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Your daily source of fresh takes on news affecting America's passengers. See also the weekly NARP Hotline.

Are US crashworthiness standards “dooming” passenger rail?

Written By Colin Leach One frequent criticism of passenger rail’s viability is that it entails high fixed costs and thus discourages potential investors. While many of these costs, such as track maintenance and equipment maintenance, are relatively constant, at least one can, according to a recent study, be significantly lowered: that of equipment purchases. In a new paper released by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, David Edmonson argues that outdated Federal Railroad Administration (F

For California, “No Build” is Not an Option

Written By Sean Jeans Gail CNN is at it again. The latest entry in their series of anti-rail attack ads focuses on California’s statewide high speed rail project, which will connect the state’s biggest cities through 220 mph service. In it, they found an unlikely ally in Quentin Kopp, one of the key architects of California’s high-speed rail project. Kopp is angry that the California High Speed Rail Authority has backed off from the construction of a planned four-track rail corridor int

Salt Lake City Transit ignores partisanship to put transit to work for them

Written By Logan McLeod Wikicommons; Author: Cool Hand LukeRecent statements by House GOP leadership underscore how transportation, once a bipartisan issue in the U.S. Congress, has become politicized at the national level. But as Angie Schmitt’s story on DC Streetsblog proves, that partisan divide vanishes at the local level, where local leaders more interested in bolstering mobility and facilitating economic growth than political posturing. In her story, Salt Lake City: How a Remote Red-St

Help preserve the National Network!

Tell Congress a National Network is "non-negotiable"! Amtrak’s long-distance trains are under the microscope again! On June 6, House Transportation & Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) reportedly said Amtrak’s nationwide service mandate is “something we have to take a hard look at… There are places that it costs us a lot of money and the ridership is not there.” Some 173 million Americans—more than half of our total population—live within 25 miles of an Amtrak stat

Is investing in the future really a "risk"?

Written By Colin Leach A recent article in Bloomberg contended that Amtrak may be wasting hundreds of millions of dollars on “equipment it doesn’t need”and runs the risk of requiring further federal subsidies. These concerns, voiced in Amtrak’s Inspector General’s May 28th report on fleet planning practices, stem from the railroad’s purported lack of a “disciplined process to analyze its equipment needs in a manner consistent with sound businesses practice.” Lack of such a pr

Americans aren't happy with auto dependence

Written By Malcolm Kenton Train advocates hear it all the time: "Americans like their cars too much, and our communities are too spread out, for passenger trains to really be viable here," or some variation on that statement. But those who make such sweeping declarations likely aren't paying close enough attention to what's happening in most of the country's metropolitan regions, and are unaware of the increasingly evident trends in Americans' travel habits as evidenced by most data gathered ov

New Swiss study: it’s not just the farebox

Written By Colin Leach Koln, Germany (Wikicommons; calflier001)A traditionally vexing problem for public transportation systems has been that of measuring economic utility. Is farebox recovery the best measure of a system’s economic value? What percentage of costs should be covered by ticket sales? Thinking along these lines, as Eric Jaffe argues in an Atlantic Cities article, causes policymakers to take a narrow view of what constitutes economic benefit. Such a view, he argues, allows them t

National Train Day 2013 Roundup

Written By Malcolm Kenton This year's National Train Day was likely the best-attended and most widespread celebration of the occasion in its six-year history. Amtrak endorsed events in over 90 cities and towns, while dozens more independently organized celebrations took place, many in places that don't currently enjoy passenger train service. NARP Ambassadors were present at 63 events, and those who have sent us reports so far say that each one had hundreds of attendees, and that NARP's giveaw

The Multi-Modal Era is Upon Us (Again)

Written By Malcolm Kenton During the Great Recession of the 2000s, Americans traveled considerably less--both within and between cities and regions--as many lost jobs, worked fewer hours, and had less money to spend. After previous economic downturns in the "automobile age," vehicle miles traveled (VMT) was one of the first indicators to resurge. But while general travel rates have rebounded over the past couple of years, the amount of miles Americans drive has continued to drop. Chart from Ad

Amtrak breaks another ridership record

Written By Sean Jeans Gail Amtrak announced yesterday that ridership has continued to increase during the first half of Fiscal Year 2013, with the railroad setting a new single month ridership record in March. Individual monthly ridership records were also set in October, December, and January. The announcement comes the same week that Amtrak President and CEO Joseph Boardman will appear before the House Committee on Transportation to discuss the company’s FY 2014 budget request. Demand fo