Hoosier State tickets sales suspended for after June 30

Discussion in 'Amtrak Rail Discussion' started by TylerP42, Apr 8, 2019.

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  1. Apr 21, 2019 #51

    Trogdor

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    That was never in question.

    What is (and always has been) in question is Indiana’s willingness to pay for the service. As we see now, there really isn’t much of any.

    That better frequency and faster times attracts more riders is fairly obvious. But in order to do so, you have to spend even more money to increase the capacity and condition of the line. There has never been any indication whatsoever that Indiana was interested in paying for that (with costs that would likely reach into the nine-figure level, if not more), even if such a move would potentially decrease the annual subsidy requirement (and even then, it’s not guaranteed that it would; subsidy per passenger could decrease, but total subsidy could still increase).
     
  2. Apr 21, 2019 #52

    bretton88

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    Amtrak did get a quote from CSX. They also where told no daily Cardinal without significant double tracking of the Buckingham Branch, some Virginia is working on, but slowly.
     
  3. Apr 21, 2019 #53

    jis

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    The problem about decreasing trip time that is necessary to make it a competitive and viable corridor is that the cost of doing so is extremely non-trivial, and an outfit that has difficulty finding around $5 million per year is unlikely to look kindly at finding the necessary funds. Given the situation it is lunacy to try to convince CSX to take any of this seriously. The only real fix is to buy out the trackage and fix it, something like what SEHSR is attempting to do in Virginia and North Carolina. And Indiana is unlikely to fund even a reasonable proportion of such a venture, unless perhaps it can be tacked onto the current proposed investment in NICTD. I suspect even that will take a significant change in the mindset of the backward looking government of Indiana.
     
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  4. Apr 22, 2019 #54

    Ryan

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    If you spend 50% more to get a 30% increase, you're not really gaining anything.
     
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  5. Apr 22, 2019 #55

    jis

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    We used to call such revenue "bad revenue" and get rid of the project to save some money to apply it to a more promising project. :D
     
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  6. Apr 22, 2019 #56

    seat38a

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    And again, how does that solve the issue of Indiana not wanting to fork over any amount of cash for the train? Unless I'm wrong, Indiana does not use increase in ridership numbers as a measure of "success" as California does, and maybe Oregon/Washington.
     
  7. Apr 22, 2019 #57

    crescent-zephyr

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    It doesn’t solve that problem, I never said it did.

    I was more just commenting on how the Hoosier state was headed in the right direction with Iowa pacific equipment and service bringing new riders and revenue. And if they had continued that trend, we could have had increased funding, better ridership etc.

    I would think any State supported train would see increased riders as success... why else fund the train, if you don’t want people to ride it? I’m not sure how else a state would measure success ha.
     
  8. Apr 22, 2019 #58

    Ryan

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    By the fact that IP was unable to sustain that level of service, it's a safe bet that it wasn't headed in the right direction. You have to look at the costs incurred to get that increase and see if it is worth it.
     
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  9. Apr 22, 2019 #59

    Amtrak706

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    It’s not quite that simple though. Allegedly Amtrak did not want to see them succeed and charged astronomical rates for crews and OBS. I think if the state was interested in passenger rail, their best bet would have been to stay as far away from Amtrak as possible and figure out how to contract someone like IP directly. Of course, the current situation of IP in general puts them into question as an organization, but I wouldn’t write off the business model that was attempted on the Hoosier State.
     
  10. Apr 22, 2019 #60

    Ryan

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    Good luck negotiating track access with CSX directly.

    Source?
     
  11. Apr 22, 2019 #61

    Thirdrail7

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    They were "allegedly" charged what they would have paid under normal wages if they worked for Amtrak, instead of the reduced "market rate for the area" that the company wanted to pay.

    This is common although annoying to those who want to pay a local, prevailing wage and benefit. The option is to furnish your own forces, like the OBS service on the Downeaster. They can pay them $10 dollars an hour based upon the local prevailing wage since they are not Amtrak employees.
     
  12. Apr 22, 2019 #62

    Amtrak706

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    It would be quite a paradigm shift if Amtrak’s legislation was modified to allow companies reasonable competitive bids on different routes like the UK does. They have their own problems, but I would argue overall their system beats ours.

    Your source is below.

    I think this plus Iowa Pacific being the company involved doomed the experiment from the start unfortunately.
     
  13. Apr 22, 2019 #63

    Ryan

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    "normal wages if they worked for Amtrak" is not "astronomical rates".
     
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  14. Apr 22, 2019 #64

    MisterUptempo

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    The Hoosier State did precisely what the State of Indiana wanted it to do - fail.

    It failed spectacularly. It failed constantly. And, most importantly, it failed in such a way that all those paying attention could witness its failure.

    The death of the Hoosier State will be gleefully held up as an object lesson by opponents of state-supported rail across the nation to prove the foolhardiness of any transportation project that isn't built out of asphalt. I feel badly for the advocates of Chicago/Fort Wayne/Columbus service, as well as daily Cincinnati service, as their missions have become exponentially more difficult.

    And before anyone wants to point out the funding given to NICTD/South Shore improvements contradicts my argument, the South Shore serves a different purpose - to provide Indiana residents access to one of the largest CBDs in the nation, with jobs that NWI cannot itself provide. The Indiana state government also hopes it aids in the state's campaign of poaching Chicago residents and businesses.
     
  15. Apr 22, 2019 #65

    Bob Dylan

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    But who in the world would want to leave Chicago for Indiana???:eek:
     
  16. Apr 22, 2019 #66

    MisterUptempo

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    I'm not saying they'll be successful, but they are trying-
    [​IMG]
    A series of these ads constantly pop up while I browse on my laptop and phone.
     
  17. Apr 22, 2019 #67

    PVD

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    If the key to a service or businesses' success is the ability to undermine wages, benefits and conditions maybe their failure is a blessing to society at large.
     
  18. Apr 22, 2019 #68

    jebr

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    Certainly, but if Amtrak has a staffing structure that relies on labor from Chicago, especially for OBS, there's almost certainly some savings to be found by hiring workers from Indianapolis where cost of living is lower. As long as they're still paying a livable wage for the area that they're hiring from and expecting people to report to, I don't see any particular harm in staffing from a lower-COL area.
     
  19. Apr 22, 2019 #69

    Amtrak706

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    Why is it always you that feels the need to correct some aspect of what I’ve said? My point about your assessment of IP’s failing being simplistic still stands regardless of the magnitude of Amtrak’s gouging, and you know it. Please stop with this stuff.
     
  20. Apr 22, 2019 #70

    Ryan

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    Dude, stop taking everything so personally. This isn’t about you.

    Paying the same wages as every other Amtrak employee isn’t gouging. You made a claim of “astronomical rates”. Asking for you to back that up with a source isn’t uncalled for.

    I’m not even sure what you’re talking about when you talk about my “assessment” of IP’s failing, as I’ve made so such assessment. The two points I’ve made in this thread were to point out that you can’t sold look at revenue increases without also accounting for the cost you incur to being in that revenue and to ask you for sourcing on a still-unsupported claim.

    If you want to drop the petty bickering and have a substantive conversation, I’m all ears.
     
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  21. Apr 22, 2019 #71

    jis

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    I believe IP failed simply because they signed a contract, one in which they could never succeed no matter what, without carefully reading it. They took on a lot of cost without making sure that any financial largess resulting from better financial performance flows in proportion their way. It took them a long time to understand what they had signed, and once they did, they bailed. It took the arrival of an incentive payment from INDOT for them to see how that was apportioned between them and Amtrak per the contract they signed, to figure out what they had signed. Meanwhile there was other stuff going on with them too, which had made them otherwise non-viable too, and were basically gasping for air. Bottom line is IP needed a more competent accountant and legal support in order to better protect their interests, if they wanted any hope of succeeding.

    At the beginning Amtrak did not make it easy for them at startup, by playing the game of "work to rule" regarding the equipment etc., but that is really par for the course in business when one is elbowing into what another thinks is their territory, and Amtrak has been known to be pretty nasty when it comes to that.
     
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  22. Apr 23, 2019 #72

    crescent-zephyr

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    The whole Iowa Pacific deal is really a shame. One of the trips I took on the Hoosier State, Ed Ellis was in the dome and he was wanting to expand the Hoosier State operation daily, and also to have it continue to serve other cities so they would get more mileage out of the equipment / staff expenses.

    Just my guess but I think they signed the contract in order to show Indiana (and other states) what they could do, thinking that their future expansion would cover any short term losses on the Hoosier State. Unfortunately, the opposite happened and when other parts of their business began to suffer... they couldn't continue losing money with the Hoosier State.
     
  23. Apr 23, 2019 #73

    jis

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    They never had a viable business model as merely what amounted to an equipment and OBS subcontractor to Amtrak, with very minimal, if any, performance incentive payment flowback. In short they were smoking something. They were nothing like the deliberate and considered outfit like Brightline.
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2019
  24. Apr 23, 2019 #74

    NSC1109

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    It’s funny...all Indiana residents and opponents of passenger rail have to do is look at their cousin to the north to see the exact opposite.

    The Michigan Services are wildly popular with the public and ridership has been growing for the last several years. OTP has been an issue but a large part of it is outside of Amtrak’s control. More often than not, there are two places where I commonly see delays for the Wolverines: between Chicago and Porter, normally around CP 502 and that insufferable drawbridge, and between Pontiac and Townline.

    As for the Blue Water, it isn’t uncommon to see them sit for an hour or more literally just after leaving PTH. It hasn’t been as bad recently, however.

    The reason for success, if it had to be nailed down to one thing, would be that the state saw the importance of passenger service and helped Amtrak cultivate it. The state helped Amtrak take care of NS and their ridiculous slow orders east of Kalamazoo by buying up the line. The state is helping to pay for new cars to be used throughout the Chicago Hub.

    Indianians should feel ashamed of their government. If they actually tried, they could probably develop corridors like the Michigan Line. Instead they chose to starve their services and finally kill it off.
     
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  25. Apr 23, 2019 #75

    crescent-zephyr

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    I'm pretty sure they had a very viable business model, they just weren't able to survive the growing pains. Which is common in any new business.

    I'm also pretty certain that Brightline has already lost 2 or 3 times (if not more) the amount that Iowa Pacific did... there's no way those trains aren't losing a crazy amount of money right now. But their parent company has deeper pockets than Ed Ellis and will hopefully see success in time that the whole thing doesn't become another "remember when" like the Hoosier State with Dome Cars.
     

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