Public comment: Should state subsidize trains?

news-amtrak-passengersCharlottesville's Union Station has become a popular launch point for travel.

Members of the public are invited to comment on a burning–- well, chugging, actually–- statewide topic: Should Virginia create a dedicated fund to subsidize passenger rail service?

Already, Virginia has agreed to subsidize a pair of routes, one proposed for Richmond and another already started through Charlottesville, with the latter recently revealed as so wildly successful that it may not need the subsidy earmarked for it.

“The demand for more transportation choices continues to grow in Virginia," says state rail director Thelma Drake, in a prepared statement. "But without a dedicated source of operating funds we will not be able to sustain or expand Amtrak service in underserved areas such as Hampton Roads and Southwest Virginia in the future.”

The public input effort is part of a study kicked off by a bill, SJ63, and comments–- which can be submitted online–- will be accepted until July 2.

Read more on: amtrak


Poor Carter claims to be "all for trains" while chirping loudly against using them. The results to date show that the American love affair with the automobile is dead, demised, pushing up daisies -- it is no more. Also, he might enjoy knowing that my keyboard is constructed of polished, renewable bamboo. Put that in your Funk & Wagnalls.

People can legitimately question some of the value of Amtrak's long-distance routes (Taking a day to get from DC to Chicago via West Virginia on the Cardinal is lovely but not terribly practical right now), but eliminating those routes is politically infeasible because they go through a lot of states. The federal-state partnerships make more sense because they increase service on routes that people will actually use.

Here's a car quote worth considering: "How, by any possible stretch of the imagination, could it be considered efficient, healthy, or even acceptable to have spent the better part of a society’s wealth constructing a national landscape in which most citizens require a one-ton, poison-belching prosthetic device to satisfy their daily needs?"

And here's more on American culture: We need more highways and trucks. There is a serious shortage of highways and trucks here in North America. We also need more cars. There's a dangerous shortage of cars here in the [fill in SMSA].

Whenever some unrealistic environmentalist tells me that we don't need more highways, cars and trucks, I simply ask: without more highways, cars and trucks, how can we get around? And they're stumped. They never have an answer to that one question because there isn't one. The only way to transport people and goods in this country is in cars and trucks, on highways.

Maybe train transportation is feasible in France, but not here in North America, where we all live in big houses located at least a mile away from the nearest mall and at least 20 miles away from our work-places.

Some people have romantic notions about "conserving energy" by using less of it. They're unrealistic and romantic. First of all, all the best scientists tell us that our current level of energy consumption is perfectly sustainable and causes no serious harm to the environment. And second, even if that were not the case, we *can't* conserve. We're North Americans. Conservation is not part of our culture. And even if it were, it would be impossible, because we all live in big houses at least a mile away from the nearest mall and at least ten miles away from our work-places. So it's unrealistic. I mean, just look at North America on a globe. It's a huge place, with only 330 million people. The rest of the world can use rail transport, because their populations are denser. With our low population-density, we can't.

It's true that before 1945 we transported most of our people and goods by rail here in North America, but North America was different then: our population was denser. Now, with our low density, we can't.

And besides, people like driving cars. A few years ago I went to Europe and took a train everywhere I went. What a miserable experience! I was so relieved when I got back home to North America and could drive a nice comfortable car again on a beautiful North American highway. I feel so sorry for those Europeans.

Tut tut, keep your temper. I am a wealth manager for a major advisory firm, so your piddling contributions do not affect me at all. In fact, I have never worked in a public job --ever -- but I'll bet you have taken public money to float your business. How about it, Carter? SBA loan? Government contract?

Keynesian economics is not intended to be a long-lived solution -- it is a method to keep an economy from jacknifing into depression. So we need more stimulus money now to generate a healthy economy. Your obsession with balanced bookkeeping didn't seem to arise under the Bush regime, one that destroyed the budget surplus from the Clinton years. Why do you support this double standard?

Getting back to the point of this discussion, the rail service from DC to Lynchburg doesn't need any help, so dismount your hobbyhorse and go sit in your gas guzzler and rev your engine.

AMTRAK has never made a dime!
Thanks for understanding how passenger rail works pretty much everywhere in the world. Public libraries "lose money" too, but some people like them.

How do I live with myself? Quite comfortably, actually. There is no percentage in getting riled up the way the Tea Party cultists do. Good policy can improve people's lives, but it really helps to have the cash to back up the ideas. The folks from the PRC have worked for many years without any help from the taxpayers. The flaw in your thinking is that you deny the value of the Commons, and that's a pity.

We already do- let's see how that's working out...AMTRAK has never made a dime!

Im all for trains, but a "civilized" person would be willing to pay whatever price the ticket would be for the system to pay for itself. Correct?
Please lead the way with that fossil fuel thing. How does that moral compass work with you, as you sit in the A/C typing on your plastic keyboard. Oh but wait you have a bike, and a thesaurus sorry My bad..


Throw the lawyers out of our other train station and get the train to Richmond and VA beach running again across from the transit station. It will make those $12 million bathrooms they built for the pavilion seem like less of a waste of money.

Yes I understand
All Im saying is control the problems we have now. Don't just keep adding to the problem. Can't we agree on that.

Well, Ralph, clearly you can't count; the numbers are three to four hundred depending upon weekday or weekend travel. Anyway, we are focused on vehicles, not people. Also, check your punctuation before you wrangle with your superiors, and keep your crack cracks to yourself.

Do you really not know that's how containerized freight is moved every day in this country and around the rest of the world?

The federal government plans to pass part of the cost of regional routes to the states, that is my understanding of why we are discussing state subsidies.

"By 2013, federal law requires that states pay their share of Amtrak's costs to provide intercity passenger service on regional routes."

The few benighted people who denigrate the Charlottesville rail effort do not have a good grasp on reality. The fact remains that passenger rail is the only civilized way to travel between cities. Those who have worked so diligently in Albemarle County to make the route successful have heard every weak objection that the critics can possibly make. In turn, CvilleRail has made its argument clearly and the results overwhelmingly support the route. If Carter and nonono want to drive, the nationally subsidized highway system awaits them. The rest of us are now working on weaning people off fossil fuels.

Automobiles are expensive polluters in a world that cannot afford them. The U.S. now has more cars than people, an absurd ratio. A new business model that incorporates efficient mass transit is far superior to hundreds of thousands of motorists clogging the highway system. The trolleys are designed to attract riders in a way that big, belching buses never could. Carter, you might consider fondlng your car at home in private. Just don't drive it on the highways. You certainly do not "pay full value" for your "right' to drive a car. (In your case, it's probably a truck -- how else will Ma get the crops to market?)

"Subsidize the passenger trains, and tax the ever-loving daylights out of over-the-road trucks to encourage moving that cargo to the rails. It costs much, much less and generates a tiny fraction of the pollution. The Teamsters will pitch a fit, but who cares? Costs of goods will go down, emissions will be reduced, and highway congestion will decrease."

So we stack up trailers until we have a train load? Then we get them across country in 7 days making stops along the way? Then we have local trucks pick up the goods to deliver to the millions of miles not covered by rail? Get real man.

Hmmm "Forward-thinking" more like head in the sand.....
How is the state treasury in each of those states doing?
California 25 Bill Deficit
Oregon 3.8 Bill Deficit
Washington 2.8 Bill Deficit
New York 8.2 Bill Deficit
Virginia 1.2 Bill Deficit
When would you like it to stop. Deficit means you spent money you didn't have. If you are worried about "quality of life" now, then keep it up, wait till the other shoe drops.
I love train travel, but now is not the time to add to the problems. It's simple math, when we cut other things to pay for this, then great. This "do it beause it feels good" crap has to stop, thats how we have so deep in trouble in the first place.

CARter -- you're just too cheap to invest in your own community. We the people are the government (everyone but you, of course.) The anger that you attribute to others is yours alone. It is a tired trait of the vicious -- attack ad hominem while ignoring the real issues and slathering on sophomoric attempts at humor. How is it responsible of you and your type to drive your buggies everywhere, burning fuel, clogging the roadways, and polluting the environment? Your point of view represents the height of hypocrisy and self-regard. You do not deserve an answer in this forum, but here goes: Nothing frightens me -- especially right-wing extremists who need armored cars to visit the 7/11.

The short answer to this question is "Yes, we should subsidize." Libertarians who oppose community interests are too narrow in their views to be taken seriously so why listen to them? The problems that we face are alarming and the solutions that organizations like CvilleRail and the Piedmont Rail Coalition provide will diminish highway congestion, foul air, and an ever-expanding road system. It's time that the little boys give up their automotive toys and grow into their responsibilities.

Yes. Go trains!

Give it 2 years and a majority of people will be back in their cars.

Time and time again passenger train lines have failed. How many times do we need to repeat mistakes before accepting the obvious.

We already do... Its called AMTRAK
For FY2010, the Obama Administration requested $1.502 billion for Amtrak, which is $600 million more than the previous Administration requested for FY2009. Amtrak itself requested $1.840 billion, which is $350 million more than Congress appropriated last year. Congress provided $1.584 billion for Amtrak FY2010. Congress also appropriated $2.5 billion for intercity and high speed rail grants, for which Amtrak is among the eligible recipients
Make it pay for its self keep the money making parts and cut the rest. Stop burning stacks of money (fresh from China).
This the a small example of the train wreck that is our Gov. (Bush and Barry)
When we have NO budget deficit the fund it Untill then there is NO MONEY TO DO IT.

I’m not "against using them, just do it wisely. If the routes make money then run them, if they don't, drop them. Have you ever run a business? Do you work in the real world or are you one of those automatic 3% a year pay raise guys?
You can’t just keep tossing money at it, because it that only makes it worse.
Then city started the free bus loop to the mall, good idea, but then they screwed it up because somebody wanted a cute trolley bus. So instead of re-lettering a couple of buses that we own, they buy new, different ones. Why couldn’t we just provide the route, low cost, instead of having to add a whole new fleet of buses (very high cost).
Basic service is what the gov is to provide, if they didn’t have the waist then the taxes would be lower and you could shop more at the mall, pay full value for a train ticket.

I’m sorry that your love affair with your automobile is over, if you would have polished the paint as much as your bamboo covered plastic keyboard then she might have stayed.
Good luck rubbing it out.

Car travel is subsidized in that the roads networks are expensive to build and maintain, and, no, they are not paid for by fuel taxes even though many people wrongly believe that is the case, and the bulk of law enforcement is dedicated to managing traffic. In addition there are hidden indirect subsidies in the form of "free" parking in shopping centers which is paid for in the form of higher prices. After all the merchants' rent payments do include the cost of all that parking. additional subsidies exist in what you pay for a house in a modern subdivision whose boulevard like roads are part of the lot cost paid for by builders and, you. There are other costs we pay that take time to enumerate.

As we are seeing in the gulf of Mexico, the oil that was quick, cheap, easy, and fairly safe to extract is mostly gone and what we have left will increasingly come at higher cost and smaller returns. This will ultimately bring the car-centric organization of this society to a crossroads where economic pressures will render that organization increasingly difficult and finally impossible to continue with. These same pressures will change the usage patterns of aviation as well. A rail network for moving people and goods around the country will be more of a necessity and much less the "window dressing" that current critics maintain, and we'd be well advised to start front-ending the thing while we can. It'll be more painful later on.

Places like Europe and Japan never had the luxury of being awash in home-produced petroleum. Hence they never developed the "culture of abundance" (what I call the complex of attitudes and beliefs which says we are different and don't have to, and shouldn't have to, worry about access to cheap limitless energy) and knew they had to limit foreign exchange expenditures on fuel imports and maintain rail transport as an element of basic public infrastructure. It would be great to have the option of taking a nice fast train to, Boston for example, as opposed to the wretched experience one must endure to fly there which now eats up an entire day once you deal with parking, security, changing planes, luggage, transportation to and from airports at both ends, etc.

The estimate is based on current train capacity: the more trains, the greater the capacity. No one is suggesting that devoted car drivers should be required to give up their automobiles, trucks, HUVs, armored cars, ATVs, APCs, or tanks. The taxpayer will support your wastefulness through various excise taxes, budget allotments, general obligation bonds, and lobbying. You, Ralph, will be completely safe in your imported steel cocoon while we supporters of mass transit offer an alternative to bloated oil prices, fouled air and water, and the paving of the nation. We care about issues that do not matter to you and your cohort of cultist Tea Partiers. So go ahead and drive, accept your tax support, and remember that if you leave now, you can make it to Fredricksburg in time to join the traffic jam de jour. At least you'll be out of the way.

Stamford, for the last time.
It’s not about the cars vs. trains.
It’s about the Gov writing more checks when the account it already overdrawn.
Accounting 101 don’t spend more then you have.
You are the king of self regard ââ?¬Å?I want to ride a train, somebody else pay for me to ride a train”
I started a business in this community (investment)
I pay tens of thousands of dollars in taxes and fees to Cvill/ VA/ Fed (investment)
I volunteer in the community (investment)
I more than likely pay your salary (is that an investment or waste?)

Somewhere in Charlottesville there is a bitter man in a dark basement, crushing a box of Matchbox cars with a hammer, wishing his day had gotten him a train set.
Off in the distance a dog barks”Š”Š..

How much do you know about Keynesian economics or Okun's Law? Little businessmen (pet shop operator?) fail to understand the value of deficit spending to moderate or end a recession, especially a severe one. When the economy has high unemployment, an increase in government purchases creates a market for business output, creating income and encouraging increases in consumer spending, which creates further increases in the demand for business output. This multiplier raises the real gross domestic product and the employment rate. Your homely analogy to Accounting 101 is inappropriate, considering that the Radical Right has never objected to deficit spending to support the MIC or multinational corporations. You just don't want the American people to benefit from defict spending.

I’m not a Bush fan sorry to disappoint you.
I have never had ANY Government loan or contract.
Started the business after I had saved enough money to do it.
Would you not say we are past the point of Keynesian economics working?
(Debt to GDP)
I would think the double standard would be holding the job that you do with
your views. How do you live with yourself? Just give it all away.

Getting back to the point of this discussion, the rail service from DC to
Lynchburg doesn't need any help, so don't subsidize it.
Thanks for clearing that up.
See how logic works, call me Spock, live long and prosper (with good credit)

Well, King Ralph, you seem unhappy that people refuse to press their foreheads to the sand to acknowledge your vision. You appear to be short of good intentions and good sense. We all know that locomotives use a variety of fuels: steam, gasoline, dielsel, electric, and hybrids of gas-turbine electric and fuel-cell electric.

Note: Even using electricity generated from coal or oil, trains are more fuel efficient per passenger per kilometer traveled than the typical automobile because of economies of scale in generator technology.

Rail networks, like highways, require large fixed capital investments and thus require a blend of high density and government investment to be competitive against existing capital infrastructure for aircraft and automobiles. Right now, you and your band of drooling brothers are paying into the Rail Enhancement Fund so that CSX and NS can bring you cheap Chinese imports that displace American workers. Somebody should have dropped you on your head. (Typical Republican -- "Please don't vote" -- Ha.

Absolutely. We subsidize airlines and there is a much better return on the investment.

How about automobiles and the roads they use- heavily subsidized -bring on the trains !

What they should consider is subsidizing weekend tourist travel subsidies which will bring in more tax revenue from businesses, more employment and less welfare payouts since more people will be working. I am sure they could work out deals with hotels and car rental companies to get people visiting on the weekends.

A "subsidy" that generates other reveune is not a "subsidy" but an investment.

Subsidize the passenger trains, and tax the ever-loving daylights out of over-the-road trucks to encourage moving that cargo to the rails. It costs much, much less and generates a tiny fraction of the pollution. The Teamsters will pitch a fit, but who cares? Costs of goods will go down, emissions will be reduced, and highway congestion will decrease.

Seems like a no-brainer. No doubt somebody out there will point out that I have no brain for even thinking of such idiocy!

" Im all for trains, but a ââ?¬Å?civilized” person would be willing to pay whatever price the ticket would be for the system to pay for itself. " Carter are you clueless about the amount of your paycheck subsidizing your ability to drive a car ?

Carter, forward-thinking states such as California, Oregon, Washington, and New York state partner with Amtrak to increase passenger train service. Virginia is actually doing something reasonable and doing the same. People generally like the quality of life benefits afforded by the availability of passenger train service, even though such service has to be financially subsidized.

Keynesian economics is based on the socialist redistribution of wealth. Name one country that has a set of balanced books that prescribes to that idea? Spain? Greece? It kills the economy everytime. You have to think longterm, we have just stacked bandaid after bandaid for decades. Time to pull them off, deal with the pain and fix the problem.
You never have answered my question about your job, so I think my guess of public was correct. You work for me, stop wasting time on the computer and do some honest work.
The owner of the Pet Shop is twice the man you will ever be.

I'm sure you do, A/C set on 69°.
It does help to have the cash, but we don't right now.
Sorry, but you already answered the question "the rail service from DC to Lynchburg doesn’t need any help". Thank you for your input.

Hmmm- but should we fund/subsidize them?

Stanford50 ...buddy
What is the fascination with you and my car? I have never said that cars are better than trains. It’s the waste of money that I have been talking about, not sure why you keep missing the point. You just seem to have a pent up hate toward cars. You should get that checked out.
Another Example, brace yourself, its not transportation related. That would be the over the top McGuffey Park project, put a match to another few 100K, sure feels good. Plus nobody is accountable, it’s a win, win?
It’s not the train, bus, or the park. It’s the way that they burn through tax money.
I guess that my assumption was correct that you do have a pubic sector job. So do me a favor, try to put in a full 40 this week. Thanks
Sorry, I don’t have a truck (I was worried you were going to ask to help you move or something). When you ride that high horse to town to pick up your food, I hope the hard working farmers you mock give you the Night Soil produce you deserve. Enjoy and thanks for you concern about my Mom.

You got it my 50 friend
Spend tax money RESPONSIBLY
Personal RESPONSIBILITY don’t rely on handouts from the GOV you are not entitled to anything WORK for it, or do without.
You are almost there, still got to work on that anger. Did a car bully you when you were a little boy? You are sounding nervous; I bet you chew more bamboo than a panda.