Senate THUD Committe Transportation 2020 Appropriation Draft

Discussion in 'Amtrak Rail Discussion' started by jis, Sep 19, 2019.

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  1. Sep 19, 2019 #1

    jis

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  2. Sep 19, 2019 #2

    plane2train

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    Are we to assume that funding for long-distance trains and new rolling stock is also in this?
     
  3. Sep 19, 2019 #3

    jis

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    It is part of the $2 Billion Amtrak grant. About $1.2 Billion for National and State, and $0.8 Billion for NEC.

    AFAIK there is no earmarked appropriation for purchasing equipment. The Amfleet I replacement and the SC-44 orders are supposed to be funded from internal resources, i.e. partly from revenues or loans and maybe a bit from the appropriations. The Appropriations no longer separate out Capital and Operating like they used to before PRIIA AFAIR.

    Also, there are additional sources of funds from other rail related titles like CRISI etc.
     
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  4. Sep 21, 2019 #4

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  5. Sep 21, 2019 #5

    bretton88

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    Just as we thought Amtrak was reaching an equilibrium point with food service, the Senate puts that food service report provision in it. That almost guarantees more cuts to satisfy Congress, even if it starts adversely affecting revenue elsewhere.
     
  6. Sep 21, 2019 #6

    lordsigma

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    That may have been a compromise as well to appease more fiscally conservative members in order to get agreement for the funding levels that were desired as well as the language about continuing long distance service and restoring station agents. I don’t think you’ll see any more F&B changes in this new fiscal year- and if they can get to break even territory operationally like Anderson keeps hinting, I would imagine this food service related pressure will ebb. This is also just for the FY2020 appropriation - the more important debate will be at reauthorization.
     
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  7. Sep 21, 2019 #7

    jis

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    This Appropriation is still under the FAST Authorization. So it may be a fool’s errand to expect the F&B thing to get rescinded in this given that there is no universal acceptance of the Amtrak fan’s position in the Senate on that subject. Still there may be an attempt to amend that may or may not succeed. This bill OTOH pretty much protects the LD network as much as is possible.

    Pay attention to the Authorization bill when it comes up.
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2019
  8. Sep 21, 2019 #8

    Amtrakfflyer

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    We can probably expect or hope the next CEO won’t take the mandate as seriously or weaponize it as much as Anderson has.

    As long as progress is being made Congress will be happy. The last two CEO’s for the most part ignored it (Boardman and Moorman) probably knowing going to far would affect revenue. In fact Moorman signed off on heavy overalls for the Parlour cars which Anderson promptly parked/sold.

    For now we need to try to get it out of the next authorization.

    Those of you who say the law is the law it is, but when the speed limit is 55 it’s generally acceptable to go 70. There’s definitely discretion and wiggle room to be had.
     
  9. Sep 21, 2019 #9

    keelhauled

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    The Congressional mandate was not in effect under the Boardman and Moorman administrations. The FAST act requirement to eliminate the food and beverage deficit is effective in December of next year.

    I for one have have been written a ticket for ten over the speed limit.
     
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  10. Sep 21, 2019 #10

    AmtrakBlue

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    2015 PRIAA mandated F&B not lose money by 2020.
     
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  11. Sep 21, 2019 #11

    keelhauled

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    Technically, PRIIA 2015 is just another way to refer to the rail subsection of the FAST act. Six of one, half a dozen of the other, doesn't matter in the context of the 2020 deadline--the exact date is five years after FAST/PRIIA's date of enactment and Obama signed the bill in December 2015.
     
  12. Sep 21, 2019 #12

    bretton88

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    I'm not sure that Boardman ignored it. There where small cuts around the edges, such as going to a more standardized menu, cheaper table settings, etc. The changes just weren't drastic. I almost wonder if Amtrak management got some directive that Congress didn't feel like those where enough (and for that matter, I'm not sure if they are satisfied still).
     
  13. Sep 21, 2019 #13

    jis

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    The 2015 bill that became part of the FAST Act is PRRIA. PRIIA is the 2008 Act that separated out the three accounts - National, State and NEC and created the 750 mile rule.
     
  14. Sep 21, 2019 #14

    neroden

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    Anderson ignores the law when he feels like it, such as failing to report avoidable costs. RPA is working on that.
     
  15. Sep 22, 2019 #15

    Amtrakfflyer

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    In contradiction to my earlier post Boardman did kill the Silver Star diner but being a 2x daily frequency it made sense in retrospect. Still apples oranges compared to Anderson’s decisions.
     
  16. Sep 22, 2019 #16

    lordsigma

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    I don’t think members of either house look at Amtrak as much as people on this board may think they do. Remember that most bills are written by staffers and many members do not even read them. I would argue that posters on this board, both people opposed to and supportive of this type of cut know far more about the inner aspects of Amtrak than do anyone in Congress. Congress people, especially those whose district are not affected by Amtrak decisions probably do not take more of a surface glance at Amtrak issues - it’s small potatoes compared to the more hot button topics. At the surface, saying that Amtrak shouldn’t lose money on food and beverage service sounds like common sense fiscal responsibility that anyone should support regardless of political position. If you take a deeper look under the hood at Amtrak and are more knowledgeable about how it works you know the situation is a bit more complicated than that. The idea that cutting amenities too much can actually lead to more loss of taxpayer dollars is more thought than anyone who voted for this language probably did. Hence the challenge of bunching lots of things into big huge bills: It is the staff members that would do anything close to the analysis that folks on this board and other forums do regarding issues like this with again the exception of members whose districts are affected or who take special interest in transit issues.
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2019
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  17. Sep 22, 2019 #17

    lordsigma

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    I would add that just because there is language supporting the long distance service in this appropriation doesn’t mean congress won’t be open to some of Anderson’s proposed changes in reauthorization. Congress may approve changes that may end a long distance route as we know it today in favor of a chain of connected corridors that attempt to provide rail service to all present stations. They may have supported an altered Southwest Chief similar to Anderson’s previous proposal that had two coach only trains meeting at the middle if a bus bridge cutting actual rail service to certain stations hadn’t been a component of it.
     
  18. Sep 23, 2019 #18

    jis

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    Try pulling that stunt as a railroad Engineer (afterall we are on a railroad forum here :) ). You will be out your job before you can whistle "wiggle room" in defense. :p
     
  19. Sep 23, 2019 #19

    Ziv

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    It depends on where you are driving and what their quotas are, but it seems like most police speed traps will give you 7 or 8 mph over the limit, but 9 or 10 will get you a ticket. But if they are short on their monthly quota... All bets are off.

     
  20. Sep 23, 2019 #20

    Anderson

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    So, after some extensive discussions over the last few days, I don't think it is quite fair to say that Anderson is ignoring the law. There are a number of...fascinating...anecdotes I'm hearing about low-level issues within Amtrak where employees are trying to "wag the dog". Now, some of this is pushback against "bad ideas" but I wouldn't be surprised if the Accounting folks are proving unwilling to "play ball" for some reason or another. Remember, neither Boardman nor Moorman were able to get those numbers, either.
     
  21. Sep 23, 2019 #21

    Ryan

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    Also apples to oranges was the proximity of the 2020 deadline. Easy to nibble around the edges when you’re going to just push the problem off on the next guy.
     
  22. Sep 23, 2019 #22

    Devil's Advocate

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    Like him or not at least Boardman pushed back against the F&B micromanagement whereas Anderson has shown himself to be an all too eager participant. Does the 2020 deadline even spell out what would happen if Amtrak failed to comply?
     
  23. Sep 23, 2019 #23

    jis

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    I doubt that Boardman did anything like pushing back or not, beyond just coasting through the few months remaining of his tenure after FAST became law.
     
  24. Sep 24, 2019 #24

    Devil's Advocate

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    According to my memory (not perfect but it's the only one I have) Boardman spoke out against the Mica rules prior to being enacted, dragged his feet on implementation after passing (unclear if he had other choices), and then spoke out again after he was relieved of his duties. It may not seem like much of a push at first glance, but I see it as a relevant distinction between him and Anderson. If Amtrak were still ignoring the Mica mandate does the law spell out what sort of actions would be taken against them?
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2019
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  25. Sep 24, 2019 #25

    zephyr17

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    Well, Anderson seems to feel immune from other Congressional mandates, such as restoring ticket agents. To my eye he seems to cherry pick ones that suit his strategy and ignore those that don't.
     

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