When it comes public rides, it is hard to find anyone opposed to “PASSENGER TRAINS IN IDAHO.” The politicos know this well, so they have asked AMTRAK to conduct some studies about returning train service to Idaho.
Senior Sen. Crapo and Mayor Bieter of Team Dave will hold a public hearing at the Boise Depot Monday noon Aug. 10 to share their information and listen to what will no doubt be a train friendly group. They already have Motive Power, the Chamber of Commerce, and “train enthusiasts” lined up.
The GUARDIAN is not on track with this one because it just doesn’t pencil out. We have offered our own AMBUS plan to Crapo to no avail. We fully understand public transportation seldom turns a profit, much less pays for itself. However, it is simply folly–like the trolley–to pour tax money into AMTRAK efforts when there is so little potential passenger traffic across the sparsely populated West.
Union Pacific charges AMTRAK to use its rails on a per track-mile basis with “on time” records and facility use tossed into the equation. If the economy ever recovers, those on time records will get derailed quickly. Meanwhile the expense continues. We expect Boise City to charge AMTRAK for use of its rails and the Boise Depot which is nothing but a city owned catering hall at present.
The photo above shows some of the 200 U.P. locomotives parked in Nampa–a fraction of the 1900 currently parked systemwide awaiting freight to haul due to the poor economic climate. Combine those with 60,000 freight cars currently being parked and you can get a picture of how crowded the tracks can get WITHOUT passenger trains.
Picture the congestion when a fast passenger train is trying to keep a schedule behind a slow freight on the same tracks.
Trains work in Europe because the government owns and operates the nuke plants that make the electricity that runs the trains that travel on the tracks financed with taxes in compact densely populated countries.
Mayor Dave Bieter often declares that Boise is the most remote city of its size in the country. He is correct and that means lots of miles with nothing but antelope and jack rabbits as possible passengers.
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