Old 11-17-2005, 02:53 PM   #51
fuente1
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Don't profess to be an expert on Tourist Rail Operations but suspect that they were not paying union scale with retirement / medical benefits, etc.
I never did, was simply answering "For the sake of discussion, can anyone name a passenger railroad operation in the world that makes money?" You didnt specify which type of passenger rail, you just said passenger rail, and tourist rail IS passenger rail.

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Old 11-17-2005, 03:25 PM   #52
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Originally Posted by fuente1
I never did, was simply answering "For the sake of discussion, can anyone name a passenger railroad operation in the world that makes money?" You didnt specify which type of passenger rail, you just said passenger rail, and tourist rail IS passenger rail.
I think J was implying that HE was not an expert. Based on the way his sentence was written, that is what I am concluding. I could be wrong though.
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Old 11-17-2005, 04:36 PM   #53
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I think J was implying that HE was not an expert. Based on the way his sentence was written, that is what I am concluding. I could be wrong though.
Makes sense, for the sake of this discussion, I dont think that there is any mass transit/not for leisure passenger service in the US that is profitable. The leisure operators make money while the transit operators do not, like Amtrak. This cold and cold medicine is effecting my ability to read, my apologies for the misunderstanding!

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Old 11-18-2005, 11:49 AM   #54
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I think J was implying that HE was not an expert. Based on the way his sentence was written, that is what I am concluding. I could be wrong though.
Correct. Me no expert.
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Old 11-21-2005, 07:50 PM   #55
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Default Baltimore Sun Interview with Gunn

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opi...deas-headlines

Since this link won't last forever, here are a couple of intersting quotes:

Q. Do you think the administration is interested in continuing Amtrak service in some form?
A. They have proposed zeroing the budget, bankruptcy and liquidation, and they were deadly serious about that. There was the (notion) that bankruptcy would be a cleansing rite. (In the airlines) the company continues to exist. In a railroad, you have a negative cash flow and the company will cease to exist.

Q. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta has been publicly critical of Amtrak. How would you characterize your interaction with him?
A. I met with the secretary in June. I asked him, if I do all these reforms, do I get anything. And the answer was dead silence.

Q. What was the state of Amtrak as of the time you were fired?
A. We came out of the year with cash in the bank, and we had growing ridership. We did way better than budget.

Q. On some level, didnít you expect to be fired by the board in view of your philosophical differences?
A. I figured they would eventually get tired of me, and they did. I didnít know I was going to be fired that morning.

Q. Why didnít you resign earlier?
A. I said, 'I'm not going to do it.' The benefit (of being fired) is that it exposes the issue of what they re trying to do.

Q. Some critics of the administration have contended that what Amtrak characterized as your "release" is illegal because the Amtrak board may have been short of a quorum, and (these critics) have called for your reinstatement. Do you have an opinion on this?
A. I wouldnít want to work for a crowd that doesnít want me. I don't know whether the board is legal or illegal from the global point of view. That debate is not one I want to get involved in. That use of the word "release" - that really infuriates me. It's the classic "put the spin on something."

Q. How do you respond to the allegation that you werenít moving quickly enough on reforms?
A. We were moving on reform. All the stuff (Laney) talked about is in the mill. It was a situation where, if I'd been able to walk on water, they would have accused me of not being able to swim.

Q. What do you see as the Department of Transportation s role in Amtrak going forward?
A. Theyíve grasped the nettle. It's theirs now. We can all stand back and watch what a great job they do. They haven t had a viable plan for Amtrak since I've been here. Ití s nothing but spin. The thing that's changed now is that if they screw it up now, they own it.
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Old 11-24-2005, 05:26 AM   #56
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It's late, and this is probably the last thing I should be doing since I have to be up for work tomorrow. But I've been thinking about these kinds of things, so please allow me to add my opinion on this thread, with all due respect to the previous posters and their ideas. Note that when I say "person" or "people," I am referring in the general sense, not to anyone specifically posting above.

I was a little disappointed to read in the newspaper the other day that David Gunn was fired from Amtrak. Especially after reading the recent article in Trains magazine about his experience and attempts at salvaging the national passenger rail system. It seemed that Mr. Gunn was the type of person needed with the vision and drive to move Amtrak forward in these difficult times.

Some have asked why a company should be allowed to exist that does not make any money on its services, operates at a deficit, and at the very least requires government subsidy. I believe it is wrong to look at Amtrak as a profit-dependent company, in the way we look at Microsoft or General Motors. Passenger rail is a part of our country's transportation network. What other 'company' is operated like that and allowed to survive? For one, our Interstate Highway system. Although partially funded by gasoline taxes, the vast majority of the transportation budget goes to highway construction and maintenance. Airports are another example. We don't hold these parts of our transportation network to the profitability yardstick.

You may ask, but to what benefit is there in having a passenger rail network? For any of you who have lived in a major US metropolitan area for some time--think back five, ten, or fifteen years. What was traffic like at that time? How is it today? Do you ever adjust your daily schedule to avoid "rush hour?" Do you have journeys that take much longer than normal because of traffic congestion? Do you take alternate routes to avoid backups? And do not think airport travel is necessarily better either. Have you seen the line to enter security at La Guardia at 630AM? How much total time is really involved in a "two hour" flight?

I grew up in the San Francisco Bay area in the late 70's and early 80's. Sure, I remember rush hour back then. But when I visit these days, it is different. I don't remember the traffic backups starting at 6AM, and lasting until 5PM, with a slight let up mid-day. Congestion is only going to get worse in the future unless we come up with some solutions that go beyond merely adding more pavement.

The person who says they never travel by train and thus doesn't care if rail travel dies needs to think on a larger scale. Take our example of an automobile commuter to work. He always drives, and couldn't take the train anyway. "Forget trains!" he says, "I never take them, so I don't think they should get any support!" But he forgets that a more efficient mass transportation system means less -other- cars on the road, and a faster drive to work for him.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that Amtrak in its present form is the best solution. But we really need to plan for the future of our transportation system. If we dump passenger rail now, we may really regret it ten or twenty years in the future. I see Amtrak as a stepping stone to a means of more efficient rail transportation, one to be developed not all as a long distance vacation-leisure form of travel, but as an alternative to driving or flying on medium length trips. I really think the concept of rail corridors is a good idea. If train service could be offered in markets like Chicago-Detroit, LA-San Francisco, or New York-Pittsburgh that was efficient, convenient, and at a competitive price to the alternatives, would you not consider it?

I'm not a regular Amtrak rider. In fact, I just about never ride Amtrak. I live in a medium sized city (<70,000) in the midwest. But when planning a trip to Memphis or one of my regular runs to Chicago, I always consider the train. And if it offered greater frequency (now only two trains a day), I certainly would take Amtrak. It's comparable in price to gas and Chicago tolls, and I don't have to spend a couple hours concentrating on the road.

But I digress. Let me conclude by saying I think there is a need to include passenger rail in our long-term transportation planning in this country. Some of it will be on a local level, some of it on a state level, but a portion still exists on the national level. We need a greater movement toward intermodal options (easier connections between different modes) as well. Rail service to the Milwaukee airport is a good example. By making our options more efficient and convenient, everyone may benefit. Do not think of your tax dollars just going to "prop up" Amtrak. Think of it as part of a system that can help you to drive on highways less congested, and travel through airports less crowded. Transportation is a service intended for all. But once we head down that path of passenger rail abandonment, we may find ourselves in a difficult place from which there is no easy return.

With respect,
Eric
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Old 12-07-2005, 03:17 AM   #57
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I am resurecting this thread from death in order to ask for good sources on this subject. I am going to do an article in the school paper on this very subject and was wondering if you guys knew of any unbiased sources I could find more info on this. If unbiased sources are scarce, then a combination of viewpoints on the topic would work too. Thanks a lot!
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