Time to Kick Ass and Take Names!
Amtrak has announced that starting on October 1st they are going to run their long-distance trains on three-days-a-week schedules.
Jim Mathews, president and CEO of Rail Passengers Association, harshly condemned Amtrak’s action, and put his finger on another issue that, in many ways, is likely to prove even more damaging in the long term: the loss of trust between Amtrak on one side and the members of Congress and citizen advocates on the other side.
For example, Amtrak claims that the long-distance trains lose money—a lot of money. But some of the costs Amtrak incurs by operating the Northeast Corridor infrastructure is allocated to the long-distance trains. Obviously that could have much to do with whether or not any given train makes or loses money. So how much of the NEC costs are assigned to each of the long-distance trains? Amtrak won’t say.
But they’re still going to lay off 20 percent of their work force; they’re going to stop operating 128 long-distance trains a week (*); but they still want another $1.5 billion tax dollars.
One final point to consider: for hundreds of small and medium-sized communities strung out along the 16 Amtrak routes, those trains are the only affordable public transportation left for the people living there.
It’s time for Congress to step in . . . investigate . . . make changes. No more Mister Nice Guy!
*16 long-distance trains x four days x two trains a day (one in each direction)