The argument that because we subsidize one industry we should subsidize others is a really bad argument. The fact is that if we subsidize all non-road forms of transportation, we'll soon have auto manufacturers asking for a subsidy. I do not wish to live in a country where the only money-making industry is the subsidized industry. I don't think you do either
With regard to subsidy placement - if the train is running cross-country, and if we assume that subsidies are both what people want, and what the industry requires, it should be handled by the Federal government. Interstate commerce is one reason why the Federal government is around. If AmTrak runs a train from Boston to New York, and runs another train within Boston, Federal subsidies should pay for one, State or City subsidies for the other.
To be clear: I do not like subsidizing industry. Subsidizing infrastructure is one thing, but once you're throwing money at what ought to be a money-making enterprise, something is wrong. Airports: Maybe. Airlines: Never.
"The argument that because we subsidize one industry we should subsidize others is a really bad argument. The fact is that if we subsidize all non-road forms of transportation, we'll soon have auto manufacturers asking for a subsidy. I do not wish to live in a country where the only money-making industry is the subsidized industry. I don't think you do either "
The generic argument "If we subsidize X then we should subsidize Y," is a bad argument. But the argument "We should subsidize X because it does S better then Y, and we are subsidizing Y to do S," is a good argument.
IP: Logged |
quote:Originally posted by Digger: Not to derail my own thread Lost my own track hunting for that Buffett quote...
So, um, were these intentional?
Everard, you've basically stated that Amtrak does stuff better than flight, which is why we should support it, right? What about speed, though? Does it make sense to spend 4 days or however long it would take to get to New York from LA for a business trip, for instance? It seems to me that there are advantages to being able to get anywhere in the US in 24 hours, as all the time travelling is lost productivity. Note that I'm not arguing for subsidizing airlines over trains or anything; I'm not arguing for anything at all. It's just that it seems there's one obvious area where airline is better, and I'm wondering why you think rail is so superior with that in mind.
Posts: 538 | Registered: Mar 2004
| IP: Logged |
"Everard, you've basically stated that Amtrak does stuff better than flight, which is why we should support it, right? What about speed, though"
No, I'm saying that WITH subsidies it could do stuff better then flight.
Not all stuff, but a lot. THe acela express was, for many travelers in the northeast, faster then flying. You could probably never get from NY to LA faster by train then by flying, but you could probably go from NY to chicago faster. Airlines are pretty ineffecient these days, time wise. For 2 1/2 hour flying time to madison, WI, a trip for me from wayland MA, takes about 9 hours. 30 minutes to the airport, which is there for a trip to the train station, but I have to be there 1 1/2 hours early, while for amtrak its 5 minutes, so I save a lot of time there. THen there's a layover, and one of the two flights will be delayed, and by the time I land, get off the plane, and get my luggage, I've wasted about 5 hours of traveling.
Its not inconceivable that high speed trains could do that trip in under 10 hours for most passengers.
The current trains (not the quickest in the world) require subsidies. There is always a tradeoff in cost vs speed. One could assume, then, that trains would require even more subsidies to continue running.
Perhaps we should leave trains to do what they do best - large haul, low speed cargo transportation.
Edited to add: That is, without subsidies. I have no problem with all of the (rather good) light rail companies sprouting in cities around the United States. They tend to work well. Of course if a specific company requires a subsidy to run, then that company is probably not a business model we should support
I think a big problem with Amtrak staying in the black is that so many customers are fed up with them. I would take the trains more often if the westbound train in New York (the New York to Buffalo train) didn't have to sit in a field for 2-4 hours somewhere between Utica and Syracuse EVERY SINGLE TIME that I have taken it over the past 15 years. We have to sit in that field to wait for some big cargo train to go by first, when really the big cargo train doesn't show up for 2-4 hours.
So basically, while taking trains home from college would be really nice as I don't own a car, it's horribly impractical because of the way that they schedule trains.
So I say take some of the subsidies away and make Amtrak figure out how to work. They could do it if they didn't dick everyone over all the time.
Posts: 845 | Registered: Apr 2005
| IP: Logged |
I've taken it on the Kalamazoo to Chicago run and the only wrong was we were overloaded for about 30 minutes, Kalamazoo to Dowogiac, then somebody got off and we got to sit in real seats.
They were a little late getting into Kalamazoo, but early into Chicago. On the trip back they were right on time. I think they're pretty much usually on time in Kalamazoo.
Posts: 642 | Registered: Mar 2004
| IP: Logged |