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Question of the day

Wednesday, Jan 29, 2014

* Illinois Radio Network has a piece about where the GOP candidates stand on Amtrak funding

Rutherford, the state treasurer who is in a four-way Republican primary for governor, said it’s ridiculous for the government to prop up an outfit which makes customers wait in gravel parking lots for trains which are four hours late.

“Until they can get those trains to run on time, I don’t see having any good government money going to it without a great deal of accountability,” Rutherford said in a public broadcasting debate in Peoria.

State Sen. Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale) has supported Amtrak but echoed Rutherford’s concerns: “If the trains don’t get there, it doesn’t mean that they need to run faster. Yes, Amtrak’s vital, but it needs to perform better.”

Financier Bruce Rauner says the passenger rail system is part of a big, important picture. “To the degree we don’t have the money to invest,” Rauner said, “we should form creative public-private partnerships to help finance investments in our infrastructure so it’s world class.”

* The Question: Your thoughts on state Amtrak funding?

- Posted by Rich Miller        


55 Comments
  1. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jan 29, 14 @ 11:00 am:

    Amtrak ridership is way up in recent years. Obviously, folks want it as an option, so I favor state support.

    Geez, how many times a month does Rutherford take that free state plane shuttle from Midway to Springfield? Borrow some money from Rauner and buy a clue, dude.


  2. - Six Degrees of Separation - Wednesday, Jan 29, 14 @ 11:04 am:

    The state funding seems popular with voters, particularly downstate residents and college students and their parents. The subsidy funding is probably the difference in 10 or so extra trains a day that, if not running, would make the system substantially less convenient. Not really a difference maker between D’s and R’s from what I can see.


  3. - Almost the Weekend - Wednesday, Jan 29, 14 @ 11:06 am:

    I actually agree with Rauner public-private rail system is the way to go, but for the private sector to buy into the project the public sector will have to put in a major investment, which I think is a no-brainer. These are good paying jobs and could connect areas like Rock Island, Peoria, Metro East to the Chicagoland area. This would be very beneficial for businesses and constituents of Illinois


  4. - AFSCME Steward - Wednesday, Jan 29, 14 @ 11:08 am:

    The success of Amtrak is vital to the Illinois economy. But there also has to be accountability. Why are the trains chronically late ? Why are the facilities so inadequate. Infrastructure issues need to be resolved. Trains might run faster, but if there isn’t commitment to punctuality and resolving the other issues increased speeds won’t matter.


  5. - Carl Nyberg - Wednesday, Jan 29, 14 @ 11:09 am:

    Republicans are tools.

    They cut money for stuff like Amtrak and prioritize freight rail.

    Then they complain that Amtrak has problems staying on schedule.

    Let’s call the game for what it is.The GOP base is White people who own cars and live in single-family homes. A certain number of these people can get agitated you’re attacking their way of life by giving money to trains.

    If Rutherford wants to differentiate himself from the three clowns in the race he needs to be smarter than the guys in the clown car on public policy.


  6. - Six Degrees of Separation - Wednesday, Jan 29, 14 @ 11:09 am:

    That being said, it’s sometimes useful to threaten someone’s funding if they are not making good use of the resources that they DO have. Amtrak’s on time performance is worse than Metra’s, and it’s not entirely an apples to oranges comparison.


  7. - fed up - Wednesday, Jan 29, 14 @ 11:10 am:

    Amtrak is useful and I often rode it to and from college.
    Wordslinger, Rutherford is saying their needs to be accountability, not a bad thing. Also he lives in Pontiac, so I doubt he rides the Blago/Quinn airline very often but way to stay partisan.


  8. - fed up - Wednesday, Jan 29, 14 @ 11:14 am:

    hey Carl, way to play the race card when nothing else works whip it out,if nothing else Dems are predictably. Amtrack is very popular in central & Southern Il. You know the vast sea of red south of I 80.


  9. - downstate hack - Wednesday, Jan 29, 14 @ 11:19 am:

    The investment (both State and federal) in the so-called high speed rails and trains was ridiculous. Better to spend on better equipment and facilities and to improve on time performance.


  10. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jan 29, 14 @ 11:20 am:

    ===Also he lives in Pontiac, so I doubt he rides the Blago/Quinn airline very often but way to stay partisan.===

    Rutherford has an Office at the JRTC. If you want to go down the road to speculate State Plane usage to get from Springfield to Chicago, I hope you know the answer before you opne the door.

    To the Question,

    I am a big believer in the Amtrak. For Illinois, I enjoy the options to get to the corners of the state via rail. Funding? I get the “on time” arguement, but can the Amtrak also say, “We would love to be on time at the rate everyone asks, but at the funding level we are currently at, that challenge is difficult at times to meet.”

    Pick a lane … I mean, pick a track you guys.

    Yes to funding and oversight with benchmarks to offset the funding/scheduling/on time vicious circle.


  11. - OneMan - Wednesday, Jan 29, 14 @ 11:24 am:

    == The success of Amtrak is vital to the Illinois economy ==
    Considering the general performance of Amtrak in this state no wonder we have issues.

    As much as I appreciate you all subsidizing trips I take to my folks and my in-laws I can think of better ways for the state to use those transportation dollars.

    And Carl, thanks for the laugh this morning.


  12. - Dan Johnson - Wednesday, Jan 29, 14 @ 11:26 am:

    Great investment and the upgrade in 2006 (led by the GA over the then-Governor’s ambivalence) to double Amtrak service has proven to return mobility to our entire economy.

    We really ought to get a sixth Springfield train to leave in the mid-afternoon for Chicago. There’s a huge gap in the schedule between 10 am and 5 pm and we should get a sixth train in that gap.

    By the way, as ridership continues to increase, the state appropriation has gone down a bit, since the extra ticket revenue directly reduces what the state has to pay. So the more people (like the Treasurer) take Amtrak, the cheaper it gets for taxpayers to buy that mobility.

    And the on-time performance is much, much better than it was in the Bush years. The “high speed rail” investment in the tracks includes an agreement with the Union Pacific to run the trains on time 90% of the time (something we didn’t have before).


  13. - susiejones - Wednesday, Jan 29, 14 @ 11:26 am:

    I travel Amtrak frequently to get to Chicago for work; only way to go as far as I am concerned. forget about high speed rail and use that money for Amtrak. the state should support Amtrak. it is cost efficient, better on the environment, and you can work while you ride, or relax–we need to invest more in Amtrak, not less. I have never had to wait hours for the train out of Galesburg, but maybe I just pick the right days to ride. it isn’t always on time, but I don’t recall waiting more than 45 minutes…still a pain, but it happens.


  14. - Bourbonrich - Wednesday, Jan 29, 14 @ 11:28 am:

    Since Amtrak is beholden to the freight carriers for the use of the rails, it’s hard to expect them to control something out of their control. Freight gets the priority. There is only so many trains that can run on the current system without going back to more than one set of tracks.


  15. - Anon - Wednesday, Jan 29, 14 @ 11:31 am:

    I’d need to see a plan, and a price tag along with it before I could make a judgement here.


  16. - Smoggie - Wednesday, Jan 29, 14 @ 11:34 am:

    Regarding the questions about Rutherford –

    I’ve heard that Rutherford owns (rents?) a place off Michigan Ave. in Chicago, and that he spends a lot of his time there.

    Given that he’s also got the office downtown, that would make sense.

    As as Oswego Willy said, I don’t think there is anything partisan about asking how he gets to Springfield.

    And to the merits — I’ve never used Amtrak, but yesterday my Facebook feed was filled with people screaming about delays.

    It is not working and really needs to be fixed.


  17. - G'Kar - Wednesday, Jan 29, 14 @ 11:35 am:

    Others have made the points I was going to make: that one challenge Amtrak has is that it runs on tracks owned by freight carriers and they have priority. I take the train to Chicago fairly regularly and have never had to wait more than 30 minutes.


  18. - G'Kar - Wednesday, Jan 29, 14 @ 11:38 am:

    As to Smoogie’s comment at 11:34, the weather we had recently will upset ALL transportation. How many people were screaming about their flights being cancelled at O’Hare and Midway?


  19. - OneMan - Wednesday, Jan 29, 14 @ 11:41 am:

    I had written a fairly long screed here, but cleared it out. I will say this as someone who has ridden Amtrak multiple times and someone who takes a Metra train into the Amtrak owned and operated Union Station. I am underwhelmed with how Amtrak uses the resources they have. Show some improvements and then lets talk.


  20. - just pandering - Wednesday, Jan 29, 14 @ 11:47 am:

    To Dan Johnson:

    Let’s be clear. The HSR deal that includes on-time targets is more between the state and the feds than it is with UP, which owns the track and right-of-way. If passenger trains don’t run on time, that’s not UP’s problem, but it is, potentially, the state’s problem, given that the billion-plus in fed grants for HSR come with provisions that could require the state to pay for more improvements to meet the on-time objectives, with the penalty being state repayment of federal grants. How to do that on the Chicago-St. Louis corridor, especially if UP decides to increase freight traffic dramatically, as it has promised/threatened, and especially given that the HSR deal says that freight trains get priority? You can’t do it, unless you build a parallel track.

    The point is, all the government money in the world can’t guarantee on-time performance when the government neither owns nor controls tracks that can accommodate only so many trains. UP holds all the cards in that respect.

    There’s a reason why no other industrialized nation in the world puts freight and passenger trains on the same tracks, and we may soon discover that reason firsthand in Illinois.


  21. - Toure's Latte - Wednesday, Jan 29, 14 @ 11:55 am:

    Used Amtrak for years to get to and from St. Louis. Fast, reliable, and I can work relaxed instead of drive. WAY cheaper than flying, and for me door-to-door, just as fast as flying, and a lot less hassle.

    Ironically, once work began on the high speed rail, we had to disembark onto buses for parts of it, and that was a major hassle. The new stretches of track are nice and smooth though, so that’s an upgrade worth doing, even if the high speed trains never get here.

    (Gulp) Agree with Dillard (with Mussolini too?): they don’t have to run faster, just on schedule.


  22. - Formerly Known As... - Wednesday, Jan 29, 14 @ 11:56 am:

    At this point in time? No way, no how.

    Once we get our house in order and have a bit more money to spend? Definitely.

    For the time being, that state $ would be better spent going towards education or poverty reduction services.


  23. - Sunshine - Wednesday, Jan 29, 14 @ 11:59 am:

    Amtrak should be funded by private funds with state backing. I for one feel that train access between all downstate communities is both doable and can be profitable.

    Freight trains run on time for the most part and those corporations would likely do a great job with passenger trains.

    I would love to jump a train for the day to Quincy for some local cuisine or to Champaign for a ball game. Lots of opportunity.


  24. - fed up - Wednesday, Jan 29, 14 @ 12:07 pm:

    Oswego, “Rutherford has an Office at the JRTC. If you want to go down the road to speculate State Plane usage to get from Springfield to Chicago, I hope you know the answer before you opne the door.

    I didnt open the door I responded to a plainly partisan attack. All state office holders have an office in the JRTC.
    I agree that Blago airlines is a waste but like much of Blagos waste in rescources and personnel Quinn has kept the waste alive. Let all the office holders drive cars. Except Cullerton he cant be trusted with a car.


  25. - Chicago Cynic - Wednesday, Jan 29, 14 @ 12:27 pm:

    Carl Nyberg took the words right out of my mouth (or keyboard as the case may be):

    “Republicans are tools. They cut money for stuff like Amtrak and prioritize freight rail. Then they complain that Amtrak has problems staying on schedule.”

    This is exactly right! Everytime the state and Feds invest in Amtrak, their ridership soars. This investment has shown that the more you invest in Amtrak, the greater the returns.

    It reminds me of how Mayor Daley used to starve Meigs of funds, refuse to keep its infrastructure up and then use that to complain about public usage. Then of course he decided he was tired of surreptitiously destroying Meigs and went for the full frontal assault in the middle of the night.


  26. - Louis G. Atsaves - Wednesday, Jan 29, 14 @ 12:46 pm:

    Nice drive by comments: “Republicans are tools.” Whatever.

    I’ve ridden Amtrak within Illinois, to Washington, DC and other places over the years. The ticket is inexpensive but Amtrak is chronically late. Some Amtrak lines share freight lines which is a cause of constant tardiness. The trains themselves are old and need to be replaced.

    What is always mind boggling to me is the Amtrak train to Washington D.C. runs just as a long time wise as driving from Chicago to DC. No internet service, and at times no cell service are other distractions.

    Most train stations outside of Union Station in Chicago are pretty deplorable. This includes Illinois. There seems to be little effort to streamline service within Amtrak, which remains a quaint like 60’s operation..

    Would a major investment including laying new tracks that are not shared by freight lines be feasible? That is the real question. The system itself needs massive funding, and the returns may not be there to justify the expense. Ticket prices would really have to be raised, which would strongly affect those with limited funds. Even a private company I feel would be reluctant to partner with Amtrak or the Federal Government to bring about changes necessary.

    Just some thoughts from a “tool.” Too bad intelligent discussion is marred by such comments.


  27. - Ray del Camino - Wednesday, Jan 29, 14 @ 12:48 pm:

    It’s important transportation infrastructure. The feds invest in highways and so does the state. The feds invest in Amtrak, and so should the state. The better it does, the more people ride it, the lower the subsidy eventually has to be. I’m all for modernizing and speeding up the trains and their dedicated tracks. I do enjoy Amtrak to Chicago and to Champaign, so hope they keep it up.


  28. - Norseman - Wednesday, Jan 29, 14 @ 12:57 pm:

    The Baron’s definition of public/private partnership: initiative where the public puts up the money and the private gets the profit.

    To the post. Passenger rail service is a necessity so some assistance must be expected. It easy to agree with those asking for accountability, but that term is tossed out so loosely to render it meaningless. All government programs need to be accountable. The problem is the politicians definition of accountability often differ depending upon one’s constituency support.


  29. - Al Grosboll - Wednesday, Jan 29, 14 @ 12:58 pm:

    Rich, Amtrak is important to Illinois and deserves support. It provides all citizens with an affordable way to leave their cars and travel by rail. Amtrak is especially critical for poor people and students. Ridership has soared in recent years, underscoring both the popularity and need for rail. All three Amtrak lines in Illinois serve state and private colleges and universities. Students attending U. of I. EIU, SIU, ISU, WIU and other schools rely on Amtrak to get to and from college.

    Two issues should be addressed. First, Amtrak experiences major delays not because of incompetence but rather because it shares the rails with freight trains. So long as freight traffic grows and dominates, Amtrak will be hurt. Second, the finest rail lines in the world are subsidized. Whether you travel in Europe or Japan or in other areas of the world with excellent rail, taxpayers subsidize and support passenger service. We need to give Amtrak more support.


  30. - McDouble - Wednesday, Jan 29, 14 @ 1:01 pm:

    As advanced and “first-world” as the United States is in most respects, how come we don’t have actual high-speed bullet trains like they do in Europe and various parts of Asia?

    Honestly, I couldn’t care less about Amtrak’s funding because supporting them is propagating the past instead of working towards (what should be) the future. (Cue the peanut gallery insisting Amtrak is the only player who could provide high-speed rail. I’ll believe it when I see it and not a moment sooner)


  31. - dr. reason a. goodwin - Wednesday, Jan 29, 14 @ 1:04 pm:

    Amtrak is a very good use of state money. Areas beyond Chicagoland deserve some forms of mass transit. My experiences have been pretty much on time and pleasant.


  32. - OneMan - Wednesday, Jan 29, 14 @ 1:07 pm:

    The more you invest the better Amtrak does…

    Like the 800 Million they lost on food over a 10 year span…

    Amtrak lost more than $800 million on its food and beverage services over the last 10 years, largely because of waste, employee theft and lack of proper oversight, government auditors have found.

    From that conservative bastian, the New York Times..
    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/03/us/politics/amtrak-lost-834-million-on-food-in-last-decade-audit-finds.html?_r=0

    Stop blowing a million a week on food and we can talk.


  33. - INDEPENDENT - Wednesday, Jan 29, 14 @ 1:21 pm:

    I take Amtrak about 6 times a year from downstate to Chicago and back. Its typically been on time or within 15 minutes. I love having it as a choice to go to Chicago and think its subsidy’s need to continue. I think people complain about late trains more than they actually are late.


  34. - drew - Wednesday, Jan 29, 14 @ 1:23 pm:

    Here’s a link to Amtrak on-time performance reports. It appears December was a pretty bad month for Illinois service.

    http://www.amtrak.com/historical-on-time-performance

    Also, note that some long distance trains (California Zephyr, Texas Eagle, City of New Orleans) operate along the same routes as the other Illinois trains, but I don’t believe the long distance trains receive subsidies from Illinois. The California Zephyr and Texas Eagle appear to have worse on-time performance than the Illinois Service trains.

    My experience riding Illinois trains has generally been positive, though once there was a significant delay due to major storms in Southern Illinois. Seems like a worthwhile expense to me.


  35. - Misterwhipple - Wednesday, Jan 29, 14 @ 1:33 pm:

    Four most utilized Midwest Amtrak Stations:
    1.Chicago
    2. Milwaukee 617,000 riders
    3. St. Louis 378,000 riders
    4. Normal 263,000 riders

    And why do we not discuss the subsidies provided by government for air travel? And, wile we’re at it, let’s throw in comments about on-time travel out of O’Hare and Midway.


  36. - Ghost - Wednesday, Jan 29, 14 @ 1:49 pm:

    is almost a catch 22, if you dont fund it we dont get a good rail system, but because we dont have a good rail system no one wants to fund it.

    if you put a 220 mph train from chicago to st. louis with a single stop in spfld I beleive you could develop large scale use. people visiting chicago could realsitically take the train to spfld or even st lousi for a day trip; people could live in springfield and have a 1 hr commute to chicago allowing people to live in a place with a lower cost of living. people visiting spfld could easily take day trips to chicago. Add in a direct line from central to the airport and you could pull in people seeking to fly out of chicagos airports from the midwest. they could park at the splfd terminal (which would be expanded and add some decks like around st louis; traing to the major airport, fly out…


  37. - Illinois taxpayer - Wednesday, Jan 29, 14 @ 2:00 pm:

    Agree that Amtrack’s greatest need is simply to show up on time. My family gave up on Amtrack after many, many evenings of four-hour waits in those gravel parking lots, as Treasurer Rutherford mentioned.


  38. - train111 - Wednesday, Jan 29, 14 @ 2:12 pm:

    Ghost hit it right on the head.

    Amtrak is a political football.
    It was created by the Nixon administration for the sole purpose of saving union jobs which were being eliminated by the railroad companies as they dropped unprofitable passenger service.
    So here we are 40+ years after its creation in esentially the same place. The country has not pledged enough money to make it meaningful, yet if goes through enough Congressional districts that it will not be eliminated. Even the most conservative tea party guys don’t want to tell their constituents tha they’re going to lose a government service despite their rhetoric–that’s bad publicity after all.
    Amtrak is not run on the basis of what would be the best service in the best location. Service is oftentimes determined by politics plain and simple. A good case in point is the Cardinal which runs 3X per week between Chicago and New York via Indianapolis, West Virginia, and DC. That is the biggest dog money loser of all the long distance trains, but Amtrak couldn’t get rid of it and concentrate on more meaningful service because as long as Robert Byrd was Senator from W Va he controlled enough federal $$$ to keep it running. Now even with Byrd gone, Amtrak still runs the train.
    As long as Amtrak is tied to the hip to congressional funding, it will never be anything more than it is now. A political football that is used by both sides of the aisle, and not a meaningful service.
    We as a country must decide: do we want it or not. If we do then we must fund it properly, and not have its purse strings tied at the hip to congrescritters.
    Illinois’ funding of Amtrak trains has indeed led to large ridership increases. I recently dropped of my mother in law and her friend at Joliet one evening and was shocked by how many people were there to get on the train.


  39. - Norfolk & Way RR - Wednesday, Jan 29, 14 @ 2:15 pm:

    AMTRAK is a federal/state subsidized passenger carrier operating on tracks owned by other rail entities. Without taxpayer subsidies it will go the way of the passenger trains run by private corporations (down the tubes). I believe it can’t be run profitably without taxpayers subsidizing its rate structure. By the way, who can guess who will own the “High Speed Rail” rolling stock, equipment & etc.? Hint: it’s not private rail industry, the feds or 49 other states! Yes, the State of Illinois will soon be in the rail passenger business !! That means if the State does the same bang up job with this that it normally does passengers can take heart cause the trains will be late faster !!


  40. - Joe M - Wednesday, Jan 29, 14 @ 2:44 pm:

    The Quincy to Chicago/Chicago to Quincy (thru Macomb) routes are very heavily used. They even had to add an extra train and times each way because the use is so heavy. Antrak is vital to WIU and the city of Macomb. SIU at Carbondale, and UIUC at Urbana also have an Amtrak route that are heavily used.


  41. - Upon Further Review - Wednesday, Jan 29, 14 @ 2:46 pm:

    @Carl Nyberg:

    Does this have to be a “racial” issue? I know many white people who also use Amtrak.


  42. - Lycurgus - Wednesday, Jan 29, 14 @ 2:57 pm:

    the old public-private infrastructure partnership. Bruce must be talking to Rahm again.


  43. - orzo - Wednesday, Jan 29, 14 @ 3:08 pm:

    Rutherford’s answer really disappointed me–rail transportation is a serious issue, and he says they have poor service, so we should starve them to make sure their service is worse. I take Amtrak frequently, and am largely satisfied. I wish we did more to make it easier and more convenient, but we are at the mercy of legislators who never have to take public transportation.


  44. - Formerly Known As... - Wednesday, Jan 29, 14 @ 3:29 pm:

    If you are traveling in-state, Amtrak works well for many. Amtrak is great if you are traveling between Carbondale and Springfield, or Chicago and Springfield. It’s also comparable to Greyhound in terms of travel time and cost.

    If you are traveling out of state and planning ahead, however, it’s a very different story.

    Try evaluating travel times and prices more than 2 weeks out to destinations like New York or Washington. The train rides are 17 hours or longer each way, and only cost about $20-$25 less than a flight each way.

    Even if you are earning minimum wage, it would be more cost-effective and convenient for you to book the flight and save yourself from taking two extra unpaid days off work.


  45. - Chavez-respecting Obamist - Wednesday, Jan 29, 14 @ 3:37 pm:

    I took the train to DC once. It was great. Yeah, it took forever, but I saw stuff I would not have seen from the air.


  46. - SimonSez - Wednesday, Jan 29, 14 @ 3:45 pm:

    As someone who takes Amtrak on a regular I am fairly satisfied with their service and my anecdotal observation would be that preformance has drasticly improved since the HSR investment.

    My problem with the subsidy is that it seems like the price the public is asked to pay is perhaps too low. If I can ride for basically the cost of fuel (excluding maintence, parking, etc) it becomes a no-brainier to ride rather than drive. Granted this requires some pre-planning to take advantage of the lowest fares, but if every time someone asks how much my ticket cost they respond with “That’s All?” it is likely Amtrak could reasonably charge more and the public would see it as reasonable. Amtrak’s prices seem to be designed to keep ridership growing, perhaps to make the argument for future subsidies stronger. Although I personally benefit much more from the subsidy, it seems remarkably inefficient to me.


  47. - Steve - Wednesday, Jan 29, 14 @ 3:52 pm:

    If Amtrak was such a great idea it would turn a profit (which it hasn’t for decades). Coming downtown to pay $30 to park to take a train isn’t exactly a winning business model. But, it’s a winner for the cronies who financially support Dick Durbin and gang.


  48. - Precinct Captain - Wednesday, Jan 29, 14 @ 4:00 pm:

    I wrote about Rutherford’s Amtrak answer in the debate thread last week. He claims he has studied Amtrak, yet he seems clueless as to why there are many delays in Illinois: Amtrak doesn’t own its tracks. Since Amtrak doesn’t own its own tracks, it’s at the mercy of freight line owners who, no surprise, put their services ahead of Amtrak’s. I would support state capital investment to help Amtrak build its own lines that allow for much higher speeds.

    ==Freight trains run on time for the most part and those corporations would likely do a great job with passenger trains.==

    Maybe, that’s how a lot of old rail lines ran, freight operations and passenger operations. However, there is a reason that type of service died. It is because the automobile and roads became the top dog in transportation. Considering that Amtrak has profitability issues, freight rail companies may not want to waste money running passenger lines.

    ==and at times no cell service are other distractions==

    What do you want Amtrak to do about that, lol? You’d have the same thing driving. Complaint invalid.

    Something else noticed is that we are all demanding accountability out of Amtrak because it gets a subsidy from government even though it has user fees, but there is no pass you have to buy to get on the interstate highway system. Why aren’t we complaining that highways and the meager gas taxes we charge don’t pay for themselves like people are about Amtrak? Hint: pro-automobile bias and conditioning.


  49. - Darienite - Wednesday, Jan 29, 14 @ 4:03 pm:

    If you had asked me this 2 years ago, I would have responded ‘nada’. However my son is attending a state school this year and Amtrak has been a godsend instead of making a 7-8 hour round-trip car ride. And we already had to get his tickets for his coming home on Spring Break because that week sells out quickly. As far as HSR, I need to be convinced ridership will increase to such an extent to justify its cost.


  50. - Louis G. Atsaves - Wednesday, Jan 29, 14 @ 4:18 pm:

    “==and at times no cell service are other distractions==”

    When I drive to Washington, DC, I have 100% cell service on the highway. On the train when it meanders through farm areas, you lose cell service. Driving is faster. Maybe some commentators have it right, start all over instead of patching up Amtrak?


  51. - Ken_in_Aurora - Wednesday, Jan 29, 14 @ 4:25 pm:

    ===Republicans are tools. They cut money for stuff like Amtrak and prioritize freight rail. Then they complain that Amtrak has problems staying on schedule.===

    How exactly do Republicans “prioritize freight rail”? I hate to get in the way of a good toolish rant, but learn a little bit about how railroads work, will you?

    I personally don’t understand the hue and cry for Amtrak to pay its own way. Keeping Amtrak running provides an essential service for many people in the state, and running it at a loss is of no consequence - most governmental functions are the same. And I feel the same way about the PO, by the way.

    Government is government, business is business - they ain’t the same thing and should not be expected to run to the same standards.

    I personally don’t understand the hue and cry for Amtrak to pay its own way. Keeping Amtrak running provides an essential service for many people in the state, and running it at a loss is of no consequence - most govenmental functions are the same. And I feel the same way about the PO, by the way.

    Governnment is government, business is business - they ain’t the same thing and shoudl not be run to the same standards.


  52. - Ray del Camino - Wednesday, Jan 29, 14 @ 4:28 pm:

    If the highways were such a great business model, they’d turn a profit. If the airports were such a great business model, they’d turn a profit. How come nobody ever says that? If the cops were such a great business model, they’d turn a profit. If the fire districts were such a great business model, they’d turn a profit.

    Transportation infrastructure is a necessary and legitimate public expense, which we shouldn’t expect to “turn a profit.”


  53. - Michelle Flaherty - Wednesday, Jan 29, 14 @ 7:08 pm:

    Rutherford would sing a different tune if the train was named Pongee and had it’s own FaceBook account.


  54. - woodchuck - Wednesday, Jan 29, 14 @ 9:45 pm:

    Let’s not forget that constitutional officers are required by law to have a residence in Chicago and a residence in Chicago. Given Rutherford’s tweets the other day about the roads between Chicago and Pontiac in the white out conditions, I’d say he prefers –and understands — the issues involved in travel between Chicago and “downstate”. Let’s not forget he represented that district in the House and the Senate. He understands the concerns of those voters. Key words- understands and appreciates. Has Rauner ever taken Amtrak? Silly question. Why would he. Makes for an interesting debate question, though. I’ve taken the train from Springfield to Chicago multiple times, praying it would be on time so I could make a 10am meeting and lunch meeting, then get back to Springfield by 10pm same day to save money on mileage reimbursement. A lot of of my college friends, taking the train from Chicago to south of Springfield, depended on Amtrak to be on time, although not always the case. This is an issue to appeal to younger voters. Let’s not lose sight of that. Rutherford’s position will appeal to those younger voters.


  55. - Skeptic - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 9:08 am:

    You know what would be really great would be an east-west train so you can go (for example) from Champaign to Bloomington without having to go through Chicago.


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