February 24, 2005 |
SOMETIMES in government, it takes more than words to bring about change. Earlier this month, President Bush, frustrated that Congress had not moved on his proposed reforms to the passenger rail system, said that subsidies for Amtrak should be eliminated starting Oct. 1. Since then, something interesting has happened: lawmakers, journalists and citizens are starting to talk seriously about the future of passenger trains in America. Many have been critical of the changes the president and I have proposed.
October 11, 2012
Amtrak set another ridership record for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, carrying 31.2 million passengers. Ridership was up 3.5 percent from the previous year, while ticket revenue grew by 6.8 percent to a record $2.02 billion. The ridership record was the ninth in the last 10 years. The national railroad, created in 1971 after private railroads went bankrupt, required a federal subsidy of $1.42 billion for operating costs, capital expenses and debt-service. That was down from $1.48 billion in 2011 and $1.57 billion in 2010.
April 18, 2005
The Bush administration has now put bankruptcy of America's national railroad near the top of its to-do list. The White House plan to dismantle Amtrak and replace it with a system of poorly funded state railroad systems represents a desperate, dangerous policy that ignores the need for more - not less - rail travel as motorists face skyrocketing gas prices. America does need to consider whether rail service can be made more viable in rural and other areas where motoring or flying is preferred.
February 21, 2008
Boosting security on mass transit has been an urgent concern ever since the terrorist train bombings in Madrid that killed 191 people in March 2004. So it's troubling that it took years for Amtrak to launch a new strategy to combat attacks. The good news is that, starting this week, travelers on Amtrak's busy Northeast corridor trains running through Philadelphia should be better protected - probably without missing their trains due to security delays. Amtrak's move toward mobile, 15-member teams of armed police conducting random checks looks like a smart approach.
December 16, 1986
There he goes again. President Reagan wants to sell Amtrak. Last year he wanted to end subsidies to it, which would have killed it. Congress of course ignored that proposal, which is spectacularly lacking in merit. So here he comes again, proposing to sell Amtrak - or at least the Northeast corridor portion of it, which is where the riders and fares are - the loss of which would kill the whole system as surely as killing the heart murders the body. Congress is certain to reject this assault on Amtrak just as it did last year - only faster, since now the Democrats control the Senate and have tightened their hold on the House.
February 3, 1988 |
The Amtrak control-tower operator whose actions led a passenger train to crash into a maintenance vehicle Friday has been suspended without pay and faces both administrative and possible criminal charges. Thomas Connor, 30, of Aldan, an Amtrak employee since 1980, was suspended from his $480-a-week job Monday within an hour of telling investigators for the National Transportation Safety Board that he was to blame for the crash, which injured 25 people and caused $3 million worth of track and equipment damage.
July 24, 1991 |
That trip to Harrisburg could take on a whole new dimension when Amtrak unveils its first luxury service on a New York-to-Pittsburgh train beginning Aug. 1. Amtrak, which is dependent on tax money for roughly a quarter of its operating budget, has developed over the last 20 years into the railroad equivalent of a fast-food outlet: identical trains offering predictable service, generally clean but with few frills. But soon, a previously undistinguished train called the Pennsylvanian will blossom with Amtrak's first attempt to pamper well-heeled customers with gourmet food, fine wine and overstuffed chairs.
March 21, 1991 |
This much is not in dispute: Amtrak is laying off 28 workers Monday - all of whom are members of the Philadelphia local of the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen. But Amtrak and the union differ on the reason layoffs are taking place. According to Amtrak spokesman Cliff Black, the company decided to abolish a work crew to conserve funds. According to Dave Simmons, chairman of Signalmen's Local 18 - and others in the union - Amtrak is just being vindictive. "There is no doubt in our mind that management is retaliating against the workers for refusing to work overtime," Simmons said.
August 31, 2011
TRENTON - Most of Amtrak's train service between Philadelphia and New York was to resume this morning, while SEPTA is still avoiding the Trenton train station flooded by Hurricane Irene. NJ Transit said it was testing trains last night in hopes of resuming service this morning; SEPTA's Trenton line will continue to begin and end at the Levittown station today. The chokehold on one of the busiest parts of the nation's passenger rail service was caused by the Assunpink Creek, a waterway so small you might not notice it under normal conditions.
February 20, 2008 |
Amtrak's new 15-member security teams, heavily armed and "exceedingly polite," will show up in force this week at Northeast rail stations, trying to secure a system that is inherently vulnerable to terrorist attack. The new security measures, including random searches of ticket holders before they board, are designed to balance safety and convenience, Amtrak officials said yesterday. Unlike air travelers, train passengers will not be required to walk through metal detectors or take off their shoes, and trains will not be delayed by the searches.