Happening Now

Hotline #787

August 20, 1993

The United Transportation Union representative to Amtrak has been given formal authority by union leadership for a nationwide Amtrak strike. The issue revolves around an alleged contracting-out of services on the Los Angeles Metrolink system. The UTU is prepared to carry out the strike at 12:01 am on August 23, so beware if you have travel plans! Amtrak will try to block the strike in court over this weekend.

The Illinois Zephyr is expected to be restored to West Quincy, Mo., on August 25, making it the last train restored to its normal route since the flooding.

Delivery of the first new Superliner will take place August 23.

The Amtrak board may return to Washington next week for an off-schedule meeting, presumably on Amtrak's financial condition.

Amtrak has waived the Alabama state share of the Gulf Breeze operating loss for the rest of the fiscal year. Alabama had appropriated an amount projected to be $150,000 short for the train's 1993 operation. However, ridership is up sharply, including 44% higher at Mobile than this time last year, and the revenues apparently cover the shortfall.

The St. Louis light-rail line is doing well. First day free ridership on July 31 was 67,000. Revenue service began August 3. Ridership fluctuates depending on when there are baseball games, but with away games the week of August 9, weekday average ridership was around 21,700. It is higher during home game streaks and weekends. That compares very favorably to other new systems.

The Clinton Administration aviation commission submitted its recommendations yesterday for more tax breaks for airlines. NARP has asked the President to consider the environmental implications of tax breaks and their effects on our government-owned passenger railroad.

The ICE is schedule to leave Chicago tomorrow at 7:00 am, headed west on the Santa Fe. It is due at Kansas City at 3:00 pm and La Junta at 11:45 pm. On August 22, it leaves La Junta at 9:00 am and arrives Flagstaff 9:30 pm. On August 23, it leaves Flagstaff at 9:00 am and arrives Los Angeles 6:30 pm. On August 25, it leaves Los Angeles at 8:30 am, arrives Simi Valley 9:30 am, stops at Oxnard from 10:00 am to 10:15 am, arrives Sacramento 10:15 pm. On August 26, it is on display at Sacramento from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm, and makes a round trip to Roseville at 4:45 pm. At 9:30 pm it leaves Sacramento, arriving San Jose 1:00 am on August 27. The same day, it leaves San Jose at 8:00 am, arrives San Francisco at 10:00 am for a press conference, leaves again 1:30 pm and arrives Los Angeles 1:45 am on August 28.

Southwest Airlines is launching its East Coast service with an all-out airfare war. On August 18, the war had Southwest fares down to $19 one-way from Cleveland to Baltimore, and USAir at $49 round trip with restrictions.

The Port of Los Angeles this week suddenly pulled out of the huge Alameda corridor intermodal freight project. That port and the Port of Long Beach were partners in a scheme to consolidate all highway and rail traffic to the port into one corridor along the Southern Pacific right-of-way. SP wants to sell the line for $260 million. But Los Angeles port commissioners, all newly appointed by the new mayor, expressed concern that SP may not own the corridor outright, but merely have easement rights. Other observers say the problem is more one of politics. Long Beach says it is staying with the project for now.