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 24, 2019 #101

    NSC1109

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    Because the State of Indiana and the general public are two separate things. I’m talking about the state government, not everyone in the state. Michigan didn’t vote on buying up the AML, MDOT just went and “did it” (granted it wasn’t quite that simple but it was NEVER put in the hand so of the public). The state government went to NS, bought it to improve services, and gave it to Amtrak to fix up and operate. Indiana could have at least tried to do the same thing but they didn’t. They don’t appear to have made any attempts to actually fix the problems after the failed IP thing. No money? Okay. CSX unwilling to cooperate? Okay. Those are legit reasons and at least the state would have tried to help with improvements. But they didn’t, and that’s what I think is so shameful about this.
     
  2. Apr 24, 2019 #102

    jis

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    I think the difference between IN and MI is that the way appropriations and budgeting is done is subtly different.

    MIDOT has a separate title in their budget for passenger rail with a significant amount of money for spending at the discretion of MIDOT within broad guidelines which recognizes passenger rail as a good thing to have. That is what the legislature did and that is where public participation was involved. MIDOT then used their discretion to spend it on acquisition. As I seem to recall there still was shortfall, and they went back to the legislature to seal the deal. So even in the purchase, the public was involved through the legislature.

    INDOT apparently does have a rail title too but with minimal amount of money assigned to it specifically targeted for NICTD and Hoosier State, and the latter is going to zero. That is what the legislature is doing and hence is where the people are involved. INDOT cannot spend the money that it does not have, and the legislature of IN apparently does not currently believe that passenger rail forms an important component of their transportation network, except for NICTD. The bottom line is INDOT cannot spend the money that it does not have due to what was appropriated with what guidelines by the legislature and the Governor. It is also the case that INDOT at times has spent significant energy trying to get the legislature to allocate more funds but to no avail.

    The two states' legislative and governance priorities are distinct and different when it comes to passenger rail, and the public is indirectly involved in both decisions.
     
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  3. Apr 25, 2019 #103

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  4. Apr 25, 2019 #104

    Bob Dylan

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  5. Apr 26, 2019 #105

    Thirdrail7

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    What a tactic. Now, they are suddenly concerned about 500 jobs at Beech Grove. Isn't this the same group that killed that many jobs in Riverside?

    Indiana should call their alligator tears and tell them to run a daily Cardinal.
     
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  6. Apr 26, 2019 #106

    fredmcain

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    Well, I would most certainly support a daily Cardinal *IF* Amtrak has enough sleeping car and dining car equipment. Only thing is, to service Indy and the other towns alone, the train originates in the Northeast so it is more likely to run late westbound. However, I have boarded it a number of times at Lafayette and it was usually ontime or close to ontime.

    Regards,
    Fred M. Cain
     
  7. Apr 26, 2019 #107

    fredmcain

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    You know, one thing I really believe that may have been lost in all this controversy over state funding, is that some of this could very well be Amtrak’s fault.

    A few years ago there was an experiment whereby Iowa Pacific (I.P.) became involved and provided the equipment and some onboard services. But Amtrak evidently remained involved with T & E crews.

    The experiment actually went fairly well. The public responded to the older, nostalgic and somewhat hoaky equipment and onboard services. In fact, it went so well that I.P. began to consider considering an expansion southward to Louisville over some rebuilt CSX tracks.

    But Amtrak demanded so much money for the T&E crews that there was simply nothing left for I.P. So, sadly, I.P. ended up walking away from the deal and it reverted entirely to Amtrak. It was then, if I’m not mistaken, that patronage began declining. Isn’t that right?

    It would be so nice if Amtrak and passenger trains in general were not so hog tied with so many Congressional and state mandates and regulations. What if I.P. could’ve used their own T & E crews and negotiated labor agreements with them? Unfortunately I don’t think there is any expedient way to do that right now.

    Regards,
    Fred M. Cain
     
  8. Apr 26, 2019 #108

    PVD

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    When a company decides to respond to an RFP or bid on something, it is incumbent on them to exercise due diligence and have their lawyers and financial people scrutinize the terms. If the terms of the deal didn't allow them to make money, they should have figured that out before they signed the dotted line. If there was something sneaky or illicit in the process, they would have gone to court to seek damages, instead of walking away.
     
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  9. Apr 26, 2019 #109

    seat38a

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    All this alleged Amtrak gouging, does Amtrak just make rates up as they go or do they have a pricing list thats open to the public?
     
  10. Apr 26, 2019 #110

    jis

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    The numbers were well known when the deal was put together. It is not like one fine morning Amtrak presented an arbitrary bill to IP. The base charges and how incentive payments were going to be apportioned were all spelled out when everyone signed on the dotted line.

    Now one could argue that the numbers should have been different, but if that was the case and IP felt strongly about it they should not have signed onto the deal.

    For the life of me I could not figure out what exactly was INDOT expecting in terms of the financial viability of the service, without making any material changes to the basic schedule and average speed, or any investment whatsoever in significatly improving the ROW. It seemed like a random, not very well thought out, shot in the dark, with a good dose of prayers and happy feelings to back it up.
     
  11. Apr 26, 2019 #111

    Ryan

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    As discussed previously in the thread, this is not factually accurate. Amtrak "demanded" that the T&E crews be paid the same rate as their other T&E crews. None of this was a secret to IP when they signed the contract.

    While there was a ridership increase, the failure of IP points to the likelihood that the increased costs to provide that service did not raise sufficient revenue to support the increased costs incurred (which are entirely separate from the T&E costs remaining unchanged between the sole-Amtrak operated service and the IP experiment).
     
  12. Apr 26, 2019 #112

    crescent-zephyr

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    There was a ridership and revenue increase. The failure on IP was on IP themselves, the state was going to continue paying them, so one could dangerously assume, that the state felt good about their decision.

    I personally believe that IP knew it was a bad contract when they signed it, but they signed it so they could get the contract and show Indiana, and other states what service they could provide. In their mind, they would get other contracts and make money on those.

    Clearly IP didn’t make the best business decisions, but it can make sense what they were going for.
     
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  13. Apr 26, 2019 #113

    Ryan

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    It can absolutely make sense.

    If they can provide a service that increases ridership and revenue for a cost that allows them to stay in business.

    In this case, they didn't, and they failed.
     
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  14. Apr 27, 2019 #114

    seat38a

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    Then IP isn't only bad with legal and finances but also with politics. Not sure how things work out in the midwest but "showing government" doesn't get you brownie points out here. It's about who you know in government and who's palms were greased through campaign contributions.
     
  15. Apr 27, 2019 #115

    crescent-zephyr

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    "Showing other states what service they could provide" means just that. Hoosier State showed a 32% increase in revenue under IP. Maybe Michigan sees those numbers and would want to hire IP to provide staff and food services for their corridor trains. And then Illinois decides to use IP staff and equipment for the Quincy trains as a trial etc. A couple of those long term contracts and IP could have been in a great place.

    source - https://web.archive.org/web/2016092...-Monthly-Performance-Report-July-2016-rev.pdf
     
  16. Apr 27, 2019 #116

    seat38a

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    So you think a state like Illinois which ranks somewhere in the top 5, (depending on different sources) for corruption, and the state where Rod Blagojevich was Governor and home to Chicago-Style Politics, would be so impressed by those numbers and just hand over the State supported routes to IP without some sort of palm greasing?
     
  17. Apr 27, 2019 #117

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    With the amount of money Michigan has spent working with Amtrak, I doubt they’re going to replace them. Maybe add them as a service provider but definitely wouldn’t replace Amtrak.


    Edit: I should clarify as an ADDITION to current Amtrak service. The state has been wanting to expand the service offerings for a while now...
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2019
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  18. Apr 27, 2019 #118

    MikefromCrete

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    The folks that run Iowa Pacific may be great railfans, but they are lousy business people. A lot of their other business operations are in financial trouble or have just stopped operating.
     
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  19. Apr 28, 2019 #119

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    I’m going to chime in here again as a relatively frequent rider of the Hoosier State.

    1. One thing that the Iowa Pacific experiment proved is that if you improve amenities and/or equipment, that can grow ridership on its own.
    2. Whoever is responsible for the maintenance / debacle that is the condition of the Indianapolis Amtrak station probably killed as much ridership as any other single factor. Who wants to board the train in a homeless shelter? I know I don’t. I quit using the station years ago.
    3. Whoever is responsible for the Crawfordsville Amshack (I’m guessing Amtrak) is totally incompetent. I boarded the train in OCTOBER the morning after one of the large windows had been shattered by a vandal with a projectile. It is APRIL and it is still not fixed or even boarded up. Passengers (and there are many who use that station) had to endure a winter with no window. So they don’t have the money to fix a window, but they do have the money to pay an electric heating bill that probably tripled through the winter?
    4. The train generally has a terrific crew. Friendly, good service (based on what they can offer with substandard equipment), problem solvers. Whatever poisonous burrito of mismanagement and neglect is dooming the Hoosier State, crew apathy is not among the ingredients.
     
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  20. May 1, 2019 #120

    Paul CHI

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    I've driven Route 65 to/from Indy several times, and have wondered whether Indiana is intentionally making it difficult for its citizens to get to Chicago. The majority of traffic on that highway appears to be heavy truck traffic, and that 3-4 hours is roughly equivalent to a root canal. I recognize that they do keep NICTD running fairly well and there has been discussion of even extending the route farther south.
     
  21. May 1, 2019 #121

    fredmcain

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    One thing I’ve wondered about, although the five hours of running time from Indy to Chicago might stretch the patience of a lot of potential riders, it seems like much of that time gets soaked up on CNR tracks between Chicago and Dyer, IN. Once you’re south of Dyer, the train rolls pretty good.

    I have ridden the train a number of times and it seems we got stabbed a lot on CNR tracks. One time we were delayed for over an hour at what used to be the diamond with the EJ&E (now also part of CNR).

    If CNR could give Amtrak nothing but green boards through there they could probably shave another 15-30 minutes off the overall running times.

    But! I have never ridden over the Crawfordsville – Indianapolis portion. That might be really slow through there, I’m not sure.

    I agree with Paul CHI about the trucks. There are too many awful trucks on not just I-65 but on a lot of our highways. They are both dangerous and are hard on the roads. The problem is that much of the freight that they are carrying is regarded as either unprofitable by the railroads or simply marginally profitable at best – so, they’re not interested in it.

    I have wondered for years about putting tolls on the Interstates – especially on big trucks. What that would do is force truckers to charge higher rates and thus make some of that traffic more profitable for railroads. It would kill two birds with one stone. The tolls would be a great source of revenue for INDOT and at the same time by shifting more freight to rail it would reduce maintenance costs.

    Unfortunately, tolls are extremely unpopular with both the public at large and their politicians. So are higher fuel taxes or any other kind of “user fees”. It seems that EVERYONE wants good roads until they have to pay for them. Sadly, there may be no free lunch.

    Regards,
    Fred M Cain,
    Topeka, IN
     
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  22. May 1, 2019 #122

    Lake Country

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    I have driven the I-65 route too many times. The truck traffic is maddening. Trucks wander into the left lane to pass each other. One truck at 59mph and another at 60mph. It takes 10 miles to complete the pass. And the road surface is beatup. As a business traveller Chi-Ind, I would gladly pay a business class premium on a reliable train with multiple daily options. Indy should work with NICTD on the Dyer to CHi improvement since NICTD is planning a Westlake extension on the same ROW that Amtrak uses. Unfortunately Indy gop wants to kill HS and soon the headline will read: The HS is DEAD! .
     
  23. May 1, 2019 #123

    NSC1109

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    I-94 is the same. Mainly two lanes each direction (four total) between Chicago and Detroit. Truck traffic is ridiculous. Many people steadfastly refuse to drive the highway, especially in the winter with constant pileups. I’ve always thought that a lot of that traffic could’ve been cleared up in NS ran a few mixed freights between Chicago and Detroit via the AML, but that was over ten years ago and before I knew better, haha.

    That being said, it’s not difficult to see why the train is so popular in Michigan. You avoid the tolls and traffic and also avoid shelling out mega millions of dollars to fly.

    Take that same philosophy and put it towards the “Lake Cities” idea of running between DET and Traverse City...at 110 it would be quicker than the highway for a lot of people and give great access to a beautiful area.
     
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  24. May 2, 2019 #124

    Thirdrail7

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    It is well known to agencies or entities that request Amtrak services. It is not a surprise.
     
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  25. May 2, 2019 #125

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