News Wrapup, September 1997 September 30th, 1997
- â€œPersevering Amtrak refuses to be railroaded,â€ The Arizona Republic, Sept. 28, 1997, page T11.
- â€œWhere do we go from here? Defeat of transit proposals means we have to think anew,â€ by John Semmens, Mesa Tribune, Sept. 28, 1997, Perspective F1.
- â€œTransit tax confusing to voters,â€ by Steve Muratore, The Arizona Republic, Sept. 23, 1997, page EV4.
- â€œIs it time to board light rail?,â€ The Arizona Republic, Sept. 21, 1997, page EV11.
- â€œTrimmed bus tax plan dropped,â€ By Chris Fiscus and Mary Jo Pitzl, The Arizona Republic, Sept.18, 1997
- â€œLetâ€™s dig in and solve the transit problem,â€ by Victor Linoff, Mesa Tribune, Sept. 18, 1997, page A13. QUOTES: â€œâ€¦once again people were unwilling to come to grips with the Valleyâ€™s future. It is certain that the situation will only get worse. The â€˜noâ€™ votes resolved nothing.â€ â€œâ€¦the election results do not have to be interpreted as a defeat for transit or a victory against government. Rather they should be seen as a mandate for creative thinking.â€
- â€œLight rail is needed now to solve transit problems,â€ by Joann Richi, The Arizona Republic, Sept. 16, 1997, page EV6. QUOTE: â€œIn 20 years the population in Metro Phoenix will double. Itâ€™s time to reconsider Val Trans ideas. Driving in Phoenix is dangerous to your health.â€
- â€œTransit: Letâ€™s do it right the next timeâ€ Editorial, Business Journal of Phoenix, September 15, 1997
- â€œThereâ€™s an ugly truth behind results of transit-tax elections,â€ by Doug MacEachern, Mesa Tribune, Sept. 15, 1997, page A2. QUOTE: â€œHow many bus riders, do you suppose, voted against that tax? No, it was thousands of people like Semmens and Rawles â€” people who look down their noses at (or, worse, look away from) the unwashed wretches scrambling for a patch of shade at this Valleyâ€™s pathetic excuses for bus stops.â€
- â€œElection issues and newspaperâ€™s role,â€ By Richard de Uriarte, The Arizona Republic, Sept. 14, 1997
- â€œTransportation deaths growing,â€ The Arizona Republic, Sept. 14, 1997. Figures for 1996. QUOTE: â€œAs usual, the roads were the biggest killer, claiming 41,907 lives, up from 41,798 in 1995.â€
- â€œThe Vent,â€ Mesa Tribune, Sept. 14, 1997, page F3. QUOTES: â€œThe voters who turned down the transit tax are getting exactly what they asked forâ€¦ the day after the vote was declared an ozone alert dayâ€¦â€ â€œThe people who needed the buses the most probably couldnâ€™t get to the polls because there werenâ€™t enough buses to get thereâ€¦â€
- â€œSuccess of anti-transit groups gives Valley a dim future,â€ by Joel Nilsson, The Arizona Republic, Sept. 13, 1997, page B6.
- â€œHigh-pollution advisory shadows transit defeat,â€ By Mary Jo Pitzl, The Arizona Republic, Sept. 11, 1997
- â€œWhat part of noâ€¦: Sorting out the transit tax defeatsâ€ Mesa Tribune, Sept. 11, 1997, page A16. QUOTES: â€œâ€¦does no really mean no? â€¦The close vote in Phoenix makes the likely answer there: Not necessarily.â€ â€œTuesdayâ€™s votes signalled that it is time for more creative thinking and more cooperative planning among all Valley citiesâ€¦â€
- â€œTransit proposal runs out of gas in Phoenix, Scottsdale,â€ By Mary Jo Pitzl and Alexa Haussler, The Arizona Republic, Sept. 10, 1997
- â€œEarly votingâ€™s role in transit future,â€ By Keven Willey, The Arizona Republic, Sept. 10, 1997
- â€œVoters slam brakes on transit tax hike,â€ Mesa Tribune, Sept. 10, 1997, page A1.
- â€œSay yes to mass transitâ€¦â€ Endorsement by the Tribune Newspapers of Proposition 1, Sept. 9, 1997
- â€œThe Vent,â€ Mesa Tribune, Sept. 8, 1997, page A11. QUOTE: â€œIn response to an article on â€˜Transit tax foes focus on Colangelo,â€™ that he is a big supporter of mass transit: Of course, Mr. Colangelo is a fan. Can you imagine a ball game at Bank One Ball Park, a big event going on at America West Arena and several activities going on at the civic center? There is [not enough parking] for all of the cars, and no way to get all the people in. And currently the buses donâ€™t run after hours. Of course, he supports public transit.â€
- â€œHuman aspects of transit lost in a fog of numbers,â€ By Mary Jo Pitzl, The Arizona Republic, Sept. 7, 1997
- â€œPerspective on mass transit vote: Boon or boondoggle?â€ The Arizona Republic, Sept. 7, 1997, page H5.
- â€œPhoenix, Scottsdale hold keys to transit,â€ The Arizona Republic, Sept. 7, 1997, page EV10.
- â€œDrive for mass transit,â€ The Arizona Republic, Sept. 7, 1997, page EV11. Views of Jeffry Flake, Rod Engelen, Brent Yonkovich, C. Jennings.
- â€œTransit tax: Modest investment, major return,â€ by Bob Schuster, Opinion Page Editor, Mesa Tribune, Sept. 7, 1997, page F1.
- â€œFrom the peanut gallery: Transit salvos fly wide,â€ The Arizona Republic, Sept. 6, 1997, page B4. QUOTE: â€œPresumably on the orders of Gov. Fife Symington, two of his agency directors [Larry Bonine, ADOT; Russell Rhoades, Az. DEQ] have emerged from their bunkers long enough to ask a favor of two municipalities: Please vote agains the public transit plans on next Tuesdayâ€™s ballotsâ€¦â€
- â€œWhat comes later â€” 1/2 cent for schools, 1/2 cent for football?â€ The Arizona Republic, Sept. 6, 1997, page B5. Letters from Robert Ehrlich; Kay Henry, Chairman, Maricopa County Trip Reduction Program Task Force; David Lerner; Bob May; Kenneth Wallace.
- â€œTransit Election: Voters have chance to steer Valley in right direction,â€ Editorial, The Arizona Republic, Sept. 4, 1997, page H4.
- â€œGovernor told 2 aides to urge defeat of tax,â€ By Hal Mattern, Steve Yozwiak and Mary Jo Pitzl, The Arizona Republic, Sept. 4, 1997
- â€œIn matters of transit, weâ€™re as cosmopolitan as they come,â€ by Jennifer Dokes, The Arizona Republic, Sept. 4, 1997, page B4.
- â€œTransit tax foes focus on Colangelo,â€ Mesa Tribune, Sept. 4, 1997, page A6.
- â€œThe transit electionsâ€ Editorial, The Arizona Republic, Sep. 2, 1997, page B6.
- â€œProp. 1 a good way to move Phoenix into 21st centuryâ€ Guest Column by Donald H. Goldwater, The Arizona Republic, Sept. 1, 1997, page B8
- Letters, The Arizona Republic, Sep. 2, 1997, page B6:
- â€œProperty rights, planning, transit crucial to growthâ€ by Reginald Sydnor
- â€œTransit boondoggleâ€ by David Ogilvy. QUOTE: â€œFor a metropolitan area the size of Phoenix, it is sheer folly to believe that people are going to give up their cars to ride busesâ€¦â€ [Note: ARPA disagrees â€” Phoenix is now the nationâ€™s sixth largest city.]
- â€œStreetcar may run in Tahoeâ€ by Brendan Riley (AP), The Arizona Republic, Sep. 2, 1997, page B5.
Letter to Senator McCain September 4th, 1997
The Honorable John McCain
United States Senate
Washington, D. C. 20510
Dear Senator McCain:
The Arizona Rail Passenger Association supports your opposition to giving Amtrak $2.3 billion in federal funds under the guise of “tax relief.”
Our Association has been an enthusiastic supporter of Amtrak since our founding in 1978 and for many years thereafter. We hoped and believed that Amtrak would revive the fast dwindling intercity rail passenger network operated by the railroad companies and lead the way to truly modern passenger service of the kind operated in many foreign nations. That has not happened and there is no reasonable prospect of it happening in the foreseeable future.
Outside of the Northeast Corridor and a few other places, Amtrak trains operate on slower schedules than trains over the same routes of fifty to sixty years ago. On top of that, their on-time performance on these slower schedules is terrible. Meanwhile, air and highway transportation has improved exponentially. Public subsidization of that kind of rail service makes no more sense today than would subsidization of stage coach lines in competition with the railroads between 1870 and 1900 have been justifiable at that time.
In our view, there are two underlying causes for this sad state of affairs. First, Amtrak has spent billions of dollars on rolling stock (cars and locomotives) while spending almost nothing outside of the Northeast on fixed infrastructure (track, roadway, signaling.) The result is that its shiny new equipment, capable of speeds of 100 to 110 MPH, is restricted to top speeds of 60 to 80 MPH because of deficiencies in tract structure and signal systems.
Second, outside of the Northeast, Amtrak operates its trains on track owned and controlled by the freight railroads. Track and signaling is installed and maintained at levels necessary for the efficient movement of freight trains. Freight trains are dispatched and operated to assure the level of service necessary to attract business in competition with trucks. In the face of railroad ownership and control of the track, signals and train dispatching functions, freight trains are all too often given priority over the movement of Amtrak trains. Statutory and contractual provisions asserting that Amtrak trains shall be given priority and that the railroads shall receive “incentive” payments for good Amtrak on-time performance have utterly failed to achieve their intended purpose.
In lieu of further funding of Amtrak, we suggest the following arrangements for future intercity rail passenger service:
- Northeast Corridor: The Boston-New York-Washington corridor should be separated from the rest of Amtrak and placed under a regional agency controlled by the states in which it is located. This entity would be given the necessary taxing and bonding power to fund the operation and capital improvement of its services. Amtrak financial data suggests that Northeast Corridor trains are close to breaking even on an “above the rail” cost basis. It follows that with continued public support for fixed infrastructure upkeep and improvements, the Corridor would be a candidate for privatization.
- Other Short-to-Medium Distance Corridors. Corridors in other parts of the country should be funded and operated by state and regional agencies not controlled or related to either Amtrak or the Northeast Corridor Agency. Federal involvement should be limited to organizational assistance and funding for fixed infrastructure improvements â€“ not operating expenses or equipment purchases. Where track is shared with the freight railroads, it should be owned and controlled by a neutral third party to assure that passenger service gets a fair shake on operational issues.
- Long Distance Services. It is time to think what not long ago would have been unthinkable â€“ give the long distance trains back to the railroads. Recently Amtrak has proposed to make these trains self-sufficient by adding a large volume of mail, express and package freight to them. The railroads have vigorously objected to Amtrak taking away their profitable freight business. This suggests that were the railroads to add a few passenger cars to their fast intermodal freight trains, they cold make an additional profit. A second factor encouraging a return of long distance service to the railroads is that recent and proposed mergers will allow a single railroad corporation to assume responsibility for the train over its entire route. In short, there would be no more buck-passing, either between connecting railroads or between the railroads and Amtrak. With the railroad company’s name appearing both outside and inside the train, the company would have a strong public relations incentive to provide high quality service. We do recognize that to make this idea acceptable to the railroads, there will have to be definite limits on liability exposure.
Attached is a copy of a letter from one of our members telling what is happening on Amtrak trains today. This has been going on far too long. We urge your support for alternatives to Amtrak which can produce train service of which America can be proud of in the 21st Century.
Michael R. Garey
CC: State Rail Passenger Associations; National Association of Railroad Passengers