November 25, 2014

Elyria
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Amtrak on board with station relocation

 The Lorain County Transportation Center is going to be host to a new Amtrak stop in Elyria. Amtrak is committing $2.9 million dollars towards this project. Kristin Bauer

The Lorain County Transportation Center is going to be host to a new Amtrak stop in Elyria. Amtrak is committing $2.9 million dollars towards this project.
Kristin Bauer

ELYRIA — Amtrak has made an offer of $2.9 million toward further rehabilitation of the renovated Lorain County Transportation Center so passenger rail service may return to the structure.
Of course, this is all contingent on Norfolk Southern Railway allowing such work to be done on the rail lines it owns, but county officials are hopeful a financial commitment from Amtrak — something the commissioners have been working on for years — will sweeten negotiations.

“This is a good project, just something I would describe as very tenuous at best,” Commissioner Ted Kalo said. “But any step forward, and that is exactly what this is, is a good step.”

The money will be used to help fund much-needed improvements at the facility that have impeded use of the building as the county’s transportation hub with Amtrak as the anchor. They include low-level platform and station improvements on both the south and the north tracks, and possibly an elevator at each platform from the passenger tunnels to permit safe passenger access to the platforms.

It is not known when the money will be made available to county officials or the extent of the work to be done. However, by offering the money, it signifies Amtrak is beginning to see the value the facility could have on its Elyria business.

They are even willing to abandon a previous plan to upgrade the existing train station on East River Street, a project Amtrak’s Joe McHugh, the vice-president of government affairs and corporate communications, said could be completed at a lesser cost.

“Nevertheless, we agree that the passenger experience would be improved markedly if our trains could stop at the transit center,” McHugh said in a letter to Kalo dated July 25.
The next negotiation among Amtrak, Norfolk Southern, the Federal Transportation Administration and the county, which owns the old train depot, could come in September or October.

“Until we have an agreement from Norfolk Southern, we don’t have anything,” Kalo said. “We will just have to continue talking with them until they agree to let us do something on the platform.”
Kalo said the county has between $900,000 and $1 million to contribute to the project. The funds are left over from a previous federal earmark that was not allocated.

The lobbying by Kalo and others for an Amtrak and Norfolk Southern partnership has been years in the making. When Elyria Mayor Holly Brinda assumed office, she rallied behind the project, too.
She, as well as U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Avon, have sent letters to both transportations giants urging them to help move the project along.

“Obviously, we want the county to take the lead because it’s their building, but that’s not to say we aren’t thrilled to hear this latest news about Amtrak’s willingness to move forward with a $2.9 million commitment to reconfigure the grade separated access platforms,” Brinda said. “From our standpoint, the city stands ready to help leverage any additional resources to further explore the feasibility of returning passenger rail to downtown Elyria.”

Brinda said she has been told Amtrak has developed a very rough estimate of what it would cost to accommodate passenger trains at the center. A more detailed estimate based on an actual design will need to be developed by the county.

“But the project is moving forward. We now have a willing partner in Amtrak,” she said.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com.


  • LookBackTwo

    Yea! More wasted tax dollars!

  • ForwardLooking

    Every month hundreds of people in our community are now using the 4 trains a day that stop in Elyria. It makes sense to return to the train station that was built for that purpose. The current modular building by the old freight shed discourages riders. It’s about time we stopped only putting money into roads and airports!

    • Heath J

      Substantiate that with actual facts or edit your post. Even “hundreds” ( Which I don’t believe for a moment) Wouldn’t cover the cost of this nonsense.

      • neroden

        6408 passengers used the Elyria station in 2012 — an average of 17 per day, or *534 per month*. So yes, it is hundreds. Believe the facts.

        More would use the station if it were in the Depot Street location and if it were in good condition.

  • Mark B

    It would also be nice if there was buss transportation there also , so passengers could get of the train and hop on a buss to finish there travel if they dont have someone to pick them up at the train station .

  • agent5959

    With the 49th Street bridge article yesterday and this news today, I’m excited for Elyria. The infrastructure is aging and complex, and these two projects alone could do a lot to streamline the movement of people around (and in and out of) the city. A modern city is a successful city.

  • GreenWheels

    Our family has used Amtrak in the past, and sitting in that sub par shed at 4 am is not what I would encourage. It would be an utter waste to put more $$ into that location. The logical location is the transportation center which would be accessible and visible. Other parts of the world have put resources into mass transit, we need to do this. Yes there are obstacles to overcome, but I applaud those past and present who are moving to make this a reality. Adding bus service is the next logical step.

  • Jason M. Schmidt

    This thing is a money pit.

  • Pablo Jones

    What kind of business will come to town by moving the Amtrak station? What kind of businesses will come to town because of a train station that stops at 4am?

  • Heath J

    Let’s blow money on yet more public transit that’ll never justify it’s cost.

    The leftists running Elyria just don’t seem to realize that it’s a microcosm of Detroit and no amount of tax dollars they seem to think grow on trees will change that.

  • Logdog39

    YEAH RIGHT ! Public Tranportation is the KEY to all prosperity ! And the ever popular 4 AM Amtrak stop in Elyria is bound to draw a couple of passengers every week ! Well worth the millions ! I also marvel on the success of the new Transportation Center, and I’m hoping that it will be used for something,,, someday ! And talking about success,, have you noticed how they are packing 3 or 4 passengers into our 24 passenger buses ? But,,look on the bright side,,at least we don’t have all that dirty old industry poluting our air ! The Union Democrats succeeded in pricing them right out of town ! We’re just surrounded by “success”, but like Detroit, we’re running out of taxpayers to PAY for it !!!

    • ahblid

      Logdog,

      Well driving certainly isn’t the way to prosperity. In 2010 we drivers only manage to cover 42% of the $202 Billion spent on our highways via fuel taxes and other direct fees. That represents a $118 Billion subsidy to drivers. That same $118 Billion would have paid to run every bus, train, monorail, ferry, automated people mover, and demand response service in the US for 4 and a half years.

      And again, that’s just the subsidies to the highways!

      Most local streets are paved far more with property taxes than with fuel taxes.

      • Joe Smith

        You are kidding right? The automobile is what made America and made it possible to work anywhere instead of just where a train could go. A vast majority of the people do not use trains and buses etc. And the gov makes more in taxes per gallon than the oil companies do.

        • ahblid

          Joe,

          Actually America grew up around its train system. Most cities & towns that exist today exist either because a train went there or there was a convenient water body to allow for passage by a ship or boat.

          As for why more people drive than use trains and buses, that’s thanks to government subsidies. People choose that which appears to cost them less. Passenger rail used to be privately owned & operated, until Government interfered in the Free Market by subsidizing flying & driving.

          Finally whether or not Government collects more in taxes than the oil companies collect from a gallon of gas I can’t say. Still doesn’t change the fact that the Government spends more on roads than it collects in taxes. Again, we drivers only manage to cover 42% of the costs of our highways.

          • Pablo Jones

            Was Elyria a city before there were train lines or did the train lines come to Elyria because they were a city? I believe Elyria was here first. The only places you can say the rail lines built the cities is out west. I would say businesses are more likely to build near a highway system than a rail line.

            A large portion of the gas tax money is spent on Bike paths and mass transit projects. The amount of money spent was increase greatly during the stimulus. Money spent to buy votes with stupid projects.

            Rail projects don’t work in the US like they do in other countries because of our size and the location of people and business. Two main reason are, 1. The population density of each European country is greater than ours. 2. Because each European country is for a large part self contained it’s easier to have rail lines between major hubs. In other words, a European country would be like Ohio having double or more the population and the majority of the businesses in Ohio would be between other Ohio businesses. But the reality is a business in Ohio does work with a business in Texas, California, and Georgia. The business next to them does work with companies in other states. You would have to build rail lines just like the highway system and they wouldn’t get nearly the use that the highways get.

          • ahblid

            Pablo,

            I can’t say if the city or the rails came first for Elyria, didn’t look up the history.

            And businesses will indeed locate near rail lines since they know that they can depend on them to bring in their customers & their workers. In fact, all other things being equal, real estate within a 5 block walk of a train station will have a greater value than further away.

            Next, in 2007 only 14% of the fuel tax revenues were diverted from highways to non-highway projects. At most it may have increased to perhaps 20% by now.

            As for the Stimulus, none of that money came from fuel taxes. And the highways got more Stimulus money than all forms of public transit, from subways to light rail to HSR to commuter rail to buses.

            Finally, one doesn’t need the population density of Europe for trains to work. Our country today is far more densely populated than it was 100 years ago and our trains worked just fine. This is a common myth that one needs high population densities before rail works.

            Virginia just started 3 years ago an Amtrak run service between Lynchburg and DC. Lynchburg has a population of just over 70,000 people. The State estimated that they would see 50,000 rides taken in the first year of operation and based upon that estimate, they set aside enough money to fund a 3 year trial.

            Just six months in they had already bested that estimate. By the end of the first year more than 120K rides had been taken. And the train had turned a $2.1 Million operating profit. Virginia instead of subsidizing operations had made money off of the train.

            As for that argument about business, freight seems to have no issues with that. And 40% of all freight in this country moves by rail. Only 28% moves by truck, which is the second highest behind rail. And when it comes to people, they aren’t driving from Ohio to Texas, California, or Georgia.

          • Pablo Jones

            Well I can give you the answer. The city came first, before the rail line. The rail line was actually moved to the current location to get it out of the way and not stop traffic downtown. Let’s look at the real estate near the current train stop. Within 5 blocks do those homes have a higher value? Once again what value does a train stop have that is only stopping at 4am. And just because it moves doesn’t mean that time will change, it’s based off the target arrival and departure times in Chicago and the East Coast stations.

            I’m not arguing that the government spends more money on transportation than the fuel tax pays for. The politicians like to buy votes and spend money on projects they can’t afford. Just look at Ohio they promised money for projects that they won’t have for nearly 30 years.

            The federal gas tax hasn’t been raised since 1993 (18.4 cents) and after inflation is equivalent to roughly 2/3 of what it once was. But States also add roughly 30 cents in their own taxes as well. That money would go much further if it weren’t diverted to non-road building.

            10 percent of federal highway funds in the Surface Transportation Program must be used for traffic enhancements, such as highway beautification and transportation museums. Between 2005-2009 it averaged 20%. In 2010, $198,000 went to a driving simulator installed in the National Corvette Museum. A $140,000 federal grant was used to build a scenic park in downtown Asheville, North Carolina.

            From 1992-2010, $4.89 billion went to pedestrian and bicycle facilities, according to the National Transportation Enhancements Clearinghouse. Another $1.26 billion was used for landscaping and scenic beautification. 2.86 cents from every gallon, or 16% of the Federal tax goes towards mass transit.

            For railroads 42% of freight by ton is shipped by rail. 44% of it is coal. The bulk of the rest of it is grain, chemicals, lumber, etc. large items from manufacture to manufacture.

            Of that freight 70% is on the 7 class 1 lines the bulk of which are long distance haulers. That is coal from the western coal fields, and items from the ports to the other side of the country. If you need to ship something that isn’t on one of those 7 mainlines that you are shipping it by truck. Look around Elyria or other cites, what percentage of businesses have rail spurs and use them? If businesses what to ship by rail it will go by truck by road to a transfer station. Elyria doesn’t have one and isn’t going to get one. Businesses don’t need to locate near a train track, so the train track for most businesses means nothing.

            By the way when I talk to my wife and kids I’ll tell them you said they didn’t just drive to Florida from Ohio. And all those license plates from out of state that they seen on the highways, those weren’t really there either. Or my neighbors cousin who drove up from Arizona he isn’t really in Ohio. And when I drive on the turn pike I expect to see the highway patrol pulling over every car that has a license plate from a state that isn’t touching Ohio because they must be fake.

            As for the Lynchburg train, you found 1 train in the whole country that made money. That is really a case study that it can work. Use old trains that aren’t being used and have a host rail company let Amtrak use the lines below normal use costs. I wonder how many tax breaks/credits the politicians gave out. How do you explain every other rail line that looses money?

          • ahblid

            “The city came first, before the rail line.”

            Irrelevant since the point was that many of the city’s in this country exist because of the RR’s. I didn’t say every city.

            “Once again what value does a train stop have that is only stopping at 4am.”

            Well the 6,408 people who got on an Amtrak train last year found the value; even if you didn’t.

            And the State of Ohio found the value thanks to the $12.9 Million that Amtrak spent on goods & services within the State of Ohio.

            “10 percent of federal highway funds in the Surface Transportation Program must be used for traffic enhancements, such as highway beautification and transportation museums. Between 2005-2009 it averaged 20% ……. Another $1.26 billion was used for landscaping and scenic beautification. 2.86 cents from every gallon, or 16% of the Federal tax goes towards mass transit..”

            Crying about diverted monies being diverted a second time carries no weight.

            ” If you need to ship something that isn’t on one of those 7 mainlines that you are shipping it by truck.”

            Wrong! Again, most things still move by train. Yes, it may end up on a truck for the final few miles. But a majority of the things you buy in a store took a ride on a train first.

            “By the way when I talk to my wife and kids I’ll tell them you said they didn’t just drive to Florida from Ohio.”

            So your wife takes the kids on business trips?

            The context of your original statement was in regard to business using the highways; not family vacations.

            “As for the Lynchburg train, you found 1 train in the whole country that made money.”

            No! I presented the one train that serves a sparsely populated area and still makes money. Remember you claimed that it couldn’t be done because we don’t have population densities like Europe. The typical, but incorrect and now proved false, statement by those opposed to rail.

            As for explaining why rail lines lose money I already did that. Government interfered in the Free Market by subsidizing flying & driving. One wouldn’t expect a Wendy’s to survive very long if the city started subsidizing the local McDonalds and Burger King; but not the Wendy’s.

            Of the three, flying, driving, and passenger rail only passenger rail was ever 100% privately owned & operated without ongoing subsidies.

            Finally, while Amtrak does pay less than market value, that is what the RR’s agreed to. And they’ve gotten benefits from dropping passenger rail and pushing it off onto Amtrak. For example, Amtrak has been paying pensions for RR workers who retired before Amtrak came into existence and never worked a day in their life for Amtrak.

            One reason that despite their complaints about what Amtrak pays that they also don’t want to kill Amtrak either, as they’d have to pick up the pension tab.

          • Pablo Jones

            “Irrelevant since the point was that many of the city’s in this country exist because of the RR’s. I didn’t say every city.”

            You said, ” Most cities & towns that exist today exist either because a train went there or there was a convenient water body to allow for passage by a
            ship or boat.”

            I just showed that isn’t the case or most cities or towns.

            “Well the 6,408 people who got on an Amtrak train last year found the value; even if you didn’t.”

            Elyria isn’t even the 5th busiest stop. 6408 isn’t how many people got on a train those are on/off totals. If the people are making round trips that 3204 people, but most likely there are many repeat riders. Less than 1% of Lorain county and an even smaller percentage if you add in the populations for the counties south of us that would use the Elyria station.

            “And the State of Ohio found the value thanks to the $12.9 Million that Amtrak spent on goods & services within the State of Ohio.”

            Ohio pays $1.2 billion in Federal fuel tax. Should we be happy about the scraps they leave behind? Are those local workers or are they companies and supplies from out of the state so the benefit is minimal?

            “Crying about diverted monies being diverted a second time carries no weight.”

            The fuel tax was passed in the Revenue Act of 1932 to raise money for spending not paying down debt. The Federal highway funds in the Surface Transportation Program were given the purpose of building and maintaining roads that is what they are paid for. There was no diverting there was the assigning of purpose.

            “Wrong! Again, most things still move by train. Yes, it may end up on a truck for the final few miles. But a majority of the things you buy in a store took a ride on a train first.”

            From the AAR “Of rail freight, 91 percent are bulk commodities, such as agriculture and energy products, automobiles and components, construction materials,
            chemicals, coal, equipment, food, metals, minerals, and paper and pulp.The remaining 9 percent is intermodal traffic which generally consists of consumer goods and other miscellaneous products.”

            The majority of the things you buy in a store were delivered from factory to distribution center, to store, and then to home by truck and car. Maybe some components got to the factory by rail (corn syrup, grain, steel, etc.) but actual products are mainly delivered by truck.

            “So your wife takes the kids on business trips?

            The context of your original statement was in regard to business using the highways; not family vacations.”

            I was talking about businesses, trucks deliver their products from all over the country. In one of my previous jobs I had to manage which trucks were picking up from which supplier to minimize cost and maximize efficiency. You then said, “And when it comes to people, they aren’t driving from Ohio to Texas, California, or Georgia.” Which they do. And for the record I did take my family on my business trip in July by car.

            “No! I presented the one train that serves a sparsely populated area and still makes money. Remember you claimed that it couldn’t be done because we don’t have population densities like Europe. The typical, but incorrect and now proved false, statement by those opposed to rail.”

            I can find an example of a kid who was abused in a broken home by druggie parents that grow up to be successful. Just because you find one example doesn’t mean it will work across the board.

            “One reason that despite their complaints about what Amtrak pays that they also don’t want to kill Amtrak either, as they’d have to pick up the pension tab.”

            The Railroad pensions are paid for by the employers and employees through payroll taxes. They don’t pay SS. Amtrak employees and Amtrak pay into the fund because they are railroad workers just like any other railroad employee.

          • ahblid

            “I just showed that isn’t the case or most cities or towns.”

            No, you showed that one city, Elyria, wasn’t created by the presence of a train. However, it is located at the fork of the Black River which provides the water transportation in my statement.

            “Ohio pays $1.2 billion in Federal fuel tax. Should we be happy about the scraps they leave behind?”

            Since Amtrak gets no fuel tax monies, your argument makes no sense.

            “The fuel tax was passed in the Revenue Act of 1932 to raise money for spending not paying down debt.”

            Without regard to which version you wish to believe, mine or yours, the simple reality is that the fuel tax was NOT enacted to pay for highways. It was diverted to highways in 1956. And once again, that diversion was to have ended when 1 of 2 things happened. Either, the original plan for the Interstate Highways was completed or 1972, whichever came first.

            So the fuel tax is still being diverted from its primary purpose!

            “The majority of the things you buy in a store were delivered from factory to distribution center, to store, and then to home by truck and car.”

            I see no proof of that here. All you posted was the breakdown of what is moved by rail. It doesn’t show what percentage that represents of the goods in the stores.

            “You then said, “And when it comes to people, they aren’t driving from Ohio to Texas, California, or Georgia.”"

            Yes, you’re right I did say that. But as you noted, the context was still business. I was responding to your business comment. I never once mentioned or implied anything about family vacations or non-business travel..

            “I can find an example of a kid who was abused in a broken home by druggie parents that grow up to be successful. Just because you find one example doesn’t mean it will work across the board.”

            Once again, I only presented 1 example. The Northeast Corridor makes a profit. Several other state services are also getting close to doing so. In fact, the brand new service to Norfolk Virginia, which started just over 6 months ago has covered 96% of its costs. The odds are very good that within 2 years, if not sooner it too will be covering its costs. And Norfolk doesn’t have European population densities.

            Finally, go please back an reread what I wrote regarding RR pensions. Here, I’ll repeat it for you: Amtrak is paying money into the Pension fund for RR workers who never worked for Amtrak. Amtrak is helping to cover the pensions of workers who worked only for the freight railroads.

          • Pablo Jones

            “No, you showed that one city, Elyria, wasn’t created by the presence of a
            train. However, it is located at the fork of the Black River which
            provides the water transportation in my statement.”

            If you have ever been to Elyria you would know the river has an average dept of a 1′. There is no transportation, the closest a boat can come is several miles down stream near the mouth of lake Erie. Good try though.

            “Since Amtrak gets no fuel tax monies, your argument makes no sense.”

            As I said earlier part of the fuel tax gets spread out to other programs, a portion of which is mass transit and rails.

            “…fuel tax was NOT enacted to pay for highways….”

            I never said it was enacted to pay for highways I said it was enacted to raise revenue, along with dozens of other taxes. The spending had no purpose, much went to public works projects which built sidewalks and roads and social programs. It’s not my version or yours, it is what it is.

            “All you posted was the breakdown of what is moved by rail. It doesn’t show what percentage that represents of the goods in the stores.”

            Brush up on your reading, bulk commodities are things that most people don’t buy and definitely not in a store. This things are tankers of chemicals, coal, steal, lumber, grain, corn syrup, resins. That is what 91% is shipped by rail. These items don’t get unloaded and taken to the store. Only the remaining 9% is consumer goods that end up in a store, furniture, can goods, clothes, etc.

            “Once again, I only presented 1 example. The Northeast Corridor makes a profit.”

            They don’t make a profit and those that say they are coming close aren’t figuring in the depreciation and replacement costs of the trains and in certain cases the rails. I can point to dozens of routes and mass transit in nearly every city, none of it makes a profit or breaks even. Only on the backs of the tax payers do they survive.

            “Amtrak is paying money into the Pension fund for RR workers who never worked for Amtrak.”

            Do you even know what you are talking about? There is no AmTrak pension. There are not CSX employees collecting a pension that didn’t pay into it. It is a railroad workers pension Amtrak pays into it, their employees pay into it, CSX pays into it and their employees pay into it, etc. Guess what there are non automotive workers that belong to the UAW that pay into their pension plan and will collect from it as well. What is the point you are trying to make?

          • ahblid

            “As I said earlier part of the fuel tax gets spread out to other programs, a portion of which is mass transit and rails.”

            As I said earlier, Amtrak doesn’t get any fuel tax dollars! Period. End of sentence.

            Yes, fuel tax dollars do end up in the budgets for commuter rail, light rail, subways & L’s, etc. But Amtrak has never once received even a penny out of the Mass Transit Fund, which is funded by fuel taxes.

            “I never said it was enacted to pay for highways I said it was enacted to raise revenue, along with dozens of other taxes. The spending had no purpose, much went to public works projects which built sidewalks and roads and social programs. It’s not my version or yours, it is what it is.”

            Which changes nothing.

            The point still stands that the fuel tax was diverted to pay for highways. So complaining about diverted funds being diverted back to their original purpose holds no water.

            “Brush up on your reading, bulk commodities are things that most people don’t buy and definitely not in a store. This things are tankers of chemicals, coal, steal, lumber, grain, corn syrup, resins. That is what 91% is shipped by rail. These items don’t get unloaded and taken to the store. Only the remaining 9% is consumer goods that end up in a store, furniture, can goods, clothes, etc.”

            Please take your own advice, as the error is yours. Repeating what you already said changes nothing.

            I want to know what that 9% represents of the total goods in stores. Does that 9% represent 20% of all goods in the stores? Or does it represent 50% of all the goods in the stores? Or does it represent 90% of all the goods in the stores?

            Telling me that 9% of the totals moved by train are consumer goods tells me nothing about what percentage of the goods in the store got there at least in part thanks to a ride on a train.

            “They don’t make a profit and those that say they are coming close aren’t figuring in the depreciation and replacement costs of the trains and in certain cases the rails.”

            While I’ll admit that I didn’t repeat the words in my last post, I did state earlier that I was talking about operating profits. And the NEC is at least making payments towards those capital costs, even if it is falling short. Plus part of the reason it is falling short is because Congress dumped the badly neglected 70 year old corridor on Amtrak when the Pennyslvania RR went bankrupt. And they never gave Amtrak enough money to restore it to a state of good repair so as to fix the years of neglect caused by the Penny’s decline.

            “I can point to dozens of routes and mass transit in nearly every city, none of it makes a profit or breaks even.”

            Amtrak is not considered Mass Transit any more than the airlines are lumped in with Mass Transit. Yes, it still has steel wheels, but it is NOT Mass Transit and is not comparable to it.

            “Do you even know what you are talking about? There is no AmTrak pension.”

            Yes, I know what I’m talking about. Clearly however you are not understanding what I’m talking about. So let me try this again.

            Since you mentioned CSX, lets talk about that. When Amtrak was created, CSX didn’t yet exist. CSX was formed by the merger of the Chessie system and the Seaboard Coast Line (SCL) in 1980.

            In 1971 as Amtrak was about to be born, worker for SCL who were at that time working in passenger service opted to retire rather than move to Amtrak on May 1st. Now, had Amtrak not happened when those workers retired normally, SCL would have needed to continue to make payments to the Railroad Workers Retirement Fund also known as the RRB (Railroad Retirement Board).

            However, one of the conditions of creating Amtrak is that SCL would not be burdened with those ongoing pension payments for those retiring workers; instead Amtrak was obligated to pick up those payments from SCL. So Amtrak is paying for the pensions of workers who never worked for Amtrak.

            Early on Congress used to do a line item budget for Amtrak and they actually listed how many millions they were giving Amtrak to pay for those retired workers. After 10 years or so, Congress stopped doing that and it is now just lumped in with the total operating funds that Amtrak gets each year. Early on it was over $300 Million a year IIRC. I’ve not seen a recent estimate, but it’s probably down to something on the order of $100M.

            But everyone still considers that a subsidy to Amtrak even though Amtrak is really just acting as a clearing house.

          • neroden

            Bzzzt. Elyria was founded because of its location on the Black River — for hydropower.

          • ahblid

            Forgot to add that all Federal fuel tax dollars were diverted to the highways back in 1956. The Federal fuel tax was enacted in 1932 by then President Herbert Hoover for the purpose of helping to pay down our national debt.

            Then in 1956 Congress & President Eisenhower diverted the fuel tax to help fund Ike’s dream of the Interstate Highway System. However, the 1956 highway act called for the fuel tax to revert back to its original purpose in 1972. Instead Congress continues to divert it to the highways.

            So complaining about fuel taxes going to non-highway projects is a nonstarter since the fuel tax itself isn’t going where it is supposed to be going.

          • neroden

            “Elyria was founded along the Black River (Ohio)
            in 1817 by Heman Ely, who built a log house, dam, gristmill, and
            sawmill on the site. Ely began to build more houses to accommodate
            European-American settlers migrating to what was then called the
            Northwest Territory. By the time Ely died in 1852, Elyria had five
            churches, three grocery stores, three flour mills, a newspaper, and a
            population of more than 1,500.”

            Elyria was founded around the river. When river traffic died, Elyria survived because of the railway.

            You’re also dead wrong about population. Ohio has higher population density than France. Just so you know. Also, most European businesses have international contracts stretching across the whole of Europe. And Ohio businesses do work with other Ohio businesses far more than with faraway business.

          • Pablo Jones

            France’s pop. density is 289, Ohio’s is 280.

            What river traffic was on the black river? Canoe?

          • Joe Smith

            Then it advances 10 fold by the use of automobiles, the modern America we have today would not exist without the auto due to the mobility and jobs created by them. Rails are near useless these days for other than cargo

          • ahblid

            “Rails are near useless these days for other than cargo”

            Joe, no doubt you’d love for that to be true, but unfortunately for you it isn’t true. Ridership on all types of trains in this country has more than doubled in the last 36 years. Back in 1973, the low point for passenger rail, American’s took 1.921 billion rides on trains. As of 2009 Americans were taking 4.423 billion rides on trains.

            Of people considering flying vs. taking the train between NY & DC, 77% chose Amtrak last year. And that’s not even true high speed rail.

            And most cities today have no room for expanding their highways, much less building new ones. Not to mention that we can’t afford it either. $118 Billion in subsidies is already way too much money.

            Furthermore, most cities with rail would see an increase in congestion if rail were eliminated. For example; out in Portland Oregon where their buses and light rail move people an equal distance. According to the Texas Transportation Institute, one of our nation’s leading experts on congestion, if Portland threw away all public transit drivers would see an extra 6.951 million hours in delays. And light rail accounts for half of that number. Drivers would also see an extra $151 Million in costs due to wasted fuel and lost productivity from sitting in all those delays if mass transit went away.

            And the alternative, the bus, costs more to operate than rail does. On average in this country it costs 90 cents per passenger mile to move people by bus, and that doesn’t include any allowance for the fact that those buses run on our subsidized roads without paying any fuel taxes to help cover the damage they inflict.

            It costs 60 cents per passenger mile to move people using light rail and 40 cents per pax/mile to move people using commuter rail and heavy rail (subways & L’s).

          • Joe Smith

            And all that pales in comparison to autos, I know of nobody that rides a train yet every person I know has a car like 99% of the people that read this paper. Nice try, no matter what you say. autos outdo in every way in people transport

          • ahblid

            Then you need to get out more! There are plenty of American’s who can’t even drive a car. And in fact, since 2008 the number of miles driven has been declining as well as the average number of cars owned by each household.

            However, all of that is academic. The simple reality is that if you want Amtrak riders to pay 100% of their costs, then start by paying 100% of your driving costs. Fair is fair!

            And the subsidies for driving hurt your wallet far more than the subsidies to Amtrak. According to the Taxpayer’s Receipt for 2009 a married couple with 2 kids and $80K in income watched $3.83 of their Federal income tax dollars go to Amtrak. That same couple watched $110.06 of their Federal income tax dollars go to highways. That’s on top of fuel taxes and state & city level subsidies to highways.

            A retired couple with $100K in income watched $3.11 go to Amtrak and $89.38 go to the highways, even if they can no longer drive a car, much less own one.

            If you want lower taxes, get out of your car and onto an Amtrak train!

          • Joe Smith

            You need to get out more and look around, do you see autos or a bunch of trains? I said nothing about subsidising etc, I am saying as far as transporting people that there is no comparison. You go enjoy your trains, I and 99% of the rest of the people here will be in a car today

          • ahblid

            Alas you won’t be joining 99% of the population in their cars since more than 25% of the population can’t even drive a car. And of those who can drive, only about 86% of them use it to drive to work according to the US Census Bureau.

            And I am out and looking around. And I’m also looking at the numbers. And again, driving is decreasing. The under 35 crowd is looking for and using alternatives to driving. They’ve figured out that the car isn’t as important as you’d like it to be. They’ve figured out that they don’t like sitting in traffic. They’ve figured out that we can’t keep building highways and roads, both for lack of space and because of the costs. They’ve figured out that they can do more with the extra money they save by having only 1 car per family, instead of the 2 or more cars per family of my generation.

            And as a business owner, I and other owners, have figured out that I can be more productive on a train than I can in my car. This is not to say that I don’t own a car; I do. And I love driving my car. I have no intentions of giving it up either, at least until I can no longer safely drive it.

            But when I travel on business, I don’t generally rent a car. I save my money and my time by getting on their local transportation system. If anyone needs to get out and look around sir, it would be you! Sorry!

          • Pablo Jones

            People are driving less because the economy has been in the dumps for the last 5-6 years. Gas prices are at $3-4 a gallon. That isn’t people thinking mass transit is great and they are glad to use it. It is people can’t afford to drive so they make sacrifices and use mass transit. Sacrifice is the key word, they give up something they want. We have seen this before the economy goes down people switch to mass transit, the economy picks up people switch to their cars.

            Also what I get from your comment is since you prefer to travel by mass transit when possible you would like more tax money spent on it so you can benefit from it. Well talk to your politicians and say you are willing to pay higher fairs for mass transit. Then ask them if they will create a special tax that will go towards funding mass transit. Then you would have your funds and people with their vehicles can have their funds and everyone will be happy.

          • ahblid

            Pablo,

            If it was because of the economy, then ridership on mass transit would also be going down. Which in fact it did take a dip in 2009 because of the economy. However, it has been steadily going up since then even as driving continues to go down.

            And no, we have never before seen a decline in driving since at least the 50′s. It has always gone up no matter what.

            As for your higher fares bit, the only reason that fares are artificially low is because of subsidies to drivers. When most people think that the only cost of driving is the gas in their tank, then it looks cheaper to drive than to take mass transit.

            Remember, passenger rail used to be privately owned & operated until Government interfered in the Free Market by subsidizing flying & driving.

          • Train-Head

            you are at fault for saying 99% of the people use cars. I would like you to come to Cleveland and take a look at the public transportation system here. Come downtown at rush hour and you will find stuffed trains with lots of people on them. 99%? no, not even close.

          • Joe Smith

            I guess I was going by everybody I know which 100% drive cars and 0% on trains in this area and a train would be used so little around here it is not worth doing or the R/R would spend the money to build a big station here. enjoy your week

          • Train-Head

            Two thumbs up to you!! One of the best things we can do in Ohio is to get ourselves rid of the non-train governor we have in this state and get one who understands that not everyone in Ohio drives, Those of us who drive or have someone drive us around only do so because of the political aspects of a governor who has no understanding of public transportation and thinks that everyone in Ohio drives a car and wants to go out of town on an overcrowded highway. I don’t like the idea, but there is no train between major cities in the state like some other states in our proud land.

          • Pablo Jones

            That rail plan to connect, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, and Cincinnati was a joke. First if you were in Cleveland or Columbus and wanted to get to Cincinnati you could drive there faster. Second the stopping points weren’t near anything. Third the costs were outrageous. And Fourth the government and state don’t have the money to fund these kind of projects. The government needs to cut back significantly on it’s spending or the economy will never recover.

            True not everyone drives, but that doesn’t mean I should be funding their transportation if they want to take a trip.

          • ahblid

            Well they’re funding your trip when you drive; only fair that you reciprocate.

            Oh, and there was nothing wrong with that rail plan other than the fact that too many Republican’s saw it as something that President Obama wanted and would get credit for; so they opposed it.

            The joke was that the 3C’s plan was written by late Mr. James Seney, the former mayor of Sylvania and a Republican. He wrote that plan several years ago after being appointed to the Ohio Rail Commission by then Republican Governor Bob Taft.

            Mr. Seney’s plan then went to the Republican controlled Ohio State Senate where it was approved 33-0 to seek Federal funding for the plan. It only became a bad plan when President Obama signed the check.

            Mr. Seney shortly before his untimely death actually wrote a piece for the newspapers laying out those details above and lamented on how the party he loved and supported for years had turned on his plan for one reason only; politics.

            I actually had to laugh when Governor Kasich stood up and insulted his entire party by saying something about having stopped those “rail zealots.”

          • Pablo Jones

            Taft was an idiot Governor, and part of the reason a large portion of all these construction plans were approved but there isn’t enough money to fund them for 30 years.

            Do you think it wasn’t politics when members of the same party support each others spending plans? Or is it only politics when it goes against what you want?

            It was a costly boondoggle and shouldn’t happen no matter who was president. Just because you have good intentions doesn’t mean it is the right thing to do.

          • ahblid

            “Do you think it wasn’t politics when members of the same party support each others spending plans? Or is it only politics when it goes against what you want?”

            Do you even bother to read?

            Here, let me refresh your memory: “lamented on how the party he loved and supported for years had turned on his plan for one reason only; politics.”

            Mr. Seney himself called it politics.

            And it wasn’t a “costly boondoggle”. Yes, it most likely would have required a small subsidy for operations, but much like the Lynchburg route and other routes in Virginia which all travel at the same speed that 3C’s would have had, it would have done well.

            Most of the complaints thrown around at that time were nothing but propaganda and were not supported with facts.

          • Pablo Jones

            “However, all of that is academic. The simple reality is that if you
            want Amtrak riders to pay 100% of their costs, then start by paying 100%
            of your driving costs. Fair is fair!”

            Since I pay federal taxes, state taxes, property taxes, excise taxes, and every other taxes, I think it is fair to say I am paying 100% of my driving costs.

            According to this website (http://www.wheredidmytaxdollarsgo.com/) 2% of my income tax goes towards transportation. I would prefer that most of that 2% go towards highways and roads.

            If I want lower taxes I would prefer the reduction of other spending areas, and having everyone have some skin in the game by paying taxes.

            As for your retired couple, within 5 years they have already received much more out of SS than they ever put in. Almost every working person is paying for them to retire, they can pay their fair share for the roads so I can get to work and pay for them to live.

          • ahblid

            “Since I pay federal taxes, state taxes, property taxes, excise taxes, and every other taxes, I think it is fair to say I am paying 100% of my driving costs.”

            Well by the ridiculous logic, every rider on a train paid 100% of their costs too then!

            “If I want lower taxes I would prefer the reduction of other spending areas, and having everyone have some skin in the game by paying taxes.”

            Well killing Amtrak isn’t going to do much for you. In 10 years you’ll have saved a whopping 40 dollars if you represent that family of 4. Meantime your driving habits will have cost you more than $1,000.

            And nonsense on that Social Security bit. If they live long enough, maybe they’ll get more than they put in. But it sure won’t happen in just 5 years.

          • Pablo Jones

            “Well by the ridiculous logic, every rider on a train paid 100% of their costs too then!”

            But they don’t. They don’t have cars so they don’t pay fuel tax. Most inner city workers that depend of mass transit don’t earn enough to pay income tax. So how are they paying for it?

            Local, State, and Federal fuel taxes pay for the bulk of the roads, (minus the massive spending increases from 2007 on.) Most people don’t use rails or mass transit to get to work so they support the fuel tax and pay the income tax. Further they most likely own a home or pay rent which goes towards property taxes.

            ” Meantime your driving habits will have cost you more than $1,000.”

            That is an investment in the freedom to move about as I want without waiting on mass transit. Plus if I had to pay fares for my family every time I went some where it would cost much more than $1000.

            Social Security is another mess for another day, but since you only talk about trains that day may never come. But I will give you some examples.

            Prior to about 1984 people were paying into SS less than 3% of their income. With the average earnings between the 60-80′s they would only put in maybe $10-20,000, with cost of living adjustments they pull out much more. Now if a woman was a home maker and never worked she didn’t put anything in, but she would collect on her husbands SS. All this extra money is coming from those working and going straight to them. A person in their 20′s now however will get back less than they put in, they would be better off putting their money in a bank. Now here is the real kicker. The longer you live the more you collect and if you die young you may not get back what you put in. So who has the shortest life span? Poor black men. Who has the longest life span? Rich white women. So the rich white women who probably never worked are collecting the SS benefits from the poor black man.

          • ahblid

            Agreed, they aren’t paying fuel taxes. But they are paying fares. Call it fares or taxes, it still represents the user paying a portion of the costs for their mode of transportation.

            Therefore each are paying a portion of their costs directly. The rest of the monies are coming from other indirect sources, be it income taxes, sales taxes, property taxes, or other taxes. So until we drivers are paying 100% of our costs directly we have no standing to require train riders to pay 100% of their costs directly.

            “Most inner city workers that depend of mass transit don’t earn enough to pay income tax.”

            While the median income of bus riders is low enough to support that conclusion, that isn’t true at all when it comes to rail services. The subways of NY City aren’t filled with poor riders. Yes, the poor do make up a portion of the ridership. But you’ll find business people on them, lawyers, stock brokers, and people from all walks of life. Heck, even the Mayor of NYC often takes the subway to City Hall, much to the dismay of his security detail.

            “That is an investment in the freedom to move about as I want without waiting on mass transit. Plus if I had to pay fares for my family every time I went some where it would cost much more than $1000.”

            That’s only the money you paid via Federal income taxes. Your car cost you a whole lot more to buy, you have the fuel taxes, other taxes, repairs, etc. AAA tells us that it costs us 58.5 cents per mile to drive our cars when one includes all the costs of car ownership; except for the subsidies to our roads & highways.

            Look, I’m not suggesting that you throw away your car and only use a train. As I stated before, I love my car and I have no intention of giving it up. But there are times when it costs more to use one’s car than it does to get on a train. For a family of 4, vacation isn’t one of those times where the train would be cheaper. But your wife dropping you off at a train stop (assuming one was convenient) so that you can get to work while she takes the car to shop, take the kids to soccer practice or whatever, is far more likely to cost one less.

            “Local, State, and Federal fuel taxes pay for the bulk of the roads, (minus the massive spending increases from 2007 on.)”

            Not true! Even back in the 50′s, the best the fuel taxes ever did was to cover about 75% of the costs of the highways. And that percentage has been declining ever since. The numbers are far worse for local streets. Some states don’t even share fuel taxes with the local municipalities and those that do don’t share more than about 20% of what’s collected. That means that the bulk of the funding for local streets comes from property taxes.

            As for the SS discussion, I’d love to see a cite for that 3% number. However, even if it is correct, a worker earning $60K a year for 45 years would have paid in just over $80,000 at 3%. Throw in the employer match and you’ve now got $160,000 in SS for that worker.

            So a worker retiring at age 65 with an average annual benefit of $13.9K would have to live to 77 and a half before they outlived their money.

          • Pablo Jones

            The fares they pay don’t even come close to covering the costs. If the costs were as low as you say they are then why are all of the mass transit systems struggling. $0.20-$0.40 a passenger mile charge them that and there shouldn’t be a problem with funding. I was just in Washington DC and it cost much more than 40 cents a mile and they are still having problems with funding.

            Once again you point to New York city and say look at a all the business people using mass transit. Well look at Detroit, Toledo, Cleveland, Cincinnati, etc. Very small percentages are high income people. Sure you will find a couple but their percentage compared to the whole is very small.

            Just to let you know I do keep track of my car expenses. My car has cost me 26 cents a mile. That includes fuel, maintenance, taxes, registration, insurance, cost, and also figuring in the taxes that go towards transportation. I guess my car is a better mode of transportation than trains. I guess it makes sense not to buy a new car every couple years..

            For social security you can go to their website and see the rates by year. And your example is completely flawed. A worker earning $60,000 a year for 45 years? The median income now is only about $49,500. In 1980 is was less than $8,000. In 1967 it was $2500. That is less than $20,000 total. Add in their employer and that is $40,000.

            So using the SSA’s own online SS calculator earning $10,000 every year from 1967-2012 the monthly payment would be $1300 a month. Now lets even say we split the difference and they pay 5% to SS. $500 a year towards SS. With the Employer match $1000 a year for a grand total of $22,500 they put in and $45,000 total. They will be paid $15,600 a year. In 1.5 years they will get back everything they put in and in 3 years they will get back everything put in.

          • ahblid

            “If the costs were as low as you say they are then why are all of the mass transit systems struggling. ”

            Funny, I don’t recall saying that costs were low. However, the answer to your question is that the buses are killing them. In DC it costs them 53 cents per passenger mile to operate the Metro. It costs them $1.40 per passenger mile to move people using a bus.

            Making matters worse, bus riders only managed to cover 21.49% of their costs, while the train riders covered 62.89% of their costs.

            “Once again you point to New York city and say look at a all the business people using mass transit. Well look at Detroit, Toledo, Cleveland, Cincinnati, etc.”

            Well since Detroit, Toledo, and Cincinnati have no rail systems naturally there is a limited amount of suits riding public transit. As for Cleveland, go stand in Tower City station and watch how many suits get off/on the train there during rush hour.

            “Just to let you know I do keep track of my car expenses. My car has cost me 26 cents a mile. That includes fuel, maintenance, taxes, registration, insurance, cost, and also figuring in the taxes that go towards transportation.”

            Baloney!

            No one can even tell you how much you paid in taxes, so just on that alone you number is wrong! And again, AAA (you know the people who advocate for us drivers?) tells us that it costs 58.5 cents per mile to drive our cars. The IRS tells us that it costs 55.5 cents and good luck arguing with them!

            So there is no way that you’re doing so much better than the experts at the IRS and AAA, especially when you say that you’re including a cost that they don’t even include!

          • Pablo Jones

            “Well since Detroit, Toledo, and Cincinnati have no rail systems
            naturally there is a limited amount of suits riding public transit. As
            for Cleveland, go stand in Tower City station and watch how many suits
            get off/on the train there during rush hour.”

            Still a small percent of total riders, and a small percent of the total number of people that work in downtown Cleveland. The bulk of business people use the rails for 3 hours a day, does that justify having it run all day and expanding the service?

            “No one can even tell you how much you paid in taxes, so just on that alone you number is wrong! And again, AAA (you know the people who advocate for us drivers?) tells us that it costs 58.5 cents per mile to drive our cars. The IRS tells us that it costs 55.5 cents and good luck arguing with them!”

            You don’t know how much you pay in taxes? I know what I pay in Federal, State, and local taxes. I know what I pay in property taxes, I know what my phone taxes are, I know what my sales tax is for large purchases and a rough idea for small purchases. I don’t care about the tax multiplier, i.e. taxes that the restaurant paid on because I ate there, that’s their taxes. I’m a numbers person.

            My car is 10 years old I’ve had it for 6 years and put over 100,000 miles on it. I paid $6,000 for it and without digging out the records lets say I paid $1000 in taxes and fees. Car insurance is $500 a year. Maintenance (fluid changes, tires, wipers, brakes, etc. is minimal, less than $0.01 / mile but lets just say $0.01. Fuel cost is just a little over $0.15 / mile (23 mpg, $3.50 / gallon). Now while I know what I pay in taxes I don’t know the proportion that is spent on roads. But lets say $300 a year. Let’s add that up $6,000 +1,000 + 3000 + $1800 =$11,800. Divide that my 100,000 = $0.118. $0.118+ $0.152 +$0.01 = $0.28 miles per gallon. Now also consider I have more than 100k miles, I inflated the taxes going to roads, I think I’m doing very well. Like I said it makes sense not to buy new cars every 3 years. Now what part of my analysis do you not agree with?

            And I’m not going to argue with the IRS. I like using their numbers to lower my taxes.

          • ahblid

            “Still a small percent of total riders, and a small percent of the total number of people that work in downtown Cleveland.”

            No, it’s not a small percent of the total riders. Not at all.

            “You don’t know how much you pay in taxes?”

            I know what I pay in total taxes. Neither you nor I know how much of that went into the roads & highways, but I can assure you that your number is low.

          • Pablo Jones

            If it is not a small percentage what is it then? Where are your stats on income breakdown of passengers?

            We can see what the proportions of government spending are. It is not a mystery. Apply those proportions to the taxes paid. 2-3% Federal, varies from state to state, Ohio is 5% of total expenditures. I think my $300 was pretty close, if not a little high since the source of state funding is roughly 1/3 Federal so is being double counted.

            What are your numbers and where are you getting them?

            http://www.nasbo.org/sites/default/files/State%20Expenditure%20Report_1.pdf

          • neroden

            You don’t pay any fares for the roads unless you drive on the Ohio Turnpike. That’s the only road in the state where you actually pay any fares, Pablo. Freeloader.

          • Pablo Jones

            You pay a fuel tax, license fees, registration fees which go towards using the roads. If you weren’t using the roads you wouldn’t pay those costs. So an indirect fare.

          • neroden

            You pay 0% of the costs of maintaining the roads you drive on, Mr. Jones. They are paid for by debt (bonds) issued by the federal and state governments. Look up the actual numbers some day.

          • neroden

            Vehicle miles travelled for cars are dropping every year and have been for five or six years. Total number of cars owned is dropping. Meanwhile, passenger rail ridership is up by over 4% per year.

            Cars are the tools of the past.

          • Pablo Jones

            Let’s go with 1975 because that is where I have the numbers.

            For rail in 1975, there were 3,391 million passenger miles. In 2009 there were 5,914 million passenger miles, a 74.4% increase.

            For highway in 1975, there were 2,404,954 million passenger miles. In 2009 there were 4,241,346 million passenger miles, a 76.3% increase. That is 716 times more miles by highway than rail.

            By air in 1975, there were 119,591 million passenger miles. In 2009 there were 551,741 million passenger miles, a 361% increase.

            Shouldn’t we give the money to where it is used and where the increases are?

            http://www.rita.dot.gov/bts/sites/rita.dot.gov.bts/files/publications/national_transportation_statistics/html/table_01_40.html

          • ahblid

            No, we shouldn’t be doing that. We’ve been doing that for the last 70+ years, which is the only reason why driving has increased so much. If we had thrown even 20% of what we’ve spent on highways at rail for the same time period, rail would be moving just as many passenger miles, if not more.

            Again, people choose that which appears to be cheaper. Government subsidies to roads & highways have always made driving appear cheaper than the privately owned trains were back in the 50′s, 60′s, and very early 70′s.

            We created a dedicated fund for highways in 1956 when we diverted the fuel tax into the Highway Trust fund. We didn’t have a dedicated fund for transit until 1983, nearly 30 years later, when President Ronald Reagan created the Mass Transit fund. And that money isn’t dedicated just to trains either. Funding also goes to buses, ferries, and other forms of mass transit.

            By the way, the passenger miles for highways is also a guess. There is no actual way to count passenger miles, since no one collects the necessary data.

          • Pablo Jones

            So who exactly are you and what do you do. You comment on newspapers all across the country but only about trains. Comments on youtube and twitter. Everything going back for several years. Are you an extreme enthusiast or are you paid by certain groups to push rails and trains? Do you or did you work in the railroad industry. What is your motivation.

            Let’s just cut to the chase what is it that you want? Do you want to just tell people all the wonderful benefits of trains. Do you want more money spent on trains. Do you not like highways. Do you not like tax dollars spent on roads. What is it that you don’t want?

            Lastly tell me how trains will make my life better. Convince me why I should take up your cause.

          • ahblid

            Ah, the old “I can’t win on the facts so let me dig up dirt approach.”

            No matter, I have nothing to hide and had you looked further you would have seen that I’ve said this before. I run a small network & computer consulting company that specializes in installing and supporting networks for other small (read under 100 employees) companies. Way below the radar of any company building or operating trains.

            And it was an emergency at a client yesterday that prevented me from responding to this and a few other posts. I was making my way down the page responding to your overnight posts when I had to run out.

            My motivation is nothing more than allowing people to post erroneous information without it being challenged, much like I’ve challenged you.

            As for want I want; Yes, I want to see more money spent on trains. Especially when long term it costs us taxpayers less money! And had you fully read some of my posts on here, you would have never asked me: “Do you not like highways.” More than once I’ve stated that I have a car and that I love to drive it.

            I have no problem with tax dollars being spent on the roads. I do have a problem with those who expect that train riders should pay 100% of their costs and then jump into their car and head out on the heavily subsidized roads & highways. If one wants train riders to pay 100% of their costs; then one must start by putting one’s own house in order and paying 100% of your costs directly. Not by subterfuge.

            The reason that rail cannot charge enough to cover costs is that the costs of driving are hidden. People only count the price of gas in their tank to go from A to B and compare that to the cost of rail. If the cost of that fuel actually represented enough money to cover 100% of the costs of the roads, trains would be able to raise fares and cover costs and still compare favorably to driving on price points.

            Finally, if one lives well outside of a major city and never ventures into a major city, then probably the only benefit you’ll ever see is lower taxes unless you were to use Amtrak to go places on vacation.

            But if you do live close to or in a major city or often fly to major cities, then you’ll find that rail is often the most efficient way to move about that city. And even if you never step on a train for whatever odd reason, your driving is helped by transit’s impact on congestion.

          • Pablo Jones

            “Ah, the old “I can’t win on the facts so let me dig up dirt approach.”"

            What kind of dirt was I digging up? If you felt smeared by the questions that was not my intent. I just wanted to know what you motivation was. It is just an observation that the only articles you comment on across the country are train articles. My extent of research was less than 2 minutes. Hardly digging for dirt, it is easier to just be direct and ask.

            “My motivation is nothing more than allowing people to post erroneous information without it being challenged, much like I’ve challenged you.”

            If this were your only motivation then you would be challenging other people on other articles, but from my brief glance at what you write it’s only trains. So why trains why are you interested in challenging people about trains but not other articles or computers?

            “And had you fully read some of my posts on here, you would have never asked me: “Do you not like highways.” More than once I’ve stated that I have a car and that I love to drive it.”

            I have seen you post that, but we currently aren’t spending enough on roads and bridges to maintain our infrastructure as is. If we divert money from roads and bridges to rail then they will suffer. So one would assume that if you want to take funding away (which one would think that by you repeated saying we spend too much on roads and that they are not a good use of money) then you want roads and highways to suffer. If you want them to suffer you must not like them. Unless you have some kind of sick love hate thing going on, like parents that starve or beat their kids because they love them.

            “The reason that rail cannot charge enough to cover costs is that the costs of driving are hidden. People only count the price of gas in their tank to go from A to B and compare that to the cost of rail. If the cost of that fuel actually represented enough money to cover 100% ofthe costs of the roads, trains would be able to raise fares and cover costs and still compare favorably to driving on price points.”

            Fine, charge the fairs on trains, rails, and buses that cover their costs. Increase the fuel tax to cover all road costs and don’t raid funds for other projects. Would that make you happy?

          • ahblid

            “I just wanted to know what you motivation was.”

            And you couldn’t just ask? Instead you went looking.

            “So why trains why are you interested in challenging people about trains but not other articles or computers?”

            First, because I do happen to like trains. Second, because too many people are misinformed on trains and there aren’t enough people out there posting the facts.

            “I have seen you post that, but we currently aren’t spending enough on roads and bridges to maintain our infrastructure as is. If we divert money from roads and bridges to rail then they will suffer. So one would assume that if you want to take funding away (which one would think that by you repeated saying we spend too much on roads and that they are not a good use of money) then you want roads and highways to suffer.”

            I haven’t said that we’ve spent too much on our roads. I’ve said that we subsidize our roads too much. I’ve said that we cannot afford to continue the subsidies at the current levels. And that in most cities, we no longer have the room for more highways. And that I don’t think it fair that those who criticize train riders for not paying 100% of their costs have no problem enjoying their own subsidies to drive their cars.

            “Fine, charge the fairs on trains, rails, and buses that cover their costs. Increase the fuel tax to cover all road costs and don’t raid funds for other projects.”

            We can and should work towards that goal, even if we never actually fully achieve it. But it must be done with great care and caution; something that I don’t believe our current crop of politicians from both sides of the aisle are capable of.

            First, at least initially, subsidies should slowly; very slowly be decreased for driving. And it must be done extremely slowly or it will wreck our economy and the last recession will seem like a walk in the park. Second, at least for a while funding to rail must not be decreased, as Government must first fix the imbalance that it created when it decided to subsidize highways for over 30 years while taxing passenger rail to help build it.

          • Pablo Jones

            I wanted to see what other things you wrote about. Simple curiosity to see what other news stories you posted on in the paper. That is when I seen that you post in papers across the country and probably weren’t local and that you only post on trains. Which is why I asked. Based on the facts it made sense to ask. If I just asked out of the blue it would have been rude. This literally was a 2 minute transition.

            “I haven’t said that we’ve spent too much on our roads. I’ve said that we subsidize our roads too much. I’ve said that we cannot afford to continue the subsidies at the current levels.”

            Semantics. We haven’t SPENT too much, we are SPENDING (subsidize) too much. We cannot continue to SPEND. If we stop subsidizing funding must be cut. If funding is cut roads aren’t maintained. Where is the difference between your point and my point?

            The rail king was paid for by a good portion of government money wasn’t it? Were those funds paid back? If the government built my industry I would be king too and say I have a privately run industry. In fact weren’t the rail roads built by cheap labor from immigrants? I think if we keep subsidizing the railroads that is like saying the government consents to the abuse of those workers.

            Increase oil production in this country and the price of fuel will fall and the fuel tax can increase. No net harm done to the economy. The economy would probably be stimulated. Increase rail price and ridership will decrease especially if fuel prices decrease.

          • ahblid

            ” If we stop subsidizing funding must be cut.”

            False! If we raise the fuel taxes slowly, subsidies are cut without the need to cut spending.

            “The rail king was paid for by a good portion of government money wasn’t it?”

            Nope! The original rail system in this country was built with private funds and operated with private funds.

            That said, the Fed did offer land grants to the RR’s to get them to expand west of the Mississippi. But private industry paid for everything else. And the Fed marked the land grant debt paid in full after WW II because of the RR’s efforts in WW I & WW II both in moving the military and supporting the war effort.

            “In fact weren’t the rail roads built by cheap labor from immigrants?”

            Yes they were. And that abuse by the wealthy owners is what brought us Unions.

            “Increase oil production in this country and the price of fuel will fall and the fuel tax can increase.”

            Unlikely, since the oil companies aren’t concerned with lowering the price of gas. They’re still going to sell it to the highest bidder. That’s one of the problems that many people have with the Keystone pipeline. It was being sold as a way to lower fuel prices in this country by increasing the flow of oil within this country. Yet when questioned by Congress, not one oil exec was willing to pledge that they wouldn’t just pump the oil straight through the US heartland and into a ship docked in New Orleans to be sold on the world market for the highest possible price.

            By the way, we currently import less oil now than we did back under George W Bush, yet the price still remains high.

          • Pablo Jones

            “False! If we raise the fuel taxes slowly, subsidies are cut without the need to cut spending.”

            Hey you said earlier money diverted or re-purposed makes no difference. Whether coming from one pocket or the other it’s still tax money.

            “Nope! The original rail system in this country was built with private funds and operated with private funds.”

            I wish I could run a business where the government gave me millions of acres of land that I could sell off and gave me my operating funds.

            “Unlikely, since the oil companies aren’t concerned with lowering the price of gas. They’re still going to sell it to the highest bidder….”

            Oil companies want to sell pump the oil out of the ground at the lowest possible price and sell it at the highest possible price. Supply and demand if the supply is less than the demand then oil prices will be high. If supply is greater than demand then prices will be low. Oil is a global commodity. Why are oil prices high? Because OPEC, mostly Saudi Arabia is pumping less and less of their capacity. This results in the global supply being just below demand keeping the price up.

            As the US increases oil production Saudi Arabia must keep adjusting. But they have certain costs that they have to fund and debts for their massive building to pay for. That level isn’t too far away, the US needs to increase production to do this though. Currently production in the Gulf of Mexico is down 250-500,000 barrels a day. Development on Federal lands has been at a stand still for years. The increase that we see on Federal lands were for leases approved years ago. The rest of the development has been on private or state lands.

            As for the Keystone pipeline there is no reason for that oil to stay in the US. Our oil inventories are near capacity due to the drop in oil consumption from the recession. Which is why our imports are down. It isn’t down because we are self sufficient our economy is dead. Think that it is a good sign is like saying Grandma no longer has to worry about living SS check to SS check because she is dead. If we finish the keystone pipeline it will bring another 500k of oil online for the global market, which will cause Saudi Arabia to cut production further. Eventual they won’t be able to cut and the price will fall and they will have to sell even more to get the same amount of operating funds. Supply will be above demand and the price will fall.

            One last thing. Do you think the oil companies would rather operate out of the US or out of the middle east. If we make it a business friendly environment the would do it here.

          • ahblid

            “Hey you said earlier money diverted or re-purposed makes no difference. Whether coming from one pocket or the other it’s still tax money.”

            I didn’t say that “money diverted or re-purposed makes no difference.” I said that crying about fuel taxes being diverted to non-highway projects doesn’t carry any weight when that fuel tax was itself diverted to highways in the first place.

            And when you’re complaining that train riders don’t pay their costs via tickets then it does become critical that the user fee “the fuel” tax does cover the costs of the highways. Even if we put back in the “diverted” monies you were crying about earlier, the user fee still doesn’t cover the cost of the highways; much less the local streets.

            “I wish I could run a business where the government gave me millions of acres of land that I could sell off and gave me my operating funds.”

            First, government NEVER paid the operating costs. Private industry did that!

            Second, they didn’t sell off the land that they were given; they built tracks & stations on that land.

            Finally, as already noted and ignored by you, they paid off that debt of land grants!

            “Our oil inventories are near capacity due to the drop in oil consumption from the recession. Which is why our imports are down.”

            Only partially correct. Yes, no doubt the recession did help. But our consumption was already going down before the recession and our imports were also going down before the recession. It started nearly 3 years before the recession struck. And our imports would go down even faster if we stopped our exports.

          • neroden

            Pablo, there was zero government support for the original 19th century railroads in Ohio. (The same is true in New York and New England.) Zero. Land grants happened west of the Mississippi and in Illinois; there was also government support in the deep south, and a little in Pennsylvania.

            But none in Ohio.

          • Pablo Jones

            We weren’t talking about Ohio railroads.

          • Pablo Jones

            ” If we had thrown even 20% of what we’ve spent on highways at rail for
            the same time period, rail would be moving just as many passenger miles,
            if not more.”

            That is hypothetical there is no proof or evidence to support that. If I want to go to the store 3 miles away I’m not going to wait and hop on a train shop and then wait for the train to take me home. If I have to take my kids I don’t want to have to drag them to a train. I don’t even want to take them to a bus. And it isn’t just me because in most cases out side of a big city the buses barely have anyone in them.

            People like their cars and the majority of people are going to use them. Blame the highways and roads but they aren’t going anywhere and as long as they are here people will prefer cars over trains and buses.

          • ahblid

            While I’ll admit that’s a bit of a guess on my part, it is nonetheless an educated guess. We haven’t been spending 20% for rail since 1956. In fact, until President Ronald Reagan created the Mass Transit Account in the early 80′s we weren’t spending much at all on rail transit. Now a days we’re spending about 5.5% what we spend on highways on rail.

            Despite that lack of spending on new rail lines total passenger miles from 1977 through 2009 have more than tripled from just over 10 billion to 30.2 billion.

            Finally, I’m not suggesting that we throw away our cars. And not every trip will be appropriate for transit, even if it is convenient to you. But many trips are appropriate for transit, especially trips to your place of work.

          • Pablo Jones

            So you want 20% spending on rails when rail passenger miles is about 1/700 of what highway passenger miles are?

            And where are you getting the figure that it tripled? In 1970 roughly 10 billion and then 17 billion in 2011.

            I work from home so my feet are even cheaper than my driving or mass transit. But when I do travel I do use mass transit, an airplane.

            http://www.rita.dot.gov/bts/sites/rita.dot.gov.bts/files/publications/national_transportation_statistics/html/table_01_40.html

          • ahblid

            Pablo,

            First, I just threw out the 20% number. Second, I said “if we had thrown even 20% of what we spent on highways at rail, it would be moving many more passenger miles.” Your’s is a circular argument; we shouldn’t spend money on passenger rail when it doesn’t move as many passenger miles as roads. Yet the reason it doesn’t is that we spent hundreds of billions on roads and zero on passenger rail for years. And even today, we spend way more on roads than we spend on rail. If we hadn’t spent all that money on roads & highways, passenger rail would still be king in this country and it would still be privately owned & operated and requiring no subsidies.

            Next, you’re adding commuter rail to Amtrak’s passenger miles. Passenger rail includes light rail & heavy rail. And I didn’t add in Amtrak to my numbers at all.

            Finally, my apologies then, guess I shouldn’t have said “your place of work.” But that remains true for a majority of Americans.

          • Pablo Jones

            Circular logic vs. hypothetical? If we didn’t invest in roads and highways trains would be king. If we didn’t invest in roads, highways, or trains, the horse would be king. If we didn’t develop the atomic bomb WWII would have lasted longer, but in time the end would have come. Even if we continued to spend money on trains people would still have transitioned to the car. In the late 40′s & 50′s people leaving the city for suburban life. Cars are part of the American culture going back to the first part of the century. If we kept funding trains they may have held out longer, but the end would still come.

            “Next, you’re adding commuter rail to Amtrak’s passenger miles. Passenger rail includes light rail & heavy rail. And I didn’t add in Amtrak to my numbers at all.”

            You can’t use one set of numbers on one end and not the other. Just because the data doesn’t exist for light rail and heavy rail doesn’t mean those numbers are 0. If you want to include them you have to go to 1980, roughly 22 billion for light, heavy, commuter rail and Amtrak. 2011 38 billion. A 72% increase not a 300% increase. And you say you post to combat erroneous information.

          • ahblid

            We didn’t invest in passenger trains. Private industry did. That’s why the horse isn’t king.

            “If we kept funding trains they may have held out longer, but the end would still come.”

            False! Now that we are finally investing in trains, ridership is increasing. That means that the end isn’t coming.

            “You can’t use one set of numbers on one end and not the other. Just because the data doesn’t exist for light rail and heavy rail doesn’t mean those numbers are 0.”

            I didn’t assume that those numbers were zero. Remember, you link shows only commuter rail at 4.592 billion for 1970. The number that I gave you was 10 billion. I added the numbers for heavy rail to light rail back in 1977. In 1970 commuter rail was not broken out from heavy rail and therefore wasn’t listed separately.

            My source was APTA, which pulls its data from the National Transit Database. Why RITA didn’t pull that data for its report I have no idea.

            http://www.apta.com/resources/statistics/Documents/FactBook/2011_Fact_Book_Appendix_A.pdf

            Adobe page 13, or report page 3.

          • Pablo Jones

            We didn’t invest in horses either so why wasn’t the horse king? And didn’t the government pay to build the railroads, or at least a portion of them?

            The end came when rail was no longer king. Whether we funded it or not the car would have won out. The only reason Rail is so big in Europe is because they make driving very expensive and their lack of room in their Urban areas. We will not make driving very expensive and we have plenty of room.

            I have to disagree with you on the numbers. I don’t think commuter rail was combined with light and heavy rail since they match up with my sheet and there is no change between the years that would indicate that they were combined or taken out. It looks like light and heavy rail weren’t on mine and commuter wasn’t on yours. Merging the data doesn’t show a 300% increase.

          • ahblid

            “We didn’t invest in horses either so why wasn’t the horse king? ”

            For many years it was.

            “And didn’t the government pay to build the railroads, or at least a portion of them?”

            Again, no. As I noted in my other post, other than land grants to get them to build west, the RR’s used their own private dollars to build the RR’s. And even the land grants were marked paid in full by the Fed.

            “The end came when rail was no longer king.”

            No! First, the end never came. It never died out fully.

            Second, it was the subsidized roads that interfered in the Free Market which caused the drop in passenger rail ridership. People choose that which appears to cost them less, and driving appeared falsely cheaper thanks to subsidies.

            It also didn’t help that the Fed slapped a ticket tax on passenger rail initially to help fund the war effort, and then later to pay it off. And then for several years that tax went into the Highway Trust fund. The Fed also taxed the RR’s 4.3 cents per gallon of diesel fuel for all engines, which for years also went into the Highway Trust Fund.

            The Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 redirected that 4.3 cents from the HTF into the General fund. There was a move afoot a few years ago to get that tax stopped, or at least directed into a Rail fund. I know that no rail fund has been created, but I’m not sure if the tax still exists or not.

            “I have to disagree with you on the numbers. I don’t think commuter rail was combined with light and heavy rail since they match up with my sheet and there is no change between the years that would indicate that they were combined or taken out.”

            They don’t match your sheet. Your sheet provided 4.5 billion in 1975, the closest year to 1977 which is in my sheet. My sheet provides for 10 billion. That’s not a match!

            “Merging the data doesn’t show a 300% increase.”

            I never claimed a 300% increase. I have no idea where you came up with that number. All I said was that passenger miles had more than tripled. 10 X 3 = 30. In 2009 the number was 30.2 billion.

          • Pablo Jones

            “No! First, the end never came. It never died out fully.”

            Is rail King? No. Then the end came for king Rail’s reign.

            Subsidized Roads only quickened the decline of the King Rail’s reign. Even if they weren’t subsidized cars would have taken over. Fuel and cars were cheap back then and the growth of business around them more than made up for their subsidies.

            4.3 cents per gallon is much cheaper than trucks pay. And it costs money to build bridges over railroads.

            “It also didn’t help that the Fed slapped a ticket tax on passenger rail initially to help fund the war effort, and then later to pay it off. And then for several years that tax went into the Highway Trust fund.”

            Once again according to you money re-diverted after being diverted carries no weight.

            “They don’t match your sheet….”

            1980 (Commuter, Light, Heavy) your numbers 6,516; 381; 10,558. Mine 6,516; 381; 10,558. The numbers are the same. They are also the same in other matching years. So since they match we should be able to agree that the numbers are accurate. In 1975 there are 4.5 billion commuter passenger miles, and it continues on for previous years as well. If commuter rails were added into your light and heavy rails we should see a bump of at least 4 billion. But we don’t see an increase so that means commuter is not included in your light and heavy rail. That means the light and heavy rail in 1977 was 10,071 billion, commuter was probably around 4,500. So the 1977 total was about 14,500. In 2008 the total was 29990. The ridership did not triple.

            A 300% increase is tripling. 10 * 300% = 30; 10*3=30.

          • ahblid

            By the way, airplanes are not considered mass transit. And your ride on them was also subsidized.

          • Pablo Jones

            You’ve have been saying everything is subsidized so what’s the difference.

            “Transportation systems, usually publicly but sometimes privately owned and operated, designed to move large numbers of people in various types of vehicles in cities, suburbs, and large metropolitan areas.” – Webster’s

            An airplane is a vehicle, it moves large numbers of people. How does it not qualify as mass transportation? What is your definition?.

          • ahblid

            The commonly accepted definition of Mass Transit in this country is commuter rail, heavy rail, light rail, bus, ferry, monorail, automated people mover, etc. Amtrak & airlines are not considered mass transit.

          • Pablo Jones

            Well that is a poor definition. The common notion was the world was flat, but it was still wrong. If large groups of people come together to share a common mode of transportation I consider that mass transportation. I consider planes and amtrak mass transit. Semantics again but I’ll still call it mass transit.

          • ahblid

            Well you’ll just have to forgive me if I trust the experts and not you.

          • neroden

            “You’ve have been saying everything is subsidized so what’s the difference.”

            The difference is how MUCH it is subsidized. Roads are subsidized to the tune of $40 billion/year FEDERALLY plus another $80 billion/year or more at the state and local level. Railroads are subsidized a *miniscule tiny microscopic fraction of that amount*, and carry huge numbers of people with that tiny subsidy.

            Fairness in subsidy. Give railroads a chance.

          • neroden

            Until the 1970s, passenger railroads were actually taxed (a “ticket tax”) to pay for highways!

      • Heath J

        I challenge you to find the remaining “58%” of so called subsidized road taxes. Even assuming you’re right, why would anyone waste money on buses, trains, monorails and ferrys? The math you’re quoting doesn’t substantiate even a fraction of that spending on bull**** public transit that won’t be used.

        Nice try on skewing the numbers though. IF that was actually true, we’d have coast to coast high speed rail, buses everywhere for “free” , and ferries to wherever your tiny leftist brain could imagine. It’s akin to buying a Prius because you’re concerned about something other than being a smug eco-###hole. Anyone that had a 6th grade level understanding of math would’ve bought a Corolla.

        The free market will take care of this. quit pushing public transit that operates at a loss and the majority of taxpayer don’t want and won’t use.

        • ahblid

          Heath,

          The Free Market doesn’t exist in the transportation market. Everything gets subsidized; therefore there is NO Free Market.

          As for finding the missing money, roll down to page 31 of the report at the following link. Note, that report was based on 1997 data, the 42% number is based upon 2010 data.

          http://www.pewstates.org/uploadedFiles/PCS_Assets/2013/Subsidyscope.org%20%E2%80%94%20Transportation%20Sector.pdf

          Oh, by the way, as multiple polls over the years have shown, a majority of taxpayers do want public transit.

          • Pablo Jones

            If you are being picky there is no free market anywhere. There is always some outside force picking a preference over one thing or another.

            I would be interested in seeing the actual break down of these favorable polls. I haven’t been able to find any of the crosstabs to see who is supporting and what the questions are.

            I’ve seen references that the public over whelmingly supports mass transit because they pass levies to support it. But there are many cases where that isn’t what is happening. In Toledo Ohio you have TARTA with 8 or so communities that support it with tax dollars. Every time a levy comes up the majority of the communities votes against the levy, but Toledo’s vote carries more weight and it passes. Also from the polls I seen every one that mentions increase in taxes the results are against mass transit or even. If you ask questions like, “Are you in favor of cheap reliable public transportation?” or “Do you think people with out cars should have other means of transportation available?” people are going to say yes. But if you ask “Are you willing to pay more in taxes to keep bus fairs affordable?” people most likely are going to say no. So how were all these polls worded?

          • neroden

            Uh, so you’re saying that Toledo overwhelmingly votes for mass transit every time, and that there are far far more people in Toledo than in the other communities. So you’re saying that YES, the public OVERWHELMINGLY supports mass transit.

            We have a system of “one person one vote”, not a system of “one acre one vote”.

    • neroden

      Average of 123 passengers per week at Elyria in 2012. From Amtrak’s State Fact Sheets.

  • Phil Blank

    For those riding this train from the downtown station, where do they park?
    Wasn’t parking free at the old stop?

    • Train-Head

      Most of them park at an RTA Park-n-Ride located at the transit stations and other locations around the county.

      • neroden

        There’s also a parking lot next to the Depot St. location. Google Maps is your friend.

        • Pablo Jones

          Do you live or been to Elyria. If you leave you car there over night you will be lucky if it hasn’t been vandalized. If you leave it there for a week, you would be lucky if it were there when you got back.

          • neroden

            If necessary, a security guard can be hired. *eyeroll*

            The old stop’s parking lot is just as dangerous.

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