January 10, 2008

Amtrak report favorable to rail service extention to QCs

I just took a peek at the snappily named blog "Midwest High Speed Rail, Improving Amtrak Incrementally", a blog further described as ,"An ongoing discussion led by the Midwest High Speed Rail Association on creating a modern, high-speed passenger rail network by improving and building upon existing Amtrak service. We also discuss national and international transportation policy." (Wish they'd be more specific) and discovered some interesting news about, unsurprisingly, high-speed rail.

It seems Amtrak recently released the results of its feasibility report on extending Amtrak service to the Quad Cities from Chicago which you can examine by clicking this link.

It's projected cost is $14 to $23 million, which is dirt cheap compared to other transportation projects according to the blog's author, Dan Johnson-Weinberger. Read his informative post here.

Judging by the enthusiastic tone of the post, it appears that passenger rail service returning to the Quad Cities may be more that just another good idea that never gets accomplished/funded/completed/etc.

Let's hope the idea makes steady progress and becomes a reality in due time. You might be able to relax and be wisked through the countryside to a Cubs game or a day at the museums sometime in the not too distant future.


At 1/10/2008 11:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember being whisked to cub games on the train. Then I remember the trains losing steam and then going out of business in the QC.

I do not see why we can not get the trains, according to Durbin's study they will be running in the hole at a tune of $6,000,000 per year.

At that rate they will go out of business in a couple of years.

The train seems so romantic.

At 1/11/2008 3:34 AM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Not sure I share your pessimism, but it's true that train travel has historically operated at a loss, EXCEPT in corridors where they're widely accepted and actually USED.

I see it as not so much that the trains don't have real value, but that the public simply can't be pried from their cozy little cars and into a train.

I'd imagine that even if there was efficient, comfortable, and economic train transportation to Chicago, there would still be a lot, perhaps a majority, who wouldn't avail themselves of it and would simply continue to drive.

Projected ridership would be key, and one use would be for people needing a means to get to O'Hare to catch connecting flights to other destinations. There's already several limo services that ferry people to O'Hare from the QCs.

Then you have the catch 22 that the fewer people who utilize trains, the higher the cost to operate, the higher the fare, etc.

When people actually USE the trains, they're viable, but I guess that's obvious and the root of the problem.

Now if they offered a party train...

At 1/11/2008 9:15 AM, Blogger Matt said...

I've only ridden Amtrak once. What's everyone's take on an Amtrak trip you've recently taken? I'm sure the policies are different, but actually - as funny as the "party train" sounds - Metra Rail does indeed allow alcohol on train cars. Or, it did when I lived in Chicago from 2002 to 2006. 90% of the conductors were very cool, sociable people. There were "quiet cars" on each train, where people could find a place devoid of cel phones, loud talking or loud iPods, and simply nap or read in peace. And yes, you could bring beer and wine on board (I'm not sure about other alcoholic drinks). People even hauled coolers full, on their way to sporting events or outdoor music fests.

At 1/11/2008 9:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dope the projected $6,000,000 loss is a number that came from the Durbin's stuudy that was printed in the paper. I want a train for sentamental reasons as well, but at what cost. It seems that projected costs are generally less than actual. I think that healthcare would be a better use of public money.

What do you think?

At 1/12/2008 1:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You'd be on that train wouldn't ya dope?

At 1/12/2008 10:45 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Anon 9:56.

If it was an "either/or" proposition between a train to Chicago or health care, I don't think it's a tough choice. Of course I'd prefer to help people get adequate health care.

I suppose my view on the matter is that I truly hope that the financial aspect of extending rail service to the QCs is such that it will be seen to be feasible.

At 1/12/2008 10:56 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Anon 1:08

Depends on whether you'd be.

At 1/15/2008 7:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, come on...$6,000,000, is THAT it?

Let's just tax something a little more - isn't that what we do in America for something that we really want?

At 1/15/2008 5:57 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Nah, it might cost you another $0.50 on you tax bill. Can't have that.

Remember the Republican mantra. I expect government to provide services in an excellent and efficient way, but I will NOT pay a dime for it!

And I don't want the government providing services to anyone PERIOD, except of course, if it financially benefits myself or my company. Then I absolutely demand it.

At 1/16/2008 7:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dope, I'd suggest that your last line is one of liberals. You need to understand that for every dollar paid in taxes, the upper 10%receive something inthe neighborhood of $. 08 in value/ service/ beneifits.

The lowest 40% for (1) pay no taxes and (2) receive $8.00+ in service/ benefit/ value.

The upper 1% of wage earners pay 40% of the taxes - and get little in return. I don't see them complaining, except when a liberal like yourself complains that they do not pay enough - or that they 'do not pay their fair share.'

Look up the facts of who pays what - and educate yourself.

At 1/16/2008 2:00 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Anon 7:18

You'll forgive me if I choose not to "educate" myself by taking figures thrown out without a source by an anonymous commenter as fact.

I simply think those numbers are bogus, and even if close to reality, don't affect the argument at all.

Just who the hell do you think should pay taxes? The very poorest? And just who the hell do you think is in the greatest need of aid, the very wealthiest?

Frankly, with only a bit of examination, your views fall apart.

Good luck with your campaign to create a more greedy, self-centered, and economically divided nation.

At 1/16/2008 10:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


1. Google 'income tax facts' or 'income tax burden' - it's pretty easy information to find.

2. (to answer your 'just who the hell do you think should pay the taxes) If you'd read the post, I specifically stated that the rich do not mind paying taxes. Of course, this is the reasonable place to generate tax revenue.

What they object to is the shrill, 'the rich need to pay their fair share' cry and the ever increasing waste and call for MORE taxes.

Again - lose the "create a more greedy, self-centered, economically divided' crap. I would suggest that if you were not so...

Greedy - and
Self-centered, maybe you would quit looking for SOMEONE ELSE to pony up and offer to pay more taxes yourself.

Amazing how you call someone else 'greedy and self-centered' as you sound the call to reach into THEIR wallet, not your own!

At 1/17/2008 2:30 AM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

You're obviously an anti-tax zealot who's drunk the kool-aid and is a lost cause.

I ask, no demand, that you show me where I, "sound the call to reach into THEIR wallet, not your own!"

You're too ideologically blinded on this subject to see straight, resorting, as always, to inventing things, saying I said them, then condeming it.

Please put some effort into avoiding your constant and predictable reliance on straw man arguments.

And when CEOs pay lower tax rates than their maids, something is desperately wrong.

OK, let's eliminate waste. How about starting with the BILLIONS in subsidies to oil companies at a time when they're posting record profits? How's that?

How about starting to charge a fair price for the mining and logging rights on federal land?

If you eliminated even a fraction of the loopholes that benefit corporations and the wealthy already, you'd save ten times the money that you would by taking it away from the needy.

The U.S. is far and away the most lightly taxed advanced country on the planet, and yet you scream like a stuck hog if you are asked to pay for any of the safeguards, social benefit programs to the poor and elderly, infrastructure, or the tens of thousands of other government programs that both preserve and improve our living standards.

Stop being such a miser.

Work all you want for better government efficiency when delivering services. That's fine.

But that's not why you don't want to pay taxes. It's simply because you want to starve nearly every government program out of existance.

That's simply wrong headed and truly not the American way.

You've made the horrible mistake of thinking that because you've acheived a lower middle class existance, that therefore you no longer need to pay for anyone who hasn't and you have deep resentment at the thought that you may be paying for it.

You don't realize that every dime you've paid in taxes in your adult life more than likely went straight into the pocket of a politically connected "contractor" in Iraq.... in cash, in exchange for phantom services rendered.

You've swallowed the idea that cutting taxes is always the answer. Bought the phoney and crazy idea that it somehow increases revenue.

You'll never swerve from the entirely irrational idea that 2 minus 2 equals 5.

So don't bother trying to convince me of it. Talk about "fuzzy math"!

For your benefit, I'll publish a link to a tiny post by Paul Krugman which includes a chart showing the economic impact of your precious tax cuts for the wealthy compared to when Clinton raised taxes.

Read it and weep.

At 1/29/2008 11:02 PM, Blogger Dan Johnson-Weinberger said...

Thanks for the link. Yes, this is good news. We should think of Amtrak service the same way we think of highways or corporate welfare -- investments in our economic development. As it turns out, the Quad Cities' economy is strongest when it is tied into Chicago (the capital of the Midwestern economy). Right now, with a lack of Amtrak service, a 170 mile trip seems too far away. People actually fly to O'Hare from the Quad Cities. So, we don't get as much commerce between the two cities as we should.

The point is, the $6M or $8M annual operating cost is an investment in economic development.

Amtrak, just like I-88, doesn't exist to make a profit. That's what businesses are for. The benefits of Amtrak, like the benefits of I-88, are enjoyed by lots and lots of people (anyone who benefits from a stronger economy), so the costs should be paid by lots and lots of people.

The capital to start up service is thought to come from the State of Illinois as part of the next big capital bill.

Unfortunately, so far, the ratio of spending for highways is 7 times the spending for transit and rail. That needs to change in order to ensure that the Amtrak connection gets funded.

Anytime you want to guest blog, feel free.



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