passenger rail where many of us live. And folks like John Mica are doing their best to degrade and defund it into obscurity. I may not be the biggest Amtrak backer but that doesn't mean I want to see it disappear entirely like Mica apparently does. Sorry if I find your selectively worded appeal for Amtrak riders to support him confusing and disingenuous. The very least you could have done is mentioned the double edge sword supporting and electing Mica represents. Instead of glossing it over and sweeping it under the rug like it wasn't an issue.

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In Illinois, there's a constitutional amendment on the ballot to limit transportation funding to being spent on transportation only. It is not a mere "road money for roads" law but expressly includes mass transit and intercity passenger rail.

 

I early-voted already :) and voted "yes" on the amendment. I understand the counter-argument that it takes discretion away from the legislature. However, the fact that transportation capital funding typically involves the State having to match available federal money -- the State can lose an equal sum of federal money, or up to 10 times for projects subject to 90/10 matching, for every $1 the State diverts away from transportation -- makes transportation funding different IMHO.

 

The bigger issue is that we don't have a state budget and because of that are losing matching funds for a lot of things.

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The way to do the list would to break it down by category: does the candidate support a) transit b) rail transit (i.e. communter/subway/lrt/etc) c) passenger rail (i.e. long distance) and then could have local proposition or funding questions.

 

I'm thinking in the format that we have locally that puts all the various bar association judicial endorsements/recommendations/qualifications into a table (not excel, but just a generic word table I suspect).

 

Of course one would have to either send a questionnaire to candidates or somehow vet their opinions via websites, campaign statements, etc.

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Mica is unabashedly anti-Amtrak. No doubt about that. But there is more than Amtrak that provides passenger rail service. There are mane other passenger rail proponents that are anti-Amtrak. So Mica is not unique in this sense either.

Did I say Mica was unique? Amtrak is the only passenger rail where I live. Amtrak is probably the only passenger rail where many of us live. And folks like John Mica are doing their best to degrade and defund it into obscurity. I may not be the biggest Amtrak backer but that doesn't mean I want to see it disappear entirely like Mica apparently does. Sorry if I find your selectively worded appeal for Amtrak riders to support him confusing and disingenuous. The very least you could have done is mentioned the double edge sword supporting and electing Mica represents. Instead of glossing it over and sweeping it under the rug like it wasn't an issue.

 

There was no intention in the wording to be interpreted the way you did. It is a statement of an unfortunate fact that there are many rail passenger proponents who agree with Mica's position. Sweeping that under the rug is a dangerous thing because they are a significant group that provide succor to the anti-Amtrak sentiments on the Hill.

 

We need to recognize them for what they are and deal with it. While Amtrak may be the only passenger service for you, that is not the case for many others. It is better to have a Hoosier State or even the Piedmonts and the California Commuter services which complement Amtrak to get support than not.

 

It is easy for you to sit in Texas and rant about Mica whereas in Florida and specially in a district adjacent to Mica's district we have to actually deal with him more immediately. Fortunately this time we have Stephanie Murphy as a viable alternative to Mica and who support passenger rail of all sorts, and should be supported completely against Mica. In the past we have had Democratic candidates who opposed local passenger rail running against Mica. At that point the local choice was clearly to favor Mica so as to get funding through for SunRail and get support for AAF which is of more immediate local concern locally than what happens to food service on Amtrak. Even this time in the 8th we had to have an argument with the Democratic candidate on supporting AAAF or not (it will be a miracle if he wins unfortunately, since the Republican incumbent Posey has been anti-AAF though there is little that he can do against a railroad that wants to run trains on its property zoned as railroad :) ). These issues get very nuanced and complicated and sometimes a choice between bad and worse has to be made, there is no denying that.

 

We have faced the same problem potentially in NJ, but fortunately there are very few consequential candidates in NJ who are as schizophrenic as Mica. But the tension between what is good for NJTransit, which affects more NJ residents than Amtrak is always present. One example is Rodny Freylinghausen who is lukewarm on Amtrak (being a R I suppose) but very supportive of NJT (because his constituents would skin him alive if he were not). We have so far managed to keep him from voting anti-Amtrak on the Hill, but each time it is touch and go. OTOH there are people like Garrett, who have almost never voted pro-Amtrak but have seldom voted anti-NJTransit (read FTA transit title funding). Such is life. What can you do?

 

The way to do the list would to break it down by category: does the candidate support a) transit b) rail transit (i.e. communter/subway/lrt/etc) c) passenger rail (i.e. long distance) and then could have local proposition or funding questions.

 

I'm thinking in the format that we have locally that puts all the various bar association judicial endorsements/recommendations/qualifications into a table (not excel, but just a generic word table I suspect).

 

Of course one would have to either send a questionnaire to candidates or somehow vet their opinions via websites, campaign statements, etc.

I agree and I also agree with the characterization. I would probably split passenger rail into two sub categories - Amtrak, non-Amtrak, just to capture the reality, not necessarily agree that there should be non-Amtrak LD service. Two other things I would add are multi-modal infrastructure and transit oriented development. Often transit fails to live upto the full potential because it is inconsistent with real estate development patterns.

 

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If a politician has an idea for an alternative to Amtrak to provide a robust national system for intercity passenger rail, it's probably worth considering. Frankly, I don't think such a thing is practical. Pure private sector operation is a fantasy -- the reason there's Amtrak is because the private railroads couldn't wouldn't try to make it work. I suspect that even if you could run a system at a nominal profit, the profit wouldn't be big enough to interest today's capitalists. Private operators subsidized by government funds would have to be watched like a hawk by a robust government regulatory apparatus -- capitalists taking public funds aren't always so interested in running an efficient, lean ship (see contractors, defense for some examples.) Countries that used to have government run railroads now seem to have a system with publicly owned infrastructure and a mix of private and public operators. I'm not sure whether that was better than the previous system, or whether it's just to satisfy an ideological view that enterprises run by the government are inherently inferior (with the exception of the military and police, of course.)

 

This means that while people are correct that one can theoretically support a robust national system of intercity passenger rail, yet oppose Amtrak, in practical terms, such a thing is not realistic. And even if one proposes to eventually replace Amtrak with something else, there will need to be a transition period where Amtrak is properly funded so that its successor has a reasonable chance to succeed.

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Countries that used to have government run railroads now seem to have a system with publicly owned infrastructure and a mix of private and public operators. I'm not sure whether that was better than the previous system, or whether it's just to satisfy an ideological view that enterprises run by the government are inherently inferior (with the exception of the military and police, of course.)

 

 

You/one could argue, if you believe that the corrections is part of policing that we don't believe that since may prisons are privately run, but I think we're getting way off topic.

 

 

This means that while people are correct that one can theoretically support a robust national system of intercity passenger rail, yet oppose Amtrak, in practical terms, such a thing is not realistic. And even if one proposes to eventually replace Amtrak with something else, there will need to be a transition period where Amtrak is properly funded so that its successor has a reasonable chance to succeed.

 

Ideological questions and beliefs aside vis-a-vis (private versus government) I don't see any alternative to Amtrak unless it was broken down into regions (rather than a national service) with a minimum required service - some regions might only have what we have today and others might develop extensive regional service with some inter-regional connections, i.e. some long distance route and some cross platform/timed connections.

Edited by Metra Electric Rider

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