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CNJ
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More Vermonter News
 
« on: Jan 30th, 2010, 12:19pm »
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From the Burlington (VT) Free Press:
 
http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/article/20100129/NEWS02/100129002/1007/The-Vermonter-gets-healthy-boost-but-Burlington-rail-overlooked


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jmlaboda
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Re: More Vermonter News
 
« Reply #1 on: Jan 30th, 2010, 7:52pm »
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Its good to see that things have improved as far as the way Amtrak service in that state is looked upon.  I remember the fiasco a while back over the purposed Colorado Railcar order and the prevailing attitude of the time that not only led to nothing, not the Aero D.M.U.s nor rebuilt Budd RDCs, being acquired to expand service.
 
Ironically rail service continues to grow ridership wise.  The Virginia Rail Express has had four record ridership days just this month braking all previous ridership records and if the trend continues they will log a considerable jump in yearly ridership this year.  Other operations are seeing the same sort of increases.
 
There are still a lot of folks, including railfans, who have the attitude "My car or be Damned!!!" but I have long believed the old saying, "If you build it they will come."  Passenger rail service is something that would be of a benefit and help if it is offered... the only real problem there is that convincing the Powers that Be that this is the case.
 
I am sorry that CRM's state of affairs left the Vermonter D.M.U.s in the dust... would have been an attractive train.  But at least it looks like the state's attitude has improved at least somewhat and that is a good thing.
 


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jerry
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HwyHaulier
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Re: More Vermonter News
 
« Reply #2 on: Jan 31st, 2010, 11:13am »
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on Jan 30th, 2010, 7:52pm, jmlaboda wrote:       (Click here for original message)
...There are still a lot of folks, including railfans, who have the attitude "My car or be Damned!!!" but I have long believed the old saying, "If you build it they will come." †Passenger rail service is something that would be of a benefit and help if it is offered... the only real problem there is that convincing the Powers that Be that this is the case...    

 
Jerry -  
 
Honestly! "If you build it they will come." Pop culture pap that made for a cute movie...  
 
SIGH! "...only real problem there is that convincing the Powers that Be..." Oh! The "easy and convenient" crowd? Happily spend, spend, spend,  
as it is not their own money. There has been past practice of a great deal of this. Result: The paper dollar value begins to emulate Scott Paper  
toilet tissue equivalents...
 
If they could figure how to do it, with fares reflecting true, fully allocated costs of service, many campers could be a whole lot happier. Fine! It  
could run with net surplus returns to the taxpayers...
 
.................Vern.................


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NYC_Subway_Fan
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Re: More Vermonter News
 
« Reply #3 on: Jan 31st, 2010, 12:49pm »
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on Jan 30th, 2010, 7:52pm, jmlaboda wrote:       (Click here for original message)
Its good to see that things have improved as far as the way Amtrak service in that state is looked upon.  I remember the fiasco a while back over the purposed Colorado Railcar order and the prevailing attitude of the time that not only led to nothing, not the Aero D.M.U.s nor rebuilt Budd RDCs, being acquired to expand service.

 
Jerry,
 
I for one am glad that the CRC order for Vermont never happened.  IMHO it was the wrong tool for the job.  The CRC DMU's would be best for operations like the Springfield shuttles and the Hiawatha service.  Those services see mostly commuters.
 
The Vermonter sees mainly long distance travelers.  That means luggage.  And forcing people with luggage to make cross platform transfers in New Haven is never a good thing.  I believe that had they gone ahead with the plan, it would have hurt ridership, not helped it.
 
The CRC DMU was first proposed by David Gunn to run the Springfield shuttles.  After he was forced out and with no funds forthcoming, someone else at Amtrak got the brilliant idea to try to talk Vermont into buying them so that Amtrak could show them off.  
 
By the way, even though CRC is dead, its rail car is not.  A company in NY brought all the rights to the cars and I believe that they've started shopping it around again to see if maybe they can sell the cars.
 
on Jan 30th, 2010, 7:52pm, jmlaboda wrote:       (Click here for original message)

Ironically rail service continues to grow ridership wise.  The Virginia Rail Express has had four record ridership days just this month braking all previous ridership records and if the trend continues they will log a considerable jump in yearly ridership this year.  Other operations are seeing the same sort of increases.

 
Actually most transit agencies saw a drop in ridership last year, although a few like VRE did not.  However, to be fair one almost has to expect that.  After all in addition to the recession, they were up against some really big numbers in 2008 thanks to the high gas prices that year.  Most, if not all, agencies were still up in 2009 compared to 2007 numbers.
 
Put another way, but for the spike in 2008 caused by the high gas prices, transit ridership continues to increase each year.


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Alan,

Take care and take trains!
NYC_Subway_Fan
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Re: More Vermonter News
 
« Reply #4 on: Jan 31st, 2010, 1:26pm »
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on Jan 31st, 2010, 11:13am, HwyHaulier wrote:       (Click here for original message)

SIGH! "...only real problem there is that convincing the Powers that Be..." Oh! The "easy and convenient" crowd? Happily spend, spend, spend,  
as it is not their own money. There has been past practice of a great deal of this. Result: The paper dollar value begins to emulate Scott Paper  
toilet tissue equivalents...

 
Vern,
 
With the utmost respect, may I please ask you which do you think devalued the dollar more, the $8 billion spent on HSR by the Stimulus or the $27.5 billion spent on our roads by the Stimulus?
 
on Jan 31st, 2010, 11:13am, HwyHaulier wrote:       (Click here for original message)

If they could figure how to do it, with fares reflecting true, fully allocated costs of service, many campers could be a whole lot happier. Fine! It  
could run with net surplus returns to the taxpayers...
 
.................Vern.................

 
And following up with the above idea, while I make no guarantees, perhaps if this country started to actually make the users of the roads pay the full value of the roads, rail might actually have a chance of paying its costs of service.
 
Too many people run around thinking that their only expense to drive someplace is the cost of the gas in their tank.  They fail to consider the other costs like insurance; wear & tear; maintenance; and interest, then they think that rail is more expensive.  The IRS tells us that this year the actual cost of taking one's car on the road is 50 cents a mile with all the included costs.
 
And when people run around thinking that they've fully paid for the roads via fuel taxes, again they see the trains as more expensive.  Unfortunately that is so far from the truth.  In fact, last year which I admit was a banner year for the roads, saw the users only paying 50% of the highway costs at the Federal level.  The Fed spent $69.116 billion on our nationís highways last year.
 
Of that amount, only $34.616 billion was actually paid for via the fuel taxes, tires taxes, and other related fees.  The other $34.5 billion came out of the General fund.  Of that, $27B is the aforementioned Stimulus.  The other $7B was a transfer from the General fund into the Highway Trust Fund, because the fuel tax revenues didn't cover the outlays.
 
A recent UC Davis study showed that potentially the fuel taxes in this country might need to be raised by as much as 70 cents per gallon, before the "users" actually start paying fully for the roads.
 
Now I'm not suggesting that we run out and change all the rules right now.  Especially right now, it would be a disaster.  But until we do slowly move towards dropping subsidies for roads and eventually get rid of those subsidies, rail will never be able to survive on its own without subsidies.  One simply cannot subsidize the competition and expect rail to cover its costs.


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Alan,

Take care and take trains!
HwyHaulier
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Re: More Vermonter News
 
« Reply #5 on: Jan 31st, 2010, 5:19pm »
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Alan -  
 
Noted. I am extremely reluctant to get into any discussions at all with respect to Highway Finance, as it is so contentious and disputed.  
I may (or, may not) add some elaboration...
 
It is difficult to comment on the UC Davis study, absent detail on it. On the face, and without added support, it is de facto incorrect.
 
Still another fallacy is the babble there is no net money to be made on rail passenger services. The argument fails on the fundamentals.  
What powers it is the presence of public (taxpayer) underwriting to he who writes the best proposal. The economists call it, "market  
place distortions"...
 
Maybe I'll expand on all of it later. For the most part, I'm weary of all of it. And weary of paying for the torrent of ill advised projects that  
need constant feeding of taxpayer money...
 
.......................Vern..............


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NYC_Subway_Fan
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Re: More Vermonter News
 
« Reply #6 on: Jan 31st, 2010, 6:25pm »
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on Jan 31st, 2010, 5:19pm, HwyHaulier wrote:       (Click here for original message)

It is difficult to comment on the UC Davis study, absent detail on it. On the face, and without added support, it is de facto incorrect.

 
Sorry, I should have included the link to that study.  Here you go. http://pubs.its.ucdavis.edu/publication_detail.php?id=1139
 
on Jan 31st, 2010, 5:19pm, HwyHaulier wrote:       (Click here for original message)
Still another fallacy is the babble there is no net money to be made on rail passenger services. The argument fails on the fundamentals.  
What powers it is the presence of public (taxpayer) underwriting to he who writes the best proposal. The economists call it, "market  
place distortions"...

 
If I'm understanding you correctly, then I'm not saying that its not possible for rail to make money.  In fact, the Auto Train does make an above the rails profit, it's once burdened with other attributed costs that it falls down.  And the Palmetto actually comes very close to making an above the rails profit, missing by just $600K in 2008.  And of course Acela makes an above the rails profit, but then gets killed on the capital costs.
 
So it is possible for trains to make money as it were.  I'm simply saying that it would be a whole lot easier if we weren't also subsidizing the competition.


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Alan,

Take care and take trains!
HwyHaulier
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Re: More Vermonter News
 
« Reply #7 on: Feb 1st, 2010, 12:56pm »
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NYC_Subway Fan -  
 
on Jan 31st, 2010, 6:25pm, NYC_Subway_Fan wrote:       (Click here for original message)
...And of course Acela makes an above the rails profit, but then gets killed on the capital costs....    

 
With a tip of the hat to dark humor, your are quite droll in your observations. Meanwhile, between WDC and NYC, the over the highway bus  
service provide capacity for 10,000 daily riders (count seats both ways on the lane). It is was it is. Whatever inferences a reader might  
obtain is their business. All I know is: Congress has now complained for years of its collected disbelief in what it costs to run the old PRR  
and NYNH&H! (They are our own Great Pyramids of a Lost Civilization?)
 
About the larger issues of highway finance, subsidy, and all the rest of it, the issues remain tiring. I do know, over the now decades, study  
after study. One claims the Interstate Highway System fully pays its own way. Another study counters such views. So? What and who to  
believe!
 
The basic fundamentals being: Long ago, in another time, and on a faraway planet, some crazy and deranged old guys wrote up the club  
rules in governance of these United States. In a "me too" rule considering thousands of years of past practice, the Ruler got to pay for the  
roads, the waterways and the ports...
 
Post all that, there was no Amendment to the Constitution, either later recognizing or placing, Industrial Age devices, gadgets and novel  
contraptions at parity with fundamental obligations for roads and waterways. In a much later development, the Interstate Highway System  
carried with it a proclaimed covenant to be forever, "pay as you go" in any requisite fees for provision of services. Later, the elegant formula  
was thoroughly corrupted. As it turned out, Washington Lexicon Of Usage apparently has the thinking a covenant lasts until the next election.  
So much for scholars, who believe it is thought to convey a longer shelf life!
 
The UC Davis study? Thanks! I'll go look. It is an outrageous conclusion for an old "Cow College" campus. The farmers would take a great  
deal of pain, and left wondering why they are shipping even more money to the cities. And, shoppers ought not to wonder why prices are  
ever higher at the Safeway and the Wal-Mart!...
 
I'll swear (even under oath as an expert witness): We'll be mighty lucky if we don't wreck the national distribution system, and visit huge  
detriments to world competitiveness...
 
.......................Vern.................


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NYC_Subway_Fan
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Re: More Vermonter News
 
« Reply #8 on: Feb 1st, 2010, 10:23pm »
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on Feb 1st, 2010, 12:56pm, HwyHaulier wrote:       (Click here for original message)

About the larger issues of highway finance, subsidy, and all the rest of it, the issues remain tiring. I do know, over the now decades, study  
after study. One claims the Interstate Highway System fully pays its own way. Another study counters such views. So? What and who to  
believe!

 
You can forget about the studies for that, a simple visit the the websites of the Federal Government will confirm that the highways aren't paying for themselves.
 
Directly below this graph from the FHWA are notes showing transfers from the General fund for the last two years to prop up the Highway Trust Fund.
 
And then there is this from the DOT showing the $27.5B given over to the highways as part of the Stimulus.


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Alan,

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HwyHaulier
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Re: More Vermonter News
 
« Reply #9 on: Feb 2nd, 2010, 9:13am »
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NYC-Subway_Fan -  
 
Noted. Remains tiresome. This Board doesn't have a mission as a political venue...
 
The facts are what they are on their face. I don't get paid enough for opinion pieces, so it wouldn't help in making today's general  
economy look so much as a dime better...
 
......................Vern.............


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