Two politicos and a chamberman staged a train buff rally at the Boise Depot Monday before a small crowd of enthusiasts and city employees who applauded the arrival of a locomotive and the announcement it was made in Boise.
Senior Sen. Mike Crapo, Mayor Dave Bieter and Chamber of Commerce Pres. Bill Connors urged the crowd to send positive comments to Crapo in support AMTRAK resuming service to Boise after a 12 year hiatus. PHOTO: Connors, Crapo and Bieter
There was no apparent opposition to be heard in the “rally-type” setting.
They had absolutely no factual information with regard to costs, who pays, schedules, frequency of trains or any other hard facts. It appears the event was aimed pretty much at garnering “support for passenger train service.”
Crapo’s office was supposed to get some preliminary data from AMTRAK by the end of July, but the agency failed to deliver. Nonetheless, Senior Crapo said their were positive indications the analysis currently being undertaken by a private consultant would be favorable to resuming AMTRAK service in Boise.
IF the model of other states is any indication, the route will be highly subsidized and Boise and/or Idaho taxpayers will be expected to kick in with some cash. In essence we will have to PAY riders to come to our City just like we pay businesses to come here with their high paying jobs.
Crapo said he would be one of the first to ride the train, but when asked if he would make it policy for his staff and himself to ride it to Eastern Idaho, he said he would also have to fly and drive. So much for public policy supporting train ridership.
Meanwhile there is no clear intent with regard to the assets of Boise City. The City owns both the Depot and 18 miles of track which currently serves as a parking lot for some of the Union Pacific’s fleet of 60,000 idle freight cars.
Boise GUARDIAN has the following concerns:
–How much will it cost?
–How many riders are expected ?
–How often will it run?
–Will the Depot cease to be a venue for catering events as it is today?
–Will the Depot be opened to the public as a waiting room or will AMTRAK operations be relegated to the office space on the east end of the Depot?
–Can AMTRAK afford to pay for the upgrade and maintenance to the 18 miles of track along with installation of crossing signals on Kuna-Mora Road or will Boise taxpayers foot the bill?
–The airport is run as a self-funded “enterprise fund” by the City. Will they do the same with AMTRAK or will they compete with themselves?
There are two answers covering all the questions. “WE DON’T KNOW” and “THAT DEPENDS.”
Boise City Council candidate Lucas Baumbach attended the rally and followed with a press release critical of the return of AMTRAK. He said it would compete with the airlines for long distance travel. He did support a commuter line in the release.
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Aug 10, 2009, 3:51 pm
All I know is the KARMA train always runs on time.
Aug 10, 2009, 4:31 pm
“They had absolutely no factual information with regard to costs, who pays, schedules, frequency of trains or any other hard facts. It appears the event was aimed pretty much at garnering “support for passenger train service.”
Sounds an awfully lot like ObamaCare
Aug 10, 2009, 4:57 pm
There is so much wrong with proposal, you have to wonder about the sanity of those involved. As the Guardian pointed out, there is the problem with the dilapidated 18 mile spur from Orchard to Boise. Then there is also the problem of the 20 mile route, dodging cars, trucks, and bicycles as the train parallels Franklin road over to Nampa before it rejoins the main line.
Speaking of bicycles, I propose a modern day bike race versus the train from the Orchard Switch to Nampa. It is my bet that bicyclists can cover the route faster than Amtrak can going through Boise.
If they are really serious about Amtrak service, they should look at a solution that does not involve a 40 mile, slow speed, detour through urban Treasure Valley. In particular, they should look at a terminal in Nampa, or even Kuna.
On second thought, never mind. That makes too much sense. This is not about moving people. This is about grown men (at least physically grown) playing with toy trains.
Aug 10, 2009, 5:18 pm
I asked Mayor Bieter directly about the feasibility study for the return of Amtrak. They don’t have it yet. When asked what the plan would be if the feasibility study says it is not feasible, Mayor Bieter says they will have to go back to the drawing board. This seems somewhat along the lines of the Library. When the voters were asked to sign on to higher taxes to pay for Mayor Dave’s Libraries, they said “NO”. Mayor Dave went ahead with the Libraries anyway. If the feasability study of this Amtrak initiative says it is NOT FEASABLE, will Mayor Dave push ahead anyway?
Aug 10, 2009, 5:45 pm
What, you expected officials to deal with facts?
Heck, you’re good at opposing the train without facts, so why can’t they support it without facts?
Last I heard, the city owned the airport land and rented it at a very low rate, thus subsidizing air service. Has that changed?
As far as competing: Well, only sort of. Airlines offer fast trips cramped up in a metal tube. Trains offer slow trips, with lots of space to move around, a dining car, a bar car, etc. It’s a matter of whether one prefers speed or comfort.
Aug 10, 2009, 5:45 pm
Two words these two are known for “PHOTO OP”
Are we getting prepped for re-elections already?
Aug 10, 2009, 5:46 pm
4/5ths of Crapo is Crap, as in he’s full of it.
All we have heard all summer is that we need Idaho roads and bridges fixed, and that we need more money for schools. Instead, Crapo and his pal Dave Bieter are wanting to dump $65 million into a local streetcar and untold tens of millions into bringing back a failed train service to a train depot that is completely unsuited to handle any amount of passenger traffic.
Crapo is also trying to make the appearance of taking credit for this mysterious Amtrak ‘report’ that is coming out ‘shortly’ that in fact, he had absolutely nothing to do with. The report was ordered by the passage of the Passenger Rail Improvement Act of 2008 which was introduced into Congress by a Minnesota Democrat. They are now lumping the costs of the old Amtrak Pioneer route, which was killed in 1997 for lack of ridership, in with all Amtrak routes to make the appearance of it being more feasible now. In fact, if anything, it is LESS feasible now because of the lack of supporting infrastructure to adequately handle passengers. I rode the Pioneeer route back in the 60’s and 70’s and it was pretty sorry back then, and absolutely no passenger-related infrastructure upgrades have been done in over 40 years.
The fact of the matter is, the massively low population density on the Pioneer route is what killed it in the first place. Under the old rules, it was supposed to be self-suffient but could not make it. It will NEVER be self-sufficient, but they are changing the rules to make it appear like it will be.
What we really have going on here are some high-powered policitians that are looking to create legacies and that is all. THey have absolutely no concern for the taxpayers of Idaho who will be footing the bill for this in perpetuity.
If Crapo and Bieter want trains they should go to Hobbytown and buy them and not expect the rest of us to pick up the tab for their personal hobbies.
Aug 10, 2009, 11:45 pm
Things have changed since the railway system left. The airlines treat everyone like terrorists, the seats and elbow room keep getting smaller and smaller and airports are usually a long way away from where people actually want to go.
There are a lot of older people who cannot or should not be driving the highway system.
As much as I care about the opinions of the Guardian, I want the train system to return so I can go somewhere again.
I think we had a better transportation system in the middle of the last century. Tell me why I am wrong.
Aug 10, 2009, 11:58 pm
Might want to use your favorite search engine and query “crapo pioneer”.
You should get a bunch of hits about Crapo pushing the return of the Pioneer for a number of years.
But he doesn’t appear to have been a co – sponsor of the PRIIA bill in the Senate. And that list of co – sponsors was a long one.
And I do see a conflict with him be a “conservative” but a “conservative” who is willing to increase the national debt when it comes to pet projects in Idaho like the Pioneer and the Boise Streetcar.
Aug 11, 2009, 8:42 am
Two questions for Senator Crapo and Mayor Beiter…..even though the offer was made for public input after this so-called study is finished….1)how much of an impact will the public have on this decision to bring the Pioneer Route to life, or will we actually ‘stop it in its tracks’ with enough opposition? 2)Will we be ‘allowed’ to vote on this decision which will effect us?
Aug 11, 2009, 10:53 pm
Crapo was a strong candidate with a strong approval rating state wide. The only chink in his armor is Boise. With Boise becoming more and more liberal means Crapo has to solidify his Boise base. Come out for two of the most flaming liberal points, trains and trolleys. It is pretty evident he is already running for re-election.
Aug 11, 2009, 11:18 pm
Rather than sending your comments about the Pioneer through Senator Crapo’s office to Amtrak I’d suggest they be sent directly to Amtrak. Once the study is released there should be information in it as to where to send your comments and the date by which they must be submitted.
And if you would like to submit your comments through the Senator’s office that’s great also. Forwarding constituents comments to Federal agencies is a valuable function performed every day by our Senators and Representatives. It would be a good way to make the Senator, his staff, and Amtrak aware of your thoughts and concerns.
Aug 12, 2009, 12:06 am
I certainly can’t speak for Crapo or Bieter, nor would I want to, but I believe the process of evaluating potential Pioneer service is more an internal Amtrak one at this time. After the study is released and public comment received, I’m guessing Amtrak staff will review both the study and ALL comments received, evaluate all the information to see how it fits into the Amtrak system as a whole, both for now and the future, then make a recommendation to the Amtrak Board. The Amtrak Board is the one that will make the final decision. From what I’ve read about the current Amtrak Board and Executive staff it appears Amtrak may be headed in a more positive direction because a lot of these folks have actual railroad experience. In short, they’re not political hacks who don’t know the front of a locomotive from the back.
Amtrak is a government corporation much like the Postal Service and the Public Broadcasting System. The Boards of these agencies are “independent” and make the final decisions. With Congressional oversight of course. I’m not so naive as to believe these decisions are made without any political pressure. And Congress can always mandate Amtrak run a particular train.
Submit your comments. Have your friends, supporters, etc. submit their comments. I plan on submitting my comments directly to Amtrak. I like the direct approach when submitting comments. If you don’t submit your comments you’re not in the game.
As to voting on Pioneer service, the only time you’ll get to “vote” on Pioneer service is at the ballot box in November – this year and next year.
If you or your supporters are interested in learning more about Amtrak check out: http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=Amtrak/am2Copy/Title_Image_Copy_Page&c=am2Copy&cid=1081442674477 .